Sunday, May 29, 2011


It all started so innocently. expression of love.

It ended up giving me the best from-the-gut laughter I've had in a long time.

It was just after dinner. I had a fairly decent evening with my youngest after he spent some time with me at work. I'd been kinda hard on him this winter so I've tried to spend more time with him, reinforce my interest in him, let him know he is deeply loved.

To communicate my feelings for him, I said, "Jaxon, I love you THIS MUCH" (illustrated by Figure 1)

Love you THIS MUCHFigure 1: My sign that expresses my love

"All around the world?", he asked? with a gleam in his eye.

"Yep!", I replied...frankly amazed at how quickly he caught on. From the tip of my finger, all around the world to the tip of my thumb (as illustrated by Figure 2)

Love you THIS MUCH arrows Figure 2: Annotated sign that expresses my love

He understood. Understandably, he wanted to communicate it back.

"I love you THIS MUCH"! he responded.


With conviction...

...holding his finger and thumb just like I did...

...and then his middle finger popped up.

And in that micro moment all my cares in the world rolled off my back. I immediately covered my smiling mouth so as not to embarrass him. (Figure 3 illustrates resulting sign that Jaxon used to express his love)

Love you THIS MUCH altered - This muchFigure 3: Annotated example of how Jaxon shows his love :-)

Then the wife turns away from us. Jaxon thinks she's mad? Crying? Shocked at the offending hand gesture?

Nope.  Shaking with laughter.

Not just laughter, but tear-rendering-there-IS-a-God-in-heaven-otherwise-gut-wrenching-funny-like-this-would-just-not-exist-but-if-I-make-a-sound-my-lovely-boy-might-be-terribly-embarrassed-and-we-don’t-need-an-outburst-13-years-from-now-starting-with-“This-is-just-like-that-time-you-laughed-at me-when-I-was-seven-for-not-having-double-jointed-finger-knuckles!” kind of laughter.

Finally, she can't keep quiet. She turns, and bursts out through her teary eyes:

"Good Morning, Ms. Carlson (teacher)! I love you THIS MUCH!"

I reply…

"Gramma, I love you THIS MUCH!"

…in unison…

“Honey, I Love You THIS MUCH!”


Now any normal parent would deliver a life lesson to educate the youngster that while this was a mistake, one must be careful with such displays of that particular finger…even if it was an accident.

What did I do?

I submitted an addendum to the ASL 3.0 adoption governance board to adopt “I Love You THIS MUCH'” as an official gesture in the American Sign Language lexicon.

With a bit of dedication, and a lot of work, in just a few short years you may be free to gesture:

Mr. President, I Love You THIS MUCH!

Ex-girlfriend, I Love You THIS MUCH!

Employer, I Love This Job THIS MUCH! (Notice the diversity and flexible nature of the new ASL gesture…applicable not only to people but to things)

…and that’s only when it’s used face to face. Imagine the improvement to humanity when the gesture is used:

  • …across streets at strangers
  • …towards policemen directing traffic
  • …towards fellow car drivers
  • …when signing off of Skype
  • …during worship services
  • …through emoticons when texting

Its uses are endless!

How 'bout it?

Are you with me?

Let's make this viral.

Let's change the world.

Let's take BACK the middle finger for good!!

Oh, and for any follow-up to the ASL governance board, how would YOU use this new gesture?

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