Monday, May 16, 2011

Scars and the Poking Out of Eyes

Image from the GeekDad blog
at Wired.com. This is not Kyle.
My latest newspaper column applies to half the population. Well honestly, I guess it applies to everyone since half the population gets themselves into these situations and the other half has to deal with it. Thanks for stopping by the site, and I hope you enjoy the article.

One morning recently a first grader approached me, proud as a peacock and strutting his new feathers. Stitches, right on the bridge of his nose, there for all the world - and his own crossed eyes - to see.

Seems Kyle and his siblings were playing an age old game, nameless to the best of my knowledge, that involves throwing stuff up in the air and watching it fall. His sister threw a baseball bat-sized stick in the air, and they all watched it hit a home run on the downswing, right between Kyle’s eyes. A first-ever, first-grader, four-bagger.

Kyle’s fine. Ask him, he’ll tell you. And it’s cool, he’ll say, cause the nurse told him chicks dig scars.

But just imagine. One inch right or left and suddenly he’s Captain Kyle, Curse of the Classroom, Scourge of Scholars, and he’s being fitted for an eye patch.

Quick. Name a boy, old or young, with a noticeable scar and a story to match Kyle’s. Easy, right?

Now name a boy or a man who’s actually lost an eye.

Okay, I know these men are out there. Accidents do happen. But I’ve never met a one-eyed man who said, “Yeh see this here eye? Do yeh? Lost it in ‘77, barely off me mother’s milk, I was. All I’ll say is this: the next time someone tells yeh Tiddlywinks ain’t dangerous, don’t yeh dare believe ‘em.”

Ralphie’s mother in A Christmas Story wasn’t the only mom to say, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” (Or “poke your eye out” or “put your eye out.” Same thing.) But truth be told, none of us ever did.

Remember Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon? Remember the ‘85 Bears, the Super Bowl Shuffle, the attitude? Remember the sunglasses? Turns out the sunglasses weren’t just his attitude on display. McMahon’s right eye was extremely sensitive to light.

See, when he was six he tried to undo a knot in a toy gun holster he was wearing. With a fork. Get that image clear in your mind’s eye and you don’t need to hear the rest of the story to know what happened.

The fork slipped, entered his eye, and severed the retina.

Even boys who actually do poke themselves in the eye can’t manage to poke the eye out. It’s like half the population is creative (or stupid) enough to get themselves into these eye-popping situations yet not talented enough to close the deal.

Scars are to boys like words are to the blank page. Neither starts out marked, but both are incomplete without the unique stories etched upon them by their owners.

When I was kid I stood on a chair to reach something on the top shelf of a closet. Instead of removing the items weighing it down, I tugged and pulled. My hands slipped and back I went until my head hit the corner of the coffee table. Blood? Yep. Scar? You bet. Dumb?

Obviously.

And good thing. Had I thought about what was happening, I may have turned to see where my head was headed.

Probably would have lost an eye.

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