AS I TYPE this, my right hand is throbbing unmercifully due to a nasty gash received while opening a bottle of aspirin with a 9-inch serrated carving knife.
As everyone knows, you can't open a new bottle of aspirin these days without some kind of tool, such as an acetylene torch, box cutters or a 9-inch serrated carving knife.
This is because, like every other product, aspirin bottles now come double- and triple-sealed for safety.
And the plastic they're using to seal these bottles apparently has the consistency of Kevlar, because it can't be torn by human hands.
You kids out there might not believe it, but there was a time in this country when you could actually open a new bottle of aspirin with your fingers.
All you had to do was pick up the bottle and -- this is where it got tricky -- turn the cap.
But then seven or eight years ago, various lunatics began sneaking into supermarkets and drug stores and contaminating products with syringes full of rat poison and eye-droppers full of LSD-25 and God knows what else.
This led to the present sorry state in which we consumers find ourselves, furiously jabbing at plastic seals with broken fingernails, or gnawing at them like crazed beavers, just to get at the product itself.
It's no way to live, I'll tell you that.
(Understand, we're only talking about the problem with seals here. I don't even want to get into the whole issue of those psychosis-inducing child-proof bottles.
(Although . . . try opening a bottle of mouthwash. You have to be a NASA engineer in order to line up the little arrows just so and squeeze with just the right amount of pressure to activate the cap.
(All I can say is, if they ever put heart medicine in these mouthwash bottles, the streets would be littered with corpses. Who's got time to read "Push down and turn" and decipher the direction of those little arrows in the midst of a seizure?)
Anyway, getting back to the hand-gashing incident, it unfolds like this:
I come home the other day and I have a pounding headache, due to the incredibly stressful nature of my job at a major metropolitan newspaper.
My wife tells me the aspirin is in the upstairs hall closet. I start to climb the stairs and she yells: "Honey, it's a new bottle with that stupid seal! Better use the 9-inch serrated carving knife!"
Which I thought was awfully sweet of her.
So I go upstairs, get the aspirin, then come back downstairs and rustle around in the kitchen for the 9-inch serrated carving knife.
Now, I'm not exactly a rookie with this baby. It so happens I use the 9-inch serrated carving knife to cut the seal on lots of household products.
A couple of days ago, for instance, I used it on the seal around a jar of Smucker's orange marmalade.
Sure, I nearly severed my carotid artery with a particularly vicious upward swipe. But that's a small price to pay for having something to put on your toast.
Besides, let's say you do slice an artery. Hey, that's why they have anesthesia and stitches!
Anyway, as I said, I'm no greenhorn, so with my 9-inch serrated carving knife, I carefully cut the seal of the aspirin bottle.
Then I open the cap, which is when I discover a new problem. Because now I have to fish out that annoying wad of cotton they stick in these things.
A normal human being could probably do this with his or her fingers. But since my fat little fingers have the circumference of -- Vienna sausages, this is impossible.
But that's the beauty of a 9-inch serrated carving knife. You can use it for all sorts of things.
So I take the tip of the knife and try to jab it in the cotton wad to pull it out. Which is when the aspirin bottle slips out of my hand. Which is when the point of the 9-inch serrated carving knife buries itself in my hand.
The next few seconds go by in a blur: blood spurting like a geyser, me screaming like someone had hacked off my arm with a machete, my wife saying: "OK, I got the cotton out. You want these aspirins or not?"
To make a long story short, I end up at the doctor's office, telling my story to a bored nurse who tells me to sign in and have a seat and then goes back to her Danielle Steel novel.
But I learned my lesson. Next time I open a new bottle of aspirin, I'm dropping down to a 6-inch serrated carving knife.
It's much safer all around.
Pub Date: 10/04/96