It’s not just a simple handshake with me.

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Note: This is something I wrote a few years ago, and it’s about as creative as my writing gets. Someone really hated this one so I was hesitant to post. But then I remembered I’m a writer and people are always going to be critical. Also please note I’d rather you ask about things than not and just stare at my buffet of oddities. This is more satirical than anything. Enjoy — or not.

Onward with the story

Shaking my hand must be impossible for other people. Mentally, physically, and emotionally. The experience is clearly a trying one where the shaker must hurdle past human curiosity and general medical concern in order to go in for the kill.

Let’s start with the natural reaction when you go to shake someone’s hand. You look toward the hand in an “I would like to grab the correct appendage” glance. During this initial survey the shaker would notice that I, the shakee, have a red arm. My right arm is a blotchy, puffy, bright pink limb that is not easily missed. And I know what people think, because once they notice, they ask. Some of the theories are reasonable. Some of them are far-fetched. All are completely human attempts to rationalize what the person is seeing.

So what is it then?

“Is it a rash?” Nope.

“Are you bleeding?!” This usually makes me scream and say, “Where!?!”

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“Did you spill juice on yourself?” What kind of sticky ass juice are you drinking?

“Is that a really bad tattoo?” 1. Thank you for insulting me if it is. 2. It is not.

“You are marked by God.” Someone told my mom this when I was a baby. I’m good with it.

“Are you a leper?” Ok that one is mean.

“Did you burn yourself?” That one makes a lot of sense visually. Tip of the hat but no.

There are more, but those are the shining stars of the group. You know what the top ones are after 25 years of questions (minus a few years due to being a baby and not remembering). I have a port wine stain (PWS in the community). It is often found on the face; mine showed up on my right arm. Many attempts at laser removal throughout my life have been generally unsuccessful. I think they prevented some of the skin thickening that tends to happen, and the color is lighter than it used to be. But for the most part the arm is still red. There is makeup to cover it, but I never went for it. Especially because I think it would be tough to maintain.

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Not as simple as it seems

So when they look down, the potential hand shaker needs to rationalize what they are seeing. In a split second they must choose to ask me what they are seeing, choose to go for it, or choose to recoil. I understand all of the options, although I have had some harsh recoils in my day.

The second option when shaking someone’s hand is to look him or her in the eye with confident, “nice to meet you” eye contact. This is a fun one because my right eye sort of looks like an alien tried to suck my brain out through it. I was diagnosed with lattice degeneration at the age of 22, which led to 4 sight-saving surgeries. Three of these were on my right eye. As a result of the critical surgeries my right eye is aesthetically messy. First, my eye rolls slightly to the right. It rolls all the way when I look in the mirror but luckily that is a solo, non-handshaking activity. My pupil is frozen in a semi-dilated state and is noticeably larger than the left pupil (which decided to return to normal size post-surgery). Then comes the confusing part. Coming down from my pupil into my iris is a black chunk of what looks like extended pupil. It is actually a surgical port but it looks like my pupil is a black egg that broke and is dripping down into the green of my iris. There is also some scratchy looking redness happening in the right corner of my eye. So if you look me dead on you are going to get an eye full of…my…eye.

The final blow

Where else can you look in this delightful Bermuda Triangle of a handshake? My cleavage. Good luck.

Visually impaired author and adventurer

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