Monday, December 26, 2011

Boring Scars

I’m very self-conscious about the cripple scars I have on my body. I don’t like talking about them because they’re so damn boring.

There’s one on the back of my left calf. It’s been there forever. I don’t remember how it got there. My mother said it’s from when doctors took a muscle biopsy when I was a baby so they could diagnose why I was crippled.

See what I mean? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. There’s no wild and crazy Purple Heart cripple story behind that scar. That’s the problem when you’re like me and the only thing you had to do to become crippled was get born. The only scar I have to show for that is my navel. Big deal. Everybody’s got one of those. And the story of how it got there is always the same. You’ve only got a crazy story if you don’t have one.

But when some cripples talk about how they got their most prominent scars, the audience is riveted, especially when everybody’s drunk. It’s often a story of great adventure. I knew a guy who claimed he became a quad because he wiped out on a luge while preparing for the Olympics. I heard another guy swear up and down that he was the “agony of defeat” skier they showed wiping out every week at the beginning of the TV show “Wide World of Sports.” That’s how he became crippled, he said. Sometimes the story behind a cripple scar has a comic twist. Like maybe somebody wiped out skiing, but it was cross-country skiing. They swerved to avoid a chipmunk or something like that. I know a guy who broke his neck diving into water. That’s a boring vanilla account, except he and others were celebrating the end of their college final exams by skinny dipping in a quarry. So when he was pulled out of the water, he and his rescuers were all in their birthday suits.

So when other cripples throw around war stories about their scars, I feel crushingly inadequate, like a 35-year-old virgin at a party where everyone’s drunk and bragging about their sexual exploits. My mind races to find a way to exit inconspicuously before they call on me.

The winning cripple scar story I’ve heard was about this paraplegic guy I knew back when. He didn’t have a scar per se. It was a tire track. As the story went, this guy was at a drunken kegger barbecue party in a big open field. He stated making out with a woman and things got hot and heavy so they went to the other side of a grassy hill so they could have oral sex in privacy. Shortly thereafter, another partier left the kegger and he drove his pickup truck over the grassy hill and when he got to the other side he made a startling discovery. And that, allegedly, is how the paraplegic guy became a paraplegic. He got run over while in the throes of ecstasy. And to this day he had a tire track embedded across his back to prove it. Allegedly.

I never heard this story from the man himself. Other cripples whispered about it. They said if you asked him about it he’d show you his tire track. But I never got up the nerve. I feared maybe these other smart ass cripples made it all up and then snickered and placed bets on how long it would take me to ask the guy if I could see his tire track. I wouldn’t put it past them to do that.


  1. I guess this is a great example of how roses are redder on the other side of the fence. I have three sets of thorocotomy scars that run from the right side of my belly button, under my left arm and end just past my left shoulder blade. (Think Pop-n-Fresh Dough can on a human torso and you'll get the picture.) I also have several medial sternotomy scars where they cracked me open down the center like a lobster. Believe me, I have great stories for each of them! But, I have always had a secret wish that I was in a wheel chair. Obviously, my clothes cover my scars and I only have a slight limp. Outwardly I don't look like a cripple at all, despite being certified as one by the US government! If I was in a wheelchair, people wouldn't look at me angrily when I park in the handicapped spaces!

  2. You are one heck of a good time!!! Love your posts!

  3. As a quad, I too have heard my share of fabulous how-I-got-to-be-crippled stories. The best was one I heard 3rd hand. Apparently this soldier was flying his jet back to a carrier during Vietnam. The jet malfunctioned and he could no longer control it, so he ejected and let it crash into the sea. Home free, right? Not so fast. As he was descending, a radio antennae from the still moving aircraft carrier caught him square on the spine, and he floated to the deck of the ship at the commander's feet, a newly crowned C-6 quad.

  4. I've heard the 'other side of the grassy hill" story as "other side of a sand dune". Seems mostly urban legend to me. My favorite story from a young para: A 40-something woman from her church was giving my friend a ride home. Driving down a highway divided by a large, grassy area (common here in California), the woman had a massive epileptic seizure. My friend screamed while the woman drove across the divider and head-first into a car with a 77 year old daughter driving her 95+ year old parents out for a Sunday drive. Everyone except the epileptic driver was severely injured. When the police arrived, the driver said the accident was caused by my now-newly-paralyzed friend screaming.

  5. I have had 3 brain surgeries. I have a scar on my stomach to prove it.They just cut the same spot for each surgery. I was confused about this at first.

  6. I look like the game "Operation" when I'm naked and people come at me with electric tongs just like in the game, too. I should charge them five bucks a pop.