My Scar Stories


I Can’t Help Myself

As a result of my regular self-disfigurements, Mom and Dad began keeping a closer watch on me. But then I was set free by the most reckless device known to boy: A Bike!

We lived in a hilly suburb that facilitated lots of bike-flying. First it was No Hands, then Steering with the Feet, and finally Standing on the Seat! Yet, despite my reckless two-wheeled exploits, I got nothing worse than bruised limbs and bloody toes (my toes had so many mouth-like little splits I could have staged a muppet show). Until one day…

Dad was a newspaper dealer, so I acquired a paper route at the ripe young age of 9. To commemorate the gig, I was given a black Schwinn Wasp with heavy duty shock absorbers. I rubber-banded my transistor radio to the butterfly handlebars, and away I flew!

My glide down those suburban slopes was made even more rapturous by riding close to the curb at one particular corner so I could raft my bare foot through the lush, damp ivy. It was weird and refreshing all at the same time!

Unbeknownst to me, however, the uber-gardener who resided there had upgraded from old-fashioned hose watering to that marvel of 60s lawn care, the automated RainBird system. How it works: heavy duty steel sprinkler heads pop up from nowhere, saying, “Chicka-chicka-chicka-chicka–pppptttttthhhhhtttttt!” as they spray arcs of aqua pura across the yard. Mavelous. And lethal.Rainbird

It was a torrid July day. I got as close as I could to the corner and slid my foot into the cool thicket when an alien object suddenly popped up like a u-boat conning tower! “Chicka-chicka-chicka-chicka—CRACK!” My blue-jeaned shin struck the evil vessel with full torpedo force!

“Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!” I shouted as I rounded the corner. The devious device had completely ripped open the bottom ten inches of my new blues.

I figured I’d have a black-and-blue shin for a week. But the news waits for no boy, so I pushed up the volume on my radio to drown out the pain and pedaled on. My favorite song came on, “I Can’t Help Myself” by the Four Tops. My shin was smarting, so I sang at the top of my lungs: “Sugar fried honey buns…”

A moment later, a man at another corner yelled, “Stop, kid!” As I braked, he ran up and pulled back my torn pantleg. My shin was a miniature Rio Grande, gouged open all the way to the bone, flowing red from the Colorado of my knee the Mexico of my foot.

“Tell me your phone number!” the man commanded.

Mom picked me up fifteen minutes later. As we were leaving, the man said, “And it’s ‘Sugar Pie Honeybunch,’ not ‘Sugar Fried Honeybuns’”!

Really? All I could think about on the way to the E.R. was how embarrassed I was…

About getting those lyrics wrong.

To read my next Scar Story, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to My Scar Stories

  1. Your story is an amazing reference point. How many kids would be out riding as you were in these days, and what man would have ordered you to stop, and, today, would you have stopped as a kid? Great memory – and I just saw the Four Tops performing “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” at a festival Saturday night. Cheers

    Liked by 2 people

  2. barbigelow says:

    My friend grew up thinking the song #Bernadette was Burn to Death!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is one big difference between the two of us – I never, ever sang at the top of my lungs. Also I didn’t have a paper route, I mowed lawns instead. However, I did have my share of trips to the ER and never got song lyrics rights.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t remember if I have already shared this story with you: when he was a young teen, my youngest son, whom I had nicknamed Dennis the Menace ( amongst other things) was visiting his girlfriend who lived 45 minutes away from us.
    I received a call from her mother that evening informing me that my son had had “a bit” of an accident. He had tripped on the front step ( the porch light wasn’t on) as he was going into the house and fell through the glass front door.
    The mom told me that they had cleaned him up a bit, wrapped a towel around his arm and taken him to the hospital.
    When I asked her if it was serious enough for us to come down she told me that she didn’t think so but it was up to us.
    After stewing about it for a few minutes, I decided to call the hospital myself to find out what his status was. When the doctor came to the phone, he told me that we should definitely come. That was the longest and fastest 45 minute drive of my life!
    When we got to the hospital we were taken in to see my son, who was covered with blood, in shock and woozy because he had been given something for pain.
    The doctor told us that my son had severe lacerations to the backs of both his upper arms (he had raised his arms to cover his face when he fell through the glass – thank God!) He had basically impaled his upper arms on the glass and in his shocked reaction had pulled himself off the glass slicing away tissue leaving gaping gouges.
    His “a bit” of an accident required at least 87 stitiches! Because a number of them were not clean slices but were in fact missing tissue, the suture lines were not nice and straight.
    When my son finally had the stitches removed, great, pink scars, like giant, fat earthworms snaked across the backs of his arm.
    I felt so bad for him and asked him if the resulting disfigurment was bothering him mentally and/or emotionally. He turned to me, smiled his impish smile, and with a glint in his eye said, “No way! They make for a really cool story to tell at school!”
    He is thirty years old now, has gained a few more scars, but wears each one of them with the same impish smile, glint in his eye and pride in his heart. LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Pingback: My Scar Stories | Mitch Teemley

