I write shit on my paw. Left one. Reminders. To-do lists, when I don’t trust whatever pathetic crumpled scrap I’m bound to lose. I have written shit on my paw for as long as I can remember, and for this I blame my late mother, because she wrote shit on her paw the whole time I knew her and presumably decades before. When I was too small to write shit on my paw myself, I remember Mama writing it on hers, although she did so with much neater and more artful Depression-era-perfecto handwriting than I ever managed with my late-late-late-Boomer indecipherable dying-chicken scratch.
When I was a kid, fretful adults suggested I might get “ink poisoning” through my skin, and even then I knew enough about dermatology and simple animal biology to realize that skin wasn’t actually that porous or we would all bloat into giant, flesh-colored, distantly hominid-shaped water balloons each and every time we took a bath or walked through a sprinkler or something. So I tended to discount this as a possibility.
Most days, the real estate between my thumb and index finger is littered with such quotidian directives as: SHOP and CLEAN (which I ignore) and GO TO BANK (which I can’t afford to ignore), as well as reminders to CALL THIS PERSON and CALL THAT PERSON and PAY THIS BILL and PAY THAT BILL, plus the more all-encompassing, borderline-hysterical PAY BILLS!!!!! (with an implied, unstated DUMBASS!!!!!). Occasionally I scribble something down that’s a bit too vague or telegrammatic to be truly helpful, such as the urgent SHIFT!! I penned on my hand one afternoon last week. I’d intended it as a reminder to sign up for a weekend news rotation at work, but all I could do, the morning after, was to stare at it blankly and ask: What what? Which gear?
The idea behind all this auto-graphical list-making is to help me remember things I forget, which is a challenging and also somewhat hilarious prospect, because I forget EVERYTHING. I am not exaggerating. If my hand were big enough to accommodate all the shit I might lose track of on a daily basis, I would have no room on my body for anything else. Think about that for a minute. No, wait. Don’t.