Comparing scars

April 22, 2006 at 4:16 am (Uncategorized)

My favorite scene in Jaws is the one where the three drunken shark hunters are hanging out on the boat and comparing scars. It's the ultimate in male bonding. While I have a dozen scars from top to bottom, I have few wild tales to tell about them.

As a boy, I once had a three-quarter inch shard of glass stuck in my heel for three days. After three days of agony, some barbarian I hope never to see again, plucked the thing out with a set of needle nose pliars. He did give me a shot of liquor before this meatball surgery and so that part was good. ist2_280569_nail_head.jpg


During a brawl as a teen, I got yanked over a metal table and a stray sliver sliced me in a very delicate region. We're talking centimeters here, people. One or two of them to the left, and my byline would read Marguerite LaFlamme.

I knew a kid who could jam nearly the entire length of a pen up a nostril. I knew kids who would put cigarettes out on their tongues. There were those who carved initials onto their arms, held lighters next to their arm until the skin was black and blistering, or forced sharp objects under their fingernails.

Me, I'm not one for self-induced pain. The glass in the foot and the near castration by end table were minor, childhood trauma. I wish I had weirder stories to tell and I welcome your's. I understand Mainetarr has a few scars from her Tomboy days and perhaps she could be enticed to tell a tale or two. Me, I'm off on a road trip. I've got to see a friend who's been hitting the speed pretty hard and playing with power tools.

ANDY DWORKIN, The Oregonian

One day last year, a 33-year-old Oregon man picked up a nail gun and put it to his head. Just what drove him isn't clear. Personal problems, mental illness and methamphetamine all probably played a role. He fired. And fired again. And again. Twelve times.

Six nails clustered between his right eye and ear. The heads caught on the skull; the points pushed into the brain. He shot two nails below his right 6NailHeadB.jpg ear, four more through the left side of his face. At some point, he reloaded: Eight of the finishing nails measure 11/2 inches, four have 2-inch shanks.

A day later, he went to a small Oregon hospital. He said he had a headache. Doctors saw nothing strange, at first. None of the nails stuck through the skin, and hair covered most of the pinpoint wounds. Then they took X-rays. Astounded, the doctors gave him a tetanus shot and put him on a helicopter to OHSU Hospital. There, surgeons peeled back his face and removed the nails with pliers and a high-speed drill. Doctors gave the man antibiotics and psychiatric treatment. Twenty-five days later, he walked out of Oregon Health & Science University a little weak but, physically, healthy.

"At this point, he's made a full recovery," said Dr. G. Alexander West, the neurosurgeon who led the team that pulled out the nails. "This guy was blessed in some way. I mean, that's incredible really."



  1. K2 said,

    Maybe the guy didn’t want to get hammered?

  2. Bobbie said,

    I have one for the “almost” castration section today-when my husband was younger, he ended up with a pipe in his leg near the family jewels. Working on a farm will get you every time.

  3. A.O. said,

    I love stories like this. They go so well with my coffee.

  4. Linda said,

    Self mutilation doesn’t really run in my family, though my son Luke did jump into a flax bush once when he was a teenager and run a 6 inch fibrous splinter up his thigh. That could have been ugly.
    Our goriest story: my dog drank rabbit poison. When we got to the vet’s office, the outside of the car was a bloodbath where he’d dripped out the window — lucky i didn’t pass any police cruisers on the way.

  5. LaFlamme said,

    Whoa! Linda, DO elaborate on that. Where did the blood come from? Internal bleeding? Guh-ROSE! Hey, AO! How’s that coffee? Bloody dog drool to freshen it up?

  6. A.O. said,

    Mmm…sounds delicious.

  7. Kellswater said,

    Another one for your morning coffee, AO: eating rat poison when you were little and then having to have your stomach pumped out. All this while your face is covered in impantiago (?). That story goes well with the bloody dog drool any day.

  8. LaFlamme said,

    Speaking of carnage: they’ll be putting The Pink Room up on the block today on the Great American Auction. How badly do you expect they’ll mangle my name. “A new book here from Mark LaPhlegm.”

  9. LaFlamme said,

    Nice, Kellswater. Nice. Did the rat poison look like candy?

  10. Linda said,

    Mark, I’m not going to elaborate on the bloody dog story, I really think I’ve said enough already. If you really need to know, go feed your own dog some rabbit poison and stand back & watch.

  11. A.O. said,

    Is it the auction on PBS?

  12. lost shoe said,

    yes, tell us more about the auction? where, when?

