Monday, August 09, 2004


Some friends and I were talking recently about physical traits we find attractive, and oddly enough, several of us agreed that we find scars to be somewhat appealing. Now, I don’t mean the Mel Gibson Man without a Face type scars, but more like the Indiana Jones ruggedly mysterious variety.

I don’t know, maybe my affection for slight facial disfigurement is genetic, because my mother has always had a strange attraction to men with eye patches. Unfortunately, my dad still has both his eyes, so I just pray every night that she can see past that and somehow find a way to make that marriage work. My mom has a cool scar on her cheek from a fall she took as a baby. She used to tell her co-workers that she got it in a knife fight, which I find funny since she was a legal secretary in a small Wisconsin town. What’s even funnier is that some of them believed her.

I have a couple scars on my face, but the one I’m most fond of is about an inch long above my left eye. I got it in a knife fight. With my mother. Okay, okay - actually I got it in first grade at the zoo. I was on a class field trip to the Milwaukee County Zoo, which was always a treat since it meant a day away from school, and most likely a trip to McDonald’s on the way home. But the true highlight of any trip to the zoo was always the opportunity to buy one of those grey plastic molded elephants, or a penny stamped with pictures of giraffes and the words, “Milwaukee County Zoo” on it.

After wandering around the reptile house, and the primate house, and the big cat house, we finally made our way down to my favorite exhibit: the kangaroos. I remember that the kangaroos were kind of far away, so I stepped up onto the ledge to get a better look. As I was hanging on to the wrought iron fence and standing on my tip toes, my foot slipped out from under me. First, I fell forward and gashed my eye on the fence, and then I fell back and hit my head on the concrete, knocking myself out for a minute.

When I came to, the first face I saw was Kelly’s – she was the 16-year old daughter of one of the teachers, and was helping out that day as a chaperone. I vaguely recall there being a lot of noise and commotion as my classmates were yelling for the teachers, and other zoo-goers were wandering over to see if I was okay. But the only thing I remember clearly was Kelly asking me repeatedly, “Do you want gum? Jenny – do you want gum?!”

Of course I did. Who wouldn’t want gum after almost losing an eye on a rusty fence, and suffering a mild concussion?

I guess the bleeding must have stopped pretty quickly because my teacher never took me to the hospital, and my mom never brought me in for stitches, which I suppose is why I still have the scar. This was clearly long before the days of the ubiquitous “Were you injured in a car accident? We can get you the settlement you deserve!” sleazy lawyer commercials on TV. If that had happened to me today, that zoo would now be known as the Run Jen Run County Zoo and Tap Dance Academy. Has a nice ring to it, don’t you agree?

The best part about that day, aside from all the attention and free gum, was that I suddenly had earned a scar story to rival that of my mother, and I owe it all to my teacher, Miss Frank. Miss Frank was this tall, beautiful Southern woman with a slight drawl who always called me “Jinny.” Once we got back from the zoo, she told everyone in the class, and for years later, that as I was watching the kangaroo exhibit, one of the kangaroos challenged me to a boxing match and punched me in the eye. I just smiled proudly, and happily let this rumor spread throughout the school. Even though I never got my grey plastic elephant, that was definitely my favorite trip to the zoo ever, and I am reminded of it every time I catch a glimpse of the faded scar above my eye.

So what’s your best scar story? I’d love to hear it. But please, please. Nothing that’s going to creep me out, give me nightmares, or incite me to alert the local authorities. Thank you!