As I look back on it, it really was one of the dumbest things I’ve done in a while. Engaging in the introspection that any self-destructive action deserves, I think at the core of the injury was curiosity, often, to my way of thinking, what causes us so often to hurt the one we love, ourselves.
Let me start by saying I really like to cook. In another generation, my father’s, men largely avoided the kitchen until it was time to eat what the woman of the house prepared. However, when society changed and women in large numbers began entering the workforce, men began finding their way to the kitchen on a more regular basis and staying longer than just making the trip to grab another beer.
Recently, while doing my own cooking thing, I decided it would be a pretty good idea to hurt myself, and, my, it was such a foolish way to do so. While slicing up some squash, zucchini, onions, mushrooms and tomatoes for a little mid-winter grilling, I picked up a tomato and immediately felt the softness, indicating I hadn’t beaten the produce clock for this one. As I held the fruit (or vegetable, depending on your point of view) in one hand and a serrated knife in the other, the idiot part of the brain took over and instead of throwing the tomato away and grabbing a firmer one, I decided to cut the softy while still holding it in my hand. My, did that knife slice through the tomato in short order and then right into my finger.
The pain that is always the precursor to the blood that will follow was sharp. Now, why when I’d already used my tactile sense to discount the item as being grill-worthy I just had to use a very sharp knife to verify what I already knew will forever remain a mystery.
As for the rest — the holding of the hand under the tap, the cursing (something I try to practice, as Mark Twain once opined, not for self-amusement but only under duress) and the first duel application of Neosporin and Band-Aid — well, that was to be expected.
But what you might not have expected is that I could take an act of bloodletting and fashion a column. As my finger was in the healing process and I coped with the awkwardness of trying to keep a Band-Aid affixed to the tip of my middle digit, I decided to jump on the Internet and try to find a few examples of people who’ve hurt themselves in the most ludicrous of ways.
Now, if you’re thinking all those gray-matter-challenged folks on TV’s stupid-trick clips, as in the ones showing those young dudes trying to jump a car with a plywood ramp and a souped-up riding mower, I’m not delving into that genre of stupidity.
Instead, let me focus on people like me who don’t have their youthful exuberance or a belly full of beer to blame on their mental missteps.
In the brain-drain category on a larger scale than my kitchen mishap, consider the case of former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz, who once, according to the website Weird Worm, burned himself to iron his shirt while still wearing it. Now, I must admit, I have a similar habit of applying a hot iron to myself in our colder seasons, not in search of Smoltz’s sartorial splendor, but when done ironing the garment, after unplugging it to put it somewhere to cool, I’ll briefly move it around my T-shirt because, like most folks, when it’s cold, I crave warmth. I once caught my bicep once while doing this (hard to keep those guns out of the way, don’t you know) and burned myself à la Smoltz, so I can feel his pain.
Staying in the baseball world, I also read about former major leaguer Sammy Sosa, who, in 2004, once sneezed so violently that he went on the disabled list with back spasms. Again, I can relate. I once tried to suppress a sneeze, as bad an idea as trying to throw a rope around a horse in full gallop, and felt a pop in my neck. The ensuing stiffness in my neck lasted for more than a week.
As for the current seasonal sports rage, football, as we head toward another Super Bowl, the list is long of players who have injured themselves engaging in some sort of histrionic celebratory display after making a big play. Last season, not one but two NFLers, Lamarr Houston of the Bears and Stephen Tulloch of the Lions, both tore ACLs after breaking into their happy dances after sacking quarterbacks.
And so, as the old Mills Brothers’ song intones, “You always hurt the one you love,” but the rub is, in many cases, that person turns out to be us!
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News and Our Generation’s Magazine, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.