We once had a popcorn kernel that cost around $8,000 dollars. That's right, one popcorn kernel...eight thousand dollars. A few years ago, our second son, Ethan, was in our room eating a bowl of popcorn waiting for his big brother to come home from school. He got to the bottom of the bowl and looked at the unpopped kernels rolling around. As he picked one up I said to him, "No, no! Don't eat that Buddy! Don't put that in your mouth!" So he did what any little boy would do and laughed - then stuck it in his ear instead. Thinking he was a little comedian, his expression quickly changed into one of panic as he tried to get it out. With wide eyes he looked at me and I knew he wasn't joking anymore. I took his ear and tried to get the kernel but it wouldn't budge. It was stuck in his ear and with the oil from the popcorn, it was too slippery to get a grip on. I began to get a little nervous myself and decided to try to "MacGyver" it out. I chewed a piece of bubble gum and tried to squish it in his ear to pull it out...and nothing. I got one of our baby nose suction thingys to try to suck it out, but no luck....tweezers, nada. No matter what I did, the round part of the kernel was wedged into his ear so tightly that nothing seemed to work. I called my husband at work, (THAT was an interesting call) and told him that I didn't know what else to do but take Ethan to the pediatrician. Adam met us there thinking that he might have to help me hold Ethan down and it was a good call. The doctor tried everything. He couldn't get the kernel out and in turn, ended up pushing it so far down into his ear that you couldn't see it anymore. We were then sent to an ear, nose and throat specialist who said that he was going to have to knock Ethan out because it was so far down. We set an appointment for the first thing in the morning. When we got to the hospital the next day, we checked Ethan and his popcorn kernel in. The doctor reassuringly told us that it would be a simple and quick procedure, 15 minutes tops. Adam and I sat in the waiting room as ten minutes went by, 15, 20, 30...40...dear God they can't wake him up. Something's wrong. I started to pace back and forth, Adam began to ask the reception desk if there was any word...then finally...the doors opened and the doctor came out. He had a different look on his face than he did going in and we didn't know what to make of it. The doctor sat us down and said, "Well, in my entire career that was one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with. There was nothing I could do to get it out. It was round so I couldn't get a hold of it, it was oily so it was too slick to grasp and on top of everything else, because it was an unpopped kernel, it actually swelled in his ear since yesterday." The doctor said that he ended up having to drill a hole through the kernel then put a device in the hole to have something to hold onto. He said it was like trying to pull a watermelon out of a garden hose. What ended up being even worse was that because the point of the kernel was facing his eardrum, when he drilled through the kernel, the point went through his eardrum as well. He told us that he patched Ethan's eardrum but said we would have to "wait and see" if it would heal. He handed us a plastic container with one single popcorn kernel that had a hole drilled right through. He said that Ethan was waking up and would be just fine. A few months later, Ethan's hearing was checked and was fine...the patch had healed his eardrum perfectly. We still have the kernel in the container and still scoff when we see it. That tiny, little 8,000 dollar popcorn kernel.
At the end of the day, with the cost of movie tickets, we don't go very often - but when we do - as we make our way to the concession stand with our four little ones dancing with excitement at the rainbow of candy boxes and the delicious smell that hits you from the door, my husband always gives me "that" look. When I remind him of Ethan's popcornectomy though, it always makes the cost of going to the movies seem a little less painful, with or without the butter.