Hey, I never told you all about last Thanksgiving. It was something. I can reveal that it was Dave, in the kitchen, with the candlestick holder, but I don’t have a clue how exactly it went down. I will say this: you just never know what you’re capable of until some big man encourages you to try something new. Encourages, yells at the top of his lungs, whatever.
The candlestick holder was a beaut. It was a little metal sculpture of some kind of shorebird with long leggedy legs and a big beakity beak. I picked it up when we were cleaning out my sister’s house and claimed it for my own. “I love this,” I told Dave.
“I’m not surprised,” he said. “You loved it when you bought it for her in the first place, twenty years ago.” Oh.
Anyway, I thought I’d put it on the table when I was setting it last Thanksgiving so my sister could join us, in a way. We had a good dozen people coming, and Dave was in charge of the turkey, the stuffing, the smashed potatoes, the carrots, the prawns in tarragon-mustard cream sauce, the pear-pecan-bleu-cheese salad, the root vegetable medley, and the cranberry sauce, while I had to set the table. I get distracted. Once I decided to put the candlestick holder on the table, I was having trouble getting the candle to stay in it. Sensing that Dave had a spare twenty seconds before his sauce burned and his potatoes boiled away and his prawns needed flipping, I handed it to him. A minute later, he made a noise of disgruntlement–not a loud noise, but the kind of noise he makes when I’ve forgotten to put any forks on the table. He can be fussy. I went in the kitchen to find out where I’d fallen down this time.
There he was with the candlestick holder hanging out of his hand. He’d been good and beaked. Blood was fountaining out in every direction. The bird was still in mid-stab and dangling from the back of his hand. I jumped into action. Don’t praise me; anyone coming in on that scene would have planted her foot in Dave’s torso and grabbed hold of the wayward heron and yanked. That’s when the yelling started. This particular shorebird had suffered a fall and a nose-blunting earlier in its career, and the sharp pointy ends of its beak had curled into a fishhook shape, and required a more careful extraction from Dave’s hand meat, which he accomplished himself once I’d been shooed away. Now we were left with a soiled bird and an enthusiastically bleeding wound. “Sew me up,” Dave said.
The wound had exposed eighteen layers of tissue and a gaping ravine of muscle with a row of little alien teeth winking away at the bottom, which you could just make out between blood gobbets. “No! I’ve got butterfly bandaids. Hang on a minute.” The butterfly bandaids got no purchase. It was like damming Niagara with Kleenex. The butterflies flapped wings with every arterial spurt. Dave pinched the chasm together with his fingers. “Just sew me up,” he enunciated.
“No! I will not just sew you up! I do not know how to sew you up! I will take you to the emergency room.”
“I can’t go to the emergency room. My potatoes are boiling. You’ve got a needle. You’ve got thread. You know how to sew. Just sew me the flick up,” he said, or something a lot like it. I hate that tone of voice. But I went for my needle and thread. I can’t help myself. I’m a softie. I’ve just never been able to say no to a large irritated man with a bunch of kitchen knives.
I walked back to the kitchen with an other-worldly, Marie-Antoinette-at-the-Bastille sort of inevitability, distracting myself with details. I do know how to sew. I’ve never had any stitches in me and didn’t have much of a plan, but I thought maybe I’d try a nice French seam, with the overlapped layers and double row of stitches such as I might use on the inseam of a sturdy pair of jeans. That should hold it. I threaded my needle, put a nice knot in my thread, gobbed it up with Neosporin and gave it a go. The needle refused to penetrate the skin. “Hang on, I’m going to need a thimble,” I said out loud, or pilot holes, to myself, and went to fetch it. I came back with a thimble and a smaller needle, and managed a neat puncture on one side of the gash, but it was too close to the edge, and my seam shredded as I pulled the thread through. Shit, I’m going to need a serger to bind these edges, I thought, but decided to make a less tidy job of it and put the needle further back from the gash the second time. It was a delicate operation. Punching through required the thimble and a lot of pressure, and I had to let up as soon as it punched through so I didn’t go clear through his hand. Then up through the other side from underneath, then back down, and so on, a ragged running stitch, and I cinched the gap shut by pulling on the thread, but not enough to produce gathers. Another knot to finish, and a rinse and a bandage, and we were good to go, Dave to take care of getting dinner on and me to throw up as quietly as possible. I don’t know who got the forks on the table. The cream sauce seemed extra zesty.
