Jewish World Review Sept. 30, 2005/ 26 Elul, 5765

Greg Crosby

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Consumer Reports

Hands | I figured out a long time ago that I'm incapable in using my hands. Oh, my hands look normal enough, they each have the requisite four fingers and a thumb attached to them. They move correctly when I use them to point with or scratch myself with or write, type and draw with. To an outside observer I'm fairly certain they appear to be perfectly suitable hands in every way, and perhaps they are, or would be if they were attached to someone other than me.

Here's the thing, if I attempt to use my hands for any purpose more involved than lifting a fork to my mouth or combing my hair, I will hurt myself. I don't mean that I MIGHT hurt myself, or ON OCCASSION I have hurt myself, I mean I ABSOLUTELY WILL hurt myself. Every time. Guaranteed. No question about it. My life's motto could easily be, "use your hands, cause yourself damage."

If I pick up a knife or a scissor or a sharp instrument of any kind I will cut myself. If I try to hang a picture or move furniture or, G-d forbid, use any sort of tool like a screwdriver or hammer, I will sprain a finger or rip off a fingernail or cause bruising or inflict pain upon myself in any number of ways. If I touch wood, I will get a splinter. If I lift anything heavy, I will cause bleeding somewhere on my person. If I attempt to operate a barbeque or a stove top or an oven, I will burn myself. Every time.

Should I attempt to monkey around with anything that has grease or oil or paint or any other abrasive substance which might inflict additional pain to a cut or complicate a simple scratch, it will happen to me. Suppose I were, for example, to lift up the hood of my car (as unlikely as that might be) and put my hands on anything, anything at all, I would not only get a nasty cut, but I would get oil or grease into that cut as well, undoubtedly causing the hand to become badly infected.

It really doesn't matter how careful I am or how much I try to prepare myself for the task, if it involves hands I will be hurt. Every time.

Opening an envelope will as often as not result in my getting a paper cut. My wife knows better than to allow me to open any packages that are delivered to the house without her supervising the operation to ensure that I don't do damage to myself.

The other day I found myself outside standing next to our old wooden slat fence. I don't know what I was doing outside standing next to the fence, I must have been crazy or something, but nevertheless, there I was. The next thing I knew, I had a nasty, deep, splinter in the ring finger of my right hand. I don't even remember touching the fence. The proximity of my finger to the wood must have acted like a sort of magnetic field — the wood was drawn to my hand like a moth to a flame.

I don't quite understand why I alone have this problem when everyone else around me goes about their business happily building walls, changing tires, repairing roofs, and doing seventeen million other things which require hand usage. I don't see other people's hands ripped and torn and bleeding — how come? Young children climb trees, skateboard, and stick their grimy little paws into just about anything available and their hands survive just fine.

They say that there are some things in heaven and earth that we mere mortals shall never fully understand. The L-rd works in mysterious ways. I have to believe that one of the great mysteries of life is that I am not supposed to use my hands very much. G-d in His infinite wisdom has decided that I shall not have freedom of hand operation without pain, cutting or bleeding. Being a spiritual man I can accept this. It is His will and I must live with it. I know that now.

That is why when anything goes wrong around the house; I will never attempt to fix it anymore. I will call in repair people or beg friends and neighbors for help or my wife can handle it by herself. I cannot. I will not. My hands are on strike — they refuse to work. I can continue to brush my teeth, turn pages in a book, and operate a television remote all without incident, but that's about it. In the future when something needs handling well, I'll just let someone else handle it.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2005 Greg Crosby