I am an artist, but I became a landscape gardener to make a living and give my two children what they needed. I was strong and learned quickly. I would work nine hours straight to get a job done right. I got a lot of satisfaction from my work, and I made good money for a woman with no education.

I made a deal with life: I would do what had to be done, thoroughly, enthusiastically, to make a living, and when the kids were grown I would have the time to make dolls, books, puppets, paintings, and papier-mâché dragons. But now that my kids are grown, I have been betrayed by my body, a body I had always assumed would follow my bidding. My right hand can no longer hold a needle, a pen, a brush, or a chisel without pain. Years of overuse have left it damaged.

The life I saw as a path has become a box. I work less and less, but my hand, wrist, and arm do not get better. The recommended ice and brace and anti-inflammatories only hold the pain back, leaving me wondering how much damage is permanent.

My uninjured, plucky left hand now types all my correspondence, leaping about on the typewriter keys. It has even learned to write legibly enough for shopping lists. About a year and a half ago, willing, but totally inept, my left hand spent six months learning how to use the pruning shears.

I always used to wish for time to do my art. Now I have the time I wished for, but I forgot to wish for the healthy hands to go along with it.

I have become almost obsessive, my entire life now pivoting around my injured hand. No conversation passes without some mention of it; even in my dreams, I am no longer whole and capable. I cannot shake the fear, the ache that surrounds the almost unthinkable — that I may have already lost what I can’t imagine not having.

Heidi Freestone
Sebastopol, California

Twenty years ago, I went to a local school for handicapped children and offered to volunteer. They gave me a tour to let me pick a classroom.

One appealed to me right away: the deaf-blind room. My first sight in it was of a young boy on a teacher’s lap: he was feeling her face as they rocked, laughing with her each time the rocking began again after a pause. Something in me responded to this directness of experience — the world enters the body not from a distance, as through the eyes and ears, but through the fingers, the hands, the whole body.

That moment led to twenty years of teaching children who can’t see or hear, who communicate through Braille and sign language, translating the world so that it can enter through fingertips. Hours and years of hands touching hands, hands guiding hands, hands being led by hands.

Several years ago, I tried to remember concrete images of my childhood home; I could remember almost none. One day it occurred to me to ask my hands instead of my eyes what they remembered. My hands answered. They remembered the feel of the underside of the metal kitchen table, the frayed oilcloth on the back of the chair, the contour of the wooden molding along the wall beside the table, the smooth rubber gasket in the refrigerator door. From this small beginning, memories flooded in, and my childhood home began to take shape beneath my fingertips.

It took me nearly twenty years to learn what the deaf and blind children had to teach me about the knowledge of hands. I’m still learning to trust my hands as they touch, as they cook, as they paint, as they drum, as they play with a child, as they write these words.

Barbara Miles
Middletown Springs, Vermont

My father’s hands were clean and large, their pale backs dappled with age spots, their fingers fleshy and full and ending in nails he would clip neat and straight. I remember the way the veins stood out, like raised rivers during a flood. I remember the heaviness of his hands resting on the mug of ale at the kitchen table, as he sat in his white jockey shorts in the hours before dawn during a binge. I remember the sound his hands made that night each time they landed on my brother’s body, belting Jim up and down the stairs. Jim’s voice had not yet changed; it cracked with each backhanded blow.

My mother’s hands were more bone than flesh, the joints all knobs and knots. I remember them resting on the pages of the books that lay in her lap as she sat in the corner of the living room, never turning a page. I remember how they lay on our shoulders, my sister’s and mine, as we huddled together on the bed behind the closed door during Jim’s beating. Our own hands were trembling, and we did not speak. My mother’s hands said all there was to say about our helplessness and my father’s power.

I wish I could say that in the laying on of my mother’s hands, courage was passed down from one generation of women to the next. I cannot. What was really taught that night was silence. Shhh, my mother’s fingers said at her lips, and pressed against our own as we wept. Shhh.

Kathleen K.

I never noticed my hands until I started smoking cigarettes. Then my hands became the star of the show, an appealing match for the seductive pattern of smoke. As I cupped a man’s hand with proffered light, the pale blue aquamarine ring on my pinkie finger gleamed. In Japan I learned to light a man’s cigarette, and back in the U.S. it was a good come-on.

As a potter, my hands caressed the clay, centering a gray, wet mound on a wheel or kneading it smooth on a slab or pounding it into flat submission. My hands were tools, sometimes conduits of creativity, sometimes just the workhorses of the craft.

