The Kidd here...
I know you've been swimming with bow-legged women patiently while I sort through the winners for this JAWS Blu-ray contest. A ton of entries came pouring in for this as you can imagine, and, to read through every single one of them and check out all the pics that were sent in to support people's scar stories takes quite a bit of time. However, with Tropical Storm Isaac dumping nothing but rain on me over the weekend, it gave me plenty of uninterrupted time to give your stories the attention they deserve, which brings us to the 10 winners...
This isn't so much about who had the bigger scar or the more gruesome injury (although one that easily made my crine definitely made the cut). This is about the story - engaging your listener/reader, putting them in that time and place of your experience and keeping them on the edge of their seat wanting to know how things are going to turn out next. I read some pretty horrible happenings for this contest and saw some quite disgusting wounds... but, if the story didn't hook me, all I could do was take a swig off my beer, drink to your injuries, and move onto the next one.
In the end, there were 10 stories, complete with pictures (I told you they could only help your chances) that delivered for me, and, in turn, I deliver JAWS Blu-rays to them.
- Christopher Drew
You know those physical problems that aren’t serious, but are pretty embarrassing? (People don’t die from hemorrhoids, generally speaking, but they probably aren’t going to start a conversation about it either.) Well, when I was in middle school, I got one of those. Ingrown toenails. I know. Eww. I don’t know why they happened, or what the hell was wrong with my toes that’s right with everyone else’s. All I know is that by the time I hit the sixth grade, my big toes would swell up on both sides, purple and crusted, and if I so much as brushed them against something, dear God, the agony.
I spent a lot of time with my grandparents back then, who also had feet problems. Oh, not like mine, but still probably embarrassing for people under fifty. Luckily for them, they were older—at the age where talking about your bunions, or gout, or whatever ails you isn’t just okay, it’s what you talk about. So, when I came home one day complaining about how much my toes hurt from running laps in gym class, they knew just what to do. The following week, I was in the office of Doctor Howard Grundman, podiatrist extraordinaire. The only thing I remember about his office was that it had a display case full of antique shoe inserts. The man himself was your typical white bread doctor, roughly my grandparents’ age, with maybe just a bit more nose hair than necessary. I’m pretty sure I was the first patient he’d had under the age of thirty in, well, maybe forever. My infection-heated toes were embarrassing, but so was this.
On my first visit, he took the conservative route. It was the sides of the toenails growing into the flesh that caused the problem, so he simply cut down both sides of each toenail (with some minor local anesthetic), bandaged them, and told me to let them grow out. I could do that. I did do that. For a while, gym class was a breeze. And then one morning I woke up to red toes again. My toenails, it seemed, had it out for me. We went through the nail-trimming procedure twice more, and the results were the same—temporary relief followed by swollen toes that made me walk like the Elephant Man.
Finally, Doc Grundman decided to stop messing around. If there was a podiatric version of scorched earth policy, the old jungle-nostriled doctor was ready to drop the surgical napalm. He wanted to permanently remove my two big toenails. Holy shit. Didn’t I need those for walking or something? Nope, he assured me that they’re purely cosmetic—not even worth the trouble we take to trim them. Before I could object (not that I would—my grandpa was sitting next to me, and I wanted to impress him), he slipped out of the room and came back with the biggest damn syringe I’ve ever seen. You could put horses down with this thing. My yarbles ascended into my torso, and I stared horrified at this torture instrument. “How long have you been doing this?” I asked Doc Grundman meekly. “What time is it?” he replied. My grandpa laughed. Doc Grundman laughed. I didn’t.
If you’re a secret heroin addict, maybe you know what it’s like to shoot up between your toes. If not, let me tell you, you’re not missing anything. Not only did he stick this fifty-gauge needle into the skin between my big toe and the one next to it, but he sort of set up camp there for a bit. You see, he had to make sure every little nerve ending got the sauce, which meant moving the needle around WHILE IT WAS IN MY FOOT. I almost passed out. Even my grandpa, who had been in the Army during Korea, looked a little squeamish. Doc Grundman went methodically about his excruciation, breathing deeply, his nose hairs puffing in and out like a sea anemone. The only good thing I can say about the anesthetic is that, after ten or fifteen seconds of the worst pain I’ve ever experienced (twice), the front ends of both of my feet went completely dead. Like, Weekend at Bernie’s dead. If I’d tried to walk out, I would’ve ended up in the floor.
