Sean Spicer is an adult thumbsucker. Below is part 1 of a many-part series documenting his trials with THE HABIT.

The Habit, PART I

It started in the womb. Positioned vertically with his head north, it almost looked like he was mocking you in ultrasounds.

Sean Spicer was born with his right thumb in his mouth, up to the joint.

The habit followed him.

By the age of twelve his mother hired a specialist. They tried a variety of tactics, practical, folklore, ancient techniques discovered in the manuscripts of nursemaids. They tried a clear gel that coats the nail, powerful enough in high doses to melt holes through car doors. They tried storytelling, warnings of the Devil’s preferences for children who suck on their thumbs. They had a special glove commissioned.

At the age of sixteen his father put his right hand on the dinner table and struck it in plain view with a yardstick until he drew blood. His siblings watched. Afterward he was not allowed to close the door to his room. The family watched him shed tears, meandering past his open door every few moments, pausing to watch him whimper.

His parents briefly discussed amputation.

The older he got the more the people in his life ignored or tolerated the Habit.

But the Habit remained. It remained out of sight, like pornography. He retreated to private creeks or spots along the river and sat on the banks and looked at the water and tongued his thumb, thinking, worrying, exulting.

He left instructions for his children to place him in his coffin with his right thumb in his mouth, up to the joint, like a sword in its sheath, and bury him in the earth this way, a skeleton to be discovered at the last days of time, bespeaking the crux of his entire life’s philosophy with a single, immutable gesture.

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