And they knew how to flip the bird.
And lo, these traits were passed down unto the children, who, even if we couldn't jump a canyon or be fitted with bionics, we could at least flip the bird.
These were simpler times, yet birds were deployed with panache and style. From the "read between the lines" gesture, to the "my thumb has a little crank that deploys the finger" move, as seen in this year's Guardians of the Galaxy, to that weird Italian-looking thing where you'd slap a hand on your inner elbow and raise your bird proudly in the air, these motions had thought and care behind them.
The target of the bird would respond in kind, or perhaps recite some of the era's taunting verse, like the fight-provoking, "Your ass is grass."
Not only did we pick these gestures up from adults, children's entertainment also provided role models like the foul-mouthed kids from The Bad News Bears or any movie where the action took place around a summer camp.
So what else were we to do, when all of our culture was encouraging us with these gestures? Sometimes the only logical response, especially if those rich kids from across the lake totally cheated in the big boat race, was a proud, defiant middle finger given in a overly complicated way coupled with a witty saying like, "Eat it."
Today we are more likely to respond to snooty waitstaff with a devastating Yelp review than with a "I'm just scratching my nose" hidden bird. And we're usually in too much of a rush to do that weird Italian gesture.
I myself, no stranger to more intricate bird maneuvers, generally result to a halfhearted display while running or biking (seriously people. Turn signals. Complete stops. It's not that hard.) instead of a more stylish "turning the raised hands around" move.
But we can change that.
My artisanal bird flipping service will bring you the handcrafted care we used to give rude gestures for the low price of $50 per move. Even the esteemed "Can you hear this, or should I turn it up" move will be showcased to the client of your choice. Authentic period sayings like, "up yours" are available at no extra cost.
You will be the envy of your kickball league, cassette trading circle, or mustache wax enthusiast party when moves such as the "Nasty Italian" are displayed. Sure, you can continue with your boring road rage "angry hand," but why not show some craftsmanship in your gestures?
If you don't do it for yourself, at least consider the children. Let them see the craft, the loving care that went into the gestures that once made this country great.