I’m afraid of boiling water.
No, really, I am.
I mean, its fine when it’s in a pot that has a lid and I don’t have to touch it, but if I have to go anywhere near it, we’re going to have a problem.
I sometimes have nightmares about boiling water but more often I have dreams about suddenly finding myself naked and deciding that it’s perfectly normal so I’ll let you think what you will about my psyche.
It all started in December of 2005.
I was home from college, staying with my dad for Christmas. As the night owl I am, at about 1:00am I decided that I was hungry. Trying to make a healthy choice, I opted to make pot stickers instead of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I should have gone with the sandwich. When they were done boiling, I took the pot off the burner and went to pour the pot stickers and water into a colander in the sink.
The sink being directly across from the stove top, I turned to do this and my ankle buckled to the side. In trying to catch my balance I flipped the still boiling water up onto my face and it ran down my face, neck, and chest.
Dropping the pot in the sink, I stood for a moment in shock, eyes and mouth wide open. I felt nothing.
I don’t know how long I stood there but suddenly, like I had just been slapped, I felt the burning.
I tried to get my face under the faucet but my chest burned worse by comparison. I ran into the bathroom, turned on the shower to cold, and jumped in before stripping down.
The water hitting my scorched skin was excruciating.
I tried plugging the tub and lying in the cold water but because of where the wounds were and my state of near hyperventilation, I couldn’t breathe well enough.
I jumped out and with the change in temperature felt another level of pain I had never imagined. I started crying… hard. I ripped through their cupboards searching for Aloe Vera, diaper rash cream (which is still the best thing for burns in my opinion), or anything that might take the burn away.
Neither my father or stepmother heard any of this. My dad had been too drunk to be conscious and my stepmother has hearing problems.
I called my mom and, hysterically-trying-to-be-calm, asked her if she had Aloe Vera that she could bring to me.
Apparently, she couldn’t actually understand anything I said because I was crying too hard. She called an ambulance.
At some point while I was trying to figure out how to fix this situation sans medics, I fell against my dad’s bedroom door and my stepmother finally came out. I don’t know what I looked like but she looked horrified.
When the medics got there I was my usually stubborn, petulant self. I wouldn’t let them look at the burns on my chest, only the ones on my face. I wouldn’t let them help me get dressed. Going in my room to do so, I locked them all out.
Deciding that I needed to handle this whole thing with as much poise as possible (and as I was going into shock) I started calmly getting dressed, getting my purse and things together, and calmly telling everyone that I was ready to go and that my father shouldn’t be driving… and that I wanted to eat the pot stickers. I told them that they shouldn’t be wasted.
In the ambulance I tried to crack jokes because that’s how I deal with this shit. The medic didn’t think I was funny. He didn’t even give me a charity laugh.
At the hospital they had to check what felt like a million and one things before they finally gave me a heavy dose of Percocet that still didn’t actually take that pain away. I only remember bits and pieces of the whole thing but I remember the pain. I vividly remember the moment that my ice packs warmed up just a little too much in the ambulance.
The diagnosis was that I burned myself. Badly. Duh.
I had severe first and second degree burns. They told me that I was going to have dark scarring on my face and that there wasn’t really any way to prevent it. My mom told them to shove it and slathered me in diaper rash cream for the next few weeks. I felt like a leper but I came out of the whole thing with no scars on my face and only a few on my right breast.
I also got to spend a few weeks totally high and developed an insatiable urge to randomly break out in dance. That never went away.
I now mostly cook things that don’t require boiling water or I ask someone else to transport the pot to the sink for me.
Someday I’ll tell you why I never grab a pan unless I’ve just taken it out of the cupboard and why I have so many scars on my hands.
What’s your worst kitchen memory?