The Legend of Asshand
In the year 1971 a legend was born, and that legend was me. Well, that’s not exactly true, since there is nothing legendary about me — except my “asshand.” What is an asshand, you might be wondering? Please read on to satiate your curiosity, gentle reader.
I’m an oddly constructed individual: a small head, enormous feet, and long monkey arms. I am also a mutant. Clear from your mind any ideas about me having cool powers. I cannot fly, shoot death beams from my eyes, see the future, teleport, or heal faster than a normal human. My special power sucks. I was born with a webbed finger — a flap of skin spanning the middle and ring fingers on my left hand. I imagine it could have aided me in any aquatic endeavors I might have undertaken, but unfortunately the flap of skin was removed before my dreams of ruling the undersea realm could come to fruition. In and of itself, this story ends right here — big deal, a webbed finger, right? Alas, it is but the back story for the aforementioned, legendary, and quite disgusting asshand.
One of my early memories involves being in a shiny cage, clothed only in my underwear. Sounds pretty creepy, but in fact it was the hospital’s way of keeping a feral child contained and their precious equipment unbroken. From what I’ve gathered, my web was cut out, but for some reason it wasn’t just removed and stitched up. Rather skin, taken from my hip, was grafted onto the area. This has never made sense to me, so I go by the theory that the doctor was a quack. The end result was that the area between my ring and middle fingers on my left hand resembles a spider web, and is much darker than the surrounding skin. As you can see from the photos, it’s indubitably nasty looking.
The location of my malformation, however, made concealment both facile and complete. Throughout my childhood I revealed it only to creep out fellow students and teammates. I made up a story about being bitten by a black widow spider, saying I had survived but was cursed with a telltale scar that disgusted all who saw it. Stupid cover story aside, it was something that freaked a lot of folks out, so after a while I stopped showing it to people, passing then into a period of dormancy.
Years later — I believe I was aged 10 years and seven — I made a horrifying discovery. Bumps had started to appear on my graft, and so I started scratching them despite the fact that they didn’t itch. One fateful day I broke the surface of the skin and saw a tiny black hair protruding from the assaulted area. Having no tweezers, I arrested the hair with my teeth and managed, after a couple of failed attempts, to rip it out, root and all. I remember the act of pulling it out clearly, especially the fact that it seemed never ending — the hair kept coming and coming. To my horror, I discovered that it was at least half an inch long. I realized quickly what was going on: due to puberty, the skin on the graft had sprouted the same hair that was growing on my hip, and the bumps were, in fact, ingrown hairs. This marked the birth of an obsession that was destined to gross out many people in the 17 years since that inaugural foray into dental depilation.
Quickly I distilled that which began as a haphazard, muddling process into an exacting science of hair removal. Using only my teeth, I could not only open the skin but also extract even the smallest of hairs. I would inspect the area for the telltale signs of impacted hairs, relishing the occasions when I would find a new crop to harvest. Once in a while, however, I would find one that would be just beyond the range of my teeth, or, worse, the hair would break during the process of extraction, sending the remainder back under the skin and out of reach. I wish I could say that I gave up in situations like that, but I did not. I obsessively picked at the area until it bled, unable to arrest my disgusting behavior.
Eventually I got sophisticated about my affliction. I started using a razor blade to expose the hairs and very high-end tweezers to pull out the banes of my existence. As my method improved I learned to limit the infuriating hair breakage and retraction problem by pulling ever so slowly, loosening the hair until finally it was freed. Lacking funds for electrolysis, I was sure that this was the end stage of the problem, and prayed that I would get no hairier over time.
All this didn’t take place in a vacuum. People noticed. Nobody ever said anything, since I’m also a nail chewer and a chronic fidget. I tried to conceal the behavior, but often the compulsion to perform the ritual was too strong to be controlled. Some people brush their teeth 20 times a day while some people lock and relock doors they just locked and relocked. I gnaw away at my left hand like a tasty, yet eminently unchewable adversary. In fact, in the act of typing this sentence, I pulled my hand up to my mouth and started to savage it with my bottom teeth. When I catch myself doing this I feel as if I’m a baboon grooming a companion, eating the lice out of a friend’s hair. It disgusts me, but I’m unable to stop. When I get stressed out, it just happens. I am without control over the behavior, being capable only of getting out of the sight of people to whom it would appear strange.
The details of this problem remained a guarded secret until one fateful day when the legend of the asshand exited its chrysalis as a really disheveled looking butterfly, its busted wings inspiring pity in all who saw it. As I’ve mentioned previously, my friends had seen this odd little ritual, and save for quizzical looks, there was no attempt to get at the root of the thing. However, during an intense game of video hockey in which my roommate and I were using a custom fantasy team to play the nigh unbeatable (at the time) Detroit Red Wings, I paused the game to gnaw.
“What the hell are you doing?” asked Andy, perturbed, but utilizing the downtime to fiercely inhale a smoldering cigarette.