I never considered my hands objects of desire until I moved to New England. One winter’s eve we all piled into a van and drove through snow-covered streets to the old grange hall, where we swung ourselves into a sweat at a contra dance. As the fiddler played and the caller sang, I went hand to hand down the line, and on the allemande-left, someone pressed a slip of paper into my palm.

When the dance ended I flopped on the floor and opened the folded note. Will you sleep with me? it said. It was unsigned.

Many nights later, when that chill February had faded into balmy spring, I found myself lying next to the man who had delivered the question. Gathering my hands in his, he brought them to his lips and traced the creases of my palms. He stroked my knuckles and the lengths of my fingers to the tips of my nails. His touch was tender, soft, tremulous.

“I’ve been wanting to do this ever since I saw you,” he said. “I love your hands.”

Pamela Roberts
Colrain, Massachusetts

One of the few items I kept from my parents’ estate was a pillow that belonged to my mother. On the front, encircled by numbers and astrological symbols, is a picture of a large hand, palm out, with markings of the head line, the heart line, the lifeline, and the girdle of Venus. Someone had given this pillow, a charted palm on a field of purple, to my mother, the palm reader.

When she was in her twenties, working at Akron City Hospital, an old man promised her that if she read aloud to him, he would teach her palmistry. That’s how she got started. She then developed her own system. It was a combination of holding someone’s hand, turning and squeezing it, and poring over lines and mounds and creases. Then she would factor in facial features, nose and ear lobes, and combine all of that with the appropriate astrological sign.

As a child of four or five, I remember crawling into bed with my mother in the morning. Dad was already down at the barn milking, and she would be planning her day. She would lie there with her arms stretched toward the ceiling, looking at her hands. “Your father once told me I had beautiful hands,” she said. They were substantial hands, with tapered fingers and a particular grace. My hands are shaped very much like hers.

She would never tell me what she saw in my hand. Oh, there were references to the high arch in my nails. That was pride, she told me. If I was especially haughty about what I would and would not wear, she’d say, “I’m going to take a hammer and smash down those nails.”

One time her cousins were visiting from Texas. She had not seen them since their childhood days of playing in Grandpa’s funeral parlor.

“The only thing I can figure,” my mother said, studying cousin Edna’s palm, “is that you married the same man twice.”

“Yes, that’s right,” Edna answered with some embarrassment.

Her sister Carrie was stunned. “My own sister, and you never told me.”

“Well, Roy and I had a few rough years there,” Edna explained. “Divorce was unheard of in this family. When we worked it out and got back together, I didn’t see any need to mention it.”

When I reached seventh grade, my mother took her act on the road. She was a Stanley home-products dealer. Women would book a party and invite their friends over. Once the catalogs and the orders for Easy-Glo wax and Amazo mops were collected, Mom would do “character readings” for all of the guests.

“You’re good with money,” she’d tell one of them, and the neighbors would chime in, “Boy, you’ve sure got her pegged!”

In my twenties I fell deeply in love. He was married, and the relationship was filled with delicious pain. By the time we agreed it could not continue, I was pregnant. At that time and in my circumstances, I felt that the only responsible decision was to give up my baby for adoption. My family held their collective breath until this disgraceful episode passed.

My mother came to the hospital to take me home. She was so distraught that when they brought a wheelchair for me, I put her in it and wheeled her out. As the elevator door closed off our final view of the nursery window, she said, “Well, I saw what I needed to see.” “What’s that?” I asked.

“When the baby held up her little hand, the thumb was bending over backward. She’ll always be a generous person. She’ll make it in this world.”

I cling to that prophecy. It’s all I have. I think of this young woman, now in her twenties, and wonder what her hands look like.

Name Withheld

I told my lover over the phone that I could no longer deal with the pain of our relationship. He said all the right things — that he loved me but understood my feelings and would abide by my decision. The reasonable tone of his reply infuriated me, and I hung up in the middle of our conversation.

When I calmed down, I realized that I had made the correct, indeed the only possible, decision. My lover was married, unhappily, to a wife who was bedridden with a mysterious illness. I was married, unhappily, with three children. My husband was a violent, vengeful man, and I knew if I tried to leave him I would have to suffer through a messy divorce in a country whose language I barely spoke. I might very well lose custody of my children.

