Print Story Two Scars
By toxicfur (Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 06:00:04 PM EST) (all tags)
First, what's your favorite scar?

In Season 1 of Mad Men, there's this incident where Betty Draper wrecks the family car, with the children playing in the floor of the back seat. After the accident, Betty tells her husband Don that her daughter Sally might have died -- or worse, gotten an ugly scar. I don't know if it's the time that's passed since 1960 or if it's me, but I've always been proud of my scars: The ones I don't remember, like the one that looks like a tiny bird's foot on my wrist; the ones my cat Simon left; the ones from playing softball that look like my leg was attacked by a cheese grater.

I'm proud of all of them, but most of them don't make good stories. I mean, I slid into second base and lost a layer of skin doesn't make a good story. Nor does the tale of my cat getting freaked out and sinking his teeth into my calf. Two of my scars, though. Two of the worst ones in some ways reveal more about me than the marks I've chosen to put on my body.

I was 9 years old. My brother Keith and I were riding bikes on the street in front of our house. This was a rare treat -- without our parents in attendance, we were almost never allowed out of our yard.  Keith was 6 and had just graduated from the tiny red bike we'd all learned on to a 20". He didn't have his own yet, though, and so Mama had said that if I let Keith ride my bright blue bike, I could ride her big 26" bike with the child seat attached to the back. I'd gotten my blue bike for my 7th birthday, and it was also secretly my pretend horse. I didn't really want Keith on it, but my mom's bike made me feel like a grown-up. I didn't admit that my feet couldn't quite touch the pedals when they were at their lowest point, much less touch the ground. I mostly didn't use the seat -- I just stood over the angled-for-girls cross bar and pedaled along.

So Keith and I were riding our respective bikes on the street. It was warm, and I was wearing shorts and soaking in the sunlight. It was too early in the year for the berry-brown tan I'd develop by the end of summer. It was still too early to go barefooted (Mama usually made us wait until it was practically summer vacation, unless it was abnormally warm). Keith and I were riding toward each other, on the same side of the street (who needs rules of the road?). My bike was bigger, and I was older, so I naturally thought he would turn to go around me. Apparently, he thought I would go around him. Instead, we swerved at the exact same moment. Keith leapt cleanly from my blue bike and the tires clashed. On Mama's too-big bike, though, I was not so lucky. My too-short legs got tangled among the pedals and chain, and I looked down at my bare leg and saw the blood running down and soaking into my white, lace-topped sock.

I picked up Mama's bike and, shaking, I started pushing it home. Keith, never one to waste an unexpected privilege, got back on my blue bike and continued to ride up and down the street. I glared at him, but he pretended not to notice. It was a short walk home, but it seemed to take forever. The wound on my leg stung terribly, but -- I realized with growing pride -- I had not cried. This was a first. I was a serious crybaby when I was a young kid. I cried nearly every day of kindergarten. I cried much of 1st grade until Mrs. Slemenda shamed me into keeping my tears to myself. When someone outside of my trusted circle criticized me, I cried. When someone was angry with me, I cried. When I was angry with someone, I cried. And when I saw my own blood, I cried.

As an aside, I recently found an IEP evaluation form from when I was 6. I was tested to see if I was "gifted" as they put it then. I scored well above average on most of the tests of intellect (spatial reasoning was difficult for me even then), but the report noted again and again that I was emotionally and socially very immature. So when I was 9 years old and didn't cry? That tough butch I am now woke up, stretched and said "Right the fuck on." Only probably without the word "fuck" since I didn't learn that word until I was ten.

Mama ministered to my wound with Bactine and bandaids, and the chunk of skin I lost in that accident eventually healed, but without any pigment or any hair or any real nerve endings. It's a quarter-sized quite numb patch of very white, slightly rough skin. I can feel exactly where it is when I focus my attention on my left shin.

When I bend my left index finger, I can feel the scar tissue. The joint crackles in a disturbing sort of way. I was 27 when I got that scar. It was 2002, and I was living in Asheville. The restaurant where I was assistant manager was clearly failing, but I didn't really give a fuck. I'd gotten a slight raise when I made enough noise, but I was still making practically no money. More importantly, I was so fucking bored. So, when I thought I could get away with it, I'd cut all but one person in the kitchen and one person on the floor and I'd fill in where needed. I'd bartend, I'd wait tables if necessary. I'd cook, I'd wash dishes. And, between 2 and 4 most afternoons, we'd have maybe a small handful of customers wander in for $1 draft Bud or a quick sandwich. I'd make maybe a few bucks in tips -- enough for cigarettes, certainly, or dogfood, or if I was really lucky, a pizza and 6-pack delivered to my trailer by the local brewery/pizza place.

