I was working happily on Christmas dinner, glad to leave the chaos of my grandkids’ wall-to-wall new toys in the living room, where their grandfather watched TV. The kids themselves were torturing each other in one guest room, under the guise of “napping,” and their mother, Kym, was napping for real in the other. Our sons and a couple of friends would arrive in about an hour.

And so, in my kitchen, I enjoyed the eye of calm between the craziness of Christmas morning and the late-afternoon bustle of guests. I had sprinkled rosemary on the roast, my concession for the carnivores, and assembled a vegetarian broccoli pie. It needed texture, I decided.

I would snip some sundried tomatoes into it.

I grabbed my kitchen scissors and a pack of tomatoes I’d had squirrelled away in the refrigerator entirely too long. I wouldn’t soak them, because I wanted them as small, chewy bits of flavor in the creamier chopped broccoli and feta cheese.

So I snipped at the tomatoes with the scissors. Snip, snip. As I said, they’d been around for some time; in fact, they were not so much dried as petrified. They flew into shards when I snipped, and I found myself holding them ever tighter as I worked.

Ever, ever tighter.

Which is how I came to snip the pad off my left index finger.

It was a neat little piece of tissue, about the size of a dime. From the very middle of the pad. Had I done it to all my finger, no one could identify me if I robbed a bank.

I will say up front that it did NOT plop into the pie. It fell on the table.

I dropped the scissors and grabbed the piece and smashed it back on my finger, then squeezed hard with a paper towel as I began to bleed, big-time, into the sink. Once I stopped cursing, I called to Paul—bring bandages. Telfa, if we have it. Tape. Antibiotic ointment. “I’ve cut myself.”

I am the Queen of Understatement.

He ran in with gauze, telfa, tape, salve and—God knows why—a tube of Preparation H. I held up my finger, and he turned white. I told him to cut me a piece of the telfa pad (“Do you have any scissors?” He asked. Well, DUH.), squirt a lot of ointment on it, and hand it over.

Together, we managed to keep ourselves from fainting or upchucking while we got the bleeding under control and bandaged the finger.

“That looks horrible,” he said. “Should we go to the ER?”

Yes, we should’ve. But.

I leaned against the sink, still pressing my now white-swathed finger. “This is New York,” I said. “And it’s Christmas. And the ER’s at the VA.” We’ve been treated by the Brooklyn VA since Paul’s COBRA lapsed in November. It’s a great place with phenomenal care, but holidays play havoc with the PTSD so many veterans suffer. I could imagine where I’d fall in the ER triage with a cut finger. By the time they got to me, it would’ve either died, or reattached itself on its own.

“You’re probably right,” Paul said.

I cleaned up the mess, and went back to food preparation. But not before I’d thrown out the tomatoes.

When she got up from her nap, Kym was horrified to hear what I’d done to myself. “Why didn’t you wake me up? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“And you would’ve done what?”

My daughter is not a paragon of calm, and she knows it. She shrugged. “Um…panicked? Ran around screaming?”


It’s December 28, three days since I discovered that kitchen scissors really can cut through everything, as advertised. I’ve raided the first aid section of the Walgreens on Avenue J and found some intriguing high-tech bandages. I’ve changed my dressings twice. It looks like the thing might heal, but it certainly is ugly.

I’m typing with it right now. It doesn’t hurt, but it’s laborious; I have to go back and edit out stray g’s and t’s because the bandaids catch on random keys.

This is how myh typing looks when I don’tg edifgt.

Helluva way to sgtartg a new year…