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Thumbing It

You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone. For example, the use of your right thumb. Last night, after a long day on a short fuse, I settled in for the evening, poured myself a glass of Vinho Verde, and pointed myself at the kitchen to try to chip away at the glacier of midweek dishes that was slowly but surely inching its way out of my sink and across the counter in an apparent attempt to colonize the adjacent stovetop in the name of sloth. I’m a foodie but I’m anal, so leaving dishes behind unwashed is not usually something I condone. But the week got ahead of me. And apparently, so did the 99-cent Ikea butter knife.

Being a home cook, there are so many other, worthier sharp objects in my kitchen with which to accidentally cut a gaping flap of thumb open. Steak knives. Screwpulls. Cleavers. One copa of wine and I just miss making myself look like slappy the nine-fingered deli counter clerk with a the kind of knife that other knives would choose last for the dodgeball team.

Being a lifelong klutz, I’ve been down this road before. In my college days, making my mom’s arroz con chorizo at a friend’s in Boston (“Now remember, honey, half water/half beer for the rice, you cook with Budweiser, you don’t drink it…“), an extra Sam Adams, a slippery cutting board, and a red pepper with far more attitude than any garden capsicum has a right to have, and there I was with my thumb, the fleshy end cleanly split in two from the tip to the beginning of my fingernail, held over my head in a tea towel while I raced into the living room to turn down the radio. So I could scream. That was my other thumb. As I said, I’m anal. I think last night I was going for balance.

At least I had the practice behind me. This time I calmly put down the Ikea culprit, ignored the blood (gushing), looked for my paper towel roll (empty), tried stemming the blood with toilet paper (quickly soaked), and finally sacrificed a wash rag to the coagulation effort. But I had no bandages. Feeling pretty good that almost cutting my thumb off was a once-a-decade event, all I had left in my medicine chest was Liquid Band-Aid and long-unused Zoloft. Given the level of shock I was in at that moment, I found the idea of the latter medicinal aid somewhat more comforting.

Although it was past midnight, it didn’t take Devyn long to race over with ointment and real bandages. (Have I mentioned lately how much I love my boyfriend?) When he arrived, I opened the door with my left hand, keeping my right thumb raised high over my head, bundled in a garish yellow wash rag tied with a rubber band like I was holding aloft a big, bloody lantern. His eyes said it all.

I looked like a crownless, bleeding Statue of Liberty. In terrycloth.

In the past few hours, I’ve discovered the crucial rule that a right thumb plays in daily life. Keeping the coffee cup in your hand when you lift it, for example. Ripping the toilet paper right where you want it. Getting the iPod into and out of your pocket. Moving the mouse. Pressing the space bar. Frankly, it’s the toilet paper that’s the biggest pain in the…well, you know.

Right now, I’m busily figuring out the four-fingered workarounds I’ll need to get used to for the next week or so, and working on a few clever stories to mask the personal ineptitude surrounding my soon-to-be matched set of conversation-piece thumb scars. I’ve also clearly marked my calendar for July 2016:

“Buy bandages.”

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Michael Thaddeus Doyle

I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.

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