Friday, January 16, 2009

Sign Language


Over at Birmingham Daily Photo, the lovely Virginia is doing a series on hands. And it made me think, there's so much about our appearance and our past we can hide through make up, a hair cut, clothes, shoes, accessories, medical intervention, even charm. But hands?

A person's hands will reveal how much time was spent in the great outdoors. Are you clever? Spoiled? Artistic? Can you rein in a horse, fish, carve, play piano? Are you gentle and good with children?

Funny, the scars on hands never seem to go away. I have two dogbite scars, still, from my heart's dog back when I was 17. I even have a scar from a glass jar tantrum when I was five. I like those scars.

Look at your hands right now. They tell so much about what we treasure and what we regret. And the palms -- so untouched by life lived, unless you're a really useful person such as a carpenter or plumber or mechanic.

As a child -- a very young child -- I had a godmother, a very elegant godmother. She had ivory hands and long, real fingernails. I thought her hands were the most beautiful things in the world. My godparents only visited once or twice a year, flying in from some exotic place or another. I would watch, mesmorized, as Aunt Lorelei tended to her nails -- the clip, the file, the buffer, the undercoat, the polish.

I was sure I would grow up to be an Aunt Lorelei, glamorous and gentle and lovely. But stuff happens. My godfather was arrested for bank robbery; Aunt Lorelei remarried, and we never heard from her again. True story. I still miss the both of them. Here's my Uncle Fred and his hands.

Yes, I was bald for awhile.

Oh, but I guess we were talking about hands...

24 comments:

  1. Thanks for the plug, KB.. As I said on my comment to you, age does some scary things to your hands. I look at mine and sometimes feel like I am looking at someone else's hands. I don't feel that old inside!! It's cruel really. Would Botox help do you think?

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  2. I hope that Aunt Lorelei has been lurking on your blog and types a message with her ivory hands when she reads this.

    Hands are expressive, but the neck tells the real story.

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  3. It sounds as if your ham fisted godfather lacked the necessary nuance to be a success at the five finger pick up. Woe to aunt Lorelei.

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  4. Now for the rest of the story (look ma, no hands). These godparents weren't blood relatives, but they were the only relatives I knew. Uncle Fred was a Harvard grad, and my godparents lived a charmed, but evidently, credit-extended life. Flat broke, Uncle Fred robbed a bank with a starter pistol so the family could take their summer vacation in Greece. He was arrested on the flight home.

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  5. Susan, NONONONONO, we are NOT going to discuss necks now or ever. All I have to say is "gobble gobble".

    And KB, easy on that godfather. I like a man that knows how to take nice vacations.

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  6. The story gets better....

    Here's another kind of charmer. Think I'll name him Fred

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  7. Don't worry Virg, I'll always love my Uncle Fred. He wrote me the most beautiful letter from prison, and I treasure it to this day. Susan, wouldn't I love that? PA -- A tile?

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  8. There's more than a dash of larceny in everyone's background, I'd wager.

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  9. Sounds like Fred was a bit of a gadfly and a bit of a fool. Nonetheless, romantic fools are the best kind. Or the worst kind? I'm not sure.

    You're cute when you're bald. What's your sister up to?

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  10. My hands are wrecked. Too many years without a dishwasher. Just started wearing gloves last month because I realized I have the hands of an 80-year-old.

    That being said, one time my 80-year-old great aunt accidentally gave my little brother a black eye. He still insists it was the hardest punch he's ever taken. So maybe that's not so bad.

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  11. If your Uncle Fred played guitar, I totally would have done his laundry.

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  12. Those dogs are big mousers (skips).

    My hands tell the story of a madhouse, railroad tracks, burning trashcans.

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  13. Petrea, the sister you don't know is alive and well in or near the Seattle area. In the family tradition of communications, but perhaps more actively (at the moment) than the sister you know.

    FG, you're right. He was a handsome devil, huh?

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  14. Ms H. My hands tell the story of ditches dug not wisely but too well.

    (Is the word verification still working for you? Mine is thenssoa, as in then so, ah, lies the tale.)

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  15. Mine is "aquaceri"

    As in drink more cherry colored water which I'll take to mean more wine is in order. Hold on. I took so long writing this I got another word verif. It says: spewscuz

    I threw up on my cousin before- not because I was souced, just a little car sick.

    Re alert: room spinning

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  16. I know one of your sisters?

    Erm. My mind's awhirl. I'm lost. Whut?

    I was assuming the other girl in the picture was your sister.

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  17. Of the two sisters pictured, I'm the one you know.

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  18. When my niece was around 8 I said, "Do you know that when you were 2 or 3 and you were bald?" And she said, "Do you know you're bald now?"

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  19. It's funny, I've been thinking about my hands. Every one in a while I'll glance past them and do a double take. They look exactly like me mothers when she was about my age. It freaks me out actually.

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  20. I just adore that photograph. A lot of happy faces.
    You nailed it on the hands. Well said.
    I have a scar on my pinky from breaking a glass while washing at my friend's who is no longer here. I miss her still & I'm glad of the reminder. She loved the ee cummings poem that Woody Allen used in Hannah & her 3 sisters... I think it ends with "nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands". sigh.

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  21. I always hated the big callous on my middle finger of my right hand that I got from gripping my pen too hard.

    I'm with Farmgirl on that devilishly charming godfather of yours.

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  22. Oh Margaret, how funny. Mind look a little like my dad's. And Tash, sweet. Yes, that's why I treasure those scars. Laurie -- I have that callous. And for years I've only used a pen for writing checks.

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