Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Making A Point


Says here in the paper that some guy in Germany just discovered the reason he'd been having headaches and sinus trouble for the last fifteen years is that he's had a pencil in his head. It was four inches long and went all the way to his eye socket. You would think someone would have noticed at the time it went in, but maybe if it was a clean wound and only the eraser was sticking out, his parents just figured he'd grown a mole. I can imagine this sort of delayed discovery in the U.S.A., because health insurance is so expensive, but you'd think in Germany someone would have x-rayed his sinuses by now. Anyway, a surgeon was duly dispatched to get the lead out.

Photoshop? I don't think so. Sharpie.
When I was in first grade, I too was stabbed with a pencil. The lead broke off in the meaty part of my hand, and there's a scar there to this day. We didn't have as many safety precautions in place as kids do now. No helmets, no shin guards, no seat belts, no locks on the cabinet under the sink with the Drano in it (although liquor cabinets might have been buttoned up), nothing to keep us from sticking a knife in the electrical outlets. There were some attempts at safety made at school. We were all issued tiny round scissors that you could bend up construction paper with, unless you were left-handed, and then you just had to hope it was glue-and-macaroni day.

Memory being what it is, I don't know if I stabbed myself or some other kid did, but I assume it was some little boy, because why would I stab myself in the hand with a pencil? I don't think he meant any harm, either, or I would have remembered who did it. He was just a boy in possession of a sharp object and he felt something needed to be stabbed, fast. He might have been playing World War II and was full of boy-juice and mistook my palm for the stout heart of a Japanese warrior. And I think it was a little boy because little girls hurt each other whole different ways.

Like Murooj Abbas. Murooj sat in front of me in first grade and one day she turned around and asked if she could borrow my brand new big square gum eraser, so I gave it to her. A few minutes later she turned around again with what I would learn years later is called a shit-eating grin on her face. She
held her hand out to mine and dumped in a few crumbs of eraser, and turned around again. I never told anybody. I had grown up to that point with no defenses at all against cruelty and humiliation, because I had never experienced it, even though I had several older siblings. I had no idea what to do, so I just stored it in the only memory-closet I have that is reliably lucid: the humiliation closet. Most of my humiliations in life have been self-inflicted, so each incident of being targeted by someone else is crystal clear. I can tick them off in order, one by one.

Dave also has a scar on his hand from a pencil wound. He says he invited a boy to stab it out of an overdeveloped sense of justice, after he'd stuck a pencil upright under the kid's butt just as he was sitting down. It's one of the things we have in common. We like mountains. We like beer. People want to stab us.

68 comments:

  1. I generally like short posts, but I didn't want you to stop this one. I think the only point was the pencil, but there is a laugh or memory in every paragraph.

    Maybe because I am left handed the scissor/ macaroni and glue thing really got me.

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    1. There is a certain limit to the number of words people will read voluntarily. They've tested it. Even I have noticed that I can be reading something on line that is really, really good, and if it goes past a certain point, I have to scroll down to see what kind of investment I need to make. I don't understand this.

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    2. What is weirder is that I think the number of words we are willing to sit and read is fewer online than off. Meaning, I expect, if I am sitting at my computer, that what I am reading will be short and to the point. Is it because there are all these other things online that are beckoning to us and distracting us? Unlike with a book, say...

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    3. Oh true. I get antsy after about a thousand words online. But I can sit and read a book for hours. Even an e-reader.

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    4. I have noticed the same thing about my lower tolerance for wordiness on line but so far have chalked it up to the uncomfortable desk chair that I am reluctant to replace since it was my dad's, even though it makes my sit-upon-place tired. But he never sat in it in front of a computer. And he had a much bone-ier butt than I do so maybe he found it comfortable. Wait...how'd this get from word limits to sore butts? Murr, this is YOUR department! (Very funny post, btw.)

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    5. I don't know what it's about either, since the advent of computers has coincided with my own personal mental erosion. Could be just a coincidence. BTW, if your dad had a bonier butt, he should be tireder than you.

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  2. Can I join you in your foreign-objects-embedded-in-body club? Tip of a porcupine quill, under left index fingernail. Don't ask.

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    1. It's quite embarrassing. I was NOT rassling a porcupine, I was merely decluttering an ancient container of quills my teacher mom had gifted me. Cripes, it hurt. The tip broke off and I tried to pry it out with a needle but I couldn't, on account of the barb, of course. It has worked its way halfway down my nail bed and - at the rate it's going - I fully expect it to reach my heart and kill me by the time I am 90 :)

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    2. "I was merely decluttering an ancient container of quills." I am proud to host such a sentence.

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    3. High praise from you, Murr; I don't know whether to bow or faint ... but truthfully, THAT part wasn't even intended to be funny!

      But your reaction sure made me chuckle ;)

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  3. I also did the sit-down-on-a-pencil bit to a friend in 4th grade. It was my revenge for whatever he did to me, but I can't remember what it was.I had to stay after school for that one.

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    1. If you get it just right, the pencil should plumb disappear! See previous proctologist post.

