Sunday, June 14, 2015

Let's all give her a hand...

The other night, Bill and I were at a little steak and music joint in our town.  We had friends with us.  It was a fun night which I documented in my travel blog.  One thing I did not mention about that night was a few minutes of embarrassment that occurred as we listened to live music.  I wasn't actually involved in the few minutes of embarrassment, which is an amazing thing.  I came on the scene right after things got embarrassing.

I had gotten up to use the restroom.  On my way back to the table, I was stopped by the lead guitar player and Gunter, the harmonica playing guy.  As we discussed my weird version of "Little Wing", another female singer took the stage.  She was an attractive young woman who chose to wear tight black pants that accentuated a rather prominent camel toe.

Someone at my table said, "Nice pants..." then immediately made the realization that the woman who had taken the stage only had her left hand.  Her right hand was missing for some reason.

Instantly, my companion felt badly about the comment about the woman's tight pants.  So did someone else at my table, who had thought and expressed the same things about the pants until it was apparent that the singer was missing a hand.

The one-handed woman was singing the poignant and melancholy classic, "Killing Me Softly With His Song", a number that was famous when I was a baby and sung by Roberta Flack (and many years later by The Fugees, who butchered it with their hip hop version).  The one-handed singer had a pretty decent voice, but didn't seem to get the concept of the word "softly".  She sang rather loudly and in an emotion that didn't suit the lyrics too well.  Still, she had gotten up on stage to sing, while her hecklers had not.

Now... I actually missed most of this incident.  By the time I sat back down, the lady was halfway through her song.  I hadn't even noticed that she was missing a hand until my friends made an oblique comment about it.  Later, as Bill recounted what happened, he reminded me that he felt really bad for the one-handed woman.  I couldn't blame him for that.  I probably would have too, had I been one of those who made the comment.

Then I thought about it for a minute and asked, "Do you think she would be happy to know that her having one hand makes you pity her so much that suddenly you're now sorry about making fun of her pants?"

Bill said no.

I continued, "Seems to me that she probably just wants to be treated normally.  Why would you be more ashamed of 'picking' on her just because she has only one hand?  Obviously, having one hand doesn't embarrass her enough to stop her from singing in front of people.  I bet she'd rather you'd treat her the way you'd treat anyone else."

Bill said he hadn't thought of the situation in quite that way.  Neither had I until just that moment.  Must have been the fresh squeezed orange juice from the Dutch Texaco I had just enjoyed.

I don't think a person should feel like they have to be extra kind to the one-handed singer simply because they know it's not nice to comment on peoples' disabilities.  Of course making fun of people is not nice... but the comments made among my friends had nothing to do with the woman's handicap and everything to do with her presentation as she got up to sing.  Had she had two hands, they probably would not have thought twice about laughing at her pants, the camel toe, and the fact that she was singing "Killing Me Softly" in a strangely ironic harsh manner.  But apparently, because she is missing a hand, she somehow "deserves" extra pity and sensitivity.

I'm sorry that accidents happen that cause people to be disfigured or disabled.  I don't know what happened to the Roberta Flack fan's hand.  She may have been born that way or there may have been some kind of accident that caused it.  But she was still brave enough to sing and she did a decent job of it.  She made no effort to hide her missing appendage and likely hoped her voice was a suitable distraction from it.  I'm sure, like any other normal person, she wouldn't have wanted to hear the snark about her pants or her camel toe, but I'd bet she'd rather hear that and not have people notice or comment about her missing hand than have people feel sorry for her or treat her differently because she's disabled.

If this post doesn't make sense, I apologize.  I started it about ten minutes before I crashed into a deep sleep.  Traveling is so tiring.



  1. We're often a bit strange when it comes to acknowledging or wanting not to notice disabilities. Neither I nor you would probably ever heckle a person, whether she had, one, two, or three hands, from the peanut gallery regarding pants that were too tight in the crotch. We might say something quietly to the person seated next to us, but that wuld prbably be the extent of it

    My thoughts are always along the lines of, "Does the person not own a mirror?".

    in the grand scheme, her missing hand probably had nothing to do with anything, but any of us would probably feel all the more apologetic had we made any comment, even had she not heard the comment.

    i would have been almost, --almost, anyway, but not not quite -- as embarrassed on her behalf because of the guy killing her softly with a sledgehammer.

    1. Well, no one said anything loudly enough for her to hear. The comment was said quietly among people... or so that was what I was told. I wasn't there when the situation occurred. Apparently, the singer is known in our area.

  2. She's probably known as the one-handed singer who wears camel toe patns. Sorry. That was rude.

    Why did Helen Keller play the piano wit just one hand? Because she sang with the other one.

    1. Actually, it looks like her husband posted pics on the restaurant's Web site. My friend found the woman on Facebook and she has a number of selfies posted with her cleverly hiding her missing hand. She is a pretty woman... who needs to learn the meaning of the word "softly".


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