I had little money; my lover was a struggling artist who worked only occasionally at odd, poorly paid jobs. I was ashamed of his poverty, of his shabby, ill-cut clothes, and of his lack of formal education. I was ashamed of my shame.

Most important, however, was what my friends had told me: my lover was a philanderer. I was hardly the first woman in Paris — foreigner or otherwise — to fall for that shy, gentle smile and those brooding eyes.

I had done the logical, intelligent thing, and I congratulated myself. It was then that I noticed my hand: it was snaking across the desk toward the telephone. Like the severed movie hand that terrifies the heroine as it runs up and down the keys of her piano, my hand was acting entirely of its own volition. I watched in dread fascination as it picked up the phone, dialed a number, and then brought the receiver to my ear so that I could hear my lover calling out anxiously, “Hello? Hello?” and myself answering with no preliminaries whatsoever, “I love you very much.”

That was twenty-eight years ago, and we have scarcely been apart a day since.

Shelley V. Ashley

When I was seven years old, five of us kids were playing war in the back yard of my best friend Tooey’s house. I was playing the very courageous nurse going to the rescue of a fallen GI. Then I got hit. I mean really hit. I felt a sharp sensation in my right leg, but I ignored it and kept running toward the wounded soldier. Suddenly my leg buckled, and I fell to the ground. I looked down and screamed, more in horror than pain, since there was little physical sensation: a stick of wood had pierced one side of my lower leg and come out the other side. There was blood, too, though not a great deal. I tugged at the stick gingerly and felt a squish inside my leg. Looking up at the gaping eyes of my four amazed friends, I instantly knew that my valor would merit a Purple Heart.

Somehow I got home, and my frantic grandmother told my cousin to run across the street and get Geneva. Geneva was Sonny’s mom, the neighborhood’s only stay-at-home mom, and the only person around with a car. I’d once heard my dad describe her as a “meticulously spectacular woman.” Whenever I went over to Sonny’s to play after school, she would appear at the door, her red hair curled, her fingernails painted red. She would sweetly smile and in a low, languid drawl say, “Hi theah, honey.” A radio played in the background. I was never allowed inside.

Finally Geneva appeared, followed by my cousin. She looked like a glamorous movie star, I thought, smartly dressed in a pink angora sweater over immaculate white slacks. Mama Lola, my grandmother, was by this time frantically wringing her hands, saying over and over again, “Ay, Dios mío, Dios mío.” Coming from a frugal and straight-laced culture, Mama Lola had always been critical of Geneva’s brassiness, but that didn’t matter now: Geneva would drive me to the doctor.

She carried me into his office, her high-heeled shoes click-clicking on the bare tiles. I looked up at his portly chin and into a gold, glinty mouth, and then up into his spectacled eyes, which were now moving over Geneva, scanning her spectacular pink angora sweater. Then his hands brought a black mask down over my nose, and he asked me to count to twenty.

When I awoke, he was saying, “I got it all out. She’ll be all right.” I tried to open my eyes but they seemed glued shut. I reached out for Geneva and felt her there, and I wasn’t afraid. For a time there were no voices, no sounds — just me breathing, my leg throbbing, my heart beating, Geneva’s heart beating. Then I opened my eyes and saw Geneva looking at the doctor, smiling, the doctor looking at Geneva, smiling, and my hand holding Geneva’s sharp, pink angora breast.

Sylvia Beltrán
Elmira, Oregon

My dad’s hands had a hard life, like he did. He was a farmer, rancher, trapper, carpenter, plumber, electrician, roofer, and laborer. He was even a boxer for a while. I know he wasn’t much of a father, though he provided for his family.

His hands were hard, rough, and callused, and I suppose once in a while they were loving toward somebody. But I can only remember being afraid of them. They stood for pain and punishment, never justice, and certainly not caring. Even when he was eighty years old, those hands, hard and curled, reached out from his wheelchair to hit me.

I can understand and even forgive him now, but I’ll never forget those hands.

John Murphy
Corvallis, Oregon

When I felt Moustapha’s hand grasp mine, my heart started pounding. What was going on? What should I do?

In America, men didn’t hold hands. But I was in Africa, and this was an African man. In several weeks we had become friends, good friends, and at some level I instinctively took this intimacy of holding hands as an acknowledgment of that friendship. But what else did it signify?

Was he gay? Or was it something else — the cross-cultural equivalent of a pat on the back, a punch in the shoulder? If I took my hand away would I insult him?