So instead, I got to watch the doc conduct surgery on my feet. He told me I could lie back and stare at the ceiling. That I wouldn’t feel a thing. But come on, now that the pain was over, how could I not look? I was twelve, raised on a steady diet of Friday the 13th movies. This was gonna be good. And I wasn’t disappointed. With my own eyes, I watched this man with the party favor for a nose slide a scalpel under my toenail. I could actually see the blade moving through the thick layer of keratin. Blood ran down both sides of my toe onto a well-place surgical sponge, and Doc Grundman moved the blade from side to side, slicing the nail loose from whatever connective tissue it had relied on for the last twelve years. After he finished with the scalpel, he grabbed a pair of pliers that, up to that point, I had somehow managed to miss entirely. “This might be a little gross,” he said, clamping the business end of the pliers onto the white edge of my newly-untethered toenail. I gripped the arms of the chair. My grandpa leaned in. Doc Grundman pulled firmly on the nail, and it slipped out of its bed noiselessly, much longer than I’d ever imagined, and trailing a few red tendrils behind it. For a split second, the tissue beneath the nail seemed frozen, wet and gray and shiny. Then, blood poured in from all sides and Doc Grundman slapped some gauze on it. “That went well,” he said. My grandpa’s face was white. My jaw bulged from grinding my teeth. “Now we’ve just got to kill the root.” Kill the root? What was this, some sort of satanic ritual? Before I could ask, he reached to his instrument tray and retrieved a long, wooden stick with a fluff of cotton at the end. Sort of a Q-tip on steroids. He dipped the cotton into a small brown bottle and when he pulled it out, it was covered in a thick caramel goo. He gently removed the gauze from my toe (the blood still ran, but slowly, having already begun to clot) and without any fanfare, shoved the Q-tip so far down into the hole the nail had left that I thought it might poke out of my heel. He worked it around, much the same as he had the needle earlier, then replaced the gauze and wrapped the toe up in a bandage the size of a light bulb. “Now for the other one,” he said. And my grandpa and I watched the whole thing again.
I got out of gym class for a month while my toes healed. And of course, I pulled them out of my shoes to gross out my friends as often as possible. Some of my teachers were even fascinated. True to Doc Grundman’s word, my toenails never grew back, and once those bloody gaps healed, they were replaced by the two puckered scars you see in the pictures. For years, I’ve carried the mantle of “grossest feet ever,” but that’s not really fair. My feet aren’t so bad. It’s the toes. Jesus, those toes.
- Matthew Giaquinto
Because of this scar I was given Last Rites.
I was playing football when I broke my elbow. If you think about it, your elbow joint is similar to a car axle. It has a rod through the middle with caps on either side.
I remember being on the wrong side of a very large pile and the extremely distinct feeling that my elbow just stopped. As all feeling in my arm had vanished mid bicep.
As the other guys peeled off the pile, I remember hearing it. That high-pitched screaming, Oh my god, look at his arm. Followed by a Stand by Me-esque puke-athon. My elbow shattered, basically the axle broke.
Hold out your right arm and twist it so that your palm faces skyward. Now imagine while still holding your arm out, your arm broken down so that your hand is touching your hip.
The EMTs arrive; cut off my uniform and perceive my elbow to be simply dislocated.
Needing to do something to get me into a stretcher, They painfully re-break my elbow back up to where I could hold my shoulder except the inside cap of the axle elbow slid up during the re-break to that small little pocket where the forearm ends and the bicep begins. At which point it started to tear into flesh and muscle causing internal bleeding.
Hours and dozen x-rays later I am finally operated on where a hereto with unknown allergy to anesthesia kicked in.
After the operation, in recovery, where I should have been showing signs of coming out of the fog, instead I lay there like a rag doll, vitals slipping.
This was 1986, light year medicine wise from where we are today. The doctors started poking me with needles to see if I would regain consciousness.
In fact, when I tan, I can still see the sprinkling of scars from the needles.
Step two was to bring my now terrified parents into the ICU and see if a familiar voice would shake me. They screamed and screamed into my ear.