Damon's was a rib restaurant primarily, and we had typical meat-and-potato-and-fried-things menu. There was nothing really worth eating on the menu. I lived on free baked potatoes, deep fried shrimp delivered frozen weekly by Sysco, and the occasional scrambled egg or grilled cheese sandwich. I lost a remarkable amount of weight.

But that's beside the point. The point is that I was bored as shit with my job, and to make it more interesting, I challenged myself. One afternoon in late spring, I had just sent the grill cook home when we got a 6-top of tourists -- 3 senior citizen couples, the women with bedazzled t-shirts and golf visors, and the men with short-sleeve white button-up shirts and assorted NASCAR caps.

They all, of course, ordered grill items -- well-done steaks, full racks of ribs, chicken breasts -- with, it goes without saying, plenty of fry-station items. Alex, my then-boyfriend, stepped up to fry and let me take the grill. I got the ribs ready to go and threw two chicken breasts on the cool side. I grabbed a sirloin in its food-services plastic package and -- as I'd done many times before -- used the chef knife to slit it open.

And the knife slipped.

I didn't even feel it. It was just a momentary pressure and then there was the blood. Gushing blood. Pools of blood. I calmly told Alex to take over and to get another steak. I grabbed a rag and cupped my left hand in my right to prevent the blood from pouring all over the kitchen, and I went as quickly as possible to the closest hand-washing sink. I opened the faucet on cold water and stuck my hand under. Until the water hit it, I hadn't felt any pain at all. I hissed when the water hit, though, and I began to realize that this wasn't a papercut.

Fortunately, it was nearly 4:00 and Marcia, my boss, showed up a few minutes early. She peered into the bloody sink.

"What did you do?" she asked, with only mild curiosity.

"Cut my finger," I said, and pulled it out from under the water for my first close look. I caught a glimpse of something white and shining. Bone? Tendon? It was immediately hidden by pooling blood.

"You need stitches," Marcia told me.

"No, it's fine," I said. "I don't need stitches."

"I"ll get Alex to drive you to the hospital. His relief is coming in right now, and I can cover if anybody's late."

"I don't need stitches," I repeated, trying to wrap paper towels around my finger to stop the bleeding. They were immediately soaked through and my finger dripped. I spent some more time washing it, and trying to see if that really was my finger bone I was seeing in the cut. It was right in the second joint of my index finger, right along the creases. "It just looks bad because of all the water," I explained. "It makes it look like there's more blood than there really is."

"You're full of shit," said Marcia. "It's worker's comp, and they won't make you do a piss-test, I promise. Just go to the hospital."

"I'd pass a piss-test," I said. "But it's unnecessary."

"Stop being butch and just get the fucking stitches!"

I pictured then, the needle with the numbing agent approaching the clean margins of the wound, approaching that gleaming white bone or tendon. And I thought of the threaded needle pulling through my numbed skin. And I felt my knees start to buckle. "I'm not being butch," I said, a whine creeping into my voice. "I'm a fucking pussy. I fucking hate stitches. I just need some band-aids." I paused. "And maybe some Bactine."

< Finished Heavy Rain | Green, you know. Everyone does. >
Two Scars | 21 comments (21 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
When I was a kid... by ana (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 06:36:15 PM EST
I was playing with a pocket-knife thing that had a fairly stiff joint, and it slipped and sank into my left index finger. I remember being able to see the bone through the cut, but I don't think I got stitches. Mom wanted to know what was up when she found me washing blood off my hand.

When I was in first grade, I fell down on the playground and hit my head. I got up and got in line to go into the school, but one of my friends brought me to the teacher because there was blood running down my face. I ended up getting one stitch, and missing several hours of class. The scar's still there, reminding me where my hairline once was.

"And this ... is a piece of Synergy." --Kellnerin

Oh, and... by ana (4.00 / 1) #3 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 06:45:34 PM EST
Skateboarding scars. I was home alone with my ne'er-do-well cousin once, and we thought the gradual side of the hill we lived on was boring. So we went to the steeper street, wisely walked past the really steep part, and started on down a ways. After a while, I decided I was going a little too fast, and the vacant lot upcoming had dirt that washed across the sidewalk, so I decided to step off the board.

