Thursday, October 09, 2008

Some middlefingers have a story

One day our accountant visited our house. I saw in one boring glance this was a hell of a boring man. He was dressed in gray, and his hair was gray, but his face intelligent. I liked his face.
So, I thought: how can anyone smart look so boring? He had a suitcase in his hand, you know the kind of suitcases accountants always have on their hand. But then I noticed something very exciting. He had only 4 fingers on that hand. Gosh, It made me feel so good. I wanted to shake that hand. So, I offered him my left hand (the middle finger was missing on his left hand), so he had to replace that suitcase to his right hand, to shake my hand. Then I took his hand and didn't let go of it, while he repeated his name. I held the hand real tough and shook it over and over again, and then I said: My name is Daphne Buter, how nice to meet you. But you know what I really like about you? (I still held his hand).

'Feel free to say so ma'am,' he answered.

'Well, I am so pleased you miss one finger on this hand.'

Then I let go of his hand and smiled at him friendly and added as fast as a could: 'Don't get me wrong. I do not insult you. I don't make fun about your hand, but I have great memories to a hand like that. When I was a child I had an uncle who had only 4 fingers on one of his hands. And he could do wonderful things with that 4 finger hand. He could act like he lost one in the morning. Or he could put the stub in his ear and act like he tickled his brains. And you know what? Because of all that, he was my favorite uncle and I adored him because he had only 9 fingers.'

So, this accountant gazed at me, then he smiled insecure and answered: 'Good lord, not in my entire life I've met someone who had the guts to open any conversation with me, about my missing finger. But I like it. Thank you.'

'Good,' I said. 'You should like it. It is great you have only four fingers on that hand. It makes you special, no matter how you lost it.'

Then we went upstairs and when we were there, the man looked pale and he couldn’t breathe very well. So without asking I went to the kitchen and brought an ashtray back and placed it on the table.

'Feel free to smoke,' I said.

He looked at me and asked: 'Ma'am, this is the first time we meet. How can you be so sure I smoke?'

'Well,' I said, 'you are maybe 50 years old. You've just climbed one stair and you look pallid as a ghost and you have problems breathing. So, there are only two options. 1. You are very ill, but then you wouldn't be here but at home in bed or in a hospital. 2. You smoke and your heart is giving up soon.'

(I know this was very confronting. But it was just one of these days. I was flying. Live looked okay. The man was so boring I had to open his soul. I had to dig it to find a bridge to his real person.)

He gazed at me again, then he shove the ashtray aside and said: 'Well, well, well... I swear to you ma'am, after this visit I'll never smoke again. I promise you that.'

'You've just made yourself a promise, 'I said, 'don't promise me a thing, I don't need it. You do.'

Then he did his job. Talked about money and things. He didn’t smoke during the visit. Later he left, shook my left hand again and you know, I could tell we liked each other. He was a good man. I asked him or I could have a closer look at his missing finger and he allowed me. And I held his hand in both my hands, smiling, and I was allowed to touch the stub. Then I’d let go of his hand and said: ‘that is a great hand, believe me.’

A few months later he phoned me. He said: 'Daphne Buter I phone you to tell you that I did quit smoking that day. I didn't smoke one cigarette after that day. And you know something else? I also look different at my funny hand. I do no longer hide it. I make jokes with it now for my grandchildren.'

We had a very amusing conversation about how life can change things sometimes,
Later that day a bunch of flowers arrived with a message on a card that said :

Thank you for taking my addiction from me, but giving my invisible finger back.'

4 comments:

Stan said...

I love your story. My father, my uncle and my grandfather were all missing digits and they all had wonderful stories to tell about them.

I still have all of mine... but if you needed one, I would let you have one of mine ;^)

rifka said...

just a query: did you mean to write 'Live looked okay'...as ten correct english is LIFE looked okay.

Stan said...

@ rifka That is just her cute Dutch accent... she speaks "nine" correct English most of the time... not "ten"

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