I saw two people yesterday who had only one arm. I saw the first one on the way to a rugby training that morning. His baggy tee shirt sleeve hung empty from his side shoulder like a deflated balloon. The second guy, I saw on the way home. He had his shirt sleeve pinned up.

I thought nothing of the first one. Just an anonymous New Yorker with one arm. When I saw the second one, he stood out to me because of the first guy. How many armless people will I see today? I wondered. I thought armless might be a theme for the day, and I was preparing for the third one-armed man. But I saw no more.

It was a strange way to book-end rugby training, rugby being a game that requires two arms yet not infrequently puts someone in near danger of losing them. I don’t think most people participate in activities that put them in such danger.

Today, I saw a person who I thought might be missing an arm or two, but they were actually just tucked inside his shirt. I could offer no explanation for why he might be doing this, except that maybe his arms were cold.

It made me remember pretending to be an amputee as a kid. I’d pull my sleeves off and clasp my arms under my shirt behind my back and walk around bumping into things and people and falling down and trying to get back up with my arms. My favorite part was always pushing my arms back out through the sleeves and watching them “grow” back to their normal state.

I think I will be looking at everyone’s arms today.


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the untallied hours

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