Photoshopped from Jerry LoFro’s Clumsy Painting
In pains me to admit I have the fine motor skills of a duck-billed platypus. I’d hate to add up the total time I’ve squandered in supermarkets struggling to open those plastic bags you unspool from rollers in the produce department. When shoppers stroll by, they probably attribute my fumbling ineptitude to senescence – or perhaps to a stroke I’ve not fully recovered from – but truth be told, this disability has plagued me from my earliest years.
The humiliation began in kindergarten when Miss Marion hauled out some shoes and attempted to teach the class how to tie them. As my playmates looped and threaded, the laces kept slipping from my tiny fingers. Miss Marion had to come over and help me, and when I had finally accomplished the feat, the bow I had managed was so loosely constructed, the whirr of an oscillating fan unraveled it.
Then there were those horrid two weeks after third grade when Mama made me go to Vacation Bible School at Summerville Baptist Church, a church we didn’t attend regularly, so many of the kids were strangers to me, especially the older ones. We were required to thread a knitting needle, which took me so long I had missed steps two and three and suffered verbal abuse from a tall dark-haired older kid. Thank Allah this was not a Muslim religious school because if it had been, my ineptitude in later painting the clay likeness of our Lord might have been mistaken for desecration.
I could go on with further examples, like my attempting to carve a likeness of the Statue of Liberty from a bar of soap in Cub Scouts or much later struggles in freeing prophylactics from their tiny plastic pods; however, for me the most embarrassing incident concerning my total lack of fine motor coordination occurred when my older son Harrison and I teamed to construct a Pinewood Derby racer from a block of wood.
As a boy, I would turn over such a project to my father, who would fashion the car at his workplace. Once he got home, I fetched newspapers so he could paint it in the carport.
See, I helped!
So, when Harrison and I tackled the job, I followed my father’s lead, in a way. I carved a very un-aerodynamic semblance of a car, but, in a more honest rendition of my old man’s methodology, I had Harrison sand and paint it. After I had attached the wheels, I wrote “Free Tibet” on the side of the car with White Out.
I had the good sense not to photograph this monstrosity.
The great race took place at the gym of the Isle of Palms rec center. Harrison and I arrived early and got in line to have our car inspected, which essentially meant weighing it. The lady in charge was very complimentary to Harrison, and as she handed to car over to me, she leaned over and whispered in my ear, “It’s so nice for a change to see a dad who let his child do all the work all by himself.”
I smiled and said, “Thank you.”
 The year was 1957 before such establishments were equipped with air-conditioning. I remember being in the first grade sitting in my reading circle in early September eagerly awaiting the fan to turn its puny breeze my way.