Even in the small world of 6th Grade, I only saw Jimmy in the school now and then. I don't think he was in my classroom. But later I sat at lunch with him and he showed me his hands. They were no longer gnarled. They were smooth and looked like regular, comfortable hands. He told me he'd used lotion. I was glad for him.
But what this says to me is how people will harm themselves sometimes, or will follow ides or norm to their detriment, unless someone else says, C'mon, who cares. I was never a kid with a whole lot of insight, at least the practical kind, but I'm glad Jimmy realized that you don't have to give in to what other people think.
Now that I think of it, Jimmy and I had a certain intimacy because in Jonesborough he had contracted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. H had squeezed a tick off his dog and contracted it. He was out of school for months and--I don't know why or how--he called me on the phone a few times. I talked to him, talked for maybe an hour or less at a time, and this seemed to be meaningful to him. I can't say that's what I thought at the time, that Jimmy needed some other kid to talk to, but it's what I think now. And I guess I see the hand lotion thing in the same vein. And I think I took pleasure in being nice, or in being helpful in some fashion.