The Murderous Mandoline

No, not the musical kind…

…this kind:

Some of you know I have a fondness for cooking. Mostly I’m only able to complete meals when someone else is eating, typically the lucky/unlucky person I love. But in an effort to be healthier and keep grocery bills down (prepared foods cost more than their ingredients, have more sodium and fat, and generally don’t taste as good), I’ve been trying to cook more.

I do most of my prep work on Sundays. Chopping, thawing, slicing, reducing, etc. It’s easier to chop ten vegetables for five days than it is to do two a night, I say. So yesterday I prepped for:

Chicken pita pizzas (an old favorite)
Barbequed flank steak and cheesy cauliflower
Chicken with corn & black bean salsa
Smothered steak burgers with shoestring potatoes

Everything was going fine until I had to slice up the potatoes. I got out my trusty mandoline only to find that a key component of it was inexplicably lost in my move to DC: the safety gripper. The gripper has little teeth that sink into whatever you’re cutting to give you traction as you move it through the two-blade cutting surface (one blade cuts horizontally, while several smaller blades cut vertical strips at the same time). Needless to say, running a starchy potato through a mandoline takes both strength and traction. I had one but not the other and so…

…the mandoline bit me. Bit my thumb to be more precise. Right above the little knuckle crease on the inside of it, where there’s sure to be plenty of healing-preventing movement and discomfort.

And it was pretty deep. It was “little flap of skin” deep. It was “my thumb instead of an onion” deep. It was the kind of deep cut that doesn’t bleed right away, that you wonder, “Well, now what?”

And then gushing blood. Luckily, none of it on my prep area. I got a strappy band aid on it right away and looped it tightly over the wound. The first band-aid lasted through the rest of my prep, and the second one got me through til this morning. I think I will be okay. In about a week.

I am a very clumsy person. I am often covered in small cuts and bruises because I constantly run into furniture, corners, sharp edges, or worse, I publicly trip over things. I once tripped over a cement block wall and then, five minutes later, realized I had a seven-inch gash running down my shin that was white in a few places. Stupidly, I did not get stitches and have lived my life since with an enormous but crowd-pleasing scar there. If you ask me, I’ll tell you a dude pulled a knife in Chicago.

And, because Jen Lowe reminded me of it, here’s an appropriate poetic companion for today’s tale:

Sylvia Plath

What a thrill –
My thumb instead of an onion.
The top quite gone
Except for a sort of hinge

Of skin,
A flap like a hat,
Dead white.
Then that red plush.

Little pilgrim,
The Indian’s axed your scalp.
Your turkey wattle
Carpet rolls

Straight from the heart.
I step on it,
Clutching my bottle
Of pink fizz. A celebration, this is.
Out of a gap
A million soldiers run,
Redcoats, every one.

Whose side are they one?
O my
Homunculus, I am ill.
I have taken a pill to kill

The thin
Papery feeling.
Kamikaze man –

The stain on your
Gauze Ku Klux Klan
Darkens and tarnishes and when
The balled
Pulp of your heart
Confronts its small
Mill of silence

How you jump –
Trepanned veteran,
Dirty girl,
Thumb stump.

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