I was three or four months pregnant with Harriet and starting to feel like I could look at and even touch food as long as no one expected me to eat much of it. When we just had baby Norah we used to put her to bed around six-thirty. We would then have a leisurely dinner for “just us” or have a few friends in for food and fun. This was a “just us” occasion.
Our home in Massachusetts was really just a piece of the top floor of a huge old mansion. We rented a glorious little flat up there with big, gracious rooms and old-fashioned fireplaces and a clawfoot bathtub. It was dreamy. But it was three or four staircases up. To man the grill, which he frequently did (I rarely womaned the grill. he was just too good at it.) Alex would gather the various raw proteins and cooking utensils and about a yard of aluminum foil to keep everything hot on the return journey. Then he’d head off, and I’d fuss around the kitchen with side dishes. Perhaps a lovely little salad.
I love salads but never used to make them because I would rather butcher a chicken with my fingernails than wash and tear lettuce. There aren’t many kitchen tasks I hate but I do hate that. Then my dear friend Sarah presented me with a salad spinner, and one day I saw her chop lettuce for a salad. And I realized I could use my 9-in. chef’s knife (think: machete). And we started having salads. Often.
So I stood in the tiny kitchen and hacked up romaine, tossing it into my treasured wooden salad bowl (it’s large enough to bathe a toddler in–I get enthusiastic about tossing). And then suddenly I dropped the knife. I imagine it in slow-mo . . . the blade sinking horizontally downwards, my mouth opening slowly to screech in terror, the instinctive drawing back of my right foot, the searing pain in my left.
It hurt. For a while I thought it just hurt because I dropped something heavy on my toe. I didn’t realize it landed blade-down until I tried to walk. I called Alex’s cell phone (“Hi. How’s it going? Good, good. Well I just dropped a chef’s knife on my foot and I think I need you to come up here . . .”) We had to summon some friends to come sit with Norah while we consulted some professionals down at the local ER. And I ended up with five stitches and three follow-up visits to an orthopedic surgeon (Did you know there’s a tendon in your big toe?) and a plastic shoe.
And the lettuce sat in the bowl and wilted.