My friend at Irish Gumbo occasionally speaks of hus culinary talents. He appears to have the right touch in the kitchen, making soups, putting together good meals, even baking bread. I do not.
I learned this when I was 6 years old. I was a "latchkey" kid. My mother was working, either as a part time legal secretary or at my father's bicycle shop, in the afternoons when I got home. My older brother and sister were both in school for longer hours than I and , so, I would be home alone for a bit. This was not a problem in a town of maybe 10,000 and was fairly common in the early 50's. There were neighbors at home, called "housewives" then (now called "stay at home Moms"), and I was a pretty independent kid.
But I was hungry. Since I only went to school in the morning, the school being overcrowded and having two sessions, all I got at school was milk and Graham Crackers for a snack. And that was around 10-ish. So I decided that I could easly make a cheese and bologna sandwich for myself.
Not being the brightest bulb at 6, I thought I should use that big, sharp, knife to cut some slices of cheese to put on my Wonder Bread. I managed to get one slice before I sliced into the index finger of my left hand. Being incredibly brilliant, I shook my hand. Do not ask me why I did this. It is my natural reaction to pain in my hands. I still do this today. However, it is not the smart thing to do when you are bleeding profusely from your finger.
I realized how wrong it was when I looked up at the wall and the venetian blinds on the kitchen window. Shades of a "slasher" movie"! (though these had yet to come out) There was blood spatter all the way up the wall and all across the blinds. It did not look good. I found a kitchen towel (undoubtedly full of all sorts of bacteria) and wrapped it around my hand and headed for the neighbor's house.
The neighbor lady almost fainted as I unwrapped the towel, slowly revealing a layer of blood-soaked cloth, but settled into full mom mode and washed off the cut before bandaging it. She was obviously not a former Army nurse and maybe her only child never had a cut of any kind since her bandaging work was only slightly smaller than that dish towel I had used. And then we called my mother.
Mom did not rush home, it seemed to me, but perhaps she did. I'd like to think she dropped everything and hurried home in fear and panic. But my mother was a practical woman and, being informed that everything was under control, probably took her time.
I was still at the neighbor's house, having a sandwich and milk, when Mom got home. She went into our house first and saw the evidence of carnage in the kitchen and then came running over to where I was. She relaxed when she saw that I was fine and took me home.
I received a lesson in how to use the wire cheese slicer that day. A lesson I have not forgotten. I am very good with a cheese slicer, even today in my doddering years. But the bologna that still sat upon the kitchen table? Spattered with my blood? I cannot look at pickle loaf without a twinge in the index finger because that is what the slice of bologna looked like.
And my parents never did get the blood off those blinds.
A Night Unremembered
6 years ago