Head Case
by Philip Marion

In my childhood, my head sustained numerous injuries of every tone and timbre. Although only a few of the accidents left permanent scars, the litany of damage is worth recounting in full.

The first incident that I can remember happened one summer’s day when I was eight. At that time my parents had a gargantuan weeping willow in the front yard which I loved to play beneath. (This tree would eventually be struck down by hurricane Gloria and crush the roof of my grandfather’s burgundy Pinto.) I was playing with some action figures in the thick roots of the willow, when I heard a screech from the branches above. I looked up and saw a dark shape flying down at me. This plummeting beast dug its claws into the back of my neck to save itself from the impending crash. I felt a hot rush of pain splitting my shoulder blades, and then I fainted. When I woke up I was in a hospital, in a gurney, with the aroma of bubblegum in my nostrils. The doctor told me I was going to be all right, the cat that had landed on me was neither sick nor infected. He put a stuffed animal in my hands and patted me on the head. My parents smiled beatifically. I still have a jagged streak at the back of my neck and I have worn my hair long since in an attempt to cover to cover the mark.

The next incident took place at a local Elk’s Club one town over. I was a cub scout and was about to make that important next step toward being a boy scout. It was a transitory position known as the Webelos. I was ten years old and anxiously awaiting my new title and the iron-on badges that would display it to all. At the end of the ceremony, I was standing on the stage and horsing around with my friends. One of the younger “cub” scouts came barreling out from behind the black curtain and knocked me from the stage. I landed head-first on the marble floor and cracked my skull about 30 stitches worth. My parents leaped over many tables of snacks to rescue me. I wore a bandage as big as a turban for weeks afterwards which elicited endless teasing.

(A year later I fell head-long into a metal spike while flying a kite, but the tight focus of the injury required only ten stitches. I easily could have died, though. Three years later I was chasing a girl around during recess when I fell from a brick wall onto my face, which required me to wear braces for 2 years afterwards. I believe I may have unusually heavy gravity in my cranium).

The winter of that same year I found myself at a new friend's house, delighted that he had a sloping yard that was perfect for kamikaze sledding. I lay on my stomach in my red plastic toboggan and smiled with glee as I shot face first into a snow-covered rock. My chin required 6 stitches, and there is still a small triangular patch where I do not need to shave. It was in that same yard, a summer later, that a neighbor boy threw a handful of stones at my face, pocking my forehead permanently.

Not surprisingly, there are just as many head trauma stories that I have chosen to omit. Had I the inclination to shave my head, you would see all the scars arranged like the surface of some alien world. It’s true, I am a clumsy person, and I even have been bestowed nicknames relative to my demeanor. I hope these tales have been amusing, and indicate how bodily damage can become a kind of hobby.

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