There are some tasks in life that can be life-threatening. There’s sky-diving, being a Navy Seal, and then there’s — sowing a button on a shirt.
I bought this really nice dress shirt at a thrift store the other day, got it home, and put it on for a semi-formal commissioning service at our seminary. The left cuff had no buttons on it, so my wife had to safety-pin that cuff. I was so glad she didn’t stab me.
Because that service was so short, I decided to wear the same shirt to graduation exercises the next day. But, this time I committed myself to sewing a button on that left cuff (the wife was out at garage sales).
“How hard can this be?”, I asked myself. (That’s always a dangerous question for a guy to ask). I found a needle (“Do I need to sterilize this with a match? Can I get tetanus if I stab myself?”) and thread and proceeded to cut off one of the two buttons from the right cuff. (Smart, huh?).
I began to sew the button on the left cuff. I located one of the two places where buttons had been, threaded my needle, positioned the button over the place, and inserted the needle from the bottom through the cuff into one of the holes in the button. I then proceeded to push the needle through another hole in the button down through the cuff, smiling to myself as my work was going so well. Then I had to push the needle back up from the underside into the buttonhole. How does one find that same hole? Without poking oneself in the finger and contracting some deadly needle-virus? I successfully found the same hole and went back down through another hole. When I finished, I pulled the needle out and all the thread came with it. I had forgotten to put a knot at the end of the thread.
So, I had to do this all over again ‘cause the button fell off. When I had the button securely fastened, I smiled and said, “That wasn’t so bad.”
I put the shirt on — and realized that I had sown the button on the wrong button hole because my left cuff was so tight my left hand couldn’t breathe.
So, I cut off the newly-sown-on button and sowed it on the correct button hole spot. Choosing which of the two button hole spots on which to sow the button probably required some careful calculations from basic calculus and trigonometry (which I didn’t have to take in college).
After I finally got the button sowed onto the correct button hole spot, it was time for me to leave for the graduation ceremonies. As I proudly put the shirt on, my right cuff was extremely tight.
I had taken the wrong button off the right cuff. (see illustration #1) My hand couldn’t breathe and has turned a strange shade of GREEN. And that’s why I’m at the Emergency Room.