  13. brenda said,

    marguerite , um, I mean Mark, and Bobbie & her husband, so sorry to hear about those close calls near the jewels! Glad they are both ok!

    and glad you got your stomach pumped from the rat poison, Kh2o, that coould have been much worse. My son’s dad’s twin touched rat poison as a toddler,and you know kids & hands in mouths, he died and the family fell apart.


  14. LaFlamme said,

    Yeah, the auction is on public TV. All day today, I’m told.

  15. A.O. said,

    Mark, I want to know who drew the picture of you with a nail stuck in your forehead.

  16. Kellswater said,

    Don’t remember if it looked like candy or not. I know that it didn’t taste good going either way.

  17. Linda said,

    A.O.,Mark wears a necktie? I didn’t think that could possibly be him.

  18. A.O. said,

    Linda, I’ve never seen him in one but, that drawing looks just like him. Well, except for the necktie.

  19. Linda said,

    And, I hope, the nail!

  20. Mainetarr said,

    Yes, I do have some scars from my tomboy days. Big old scar under my hair from dumping my dirtbike, BB lodged deep in my right hand, nice scar on my wrist from an unhappy rotweiler dog, scar on my knee from a fall out of a tree house. And don’t even ask me about the nasty hockey puck accident…

    The great tv auction is on from noon to midnight on channel 10. I have already been bidding, I got my express bidder number weeks ago. It is on every day until next Sunday. I live for this thing…I love it. I didn’t catch the Pink Room books, but i did see them on the list of items to be auctioned.

  21. Linda said,

    Since we are supposed to be comparing scars, here’s mine. Do any of you out there have one like it?
    My heart lives in two places. Whichever place I’m in, I long for the other. The slightest thing can make me cry for the place I’m not, even though I love the place I am. So I’m never completely home
    Sometimes I wish I had just stayed in the first place, but then I’d never have known the pleasure of the second place. I guess I’m lucky, my heart has two homes. Some people’s hearts don’t have any home. Is it good that I love two places? Or is it sad that I can’t be in both of them?
    How’s that for a Saturday evening opener? Hope I haven’t run you all off…

  22. A.O. said,

    Wow. Linda, Did you write that? I love it! It IS sad that you can’t be in both.

  23. Linda said,

    Yes I wrote it. That’s me feeling a bit sad — I get verbose. I get that way when I’m happy too. There’s no shutting me up actually.

  24. A.O. said,

    Well, great way expressing your feelings. I really do love it. And..we all get to that spot where we wish we could be in that “other” place. At least, I think we all do. I KNOW that I do. Thanks for sharing that with us.

  25. Linda said,

    Well thanks for listening. Or in this case reading.

  26. A.O. said,

    No problem. It really is good. Guess I can relate.

  27. Linda said,

    I guess most everyone can, one way or another, if they will admit it to themselves.

  28. Martha said,

    I used to be a Great TV Auction volunteer. and my sister is a big 10 donor.. She donates handmade pillows (I think) every year.

  29. Bobbie said,

    I know exactly what you mean. There are days when I want to go sit at the ocean and unstress myself, but I only have lakes and the mountains here. Pictures of the ocean help, but it’s just not the same.

  30. A.O. said,

    Bobbie, Can’t imagine not having the ocean.

  31. Linda said,

    Yes the ocean’s great, but if you had the ocean and no lakes, you’d miss them. Last August, my granddaughter came to visit me and — I’m not making this up — she went swimming in a lake for the first time in her life. She loved it. When I talk on the phone with her, she always asks about the lake. Now that she’s enjoyed a lake, she’ll always long for one.
    Jeez, I sound pretty fuckin’ bleak tonight. It’s the Irish in me. I ought to have an elbow on a bar somewhere, don’t mind me!

  32. A.O. said,

    Hey!! I’m Irish! It’s a GOOD thing. Your granddaughter will have a memory that will last a life time. And, she now has a great appreciation of lakes. What’s so bad about that?

  33. Linda said,

    Only that she’s there and I’m here. That’s what it’s all about really.

  34. A.O. said,

    Maybe she’ll find her way home. I’m sorry that she’s so far away from you.

  35. brenda said,

    Hi, I’m part Irish too. My last name’s Irish but I wasn’t told, I found out when the high school newsletter published Irish surnames of students on St. Patrick’s day .

    Linda, that’s so poetic, all you have to do is click “enter” after each line:

    My heart lives in two places.
    Whichever place I’m in,
    I long for the other.
    The slightest thing can make me cry for the place I’m not,
    even though I love the place I am.
    So I’m never completely home
    Sometimes I wish I had just stayed in the first place,
    but then I’d never have known the pleasure of the second place.
    I guess I’m lucky,
    my heart has two homes.
    Some people’s hearts don’t have any home.
    Is it good that I love two places?
    Or is it sad that I can’t be in both of them?

