Thursday, May 04, 2006

How to wreck my sense of self

That may be a slight exaggeration. However, on with the story:

I've started going to the gym again. I am doing strength training because I have a "now" goal of shapely arms and a "later" goal of bone density. Using the equipment hurts my hands sometimes, so I decided to buy gloves. Also, as everyone knows, gear helps you enjoy your sports more.

I went to Modell's and tried on many women's lifting gloves. I am a women's size medium. Definitely. Not only did the smalls make me feel like my fingers were going to burst and I would never get them back off, but objectively, according to the tape measure, I am a medium.

I have small hands! Really! Everyone says so. Small, small hands. People notice this a lot. Boys have quoted this from e.e. cummings: "nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands."

Now I find that among women, my hands are not extra-small, not even small. I know I shouldn't worry about it, but it reminds me of my boyfriend the summer before college.

He may have been my most toxic boyfriend, and that's saying something. He was 24 and I was 18, that was my first mistake. One of his favorite hobbies was discovering something I was vain about and then denigrating it. He told me that my hands were not in fact small. "You just have short fingers," he said. "The main part of your hand is a normal size. They're just out of proportion. Deformed, almost."

Okay, now that I've told it I feel better.

Here's another poem I love. I thought it featured small hands but to my relief these hands are merely still:

Pale brows, still hands and dim hair,
I had a beautiful friend
And dreamed that the old despair
Would end in love in the end:
She looked in my heart one day
And saw your image was there;
She has gone weeping away.

William Butler Yeats

And to finish up:

Iseult Of Brittany

So delicate my hands, and long,
They might have been my pride.
And there were those to make them song
Who for their touch had died.

Too frail to cup a heart within,
Too soft to hold the free-
How long these lovely hands have been
A bitterness to me!

Dorothy Parker

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