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  4. Ow. Just ow. I've been kicked, punched, slapped, cut, burned, had my skin crushed in pliers and been run over with a motorcycle all without holding a grudge, but I think I'd take serious offense to being stabbed with a pencil. We all have our limits.

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    1. Oh, Diane, if that was one person doing all that to you, I'd suggest taking it personally.

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    2. Nope, those were my friends. It's pretty hard to avoid a bit of accidental damage when your hobbies include dirt-biking, automotive repair, team sports, and kickboxing. :-) You wanna believe I'd take it personally if they'd intentionally hurt me!

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  5. When we were three, my twin brother decided to test the theory that if you throw a bullet in the fireplace, it will explode. I carried a piece of brass in my shin for the next fifteen years until it started aching in the cold when I went to the school doctor and he x-rayed my leg and saw that there was, indeed, a piece of brass in my leg. He was amazed. I was amazed by the elegant beauty of my shin-bone. Ever since then, I have cherished my x-rays. I have beautiful bones!!

    DAve's pencil impaled hand is creepy.

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    1. I didn't get that bullet thing so I asked Dave about it. At which point it occurred to me that you meant WHEN THERE IS A FIRE GOING. For some reason I just had you throwing a bullet in a fireplace. Seemed to me that most three-year-olds can't get that much momentum on a thrown bullet.

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    2. That's right - you were one of those city kids with central heat and stuff. Yes, if you put a bullet in prolonged contact with heat - a fire, say, the bullet will explode. Why would anyone throw a bullet into an empty fireplace?

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    3. Well, and more to the point (har), a city kid with no bullets. You know how dumb we were? When we got fireworks, sparklers et al, I thought the punk was a firework too. I waved its smoky little ass around. Whee.

      And, you see, the throwing the bullet into an empty fireplace didn't make sense to me either--that's why I asked Dave, who gave me that look I get sometimes.

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  6. Anyone with a brother is lucky they made it out of childhood. My brothers were forever throwing random things into the outdoor burn pit, to see what sort of percussive and/or explosive result might ensue. My sister and I learned to be far away when it was their turn for Outside Chores.

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    1. Do you still have your original complement of brothers?

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    2. What is it with boys and explosions? My older brothers blew the front porch off the schoolhouse.

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    3. How many of you are there? Left?

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  7. Remind me not to go with you to the mountains to drink beer.

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    1. Okay, but you're missing a bet, there. Odds are YOU'D be the stabber.

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  8. I wonder the average number of visible childhood scars each of us carries. I have two visible, one invisible (on my scalp).

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    1. I have a scalp one from where Danny Hall threw a brick up in the air and yelled BOMBS OVER TOKYO! and it landed on my head. These days, any scars I have that have been covered in hair are in danger of being revealed.

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    2. I shouldn't compete on that- raising an orphaned baby raccoon makes for a WHOLE lot of scars. They take you for a safe retreat tree when they feel threatened....

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    3. I guess the only thing worse would be to raise a baby badger who tries to find a hole in you to retreat to.

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  9. Perhaps it's to do with Darwin's survival theory. I recall one boy about 10 or 11, being asked to return the staple gun (a bit bigger than the thing that staples grocery dockets) to the school office. He stapled another lad's pants to his backside.

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    1. That strikes me as being an excellent solution to the scourge of sagging.

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    2. Hahaha.Maybe we should suggest it to the City Fathers of NJ who have just banned trousers more than 3" below hip

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    3. Them ain't trousers! Them is fart veils!

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  10. Holy shit....you just reminded me of an incident I had forgotten. I once accidentally managed to stab myself in the palm of my hand with a very sharp pencil. (I was a very clumsy child) I ran screaming to my Mom with it hanging out of my hand. She pulled it out....examined the wound and told me I would live which I have done for 80 some years...no scar.....just had the black spot from the lead under the skin where it healed. How did any of us survive childhood?

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    1. Well, hell, maybe I DID stab myself in the hand with a pencil. I've never had very good hand-eye coordination. I've seen many a black pencil spot in people's hands. I think we all did it. And those of us who survived childhood in the days before Padding are tough old birds.

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  11. So, the guy with the pencil in his head - was this by any chance the same guy with the four inch blade in his back?

    My body is clearly fully equipped with anti-pencil preservation mechanisms so I've never been pencil-stabbed. In fact I've never been stabbed with anything except occasionally stabbed in the back or stabbed with pity.

    Ooh, I felt quite funny looking at those last two pics....

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    1. You must be a conciliatory fellow. Yeah, I wonder about the number of news items I read that involve major personal impalings. I'm almost sure I would notice.

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  12. I would've had nothing to say to Murooj either.

    Let's find her. Let's see why she did it.

    Pearl

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    1. OMG, you're such a liberal.

      I'm reaching back here. Northern Virginia. Probably an embassy kid. Ignored by her daddy. Her brother is probably up to all kinds of nonsense now.