    I feel the same way. I spent over 20 years in CA, and longed for Maine, and the TREES! So one day, I got on the train and here I am. I love it here. But I miss my family that I left there in CA.
    I wish they would come visit but thay have some weird mental block, like it’s impossible to go across the country. It really isn’t impossible, you just have to decide.
    And they’re chicken that they’ll die in the cold. I had wondered about that myself, but was surprised that I am indeed strong enough to survive Maine winters. Well, I wish they’d come in the summer so I can show them what the world is supposed to look and smell like. That “green” is not a grayish brown color!

  36. abraham maslow said,

    when the only tool you have is a hammer,
    every problem looks like a nail to you.

  37. is this more like a poem? said,

    Linda’s lament:

    My heart lives
    in two places.
    Whichever place I’m in,
    I long for the other.
    The slightest thing
    can make me cry
    for the place I’m not,
    even though I love
    the place I am.
    So I’m never completely home
    Sometimes I wish
    I had just stayed
    in the first place,
    but then I’d never have known
    the pleasure
    of the second place.
    I guess I’m lucky,
    my heart has two homes.
    Some people’s hearts
    don’t have any home.
    Is it good that I love
    two places? Or is it sad
    that I can’t be in both of them?

  38. Linda said,

    Jeez, Abe, are you worried that I’ll take the nail gun to my head? I’m fuckin’ bleak maybe, but not insane.

  39. A.O. said,

    HA!! Great comeback, Linda! Abe, give it a rest! Sheesh!

  40. brenda said,

    I just read that quote from abraham maslow, today & wanted to put it in this post, I didn’t mean to relate it to anyone personally or specifically , SORRY! I put Abe Maslow as the name of the writer because I was quoting him! sorry!

  41. brenda said,

    I was actually thinking about the guy who put nails in his own head, and went to the er complaining of a headache, but they couldn’t see the nails until the x-ray-
    yeah every problem looked like a nail!?

    I was making a twisted joke!
    I do that sometimes under fake names.

  42. lost one said,

    but you can tell when I do that because I’m often the person before & after my own stupid remark…..

  43. fake ABe maslow alert said,

    for example, from #35 to this one, only me & ao & linda have made any comments, so how many were me?

  44. Linda said,

    Hey, we’re kidding! Mark gave us an assignment and I’m just trying to stay on topic. You must have noticed that about me, I’ve always got an eye on the agenda — it’s my way of overcompensating for being extremely non-linear. A lifelong struggle to focus. I’m as fond of Maslow as anyone, he was a giant. Totally outstanding in his field. I loved the quote. Bring it on!

  45. brenda said,

    good night!

  46. brenda said,

    what do you mean, an assignment?

  47. Linda said,

    And BTW, Brenda, I knew it was you all the time. I admire your versatility!

  48. A.O. said,

    Brenda, No apologies needed.

  49. brenda said,

    I was gonna turn off the computer for awhile, but now I want to know what the assignment was? Or do you mean topic? Because I didn’t really think anyone wanted to hear about my scar…….

  50. Linda said,

    He said, I wish I had weirder stories to tell and I welcome your’s. In my world that reads like an assignment. (Yes that’s me — Ms What’s The Agenda)

  51. brenda said,

    ok I reread, you did say you were answering the blog question of scar stories, and you felt like writing about your emotions, broken heart.
    Sometimes I need to read a little more carefully.

  52. Linda said,

    Well maybe, but after all, it IS a blog and you don’t need to unless you want to 🙂

  53. brenda said,

    my scar’s not a weird story, probably a whiney poor me story.

    When I was a kid, and fell off my bike learning to ride, my mom kissed me and said I didn’t need to ride a bike, because I was a girl. My brother of course was expected to get back on when he fell. And so when I was 13, I still didn’t know how. My friends were all going on a bike riding trip, and I wanted to go. So I borrowed a bike and practiced in the parking lot across the street. We went up Blue Mountain (in Grand Terrace) and over to the Reche Canyon side. As we rode down the road in Honey Hills, I tried to slow down, but when I touched the brakes nothing happened, I was scared going so fast downhill, and then I panicked and hit the brakes hard. I flew over the handle bars and skinned my knee to the bone. 13 stitches. There’s a quarter size scar to remind me how my friends left me there to walk home alone. That’s the “poor me” part.

  54. Linda said,

    I’ve known myself a long time, and this is what I do: Mark said he’d be away on a road trip, so immediately I thought, who’s keeping track of the blog? Which is nuts of course, because Mark’s blog isn’t exactly under control most of the time and that’s the way everyone likes it, including me. But … it’s what I do. The Irish Catholic big sister, you know?