“Nothing, nothing, let’s just play,” said I, quickly unpausing the game as if nothing had happened, eyes staring straight at the screen, hands on the controller.
“No, you do that all the time. What in hell is that all about?!? It’s been creeping me out for years,” said Andy, grilling me while simultaneously repausing the game.
“Okay, I had a webbed finger when I was born, and they repaired it with a skin graft. Sometimes it grows hair, and I pull them out with my teeth.”
“That’s nasty, dude, where’d they get the skin?” As he asked this his face went from a look of slight to maximum disgust.
“Yes, my hip.”
“Right here,” said I, pointing at the side of my right buttock.
“Dude, that’s not your hip. That’s your ass! You’re chewing on your ass! You have an asshand!” exclaimed Andy, erupting into a fit of laughter that left him just short of losing bladder control.
That was it — from then on, Andy never missed an opportunity to yell, “Hey! Stop chewing on your asshand!” whenever he caught me at it. No matter where we were, he would bust me on it. Inevitably, people would ask, “What’s an ‘asshand?’” Over and over again I had to recount the story with one of my best friends snickering in the background, busting a gut at my deformity. In the fullness of time, all who knew me had heard the tale, and the novelty would wear off until a new crop of people came around. It became a shtick between Andy and me, with me as the butt (so to speak) of the joke. Luckily I’m good like that — I can laugh at myself and my asshand. Such an integral part of my being is it that even my daughter has license to refer to it as my asshand. She serves as the asshand police while we’re in public — for I can imagine no better monitor for embarrassing behavior than a self-conscious 13-year-old girl. She has a vested interest in controlling the behavior: she could spontaneously die of embarrassment should my problem ever become known to her friends.
Thus have I told the tale of the asshand. But, inevitably, you will have questions. In the tradition of FAQ — or “frequently asked questions” — sections on websites, I’ll answer a few here. In this case I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from calling customer service; there is no customer service, as there is no product. I cannot sell the asshand. I use it daily. It typed every single word in this piece. Were I to sell it as a medical curiosity on eBay, I’d be unable to continue writing shoddy essays and such.
Q: Does asshand hurt?
A: No, asshand offers no physical pain, only psychological torment.
Q: Are the hairs always ingrown?
A: No, in fact many times they appear spontaneously as nasty black hairs growing normally from between my fingers. These are easily dispatched, causing me no undue distress.
Q: How much hair does it grow?
A: It is spotty; at times, through lucky circumstance, up to five hairs can be extracted at once. One particularly productive area can produce up to three hairs at the same time from an area roughly a square millimeter in diameter.
Q: What happens when a hair breaks during the extraction process?
A: In short, I go mad with anger. The result is a hair that I often can still see, but without a damaging process of digging with sharp, pointed tweezers, cannot extract. It usually results in bleeding and obsession over the affected area.
Q: How many tweezers do you own?
A: I have approximately three tweezers at any given time. I tend to lose them, thus I purchase about four tweezers per year. I have learned through hard experience that expensive tweezers do the best job. I keep a pair in my car at all times.
Q: Is asshand contagious?
A: No, asshand is a result of surgical grafting of ass skin onto the hand, and is in no way communicable to others. It is just gross.
Q: How does asshand affect your daily life?
A: I tend to gnaw at it while nervous, thus onlookers are often struck with quizzical looks. It is an obsession, and as such it can dominate my thoughts; when seized by the mania, I must dispatch the hairs before I can resume normal activity.
Q: Has asshand ever had any adventures?
A: Not really. However, I know an individual missing his big toe, and we think there might be a potential for a dynamic duo, since Asshand and Nine-Toe has a sort of ring to it. Perhaps in the future we will share fictional adventures.
Q: Is there a cure for asshand?
A: Electrolysis or laser hair removal might be able to take care of the situation but, barring a new graft from a non-ass location of my body, it will always be tainted by ass.
Q: Does asshand smell like ass?
A: No, asshand smells like a hand. It has not been attached to my ass in over 30 years, and has been washed on several occasions in the intervening span.
Q: Do people notice asshand?
A: Hardly ever; only when I do the Vulcan salute is it visible. As I am not really a Trekkie, it rarely happens.
Q: What is the longest hair ever extracted from asshand?
A: At the suggestion of a former girlfriend, I started a collection of these hairs, and the longest I have noticed to date is approximately one inch long.
Q: Who coined the term asshand?
A: An ass-hole named Andy Ellenbaum. He is also a mutant, having prehensile nipples so dexterous that he can use them to pick up change off the floor.
Q: Why are you telling us so much about asshand?
A: I have grown tired of explaining the phenomenon; thus, I wish to be able to refer any curious parties to the Internet, saving me the trouble of retelling the damned story. Also, several of the members of the keepgoing.org editorial staff, as well as the senior contributing writers, have implored me to expose my shameful affliction to the world so that others might laugh at my asshand.
Copyright 2006, Joe Martinez
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