Monday, May 19, 2014
I bumped into One-arm Barry this morning. Only I didn’t bump, exactly. And neither did he. We just passed one another by. And his name most likely isn’t Barry, anyway. But that’s what I call him. Because he only has one arm.
You know that thing you do when it’s cold? Shove both hands in your pockets and stumble on, like a top-heavy Tudor house leaning into the street? That’s how One-arm Barry walks, only one of the hands stuffed into his pockets doesn’t really exist. If you look close, you can see — underneath the right sleeve of his coat, there’s nothing. It’s like a clever Origami fold twixt shoulder and pocket. 2D masquerading as 3D: thin air as arm.
So as I see him, talking to Mr & Mrs No Idea Who They Are, and I wonder — have they, too, figured out that he’s One-arm Barry, or has he fooled them into believing he’s just some plucky chap, stood with his hands in his pockets cussing Gordon Brown for dragging the country into recession?
“Third place in the Euro elections,” he says — and it’s true. The Conservatives have maxed out and the independence parties have had a field day.
But is this really what he believes or is he merely saying what he thinks will afford him a moment’s “time of day”, spared from having to explain himself? To explain what it’s like to be missing an arm?
I pass him by, with no idea of how the conversation got started, and though One-arm Barry is clearly a tucker-awayer, I consider whether I’m being unkind in gracing him with a shunning of the truth. Nonetheless, I’m minded to think that perhaps we all persist in this weird kind of inbetweenworld somehow. That we all have a phantom arm, tucked into our pocket, just so, whose existence compromises us in all that we do.
Or maybe you’re spared this unsettling conjecture?
(originally posted June 2009)