  55. A.O. said,

    Linda, Ask Mark for my email address. We’ve got a lot in common.

  56. Linda said,

    Ouch. But how funny is that — we were simultaneously posting about things to do with being girls.

  57. Linda said,

    Will do, A.O. I’ve been wanting to find out where to get some of your pizza, too, while I am at it.

  58. A.O. said,

    Hey, nothing wrong with being a girl. I kind of like it! I also was raised Irish/Catholic..till my very smart mother said..”Enough”..

  59. brenda said,

    can I tell you another story? It isn’t about me.

    My brother returned to Maine when he was 12-1/2 to 13. His first winter here, he and our younger brother were walking in the woods and got disoriented or something. The younger brother got his boots soaked and was risking frostbite on his feet. The older brother carried the younger brother on his back. There were points when there were problems, and he wondered if he should leave the younger one ther & go for help, but that may have risked the frostbite, hypothermia, even his life. So my brother carried our younger brother until he got back to Grampa’s house.
    I always loved that story. When he describes it, there are many more details, and points where he had to make decisions, and he did the hard, but right thing, and carried his brother home.

    I think it is through life’s hardships and problems that we learn to solve problems, learn what our character is. To have an easy problem free life is not desirable or healthy.

  60. A.O. said,

    Good story Brenda. I’d do the same for one of my brother’s or sister’s, too. I know you would, too.

  61. brenda said,

    well, it’s 10 pm and my son’s still awake. I better go- g’night!

  62. brenda said,

    A.O., I’d like to think so. But I have been named “lostwolf” and “she walks away” for good reasons. Maybe now that I think about it, I will be a better friend & sister.

  63. brenda said,

    I meant to say thank you!
    So anyway, really , g’night for now, but I may be back in an hour!

  64. A.O. said,

    MT, Just thought you’d like to know that your favorite “cutie” boy is now enjoying the last of your chicken parm! He DOES love you!!

  65. Bobbie said,

    anyone still out there?

  66. Bobbie said,

    Linda, if you would like my e-mail address as well, please feel free to ask Mark for it. Hubby is now hollering for supper after I Walk The Line. He seems a little miffed that I told him that he was on his own now. At 6 PM, I would have cooked, but not at 9:15 PM.

    Anyone figured out what’s going on with Bulldog yet?

  67. A.O. said,

    I liked “I Walk The Line” but, almost fell asleep in some parts. LOVE Johnny Cash and, his music but…found my head falling back a few times during the movie.

    Watched “Memoirs of a Geisha” the other day…Two Thumbs Up!! I’ve also read the book. The book was much better but, I found the movie very well done.

  68. Linda said,

    Hi Bobbie, will do! Hi A.O. My hubby wants the computer, I may not be here for long.
    Did you see “Capote”? I saw it at a fundraiser, was blown away with the acting. No wonder he got the Oscar. Very absorbing — he reminded me so much of a friend in Boston, not mannerisms so much as the self-absorption. Though my friend is gay. He and I together are just a bit like Capote and Harper Lee. Though they (C and L) are better writers than my friend and I are 🙂
    My husband has heartburn, it must be the chili powder I put in dinner. We both like it, but it bothers his stomach. Thought I might get away with it, but no.

  69. brenda said,

    I think if we were going to have an all-girls blog nite, we’d ahve picked a different topic than putting nails in one’s own head. Although I’m sure we all know what that might feel like sometimes……..

  70. brenda said,

    I put on some nice soft soul music for my son to sleep to, “Candy Rain” and there’s all these lovey-dovey, & lonely songs, and I feel like that poem Linda wrote, like I need to be back in Ca. I don’t want to BE in Ca, I just want to be WITH my loved ones, in CA.

  71. Linda said,

    I didn’t mean to spread melancholy, Brenda … not that melancholy’s such a bad thing sometimes. I WAS a girls’ blog night wasn’t it? Nice for a change.

    I gotta go. It looks as if my husband may’ve lost interest in the computer after all …if you get my drift. Au ‘voir! (See, I’m French too). Come out and play tomorrow if you can.

  72. Bobbie said,

    See how you guys are? I ask if anyone is out there, no one replies in a resonable amount of time and I go on to other things. Then when I check in again, you guys have had a nice exchange about things.

    Right now, I’m waiting up to provide my son with a ride home after prom. It’s amazing just how quickly you forget to tie a tie. And don’t think about getting the instructions from the internet either-those are more confusing than trying to do it yourself. I finally figured it out and thankfully, my son wanted a loose and relaxed knot, not something perfect.

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