by Timothy Stephen Pike
The following is a true story. It is a story of humiliation. A story of pain. A story of persistence and eventual victory—but mostly, of frostbite. It is a story of good and evil, but when stripped of all its symbolism and abstract meaning, it essentially boils down to one character-revealing conclusion: if someday faced with the choice of having my finger stuck in a freezer or not having my finger stuck in a freezer, I would probably go with the latter.While most people’s Friday night college stories are madcap tales of riotous keg parties replete with half-naked women swinging from chandeliers, my own accounts are of eating Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and drinking Coca-Cola in my dorm room till all hours of the night. Without Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, the source of my strength throughout my college years, I may not have made it to graduation.
On this particular Friday night, alone in my dormitory kitchen, I happened to be preparing some Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. As I stared longingly at the boiling pasta, which was almost ready, I thought of how well a Coke would go with the mouthwatering meal I was about to enjoy. First, however, I needed some ice.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, let me make it absolutely clear that I really like my fingers. Almost as much as I like Coke. And I would never intentionally do anything to endanger them. But I had to wash my hands before dinner, and I also had to get some ice. So while you may have opted to live your life in a smart fashion, never reaching into your freezer with wet hands, that’s been your choice. After all, it’s your life. As for me, I often prefer to take a walk on the dim-witted side.
It’s not that I didn’t notice the frost coating the freezer walls. And it’s not that I didn’t know my hands were wet. I simply needed an ice cube for my Coke, and I needed it right then. So I opened the freezer door and reached for the ice, my hand ominously disappearing into a frigid, swirling fog. And as I brought the ice out, that’s when it happened. My right index finger grazed—grazed, mind you—the top of the freezer compartment and suddenly, with nothing more than a doink!, my damp finger instantly adhered itself to the ceiling of the freezer.
No problem, I thought. A bit inconvenient, sure, but I’ll just go ahead and give it a little yank—
I tugged on my finger. Nothing. It may as well have been soldered to the freezer. I looked over at the stove and saw my boiling water was now bubbling over. I tugged on my finger again, but to no avail. Extricating it, I now knew, would be a matter of intense pain at best, and might even involve the fire department. My smile slowly faded as the dismaying truth became clear: I was officially stuck to my freezer.
My life changed dramatically in that moment. No longer could I claim to be among the hundreds, thousands even, who had never been stuck to their freezers. My vision of the future soured—this was definitely not a resume builder. Even if I somehow found work after college, I might be too afraid of freezers to use one ever again.
For the sake of my finger, and the sake of the macaroni, I needed an idea. Quick. Nothing was within reach, so my one free arm and nine available fingers would do me no good. What else could I use? Let’s see…I still had one head, one nose…no…two ears, two legs, one mouth—wait a minute, two legs? Hmmmm…if I stretched my leg out all the way, I could nip the faucet handle and turn on the warm water. Then I could use my foot to flick the water back onto my poor finger.
The chances were slim, but I was in a bind. By now, the water had boiled away and the macaroni was melting. In fact, the pan was melting. The alarm clock in my bedroom was going off for some reason, a fly was buzzing around my face, and the phone was ringing. And my finger hurt. All hell had broken loose and my life had turned into chaos in the blink of an eye and the sticking of a finger.
The first couple splashes of water only succeeded in dousing my face. But the third—the glorious third—also doused my face. My desperation mounted as I frantically kicked and flicked for what seemed like hours when finally—just as the sonorous song of an angel emanated from the heavens—my finger popped loose. The more I think about it, it was either an angel singing or it was Pam, my neighbor across the hall, who was in a church choir. In either case, I was spared.
Unfortunately, after all that hassle, I discovered I was out of Coke. But I ended up taking away with me two important life lessons that night. First, always stock up on Coke. And second, always take a sewing kit with you when you travel—you never know when you’ll lose a button. This occurred to me while I was stuck to the freezer. Wet hands, cold freezer. Try it sometime—who knows how much you could learn?
Timothy Pike is a Brobdingnagian essayist who tries to avoid touching frayed, sparking power lines.
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