With vitals slipping, the doctor on staff tells my parents that there is a priest on call at the hospital. Reluctantly, they agree and in comes Father Godknowswho.
After all the anointing and dozens of sobbing Amens, my father, fed up, grabbed my shoulders, shook me and screamed “Wake the F#$% up!”
Apparently, as the story goes, I mumbled something akin to leave me the hell alone I want to sleep. Whatever it was, it was enough to satisfy everyone in the room that I was stabilizing.
I have a very faint memory of this, but truth be told, I’m not sure if it’s from the repeating the story over and over (hey, chicks dig scars). Most likely, it is that I only remember the anesthesiologist telling me I was about to go under and I blink my eyes and I’m gone. No tunnels of white or long lost relatives. Just a blink of an eye and its all gone.
I woke up three days later, in the middle of the night, pitch black. My right arm in a half cast, so they could treat the scar, and the left has a board taped to it to keep the IVs straight like some demented Pinocchio. I didn’t know where, who or what, I started thrashing around in the darkness and all around me dozens of babies started crying.
Apparently the hospital was full up so they stuck me in maternity. A few days after that I was released. Lost 15 pounds of muscle mass and all fantasies of hoisting a Lombardi destroyed, but gained a plastic elbow (that hurts like a mother whenever it rains and you can see in the pics how it didn't and still doesn't fit quite right as an elbow piece) and a pretty interesting story
- Neil Gray
Seven years ago, I was working in the oil fields of northern Alberta. Tough work. Long shifts. Two weeks on, one week off. Home was a bungalow and a very pregnant wife four hours away on a deadly two-lane highway. Camp life in the oil patch was tough, and at that time, I spent more nights than I care to count sitting awake, thinking about my unborn daughter. Those nights were the longest. Untold hours staring at the cold stars of the northern skies, pacing my room, anxious and restless, drifting through the early hours like a tongueless wraith.I was on shift when my wife went into labour, and I was a blur out of the camp and onto the road home. Highway 63. Known locally as the Highway of Death. Over a thousand crashes in ten years dot that highway, making collisions and carnage more frequent than roadsigns or mile markers. I thought that my luck had to be different that day, that this day I had waited for so urgently would be my reward for the lonesome nights away from what made my life worth living. Don't even remember seeing the truck coming towards me in the wrong lane. Don't even remember the collision, or rolling, or sliding to a halt in the ditch. When I came to, I remembered the sting of glass in my face, the rush of blood to my head, and most of all, I remember being pinned at the leg, upside down in my cab.Two hours I waited for the ambulance, onlookers swarming around the wreck, countless others peering through glass from the highway. Might as well have been two weeks. The waiting was agony. Not from the pain in my leg, but in the consuming fear that I would never see my daughter's face. Never hear her laugh, her cry, see her first steps, hear her first words, hold her hand, comb her hair, or tell her about my love for her. When the emergency crews came, my leg had to be pried out with the pneumatic jaws of life. Because my leg had been pinned for so long, and under such trauma and pressure, I had developed compartment syndrome, and the scar I bear to this day is from being sliced open to relieve that pressure and save my leg. I'm not ashamed of the scar, gruesome as it may look. It's a symbol, a remembrance of that day. May the 12th, 2005. My daughter's birthday.
- Michael Hopkins
In the spring of 1982, when I was eleven years old, I got a nasty little souvenir from a trip to the beach that I will never forget. We were living in Hawaii at the time and my second cousins flew out to stay with the family for a week. We went out to Hanauma Bay which was my favorite spot for swimming and snorkeling due to the abundance of sea life and the chance of an encounter with a reef shark or eel. My cousin was very nervous because she was terrified of sharks and was worried about being eaten. She had just seen the movie Jaws and was scared to death. I assured her that it was quite safe and that I had never actually seen a shark there and certainly never had been bit by anything. Little did I know that my luck was about to change.
After much coaxing she was swimming and playing in the water and playing in the surf along with my brothers and I. On this particular day, the water was thick with fish. As you walked in the shallow water, you could feel them brushing against your leg and see the dark shadowy shapes just under the water speeding away as you took a step. It was strange, because I had never known the fish to be quite so aggressive.