We were walking along the school building, passing open doorways of classrooms in which dozens of my fellow Peace Corps volunteers and Moustapha’s fellow teachers were all working together. I felt the judgment of every pair of eyes, riveting, expectant. I was being given a test, a hugely important, character-determining, heart-measuring test, and there was only one question, and just two possible answers, but I didn’t have a clue.

I can’t truly remember, but I’m hopeful that I somehow sensed Moustapha, felt the easy rhythm of his stride, noticed the suppleness in his arm, heard the relaxed timbre of his voice. I understood that nothing strange had happened for him, leading me to conclude that I should leave my hand where it was.

Two years later, still in Africa, I could walk down a road, along a river, or through a crowd, laughing and talking with Moustapha or another African friend, feel a surge of intimacy between us, and grasp his hand. I could walk with him in public, his hand in mine, feeling close without even thinking about it.

Of course, it’s never happened with an American. Back in the United States now, I have many friends, several as close as Moustapha, and I take pleasure in those friendships and enjoy moments of warmth. But now I communicate those feelings more awkwardly, with stiff hugs and hearty handshakes, if at all, and I find myself jealous of the liberties some women and gay men afford themselves — the liberties of friendly intimacy, of simple physical gestures that are neither more nor less than they should be. I find myself jealous of the unreflective grasp of another man’s hand.

Morgan O’Byrne
Boca Raton, Florida

I was sharpening a carving knife when Monty, one of our Siamese cats, rubbed up against my leg. I thought, “Cut it out, Monty!” and at that instant I cut my left hand near the wrist, severing two tendons in my thumb and the nerve that carries sensation from the thumb and forefinger. My left hand was in a splint for five and a half weeks, then I began physical therapy. Now, seven months later, my hand is much better.

Out of all this pain and trauma, my whole life has improved. I’d been a smoker for twenty-six years, but when I tried to smoke the day after my surgery, the pain in my hand was so severe that I stopped and haven’t smoked since. Having tried to quit for seven years, I don’t believe I could have done it without the shock of the injury. I still don’t know whether this is something I accomplished or whether it was accomplished for me.

Robert Greenebaum
Natick, Massachusetts

When I was nine, I suffered a prolonged case of impetigo that I spread, with my hands, from my face to my legs and chest. I got it, my mother said, from “some dirty child,” and it took more than a week of painful treatments with peroxide and antibiotics for the itchy, crusty sores to heal.

My hands, though, never fully healed. A few days after the disease was gone, blisters formed on my fingers. I hid my hands, fearing more treatment, until I became too obvious, scratching them all of the time.

On my return visit to his office, the doctor speculated that the weakened skin may have created a point of entry for a much worse condition — eczema, which is chronic and has no complete cure. I would have to learn to live with the problems my hands would cause me.

Living with my hands meant that I would eventually build an inch-thick medical record with various dermatologists. It meant soaking my hands in medicated waters and then wrapping them in plastic. It meant setting them under heat lamps, rubbing them with ointments that made the skin as fragile as tissue paper, and coating them with vitamin E. I stopped eating oranges and chocolate and ingested large doses of zinc.

Throughout my adolescence, I suffered nearly constant low-grade pain. Just bending my fingers was difficult; either the skin would dry and split and bleed at the knuckles, or my hands would swell so I could barely move them. Then they would blister, leak fluid, dry out, and begin the process again. Rather than expose people to these raging wounds, I wore white gauze gloves to school.

As I grew older, I gained some relief from the natural swing of youthful nerves and hormones. I also learned ways to cope: scalding water from the tap if I woke up scratching; judicious application of the powerful ointments; constant hand cream; no rings or long fingernails to attract attention; no knitting, quilting, or stitching hobbies that would require dexterity.

Although I learned to live with my hands, I never accepted them as part of my body. They were something outside of me, beyond my control.

Years passed, and while I secretly hoped for a cure, I never quite expected one. That may be why I found it. After my father died, when I was in my twenties, my thoughts turned to other, even older afflictions, and over the years I began to piece together frightening memories. One night I went to my mother’s house and told her I knew that she had made me sleep with my father when I was very young. Later she wrote me a letter and said I had always been a bad person and our relationship was over.

A few months afterward I realized that my hands had cleared. They have not broken out since. Of course, the effect of so many sores healing over in the same places is still apparent. My hands look old and lined, and the skin and nails become cracked and dry in the winter. My hands must be exhausted after so many years of weeping for me.

Violette P.