I spend a sleepless night listening for the tiny munching of flesh-eating bacteria or the distant cellular rumble of gangrene, but by morning the wound looked pretty good, and in a few days we managed to pluck the thread out. “Of course, real surgeons do one stitch at a time and tie it off,” Dave said. Oh yeah. “And they have a curved needle so you don’t go all the way through the hand.” That I didn’t know. That would have helped. It occurs to me that duct tape would have helped, too. Dave and I both have ugly hands to begin with, and that also helped.
There are lots of lessons here. Foremost: if you want Thanksgiving dinner to go smoothly, and you think you’re likely to outlive your sister, linens are always a good gift choice.
Oh my! That sounds like the craziest Thanksgiving ever! I don't think I could have stitched him up… I probably would have said "hell with the potatoes, get in the car!!!".
must have been a lot of blood…
You have more courage than I. He must have already hit the sauce in the liquor cabinet to suggest that operation. How fortunate that he didn't secumb to gangrene or tetanus.
Dave is so much braver than me. You are so much braver then me. Yikes, I'm wimped out all over the place.
I couldn't have done it..just couldn't. However, my man never goes in the kitchen unless it's to put food in his mouth so hopefully it will never happen here. Fingers crossed.
That's some Thanksgiving story. Leave it to you to make it memorable, Murr. Good for you for having accomplished the surgery, surprisingly well, looks like to me.
You've got more heart than I could ever have Murr.
You are, hands down, one of my favorite bloggers.
There. I said it. It's like we're married now.
Can I use your car?
I am usually in stitches after reading one of your posts. Who knew that you could leave someone in stitches literally too?
Yikes! And I thought the time the water pipes froze on Christmas Day was a big deal…
Sounds like my house on the holidays. He does it all, I set the table and chat with the guests.
Fortunately, my candlesticks are a much simpler, less imaginative affair.
I've sewed up more than one prolapsed cow with a sacking needle & a shoe lace…but never a husband… Your my idol this week…
Bleahhh. I'd have barfed, then passed out and never even gotten to the sewing. You are a CHAMP!!!
And pilot holes….I agree with Pearl!
A prolapsed COW? First you have to stuff everything back inside, then
Sorry, just blacked out. Hey people. I am the least brave person I know. The only reason I could do this is I was temporarily more scared of Dave. Before that the bravest thing I ever did was play piano in front of someone.
Pearl, the keys are in the usual spot, love.
Sheesh! I hope you threw that DAMN THING out!!!
Hey Murr: Here you go again, showing us another "hidden talent" that you have never mentioned in the last 46 years that we've known each other….but wait…the FOODIE in me keeps going back to the Pear/Pecan/Bleu Cheese Salad! Has Dave recovered enough this year that he could make that again? 🙂 Uncle Ed is jealous…
"Shit! I'm going to need a serger to bind these edges…"
Thanks for a wonderful mental image of finishing .
PS My cats have a bird video on their blog.No sharps involved!
I have that quirky bird (or its first cousin) here in Oz. I think ours is too big to put on the table – it stands about four foot high, but I will treat it with MUCH more respect. Thank you – and echoing every one else – v. v. brave.
Good one, Murr.
Colonel Mustard in the Kitchen with the Candlestick…next time we play CLUE, definitely my guess.
Dave must not have thought so, but the story is hilarious, as usual.
Gorm! You are something else.
I could NEVER have done that! But I guess those rugged pioneer women did it all the time. Wonder how many people survived the stitching up??
Usually your posts crack me up, but this one is just disturbing. You hill people have impressive talents and you are more than willing to experiment with them.
Ack Ack Ack Ack ACK! And I was feeling sorry for myself because every once in a while my husband comes at me with a grown-over ear hole and an earring and says, "Push this through for me, willya?"
