Saturday Night Fun, Part I (Robotic Arm)I went to my college’s alumni party last Saturday and saw some colorful people, and had some colorful thoughts. Part I of a diptych.
November 19, 2003
The invitation said, essentially, this:
Schmasser Alumnae/i Party for the Past Decade
Nationwide, Saturday, November 15, 2003
New York, NY
Gatsby's in SoHo/9pm
53 Spring St. between Mul-
berry and Lafayette
An annual gathering of graduates from that bucolic cradle of learning from which I fell, weighted with a BA, several years ago. How could I resist? Back in the day the place was full of freaks, fruits, and nuts (and nits, and full-fledged lice) whose adventurous hairstyles, multiple piercings and ambiguous sexualities had much rattled my wholesome nomadic imagination. I am very fond of my college, although I consistently fail to give it money. (This year some girl called me again in a fundraising drive. I picked up the phone and considered messing with her head for a second but then simply announced: “I can't give you any money ’cause I'm unemployed.” “Something for me to look forward to?” she asked. “You bet,” I said, and we wished each other good luck. Next year, I'll invent a story. I'll tell them that I've been horribly disfigured in a freak jellyfishing accident and currently have no command of any limbs except for my tongue.
“Then how could you pick up the phone?” the student fundraiser will ask me.
“I have a tongue-manipulated robotic arm,” I'll say.
“Wow,” he'll say. “It must be tough.”
“It is. I get disability, which barely covers the basic necessities.”
“What are the basic necessities?”
“You know: food, porno mags, counseling… The usual.”
“What the hell do you need porno mags for?”
“Disabled people have needs, too,” I'll say disparagingly and feel him squirm.
“That makes two working limbs,” he'll mutter.
“Do you really think I would mention the second one to a stranger on the phone?”
“Not that you can do anything with it…”
“I am,” I will remind gently, “technologically enhanced. And it's amazing what a nimble tongue can do with the help of technology.”
From the other end, a gag will flow over the phone wires and tickle my ear. “I get it! Please don't say any more.”
“You get to learn quite interesting things when you're in my position,” I'll continue, smiling ruthlessly. “Amazing, really. For example, I never truly appreciated Shakespeare until I discovered what reciting Hamlet does for dexterity.”
He will hang up and never call me again.)