The Hook

Just so you know, I don’t always go in search of adventures, often times they find me – in the most unlikely of settings, times and ways.

It was a grey day today – slightly cool air and a look in the sky as though it was going to rain at any minute. After traveling back and forth to Muskegon, to enter a juried art show, and then coming home to eat lunch, I all but wanted to lay down on the couch and sleep away the afternoon. It was just that kind of day. Instead, I roused myself and went outside to clean out the last of my gardens. First there was the foot deep line that runs the width of my backyard – full of trumpet vines already green and growing amidst brittle, dry vines from last year.

As I made my way around my property line, to the garden behind my garage, it started to rain. Initially, there were just drops here and there, then a few more until it became a soft pattering of droplets. Wearing a baseball cap, jacket and jeans staved off any feeling of thorough wetness, though I did promise myself if it started to come down full force I’d stop and go in. In the quietness of my task I heard someone call out my name. It took me a moment to register what I heard before I answered back, simultaneously rising and walking around my garage to my driveway. As I reached my driveway, I saw my across-the-street neighbor retreating down my driveway, back to his house. I called out to him again as I followed him down the driveway. Hearing me this time, he turned around and came back. When we reached each other he wondered if he could ask a favor of me. Since he had so graciously helped me last year in loaning me tools and his time in my trellis project, I was more than willing to obliged. That is, until I heard what it involved.

He had been out fishing earlier in the day – fly fishing, if I remember correctly. At one point, the line had snapped back with such force that the hook had lodged itself into his forearm. He had looked online how to remove it deciding that was easier and cheaper doing it at home than going to a MedStation. The process required attaching a clamp to what was left of the exposed end and then looping a piece of thin, plastic tubing around the base of the hook. With one hand on each end of the tubing it was just a matter of a quick jerk and it should just pop out. Unable to do it himself, he had first asked his wife. She had taken one look at it and been unable to comply. To be honest, as he was telling me his story, I could feel my face contorting into a grimace while I involuntarily groaned out of anguish and queasiness. Nevertheless, I shook off my own discomfort and invited him in out of the rain.

Once in my sun room, I removed my filthy gardening gloves and was thankful for the latex gloves I had been wearing underneath. I use an anti-bacterial hand sanitizer frequently at work which dries out my hands. Since my right thumb and forefinger seem to get the brunt of it, the surface of both is comparable to sandpaper. While I’m out in the gardens, pulling out nasty leaves and whatnot, and wearing gloves anyway, I lather my hands up with Vaseline and put on latex gloves to hold in the moisture at the same time. Because of this, my hands were somewhat clean to begin with, though I did scrub them again. (I’ve watched enough medical dramas to know the correct procedure.) As I instructed him to rest his arm on the counter, I recalled how I had just thoroughly cleaned it only a couple of hours before. While waiting for my lunch (pizza) to bake earlier, I had wondered what to do with my time. That’s when I opened my refrigerator and saw that the frozen chicken that I had put on a shelf to thaw had leaked all over two shelves, into a drawer and had collected in the bottom. After pulling everything out, mopping up the mess, wiping it down with Lysol wipes and then putting it all back, I had ended up cleaning my sinks and countertops too – just in case.

Before we proceeded, I asked my neighbor to tell me one more time what I was supposed to do. He explained it, we got set up and then I gave the tubing one swift jerk. It was over in the blink of an eye. The hook went flying and I heard a ting as it hit metal or a hard surface. There was a brief moment of silence before we shared a laugh out of relief, checking to see if the other was okay. My neighbor’s arm was still intact and there was no geyser of blood spewing out of the wound. (He, in fact, told me that it hadn’t hurt at all.) For my part, I was still standing – apparently it hadn’t been that traumatizing afterall. Within minutes my neighbor headed back home and I returned to my yard to finish up. As for the hook, it’s still at large, having found a new place to reside somewhere in my new kitchen..