Photo by Chris Nieratko
Dir: John Graham
I never really grasped what they meant when doctors said people who lose a limb often feel a pain where their arm or leg once was. It didn’t make any sense to me. How is that possible? I always thought it was some sort of cry for attention, like, “Ouch, it hurts where my arm was,” or “Ow! I’ve got a charlie horse in my invisible leg.” It’s like, “Hey, pal. I may wear glasses, but I’m not blind. I can see you have no arm. You reinforced that fact by shaking my hand with your left one like some kind of palsy victim. You don’t need to whine about your ‘phantom pain.’ I get it. You don’t have an arm. You made your point.”
I’m dead broke. I don’t have a pot to piss in. I used to have a little bit of money, but I drank it all away. You don’t hear me crying that I have a phantom pain in my wallet where my money once was. That was my attitude before, but that has all changed since I spent four days in Costa Rica without my cell phone. Now I understand what those poor people go through. Everything makes sense. I can relate to their “phantom pain.” It was as if every five minutes, I’d feel the vibration of my phone going off in my front left pocket but there was nothing there. My phone was back in America because I don’t get service in third-world countries. And yet somehow I felt it, as if I too had lost a part of me. I repeatedly reached for my phone, swearing it was buzzing. Once I even had a panic attack feeling the “phantom phone” go off and then not being able to locate it. I turned over couch cushions and mattresses trying to find the source of my “pain.” I wonder if that happens to people without arms or legs. Do they feel the “phantom pain,” then realize their arm isn’t where it’s supposed to be, freak out, and start tearing the house apart like, “Where the hell is my arm? What the hell did I do with that thing?” And you know their wives always ask, “Well, where did you see it last?” Wives are stupid like that sometimes. If I knew where I left it last it wouldn’t be lost. I guess that’s two ways I can relate to the dismembered. Despite this wave of self-realization and my newfound respect for Ol’ No-Hands I can’t help but feel a little bad for all those times I made fun of the armless by trying to give them invisible high-fives or the legless by asking them if they wanted to play kickball. Now that I understand their pain I want to take it all back. Maybe not all of it, but some of it. I’d like to take some of the mean things I’ve said back, but there lies the problem: I have said some pretty funny things about the limb-lacking, and I’m not talking Def Leppard or “How do you get a one-armed Polack out of tree?” jokes. I’m talking real genius comedy. It seems impossible for me to sift through and decide which jokes I want to retract and which I don’t. See? This is why I hate growing as a person. It’s way too complicated.
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