The Deuce


I have no idea what it means, that two-fingered thing they do. To most Americans, our first thought is “peace.” But maybe she’s asking for two copies of the picture when I get the film developed. Maybe it’s a Chinese gang sign, or she’s telling me to be wary of the forked tongue of foreign devils. I call it the Deuce, and it’s an photographic occurrence of epidemic proportions.

I’ve got 40 or 50 shots just like this, spanning the years I’ve been coming to this country. I don’t even include them in my posts because it looks like I’ve asked everyone, friend and stranger alike, to pose this way. But it’s not me. It’s their default pose, their fallback position. I used to think it was a uniquely Chinese thing, too, until I went out to dinner with my friend Dave — a Canadian who’s been living in China for a while — and I got him in a picture with the entire wait staff and they all — all of them, Dave included — whipped out the Deuce and smiled for the camera.


Good lord, I thought, it’s contagious! Since then I’ve been careful of any telltale signs that that I might have caught the Deuce. I’ve been looking for symptoms, waiting for the tiniest tremor or warning wiggle in my arm and fingers. I can feel it coming. Years of exposure will get the best of me. One day, I’ll be caught in a group setting, eating hotpot or something, and someone will lift a camera to their face and I’ll throw up the Deuce like I was born to it. I’ll get wrapped up in the goofy innocence of the thing.

It’s coming for me. The Deuce. I can feel it.

It’s like Invasion of the Finger Snatchers.

If you ever see me in a picture rocking the Deuce like this… listen. There’s a safe deposit box in Florida with the contact information of a Hong Kong hitman who uses ice bullets. Give him the envelope and my address and forget you ever knew me. The Frank you knew and loved was gone the moment the Deuce took him!


6 thoughts on “The Deuce

  • Lisa says:

    Now everytime I see, what I used to call “the peace sign”, I’ll think of the deuce; and how it’s OUT TO GET MY BROTHER!!!

  • Debbie says:

    I know, what IS that?? If you even find out what it means, tell me, because I remember people doing that all the time when I was in Japan 25 years ago. “The Deuce”… I LIKE it!

  • frank says:

    Li – Oh, it’s not just out to get me. For centuries they had it contained, locked in, bound by their shores. But now, with the advent of the internet, it’s gone global. GLOBAL, I TELL YA!!! Watch out!

    Debbie – Oh, it’s such an insidious thing! I would research it more, but heaven knows how that would accelerate its progress!

  • frank says:

    I do remember that thing about the archers showing their bow fingers to show that they had escaped captivity. I hadn’t imagined that it had anything to do with the current craze in Asia. There’s no evidence to say that it does, in fact. I think I’ll start taking an informal survey…

  • frank says:

    Okay, so I just asked the waitress here in the Shanghai airport diner why all the Chinese people do that thing in pictures. The answer? “It’s cute.”

    That’s it. It’s cute. And, god help me, I think she believes it. Oh, the poor young fool! She has no idea how the pervasive, subliminal effects of the Deuce have wormed its way into her brain!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *