They Call Me Middle
Not the most inspired name, I admit. Middle. My mates all have more interesting ones. There’s Ring and Little, or Pinky when we’re feeling affectionate. They’re on one side of me. Index and Tom on the other side. Two to the left. Two to the right. Though who’s on which side I’m never quite sure. It depends on the angle you’re looking at us.
The current news is that I’m confined and in pain, but more on that later. Generally I have to say my lot is a pretty good one. There’s always something going on and we five are often in on the action.
Take scratching, for example. We all get a go at that, and if it’s a really big itch, it’s kind of a group effort. Great fun that is, because in truth there are not that many things that we get to do all together, save the laborious stuff of holding and carrying. Shopping bags laden with tins and bottles are the worst. The plastic cuts into you, leaving red marks across the midriff and the pain takes a while to subside. It’s definitely the worst job.
We obviously do a fair bit of teamwork but we also have quite a few individual jobs. Take Pinky for example. He’s usually on bogey duty. Tom or Index sometimes get the work, but the really deep jobs are for Pinky. I feel for him. I’d do it but I’m just too big to get in there! Pinky also has this bizarre fear of teacups and will always stretch as far away from them as possible while the rest of us are hanging on for dear life.
Ring really doesn’t do a lot. He’s a bit clumsy and lacking in imagination to tell you the truth, and tends to do whatever me or Pinky do. Definitely a follower rather than a leader. He’s a bit of an obsessive too. Forever waiting for that moment when a gold band gets put round him. But don’t get me wrong. I love him to bits, but I just wish he’d show a bit more independence at times.
Index? Now he’s certainly the most observant of the five of us. Always pointing out things and showing others where to go or what to look at. It makes him feel important I think. He does seem to think he’s number one as he’s often the one to stand up on his own when that single number is needed.
Tom, however, tends to get in before Index when any serious counting is required. He’s a bit different is our Tom. He sticks out, especially when he’s sore. But he’s a happy chap, often telling the world that life is ok, and telling us that if it wasn’t for him standing there opposite us we wouldn’t be able to do half the things we can. He says he’s what separates us from most of the other mammals. He can be a bit of a pain but we get on fine because me and him perform a special task: clicking. Great fun that is.
And me? Apart from my clicking duty I also get the rather controversial task of telling people where to get off when our boy is angry. It scares me sometimes because none of us want it to be the trigger for any kind of violence. We’re not the bravest bunch, especially if it comes to fives, and we usually hide behind our knuckles. The fist formation isn’t common although just recently it has led to our current difficult situation, but I still don’t feel ready to tell you about that yet. I’ll leave it for the moment and think of something else.
Ah, yes. I forgot to tell you about our hats, for some reason known as nails. They’re good protection though there are times when I wish I didn’t have to wear one, especially at clipping. I don’t know why but we all get really scared that we’re going to get hurt, though we never do. Index gets particularly nervous, as he’s a bit traumatised by a cut he got when he was younger. He claims he was attacked by a real nail during a bit of DIY though he says he didn’t do anything to provoke it. Just one of those accidents I suppose. I understand why he goes on about it, as there’s a pretty ugly scar running across his already lined face.
Anyway I don’t want to talk about the bad times any more. I’d rather think of the good moments, the best of which are when I get the chance to spend time with my soul mate, the one who really understands. He lives on the other hand, the left one, and unfortunately time spent with him tends to be short. We meet briefly during applause, as all ten of us bang into each other and shout out in appreciation.
There are also times when we get a bit longer together, in those pensive moments, often getting a chance to catch up on the latest with chin or mouth, but the best times of all are at church – now that’s real time together. I pray for those moments. They’re almost religious.
We occasionally meet other families, when our boy’s out on a date. That’s interesting, intertwining yourself with total strangers. You get on well with some and not so well with others. Unfortunately the other day we were involved in this very activity, and I must say we were having a great time, when the girl’s boyfriend turned up.
Ok. Now is the moment to tell you about why we are in pain. The boyfriend spotted our illegal actions immediately and came rushing over. Words tried their best to solve the problem but we knew they were destined to fail and we were quickly called into service. Pushing and shoving on both sides was never going to help the situation and that’s when the fist formation was employed. Unfortunately our arm’s aim is not at its most coordinated after a few beers and when asked to project us towards the boyfriend’s chin, we missed and were sent crashing into the wall behind.
Our knuckles took the worst of the impact but four of us were also badly hurt. Tom was the only lucky one to avoid injury. Still, he’s just as trussed up as we are within a plaster cast and from what we can gather we’ll be confined like this for a good few weeks.
Our only comfort – watching how our compatriots on the left hand, who are far less dextrous than us, have to deal clumsily with all the tasks that we usually do so well. It’s not the most silver of linings but when dealing with any dark situation you have to look on the bright side.