Friday, May 22, 2009

To Shoot Oneself in the Foot

This phrase has intrigued me for quite some time. Though, initially, it was quite obvious in its meaning - to act against one's own interest or to foolishly harm one's own cause...effectively a person screwing himself/herself. However, there was something not right...a kind of lingering "this-doesn't-feel-entirely-right" feel to what the phrase meant. My computer science oriented brain somehow tried hard to decipher the logic behind the statement and I have a case to argue against this phrase referring to what it currently does.
Consider this - if you are going to shoot yourself in your foot, it obviously means that the initial premise is of you having a gun at hand. Fine. The next thing we need to consider is that we are not attempting to commit suicide, because if we were, we wouldn't be shooting ourselves in our foot. Now we know the world is not short of dumb people, and in the rare case that someone tried to commit suicide by shooting {him/her}self in the foot, they at least didn't die, which is a positive*.
There is another possibility - of you having accidentally shot yourself. In this case, we can safely assume that having a gun at hand, there was always the possibility of it going off. So, even though a person with no gunshot wound on his body is supposed to be better off than someone with his foot shot, we will remove the comfort of no gunshot wound because of the former reasoning. Now that we have reconciled to the fact that there is a high possibility of us having a gunshot wound (if we have a gun in hand), I really cannot think of many better places than the leg for taking the shot. I mean, your head is a bad place for you to get shot...ditto for your heart or abdomen. Getting shot in the face will definitely be fatal - either to your life or your appearance, so it's a no-no there. The stomach too, I am told, is not a very convenient place. That leaves us with the arms and legs, broadly speaking. Since (I think) we use our arms, on an average, for more duration and more purposes than our legs, getting shot in the arms is not a better option. Which leaves us with the legs. Now, if you consider the legs, it is highly unlikely for us to shoot ourselves in our thighs because of the ergonomics of the gun in our hand. A gunshot wound in the knee is bound to have relatively serious medical implications, hence that too, is ruled out. Which effectively means we have just the foot. And hey, it isn't that bad to limp and walk. On the contrary, we might get a couple of compassionate glances from the other sex - a guy limping might be mistaken for a war hero (for some reason, most war heroes in cinema limp), a girl limping will always be offered ready help (remember Vivek's gospel in Minnale about a girl falling down and guys rushing to help?).
Hence, I safely conclude that getting shot in the foot is actually not that bad a thing to happen.
So, the next time you had a close shave with something because of something you did, you'll know you just shot yourself in the foot.

*Note: The underlying assumption in this article is that death is bad. If you don't believe in that, I suggest you read some of my other posts. Ah well, you've read this one anyway.