Absolute Necessities #1: Tongs

Laura Zigman Health Guide
  • Everyone has their own special thing that gets them through their surgical recovery. For some people it's God. And family. And friends. For other's it's the Food Channel. And a stack of "People" magazines. Despite the fact that I'm not big on organized religion, it was all of those things for me.


    Plus one more thing:




    I'm referring to kitchen tongs, your basic average run-of-the-mill stainless steel tongs used for flipping meat or chicken or fish -- not giant outdoor grill tongs, but simple slim -- but super-long -- tongs you get at Target. Or Linens N'Things.


    I have no idea, actually, where I got my tongs. All I know is that about two weeks into my recovery, when my husband went back to work and I was left alone for most of the day until he came home, I had one of those realizations that Oprah Winfrey refers to on her show and in her magazine as an "Aha Moment."

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    My "Aha Moment" came one morning in bed after my husband and son had gone off to school. I was finally propped up with the right constellation of pillows large and small (this was a science, actually -- more about this later) and semi-comfortable. I'd had coffee, taken my medication, gone to the bathroom, checked my email on my laptop, and was finally ready to watch some television. All I needed was the remote.


    Unfortunately, the remote was all the way at the end of the bed. A continent away, by my physically impaired standards. I stared at it longingly and thought briefly about trying to reach for it before remembering that that was impossible. Reaching and stretching wasn't happening these days. If only I had a really long arm with a clamp on the end to grab the remote and bring it back to my end of the bed.


    A really long arm.


    A really long arm with a clamp on the end.


    The idea stuck in my head. Long after the twenty minutes it took me to move to the end of the bed and get the remote, then get back into a semi-comfortable position with my now imperfect pile of pillows. Long after I'd gone downstairs -- slowly -- and wandered around the kitchen in search of something to eat that was within reach. Long after I dropped my hair band on the floor of the kitchen and stared at it, wondering if it was going to remain there for the rest of the day until my husband got home.


    And that's when I saw it -- in the forest of kitchen utensils in the container on the counter. The Tongs. Everything went quiet; the world receded. It was just the two of us.


    Aha! I thought! The answer to my reaching prayers. Super Long Tongs!


    I pulled the tongs out of the crock of utensils. I took a few practice moves with them -- clasping them open and shut, getting the hang of them. And then, taking a deep breath, I turned to my hair band on the floor and pointed my tongs at them. And before I knew what had happened, the hair band was in the safe grasp of the tongs, and then back in my hair, as if by magic.


    It was too good to be true. I set my sights on the kitchen cabinets above the bread box. I wanted some Wheat Thins but they were inside, probably on the second shelf. I aimed the tongs at the cabinet, opened it, then spotted the box of crackers. Within seconds the tongs had grabbed the and brought it down to the counter.


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    After that, we were inseparable, my tongs and I. Everywhere I went, they came with me. When I went downstairs to see my husband and my son off to school, they came with me -- ready to grab the newspaper, or a napkin out of a low drawer, or anything I'd dropped. When I crawled into bed for the hours of channel surfing and napping, they were right by my side -- ready to grab the phone, a book, a magazine, a sweater.


    I no longer need my tongs -- able am I now, once again, to reach and stretch and grab and bend -- but every now and then when I'm flipping a piece of chicken or fish or meat on a pan with the tongs -- reaching and stretching and grabbing and bending in front of the stove as I get dinner ready -- I think of my tongs and wonder what I would have done without them.



Published On: January 28, 2008