“What’s this,” I asked the employee striding through the produce section. I thought I knew, but I’d never seen it for real before.
She smiled. “It’s sugarcane.”
“So, um, what do you do with it? I mean, how do you eat it?”
“You have to peel it, but then you can suck on it. I love it.”
I tucked it into my cart. Benjamin has been asking a lot about sugarcane, and short of a trip to the Dominican Republic, this was his best chance to try the stuff.
When I got home, I put it in the fruit basket. For the rest of the day, as I did this and accomplished that, I had the tiny tingle of a surprise waiting for my kids, nestled up against some pedestrian apples and a few tired bananas. I expected Benjamin to notice it as soon as he got home. He’s pretty much always looking at or rooting through the fruit basket. But, the weather was nice, and he and Lilah wanted to play outside, so it was only when I told him to look at the fruit that he saw it.
“Is it bamboo?”
“Sugarcane! You got us sugarcane!”
Right there, in that delighted realization, I became the whimsical mommy, the one not afraid to bring home a totally irrational treat, just for the sheer what-the-fuckness of it. Sure, I run a tight ship and mornings around here are sort of like a live reenactment of a spreadsheet, but I bought the kids sugarcane! Just because.
After dinner, I tried to figure out how to peel it. That’s a thick damned piece of sugar with some really thick skin on it. And tough. Did I mention the tough thing?
I decided a sharp kitchen knife would be best. I wondered whether it was foolhardy to be trying to peel off this tough, thick, hard skin with a kitchen knife. I, in fact, worried I would cut myself. I’m not sure whether that makes it all better or worse.
Because, of course the knife slipped. And of course I cut myself. Badly. Deeply. On the knuckle. But not into the knuckle, so that was good. Silver lining and all of that.
“Zachary, go upstairs and find a Bandaid in my bathroom. Get Daddy out of bed if you have to.”
My husband, as luck would have it, had come home early from work with the flu. This turned out to be fortuitous when I started bleeding through the Bandaid. And then found myself feeling woozy, nauseous, and faint. I kept applying pressure to the rag on my finger while I sat on the couch for a few minutes. But then I got up. Because, you see, I still had the sugarcane to peel.
I want to state for the record here that I attended a very good college and have three graduate degrees. I’m hoping that mitigates some of the stupid you’re labeling me with about now.
Having decided that a knife wasn’t the best way to get the peel off, I proceeded to chop off the almost peeled section and then use my fingers and my teeth to pry off the rest of the peel. While trying to stanch my own blood.
After I’d shoved the piece I’d peeled at the children, I went and sat on the bathroom floor. In case I threw up. With my hand elevated above my heart. Wrapped in a rag.
“When you guys are finished with that, go up and brush your teeth,” I stammered through the door.
My husband tried to move into action, but I told him to get the hell away from the kids. See above: flu. I dragged myself upstairs and went over their teeth brushing with my right hand, because my left was still wrapped in a rag and elevated. Then I went and started calling people to take me to the doctor’s. Since driving while woozy seemed unwise. That’s where my common sense lies—somewhere between peeling sugarcane with a knife and driving while woozy.
My neighbor shoved his two kids into the car in like 12.5 seconds and came and got me. We could have done the same with our kids were either of us in any state to operate a motor vehicle at this point.
“Stay away from the kids,” I told my husband as I walked out the door. “Let them put each other to bed. You just do the dishes and communicate from a distance.”
The very nice people at my doctor’s office cleaned my knuckle, sewed it, and gave me a tetanus booster. Because you don’t realize it’s been six years since your last tetanus shot until you slice open your knuckle with a nine-inch kitchen knife.
So, here I am, two stitches later, in the same category as that fucking tool who gets third-degree burns on Thanksgiving when he deep fries a turkey. I’m also sleeping on the goddamned couch. See above: flu.