I somehow strained my elbow pruning a bush last week, another sign that physical exertion in middle age is best left to characters in movies.
I normally treat my gardening like I do my taxes—as an annual chore best put off entirely until somebody notices.
(I hope my next door neighbors, who both work for the IRS, do not read this. They have seen my yard.)
The injury is to my right elbow, and I am right-handed, which means doing a lot of normal things hurts. I have been wearing one of those forearm straps which supposedly protects your elbow tendon so it can heal, but all it seems to do is carve a fascinating pattern into my flesh. The main effect is that now my elbow and my arm hurt.
So I am trying to do things left-handed that I have never done in my life before, like shave. I am a lather-and-blade guy, and wielding a razor with my left hand is like having some stranger reaching over my shoulder and shaving me.
It is not a precise process, or one for the faint of heart. Tears have been shed, and I don't just mean by my webcam audience.
Spreading peanut butter left-handed sounds easy until you realize that your left hand, after half a century spent slacking off, is basically a one-year-old made out of fingers. It slops jelly halfway across the counter, drops the knife on the floor. In seconds it ends up covered to the wrist in goo. Thankfully it doesn't need a diaper, because I could never get it off one-handed.
I look at my left hand admonishingly. "What have you been doing all these years?" I hissed to it one morning as I walked out to the car. Then, because a neighbor saw me, I had to pretend I had the tiniest iPhone ever in my palm.
"Yeah, milk! Get some milk," I called to my hand enthusiastically, then tapped it to hang up.
Sometimes that theater degree pays off in the oddest ways.
Driving one-handed is not recommended, but I do it. The slick of peanut butter makes it harder. I have not shaved off my lips yet. I tell myself that learning to floss one-handed is a valuable life skill, like taking down a boar, only messier.
I tell myself a lot of things these days. Mostly left-handed compliments.
. . .