One hand washes the other

Twice in my life I’ve spent some time with one-armed men (and a one-legged man but he was dead and telling no tales). Both times the question that burned for me was “How does he wash his hands?” I even screwed up the nerve to ask one of the men. He looked at me stonily and answered “I manage.” That answer neither cleared up the mystery nor give me any confidence in his hand hygiene.

Meeting these men conjured the memory of my mother announcing “one hand washes the other” with cheery satisfaction as we completed a task together that was exponentially easier to do as a team than solo – think folding fitted bed sheets.

handwashingThat expression coupled with my mother’s contentment as she said it invariably induced a lucid visual of soapy hands sliding over each other, cleaning and being cleaned, engaged in a mutually rewarding exercise. Then I’d wonder, “Well, is there any other way to wash one’s hands?”

Apparently there is, but I don’t know the answer and the one-armed men are not telling.

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