Gurney's Inn
August 09, 2006

Kiss & Tell

Due to an unfortunate air conditioner moving accident, I cannot, for the moment, use my right ring finger. As a writer this is quite inconvenient. I am reminded that *etters are the ingredients of words and words are the very conveyors of meaning, and now I've *ost the use of my L (ow!).

So it's going to be very hard to write about my *ove *ife or po*o or *indsey *ohan. I can best describe the fee*ing as something in between a speech impediment and pig *atin gone wrong. I keep my thesaurus handy to try to come up with synonyms, which do not have the dreaded (what's another word for *etter?). I suppose I might try to fake it and substitute the number 1 except for the fact that spe** check or my copy editor might go crazy trying to sort it out. Not everyone appreciates the problem of my missing *, their response being "Hey you've got another 25 *etters in the a*phabet, dea* with it."

We take for granted the use of every one of our 10 fingers and our God given right to use an (wait, I'm going to go get a penci* to push) L. I wonder if my missing L is akin to people who have lost their sense of smell or hearing and thus developed their remaining senses more acutely.

Or, like an under appreciated boyfriend or girlfriend, I didn't realize how much I needed my L until it was gone. Of course now I find I want to use the word lachrymose to describe my sad state or lily livered to indicate my cowardice at the sight of my own blood or limicoline which is just a fancy way to say shore inhabiting, as in piping p . . . annoying bird.

I wish I had my own Vanna White so I could say I'd like to buy an L please, or perhaps someone who could take dictation. I now have greater sympathy

for those of certain Asian descent who have trouble pronouncing their L's

so that plum sounds like pwum. I wonder if they too try to avoid words with that letter.

It could be worse — if I had smashed my left ring finger I'd have no more use of S, which is much harder to work around. In high school all those typing courses took hold over my development and thus I never perfected the hunt and peck method. At that time as a girl your mother insisted on typing as a job security skill. It was a fallback akin to today's version of, "You really should get your real estate license."

It wasn't until I crushed my fingertip that I appreciated the intense sensitivity in these 10 tiny pads. A bursting bundle of nerve endings, each finger tip is the gateway to touching the world, and as a writer, I had to wonder, what if this condition were not temporary and I lost my ability to touch the world through this key pad.

Like every other gift we take for granted I cannot imagine being without this process, this creative expression, this business, this passion, this mode of being in the world, this thing which is me and yet is more than me and will survive after I am gone.

So to my L and all 25 of those other characters, which transport my thoughts to the page — I promise to value each and every one of you. Now if I could just find someone who could wash my hair.

You can send comments to kissandte**hb@hotmai*.com.

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