I looked around and saw that there was a spear fisher that had caught an octopus and he was cutting it up to put in his bait box he wore on his side. The fish were going crazy and leaping from the surface of the water to get at the still wriggling pieces of the octopus. "Gross!", I thought and started to move away. Then out of nowhere, it hit me. My brother had thrown a clump of sand and got me in the back of the head. "I'll get you John!" I yelled, and reached down into the water to grab some sand to throw back. What happened next still to this day haunts me in my dreams.
From out of the depths of the water came a long sinister shape that struck with the speed of a snake. It's eyes were bright yellow with a dead black center the size of a coat button. It was about 8 feet long with mottled purple skin, and tiny razor sharp teeth, and a gaping purple mouth with billowy silk-like folds. It was a moray eel and a large one at that. It lurched out of the water as I tried to pull my hand away and took my entire hand in it's mouth. It bit three times quickly and then locked its jaws, thrashing violently in an attempt to free my hand from my arm. There was no pain- yet. Just an intense sense of pressure and a strange moment as the world stopped. For a moment, there was only the two of us and I was locked in its gaze. It must have decided that I was not an octopus and that it was not going to manage to rip off my hand. With a flick of it's tail, it opened it's mouth fell back into the water to disappear back to wherever the hell it came from.
I looked down at my hand. It was still there. I could see several deep punctures on both sides of my hand. It did not seem like my hand. It was completely white and lifeless. I started to run back to the beach to find my parents. That's when the blood started followed by the pain. Slow at first. Fortunately for me, there was a doctor on the beach who was able to get to me right away and get the bleeding stopped with a tight compress. It was a long bumpy trip to the hospital. The worst part wasn't the stitches, or the ten minutes spent in excruciating pain as the doctor scrubbed the sand out of the wounds. It was not even being able to see your own bone. The worst part came later- seeing that eel rear out of the water over and over again in my dreams with those evil yellow eyes and that gaping purple mouth swallowing everything in its path.
To this day I have eight scars on the top of my right hand towards my pinky finger and two more on the palm of my hand at the base of my thumb to remind me of that day and the encounter I had with a very aggressive moray eel.
- William House
Alright, so my scar story happened when I was 12 (1983). I'd just gotten a new Daisy pellet rifle and was at my cousins' house. We were shooting lead pellets and BBs at everything we could think of (soda cans, birds, trees, and whatever medium sized object we could huck in the air). We were also randomly playing on their trampoline. I placed the box of pellets (the lead ones that flatten out on impact - not the round BB type) on the edge of the trampoline and one bounce later they were spilled in the grass. I was bent over picking them up tediously from the grass while my cousin grabbed the rifle. She and my male cousins began pumping it up and firing "air" at each other. Genius, right? Now, mind you….this rifle was "supposed" to be .22 equivalent power if you pumped it 10 times. Of course, they were pumping it 20 or 30 times each. I was nearly done picking up the pebbles when I feel a stinging impact on the very top of my head.
Yep, you guessed it. One of the pellets had been lodged in the chamber and after pumping the thing up several billion times she shot me right in the top of the head. I thought maybe she'd fell on the trampoline and just banged the end of the muzzle into my head, but no…she's shot me point blank. We all run inside with me bleeding like a stuck pig. My parents race me to the nearest ER and after an X-ray they determined that it had fused with my skull. Removal would be riskier than just leaving it. So, there it sits to this day. A tiny flattened piece of lead that I can just barely feel off the right midline of my skull. It's never bothered me (other than making me a little nervous when I've worked around MRI machines - even though it's not really ferrous). I eventually named it Bruce - after the shark, because it's always been there, unseen, just below the surface.
- Jimmy Juliano
I always wanted to get a tattoo of a Dave Matthews Band logo (don’t judge), but I also didn’t want to look like a moron. So the tattoo never happened. But I got the next best thing - SCARS AT A CONCERT. I am such a hippie jam-band hard-ass.I am at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wisconsin in summer 2005. That city sounds lame, but it is basically the site of the biggest party in the Midwest when DMB rolls into town. And if you can’t have fun drinking outside all day with your buddies and half-naked 20-somethings, you need to have a goddamn brain examination.
While getting heavily sauced in the parking lot we keep noticing people walking by covered in mud from head to toe. Being the mischievous scamp that I am, I grab a buddy and decide to investigate. Bottom line: when you are hammered, being coated in layers of mud all day sounds like a wonderful idea.
