I often feel like I was born in the wrong time and place. My pale skin would have played way better in Medieval Europe, when pasty skin was a mark of class and beauty rather than a sign that you’re way too acquainted with the Silmarillion. I think I could have also done really well in Asia back when the fashion was to wear giant flowing robes that covered up your entire arms and even went down past your hands. Because still haven’t found a good answer to the question, “What am I supposed to do with my hands?”

Typically, my answer is, “fidget them around a whole bunch so that if they look weird in a certain position, they’re only there for about three seconds.” It turns out, though, that fidgeting is not the hallmark of a calm, self-assured person. You’d be hard-pressed to find footage of Frank Sinatra romancing America through song while clicking a pen or jangling change in his pocket. I’ve also experimented with going through life perpetually double-fisting beverages. This provides the added bonus of extreme hydration, but also makes gesturing a very moist affair. It’s also very difficult to go to the bathroom with two beverages in your hand, and drinking two beverages at all times makes this a pretty frequent occurrence.

But if I commit to placing my hands in one spot and keeping them there, there’s no safe location. Folding my arms makes me look like I’m listening to people talk and that I’m constantly about to say, prove it! “Yeah grandma, I know you said your azaleas are blooming really nicely this year, but prove it! Where’s the facts!” Clasping my hands in front of me makes me look like it’s bathroom time, please stop talking and let me find the men’s room before I have a whoopsie. Clasping my hands behind me makes me look like I’m in the military, and I’d really like to avoid making people think that I’m a person they can depend on if some serious stuff goes down. I am not.

Which really only leaves me with the option to leave my hands at my sides. Many people may be reading this thinking that this is the obvious choice and is what most “normal” people do. But I can’t. There’s just something about it that seems wasteful. Our hands can pick stuff up, play the piano, cook a delicious meal, build a bridge, or fight the Kaiser. Why in the world would I take these miraculous amalgams of muscle and bone and flesh and plunk them down at my side like a couple of rocks–stupid, stupid rocks? Really, if I want to get my money’s worth out of my hands, I should be using them constantly while I’m in conversation, waving them around and gesticulating–Italians have the right idea. If I did this, I could be so much more productive! I could end a conversation over coffee with a newly crocheted scarf rather than my dumb hands in my lap. What am I supposed to do with my hands? Whatever I want!


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