Sunday, March 02, 2014

Feel the (second-degree) burn

“Don’t touch the frying pan.  The whole thing just came out of the oven, so it’s really hot,” my wife Kara warned me, foreshadowing the evening’s soon-to-be-forthcoming excitement.

I had no intention of touching the frying pan.  When I cook things, they spin around on the carousel for a minute and go beep when they’re done.  We’ve divided the responsibilities in our household to minimize the amount of contact I have with hot things and sharp things.  My job is to scrub the pots and pans after the meal, when the risk of injury is low, then shove them into the cabinet and slam the door before they fall back out.

Kara grabbed the pan’s handle with an oven mitt, stirring the garlic shrimp with a wooden spoon.  Our two young sons sat a few feet away in the dining room, awaiting the newest culinary sensation to grace their mature and diverse palates. 

“I detect some hints of minced kale in the air!  And is that, wait, don’t tell me, do I smell a mild blend of turmeric and cumin?  Delightful!” our son Evan called into the kitchen.

“Smashing!” his brother Zack added from his high chair, adjusting his bib in anticipation of the succulent crustaceans.

Just kidding.  Evan and Zack were already devouring the last few chicken nuggets from the five-pound Cotsco bag we’d bought about three days prior.  These days, we’re pretty pleased with ourselves for just keeping everyone alive.  We’ll tackle their Epicurean sophistication some other time.

Kara took off her oven mitt, dropped the wooden spoon into the sink, then turned back around and grabbed the frying pan handle with her newly bare hand.  You might recall that not so long ago, she had issued a warning against the very course of action that she had just taken.  Some people just want to hog all the medical emergencies for themselves.

As Kara held the handle, the pain signal traversed her nervous system, shooting across her arm and up her spine, letting her brain know that it was time to stop wondering if she should say something about her husband’s back hair situation, and time to start dealing with more immediate concerns.  Her brain, in turn, dispatched two urgent signals: one to her hand, to tell it to let go as promptly as possible, since it wasn’t figuring that out on its own; the other to her mouth, to tell it to teach the kids as many new words as possible in a five-second interval.

I was torn.  Clearly, Kara needed help.  Also, though momentarily distracted, the kids were almost done eating, which meant the window for the adults to eat dinner was closing. 

“Wow, you’re right, these really are hot,” I said, plucking a shrimp out of the pan and blowing on it. 

“This one’s hot, too,” I said, munching the next one.    

No, in reality, I did not consider eating dinner while Kara ran her hand under cold water.  I did what any quick-thinking husband would do, which is to take out my phone and search on “first-degree burn.”

“I can’t believe I just did that.  I got my entire hand,” Kara said, holding the burn out for me to see. 

“Whoa,” I replied, scrolling down to the second-degree burn information.

I’m not saying I’m a hero, but someday, they’ll invent a medal for people who successfully navigate a crisis from the information they gather off their phone.  It will come inscribed like so: For unwavering Googling in the face of danger.

In all seriousness, Kara’s hand just needed some gauze and a couple of days, and it’s almost back to normal now.  But I can’t take all the credit.  Wikipedia helped, too.

You can wrap Mike Todd in gauze at

No comments:

Post a Comment