We navigate through rows of cars, deftly avoiding games of cornhole and beer pong tables like we were Indiana Jones in a Peruvian Temple. We locate the ruckus and a large crowd of people gawking at something - but what? We can’t see shit. We work our way around the crowd until we locate a gap. We squeeze in, and suddenly the crowd parts. We are at the top of a fucking hill, and the crowd is going WILD. Absolute apeshit. Cheering for me and buddy. The activity is mud-sliding down a gravel ridden hill. And we are on deck.
I have never felt more exhilarated. Three hundred people were screaming for ME. I raise my arms in the air and the crowd roars. I am fucking Mussolini. I take-off and dive headfirst down the hill, smashing my face against some rocks and careening towards the bottom. I make it and stand up with fists towards the sky, absorbing the love from the crowd of drunken idiots one more time. I feel like my life has peaked.
I don’t bother to assess my injuries until I get back to my car. Huge scrapes along my side and the kicker: a heavily busted chin that is gushing blood like it is coming out of a water hose. My mud-sliding buddy (who must have found the soft spot in his landing because the asshole was perfectly fine) toasts me and screams, “Is anyone a doctor!?!?!”. No luck - but we do find a med-student. He butterflies my chin using thread from a homemade cornhole bag (I shit you not), I throw on a few bandages for good measure and head to the amphitheater. Security allows me inside even though I resemble a zombie-attack victim.
I go to the doctor the next morning and he is understandably mortified. I get proper stitches, and I am left with my Alpine Valley/DMB scar. Not the biggest scar in the world, but it is a helluva tale. Far better than a pussy tattoo if you ask me.
- Alexander Manzaneres
For the longest time I believed I was invincible. Not so much a state of over confidence or a feeling of narcissism, but the reminders of having a six inch scar that resembles a zipper on my leg was enough to remind me that everyone is prone to accident. The business of being part of a semi-professional Folkloric dance troupe is something that teaches you discipline, concentration and a bit of common sense. After seven years of dancing Folklorico from Mexico you begin to forget the basic principles of using practical knowledge to execute your steps correctly, especially when there's 13" machetes involved.
It was a bright summer day back in June of 2002. The duties in my work schedule included answering phone calls, dusting countertops, and disposing of waste receptacles in the office. Having your father as your boss has its benefits when it comes to responsibilites on the work floor. The prerogative of having an excess of spare time in the work area has its positive and negative sides. Fortunately, I'm able to practice my dance steps at work whenever the list of things to do is minimal. This approach and mentality to do things is what got me into a hospital ememergency room that specific day.
The state of Colima, located in the country of Mexico is abundant in dance folklore. One specific dance we perform in our repertoire includes the use of Machetes to depict the daily life of a Colima native. The machetes are impressive to use as the dangers involved in using real authentic machetes is obvious. Using refined dexterity and coordination you maneuver the pair of knives under each leg. With the level of difficulty increased, the option to flip the machetes is something that can be added with practice.
On this specific day at work I managed to fit in some machete practice time into my work schedule. I was supposed to be working on a customer layout for a client that day, but for some reason I decided to grap my pair of machetes from my automobile and begin practicing my machete skills. I can remember exactly what I was thinking as I swang around the machetes in my hand practicing my moves. The machete in my left hand points down with the blade out. Where as the machete in my right hand points up, with the blade facing outward as well. It's a simple process which adds some flare to our performances. I had begin to do just as I had always done, but as my inexperience would teach me it wasn't wise to contemplate my plans for that night as I juggled the machetes.
In a split second of misconcentration and lack of common sense, I let my inattention serve me a lesson of machete mayhem. The machete that rests in my left hand points down with the blade out, which then meets up with the other machete under my right leg, only this time it was deprived of doing so by the flesh of my right calf muscle. In a sudden discharge of blood and adrenaline I managed to stab my right leg directly above my ankle. It had seemed as though all the oxygen in my lungs had been pushed out by the fear and anger created by the penetration of cold steel into my skin. "I can't believe this happened to me!", I yelled as I clinched my leg. I then dropped to the floor as a deluge of blood from my newly created orifice ran out into the office carpet.
