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Two Super-Awesome Stories About Scars

I recently took inventory of my scars and tried to pinpoint exactly where each one came from. Some were easy but boring–stepping through the springs on the trampoline, skinned knees and bike wrecks, hernia repair…

Some were insignificant-looking but impossible to remember.

But I have two scars that I hadn’t thought about in a long time. It would take a brainwashing to forget how they happened.

Scar 1: Over The Top

That's what's up

That's what's up

When I was but a lad, my dad took me–at my shrill insistence–to see Over The Top, arguably the finest (only?) armwrestling film of all time. Sylvester Stallone has made the occasional misstep, but who will dare to say that Over The Top is not the most influential film of the last 2500 years?

If you haven’t seen the movie, here’s the gist: Stallone (Hawk) plays a trucker who takes a cross-country trip with his army cadet son. Hawk’s wife has died and father and son learn to bond on the long haul. At the end of the road is an Armwrestling Championship and a giant bald man in a pink tank top that says “Blaster.” The prize is a truck. Along the way, Hawk teaches the boy to work out in the cab, self-respect, and armwrestling.

In the 80s, you knew kids were bad bullies in movies because they wore dangly cross earrings and fingerless gloves.

Hawk and the boy are in an arcade at one point and Hawk challenges a bully to armwrestle his son. After the little cadet looks deep inside himself and wins, things start looking up.

The bully wore a fingerless glove. Here’s where I come into the story.

The day after the movie I called a meeting of my friends down by the creek. We formed the super-awesome Armwrestling Club. I don’t remember exactly what our goal was, other than to go around armwrestling everyone. We were in third grade and it’s possible that there wasn’t a plan.

But there were requirements. For one, you couldn’t be in the club without sporting a fingerless glove. I took one of my mom’s Isotoner’s and wasted no time mutilating it in the pursuit of Over The Top-ness.  She was not happy about this.

The next day at school we stalked around and told ourselves that nobody dared to glance in our directions. Time to look for opponents.

I was nominated to approach a group of sixth graders by the drinking fountain, which was mounted in a pillar of bricks.  After some urging, I walked up to them, put my elbow on the fountain, and said something like, “Let’s do this.”

One of them grabbed my arm (the one without the glove on it), slammed it, and promptly ground my knuckles into the bricks. He rubbed them back and forth for a while and ignored my screaming.

That was the end of the Armwrestling Club, but the small scars between three of my knuckles live on.

The Axe

One of my favorite memories of being young was the annual trip with my dad to chop the winter’s firewood in the mountains. We would go alone and spend the whole day outside laughing and hacking at things. I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but I was definitely younger than 10.

Prior to the trip, my dad gave me my own nice little two-sided hatchet. My part on these trips was to fill the kindling boxes. I’d find the dead trees and knock branches off and that would be what we’d use to start fires later. “It is the most important job,” he’d say.

So I took that hatchet and started laying into every tree I could find. By and by, I took a big swing at a branch that wasn’t quite as dead as it looked. The hatchet rebounded off the springy branch right into the top of my head.

I don’t think I was ever in danger, but I’ve been told that it bled like crazy. The mad dash back to town for medical aid ended the day’s wood cutting.

I usually shave my head every summer. There’s a nice little divet in my scalp where the axeblade hit it. Saying, “I got hit in the head with an axe” is a much better icebreaker than, “So what you do for a living?”

Try it, but don’t cut too deeply. And if any of you are interested in reviving the Armwrestling Club, remember what Victor Hugo said:

Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come

Perhaps it’s time…

If you’ve got an awesome, Over The Top scar and a story, tell us in the comments section.

Josh


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  • Janette H July 13, 2009, 12:49 pm

    I had an appendicitis at the end of first grade, back in the late 70s. I have a five-inch-long half-inch wide scar on my lower abdomen from the surgery. I remember showing my scar for show and tell in the second grade. Later, in the 7th grade, one of the boys in that class made fun of me as the girl who pulled down her pants to show off the scar. I defended myself by denying that I was the girl. I was mortified.

    • Josh Hanagarne July 13, 2009, 8:29 pm

      @Janette.

      Give me that boy’s name! I’ll flay him!

  • Bobbie G July 13, 2009, 5:33 pm

    Church youth group trip to a Texas Hill County park. And a magnolia tree in bloom (think gardenias the size of dinner plates). No dates, just young males and females trying to impress each other and remembering that 40+ years ago high school students were much younger than they seem to be now. But no smarter . . .
    Richard G. wants to impress us by getting us each a magnolia flower. Richard is significantly shorter than the tree, but manages to get the first flower off and present it to the main object of his attention. But the next flower proves out of his reach. And no matter how he jumps, tries to climb, whatever, he just can’t reach the next lowest limb. And won’t listen to “But I really DON’T want the flower.” So “I know what I’ll do; I’ll throw a rock up and break the limb off and get you the flower that way!”
    Thinking that if I just left, he might forget the scheme, I turned and started walking down hill. But turned and looked up at the group just in time to have the rock in question land in my face.
    Moral: 1. Sometimes it’s OK to quit, but if you don’t
    2. Never turn your back on an idiot with a rock.

    • Josh Hanagarne July 13, 2009, 8:28 pm

      Now THAT is what we don’t get enough of around here: stories with Morals. Bravo Bobbie G!

  • Megan Horton July 13, 2009, 6:46 pm

    I have a three inch scar on my upper thigh from dropping a curling iron on my leg. The scar looks like a curling iron, and it’s still really bad even after about 15 years. I must not have been wearing pants or something due to the location of the scar. You know me, I never wear pants. I’m kind of like the lady Gaga of Denver

    • Josh Hanagarne July 13, 2009, 8:27 pm

      @ Megan Horton

      Pants are overrated. You should round out that 3 inch design with some more scarification in the shape of a corn dog.

  • Daryle Dickens July 13, 2009, 6:58 pm

    I think I was around 10 years old when I got my first pocket knife. My mom was not happy about and told me that if I cut myself not to come to her. “Yes, yes mom, whatever.” as I headed upstairs to see what I can cut and carve with my new blade. It was one of those tiny pocket knives that had two blade, one about 4 inches and one about 2 inches. I opened the big blade and then tried to open the smaller one but it was stuck. I pulled harder and my fingers slipped off the blade right into the brand new and sharp larger blade. The cut went right across the top of my thumb. The blood came fast and in full force. But I was not going to tell my parents. I quietly went to the bathroom and attempted to wash it and stop the bleeding. It would not stop. I think my mom’s parental radar tipped her off that something was wrong because at some point she came to the rescue before I passed out from the blood loss. 27 years later the scar is still clear as day.

    (I’ll keep it to one scar story. :))

    • Josh Hanagarne July 13, 2009, 8:27 pm

      Hahahaha. That is a good one. Thank goodness for hyper-perceptive mothers.

  • Erik Strong July 14, 2009, 6:38 pm

    I have a six-inch scar on my left cheek (not the one on my face) from an early surgery to remove a diseased portion of my upper thigh bone. I spent my first birthday in the hospital. I have an awesome picture in my photo album with some hospital volunteers dressed like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck and me in a full pelvic cast. When people ask what happen I always answer “shark bite”, then look away sadly 🙂

  • Al in Vancouver July 17, 2009, 11:01 am

    Erik Strong, you have the coolest name, maybe ever.

    • Josh Hanagarne July 17, 2009, 11:44 am

      @Al, not only that, Erik is the coolest guy ever. He’s my best friend from Nevada. If you ever need to fact-check my Elko stories, he’s your man. He’s also a fabulous dancer and he was in my public speaking classes.