Tina got her scar when she was in kindergarten and a stranger cut her face with a knife in the alley behind her house. I acquired mine in much less dramatic fashion, unless you consider being cut by my parents' coffee table dramatic. Mom insists that it didn't even look like a bad cut and that the doctor was unimpressed and didn't bother with stitches. The result is that I have an inch-long white scar above the left side of my lip. It doesn't even really show up in pictures unless I do an unflattering extreme close-up. Voila!
It is noticeable in real life, but I only remember a couple of times when someone asked me about it. When I was in law school, a guy cornered me when I was studying in the library. "I have something really important to ask you," he said. I was thinking it would be something like, "What's a tort?" or "Why are we wasting the best years of our lives in this soul-sucking endeavor?" But, his question was: "Did you get that scar on your face from running through a sliding glass door?" It was such an oddly specific question, like when the Girl asked me whether Mitt Romney did the voice of the Cat the animated Cat in the Hat cartoon.
When I was about eight and bored, I started pestering Dad about my scar. I said something like, "I wish I didn't have this scar. If I didn't have this scar I would be so much prettier." I think I was looking for attention, because I really didn't think that it made me less pretty or care much about the scar at all. I couldn't see it on a day-to-day basis and no one seemed repulsed or horrified by it, so I just didn't give it much thought. Dad was reading the New York Times and clearly didn't feel like dealing with my faked complaints. "Well," he said without looking away from his article, "some really beautiful women have one thing about them that might detract from their beauty, but it makes them interesting to look at. For instance, Jane Bryant Quinn has really bad skin and Lesley Stahl wears glasses."
|Jane Bryant Quinn|
Excuse me? I'd say that high on the list of images you don't want to have as an eight year old girl is that you might grow up to have your very own mustache. I had a copy of the "Guinness Book of World Records," so I'd seen pictures of the bearded lady and Dad had a beard and mustache, so I knew I had the facial hair gene. On the plus side, Dad had totally distracted me from any concerns about my scar. On the negative side, I was now convinced that I was destined to grow a mustache. I had also learned an important life lesson which is, if you interrupt a professor reading the newspaper with faked concerns related to vanity, you kind of get what you deserve.
Thankfully, it's 30 years later and the glossy black mustache I'd envisioned never materialized. And, if it had, there's always electrolysis and waxing and the no!no! hair removal system (which has the most tantalizing infomercial I've seen recently). Do you think that Tina and her father had a similar conversation when, as a child, she complained about her scar? Her father probably said something like, "Don't worry, maybe someday you'll grow big hairy arms and man hands and no one will even notice your scar." He'd be right.