As I laid there shocked and scared, I began to see flashbacks of my elementary school teachers, and D.A.R.E. Officers reminding me to call 911 in case of an emergency. I was about to stop-drop-and-roll but then remembered that my grade school education had taught me to put pressure on the womb until help arrived. I tried to remain calm as I reached for the phone with my bloody hand. I was quick to notify safety officals of my situation, they responded by dispatching a big, red fire truck and a white ambulance laced with emergency lights. I knew I had to call home and let my family know of my exciting misfortune.
My mother was the one to pick up the phone, and did not hesitate in grabbing her keys and activating the turbo in her car. My mother was first to arrive at the scene. "Hijole! Que te paso!" she said as she saw me sprawled out on the floor clinching my leg. She was quick to see the damage, and supplied me with shop rags to prevent more blood loss. With blood covering the better part of the office, the paramedics arrived. They stormed into the office without knocking or ringing the bell, there they found me lying pale, bloody, and looking white as a ghost. I can only imagine what they were thinking as they saw a huge machete next to me, blood everywhere, and a dangling phone imprented with bloody fingerprints. "Don't worry! I'm a professional" I remember telling the paramedics. "What a coincidence, we are too", they responded. I'm sure it was nothing out of the ordinary for the paramedics that day, but I can assure you they were quick to grant me their "idiot-of-the-day" award. I was deserving of such merit as I realized how senseless and idiotic my accident was.
No matter how good I thought I was at using my machetes, I still managed to serve myself a good memory that day. A short lesson in paying attention that time, taught me to be more carefull next time around. Since then I maintain an elevated state of precaution whenever I use them machtes. Only this time, I have the assurance of sixteen stitches that I'm not invincible. That no matter how good I get at flaunting my dance skills, I'll always have that zipper of a scar on my leg to keep me grounded. It will also remind me to keep my mind focused on whatever it is I do. Putting in my heart, soul, and mind into my performances I will definitely scintillate as an individual and maintain a complete state of well being. The joy of dancing is short lived, but the scars created by such accidents remind me to have fun, be careful and above all: never under any circumstances play with machetes in the office.
- Ian MacIntyre
You wanna see something permanent? I was 12 years old, in the 6th grade at Brookhouse Elementary. It was Christmastime, and the class had largely emptied out with most of my classmates at band class. Given my absolute lack of musical ability, I remained in the classroom passing the time on an art project – a cardboard wreath with neatly folded wrapping paper leaves. At the time I was a student in the “enrichment program” – a sort of city-wide gifted class. Years later, a classmate of mine ran into one of our former teachers and was informed that the “enrichment program” was a catch-all for both gifted students and students who it was assumed wouldn’t socialize normally in the general student body. This led many of us to retroactively question which category we personally fell into. This story, I feel, presents an argument wherein I could go either way. (By the way, my former classmate ran into the aforementioned teacher at the city’s only gay club, while being hit on by said teacher).
Given our class’ “enriched” status, it was assumed, I guess, that we all had the maturity and intellect necessary to handle an x-acto knife unsupervised. I was given a large piece of cardboard, said knife, and sent on my way to cut a life-preserver shaped piece on which to affix my wrapping paper leaves. As I set to cutting I realized the cardboard was fairly stiff, requiring me to put all 86-pounds of my own weight behind the effort. I planted my left hand squarely on the cardboard to keep it in place, and gouged mightily with my right, cutting inwards, directly towards… my left hand.
The next thing I remember is a hot stinging sensation. I looked down to find that, not only could I see the outside of my hand as per usual, but now a portion of the inside as well. That inside view was immediately obscured by blood, as my hand was swiftly covered in blood, as if it were a toilet overflowing. I immediately ran screaming from the thankfully mostly-deserted classroom, evidently spraying blood all over my classmates desks and belongings. I ran around the corner into the boy’s room, and commenced… freaking out, I guess. That part’s a bit fuzzy. I do recall my teacher, Mrs. Martell, enquiring if I was okay all the way from the entrance, since she seemed to feel that entering the boy’s room would be a breach of propriety. She eventually made an exception, and we managed to staunch the bleeding with enough paper towels to get me to the Vice Principal’s Office/First Aid Room/Supply Closet.
