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Friday, April 22, 2011

a young man

There was a young boy working one of the side shows in Coney Island during the nineteen-sixties. He was perhaps eighteen years old. He was one of the attractions, along with the bearded lady, and the leopard lady, a woman with a skin pigment issue that showed light and dark patches of skin on her body. For twenty-five cents a person would walk through to peer at these people standing or sitting on the stage.

The young boy was sitting in a chair, he had no arms. Between two toes of one foot he held a pencil with which he wrote upon a piece of paper.

Amazed by what she had seen, the ten year old went home and spent hours staring at her toes telling them to move. She thought for days about that young boy without arms and what his life might be like. All the things he would never do.

Eventually she was able to pick up clothing with her toes. She was still thinking about that young boy, as she moved her leg with the shirt between her toes closer to her hand to grasp the cloth.

Other things and life got in the way of her continuing to develop the skill of using the toes for more than balance, she learned to flex her muscles like the body builders, and to slow her heart beat.

She hated the thought of the way that young man had to earn a livelihood and had no respect for a society that forced him into such a demeaning position. Realizing the amount of concentration it took to make the toes move independently showed how much character that young man had. And yet he was so far outside the mainstream that he was lost to any of the opportunities afforded other young people.

At the time the society had no interest in investing in his future. He was one of the 'freaks' in the 'freak show' for people to gawk at.

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