I was already traveling faster than I could run. I managed to stay on my feet for perhaps six steps before going over. I have scrape marks on the back of my shoulder. The neighbor lady was kind enough to clean me up and lay me down on her son's bed, to await the return of my mother.

And another one. I damn near got killed by a car once. It was raining hard, and I got off the bus. I was in high school. It was half a mile or so home, and the bus stop was on a busy 4-lane street. I crossed against the light at a run, because it was raining. I glanced up to see a car coming at me, stopped on tiptoes, watched the car swoosh by inches in front of me, and then fell down into the space just vacated. I had my notebook clutched to my chest with my right hand, and ended up skinning a big section on the back of that hand. One flap of skin folded under and healed into a thick scar.

The car pulled over on the other side of the intersection, wondering, I'm sure, if they'd killed me. I stood up, waved to them, and ran on home. Where my long-suffering mother cleaned me up and bandaged yet another wound.

"And this ... is a piece of Synergy." --Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
wise move. by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #20 Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 10:30:06 AM EST
After a while, I decided I was going a little too fast, and the vacant lot upcoming had dirt that washed across the sidewalk, so I decided to step off the board.

I was going down a steep hill. I was going a little too fast. I didn't step off. I was going faster. I still didn't step off. Eventually the board started vibrating widthwise and threw me off.

I didn't walk for a week, after that.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
I have a scar on my left index fingertip by infinitera (4.00 / 1) #2 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 06:43:49 PM EST
From playing with a boxcutter when I was a kid. It was pretty deep, so my fingerprint now has a diagonal line.

I also have a numb patch between the knucles of my right ring finger and pinky. A sharp computer case, a drive cage that wouldn't budge... until it did. Took a chunk of flesh too.

I also can't fully wiggle all of the toes on one foot, because of an accident when my cousin and I were playing with pocketknives at the age of ~6.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

My favorite scars by muchagecko (4.00 / 1) #4 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 07:01:02 PM EST
are on my fingers, from when my hand got smashed in a door as a baby.

Those scars are prettier to me because I have no memory of the pain that caused them.

A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
My Name is Earl

most of my left arm. by LilFlightTest (2.00 / 0) #5 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 08:15:39 PM EST
I barely remember, because I was so young,'s not pleasant. I'm thankful that I don't have any restrictions in mobility, but there are places I can't feel. Amazingly, if the same thing happened now I wouldn't have much of a scar at all, burn treatment technology has advanced that much.
if de-virgination results in me being able to birth hammerhead sharks, SIGN ME UP!!! --misslake
Scars. by technician (4.00 / 1) #6 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 09:06:13 PM EST
Guys of a certain type always find a reason to compare scars.

I have three prevalent ones. Right palm (from a machete), right thumb (from a cam chain), and a small bullet wound on my right wrist.

I also have a very small scar near my right eyebrow from where I tried to excise a small cancerous growth myself. That's the only one of the bunch that got stitches.

Not to imply that by technician (4.00 / 1) #7 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 09:07:26 PM EST
only dudes compare scars, but it is a favorite past-time among dudes, especially with any alcohol involved.

[ Parent ]
And that... by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #8 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 09:09:34 PM EST
is why I tend to get along very well with dudes. I'm happy to compare scars with anyone, though I don't have anything as interesting as a bullet wound. Scars are evidence that I've lived.
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin
[ Parent ]
I dunno that my by technician (4.00 / 1) #9 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 09:57:55 PM EST
bullet wound is that interesting. My brother accidentally fired a .22 that ricocheted through my wrist.

Thing is, I have a skin condition...little bit of a blessing and a curse...that erases most scars by simply generated skin like a mutant. So when I was 13 or so and lit my right side on fire, those scars are mostly gone...only I can spot them, and sometimes they are pretty faint. So the fact that any scars have stuck around is interesting.

When I was younger, like in my 20s, I envied folks with scars.

[ Parent ]
So your superpower is by ad hoc (4.00 / 5) #10 Sun Feb 28, 2010 at 10:18:12 PM EST
that you molt?
[ Parent ]
The Birdman of Austin. by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #12 Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 08:36:42 AM EST
Or Autism. Or something.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
Sort of, yes. by technician (2.00 / 0) #15 Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 10:54:59 AM EST
That and dandruff. My superpower is dandruff. Some people can lift heavy things, some people can heal inappropriately fast, and I cannot wear black.