In the time it took for my father to arrive from work, I apparently babbled on at great length about my fears of bleeding to death – pretty much what happens when you have a 12 year old who, while being overly-articulate, is still unfortunately a 12 year old. My dad drove me to the emergency room, we waited what I recall a life-threatening amount of time, and then I got the stitches that would leave me with THIS!!!
- Les Milton
Late Spring, 1982. I’m sixteen years old, working weekends at a small bakery that specializes in kolaches, a European pastry stuffed with fruit or meat.
My only co-worker is my boss, a rotund, usually affable gentlemen with a red goatee, who taught me how to make the kolache dough from scratch, along with the homemade ice cream we served. He frequently blasts Jethro Tull and Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds as we work.
It’s not a particularly busy Saturday morning, but I’m rushing to serve customers while baking at the same time. The oven timer goes off and I know I’ve got about 10 seconds to get that tray of cinnamon rolls out before my boss gives me grief. So I ask a customer to wait a moment, I grab the oven mitts, and I take the tray out. As I’m rushing the tray to the back room, the edge of it hits the door frame. This causes the extremely hot tray to slide up my arm and press into my left bicep.
There’s a hissing sound and a slight sting, but that’s it. I put the tray down and head back to the customer, only I think some white baking paper has stuck to my bicep. Then I realize that it’s not paper that’s rolled up on either side of a glossy white mark on my arm. It’s skin.
My boss takes care of the customer and looks at the burn. He puts butter on it and explains that it’s going to start to hurt soon. He was wrong about the butter, but he was right about the pain. After he called my dad to pick me up to take me to the ER (he didn’t want to close the shop on a Saturday morning, I guess), I really started to feel it.
My boss brought me over to the ice box. He told me to put my right hand in it until I couldn’t stand it anymore, and then to wave the cold hand over the wound without touching it. As I did this, I was to imagine a blue light spreading over it while repeating the phrase, “This all shall pass,” in my mind. I did it and it worked. The pain went away. It returned every fifteen minutes or so. When it returned the first time, I put my hand in the ice and the pain disappeared. When it returned again, I looked at the ice box and that did the trick. The next time I felt any pain from the burn, and every time after, I just thought of the word, “ice,” and that was it. I worked as usual, baking and serving, until my dad picked me up about 90 minutes after the accident.
The doctor said it should have blistered and couldn’t understand why I wasn’t in pain. Turns out my boss was teaching me the “Sylva Mind Control Method,” which is part of a nutty, spiritualist belief system. But I guess my natural naiveté enabled the placebo effect – or something like it – to work its magic.
I tried again about six years later when I cut my leg open after falling off a train trestle, but it didn’t work, really. It might have been because I was a skeptic by then, or it could have been the LSD. But either way, I couldn’t stop the bleeding and I required stitches from an RN who looked like a Hell’s Angel, and who, when I informed him of the hallucinogens I’d recently ingested, offered to dim the lights and “put on some Floyd.” But that’s another story and too tiny a scar.
- Matthew Schenk
It was a Thursday evening, around 2 a.m. I woke up to answer the call of nature. At the time I was renting the master bedroom of a house. The master bath was a large room with a door to the closet and a door to the toilet which sat opposite dual vanity sinks and a large mirror. I opened the door to the main bathroom area without turning on the light and made my way by memory and night eyesight to the door to the loo. I did my business, flushed, and turned around the exit the small toilet room.
As I was leaving, I stepped on a shoe I had carelessly left near the doorway. Had I simply just gotten my balance, I’d have been fine. But, instead, I decided to reach for the open door via the handle to help steady myself. Since it was pitch black, I misjudged the distance and I went crashing to the ground. The first thing I felt was my knee hit the hard tile floor. HARD. Cursing my stupidity and cradling my knee, I heard an odd dripping sound. Not coming from the sink, but much closer to my head. I lifted myself half up to switch on the light near me. What I saw when my eyes adjusted was a formidable puddle of blood right in front of me.
Panicking, I started checking for the source. A quick spit into my hand let me know I’d not knocked any teeth out and that the puddle was coming from a trickle from my face somewhere. I reached up to the hamper and grabbed a towel. I put my face down on it for a minute or so. When I lifted, there was still a steady drip drip drip from somewhere on my face. Finding the nerve, I got myself up and approached the mirror.
