I was starting to cook dinner for my family plus three guests. On the menu: corn and wild rice chowder with smoked sausage. I've written about the corny, smokey goodness of that soup before, but this time, I added a special new ingredient: my fingertip!
I started chopping the first ingredient of the first course, the sausage. I'm generally very careful with knives, and I teach my children proper knife-handling techniques in the kitchen because I want to avoid trips to the emergency room. I was in a teensy bit of a hurry because I had gotten a late start on the soup. I was hurrying--and yet, oddly, the slicing of my finger seemed to happen in slow motion.
I could see the knife approaching my finger-tip, and I almost had time to scream at my finger to get out of the way before the skin fileted. A bright red stripe opened up above the first joint on my left pointer, and then blood started flowing in real time.
"Aaaahhhh!" I hollered, because it rilly, rilly hurt. I quickly made a field bandage from a paper towel, and applied pressure, while walking in circles and grunting. Meanwhile, C. Peevie arrived on the scene.
"Mom," he said, all sweet and worried, "Are you OK? What happened? What did you do to your face?" My face? I was holding a bloody bandage around my finger, and he was asking about my face?
Apparently, somehow I had smeared some sooty black gunk from I-don't-even-know-where on my face, along with a gory swath of blood. I looked like an extra from the set of The Towering Inferno. (Ooo--remember that movie?! I LOVED that movie! And talk about a towering cast! "Don't you think you're suffering from an edifice complex?" Heh.)
Anyway, I gave C. Peevie the short version, and he went running for Mr. Peevie, who immediately started panicking. Not because of my mortal wound, mind you, or because my finger was hemorrhaging, but because we had people coming over and WHO WAS GOING TO COOK NOW?
Mr. Peevie leapt into action, madly typing away on the computer.
"Um, sweetie?" I said, checking my wound, which immediately started gushing again. "What are you doing?"
"I'm trying to find the Amishes phone number," he said. "I need to call them and tell them not to come over." It was 4 p.m., and the Amishes were set to arrive in about an hour and a half. He dialed their number, but got no answer. (Even though they're practically Amish, they do have a phone--but apparently they're still using dial-up internet access.) The third guest did not have a listed phone number.
Not being able to reach the dinner guests pushed Mr. Peevie's anxiety into overdrive. "What are we going to do?" he moaned, "What are we going to do?"
"I don't know, Mr. P," I said, "But do you think maybe I should go to the ER?"
He paused and considered. "I don't know. But what am I going to do about dinner? People are going to be here in an hour and half, and nothing will be ready!" He started hyperventilating. "You'll go to the ER, and you won't be back until 10:00!"
I think his main concern, besides the food, was how to make small talk with dinner guests without me in the room to monopolize the conversation. But my feeling is, what good is a liberal arts education if you can't even carry on casual dinner conversation?
Meanwhile, C. Peevie was hovering around me while I continued to apply pressure to my stub. I checked it a couple of times, and both times it grinned a cheerful red grin at me before the blood started gushing like that SNL skit where Julia Child slices her artery during a cooking show.
The irony of Mr. Peevie's misplaced concern was not lost on C. Peevie. "I don't know why Daddy is the one who's all panicky when you're the one who's injured!" he said loudly, his arm around my shoulder.
In the end, I drove myself to the ER at Lutheran General Hospital, driving past at least two other closer hospitals on the way. I'm giving them a plug because even though there were 50 people in the waiting room, and ten more people came in the door behind me, I was in and out of there in less than an hour.
Here's what my finger looked like while Nurse Practitioner Pat was putting three stitches in.
When I arrived home with my finger stitched and splinted, soup was bubbling fragrantly on the stove, the corn casserole was hot out of the oven, and best of all, there was a glass of wine waiting for me. There was no anxiety or distress in the air. Somehow, Mr. Peevie had pulled himself together, because, he told me later, I had picked out recipes "that a monkey could follow."
Mr. Peevie might lack all sense of proportion in the anxiety-response department, but he always comes through in the end.