I love how unsuspecting people are when they play a game of scar wars with me. You know—the game where someone shows off their gnarly bike accident scar and then the whole room starts comparing scars. I usually hold back, start off slow with my skin cancer scar, or my busted knee scar, and then—WHAM—I pull up my shirt a bit and the whole room goes silent. It’s awesome, and I’ve learned to use it to my advantage over the years.
As a child, I would charge kids a quarter to see my scars, but now in hindsight I think the boys got a freebie when I would pull my entire shirt off. Wow, I was naïve. Girls and boys would line up, pay up, and freak out when I would display my zipper-clad chest. Some would scream “ewww” but most responded with, “COOL!”
In summertime, when clothes would come off and swimsuits were worn, people would sometimes stare. Sometimes they would ask me what my scars were from. I made up stories about how I got my scars:
“I got attacked by a shark when I was surfing—these holes (chest tube holes) are from its teeth!”
“I used to belong to a gang and one night we got attacked by another gang; they shot me up and cut me down my chest with a knife!”
“I grew up in the circus and was in charge of training the tigers.”
I wasn’t a pathological liar. I just liked to have fun with an otherwise not-so-fun situation.
In college I went to a party with a theme titled “What would you do for a dollar?” Everyone paid $20 to get 100 monopoly dollars and then throughout the night you would bet/beg/perform to get money from other people. The player with the most money at the end of the night won the real $300 pot. As the evening wound down there were only two people left: me and another young lady. She started to give guys lap dances for money, and I knew if I didn’t act quickly I would lose the whole game!
So I thought back to my schoolyard days and I enticed most of the guys in line for their lap dances to spend their money on me and my amazing scars instead. I kept my peep show PG-13 and coolness ultimately outsold sexiness, resulting in $300 in my pocket!
Sure, my scars have caused me to have insecurities, especially as a teenager, but ultimately they make me who I am. I do admit to occasionally “covering up” my zipper for a fancy evening, but that’s only because I want the focus to be on me and not my congenital heart disease—but never because I’m ashamed or embarrassed.
Just like our individual defects, every scar we wear is unique and a testament to our struggle. It’s a map of our fight, showing the roads we’ve been down and all we live for today. It ultimately takes us from ordinary to extraordinary in moments, and if you’re really inventive, it might even make you some money!
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