Last night, we were at my neighbors’ house all of five minutes before we’d have to leave again, all because my husband continues to insist on sprinkling little bits of green leaves of various sorts — last night, basil — on whatever he cooks. He had made three salads — corn, macaroni and cole slaw– for our gathering, all gorgeous on their own, not to mention far more impressive than anything I can create in the kitchen.
“Wait,” he implored me, “They need basil.”
“No they don’t,” I insisted, and then he gave me that look, the one that says, “Why couldn’t I have married someone who shares my love for all things Food Network, instead of someone who shouts at English soccer players who can’t hear her through the TV?”
He grabbed the basil, put it on the neighbors’ cutting board and began slicing it, and soon, his finger, too.
He was oddly calm about it, as though he’d just popped a button on his shirt instead of effectively cutting off the end of his thumb.
“Ow. I think I’ve cut off my finger. Where is it? Oh, there it is.”
Now, I am not a medical professional, but I am a cancer survivor and can, therefore, look for fingertips in the basil without completely freaking out. I have seen a lot worse. Still, even as I asked for a bag of ice for my husband’s fingertip, I recognized how surreal the moment was. Also, that we weren’t going to have dinner anytime soon.
Our neighbor Ken, the most experienced among us in searching for lost digits, having helped out another man down the street when he gave up part of his finger to a circular saw, helped me assess the bloody mess.
“Yeah, you’ve got to go to the ER,” he said, and I agreed. Pete offered to drive himself there, sensitive to the fact that I’ve had quite enough of hospitals, thank you very much.
But Ken mentioned the word “shock,” and the next thing I knew, I was barreling down the highway in my mini-van, in a rainstorm, not at all fast enough for my husband, who criticized my driving.
An image of nearly giving birth in the car while Pete dutifully waited at a stoplight flashed in my head, but I thought the better of sharing my little anecdote with him at that moment. Or the one where I had to dash our son, who’d burned his hand on the stove, to the ER while my husband ignored his cell phone during his leisurely five-mile run.
If nothing else, parenting prepares you to mobilize with the precision of a military operation.
Pete, being Pete, King of Parking Karma and All Things Good Luck, happened to enter the ER right at the moment they opened the overflow room, thus making him first in line. What’s more, he didn’t need stitches, largely because he’d cut off the part they’d stitch over. And though we’d brought his fingertip in a supermarket bag full of ice, the docs said it couldn’t be reattached.
Instead, he got his thumb wrapped up so that it looks like he’d been hit by a cartoon hammer, and we got back to the party in time for dessert. I noticed that Pete ate his salads sans garnish, his injured hand suspended in air.
“Hey, Pete,” I said holding up my thumb. “Thumbs up to you, too.”