March, 2021

Got a scar you can show? Is there a story that goes with it?

Herbert Truczinski is a character in the novel THE TIN DRUM. Herbert has multiple scars, and the book's protagonist, Oskar, a neighbor of Herbert's, visits him and traces Herbert's various scars with his finger, and Herbert tells him the story of how he got that particular scar. I read that book in the early 1960's and that part of the story always stayed with me. I enjoyed that Herbert could catalogue his injuries and remember what happened to create them. I found it amazingly compelling, and a great story device.

I can recall most of the scars I bear, and their stories.

This particular one, a deep cut across my left index finger, happened in a kitchen in Massapequa, Long Island, when I was about 8 years old.

I'd been playing in my side yard. I'd found a broken off broom handle in the trash can next door; it was the top end of the handle, with the smooth, rounded part at one end and a jagged, pointy end a foot and a half or so along the other end where it had cracked loose from the rest of the handle.

It had recently rained, and the ground was wet and spongy-- perfect for throwing the broom handle like a knife or sword and sticking it into the earth. I did this several times, until the thing hit a rock, and the pointy end snapped right off.

I could no longer stick it into the ground. It occurred to me that I'd seen my father sharpen a pencil with a pen knife, and that I could probably do the same to this broom handle. I went into the kitchen and found a large chef's knife, and proceeded to slice away at the blunted hunk of wood, trying to restore the point. It wasn't working too well, hacking away from myself, so I turned the handle over and pulled the blade *toward* myself-- and there came a loud "THUNK!"-- as I promptly buried the edge of the blade deep in my finger.

It stung, and bled copiously. Freaking out, I stuck my hand under the kitchen faucet and ran cold water on it. MIRACLE! It stopped... until I withdrew it from the running water, and it again bled like crazy. The sink was turning red... I cried and yelled for my mother, who came running and tended to it. She cleaned it and bandaged it and then yelled at me and gave me a strident lecture about playing with knives. I did not need stitches, but it was a deep cut and left an ugly flap of scar tissue. I was told to sit on the sofa and keep my hand elevated and NOT TO MOVE, DAMMIT! She turned on the TV and left to do her various chores. I sniffled and snuffled and settled in to watch the tube, bundled, bandaged finger throbbing like mad.

THE CHAMP was on-- the 1931 Wallace Beery/Jackie Cooper film about the alcoholic boxer and his son. I became enthralled in the story, and when the scene featuring the drunken Champ being arrested and slapping his adoring son from his jail cell, and then (in horror and shame at what he's just done) begins punching the wall, I began sobbing aloud. I was so upset at the story.

Mom came running to see what was wrong, and I was crying so forcefully I couldn't even form sentences, but only point at the TV screen and make gargling noises. By this time, the show had gone to commercial, and there was an ad for dog food or something happening. Puppies were jumping and capering cutely. Mom kept looking from me to the TV and back again, trying to figure out if her son had gone psychotic and was now for some reason terrified by puppies. I could only wheeze and gasp and blow snot bubbles and point at the screen again and again, and bawl like a boy possessed. Eventually I calmed down and tried to explain, but she was too exasperated to absorb it. Time passed. The movie ended. I healed.

Good movie. Very affecting. See it if you can. And don't play with knives.

That's my story about my finger scar. Do you have one?

Story Index


Drop me a note with any questions,
comments, criticism, cogent thoughts,
cease-and-desist orders, etc., etc...