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Kelly Cheek
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Guess I got what I deserved*

I never realized how much I used my middle finger until I couldn’t. And I’m not even talking about the more obvious usage.

A few nights ago, Linda was throwing together some black bean soup for dinner. She’s a great cook, and she often makes what I consider elaborate dishes – not necessarily fancy, but with a lot of ingredients and steps.

I’m a lazy cook. I make things with few ingredients and few steps. I tend to follow the Paula Poundstone philosophy. She once said, “If you’re using more than three steps, you’re cooking.” For me, it’s not the journey, but the destination, and I want to get there as quickly and as easily as possible.

But, luckily for me, Linda enjoys cooking. And, granted, the tortilla soup was not an elaborate dish. She used a number of canned ingredients, including canned black beans. Well, since I usually find myself loitering in the kitchen watching in awe of her gastronomic feats, I often just busy myself in cleaning up.

So the other night, I was rinsing out the empty cans in preparation for putting them in the recycling bin. With the black bean can, the top was still attached and I was careless. There was some stubborn residue, so as I turned the can, the top sliced open the back of my left middle finger just above the second knuckle.

It was a clean cut, and the pain was minimal, but the blood was, well, in hindsight I think I overdid it a little. It was pretty profuse. Holding my finger under cold water, the skin over my knuckle kept flipping open, and the blood kept coming, so I stopped rinsing it and just started holding it closed with a paper towel.

It probably could have used two or three stitches, but it was dinner time and I didn’t want to bother. Dammit, I have my priorities! I have ten fingers, but only one stomach. It comes first. So I held it closed with the bloody paper towel while Linda got some bandages ready.

She put three butterfly bandages across the top, then wrapped it with a wide bandage, after which we sat down to dinner. The soup – no surprise – was delicious.

The bandages helped to remind me to keep the finger straight, but it wasn’t really rigid. I could still feel the cut pulling apart occasionally. Obviously it needed a little help. So, as a dessert, Linda dutifully ate a Popsicle, which we still had in the freezer from the summer, and used the stick as a splint.

So, my middle finger is immobilized, and I’m constantly discovering how handicapped I am without it. First of all, of course, there’s typing. As a writer, that’s the main thing that it interferes with. Writing this blog post is taking much longer than usual. I’m a pretty good typist, but this splint is causing me to make a lot more mistakes than usual.

Every day, I wash my face before I go to bed and when I get up. Doing that with one hand is pretty tricky, and I’ve discovered how much soap stings when it gets in your eyes due to inadequate rinsing. And showers? Duct-taping a plastic bag around my hand is not only a pain in the shorts, but it pretty much hog-ties my hand from being the least bit useful.

The obvious usage I mentioned at the outset isn’t really a problem. The splint actually facilitates that, even, perhaps, when I don’t mean it.

Anyway, this ode to my middle finger is a testament to my newfound appreciation for an oft-taken-for-granted digit. I eagerly look forward to its rehabilitation, and hereby vow to afford it the appreciation and recognition it deserves.


* The title of this blog post was a doubly fortuitous find for me. I've written before about how all the titles of my posts are song titles or lyrics. Lamenting my carelessness, “Guess I got what I deserved” is apropos. It’s also the first line of the song Baby Blue (1972) by Badfinger.