Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I went to a Japanese restaurant once with my brother, Richard, and his wife, June. It was a night to remember for a small town girl. We found ourselves seated with about five other patrons, all of us ranged in a semicircle around a grill that was built right into the table. Each table had its own chef and the food was cooked right there in front of you. The chefs didn’t just cook, they made it an art. Everything was done with a flourish. Knives were flipped and tossed, vegetables juggled and chopped, seasonings flicked from a spoon held high in the air to arc gracefully down on the food below, and everything done at lightning speed to produce dishes that were both beautiful and delicious. It was one of the most memorable dining experiences I’ve ever had.

Richard loves to cook and produces some amazing meals of his own. Even when they are camping or out sailing, he and June eat very well. Years ago they went on a camping trip where they canoed to a remote site in one of our Provincial Parks. They took their time setting everything up. The spot they’d chosen was remote enough to be entirely private and the weather was all anyone could ask for. Richard caught some fish and decided to cook them right then and there. What could be better than fresh fish fried over an open fire? He got the fire going and went to work with his filleting knife while June continued to put their tent in order.

The sun was shining overhead and Richard was whistling while he worked. They’d left the cares and stresses of a hectic life behind and it was going to be a great weekend. In an excess of good feeling he tossed the knife with a flourish that would have rivalled anything we saw in that Japanese restaurant. Perhaps it was not the wisest thing to do when the ground underfoot is as treacherous as the rock he was squatting on at the time. A filleting knife has a long narrow blade that is of necessity extremely sharp. A slip, a fumble, and in the blink of an eye the prospects for the weekend took a drastic turn for the worse. He stabbed himself…in the butt.

June stuck her head out of the tent when the whistling was abruptly cut off to be replaced by a muffled curse. Richard was carefully extracting the knife from where it protruded from his outraged backside.

“What happened?” she demanded, hurrying over to assess the damage.

“I lost my balance,” he muttered. “I guess I fell on it.”

I suppose if you are going to stab yourself with a filleting knife, the gluteus maximus is not a bad place to do it. Nothing vital lurking under the surface. There wasn’t even much blood. The knife had gone straight in so the wound was small but deep. They cleaned and bandaged it as best they could and decided they would be wise to head to the nearest emergency room. The combination of a dirty knife and minimal first aid made infection a near certainty. Of course, getting to a hospital was not a simple matter when you were camping in a remote site and your car was hours away by canoe.

With no other choice the camp was dismantled and packed in record time. Richard hobbled around trying to help and eventually they were loaded and launched. He paddled the whole way back perched precariously on one cheek. By the time they reached the car and ultimately the hospital his entire leg had stiffened up and he thought he would give up sitting for good.

The emergency room was crowded when they arrived and he limped to the desk to register. The triage nurse began her assessment with a question or two about his presenting problem. He glanced over his shoulder at the assorted people filling the chairs in the waiting room and leaned in to speak in a low undertone that couldn’t be overheard.

“Excuse me, I didn’t catch what you said,” she offered with an apologetic smile.

He looked around once more, raised a hand to partially cover his mouth and increased his volume just a notch in an attempt to explain without broadcasting his problem to the entire room.

“I beg your pardon?”

“I stabbed myself in the butt with a filleting knife!” he blurted, huffing in exasperation.

So much for discretion. Ah well, let them laugh. It was an altogether perfect ending to their aborted weekend. He supposed he deserved it.

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