Singing Hands

October 15, 2008 | Leave a Comment

Category: Art, Auto-Biography, lefthanded

I’ve started collecting gestural communications.  When a particularly adept practitioner of hand language appears before me, I take note and pay attention to what he or she is doing.  So far, most of those people have been left-handed and male.  There are exceptions.

In college, about midway through my sophomore year, I had a girlfriend for about ten days.  It so happened that we hooked up about three days before my mom came to visit.  I lived in a single in the men’s dorm.  Dorms had 32 units on two floors and didn’t exactly stay sexually segregated.  There was no monitoring, so by January there were a lot of girls living in boy’s dorms and vice versa.  It was 1972.

I’d achieved the golden ring of dorm living by happening upon the strategy of asking guys to be my roommate who were registering but knew they weren’t coming back the next term.  They’d not show, and the school would offer me a single.  When Mom came to visit, delighted I had a girlfriend (to her knowledge, the first girlfriend I’d ever had), Mom proposed she stay in my room during her visit and I live with Gaia in her girl’s dorm.

Capable of being gregarious, Mom hobnobbed with all my buddies in the dorm.  I slept with Gaia.  Gaia’s roommate seemed willing to tolerate the arrangement.

Gaia was a gesturer extraordinaire.  She was like a character out of a Tom Robbins novel, working passionately on mastery of an arcane aesthetic skill.  Gaia would perform hand dance.  A friend would exclaim “Gaia dance!” and music would be issued while Gaia executed a digital mastery far beyond her 19 years.  Gaia was also a witch, which was a novelty to me.  I don’t think I knew what Gaia meant.  I was unfamiliar with the pagan movement.  I was 20.

Mom stayed about a week.  She bought some weed through me from a guy on campus, sowed it into the hem of a dress she’d designed for my sister and sent it to my sister as a gift.  Mom was unique.  Having spent several years in mental hospitals in the 60s, she’d become intimate with drug culture and radical chic.  It was my mother that introduced me to the Berkeley Barb and Herman Hesse.  Some of Mom’s buddies were only a little older than I.

After Mom headed north, I moved back into my single and broke up with Gaia.  The physical intimacy of relationship was more than overwhelming, it was terrifying.  Gaia was gorgeous.  I was scared.  I was unable to appreciate her hands dancing across my body.

Watching the gesture of friends, people I meet and the politicians on Youtube, I don’t come across masters of the genre very often.  Still, left-handed presidents or presidential candidates often stand out as talented in this second language.  Reagan, Bill Clinton and Obama are all lefties with a touch for hand communication.  The senior Bush is left-handed but not particularly deft.  McCain is left-handed but injured.  It shows.  McCain’s verbal capabilities are negatively impacted by his gestural deficiencies.  One hand is almost literally tied behind his back.

Left-handers often emphasize the most important points of their communications with deft encouragements to understand from their left hand.  Consider that these gestures are experienced deeper than a right-hand gesture.  A gesture from someone’s left hand is a communication directly from his or her unconscious to your unconscious.  I’ve noticed that when I seek to communicate something of particular importance, I look with both my eyes into that person’s left eye.  There are many ways to talk directly to a person’s soul.

So, I watch for skilled artists of the hand, robust nonverbal communicators.  Finding these folks, and listening closely, I often discover that their voice doesn’t just say words, they make words into lyrics.  It seems that hand-dancers often also know how to sing.


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