There aren't that many people who aren't totally surprised when they come to our house. The mailman's finally gotten used to us. I mean, we're nice guys. But, other than the occasional bug-eyed visitor, the experiment, Jake's experiment that we're all part of, hasn't unearthed any problems, at least not since early on.
To start with, it's cool living with all tall guys. Jake wanted us all tall because he figured we'd have more room on our bodies. That is, we wouldn't be crowded. And we're not, really. Not too crowded. Oh, I'm sorry, by our six arms.
We're not brains or anything. We just knew people who knew Jake, and when he put out the search for tall guys, we fit what he was looking for. Kind of like a casting call for the movies or a TV show. He wanted one thing: tall, strong, lanky, rangy young guys. And that's how we were picked.
So in our house, our bodies are pretty much alike, but we're definitely different from each other, aside from our physiques. Like, Dell works at the car wash. Randy's basically a stoner, but he's tall. His pony tail makes him look taller, but he's not that much taller than Evan or Brook, and even they don't have to duck that much coming through the door. Most of us are like carpet cleaners or in some kind of construction.
But yeah, it's cool having six arms. Jake checked us all out first, made us take our shirts off, to make sure we had the right shoulders or arms or whatever so we'd be okay with six arms.
None of us are like body builders, but we look pretty good in those t-shirts with no sleeves, they call them muscle shirts, which came with the experiment, because we either have to wear them or go shirtless. For some reason, none of us likes those older-style open-necked, open-armed undershirts that are sort of strap-like over the shoulders, called wife-beaters, probably because they call them that.
But damn, we look pretty good with six arms. Since we're tall, they're all long arms, and no one's complaining.
So we're supposed to report what it's like having six arms, any trouble we have with them, and if they're hard to use or anything.
Well, they feel good, for one thing. Like Evan, he's always kind of feeling his six arms no matter what he's doing, like standing in the kitchen making a sandwich. He uses his two back arms to do most of the sandwich-making, so they have to reach under or past his other four arms, which kind of dangle there slowly while his shoulders go this way and that as his rear arms reach for the bread and the lettuce and the mustard, but there's all this muscle-on-muscle contact that gets him off while he's doing it.
And that reminds me of another thing, it's not like in the cartoons where every hand is doing something different at the same time. I mean, having six arms, you still only have your one brain and you have to look at what you're doing. Except for Mark, a writer who has learned how natural it feels to have his six arms gently work among each other as he types with his six hands, for the rest of us, most of our arms just relax while one or two of them do what they're doing.
Like Brook, sitting in the big chair in the living room, reaching for the phone to make a phone call. Four of his hands just rest there on his lap, and he grabs the phone off the end table with one hand and lifts the receiver off it with the other. His other four hands get out of the way as he sets the phone in his lap and punches in the number. While he talks, his six arms mostly just rest on each other except for the one holding the phone to his ear. Sometimes one of them scratches an itch or another one runs its hand through his hair while he talks. The only other thing his six hands do is occasionally feel each other. Like anyone on the phone, Brook every now and then runs a hand or two along his six forearms, while he's talking. Probably because he's either shirtless or in a muscle shirt, without even thinking about it while he talks on the phone, he's casually feeling his muscles, generally the three delts of one side of his shoulders or the three biceps or triceps of his big arms as they relax there together while he talks. Like I said, it feels good to have six arms.
And it's funny, no one thinks of having thirty fingers. For one thing, it sounds ridiculously mathematical and spidery. I mean, do you think five fingers when you look at your hand? No, it's just a hand.
Same here: they're just six hands. I mean, you see all the fingers, but you see them as six hands, and, as a matter of fact, they're actually pretty easy on the eyes. Like Dell, back home from a hard day washing cars, showered up and watching TV with a beer in one hand and the rest of his six hands hanging heavily from their strong wrists, resting on his crossed legs on the couch, while Evan and Brook make dinner, which we'll get to in a minute.
To break another myth, Dell's not the best or fastest worker at the car wash, either, just because he has six arms. He is pretty fast, because he can clean a big area quickly with six hands, but he's still got to stop and check when there's a spot of tree sap that needs extra rubbing, and he pretty much has to see what all his hands are doing, just like any guy washing a car with two hands. He's probably a little more tired after running six arms all day like that, but that's hard to say, since his body has adapted to being six-armed. The other workers like him and give him credit for the good work he does; they call him “Los Manos,” which means “the hands,” or “Manos” for short.
So while Evan and Brook make dinner in the kitchen, here is Dell at home on the couch after work, kicking back, barefoot and crosslegged on the couch, his six hands just hanging down alongside each other as they rest on his crossed legs. Except for the one of them that reaches for the can of beer and puts it back after he takes a sip. I mean, that's six big smooth relaxed hands, the hands of a young working man, strong and tired from a day of hard work, so they hang there from Dell's six strong wrists, one of them getting the beer and tilting it back into Dell and putting it back. If it were a cartoon, he'd have one beer in each hand. In fact, I may do that as a joke on him; it would turn him on.
So Evan and Brook, among the tallest of our house of six-armed guys, are in the kitchen making dinner. It would be accurate to say they are filling the kitchen. Thanks be that it has a fairly high ceiling, although Brook likes to touch the tops of two of his wrists to it while doing his imitation of an amusement park bumper-car ride, as if the two of his wrists against the ceiling were the electrical contact on the pole that juts up from the rear of those bumper-cars. He buckles two of his hands across his waist like seatbelts and steers a pretend steering wheel with his two other hands, and makes electrical sounds as he putters, collides, steers, putters and collides with most of the objects in the kitchen, including Evan.
