People don’t always use critical thinking at critical times. You know the whole shtick of common sense being uncommon. My default reaction is to wonder, “What were you thinking? You must be an idiot.”
Tonight I had to question myself and I discovered that: I am, in fact, an idiot. True story.
A brief reflection on my life renders many vivid examples. Several examples were during Kindergarten. I would almost include a fart that fooled me but that is technically an accident. It would be unfair to saddle a five-year-old-me with the “idiot” label for crapping his pants and sneaking through the second half of the day commando style. No sir, that lesson is called life and is an important skill. However, I do remember playing with some construction blocks and two were stuck together really well. I anchored one with my right hand and pulled upwards in a jerking motion with my left. Directly in-line with my face. I punched myself in the eye and lay in the floor writhing in pain while quietly wondering if I was blind. I wondered if the inside of my eye was like a grape or a water-balloon and if the liquid pouring down my cheek was tears or eye-goo. I felt like an idiot for that one.
Fast forward a few years and I was twelve or thirteen, working on a vegetable farm for nine to ten hours a day during the summer. My job was to help harvest things like okra, greens, tomatoes, and peppers, etc. Some days consisted of being dropped off in a field with a water jug, bushel baskets, and a large knife. There were no cell phones or even much chance of car traffic on the rural roads nearby. Similar to “Naked and Afraid” but more likely to be named “Flanneled and Farming”. It was on one of these days that I felt like an idiot again.
About four of us had been dropped off in a turnip greens field and we spread to begin picking. The day was hot and after about an hour it was time for a nice cool drink of water. My trusty water jug was nearby and had just been filled with ice from my home refrigerator that morning. The ice came from an automatic ice maker in the old style where the water is frozen into a row of half-moon shaped cubes that are connected on one end. Little torpedo shaped ice cubes.
I walk over to my jug, open the nozzle, and turn it up for a chug. Cool water rushes out and it makes the familiar bubbling sound as air rushes back in. Apparently one of the arrow shaped cubes melted just enough to fit through the nozzle and a bubble of air or a burst of water allowed the ice to launch into my throat. It was a perfect fit and lodged in the back of my throat. Holy Shenanigans, Batman. I am officially choking. I didn’t have enough air to push out because I was drinking so fast and the ice was lodged perfectly enough that no air could get in. The valve was closed. It felt like trying to pull a frozen milkshake through a straw, I tried to breathe but nothing was happening.
Time seemed to slow down and I gained some clarity. I was suddenly very angry that I was dying from a piece of ice. I pondered things like; Will they ever know what killed me? Will my body heat melt the ice quick enough for me to start breathing again? Should I get in the downward dog position and hope for the best? I am standing in a patch of greens holding a 12” knife, I have a bee allergy, it is 100 degrees before lunch and the damn ice water is the most dangerous thing I faced.
It is a humbling place to choke on a piece of ice. Life is fragile. Especially for an idiot. Even that is pale in comparison to what I did tonight. I hesitate to even tell, but I must. Here goes…
I mentioned previously my addiction to my new homemade ice cream recipe. That problem hasn’t improved and tonight I set out the standard single serving in a Tupperware container. After about thirty minutes I took the top off, took a big metal spoon and broke up the remaining ice chunks then, stirred the ice cream around. A couple of sample bites and I was almost ready to carry it to a comfy chair and consume. Supermom asked me to help her with something and I knew that my ice cream was in jeopardy so I placed the container back in the freezer with the spoon resting on top. I helped with the required chores and I returned about fifteen minutes later to retrieve my sacred ice cream.
The ice cream was not completely re-frozen which was good… I thought. I grabbed the spoon off the top and a large chunk of sweet goodness was frozen to the inside of the spoon. I rolled the spoon over and placed it directly on the end of my tongue. A simple move that I have done hundreds of times to clean peanut butter off of a spoon. The only difference is that previous spoons were not thick metal ones that had been sitting in a freezer. The moisture froze and my tongue stuck instantly. Even as it started I knew what I had done. I panicked. I jerked the spoon away from my mouth and there on each side of the spoon were the upper layers of my taste buds. Frozen like awesome lightning bolts or pin stripes. Pointing at the ice cream I had been trying to enjoy. What an idiot.
The only time I felt dumber was trying to eat popcorn an hour later. Salt on raw tongue is every bit as unpleasant as it sounds. I passed these genes on to my children and I watch them verify it every day.
So for anyone who is intelligent most of the time but makes some real bone-head mistakes. This post is for you. I donated a physical part of my body for a lick of ice cream. Not my proudest moment. You’re welcome.
-Underdaddy to the rescue.