February 11, 2003
The *Stoopid Accident* Hall of Fame

ytd: 118.74

Over the weekend: a new entry in the Stoopid Accident Hall of Fame.

Until now, my "Six Pack of Root Beer Dropped on Big Toe" (1993) has held the top spot ... followed closely by "Toxic Lasagna" (1987), "Flaming Oven Mitts of Doom" (1998) and "Rusty Nail Through Bottom of Wafflestomper" (1973). I'm not even counting the assorted car wrecks, contusions and cheap-chablis-related injuries I've racked up over the years. Let's just say that for a couple of decades, I was on a first-name basis with the nice folks at the TicTac General Emergency Room.

But Daughter #1 managed to zoom to the top of the Hall of Fame on Saturday, and she didn't even have to fall out of a tree this time to do it.

David and I got home from our ride late Saturday afternoon: a long, meandering ride over on the Marin County side of the Bay, riding along the Nicasio Reservoir. We saw the message light blinking on our answering machine the moment we walked through the door. This is almost never a good thing ... especially on a Saturday. Usually it means that our Saturday night plans are about to change in some fundamental, unexpected, generally not-good way. We looked at the little blinking light, and then we looked at each other. Do we really want to listen to it right now?

"Let's nap for half an hour," David suggested, "and then we'll listen to the message."

Forty seconds later he was sound asleep -- he was snoring before I'd even finished pulling my bike shoes off, basically -- but even though I was seriously wiped out from the bike ride, I couldn't seem to drift off. That blinking message light was bugging me. What if it's one of the Tots? Lately, it's been one crisis after another in TicTac: dental emergencies, legal emergencies, financial emergencies, PaintShop Pro emergencies. ("How do I get that little squiggly line to go away?") I knew I wasn't going to rest easy until I knew for sure that everybody was OK.

So while David slept, I tiptoed out to the kitchen and quietly pushed the button on the answering machine.

It was Daughter #1. "Hi Mom," her message said, in the voice I instantly recognized as the I Hope You're Sitting Down Voice. "I've just ... uhh ... gotten back from the emergency room. I hurt my hand today, in a really stoopid way" -- here she laughed a little, but it was laughter tinged with pain and embarrassment -- "and I'll tell you all about it when you call me."

And then she added, quite needlessly: "So call me, OK?"

The 43,897,621 different ways she might have "hurt her hand" flashed before my eyes like a series of grim Public Service Announcements. This is the family that invented the Stoopid Accidents Hall of Fame, after all. Did she set her oven mitts on fire? Did she get her finger stuck in a plastic gingerbread house? Did she lop off half her thumb with a rusty Benchmade automatic? Without even stopping to catch my breath, I dialed her at home -- the TicTac rental house she shares with a platoon of roommates -- but I got the communal answering machine instead of a live person. 

"Please let Jaymi know that her mother is trying to get hold of her," I said to the machine, keeping my voice very level, very calm, very non-Hysterical-Mom. Next I tried her cell phone, but it rang a couple of times and then clicked over to voicemail. Frustrated, I disconnected without leaving a message. I wanted live, not Memorex.

Finally I tried her at Joel's. She picked up the phone on the second ring. 

"Hi Mom," she said -- either through the magic of mother/daughter telepathy or Caller ID, I'm not sure which -- and right away she assured me she was OK, she was still breathing, nothing was broken or bleeding or permanently disfigured. In fact, the doctors said she would probably be able to play the ukelele again someday.

It was then that the full story came out.

She woke up late on Saturday morning, ravenously hungry, and decided to cook herself a chicken pot pie for "breakfast." (Yeah, I know. They grow up and move out on their own, and suddenly they forget all about oatmeal and One-A-Days and Mom's World Famous Breakfast Scramble.) After her pot pie was cooked, she took it out of the oven and carried it into her bedroom and set it down on her nightstand, on top of a stack of magazines, to cool off a little before she ate it ... except that she didn't set it down securely enough, and after a couple of seconds the pie started to slide off the top of the magazines, heading for the floor. She reflexively reached out to grab it.

The next thing she knew: she was wearing that chicken pot pie like a catcher's mitt.

If you've ever scalded the roof of your mouth with a bite of straight-out-of-the-oven chicken pot pie, you know how hot that stuff can get: it's like shovelling a forkful of molten asphalt into your mouth. Imagine how much worse it must be to stick your entire HAND into the middle of one of these little lava pools. Plus the gravy in a pot pie is stickier than carpenter's glue. The instant she plunged her hand into the pie, all of that gluey chicken gravy adhered to the tender crevices and sensitive creases between her fingers like an Elmer's glove. By the time she managed to dash to the sink and rinse it off with cold water, her right hand was pretty thoroughly parboiled.

"The doctor says he doesn't think it's going to blister," she said. "But I'll have to go back to the hospital tomorrow to make sure."

I told her how glad I was to hear that it wasn't anything more serious, and how relieved I was to know she wasn't injured badly, and how proud I was that she'd had the presence of mind to go to the emergency room.

And then, to my absolute horror ... I giggled.

I'm willing to bet that there's a special place in hell for mothers who giggle at their children's Stoopid Accidents. (The non-traumatic/non-life-threatening variety of Stoopid Accident, I mean. If this had been anything more than a minor burn, you'd better believe I would be writing to you from TicTac, even as we speak.) But I couldn't help it. It was the sheer poetic ludicrousness of the incident that did it. Sticking your hand in a chicken pot pie?? That sounds like something *I* would have done at her age. (Hell. It sounds like something I would do at MY age.) I had to struggle for a long, painful moment to get my emotions under control before I could speak again.

"Congratulations," I told her finally ... my sides aching from all that unspent mirth. "You win."

And then we both burst into giggles.

Daughter #1 may not have inherited my blue eyes or my bad teeth or my little round chin. She may have completely bypassed my crappy money management skills and my fondness for pseudo-reality TV shows. But there's no doubt about it: she's definitely inherited my *Stoopid Accident* gene.

And my sense of humor.

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