A Childhood Scar Alters Over Time

James Anthony Ellis
Editor, Legacy Magazine

Somewhere in the hazy backdrop that is a childhood found on Cambay Lane in Huntington Beach, early 1970s, you would find two young boys. Best friends.

Jamie Jordan and Jimmy Ellis. Born six months apart, but still considered twins, if just in their own minds.

Jamie and Jimmy

They did everything together. Walk the short two blocks to Robinwood grammar school. Play “pickle” with other neighborhood kids making sure they were the ones catching in that game. Participate in a rowdy game of “Smear the Queer,” barely able to walk the next day because of sore muscles. Listen to the Fifth Dimension’s “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” in a quasi zombie-like state.

And then there were the stupid things they did.

  • Blow up a firecracker without a wick … right in their face.
  • Attempt to move Jamie’s mom’s car from the driveway in order to make room for a basketball game, only to have the car end up right in the middle of the street.
  • Accidentally break the Melansons’ potted plant on their porch … and then run away as if Mrs. Melanson wouldn’t figure that one out.

But none of these naive and brainless maneuvers would outdo the experience that would give me a most prominent scar.

There we were – right where we shouldn’t be. In Jamie’s garage, sitting on top of his dad’s workbench. What could go wrong there? Heavy tools, sharp tools, knives. Sounds like a great idea to me. For some reason, Jamie was holding one of his dad’s razor blades. Yeah. To this day, I have no idea why he would be wielding that thing. And there I was sitting next to him, on that workbench.

I was wearing shorts, as was normal during the summer days.

I recall Jamie making a move with his head, looking from side to side. And as he made that move, his hand came scrapping across my right leg. The razor blade got me. I saw blood. It wasn’t gushing, but it wasn’t a surface wound either. I told Jamie, “Oh my God, you cut me.”

Scared to be punished by his dad, he asked me not to tell on him. And to make it “even,” he would cut his own leg with the razor blade.

Right, did I mention stupid?

I knew I had to tell my folks. And Jamie had to face the music. We both had to get a tetanus shot. And Jamie got an extra-helpin’ whippin’ from his father.

And so the scar?

It’s not emotional. It’s not mental. In all honesty. it’s pretty much gone by now. Faded away with the years of experience that would replace it.

Oh, sure – we’re still stupid, I’m sure. In more grownup ways, in ways that won’t get us a whippin’, unless you count the Universe’s ways of slapping us back into gear when we get too sloppy or unconscious.

I’ll embrace the stupidity. And chalk it up to something very simple.

  • We were boys.
  • And we are human.

It’s OK Jamie. It didn’t really hurt. And the shot wasn’t the end of the world.

You grow. You try stuff. You blow it. You learn. And you hopefully don’t ever again climb up on that workbench, wearing shorts, with a razor blade in hand.

It’s all part of living here, on this crazy planet, that marks time with years, tragedies with tears, and once in awhile a life lesson through the beauty and everlasting grace of a scar.

James Anthony Ellis is an award-winning playwright, journalist and filmmaker, who is the author of eight books, including the men-focused “The Honor Book” available HERE.

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