The boy who walked on his hands

1. Perspective

hand stand 

Once there was a boy who walked on his hands.  He walked on his hands through the dining room. His hair hung down. He put honey in his tea, which he drank through a straw. It dripped in his face, and made a sticky mess of his hair.

He walked on his hands through the living room, where Boris and Natasha whispered and schemed.  He walked on his hands up the stairs to his room in the attic, with the steep-pitched roof and the posters of Jimi Hendrix on the northern slant.  Jimi HendrixHe played air guitar with his feet, and percussion with his knees.

He walked to school on his hands, and waited for the bus with his elbows crossed .  He sat on his head in the last seat in the back.

He walked on his hands to geometry and social studies.  Took notes lying down.  Did gym hanging by his feet on the ropes. Elbowed his way through the cafeteria.  Backed out at the end of the day, and rolled home with his hands on his skateboard.

His arms were stronger than his legs.  His legs wobbled and bent, and sometimes tripped him up at the hip.  At the doctor’s office, they tested him with lights and head gear.  They gave him glasses — one green lens and one red, with prisms inside for righting the world through his eyes.

red/green glasses 

He put the glasses on the very next day.  Left the house and fell down the stairs, taking the poster with him.  Went west instead of east and took the bus to a different school, where he noticed the children were much too small, with razor sharp teeth.  He was afraid that day, sitting in a scarred maple desk with his knees tucked up around his ears.

He walked home that afternoon and ate cauliflower on a TV tray with Howard Cossell or Chick Hearn reporting the scores sincerely and accurately.  In the morning, he left his glasses on the windowsill, and walked down the stairs on his hands again.

2. Becoming a Star

a star 

He walked down the stairs on his hands again. His elbows got tired at times, and the palms of his hands were covered with scars.  He wore the stigmata of hand-walking wherever he went and began to wear white gloves to social events.

“So pleased to meet you,” he would say to the Duchess of this and the Prince of that.  He would offer his gloved hand and push the hair out of his eyes with one knee.  Often his gloves were bloody and he would instead offer his elbow for shaking, if he noticed.

“So [Princess/Duke],” he would say, “did you see this week’s Dancing with the Stars?” or “What will you do with your summer now that the [Prince/Duchess] is so occupied?”  And they would chat very amiably, the boy who walked on his hands and whatever visiting royalty might be in his living room, which was now his drawing room, where he smoked a pipe and sketched and dreamed.  The immediate topics of politics and natural disasters would be tossed over the net strung across the widest part of the room from one group to another, and hot sweet tea was served with ginger cookies.  Tips on land deals were exchanged, and recipes for vegetable pate.

One day the boy who walked on his hands saw himself on 20 Minutes and was surprised.  barbara walters He hadn’t realized he was being interviewed by the woman with the lisp and the sympathetic manners, and he was glad he’d been walking on his hands all these years, since he came off very well on camera and the ratings were good, he later heard.

He vacationed in deep places – canyons, oceans, meditative states – but always came home to his attic room with the steep pitched roof, to look out at the lake nearby, green lake and the women running around it with their jogging strollers, and the skinny man on roller blades, and the espresso cart magician appearing and disappearing in the flashing shadows from the changing leaves on the elm trees and oak all round the lake.

He saw the reflection of the geese on the lake’s surface at a certain time of year as they flew down from Canada toward home and a place to land with their webbed feet in the soft cool mud, where they would sleep and dream of sweet grasses and tender roots, and the surprising abundance in winter of rich black mud. A rain would fall and the frogs would come out to belch and sing with bellies out and neckties firmly tied.

In the room with the steep-pitched roof at the top of the stairs, the boy who walked on his hands put his elbows on the window sill and he watched and watched and watched.

Geese in formation

2 Responses to “The boy who walked on his hands”

  1. 2 Teresa June 9, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Thank you, CG. I see new things in here, having not read the piece in quite a while. It gets many many hits, not quite #1 on the list, but is very frequently viewed. I suspect it is the Jimi Hendrix poster that brings them in.

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