I try to eat a wholesome diet. I’m not a fanatic about that. But I generally avoid the most deleterious of foods. (Although, I sometimes do give into unhealthful cravings.) And I try to eat the suggested portions of foods that reliable sources recommend as healthful. Which brings me to this. I read an article that claimed that nuts, in moderate quantities, are good for you. It recommended that I eat a handful of nuts daily.
Um, a handful of nuts? A little more precision would be helpful.
I’ve never researched this. So I’m not sure, but I think I have roughly average size hands for an adult male. Thus, I felt a bit smug when I read about the advisability of eating a handful of nuts daily. I pitied the people with small hands who, if they want to maintain good health, can’t eat as many nuts as I can eat each day. I like nuts. As a general rule, I’d rather eat more nuts than less. (As a general rule, I’d like to eat as many nuts as I can get my hands on in a continuous shoveling motion. But this is no place to discuss my obsessions.)
Then I thought about it further and got depressed. I became unbearably envious of people with big hands. The voice inside my head thundered, “Why do they get to eat so many more nuts than I do? It’s not fair, I tell you!”
Voices thundering inside my head irritate me, enervate me, and lead me to binge-eat. The result is, I now need to go out and buy more nuts.
But enough about nuts.
A handful of …
Of course, the handful measure is used for more than just snack foods. It sometimes gets downright silly.
For example, when reporting on the unexpectedly small size of a crowd at a rally, protest, concert or some other such gathering, people might say, “Only a handful of people showed up.” What the hell is that?
I don’t know about you, but I can’t hold even a single person in my hand. And a couple, particularly a couple who’s having a spat and, therefore, don’t want to be squished too close together? Forget about it.
So, as far as I’m concerned, a handful of people is no one. Why not just say, “no one showed up?”
True, I’ve seen people balance a baby on just one of their hands. Although, they usually also include at least a portion their attached forearm in that manoeuvre. Is it accurate to call it a handful if they involve the forearm? I’d say that’s more than a handful.
And, those are other people. It’s not something I would ever do even if I thought I was physically capable of holding a baby in one hand. I’d be terrified of dropping said baby if I used only one hand. That might cause serious injury to the infant. And it would significantly shorten my life because I wouldn’t be able to live with my guilt feelings.
Besides, the handful of infants measure is irrelevant when talking about crowd sizes at rallies, protests, concerts, etc. How many babies crawl to such events on their own? I’m willing to bet that it rarely or, more likely, never happens. So, if there’s a baby in attendance, there’s almost certainly at least one adult there as well. And that’s way more than anyone can fit in even the largest of hands.
On a final note, parents of regularly rambunctious children might refer to those kids as “a handful.” Huh? If you constantly try to hold them in your hand, maybe that’s why they’re so unruly. Not kid is going to like that. They want to run around and play every once in a while.
Sometimes the parents go even further and call their kids “a real handful.” OK, now that’s just wrong. If they left off the “real,” maybe they could claim that their words were purely rhetorical. But saying “real handfuls” is like saying that their kids are literally handfuls. Obviously they’re not literally handfuls (see above). Then again, many people use the word “literally” incorrectly. So, who knows what they really mean?