If you look closely enough at anyone, you are going to find scars. I don’t care how smooth and fine their skin may be, everyone has one scar. Most go unnoticed by anyone other than the bearer. Some look everyone you know in the eye on a daily basis. Some people are proud of theirs, and some people can’t stand theirs, but they’re still there. And barring plastic surgery, it’s always going to be there. But a scar is more than just an abrasion in one’s skin. A scar tells a story.
“I put my hand on the oven when I was four.”
“I got shot here during the war.”
“I missed my mouth while eating cereal and managed to cut my lip with a spoon.”
There’s always a story. As a matter of fact, a scar is both a story and a lesson. I would go so far as to say that everything you know could even be referred to as microscopic scars in your brain (or even your heart) that are branded in from life lessons, repetition or, in many of my cases, trial and error.
“Don’t touch hot things. They hurt.” (Trial and error)
“It hurts a lot less to get shot in a video game than in real life.” (Life lessons)
“You’re a moron. How do you cut your mouth with a spoon? Have you never done this before?” (Repetition)
But I feel like not everyone should have to touch a stove to learn it’s hot, or get shot to realize getting shot sucks. Have I ever been shot? No. No, I have not. But I think it’s safe to say, “yes, getting shot sucks.” (If deemed necessary by the three people who will actually read this, I can go do a face to face interview with my grandpa who has several purple hearts, just let me know if I this is necessary.) The bottom line is that, as a collective species, if we all learned from each other’s mistakes, we would have so many less problems that it would astonish us. Less scars for everyone! High-fives all around! (There would also be way less high-fours because less people would be missing digits.)
So, here is the plan… I did a recap. I stared at myself in the mirror completely naked for 45 minutes (I had to do my research here), and after being thoroughly disappointed by my abundance of body hair, freakishly white skin tone and lack of muscle definition (especially for a skinny guy), I managed to see the scars that give me some of my best life lessons that I will pass on to you. Brace yourself, as you are going to learn the top five most valuable lessons that I have to offer you, directly from my scars themselves. I will be listing them in order of importance (least important to most important). So let these lessons brand themselves into your brain and learn them well.
Lesson 5: Never permit your three-year-old sibling to cut your hair. Even if you are only a few months old.
I am the younger of two children in my family. My sister, Danielle, is three years and 27 days older than I am. She was a child prodigy in the hair artistry world. At the ripe age of three and a half, she opened her own hair salon. Infantile Roy (or, Really Lil’ Roy) apparently consented to being her first ever customer. (Really, it’s all a little hazy. I was hitting the baby formula hard those days. I have since joined a Baby Formula Anonymous club and have been clean for almost 23.5 years now). I am not going to lie to you, I have no idea how many snips were taken, but I estimate that there was exactly one snip. Unfortunately it touched zero hair, and all ear. I now have a small chunk missing from my right ear and always have. I have since learned my lesson, and won’t let it happen again.
Lesson 4: Do not participate in “Rock Wars.”
I know what you are thinking. “Rock War? Does that really need a lesson to never participate in again?” Yes. Yes it does. You see, Lil’ Roy (see “Lil’ Roy Goes to Kindergarten”) had very few friends his whole life. He could have been the talk of the town from day one had he kept letting his fashion guru sister cut his hair, but instead he was a goofy looking outcast. Terry the Bounty Hunter (his dad) realized this, and decided to take action.
Jay, the leader of the pack of kids that always picked on Lil’ Roy, was recruited to be Roy’s friend. As he was the oldest and biggest kid around, it made sense that it would almost be a form of protection for Roy to befriend him. It was a highly more innocent (and forced) form of those guys in prison who dress like women and offer “favors” to the biggest guy in their cellblock in return for protection. Only “favors” were more like he was welcome to come play video games whenever he wanted. Unfortunately, this also gave twelve-year-old Jay plenty of time alone with five-year-old Roy. This essentially meant that Jay did whatever he wanted, picked on Roy, monopolized all of the cool toys, and forced Roy to do things he didn’t want to do.
One day, while the two of them were in the back yard, Jay began to throw miscellaneous objects at Lil’ Roy in a less than playful manner. Roy tried to return the assault, but that just made it worse seeing as how most five-year-olds throw like… well, five-year-olds. It was at this point, from twenty feet away, Jay decided to escalate things. Jay picked up a rock and exclaimed, “Let’s have a rock war!” Defenseless Lil’ Roy was standing motionless in the grass while Jay was by the one and only bed of rocks in the yard. Even at five, he knew he didn’t like the sounds of a rock war one bit. Scurrying to look for a rock, Lil’ Roy objected to the proposal, but to no avail. A 3” rock was hurled rapidly toward him and, like a man who had just been picked off from a mile out by a sniper, he dropped and began bleeding profusely from the forehead. Two inches above his eye (and from being blinded for life) there was a large gash spewing copious amounts of dark red fluid. And it was not cranberry juice. While blood flowed from the wound, a manly battle cry (that definitely didn’t sound anything like a dying pig/hyena hybrid) emitted from his mouth.
TTBH who had been sleeping inside when the crime went down, ran to the rescue, demanded they go to the hospital to get stitches and heroically ripped a bright blue strip of clean towel he found in the dryer (with blatant disregard for the fact that it was one of his wife’s good towels) and wrapped it around the boy’s head. He looked strikingly like Leonardo from his favorite show at the time, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (see Lesson 2). And he definitely wasn’t still making that high-pitch, blood curdling screaming--- Err… I mean manly battle cry, anymore. His lesson had been learned. He made a mental note to never participate in a rock war again.
Lesson 3: If a dog looks like he may be interested in biting your hand, move it before he does.
