Things That Get Stuck

Last Friday night while my husband and I watched a movie, I was shoveling popcorn in my piehole. And yes, I’d rather have been eating pie.

When I finally took a breather, I could feel one of the little husks stuck on the right side of my tongue, a bit underneath. I didn’t worry about it; those things always loosen up.

But it didn’t. I swished water around, I brushed my teeth, I jabbed at it with my fingernail. It was stuck tighter than a clam with lockjaw when I went to bed.

It was still there when I woke up on Saturday, although it had moved further back. While I drank my coffee, I googled “popcorn husk stuck in tonsil.” I was surprised and thankful so many people had the same problem. I was less surprised and less thankful at some of the advice.

“Tilt your chin down and swallow forcefully.” Show that tonsil who’s boss!
“Take big gulps of milk.” Gross.
“Eat more popcorn.” This seemed like a trick. Or a cruel joke.
“Break off a big piece of baguette and swallow it without chewing.” I used to scold my children for this very thing.
“Use a waterpik and blast it out of there.” I do not want this in my obituary.

With all of that advice off the table, I began a strict regimen of gargling and brandishing my tongue scraper in a threatening manner. That didn’t work. Breakfast didn’t work, even though I tried my best not to masticate properly. (Sorry, kids. Your mother is a hypocrite.) More gargling, more tongue scraping. More hilarious comments from my friends on Facebook. (My son mocked me, but I explained that husk was sealed tighter than Grandma’s canned beans.) Spoonsful of peanut butter didn’t work. Spoonsful of honey didn’t work. Crunchy crackers spread thickly with peanut butter and honey didn’t work.


I decided to surrender and accept my dismal fate—becoming known throughout the land as That Lady Always Complaining of Popcorn Stuck In Her Throat.

Sunday morning. Still there, but copious amounts of my viscous drool (I’m assuming) had helped to shift it again. After breakfast, more gargling, more tongue scraping, and more complaining still failed to dislodge it, I went for the one piece of potentially valid advice Dr Internet gave me …. gargle with something carbonated. I bought a bottle of Coke and when my husband left the building, I gargled with it.

Gargling with Coke is truly as unpleasant as it sounds.

What’s worse, it didn’t work either.

I bravely faced my destiny.

My husband and I were talking about something weirdly unrelated to my ordeal (I know, right??), and I suddenly felt it shift. The popcorn husk was now centered on top of my tongue, but way in the back! O frabjous day!

I raced upstairs for my tongue scraper. It was long enough, but every time I tried to use it, my tongue reflexively went concave. Toothbrush, same.

Shining the flashlight in there, I showed my husband. I could see it and so could he … it wasn’t my imagination! Picture your flawlessly manicured pinkie fingernail pulled free and pressed firmly on top of your tongue, forming a perfect bubble. Such was my popcorn husk.

Now my husband was getting in on the fun, shouting out household items I could try. “Bamboo skewer! Knitting needle! Letter opener!”

But no. I whispered urgently to my tongue scraper, allowing it one final, glorious moment to prove itself a hero and seek redemption.

And it did.

The crisis was over. The world released its collective breath. Armies stood down, troops finally at ease. The Olympic monobobbers commenced racing. Birds warbled songs of praise and glory.

And me, you ask? What did I do?

I asked my husband to holster the knitting needles.

I humbly submit this list of things—other than popcorn—that get stuck:

You, Best Beloved, reading this
Toni Basil’s song, “Mickey”
Thumbtacks in a corkboard
The needle in a scratched record
Gum on your shoe
Car in a snowdrift

What else?

6 thoughts on “Things That Get Stuck”

  1. Carol Kurimbokus

    Skin on dates can be just as treacherous as popcorn – I have spent many hours trying to dislodge them from the back of my throat once they get their death grip on – but I never learn and still eat them because I am greedy and I do so like dates!

  2. Popcorn is my FAVORITE snack. And I have been in your predicament before. It’s very disconcerting. I have a friend who swears the bone infection in her jaw came from a lodged kernel in her back tooth. Popcorn is dangerous. Why does it have to be so gloriously tasty?

    1. It’s really not fair, Claire. And disconcerting is one word for it! I was having so much trouble I began to doubt myself, but why my tongue would gaslight me is a conundrum for a different day. Stay safe out there, my friend!

  3. I love for popcorn. I air-pop it myself and then drizzle plant butter and garlic salt. I’ve never had the tonsil thing though and. Hope that reading this episode doesn’t have the power of suggestion. Maybe my plant butter smoooths the way for husks! Hilarious blog. But I’d keep the spouse away from the knitting needles close to your face. lol

    1. I’m just now seeing this, Dawn, and am happy to report I’ve had popcorn several times since with nary an incident! Whew. I think you’re safe.

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