I have a funny shaped head. My brow is extremely pronounced and pokes out an inch too much from the top of my forehead. My grandmother Libby calls it a sliding board head. I picture little brownie people sliding down to the bridge of my nose like kids at a water park. Just above my jutting brow lies a fading trio of scars earned the playground days of yesteryear. There fading with time, but I can’t forget each ones origin.
I could never be a model. The scars form an isosceles triangle on the left side of my forehead. The base is the latest. I was a little too drunk and made the stupid mistake of trying to drive drunk. Luckily for me and everyone else on the road, I didn’t get my keys in the ignition. I was so drunk and uncoordinated, I hit myself with the drivers side door. I yanked the handle without giving myself proper distance and slammed bent steel directly into my forehead. A small hole opened and my head swell immediately. I sat in my car for a moment attempting to let the pain subside. I woke up in the middle of the night with the keys in the ignition and my doors unlocked in a dark alley in downtown Nashville. Concussion? Maybe. Idiot? Definitely. I could never be a model. Might make a worse role model.
When I was a fresh faced teenager, stuck being boyhood and manhood, I made the mistake of running into a cast iron gate. Actually I didn’t run into the gate. I was chasing my brother Ricky through the small apartment complex that we lived in, when he slammed the gate backward onto my face. The door’s velocity knocked me to the ground. I screamed so violently I nearly bit my tongue. Normally, I would have tried to kill him, but my head hurt too much to move. I sat on the ground crying silently as my head throbbed. I couldn’t believe I let him outsmart me. To throw salt in my wounds, my mom, always the fan of the underdog, rubbed it in for a week as the gash healed into the thin scar it is today.
My first scar is my favorite. When I was almost 7 years old, I was rushed to the emergency room to have my forehead laced with 12 stitches. I was playing project baseball with my cousin and a neighbor when the accident happened. Project baseball is like regular baseball, with a few slight variations. A tennis ball might replace a regulation baseball in project baseball. There might be more than 3 outs in project baseball. We stayed as true to the game as possible. Except for the wooden legs from a discarded kitchen table and zero bases, we weren’t that far from removed from an organized little league team. I was kneeling behind the makeshift home base when it happened. My cousin swung completely through the plate twice, twisting wildly as he smashed the edge of the wooden leg into my forehead. My head squirted blood like a water gun, then raced down my face like rapids. The impact of the wooden bat in my skull was more alarming than painful and except for the copious amounts of blood that dripped to the collar on my shirt, I would have wanted to keep playing. I blamed myself for being overly eager to field the ball. I was a tough kid. I stayed calm when they put the stitches in too. My cousin Shihee did not. When the blood began to pour from my face, so did the tears in his eyes. No matter how bad or gangster my cousin is ever accused to be, I will always remember how frantic and disheveled he was as he guided me across the street into my grandmothers apartment, fearing with his life that he killed his closest cousin. When Frank and Alonzo’s mom pulled away from the curb and sped to Evanston Hospital’s emergency room, he was on the curb bawling still, eyes red as the bloody towel covering my head. I kept the stitches in for 20 days. The scar is for life.
Its funny how our scars can be so good for us sometimes.