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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Things that Scar Us

There is a story, about a bad little boy who learned to be good. I am going to paraphrase because I don’t remember the exact story but you will get the idea.

*****

There was once a bad little boy. His father trying to help his son see the error of his ways hung a board in the boys room.

“Son” he said “For every bad thing you do I am going to put a thumbtack in the board, however for every good thing you do we will take a thumbtack off of the board.”

And so a short time later father and son stood in front of the board covered in thumbtacks and the boy was upset. The father encouraged his son to do good and work at getting all the thumbtacks out. So over the next weeks a great change came over the little boy and day after day the thumbtacks were removed one good deed at a time. Until one day when father and son stood in front of the board there wasn’t one single thumbtack left.

The father beaming a big smile of pride looked at his son and was surprised that his little boys face was covered in tears.

“Son” the father said “Whatever is wrong, why are you crying. All the thumbtacks are removed, you have been such a good little boy. You should be happy.”

But the little boy shook is head. “Yes, father. All the thumbtacks are gone and that makes me very happy. However look at all the holes.

*****

One day in junior high I was running late for school. Rather than take the time to eat breakfast I just grabbed an orange as I ran for the bus stop. On the way to school as I chatted with my friends I peeled the orange and ate my breakfast.

My first hour in school was art that semester. Art of course was my favorite class and I remember being happy that day. At least I was happy until I overheard the girl next to me saying something nasty about how I smelled like oranges and that maybe she needs a bath. Of course I was clean, of course I had taken a shower that morning, and she was just being mean and spiteful about an orange smell for Pete’s sake. But none of that mattered to me, the damage was done.

She never knew I overheard her. I was mortified. I immediately requested to go to the nurse’s office and there I remained all period. I scrubbed my hands, I washed out my mouth and then I didn’t eat another orange for years. That scar took a long time to quazi heal.

I eat oranges now, but it is never just me eating an orange just for the pleasure of eating an orange. I cannot help but remember the horror I felt that day. Immediately after I eat my orange I have to go scrub my hands and brush my teeth. Like a strange compulsion I cannot help it. An orange will always remind me of the day I wasn’t “clean” enough.

*****

As a teen I was always self conscious about my skin. I had acne, I had a ton of it, and it always made me self conscious. If I could have changed anything about my teenage years I would have changed my skin. I know we are our own worse critics but I really hated my skin and wished for a smooth complexion.

What’s funny is that Mrs. Ivey, a friend I have known since fifth grade, doesn’t remember me ever having bad skin. I just spoke to her about the subject of this post a few days ago and she honestly has never thought of me as someone with acne.

I get compliments sometimes on my strongest qualities and of course we all love compliments. But those compliments I get now about my skin mean more to me than any other compliment. Maybe because I have such an ugly memory of my skin from so long ago, maybe those scars just run deep, but I get a warm glow every time someone gives me a compliment.

*****

The moral of the story is to be kind, you never know what you say will or what you will do that will end up becoming someone else’s scar. And the way to my heart is to compliment my skin... or give me cupcakes.

1 comment:

paul peggy zeus said...

You've always had amazing skin, darling. A few pimples here and there. You should have seen some of my family as teenagers, acne that scarred their face with potholes for life.

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