“Would you quit it?” Evan says, four of his six long arms swinging from the impact.
The other two of his arms, his rearmost arms, reach forward under and through past his four dangling arms and are hanging onto a mixer and a bowl of chocolate pudding makings. While Evan runs the mixer, enjoying the lavish muscle-on-muscle contact among his six long arms, he watches Brook's six long arms as two of them furiously steer the bumper car away, the other two buckled over Brook's waist and the other two tracking the ceiling with their wrists, their hands hanging down.
The mixer drowns out the electrical sounds Brook is making for his bumper car, so Evan doesn't hear it coming when Brook collides with him again, but he is as amused as much as he is annoyed and can't help but laugh, almost against his will.
“Would you quit it?” Evan says, trying not to laugh.
So Brook's six-armed bumper car putters away, the two long arms steering furiously, the other two buckled for safety, and the other two tracking the ceiling with the tops of their wrists, but both Evan and Brook know another collision is impending, and Evan tries to suppress his giggles as the mixer whines, blending the chocolate pudding.
From where he is seated cross-legged on the couch, Dell has been tuning out the sounds from the kitchen as he watches TV, but when one of his hands mutes the TV with the remote, he notices it's dead quiet in there.
Turning to look in the kitchen, Dell involuntarily claps another of his hands over his mouth in surprise at the source of the silence—Evan's lips are buried in Brook's, their multiple long-muscled arms passionately interlaced around one another. Two of Brook's wrists are touching the ceiling, but they slowly lower as the two long arms gently collapse and join the rest of his arms in wrapping themselves around Evan.
It's funny watching Randy report to the lab doctor, who comes to the house every now and then to see how we're doing with our six arms. The lab doctor's cool and can deal with anyone, but I cracked up watching Randy. I was there because I was next in line to report.
So Randy's trying to show the doctor how he puts his shirt on and how he takes it off, since they want to see if having six arms causes what they call “impingements,” which basically mean you're slightly stuck or it hurts or something.
Well, Randy's stoned and his ponytail somehow gets wrapped between two of his left arms as he's removing his sleeveless t-shirt, which falls to the ground as his six hands forget which one of them was holding the shirt, because he's preoccupied with his ponytail being caught among his left arms, since it's pulling his head back and to the left.
He tries shrugging his left shoulder to free the ponytail, and he gains some slack in the ponytail so he can move his head freely again as he continues to try shrugging the ponytail free. His six hands form a serpentine dance, like a slow-motion Shiva, as he shrugs the ponytail free from the three left biceps it's caught among.
The ponytail slips free, but Randy has become absorbed in the vision of his six nice, long-fingered hands, watching their motion, aroused, as if they were someone else's.
The doctor and I exchange a glance, and I give my report, while Randy wanders off, shirtless, his six hands floating around him. Dell grabs one of them and pulls Randy and the rest of his hands into the kitchen for something to eat.
I give a complete and detailed accounting to the doctor that pretty much confirms that six arms basically rock.
What I can't find words to tell the doctor in my report is that our arms are our connections to each other, and it feels like we're six times more connected to each other than we could have expected.
For example, early on in the experiment, two or three of us got really freaked as we realized what we had gotten ourselves into. It kind of came to a head a few nights into our becoming six-armed. We'd been sitting around in the living room frankly admiring each others' six arms and talking about how cool they were, when Mace, who does drywall, basically welled up with tears and held himself with his six arms.
“What is my family going to say,” he said. “What about my friends, what about the guys I work with?”
“That's what I've been thinking, too,” Gordon said, staring at the six big hands piled in his lap.
Cool enough, it was Randy who stood up and stepped manfully forward, his ponytail draping down his chest where it had swung around when he stood.
“Mace. Gordon,” he said, taking some of their hands and pulling them to their feet. “You too, Jake. Dell. Brook. Evan. Come on. Everyone.”
We all gathered around in a close circle. Like I said, it's cool living with all tall guys. We all felt that good feeling, eye to eye with each other, our heads way up close to the ceiling as we all stood, gathering our tall bodies close to each other.
“A pact,” Randy said. “Hands forward.”
We all reached forward.
“All of them, that's right.”
Smiles went around the group, including the cloudy faces like Mace and Gordon, as dozens of long arms reached in, as dozens of hands joined in a huge, gentle clasp in the center of this surround of tall, six-armed guys.
“We're your family. We're your friends. We're the guys you work with,” Randy said.
“Yeah,” echoed a few voices from the circle of guys.
I still majorly bone when I remember the dozens of arms that gently wrapped around me that night, as we enjoyed a prolonged round of six-armed hugs.
And at our occasional gatherings with the other housefuls of guys doing the six-arms, we've learned that most have at least one Evan and Brook type thing going on.
In fact, some have started among members of different houses, at our gatherings.
You can tell it's happening, say, at one of the barbeques held throughout the year, when you see two guys talking, one them smiling at all the hands the other guy's got all over him.
The next time you look, as they kiss, it's like they're lost among each other's hands, enjoying the feel of the other guy's muscle-on-muscle contact as much as their own.