Hands

The night was old, and the pizza place was calling us. Working with drywall for a whole day had sanded us down to dusty, sagging remnants of blue-collar respectability. Flat greasy food was singing to us like a beautiful yellow siren of arterial blockage, and our work-weary minds felt no inclination to resist. So the empty streets and dark neon signs herded us like a series of negative sheepdogs, until we gave a cheer when we saw the sign glowing several streets over, and visions of cheese Frisbees soared through our heads.

The man standing behind the counter took our eager orders with equanimity. Apparently he saw this sort of thing a lot. He grabbed a dough globe and began to stretch and pound it out flatter, disappointing all sorts of aspiring bacterial Magellae. Then the newly flattened planet began to swirl through the pizza place sky, tossing off his spinning fingers, elegantly orbiting through the flour-dusted air. Then I noticed his hands.

They were twisted and malformed. Some birth defect had left him with fewer fingers than most, and less grace than most.

But despite the ugliness in his hands, the things they could do were beautiful. The dough touched them lightly, then leapt up to the ceiling again, dancing under his touch.

I asked him how long he had been throwing pizza dough for. He said he had been there seven years. “How long to get that good?” I asked. Tens of thousands of throws, he said.

There was a reason he wasn’t on day shift. Some people wouldn’t have wanted to eat pizza they had seen being tossed by those hands. Some people are morons.

I enjoyed that pizza more than many things I have eaten. I knew that it had been made beautifully, made by a man whose hands transcended their own fallenness.

Love bestows loveliness.

The crookedest hands made the best pizza.

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