Learning To Love You More




Assignment #11
Photograph a scar and write about it.

Howard Forbes
New York, New York USA
Email Howard



I was three years old, and I think it was summer. Maybe it was spring or autumn. It probably was spring or autumn, not summer. Probably autumn. I don't really remember.
My family and I were at the house of my father's sister (a painter), her husband (a car salesman), and my two cousins (a future furniture salesman and a future divorcee veterinarian's assistant). A violently tempered long-coated daschund also lived there. I think his name was "Chip."
I was playing in the back yard. The cousins might've been playing there as well, but I don't really remember. My mother raised me to feel superior to all of our relatives at an early age, so I couldn't be bothered to keep track of their activities while enjoying my own.
I was on a tricycle, slowly maneuvering it around the 20 or so feet of level yard that extended out from the back of the house. Unless a trike is hooked up to some sort of machine, like to a Buick with a tow-cable, it is pretty difficult to achieve decent speeds when peddling through grass. But luckily, at the end of the 20 or so feet of level yard there was a steeply declining hill, that went on for sufficient distance to impress a three year old cyclist in search of tricycular velocity. It would have been an excellent hill for sledding, had there been snow.
There was also a small and rocky stream or creek right at the bottom of the hill. Perhaps I thought I could jump it. I don't remember.
Unfortunately, I didn't make it far enough to test my daredevil creek-jumping skills. True to form, my relatives had neglected to mow their lawn: even through their inactivity contributing to the downfall of my plans! But the incline still allowed me to travel at a good rate, and the unmown grass only served to hide the stone -- which I never saw, but hit at a full three-wheeled two-pedaled throttle, and which sent me flying.
I didn't get to jump the creek, but I did unintentionally jump the stone. And I landed on my back, lying along the incline, with my feet above my head and the tricycle on top of me. I just stayed there for a moment, thinking that all of this was really pretty neat.
And then I saw my mother.
In all of the horrific images of warfare, human desperation, and full scale societal panic -- either actual or fictional -- that our news and media has made widely available to us my lifetime, I still have not seen a single image comparable to the sight of my mother, with her Jackie O haircut, waving her arms and running down the hill towards me screaming. I remember wondering what she was so alarmed about, but I could not lift my head to look behind me to see what was prompting her panic. I think she was wearing a white button-down shirt with thin plaid stripes (orange?), and blue jeans.
Suddenly the tricycle was off of me and I was in her arms, as she ran back towards the front of the house. We got into my Aunt and Uncles' new VW beetle and drove off.
I was sitting in the back seat between two adults, but I don't remember who they were. I don't remember who was driving, either. I assume the three adults were my Father and Mother and either an Aunt or an Uncle. There might have also been someone in the front passenger seat. But I do not remember.
I do remember looking down at the sky blue corduroy trousers I was wearing, that I hated, and being quite happy to see that parts of them were now dark purple. I think I remember hearing my mother crying, but I really do not remember. I think the VW Beetle was blue.
At the hospital, I remember my stained button down shirt being removed (also an item of clothing that I didn't like), and my white undershirt, which was now red, being cut off of me with large scissors, from the bottom to the top, to avoid having to pull it over my head.
I still don't think I had any idea of what was going on.
But I do still remember being wheeled on a trolley through the hospital. I didn't like it. A few years later, I remember seeing the movie Sisters with my parents (maybe at a drive in?). That movie came out in 1973, so I must've been 5, or maybe 6 if it was on a second string re-release (I was seeing horror movies at an early age). Even at that age I loved horror movies, but there was a scene in Sisters -- a hallucinatory/nightmare sequence of someone looking up from a gurney as they were wheeled through a hospital -- that really, really scared me. It reminded me exactly of my own trip through the hospital.
Because of my reaction to that scene, I have always thought Sisters to be a much scarier film than it actually is... And I think that was the only horror movie to truly scare me, albeit I was only 5 or 6 at the time.
What had happened was that my cousin had removed the rubber handlebar grips from his tricycle, leaving the exposed sawed off metal of the handlebars, and that sharp edge had gouged my forehead down to the bone.
I really liked having my head bandaged. It made me feel like Karloff in 'The Mummy' or like Claude Rains in 'The Invisible Man' -- two of my favorites that, even at that early age, I had already seen a few times, hosted by Dayton's "DR. CREEP" on the weekend afternoon horror movie TV matinees. But I do remember not liking the itching from the bandages.
The only picture I have of myself as a child is of me, lying on a blue shag-carpeted floor with what I believe is the JC Penny's Xmas toy catalog opened before me. I am looking into the camera, smiling hugely from underneath the bandages.