I was wearing one of my very favorite dresses in my second-grade photo. It was a light-gauge knit in a combination of navy blue and what back then was called harvest gold.
My hair was cut in a shag. My mom’s best friend, Mizz Judy cut it in a perfect replica of TV mom Carol Brady. For those not familiar with the style, it was short and layered in the front, and long and flipped up in the back.
It wasn’t quite a mullet (business in the front, party in the back). It was more “funny business in the front and PTA mom in the back.
The photo from the tenth grade is a self-portrait (OMG-it was a selfie. Yuck!). I’m wearing jeans, a huge gray fisherman’s sweater, and standing in front of the mirror in our guest bathroom.
I’m taking the shot with my Konika TC camera, which hides most of my face.
The two pictures have something very odd in common.
The face that was wearing the shag haircut was one large, weeping scab. Almost all of the skin had been abraded and was in the process of healing.
In the later photo, if you look closely around the camera, it too is more scab than skin. It looked like it had been on the wrong end of an electric belt sander.
In both cases the culprit was asphalt.
One weekend when I was in high school, a friend, Billy Winston came over for a visit on his new motorcycle. I asked him if I could go for a ride. After a short lesson, he sent me on my way.
I wanted to speed up. Billy told me to get into second gear.
Unfortunately, he neglected to tell me that you shouldn’t accelerate and shift gears at the same time.
Because if you do those two things at the same time, you begin performing a stunt referred to as, “popping wheelies”.
The motorcycle and I parted ways.
I landed face down on the street, and the bike was on its side. It had a few scratches, but my face was a mess. Dad scooped me up and we headed to the emergency room.
Back a few years at Central Elementary, our gym teacher had a new game for us called Brownies & Fairies. At some point in the game, the two teams face off and run at each other like the blue guys versus the British in Braveheart.
The very first step I took, I tripped and face-planted onto our black-topped playground. I was then trampled by thirty-five second-graders. It was like a cheese grater. The majority of the skin on my mug was left on the asphalt.
The elementary school nurse washed my face and painted it with mercurochrome, a disinfectant which left me with a rosy-orange stain all over my kisser. She then called Mom to come collect me.
At the ER after my motorcycle wreck, I was immediately given a tetanus shot. Then the nurse entered with a basin of soapy water and a stack of gauze. She explained that hundreds of tiny bits of asphalt were stuck in my wounds. If each and every piece wasn’t scrubbed out, they would remain, as little black bumps all over my face—forever.
I’d just been flung onto the street, face first and given that most painful of inoculations; the tetanus. I hurt.
But in my fifteen years on the planet, I had never experienced pain like I felt when she scrubbed my scraped and oozing kisser.
And it was all because of that darn asphalt.
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