Friday, July 20, 2007

My Dad's Hands

My father's an accountant. Which means that, while he was never one for hard labor—its from him I get the credo "Why should I [insert home-repair task here] and fuck it up when I can pay someone to do it right?"—he still worked with his hands. He was a number-cruncher before people used computers to do everything, and all of his work involved a desktop Texas Instruments calculator and a mechanical pencil.

Every tax return, every ledger entry was done the old-fashioned way: with his fingers to the grindstone. And I remember, when I was growing up, looking at his hands as he would help me with my math homework. (I'm now jealous of his having a skill that could be readily employed to help a kid out; my skill set, honed by years of on-the-job journalism training, is blunt at best. I don't know, as Captain Kirk would say, why things work in a sentence. I just know that they do. When my kids come to me with their English homework, I'll be reduced to "This is the way it sounds the rightest. Don't ask questions. Go.")

Anyway, his hands were corded with veins, souvenirs of long hours of penmanship. That feeling you used to get in college, when you had to take a day's worth of notes at lectures? Times a hundred. I used to wonder if my hands would ever look like that. Like they'd earned it.

I was in the backyard over the weekend, inflating a big rubber pool for the knuckleheads, er, my kids. My lovable, knuckleheaded kids. (Of course, I was using an electric pump: see credo, above.) But this thing took forever: big pool, pussy pump. And I had to hold the pump nozzle into the little air nipple thingie for about an hour, during which time I notice that my own hands had developed those same crazy veins.

They say that, in time, we become our parents. It's true. What they don't tell you is that it sneaks up on you.

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