25 January 2012


My hair normally parts on the right. I have no choice in the matter, as a scar on my upper forehead dictates the style. This 25-year-old scar starts just below my hairline and is barely visible. Most of it is covered by hair, and the remainder is covered by bangs. I rarely think about it, until someone points out, ‘Hey! You have a scar on your forehead!’ And I’ll quickly offer a Coles Notes version of the story.

In a nutshell, I hit my head on a rock when I was on vacation in the Dominican Republic. And yes, I was sober. I was knee deep in water with my back to the ocean, and a large wave knocked me down. I went to a local doctor and got stitches.

Place Scar Here
‘Holy shit,’ Jim said, the first time he examined my big bald head, ‘that scar really is big.' I took a look in the mirror, and sans hair, could clearly see the line where the skin had been split open. Surprising! It was much bigger than I remembered. While only one inch is obvious, it’s actually three inches long.  But since only a Coles Notes version of my scar was visible, I’d subconsciously adjusted the size my story. Now that it was totally exposed, the story came back to me in its entirety.

After hitting my head on the rock, I ended up horizontal on the beach. Two people helped me sit up and tried to stop the bleeding. The friend who I was travelling with recalls looking up from her sunbathing to see me with two strangers, and assumed that I’d made some new friends. Shortly a little crowd gathered and someone ran to find a doctor. I knew my name, but I didn’t know much else. Then a gorgeous brown woman in a bikini came bursting through the crowd, carrying a ‘Julio Iglesias’ lunchbox. She quickly took control, opening the box and taking out bandages, gauze, and an antibiotic. Unfortunately her Julio Iglesias First Aid kit offered only temporary relief -  it was clear I needed to go to the hospital.

Some time later (I had no track of time), a pick-up truck came roaring down the beach. I was put on a lounge chair, which was hoisted onto the back of the truck. My friend (and kind strangers) took me to the closest medic, a gynecologist who operated a one-room clinic in town.

I remember looking up and seeing the doctor (I assumed he was a doctor) threading a needle with thick, black thread. I remember my friend, in her skimpy bathing suit, singing me a song in an attempt to jog my memory. And I remember the sound of the scissors as my hair was cut away from the wound. Once back in Toronto, my own doctor examined the stitches and said how lucky I was to have found a gynecologist, as he was probably the most capable with stitches.

But as I told Jim this story there were other things I would like to know. For instance, I would like to know who the people were that helped me, and especially the man was who drove me to the hospital. It must have taken four people to lift me into the truck I don’t know who any of them were.

The soft hairs are slowly coming in will soon cover my scar once again. I’m glad I had the chance to see it bare and unprotected. It’s easy to dismiss something when it’s invisible.

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