One of my secret talents, that I have not yet shared with you, is that I find interesting ways to injure myself. No simple knee scrape will do. Only injuries that require detailed explanations fit the bill. Instead of just falling off my bike as a child and giving myself a fat lip, I had to put my teeth through my chin. It took some talent, mind you. The scar on the inside of my lip is mysteriously distant from the scar on the outside. It seems impossible that my teeth went in here and came out there. That’s talent, my friends.
Scar on my nose? A playmate walked into me and her teeth went into my nose. She was the one that ended up crying.
Scull fracture? You betcha! Cement is not the desired landing surface when you launch from the second story. Slip…right through the railing.
The burn scar on my hand marks my obsession with using my bread machine and baking stone to make pizza. Now it’s right there on my hand as a reminder on my one-time devotion to all edible things white and starchy.
Two years ago, I was moving furniture and dragged a table over one of my toes, ripping off the toenail. The urgent care doctor tried to save it (still attached by the tiniest piece of skin) with a single stitch. If you haven’t had several pain killer shots in your foot, you aren’t living.
My most dramatic scar, a slash across the top of my left arm was the result of walking into an open thermostat box in my sorority house. You know the institutional kind with a lock on it? It was unlocked and open and as I walked into the room, the lip of the steel box made a clean slice through my arm. I could see little capillaries but no blood. So I figured that no stitches were necessary. I figured wrong. I had to give up my dream of wearing a strapless wedding dress and then I realized that I never dreamed of wearing a strapless wedding dress.
All the numerous bruises, one from a co-worker that hit a softball into my leg (I’m sure she’s sorry), the weekly bumping-into-furniture-bruise, those are all for sissies. Toe stubbings with creative expletives mumbled in strained tones so the neighbors don’t hear? Pretty much a weekly occurrence. If I don’t get a case of vertigo or draw blood, the injury just don’t count.
It’s not really a high threshold for pain that is at the root of my talent. I probably fear injury more than most other people. That moment immediately after you realize you’ve injured yourself but before the real pain sets in, that’s the worst part. You know it’s coming and you know you are going to feel it. My talent is the extra effort I have to go to in order to injure myself under normally safe circumstances. This is why my mom warned me to “be careful” when she bought me a nice set of Henkels knives. Unfortch, unless the refrain of “becarefulbecarefulbecareful” is running through my mind while I am cutting, it won’t matter. I’ll just end up cutting myself and then remember that Mom had told me to be careful..oh well. (My mom is worrying about this and whether I lock the door at night….right now…and whether it’s safe where I run…and whether I close the windows when it’s hot at night…oh mom!).
So this morning, as I was vacuuming and as I accidentally stepped on an air vent cover with one foot, pulled the other foot back to steady myself and slashed my ankle on the edge of the grate, the blood was only symbolic of the effort I was going to have to make to work around my injury. And that my new running shoes are probably going to get bloody. And that I should probably hop to the bathroom so I don’t get blood on the floor as I examine my elaborate collection of band aids in many shapes and sizes. I love band aids…they smell good.
Maybe I’m being dramatic but blood does that to people (it was a lot of blood for a little slash that didn’t hurt all that much). Besides, it’s like taking some of your hardest to explain stories and wearing them on your body. Some people get tattoos. I like the random of approach of letting life and my own lack of coordination dictate where my next scar will show up.