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  13. It's hard to imagine how kids grow up to be reasonable adults, given what we had to go through to get there. Your penchant for being stabbed trumps anything that happened to me, though. :-)

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    1. I seriously wouldn't call it a penchant...

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  14. Your husband looks like a patient man.

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  15. What do you mean..girls use other methods?! Jeff S. may still have lead in his hand from the day he snapped my bra.

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  16. Some of these pencil incidents give a whole new meaning to the phrase, "Get the lead out."

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    1. Also, we should always put the rubber in first. Wait.

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  17. You are so right! Girls get back other ways like when Linda Anderson just turned around and barfed on me and my desk and she had corn at lunch.......yup, girls are ruthless! I just knew when the teacher walked over Linda was gonna say...... She did it! Thank God she was green and had corn in her teeth!

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    1. A personal, directed, targeted barfing? REALLY? I would not have survived that. Really. You would not be reading anything in this space today.

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  18. I managed to stab myself in the side of the calf with a pencil. I still have the spot - it's sort of blue green. My mother also has blue green pencil spots on her knee, when she knelt on three pencils. Girls are usually evil in other ways, such as Dawn C. who, in freshman Algebra, turned to me and said, "I wouldn't talk to you in junior high because you had a big butt, but you're in cross country now and you don't have a big butt so I'll talk to you." I was flabbergasted. I was fat? And from that point forward, I believed I was fat until I made it so. Apparently, I was more boy-like in my evil. When a boy took the seat I had claimed for an 8 hour ride - and then laughed at me - I told him I felt like ripping his face off. He challenged me to do it. I tried. He knocked me to the floor of the van and pounded on my arm. Fortunately for me, it was November and my long sleeves covered the bruises. He got to walk around high school for a couple of weeks with fingernail scratches on his cheek. I bet he still doesn't understand that what got his face scratched wasn't taking my seat. It was laughing at me.

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    1. That's it. I'm declaring it. From now on, henceforth, I am granting permanent episodic amnesia for anything heard in seventh or eighth grade. Enough of this. I wasn't permanently scarred, but I remember every one.

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  19. Belinda Gleason accused me of stealing her eraser and we had to go to he Principal's office but she was busted when they found the eraser in Belinda's desk. I also have a blue mark under my right eyebrow. My parent's said I stuck a pencil in my eye while riding in the car. They called me a blue-dot-for-sure-shot. (Remember the old flash bulb commercials?) Anyway, now I wonder if my sister stabbed me with pencil in the back of my head and it is still there. I can kind of feel a soft bump at the back of my head.

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    1. You know? The soft spot is something else. Something else altogether.

      And I am so glad you didn't have to live with the knowledge of your own besmirched innocence, while the adults did not find the eraser.

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  20. Homer Simpson's experience should be a lesson to us all. I liked his doctor's explanation of how he never saw it.

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    1. Holy crap! Well done, susan! I especially like his doctor saying "I'll go throw myself out now."

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  21. A pencil in his sinuses? Man. Pencils are dangerous; we should require the Dept. of Health and Safety to issue recalls, or at least post some sort of warning on the dreaded pencil.

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    1. The Ticonderoga Act of 2013. I can now see why we had rounded scissors. Just looking at this comment section I am moved to report that pencil stabbings are rife.

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    2. Then there was the Eberhard-Faber resolution of 1986 calling for a reduction in sharpness.

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    3. No reduction of sharpness in Jono-land!

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  22. 53 comments on the post about using a pencil as a weapon. Now you have done it. Children will be expelled for bringing pencils to school!!

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    1. But I think every teacher must be packing a pencil. That's the best way to keep all the little buggers safe.

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    2. Exactly what I was thinking, Tabor.

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  23. A bit later than childhood....I walked into a glass door which broke and cut my knee open, it was too mangled to stitch so the doctor just smoothed it as best he could after cleaning it, then put on a bandage. It healed over all lumpy but eventually smoothed over about twenty years later. Just recently, about 5 years ago, a lump formed in the scar tissue and a tiny shard of glass worked its way out!

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  24. Good grief Murr, I feel quite faint. I still have a chunk of broken bayonet in my shoulder from when the Japs invaded Manchuria in 1931; long story. We should wear our wounds with pride. Except in cold weather. Roth x

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  25. When I was a kid I had a friend whose sister stabbed his hand with scissors, about where you were pencil-stabbed. Not a pair of rounded kiddie scissors, either. They couldn't find an inch-long piece of the point. When he was sixteen, his hand (inexplicably?) festered big-time. Surgeon removed the point of the scissor from years before. True story; I am not creative enough to make this stuff up. Some of my friends were not the sharpest tools in the kit, need I say.

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    1. How does that even happen? How does a scissors-point sit quietly for ten years and then blow up? And why is it always the evil sister?

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  26. Doesn't anyone remember Bill Cosby's bit about the kid who threw a bullet into the furnace in shop class? Shop teacher: "Ya KNOW....you throw a bullet in the furnace, it reflects on yer mother!". Suspect student: "I didn't throw that bullet in the furnace, and don't you be talkin' 'bout my mutha!"

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