“AAAAAAAH! HAAAA HAAAA HAAAA! DAMN, CUZ BROKE BOTH OF HIS ARMS, WHAT A STUPID-ASS, HAAAA, HAAAA…”
Terry Wooding’s jeering died out only because I walked away from him. I diverted my attention from the fading laughter and concentrated on the more urgent task at hand—getting to class. I kicked my locker closed with my foot, secured the velcro straps on my matching blue arm slings, and made my way toward the first floor. I had to wait outside the stairwell door until someone opened it for me. I felt pretty pathetic.
This was not an unwarranted feeling. The previous Friday, I had broken both (yes, that’s two) elbows in a well-publicized bike wreck on Route 206. After that, I came to school with my arms in bondage, cradled in two strangling slings. Here are some observations:
- Teachers were very sympathetic—especially when I cried to them, whimpering that I couldn‘t possibly write the My Antonia in-class essay because…sniff…I might die if I tried. Even Mr. Manzer, who normally has a veritable book of busts lined up for me, told me that he was sorry I was hurt.
- Princeton High School’s physical structure discriminates against people who have no arms. For one thing, there are too many doors to pull open.
- If I had heard one more joke about my condition, I would have puked. How do you like this one: “Duh…if you pull your arms behind your back and move them back and forth, you look like a chicken! Duh, huh, huh,” or, “Hi, Colonel Sanders, Duh, huh, huh.” Then there were the millions of what I call “Oh…sorry” wisecracks—for example, “Hey, William, do you want to come out to play baseball? Oh…sorry. Duh, huh, huh.”
- I almost booted in English class because the two slings around my neck made me gag.
- Having arm slings was good for something: I was able to embezzle several hundred cookies fromt he junior bake sale by innocently dropping them into the blue caches. (Don’t even say that that’s stealing—after all, I did make the cookies so I felt I had a right to take them.)
- My parents gave me rides wherever and whenever I wanted, and I never had to carry anything for weeks. My mother bought me everything my heart desired. My father didn’t mention school once for two weeks.
And now I sit at the computer, staring wistfully at the slings. They are sitting on the stool next to me, full of crumbs and two weeks’ worth of pen marks. Who knows? I may use them again. Even if I don’t need them.