12 December 2011

Pinky Swear

I sliced my fingertip while cutting potatoes for a creamy potato cabbage soup.  It was the final potato, added as an afterthought when I considered that the proportions of potato and cabbage already added as part of the mix were unequal and might result in an imbalance in flavor. It was an obsessive move and a rash decision and it took two trips to the emergency room to stop the bleeding. During the second visit the attending physician applied silver nitrate to the open wound causing considerable pain. To my sharp in-take of breath and moan he directed: “Go to your happy place, go to your happy place,” and I told him my happy place was located somewhere before I cut my finger and I could no longer go there! He was not amused. He made a second application to the wound with a long match-like stick tipped with  silver nitrate, then applied a patch of something called Hemo-con and the bleeding was stopped. The pain, however, continued. He wrapped the wound in a huge bandage and sent me home. The soup was delicious, though it contained, I think, one potato too many.
Now, I have known Gary very well for the past twenty years, and during this time he has always worked in construction, run a very successful business. There are very few rooms in my house he has not done work in, and there are whole additions to it for which he is responsible. Gary built Walden. And in all that time he has never arrived at our morning run wearing evidence of any work-related accident, save the occasional emotional complaint concerning some spiritual fatigue. Gary works daily with instruments of potential destruction. He uses a variety of saws and electric drills and hammers, and yet he has never sliced anything but the necessary material and has never hammered the nail into anything but the wood; Gary climbs high ladders and has never fallen off, and he installs glass windows without ever putting his hand through a single pane of them. I have never seen him in need of even a band-aid, while I periodically arrive for our morning runs with body parts variously wrapped and bandaged. He looks at me with alarm and resignation. He says, “Next time, give me a call.”
Gary possesses patience, a characteristic that could serve me well and might have left my finger intact. Gary thinks before he acts, and positions himself always outside the danger zone and thereby minimizes the possibility of work-place accident. Gary never moves his car without first buckling his seat belt. Gary always drives under the speed limit, though he once was pulled over by the police for driving on the road to his house that he firmly believed was too long under construction. Gary always measures twice and cuts once, but when he cuts it is never himself that is rent.
I’m typing this without use of my left pinky finger. 


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