Saturday, December 26, 2009

The hideous hand

I'm only a semi-regular at my uncle's bar, so I'm not familiar with every customer who comes in. One Saturday night, a couple weeks ago, I had hung around after saying hello to my uncle and cousin to catch "Cops" on TV and continue drinking. The color commentary from the regulars during this program can be both funny and withering. While I was watching the show a man about my age sat down next to me. I didn't recognize him. He was in pretty rough shape. He got a drink and proceeded to decline at a rapid rate. He began to fall asleep at the bar and at one point dropped his glass which immediately got him flagged by the bartender. Before that had occurred, I narrowly avoided an altercation with him. When he first sat down, I turned slightly to observe him. Since I had already assumed the universal posture of the defeated (shoulders hunched over my beer, head bent down) I didn't look him in the eye. Instead, my field of vision fell upon his right hand resting on the bar. I may have paused for a moment because I noticed that it was grotesquely gnarled and twisted like some fiendish animal's claw, but it wasn't like I was openly staring at it in stark amazement. But even in as rough shape as this guy was in, he picked up on it and in a voice dripping with contempt he asked, "How's it going, buddy?" I said it was going all right, but in my mind I was thinking, "Things are going to get really stupid now." Fortunately, he was in no shape to escalate the situation and nothing happened. Still smarting from the tone of his query, I began to brood and get angry over his assumption that I was the kind of guy who impolitely stares at the handicapped. If this guy is so sensitive about his clawlike hand, why is he flopping it on the bar like a dead fish so that everyone can see it? Stick it in your pocket. Tuck it away. That's what I would do. Don't wave it around and then get pissed because someone notices your hideous hand. I later learned that he had suffered some sort of drug-related, Crackhead Bob-type stroke which had caused the disfigurement and got even angrier. Talk about taking the fun out of drinking!


Blogger Gina said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

Withering heights, Mike, a bitter Christmas pill indeed. I understand how this man aroused your anger. Flaunting his decrepit hand only to smack you with sarcastic indignation. Reminds me of something from a Richard Yates novel. I can only imagine the difficulty this man endures daily trying to be comfortable with the familiar in a world which views his deformity as anything but. God knows the issues this soul carries around and perhaps uses as a reason to drown himself. Frankly, I see it as a handy conversation starter. God help him cope with the hand he was dealt, and to get past his own pain, that he might be able to use his uniqueness to reach out to other people. Amen.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Gina said...

ice breaker or arm breaker?

1:27 PM  
Blogger yakimba said...

The only time you definitely shouldn't stare is when they want you to ... like the venerable deformed withering penis trick.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Tom Joad told a half-blind guy to stop feeling sorry for himself; just tell the next gal that your dong's growed after you lost your eye.

11:20 AM  

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