  6. ekurie says:

    Goes totally against my ethics of motherhood to “like” a story of childhood pain but so glad someone cleared up a 4Tops classic for you,

    Liked by 1 person

  7. knabbler says:

    Ah, Mitch – I was always good with lyrics, but my bike landed me in the ER numerous times. In fact, it’s the main reason my nose doesn’t look like anyone else’s in my family. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Your poor Mom!! : )
    Once, long, long ago, my son was caught racing a semi on the 4 lane (the biggest highway
    in our area). Seems the babysitter fell asleep while my husband and I were at work. Forgot to mention, my boy was 4 and on his first 2 wheeler. I was a service assistant at the phone company (prior to my career in the steel industry). We had a police scanner in the office and I heard the call on the scanner. The truck driver called the police on his radio (thank the Lord!). That was about 40 years before they had child endangerment laws (thank the Lord, again.) I did manage to get home about the same time the policeman (a friend of the family) delivered child and bike to our home. The boy and the babysitter were privy to a looooooong talk that evening.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jennie says:

    That is one great story! And you didn’t know the words to one of the best songs ever?? (just kidding). Good thing your neighbor helped you out, with your leg and the words to the song. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. nancyehead says:

    Aaahhh. Made me laugh out loud! Sugar fried honey buns! That’s great.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ah…lyrics…my husband thought Paul Simon was saying he had a nice chrome camera, and my daughter thought we said “All men” at the end of the Lord’s Prayer…you can imagine I corrected that perception as quickly as possible :).

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Really like this one. We all have those times of “?What?” lyrics

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Mitch, really? How embarrassing, “sugar fried honeybuns!” Bwahahahaha!!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Ron Whited says:

    Oh man, Mitch! This post resonates with me in a major way. Growing up as an Ohio country boy I spent countless hours on my bike exploring the fields and streams along the back roads of the county. I used to play “chicken” with the dump truck drivers as I coasted down a long hill, often crossing over into their lane just to see the look on their faces! It was all good fun until one of them got tired of it and swerved toward me,missing me by inches. Never did that again!

    Of course, nothing could stop my friends and I from going as fast as we could down that same hill,blowing through the T intersection at the bottom ,across the road, and right into the river!

    How I miss those carefree days! Thanks for the memories!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. hahaha, Really chuckled at this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. gwennonr says:

    So glad you survived this. Listening to people’s stories, I sometimes find myself surprised that any boy survives his childhood. Back in high school, a boy named Tim regaled several of us with stories about the messes he and his two brothers got into, including (but not limited to) one incident in which he found himself hanging upside down by his toes from a chain-link fence, and another unfortunate circumstance in which he found himself somehow trapped inside a hide-a-bed couch. It was enough to make me very glad to have only daughters. Then my husband and I had a son. From the time he was able to walk, our son was launching himself off of chairs, couches, piano benches –any convenient launch pad–hurting himself just long enough to slow down, then recovering sufficiently to start the whole process over again. My husband, a very tough man, shook his head and told me, “It’s a good thing we didn’t have the boy first: we just weren’t ready for this!” He got himself into more medical troubles than his three sisters (who fought constantly, but managed not to hurt themselves) combined, and I credit many of our ventures into natural healing to our desperation to be able to treat at least a few of his emergencies at home.

    Liked by 1 person

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