WOW. Holy crap. That is much better than putting potato skins down your inlaw's garbage disposal on Thanksgiving evening and making them call the emergency plumber because you did that.
Murr, there is this fake skin stuff you can get at the drug store which holds wounds together. You kind of paint it on and hold the sides together until it seals. Go out and get some right now, tonight, while they are still open. You just don't know what tomorrow will bring!
As for Dave, a man who won't leave his potatoes just because of a flesh wound, well, he's the stuff of legends.
Oh, my! Dave is one brave/crazy guy. And you are even more so. Neosporin on the thread? How did you think of that? Is the scar visible?
Perhaps you should advertise your skills as a seamstress of human skin and make a few bucks on the side on the reality/survivor shows. Then you could invest in some new candlesticks.
That salad does look awesome. Did you take the photo before or after the emergency surgery?
Pilot holes! I am so not showing this to my husband who's been to the ER for hand injuries more times than I can count. Or remember. Whatever. Like the time I came home and found a note. "I'm at Lenox Hill. Don't go in the kitchen." Yeah, bloody knife and bloody loaf of bread in the kitchen.
Hope tomorrow is injury free.
At the tool booth at the fair, I bought one of those curved needles to sew up my tent. I tried to use it on a finger gash, but didn't have your guts. It was a big wad of duct tape and a lumpy scar for me. You rock, Dr. Murr.
I missed your blog these last two weeks away.
I experienced chills all over my body as I read your blog. Honest to gosh chills. like I do when I see a kid fall down on a sidewalk, knowing the bloody knees will be celebrated with a lot of grating noise, sufficient to overpower the sound of a fire truck.
It took lots of courage to stitch that wound, even harder I would guess on the other side of the needle. Bless the cook!
My beloved husband asks me to tell you, "Next time, superglue and duct tape."
Murr, you and Dave are too cool!
Wow! My hat's off to you… I have a curved needle but still couldn't have done that! (I suspect Jerry would prefer that.) Bravo… I will forward this to my friends. What a wonderful Thanksgiving story!
Oh my God. Is that for real? All I can say is that man must really love you. I mean really, really.
I had a similar incident two years ago, but in this case I was cleaning up the super sharp Heinkel knife in the sink when it sort-a slipped and… well thankfully there was bone in my finger or my entire right pointer would have gone down the disposal. A trip to the ER was in order.
My philosophy regarding anything done to my body that is more complicated than applying an ointment or cream is to let the PROFESSIONALS do it.
That's not a bad line of stitches, my dear. Says the nurse of 30 years. Especially with a regular sewing needle. Job well done. Now we just have to hope your new talent isn't called upon any time soon again.
Neat stitching! But your knot needs some work.
I'm a duct tape fan. But I have a curved upholstery needle, never used on humans. Yet.
If I were injured, I'd probably either laugh or freeze in terror if the person tending my wounds said, "Hang on, I'm going to need a thimble."
Anyway, I'm glad that there was no audible flesh-munching from bacteria. Bacteria have terrible table manners.
Tiffin, I'm intrigued by the drugstore Fake Skin. Will it seal lips shut? That could come in handy.
Speaking of "the other side of the needle," Dave did not even flinch. Flinching would have interfered with him screaming at me to JUST STITCH IT UP. I think Duct Tape is an excellent plan.
To all interested, the salad pic was After. He does that sort of thing all the time. And Robert, we do NOT have sharp knives at this house. It drives our foodie friends crazy, but Dave prefers it that way. And I don't care–all I do is clean up afterwards.
Magpie, you crack me up.
Linked to this story today. I think I'm supposed to tell you…or ask you? Too late for that but this story just plain stays in my brain. I wish it wouldn't. Gaaag!
Funny, though. Very, very funny.
Murr, Lichen recommended me to this; LOL buckin' funny. Love your pix. Love your words. Maybe try out my ( "Mending" @ SweetWilliamNow.blogspot.com) post?http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=6077536348567398301#allposts