The Unswung Bat

Monday, March 15, 2004
Body Modification

In the spirit of the season I offered the old man my spot but he preferred to stand up with his hand clamped to a steel pole as the bus rocked and shuddered. At first I felt he was being foolish and proud, like when coming up the stairwell I meet someone going down and we both stand for a moment, making muffled gestures and muted exhortations for the other to go ahead. But then I think I understood.

I think he used to sit down on the bus and talk or read the newspaper, which is like talking, and he doesn't want to do that any more because that would be like looking through old photos or acting out an empty play. Maybe he does like to see a certain measure of strength in his old self too, and it gives him pleasure to know he can still withstand the pitching of the vehicle over potholes and veering around curves. I wonder if he thinks I won't be able to hold on so long. Maybe he just has arthritis and doesn't want to bend his knees to sit.

At home one night I took the strereo miniplug-to-quarter inch adapter out of my keyboard and screwed it onto my pinky finger. The threading cut and held to my nail and drew it tighter into the fingertip. I kept going until I could plug myself into my keyboard and pull my finger back out without the plug coming off. It was only after unscrewing it that I found it had sliced a bloodless line across the fleshy top of the digit.

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