I discovered my phantom limb in fifth grade, when I stubbed a member I didn't have against a tether-ball pole and asked to be excused from gym. My teacher was unsympathetic, but later on my classmates rallied around me and one of them, Vonda, said knowingly, "It's got to be a phantom limb; my uncle has one." I learned to be more careful with my phantom limb, and it has saved me more than once. I locked myself into the hallway an hour before I was meant to show up to receive my MFA: my phantom limb kicked open the door. When I'm tired after hours behind the counter at work I can put down my phantom limb like a kick-stand and lean against it, so that I stand at a slight, imperceptible tilt. My phantom limb tires fast, but is very strong. I can't run on it, the choreography would be too confusing, but it is handy when I go rollerskating as a sort of sideboard motor or a brake. There are many other uses for it, in fact it has thousands, as lever, probe, and truncheon. But it is more ( or maybe less) than helpmeet. Though my native tendency is to avoid conflict, with my phantom limb I have kicked, tripped, goosed, tweaked, rabbit-punched, poked, pulled, pinched and pried. Once, bored at dinner, I came to attention to discover that my phantom limb had slid up under the skirts of the woman opposite, a writer of whom I was rather in awe, and was paddling with its phantom toes in her august parts. She seemed to approve, but I was mortified. My phantom limb has kicked people, then tucked itself up and left me to run away on my own; it is an irresponsible limb, a gadfly and a turncoat.