Some people think that having one hand/being handicapped is all fun and games. And well, that’s because it is. I was sharing some stories the other day about growing up with the stump, and I couldn’t think of a reason to not post some stories here. Your entertainment may vary.

Ring the Liberty Bell

In December of 1972, I moved with my family from New Jersey to Arizona. We drove the 2500 miles which gave us an opportunity to see the country. My parents made sure we made some stops along the way to see things we may never get the chance to see again.

The first stop on the trip was a stop in Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell. For you youngsters, back in the day you could get pretty close to the famous bell. Close enough, in fact, that you could touch it with your hand. I’m pretty sure I did touch it with the hand I have, but that’s not what I remember most. What I remember is my Dad telling me – or should I say daring me – to hit the bell as hard as I could with my other ‘hand’, which happened to have a hook (prosthetic) on it. Sounded like a great plan to me. Everyone around the Liberty Bell that day had the unexpected pleasure of hearing the Liberty Bell ring in real life. One note: If you know my brother or I, you probably know where we get our mischievous side. Thanks Dad.

New House in AZ…Now We Need Furniture

After a few months in an apartment, the family settled down in a house in Mesa, AZ which my parents still live in. Granted, my parents rented a U Haul and brought everything they could from the Garden State, but our new house was pretty bare. So they picked up a Penny Saver and went furniture hunting.

They found some glorious 70’s style furniture that was on the other end of town, so they loaded up the kids and set out on a journey.  Knowing that the white end tables would go perfect in our yellow (painted) room with shag carpet of the same color, they bought the tables plus a bit more. I got the pleasure of riding back home in the back of our 1973 Dodge Sportsman van with all of the furniture purchased. The reason I singled out the tables is because they were modular, with hollow square legs taken apart to fit in the van.  Now, when I was eight, I always looked at anything hollow as a challenge to see if my stump could possibly fit in it.  With the legs from those tables I would say I had limited success…my arm fit in, but I couldn’t get it back out. I had wedged it all the way past my elbow! I spent the next hour of the drive home crying in the back seat because I was certain my parents were going to be pissed at me, since their kid now had a three foot plastic end table leg for a right arm.

When we arrived at our house, my well thought out plan was to not get out of the van – that way my parents wouldn’t notice my new arm extension. What they did notice, of course, was that I wasn’t anywhere to be found.  Like sleuths (/s) they traced me  back to the inside of the van, and I found out years later had a good laugh at the image of me with my arm stuck in the leg. But hey, they earned that laugh because it took nearly an hour and a crap ton of baby oil to get my arm out.

Third Grade…Not Sure What I Was Thinking

I’ll make this one quick. In third grade, my teacher would sit us down and read to us for about a half hour a day. I still remember her reading “Where the Red Fern Grows”, which is surprising since I was up to other things.

The class sat on the floor with their legs crossed as she read, and one day I got this glorious idea about what I could do with my hook as my classmates sat. You see, when you sit with your legs crossed, your butt cheeks hit the ground. This leaves a space in the middle which is elevated ever so slightly. What I did (and what I do not want to be judged on as an adult) was wedge my hook underneath the elevated area unbeknownst to my counter parts. Then I would lower my elbow down – which would move the front part of my hook up – and startle the shit out of them. They would actually jump!

OK, I think admitting to that has somehow cleansed me. But I am going to recreate the process on video to help you with the visualization. I hope you laugh as hard as I still do. Stay tuned.

Trick or Treat – I’ll Choose Trick

When I was around nine or ten, I decided that I was going to make my own Halloween costume – a robot. I did it up too; I dressed myself in a lot of tin foil and designed a “message” box that would light up with the push of two buttons. One button would light up a message that said “Trick or Treat” and the other button lit up “Thank You”. I was really into electronics when I was a kid.

As the designer, I knew that no self respecting robot would have one hand. So I took a pair of my Mom’s gloves, put the left one on my hand then stuffed the right one with cotton balls. After securing the cotton ball-stuffed glove to my arm with an elastic band, I was ready to go trick or treating with my brother, sister and our chaperon Dad.

Everything went swimmingly for the first two dozen or so houses. I would push the button that lit up “Trick or Treat”, and after I got my candy I would push the button that lit up “Thank You”. Then my plan either failed miserably our succeeded fantastically depending how you look at it. We went up to the door of a house and I hit my very successful “Trick or Treat” button. The guy that answered the door thought it was cool…however, he gave me the old “I’ll give you a treat only if you do a trick” line. I really didn’t think out that possible scenario, so I did what came natural – I pulled off the cotton filled glove. I think you can safely say that he didn’t envision a kid pulling off his right hand. He kind of freaked out and told me I could take all of his candy. My reaction was “Hey Dad, that guy gave me all of his candy! Pretty cool huh?” My sister (who is older) made sure my Dad understood why. Poor guy.

That’s it for now. I haven’t decided if I’m going to come clean on some of my adult one-handed fun. I wonder what the statute of limitations are…