“What happened to your arm?”
I hear this a lot. Probably not as often as people would like to ask it, but enough. And the answer is always the same. “Oh, I was just born that way.” “Oh,” they’ll reply. Sometimes they’ll tell me about their grandpa who got his arm cutoff in a farming accident or a teacher they had in high school that was “like that.” Usually it’s a quick, open and shut case, though.
Sometimes, though…sometimes I have a little fun with it.
For instance, this summer I took my kids to the park and they were making some new friends. One little boy, he was probably six years old, came up to me and said, “Hey, what happened to your arm, man?”
“I was just born that way,” I replied.
“No, really, what happened?” he insisted.
“When I was born, I only had one hand. When you were born, you had two, right? I just had one.”
“Right, right, but what happened, man?”
I love this about kids. They literally can’t comprehend that a person could be born that way. So many kids ask me where I keep it and look behind my back and look at me as if I’m trying to trick them. It’s fantastic. So, knowing this little guy wasn’t buying it, I went for broke.
“Ok, I cut it off with a chainsaw,” I said.
“Fo’ real? Did it hurt?” he asked, completely unfazed.
“Yeah, man. It hurt a lot. But, it’s cool now. Doesn’t hurt at all.”
“Straight, straight.” And then he went and played some more.
At one point he came back and said, “Hey, mister, my sister (over on the swings) wants to see your arm. HEY, KEISHA! COME OVER HERE AND SEE THIS MAN’S ARM!” he yelled. She ran home.
Then there was the time when my cousin and I were on the McDonald’s Playground. We were young, probably eight or so. We were sitting in that saucer where you pull on the “wheel” in the middle and then it spins and spins. Sitting across from us were three little kids. They were staring and obviously scared. Eventually, one of them squeaked out, “Wh…what happened to your arm?” My cousin and I looked at each other and what I did next was mean, but hilarious.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
The kids looked at each other, confused. “Well, your arm…what happened to it?”
“I’m not sure what you…” then I looked down and screamed. “NOOOOOO! MY ARM! WHERE’S MY ARM!!”
We jumped out of the saucer and started running around, throwing wood chips, climbing the Hamburgler statue all while screaming and laughing. Finally, out of breath, we came back to the saucer. It was empty. They must have run away at some point during our freakout. Hopefully we didn’t scar them for life.
I also vaguely remember my dad saying things about sharks and alligators to little kids that would ask about it. I think he just liked to see their reaction.
Now, I’m not encouraging amputees or their relatives to do this all the time. But, from time to time, if you can read a person, it can be fun.
Mostly for you, but still…
If you’re an amputee, have you ever done this? If you’re not, have you ever had it done to you?