American in Spain


January 14, 2008

Once again, the internet and human creativity have astounded me. Today, class, we're going to learn about manualists. Does anyone know what a manualist is? Raise your, um, hands. No? Well then you're in for some enlightenment.

When I was in elementary school and middle school, some people in my class learned how to make noise by blowing into their joined hands, the air passing over the hole between the thumb joints, forming a flute-like pitch. This "instrument" is, in fact, called the "hand flute" and has probably been around since pre-historic times, and perfected into performances at least as early as 1979. I was only able to make somewhat owly sounds, never controlling pitch enough to make anything close to music.

But wait! The hand flute is not what manualists do. Manualists are so manual that they don't even need their mouths.

You know how some people, mainly adolescent boys, can make flatulence-like noise with their hands by squeezing air out between the palms of their hands? I learned how to do it in middle school, I think, but I'm only capable of getting short bursts of nondescript gassy sounds that I would never think to describe as notes. See where I'm going with this?

Introducing....the Four Squeezins! Christmas Medley

Mexican Hat Dance

Frère Jacques

I'm not sure what evolutionary advantage our species has enjoyed due to our innate sense of humor surrounding flatulence, but these manualists definitely tap into it. Their seriousness, both in dress and facial expressions only add to the effect.

There are tons more videos on the Four Squeezin's web site. YouTube is also filled with amateur manualist videos.

Okay, class, that's all for today. Hopefully you'll never look at those fleshy growths on the ends of your wrists in quite the same way again. You may begin your week now.