OK, it’s not exactly Kirk Gibson on “two bad legs” or Curt Schilling playing through a clearly damaged ankle, but I got through a recent weekend’s Masses with a totally serious injury, guys.
It was during the homily at Spanish Mass. I always have a bottle of water at Masses I’m playing, and I was thirsty. So I got out my water bottle when the fateful moment happened: I cut … my finger … on a rough edge of the bottle. (Thanks for nothing, Aquafina.)
Cue Dramatic Prairie Dog!
Now, I’m bleeding. And the offertory hymn is coming up shortly. And bleeding all over the piano is considered bad taste. I had two options:
- Get to the back of church (the piano’s in front) and get a bandage from the first aid kit. I knew for sure that there were bandages there.
- Go into the sacristy and look for a bandage. I did not know whether there were bandages there.
So I tried the sacristy, which was closer. Nothing doing. Did not have time to get to back of church before offertory hymn.
So I played it without my index finger. Turns out that’s not easy. Put simply, that extra inch from the middle finger to the index finger makes it a lot easier to play chords. Also, having your index finger raised to avoid bleeding on the piano extends the hand in ways it does not want to go. But I got through it. And I got through the Sanctus, as well.
At this Spanish Mass, the congregation comes up around the altar for the consecration. So they, for the most part, wouldn’t see me sneak to the back. I looked for a good time to go. Out of respect for, say, God, I didn’t go during the consecration itself. But after that was over, I could go.
Cue Dramatic Prairie Dog to that dramatic music from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail!”
So I got to the back in the usher’s space, found the bandages, and got one on. Then, before the Amen, I was back and in position, with the bleeding stopped and no one the wiser.
The finger had to stay wrapped up the rest of the weekend. I had three more Masses to play and needed all 10 digits working. The offending index finger held up, heroically.
On a serious note, a cut on the finger actually can be bad news for an organist. If the finger swells at all or is tender or the cut is worse than paper-cut deep, it can be very hard to play anything with that finger. Luckily, this time, it wasn’t.
And I have played through worse. The week prior, I played with a heat wrap on my elbow because it was badly aching. (It was fine the next day.) It’s just part of the job.
Then again, maybe Kirk Gibson and I have something in common.