Slices of Life: Pinky talk

You don’t pay attention to certain details until they become important, and then you realize they were important all along.

Jill Pertler
Jill Pertler

It’s funny how you don’t give something a second (or third, fourth or 10th) thought, until it becomes suddenly a first thought.

Like a pinky finger.

Let’s be honest; no one gives a whole lot of brain time to their pinky finger (left or right or maybe both). Pinky fingers don’t generally register on the radar. No one ever says, “Give them the pinky finger!”

Our smallest digit doesn’t hold that much power.

Our pretty pinkies are just there to do what they do — basically nothing, unless you consider raising one of them while you are drinking tea or coffee, which I’m sort of embarrassed to admit, I’ve done (without coaching) since childhood.


I feel a need here to defend my stance. I don’t know why I have prim and proper pinky fingers. I just do. My parents were hard-working folks. My grandparents were the same. No one I know of with whom I share a genetic disposition ever raised their pinky fingers, nor drank tea. I come from more of a strong coffee-drinking lot.

Still, the only time I ever really contemplated my pinky was when someone in my family (or one of my friends) made fun of me raising it genteelly while drinking chocolate milk.

That was then. This is now.

I recently did something to strain my right pinky finger. I remember recognizing it at the time. (Oh, that hurts!) But I can’t recall exactly what I did to cause the pain. I believe it was a repetitive task of some sort, but beyond that — well, you know what they say about memory being the first to go.

My memory was closely followed by my pinky finger. Whatever I did caused a slight bit of arthritis to the inner bottom joint. (Please note: arthritis is completely self-diagnosed. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV.)

My little pinky joint is a tiny bit swollen and painful to the touch, but just on the one side. No one would notice it, except me. I dare say I’d need to point it out to a medical professional. It’s that slight. Still it warrants my attention. Pain will do that to you.

The other pinky is completely normal. I haven’t thought about the poor, neglected left pinky in months. The right one, however, gets my attention almost daily.

It’s not a huge amount of attention. I might feel the tiny bump and recognize the pain and acknowledge that it feels like arthritis (if I knew firsthand what arthritis feels like.)


But pinky thoughts and contemplations are hardly ever about pinkies. Pinkies are part of a larger whole hand and arm and body. The same goes for life.

Is it just me, or doesn’t every subject seem to come full circle and relate to life?

I think of the story I learned in Sunday school about the woman with ten coins who lost one and wouldn’t let up until she found it. Somehow the remaining nine diminished in value because she had lost the 10th. Ten fingers minus one pinky, the comparison is, well, a comparison. But an obvious at that.

I often lose my glasses. Because I am aware of this, I have four pairs. Still, when I lose one I can’t rest until I find it. The other three pairs aren’t good enough until I find the lost one.

The same goes for my pinky. It isn’t lost, but it needs my attention. Life is telling me to pay some heed to it. So I will. It will heal, and I will forget about all this brain time I spent contemplating a pinky. But I hope I don’t forget the lesson it carried: You don’t pay attention to certain details until they become important, and then you realize they were important all along.

Like a lost coin, a painful pinky or even a person you hold dear to your heart, you never know what you have until you have it no longer.

In that vein, value what you have and never forget about the little things, especially pinkies (and people) — right or left, take you pick.

J ill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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