My hands have twirled fine crystal wine glasses filled with plonk or with beautiful, rich old reds from a well-stocked cellar. My hands have hoisted beer cans, beer bottles, and frosted beer steins.
In fact, I have to admit that, when it comes to drinking, I'm an elbow-bender. It took me many years to understand that I don't have a head for alcohol, but I remain an elbow-bender. If a glass is in front of me, I drink from it until it is empty. If someone refills it, I drink again.
It is clear that I don't care what is in the glass. I am simply an elbow-bender. So now I put water in the glass and I can bend my elbow with impunity. Elbow-bending is simply my way of handling the nervous, ill-at-ease feeling I get when in public. Just as the routines of cigarette smoking provided punctuation for our conversations, so elbow-bending allows me a way to cover momentary embarrassment. If you've ever watched cats, you know that when they are embarrassed they immediately begin to lick a paw. Elbow-bending is my version of paw-licking.
Here's an elbow story:
We all reach an age when we think that we comprehend the idea of mortality. Okay, we say, I've got it. Not only you, but even I am going to steer this old jalopy of a body into the driveway of death.
And we then proceed to live our lives exactly the way we did before we accepted the idea of our own mortality. Perhaps we no longer manifest the sheer abandon of 16-year-old boys, but our actions in general fail to reflect our understanding of mortality.
Recently we had dinner with friends, six of us in all. The lovely meal ended with a gorgeous berry pie from the Queen of Tarts. I overate. Too full, and slightly uncomfortable sitting at the table, I edged my chair back, turned slightly sideways on it, crossed my legs, and rested my arm on the back of the chair.
It had been a beautiful evening. The dining room was lit with candles that marched down the center of the table and that filled the sideboard at the end of the room. There was also a sideboard behind me holding five or six randomly placed candles.
So I sat with my arm on the back of the chair, holding forth or listening attentively, whichever I was doing.
But whatever I was doing, I was definitely not paying attention to the sideboard behind me. Or its candles.
My elbow felt hot. "Oh!" I said, and I pulled it away from the chair and inspected it. Yes, indeed, it was hot. It was, in fact, on fire. Like, burning. Like, in flames.
"Oh," I said again. I grabbed the cloth napkin and calmly batted at the fire, extinguishing it. It wasn't a big fire, just kind of an elbow-sized fire. We all inspected it and found it still smoldering, so we dabbed some water on it.
Then we moved the candles and went on with our business of talking.
It was only later that I really assessed what had happened. I was wearing my pretty red linen
Imagine the human fireball, the instantaneous explosion of all our lives. Imagine how everything can change in the blink of an eye, in a moment of inattention.
Aside from the gratifying news that nothing more serious happened, the other good news is that I immediately began to imagine how I would mend the elbow of my red
And it was my clever hands that mended the poor burned elbow of my jacket. Hands can do anything!
Copyright 2008 Ann Tudor
Copyright 2008 Ann Tudor