I stood before the bathroom mirror, performing my post-breakfast ritual. With my hair spritzed in place, beard and mustache-trimming came next. Because the capacity to eyeball smaller objects had diminished, I drew closer to the glass and spotted several scars––life reminders accumulated over the years.
Still gazing at my clone, I began tooth scrubbing. The Oral-B churned while I pondered. How many telltale scars do I possess? If the tally proves considerable, what does that say about me? Am I a klutz? Am I careless? Does the realm of accidents consider me an easy target? Or, are these tissue marks merely trophies of an unsheltered lifestyle? I focused on a scar on my forehead––my first––and thought, Does it really matter? Whether or not it did, my brain flashed to that memorable day.
1954: I was five, and stood on our front lawn with Johnny Cognasso, one of the neighborhood teens. A worthy mentor, Johnny patiently talked me through the attributes of a proper golf swing with a two iron. Though still unsure of what sparked the incident, I remembered gazing intently. At last Johnny demonstrated his stroke. Poor guy failed to strike the ball, however, because my head interrupted his back swing. THUNK!
Darkness preceded a starry array. I plopped to the ground and wailed. Johnny vanished like a rocket.
On the drive to our physician, my older brother mentioned stitches. Even at my tender age, I knew about needles and thread and wondered, What the heck’s my bloody forehead got to do with sewing?
Dr. Forsman provided the answer, but elected to forego his Singer imitation for a butterfly bandage. Now that sounded special! After the thumping my skull endured, its installation proved painless. Thirteen years later, the good doctor wouldn’t be so forgiving with the backside of my head.
I peered at the mirror again. A branding across my left eyebrow shuttled me to Christmas, 1981. I was an adult––at least chronologically––with two boys of my own. My eight-year-old and I wrapped presents in a room I was wallpapering. The Star Wars era reigned supreme and fascinated my son––me too! After concealing a gift with yuletide shrouding, an empty paperboard tube remained. Aha, a Light Saber!
I brandished my hollow weapon. “Kaughhhhh. Join me on the Dark Side, Luke.”
My boy grabbed the wooden dowel I’d used to support wallpaper rolls. “Never, Darth Vader,”
“Ow! Son-of-a-bitch!” I hollered. Good thing I was sitting. Like Johnny Cognasso after impact, my son disappeared. Deja-vu.
“What happened?” my wife inquired from another room.
“He hit me! I’m bleeding!”
“Who? What were you doing?”
“We were…Never mind.” I conceded defeat, and staggered to the bathroom for Neosporin and a Band-aid.
Remembering that day, and my son’s eyes-bigger-than-its-face cartoon character expression after whacking me, ignited a chuckle. More than thirty years had passed, but I proudly carried the reminder of an incident we both joked about now.
I scanned my hands. One, two, three––after six scars and six different stories, I quit and moved to other body parts. My legs, knees, arms and abdomen all revealed evidence of injury or repair. Then another thought occurred.
Traces of thick, light-colored skin weren’t the only reminders of pain I’d endured. Internal, emotional wounds from lost loved ones or personal devastation caused divots too, and left invisible scars. Each incident stung like a gash to my heart––to my soul––as if a part of me had been stolen and tossed away. As a result, my life had changed. But as I continued my self-examination, I realized that like my flesh, those heartfelt injuries healed as well. The many life changes were not for the worse.
Hygienically refreshed I moseyed from the bathroom, bearing a new perspective. Scars were part of life––perhaps a necessity. How people dealt with each physical or emotional trauma helped determine their character. Folks could disguise and ignore their scars, or they could learn from each mark and wear them like merit badges.
As a writer, I choose not to conceal my scars. Each one has ultimately proved beneficial and, as you might suspect, affords me wonderful memories and opportunities.