I march in the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Freedom Day Parade each June with other supportive parents of gay and lesbian children. I hold my hands high and cheer. I display the thumb, index finger, and pinkie of my right hand, the sign for love. The crowd waves, cries, screams. They are saying thank you.

The first time I marched in the parade, I didn’t know how to sign love. My fingers wouldn’t cooperate, and my left hand had to position the fingers of my right.

I didn’t march until three years after my son came out. “I don’t like crowds” was my excuse. But in reality, I wasn’t ready to accept all the love pouring out from the gay and lesbian bystanders. The emotional power of three hundred thousand pairs of hands reaching out can be overwhelming. My heart still leaps into my throat each time.

The first time I marched, I felt dishonest. Who was I to receive this attention? I was only a mother. I held my son when he was born, nursed him, pressed my lips to his sweet baby scent. Why should I get all this attention for loving my son?

The men and women in the crowd want the acceptance of their parents; to them, I represent a parent who can love, and this gives them hope. Once, a woman in the front of the crowd shouted, “It should be my mother.” Tears were streaming down her face. I wanted to leave the parade route and hold her, but I kept on marching.

Laura Siegel
Pacifica, California

My best friend in high school told me that you could tell the size of a boy’s penis by his fingers. I didn’t believe her, but since I’d never seen one in the flesh, it was fun to imagine it as true. I’d picture Robbie’s long, pencil-thin one and Don’s short, fat, stubby one.

By the time I was finally of an age to test my friend’s theory, I had forgotten it. By then I had my own ideas about hands. Hands were more erotic than anything I could imagine. Dating usually meant spending hours in restaurants, and hands were all we could touch as we ate and drank, a kind of public foreplay in preparation for the evening’s grand finale.

Married now, with a couple of kids and never enough money for fancy restaurants, I no longer gaze across a linen tablecloth and eroticize. But the other night, as we sat on the couch together, I held my husband’s hands in mine and looked longingly, erotically, at his fingers, at the veins that stand up like soft, blue pillows on the backs of his hands. And then at my own hands.

“Liver spots!” I screamed. “Are these things liver spots?”

“Yup,” he said, as he took off his glasses to get a closer look. “Liver spots.”

Judith Shapiro
Alexandria, Virginia

I often dream of hand transplants. By some miracle of modern surgery I’m given hands that are straight, uncrippled by arthritis; hands I can take for granted, as I did when I was twenty. They won’t hurt. They won’t embarrass me. My rings will fit onto slim, white fingers.

On a cold spring day, near Versailles, my daughter and I stepped into a cafe for warmth and crépes. Janet thrust her young hands onto the table beside mine, blue with cold and veined with age. “Which hands are the youngest?” she asked flippantly, mocking an old advertisement for dishwashing soap, in which the mother has younger-looking hands than her daughter. I slip my hands beneath the table, because they “tell.”

Scarlett O’Hara’s hands gave her away, too. Her dress, fashioned from green velvet drapes, may have fooled Rhett, but not her work-worn hands.

Gardeners’ hands “tell,” too. When I visited one friend, who worked his gardens for nearly ninety years, I always took notice of his hands. They were tanned and adroit, with dirt beneath the nails, and they were always moving. His narrow fingers sifted a handful of soil, checking it for moistness and composition; they snapped off dead flower heads; they tunneled beneath the soil’s surface to disengage, with surgical skill, the roots of plantain. With the sharpest focus, I remember those hands weeding. Other images have blurred, but not my memory of his hands.

When I studied the modern-dance techniques of Martha Graham, my teacher would scream, “No ballerina hands!” I had to learn the dramatic tension, the strength, lodged in the hands. The Graham hand in contraction is cupped, wrists bent upward, fingers close together; in release, the hand resumes a natural position — no teacup pinkies, no “jazz” hands with fingers splayed apart, no ballerina’s dying swan undulating on limp wrists.

I hadn’t much thought about the hands of dental hygienists until recently, when I sat captive, my mouth open to manicured fingers. The nails weren’t just painted, they were sculpted, half an inch long, with a thin, diagonal stripe of gold meticulously painted onto the red. Suddenly, I didn’t want them in my mouth.

I watch my daughter Laurel as she makes lace, her nails rounded, pink, and natural, her fingers moving incredibly fast at their spidery task. I try to memorize the motion, the youth in her hands, having loved and watched them from their dimpled baby days. I love my husband’s hands, too, more than when he was younger. Now they’re callused and sun-aged, weathered.

Does what I write here reveal an unwitting bias — a subconscious wish for youth and softness in women’s hands, and admiration for the work-worn, scarred “character” in men’s hands? Am I denying the dignity of work to my own hands?

Why do women fight surface changes more than men do? Why denigrate the work of good hands? Why the manicures and creams, the potions against age spots, the whitening agents and restricting gloves? Our bodies know change well — the passage from child to woman marked by menarche; the monthly cycle of fertility; the swellings and emptyings of bearing and giving birth; the menopausal physical and psychic changes. We live with rhythms of change.

Yet even the writer Colette, resilient as a cat in most aspects of life, denied, camouflaged, and resisted the inevitable changes age brought to her body. At eighty she preferred to call herself “twenty, four times over.” And it was her hands, she said, that registered the most stunning evidence of change.

I hold my mother’s aristocratic hand, crippled and veined with age. With my eyes I trace the blue translucence. I love her hands; they’re the hands my hands are growing toward.

Helen B. Cannon
Logan, Utah

Fred’s right hand is tightly and permanently clasped, with its thumb pointing out as if perpetually hitchhiking. His typing rate these days is around three minutes per word in the wheelchair, and maybe two and a half minutes per word in bed. He types with his nose, chin, and the knob of his elbow.

Yesterday morning Fred seemed a little slower than usual finishing up a message. Finally, he pressed Enter, engaging a voice synthesizer to broadcast the minimum sound necessary to form the words COFFEE OFF. This meant that he wasn’t having such a good morning, that the Valium wasn’t working yet, that he was exhausted from pain and wanted to be put back into bed, and that he probably wouldn’t be getting up again at noon, so I could drink the rest of the coffee or pour it out. It meant, Go ahead and set up the coffee maker for the next day if you want, and it meant, Thanks a million.

Then, after a half-minute pause (his wrist gets stuck on the space bar sometimes), the monotone voice recited LAUNDRY PLEASE.

Bullshit, I said. Listen, I told you I’m getting out of here on time today. I intend to be out that door at ten o’clock. You’ve got plenty to wear, and if I don’t get some practice today I’m gonna go crazy, and tonight is that seminar I told you about. I’m not about to screw up my well-planned day off so Bossman can have his blue pajamas out in case Angela visits.

He got a laugh out of that. It’s a long story.

I was home by ten-thirty. I wanted to shower but instead I sat down at the piano, cruised through some scales, then started working on Bach’s Sinfonia 11 in G minor.

The difficult thing about counterpoint involving three or more parts is that at least one of those parts is shared between the hands. That is, besides playing one melody with the left hand and another with the right hand, you play a middle voice that gets traded back and forth. If you execute it correctly, there is no interruption in the flow of that middle voice when it has to move from one hand to the other. This is one hell of a trick. So you learn various ways to hold a note down with one finger while other fingers on that hand are traveling. It took me years.

I noticed it was growing dark outside, glanced at the clock, then realized I would be late for the Stellarc presentation at the Art Institute. Stellarc is a performer who used to pierce himself with small metal hooks and suspend his body above busy streets and art galleries, but now he’s into robots.

As I took my seat he was declaring the human body obsolete, saying it is inadequate for dealing with the tasks and information our world forces upon it. He was genuinely excited about the prospect of interfacing human bodies with technology: the placing of computer chips under the skin, the development of artificial organs, the control of muscles by electrical stimulation, and robotic prosthesis.

As part of his demonstration he strapped onto his forearm a third hand, which was controlled by the muscles in his leg via a handful of chips and circuits and a tangle of wires. When he caused the third hand to make a grasping motion by contracting the muscles in his left thigh, practically everyone in the room whispered Wow.

“How can you have such a bad attitude about technology?” one woman asked me in the hallway afterward. “I mean, won’t it be wonderful when the crippled people you work with have some of these things? And what about your piano? Isn’t that technology?”

It took me about ten minutes to deliver my answer to her, which seemed to strain her interest. I adeptly reduced her assumptions to ashes using a well-researched, self-taught, neo-Luddite philosophy that I normally use to explain my reasons for not owning a television. She apologized, laughed, and retreated to the refreshment table.

I walked back home, cried a while into my hands, and slept. I dreamed the Hindu deity Shiva was sitting at a bus stop playing an accordion, cello, and bass drum simultaneously. It’s a long story, I’m sure.

Jeffrey Ruckma
Kansas City, Missouri