When I was three, my sister and I had a day care we used to go to. To be perfectly honest, I can’t remember many specifics to this lesson. But I think that speaks volumes for the point I am trying to drive home here. I managed to learn a lesson and remember it forever, despite not remembering much else from the exchange. I remember I was small. I remember that this woman had a small wiener dog. I also remember a very awkward exchange between the dog and I where I stood and stared at it. It stared back at me. I had always been slightly afraid of it, and apparently with good reason. This dog could smell my three-year-old fear. It probably smelled slightly like a dirty diaper. Or a lot like a dirty diaper. Again, the specifics are lacking here. Finally, after this monumentally long The Good, The Bad and The Ugly stare down (I was The Good, the dog was The Bad and The Ugly) this dog waddled itself at me ferociously and bit my dangling hand which fit conveniently inside it’s mouth. I still have a scar on the back of my hand. On this day, I learned to trust my instincts and not stand there like a moron.
Lesson 2: Don’t play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles inside.
When I was younger, I was fascinated by things that spun, twirled, or moved quickly. It was fascinations like these that lead me to break essentially everything my father owned up until I was around the age of ten. This particular lesson was learned on a day when I discovered that my bike lock made an awesome swingy thing. Awesome enough to convince myself that I was now an honorary member of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT), which were my idols at the time. I wasn’t a teenager. I wasn’t a mutant (that I knew of). I was definitely not a ninja. And I was absolutely not a turtle. And yeah, I had no nunchucks, sais, swords or a bow staff, but I did have what I believed could be of infinite value to the clan. A grappling hook! (Again, it wasn’t a grappling hook, it was a bike lock. One of those long cord ones with the little combo piece on the end of it.)
Now don’t get let yourself get caught up in the fact that the TMNT had little or no, (mostly no) use for a seven-year-old Anthony Michael Hall look alike. Or, that even if they did, they already all seemed to have grappling hooks whenever they needed them. Just know that this boy would surely prove immensely value to the team with his dashing looks, flaming red hair and uncanny ability to swing that bike cha--- I mean grappling hook around like no ones business. If you wanted him to swing it like a helicopter… bam, consider it done. You want him to swing it diagonally? Phh, no problem. He’s got you covered. You want him to swing it up and down like a fan? Check this out --- *SMASH*
I had hopped up onto the living room table in incredibly acrobatic fashion and shattered the chandelier above me. That wasn’t the real problem. The real problem was that a large shard of glass used the wonderful force of gravity to propel itself downward and lodge itself into my ankle. Instantly, I became a fugitive. I rushed into my room with a paper towel and sat and bled all over it until I was found and taken to the hospital to be stitched up again.
Of course, I got all the blame. Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, Raphael and gravity all managed to get off scot-free. But I learned a valuable lesson. I would like to say “I haven’t done this again ever since,” but that would be a bold faced lie. I was fantasizing about being a TMNT until I was at least 20.
Lesson 1: Under no circumstance should you ever attempt to blow dry a cat.
Really, this should be more like lessons 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 … 1.100. That’s the number of scars I have from this lesson. And it’s precisely why it’s on the top of the list of wisdom I am passing down to you.
At age six, I hated bathing. It wasn’t fun. I mean, come on… You sit in a bath tub, soaking in your own filth for twenty minutes, touching gross slimy soap bars and potentially getting shampoo in your eyes (side note: add bubbles and I was so there it wasn’t even funny) (side note to side note: I am not sure, but I am not ruling out that I am probably much the same today. Bubble baths were awesome). What was so great that I could be doing instead of bathing? Playing. TMNTs, GI Joes, Legos, video games… All were great fun. So every now and then I would spice up bath time. I would toss a couple action figures or Lego boats in there and have a blast. I would just play until I looked like a raisin. But even still, the toys eventually all run their course. They can’t remain appealing forever (and believe me, I wish they did. I would have so many TMNT right now…) something’s gotta give.
Bath time arrived one day and I went to get in the tub and who follows me into the bathroom? Misty, our gray cat. Entertainment. Naturally, I immediately shut the door and trapped this unsuspecting animal in the bathroom with me. She would be my companion for this round of bathing excitement. To my delight (and surprise), I set her in the six inches of water I had in the tub without any sort of problem. She didn’t kick, claw or meow. She just sat there. She almost seemed to like it. So I bathed, she sat. I shampooed her and she seemed okay with it. All went fabulously. This was great; I finally had companionship in the bathroom.
I unplugged the drain, hopped out and dried off. This is when it hit me that a towel isn’t going to be enough to get this cat completely dry. I did everything in my power to get her as dry as possible and just couldn’t do it. My parents were not going to be happy about a wet cat running around the house. Thinking fast, I looked under the sink. Bingo! Hair dryer. Without hesitation (or thought), a completely naked damp six-year-old Roy plugged this hair dryer in and, holding the cat up with one hand and the hair dryer with the other, he flipped the switch to “On.”
Never have I seen anything so displeased with what was happening. After approximately .2865 seconds of blow-drying time Misty performed a flip out of my hand and simultaneously scratched every square inch of my body. It was spectacular. Completely shocked at how rapidly she went from “cool and calm” to “oh-my-God-get-me-the-hell-out-of-here-before-I-unleash-the-fury-of-1,000-suns” mode, I opened the door and she scurried out. None of these sounds (the bath, the blow dryer, the commotion or the manly battle cry that immediately followed) escaped my mother who happened to be in the kitchen. She ran to the bathroom to be faced by a locked bathroom door, on the other side of which was a very naked boy who must have had 100 cat scratches all over his body; all of which were transforming from red marks to puffed up bloody lines before his very eyes.
That was a lot of fun to explain. So much in fact that I decided to never do it again.
Please learn from these lessons. Don’t make these words be written in vain.