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Keeping Them in Stitches

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Little J. stood by me at  the clinic—but then he saw the blood.   By Hannah Wallace   My Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em tomboy childhood (and, well, adulthood, too) has left me with loads of scar stories to tell. Despite the idiocy revealed in these stories, I’ll readily explain how I got the line through […]

June 18, 2007


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Little J. stood by me at  the clinic—but then he saw the blood.
 
By Hannah Wallace
 
My Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em tomboy childhood (and, well, adulthood, too) has left me with loads of scar stories to tell. Despite the idiocy revealed in these stories, I’ll readily explain how I got the line through my eyebrow (1985, potted plant attack) or the various patterns on my knee (2003, ACL reconstruction). But the story behind the scar on my chin (2001, face plant extravaganza) is one of my favorites—partly because I wasn’t the only casualty:
 
Years before I started playing hockey, some friends and I went ice skating in Ellenton, taking the advantage of the nearly deserted rink to go a little crazy. Mid-stunt and before I knew it, the ice jumped up and clocked me.
 
I lay there dazed for a minute, trying to collect myself (hoping my jaw was still in one piece), and through my stupor could make out the sound of the guys trying to stifle laughter at the sight of such a spectacular swan dive attempted into frozen water. Then one of them pointed out, “Uh, you’re bleeding.”
 
Dammit, blood is so embarrassing.
 
I did my best to laugh it off, holding my T-shirt to my chin as I headed for the bathroom. The gash looked gruesome in the mirror—still more embarrassing than painful, but a defeat nonetheless. A little girl in a figure skater’s outfit silently handed me a band aid. (Aww. So, so sweet.) Bandaged, I went back to the ice in the hopes of salvaging some of my dignity with a display of nonchalant toughness.
 
Later that afternoon, I showed my father the damage. “You need stitches,” he said. Dammit dammit dammit. I wanted never to speak of this fiasco again; now I was going to spend the coming weeks explaining the sutures in my face.
 
As it turned out, I’d have a much better reason to tell the story.
 
I dragged Little J along with me to a walk-in clinic on 301. With no other patients in sight, we had the full attention of the staff. Little J meandered back to the exam area and propped himself up against a wall. I was situated on a table, head back, chin aimed upward at a blinding light, told to hold still while the doctor readied a tray of instruments.
 
A nurse offered Little J a chair. “No, thank you,” he said. “I’m going to watch.”
 
Stuck in that uncomfortable position that left me blind to the whole room, I endured a round of Novocain shots. Suddenly I heard the sound of the tray—instruments and all—clatter to the ground, and I was certain the doctor had just stumbled into his own equipment. I chuckled at the accident.
 
No one laughed with me.
 
Instead, I heard the abrupt, half-shouts of the doctor and nurses: “Oh, hey, easy, ok, get his legs…” Waaaait a minute, I thought, feeling suddenly abandoned. I’m the one who’s bleeding here.
 
Yeah, Little J had totally fainted. Beefed it face first, taking out the instrument tray with his nose on his way down. The exam room acrobatics so thoroughly topped my face plant that my embarrassment subsided entirely. Such a good friend. We were stuck in the clinic an extra 20 minutes while he got stitches of his own.
 
It’s really the best possible ending to a scar story: “If you think that’s bad, you should see the other guy.”