That’s Holy Business


That headline was the title of an article I read on an app called SmartNews. The story makes it clear that if you show up at an emergency room with a fishhook in your nose or your fingers super-glued together, there is a good chance you will be sitting in the waiting room next to a guy with a bagel injury.

The writer claims that more than 40,000 people in this country ended up in an ER last year with a BRI—a Bagel Related Injury. That’s about 10 dozen people a day (in bagel talk). I find this statistic absolutely astounding. It means that over 325 million people in the United States have avoided these doughy morning mishaps. What are they eating for breakfast? Pop Tarts?

As you have no doubt surmised, a BRI is an accident that occurs when cutting the bagel in half before popping it in the toaster. The result can be hand lacerations, gouges or severed digits…all of which, especially the last one, can ruin a lovely Sunday brunch.

Several years ago, I was a victim of my own bagel boo-boo. The big mistake I made was using a dull knife to cut a frozen bagel while holding the bagel in the palm of my hand. Okay, I guess that’s three mistakes.

If these accidents continue, hospitals may have to assign specially trained triage nurses to assess the severity of the situation when bleeders arrive at the ER.

“What seems to be the problem, Sir?”

“I cut myself while I was slicing a bagel.”

“Were you cutting it horizontally or vertically?” the nurse might ask.

“I was vertical, of course. It’s not safe to slice a bagel while lying on the couch.”

“I see you are bleeding pretty badly. I also detect a white ooze in the cut.”

“That’s cream cheese. Can we move on with this? It really hurts.”

“Sir, I need to record all the data. It’s part of the new government program, O’Bagel Care. What kind of bagel was it?”

“It was an Everything Bagel.”

“Oh, I just love those. I can even see the little poppy seeds and specks of onion on your bloody napkin. That explains the burning sensation in your gaping wound. By the way, can you recommend a place to get a good Everything Bagel?”

“Yes, there’s a cute neighborhood shop on 86th Street…wait a second, what are we doing here? I hate to be blunt about this, but can we get me in to see a doctor quickly? And can you confirm my accident is covered by my insurance?”

“You would need to have a bagel medical plan like Blue-Cross, Blue-Berry, with a Sesame Seed supplement. Just kidding. Dr.

Cohen, the physician on duty, made up those jokes. It’s just a barrel of laughs working here in the ER.”

A sympathetic nurse may offer some advice while you wait. “You might want to invest in a contraption specifically designed to cut bagels, so we don’t see you here again. They’re sometimes called Bagel Guillotines. They protect your hands from sharp edges. Doesn’t that sound like a good idea?”

“No, but Pop Tarts are starting to.”

Dick Wolfsie spent his career sharing his humor, stories and video essays on television, radio and in newspapers. His columns appear weekly in The Paper of Montgomery County. E-mail Dick at Wolfsie@