portion of the artwork for Monic Ductan's fiction

In Appreciation of Men’s Hands
Monic Ductan

I have not seen Matthew in almost a year, but I still remember the look of his hands—wide palmed with slightly stubby fingers. Matt’s hands were never soft; the palms sometimes held calluses. One callus was a mole-like bump. When he rubbed the inside of my thigh, the bump was scratchy like sandpaper.

Matt claimed he had been born with eleven fingers. He said the doctor removed the extra digit at birth. It its place was a small mass on his pinky. The mass was the size of a thimble, and sometimes I imagined what his hand would look like with the extra finger. In my mind, the finger flapped crazily, and it sometimes snaked his hand toward hot flames or a woman’s breasts.

The last man to which I felt a sexual attraction had a large jaw, and he was tall and broad-shouldered in the way I like a man to be, but when he extended his hand and I took it, I was disappointed. The hand was smooth as the flanks on a mare, and his long, narrow fingers seemed more delicate than mine. He was a writer. I like writers. I like poets. But all the poets and writers I’ve met have schoolteacher’s hands. They handle delicate things like chalk.

I want a man with steelworker’s hands, but I want him to be a quiet poet who lives alone and dreams deep. I don’t care if this man speaks in nothing but double negatives. I don’t care if he says shit like, “What’s up, ma?” I would seal his mouth with masking tape, let him touch me until I grew tired of it. I wouldn’t even care if he didn't know how to fuck.

When people remember old lovers, they often go weepy-eyed when remembering a pair of eyes or a head of silky hair. Those are not the things I focus on; however, a man’s hands can sometimes make me wanna take my clothes off. Sometimes I see a man whose hands are so rough-looking and calloused that I don’t care if they are covered in grease. I don’t care if he has a prison record and a face tattoo. If I were a certain type of woman, I would pursue him, offer him things. But I’m not and I don’t.

Once Matt asked me if his ding-a-ling was big enough. It was the middle of the night and I was tired. Yellow leaves fell outside our window. “Meh,” I answered him, “it’s a’ight.” What I should’ve said was that the biggest ding-a-ling in the world wouldn’t matter if a man doesn’t have those blue-collar hands, the kind adept at woodworking, sanding a body down, manipulating it, but also knowing when to let it alone, let it sleep.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 41 | Summer 2013