My older brother, one of my guardians growing up, seemed to have a preoccupation with perfection. I suppose that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it became annoying at times.
It was St. Patrick’s Day—junior high school, seventh grade. I enjoyed home economics and shop classes the best. I had my clothes all picked out for this festive day. I pulled on my taffy green stretch pants and wore a white and green candy stripe shirt to match. I was a green candy cane. I felt in the spirit of the day, as I ventured off to school.
After lunch, I head for metal shop to put the finishing touches on a small garden shovel that I made. I tap the circular handle into place so it’s good and tight. I set down the mallet and try to pull the shovel from the wooden work table. It’s stuck. When it will not dislodge, I take both of my hands and pull hard. The next thing I know, I’m feeling a sting near my eye. As I steady myself, I see that blood is beginning to drip down. I calmly walk up to the teacher and wait until he’s done with his conversation, but he takes notice of me out of the corner of his eye. He throws his hands up and says, “What happened?!”
“I’m bleeding. I couldn’t get my shovel out…”
He cuts me off. Asks if I’m ok. He immediately sends another student with me to go down to the nurse’s office. I keep looking down at the red that is mucking up my carefully chosen St. Patrick’s Day outfit, and now I will probably have to go home.
The nurse hands me a tissue. Next thing I remember is my brother has arrived to retrieve me. “Let me see,” he says. “Ah, man! Your gonna have a scar.” He may have asked if I was ok, how was I feeling, but those are the words I remember. All I heard was a reinforcement of his perfectionist ways and preoccupation with a clear surface—perfection taken too far. “We’ll need to stitch it up, but it’s not that bad,” he says.
“I don’t want stitches and no doctor. Can’t you just put a band aid on it?” I say.
He thanks the nurse and takes me home. The car ride home is quiet. I look out the window at the passing trees. I keep my tissue on the cut or did they tape some gauze on? That part is a blur. We deal with it. When we arrive home, my brother butterflies the cut closed with medical tape. If he is saying anything more about the cut, I’ve tuned out. We apply Vitamin E oil to help with scarring during the healing process.
I still have the scar. It’s not visually noticeable to someone else really, unless you look for it. But when I look at it, I feel lucky because it was so close to my eye and it could have been much worse. When the weather heats up, sometimes the scar becomes sensitive, and I can feel it—just a reminder of St. Patrick’s Day; my brother and his funny ways—lucky that he took care of me and loves me; how I don’t like going to doctors, even today—and how I like to handle things my way. It feels as though the spirit is still there, of a girl dressed in green—of a girl who handled the situation pretty well considering—and feels very lucky that on that day, her aim was off a little.