Staring back at me was my reflection, but my face was a mess of blood. I turned on the faucet and began splashing water, still not sure what I’d hit. Eventually, it became clear. I’d opened up an inch and a half to 2 inch portion of my forehead. It seems when I fell, my forehead caught the thin edge of the door and sliced itself clean…and deep. I felt nothing. It’s important to note at this point that my two roommates had just moved out, and I was alone in the house. I also was living in Delray Beach, and most of my friends lived farther north in West Palm. Not wanting to wake anyone up, and being concerned with driving in the middle of the night to the ER, I decided to wait it out. The only problem…? I couldn’t get the bleeding to stop.
I would hold a paper towel to my forehead for several minutes and then remove it, only to have the blood flowing freely again. It was about 3 a.m. at this point, so I went to my bed, sat down, and held the paper towel to my head…for three hours. At 6 am, an idea struck me. I sat myself in front of my floor fan and dabbed away at the wound with the paper towel, while letting the air hit it hard. My plan worked. I eventually got the wound to clot. I looked for band aids in my bathroom and found none. Hoping that perhaps my roommates had been careless in their move and left some, I checked their bathroom. I found two. Sesame Street band aids. Don’t ask…I lived with some weird guys.
I put two of the small band aids across my forehead (a Big Bird and an Oscar). I gingerly showered, being careful to avoid the “Massive Head Wound Harry” on my forehead. I got dressed, and drove to the grocery store. The store opened at 7 a.m., so I stood out front at 6:50 and waited. Looking like hell, I ran through the doors as soon as they opened. I hit the first aid aisle and grabbed band aids, Neosporin, and second skin (it’s a liquid that you apply to cuts that dries over it like a second layer of skin). On my way to the checkout, I also grabbed tow sugar free Red Bulls. The checkout clerk looked at a very worse for the wear gentleman with the odd purchase items and two Sesame Street band aids with curiosity. “Rough night?” “You have no idea”.
I went to my car, took off the band aids. Applied Neosporin, and second skin. You see, I’m paranoid about stitches. I almost chose the story from when I was a child that lets you know WHY, but I felt this one was better. I took pictures (you can see all attached) and posted them to Facebook t see what my friends in the medical community recommended. Then…I went to work. My desk was in a corner, and with my wound on the side of my head that was in the corner, no one knew anything was wrong. I had placed two large Band-Aids over the wound, and looked a tad like Edward Norton in Fight Club. On my Facebook several of my friends responded that I needed to see a Dr. IMMEDIATELY. One was fairly certain you could almost make out my skull. I went to HR and got the name of a free clinic near us that wouldn’t charge me more than 50 bucks.
I went in and the first guy to look at me gave a huge “WOW!” with a smile when I took off the band aids. That, to me, was not a good sign. Free clinics see a lot of bad stuff. He gave me a lot of “did you blackout…are you dizzy…how many fingers am I holding up?” questions. He said he’d send the doctor in and they’d stitch me up. I explained that under perfect conditions, I’d likely panic with stitches. Running on zero sleep with a head wound, I’d probably through a fit. I said I’d researched skin glue, where they take a skin safe adhesive and glue the wound shut. He said they could do that, but it’d leave a little bit more scarring. I thought of Harrison Ford and Harry Potter and felt that a facial scar was not the worst thing in the world.
An older Asian man with wild hair and coke bottle thick glasses came in…this was the Dr. He did the glue and held my forehead together for several minutes while it dried. I was released and told not to be concerned that the wound started to look like an egg. See, the blood rushing has to go somewhere, so it collected behind the wound and made it puff up (I got lucky, I was also told it could run down behind the eyes and make my whole face look purple). That night I went to my friend’s 30th birthday party with an egg shaped wound on my forehead. A week later the glue came off and left a nice version of Potter’s Lightning Bolt scar.
The scar is certainly faded three years later, but the funny thing is that I cut it so deep, it severed all the nerves (this, I discovered, is why I felt nothing). So now, when I furrow my brow, nothing from the scar up on my face wrinkles. It’s like natural Botox.
Congrats to all of our winners, and thanks to Universal Studios Home Entertainment for helping put together this pretty cool contest.
Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies...
"The Infamous Billy The Kidd"
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