NOW traditionally is the time when resolutions get made. Or so I am told. Personally, I made a resolution long ago, and one which is not merely year-long in its scope, not to make New Year's resolutions. I have stuck to it fine.
No doubt there are those who would say this is the mark of a man who knows ahead of time that he would not keep a new resolution if he were to make one: an admission of irresolution. And maybe they have a slight point - because this year, I am tempted, I admit, to make a fresh resolve for the coming 12 months and so (just this once) break my antiresolution resolution.
The thing is, I twiddle my thumbs. I have probably done it for decades. But it was only this autumn that a friend and professional colleague of mine, visiting on assignment from the other side of the pond, well and truly alerted me to my ongoing unconscious digit-revolving propensity.
I do not do it, so far as I can tell, when driving a car. But when this friend was driving, and I was in the passenger seat, apparently, I did it quite a lot.
Even driving after dark along noisy motorways, she claims that the gentle abrasion of circumnavigating thumb against circumnavigating thumb was perfectly audible.
She wouldn't have mentioned it had it not been for the fact that I - after superhuman forbearance - made some teasing remark, aside, in company, about the noise she makes while driving. It was like machine-gun fire, like fireworks, like those kinds of breakfast cereal that sporadically snap, crackle, and pop in the pre-dawn kitchen to prevent you falling asleep again over the table and drowning in the milk.
It was bubble gum.
She kept exploding orally like a turtle. Snap! Snap!... SNAP! Chew, chew, snap!!
Bubble gum is not all that commonplace in Britain, so I am not particularly accustomed to its native woodnotes wild. I was not irritated; but I was somewhat in a state of continuing startlement over it.
When I finally mentioned this, she found it terribly funny. She laughed and laughed. And then she told everyone present about my audible thumb-twiddling. She found me out.
Since then I find I do it really rather often, and my wife has started to notice it and shushed me in quiet moments in theaters.
So the question is: Should I make a New Year's resolution not to thumb-twiddle in 1995?
You know, I don't think I will.
I mean, is she - the one who publicized my innocuous little pastime - is she going to give up percussive balloon-explosions in the mid-lip region? I have heard no rumor that she is. And why should she?
If she persists in bubbling, I'll persist in twiddling.
Long live all bubblers and twisters, is what I say. We all need our little differences in this era of persuasive uniformity.