Uh, yeah. What I ate? Nowhere in this picture.

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I adhere to the ‘five second rule.’  Not because I have kids, but because as a child my father would say to us when we dropped something edible on the ground, “It’s Vitamin “D” [as in dirt].  Good for you.”  In hindsight, I know that he instructed us thusly because he is a tight ass cheapskate frugal soul who worried about starving children in India his wallet our planet.

For my 27 years alive (plus a few), I have put the five second rule into practice with no mishaps.  This ended tragically recently.

I was writing.   I like to reward myself with snacks while I write.   Write 100 words, get a cookie, write 100 words, have some ice cream, write 100 words, book your liposuction.  And so on.

I was noshing from a bag of expensive, school-fundraiser, whole salted cashews.  Not only were they worth their weight in gold, but the little suckers tasted much better than my generic brand cashew pieces.  Heaven.

A cashew spurted out of my hand across the room and hit the floor.  Hmmm, I’ll get that next time I’m up. Later, I did just that.  Yummy.  I looked down at the floor and saw what I believed to be (ah, belief, you fickle friend) a broken piece from my whole, recently-consumed yummy salted cashew.  I popped it in my mouth and chomped.

Only, it wasn’t a cashew.

It took only one chew to know for sure THIS WAS NO FREAKIN’ CASHEW.  It didn’t crunch like a cashew, it stuck to my teeth, and it didn’t emit that oily salty goodness of cashew.

Gwack.  Gwack.  Gwack.

I started gagging before I reached full speed as I careened through the house.

Gwack.  Gwack. Gwack.

“Mom, what’s wrong?!?” Clark asked.


Honey?” Eric said.


By now a three-foot long drool trail streamed behind me, and I foamed from the corners of my mouth.  I reached the kitchen sink and started splashing water up into the accident site.  Splash.  Swish.  Spit.  Splash.  Swish.  Spit.

“Pamela, what ARE you doing?”  Eric asked.

I tested my progress by gently closing my mouth until my teeth met.

GWACK.  It was still there.  It was like I had bird poo — crunchy on the outside, gooey-sticky in the center — molded and stuck against my tooth.  GWACK.

I reached back to my molars and scraped frantically with my fingernail, trying to get whatever it was off my teeth.  Something that tasted nothing like cashews  (don’t think about it) fell from my tooth onto my tongue.

GWACK.  Splash.  Swish.  Spit.

Clark and Eric both stood beside me now, their eyes wide, helpless to figure out what was going on, unable to assist, Eric with one hand on speed dial for the wacky ward.

“Five second rule…not a cashew…stuck to my teeth,”  I gasped.

I dashed to the bathroom, desperate to unload the full force of my Braun Oral B Triumph and half a tube of Colgate Total on this bad boy.


By now, my devoted husband and son were also in the bathroom.  You might imagine them expressing concern or running for the ipecac, but no.  I think Eric actually peed himself laughing, and Clark, all 5’11” of him, rolled around in the bathroom floor howling, crying — real tears, I swear — and pointing at me.

When Eric had changed his drawers and resumed his composure, he said, “I’ll bet you wish you hadn’t gotten rid of the cleaning service two months ago.”

* Yes, that is how long it has been since anyone cleaned the floor in question.  I’m a writer, a mom, a wife, an attorney, a consultant, an athlete, but I am NOT a housekeeper. *

“Mom, what if it’s from one of the dogs or Juliet [the cat]?” Clark asked.


I’m even gwacking a little again as I type this story.  Oh well.  I didn’t end up sick, at least.  We’ll never know what I ingested, but I won’t ever look at the five second rule in quite the same way again.

And I know what my dad would say, “Hopefully it was a good source of protein.”


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