[ Parent ]
I have some oddly-acquired scars by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #11 Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 02:24:05 AM EST
Among them: a fingertip trimmed with a fan blade. a cut from a snag on a crudely-spliced nylon rope running over my wrist, one from when my little finger burst open after I dropped a steel metal lathe chuck on it, and another finger cut by water when I was being retarded with a pressure washer.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Most of my scars I got by the time I was 12 by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #13 Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 08:37:48 AM EST
Falling out of trees, falling while playing in construction sites, falling off of bicycles. Nothing that interesting.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Mostly scar free, but... by atreides (4.00 / 1) #14 Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 08:46:39 AM EST
I have a small crescent scar on my left index finger where the finger meets the rest of my hand and I remember how I got it, too. When I was a little kid (4 or 5), I was sitting on the back steps with my grandfather. A friend of his who was a farmer had been in town and brought him a tub of corn fresh from his fields and we sitting cutting the husks off. I didn't know, though, that when you cut with a knife, you should cut away from yourself and not towards... Gave myself a good little cut that bled a bit but not too much. We staunched the bleeding and put bandaids on it and everything was fine. There probably wouldn't have been much of a scar but about a week later, I hit my finger on a lampshade and the wound opened again. Boy, did the vino flow everywhere. Got it bandaided up again and now I still have a reminder that goes with me everywhere.

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

I don't have any really good ones by barooo (4.00 / 1) #16 Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 02:18:01 PM EST
The main ones are my left middle finger, it's sort of cut on a bias from using a slightly dull knife to try and slice sausages the evening of my 28th birthday...  I made bbq and was slicing up smoked sausages when I slipped.  Like you I insisted I didn't need stitches, but wound up with 4 of them.  I believe I blogged this incident on this very site.

The other big one is not visible, it's on my head from a car accident when I was 5.  No seat belt, and my head took out the radio.  Split the plastic tuning knob in half, but didn't fare so well against the metal shaft running through the axis of the knob.  No concussion or fractured skull, amazingly, must have been a glancing blow.

I also have some barely visible cat scars, my ex girlfriend's cat got all freaked out by an animal outside and I went to see what the fuss was about and he wigged out and took a swipe at my face.  That realization on his face, a second later, when he's hanging from my face by his claws and going "oh shit...  this isn't good...  They might stop feeding me" was incredible.  Friends said I reaced like a battered spouse, kept explaining it wasn't his fault, that I shouldn't have snuck up on him, he felt really bad, etc.  2 days later it was infected and required a trip to urgent care, despite tons of peroxide and ointment.  Cat punctures are nasty.  He was a good cat.  It's a good thing I was wearing glasses, because the scars are on the outside corners of my eyes, both of them, about a millimeter away from the eyes.

man, i need a beefy taco now.
Cats. by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #19 Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 08:26:40 PM EST
Yes, cat wounds are awful. I have scars from my cat Simon, who adored me, but who reacted with fear by attacking. And sometimes he reacted to nothing at all by attacking. He was just kind of like that. Fortunately, none of his bites or scratches got that infected though. Yikes.
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin
[ Parent ]
moms, vanity and scars by StackyMcRacky (4.00 / 1) #17 Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 04:04:34 PM EST
My sister trashed our shared car (again!) and called home from work saying the car was dead.  Dad and I drove out to the mall where she worked and checked it out - the radiator no longer held fluid.  We ran over to a nearby auto parts store and bought a new one and replaced it in the mall parking lot.  While wrenching, my knuckle on my left ring finger got completely torn up.  When we got home my mother noticed the blood (lots of blood) and freaked out.  I cleaned it up and put a band-aid on.  Mom's comment, "Now your finger will look ugly and scarred when you get married!"  I was 18 at the time, in college and wasn't dating anybody.  ?????

That is... by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #18 Mon Mar 01, 2010 at 08:24:05 PM EST
just... wow. I, on the other hand, would've been so proud that my daughter would sacrifice a bit of skin to get a car working again. :)

Also, why is it that hands bleed so friggin' much? Like scalps -- the tiniest cut, and it looks like the wounded person has practically been gutted.
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin

[ Parent ]
erk. by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #21 Fri Mar 05, 2010 at 10:31:47 AM EST
Mom's comment, "Now your finger will look ugly and scarred when you get married!"

that's just bizarre.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Two Scars | 21 comments (21 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback