Friday, August 04, 2006

My Scars Are Only Skin Deep

The more I think about all of the dumb things that members of my immediate family have told me in regards to dating and relationships the more thankful I am that I didn’t listen to them.

My parents are naturalized citizens of the U.S. and immigrated to this country from the Philippines in the 1960’s well before I was born. A lot of the bad advice that I received from them and from others in the family is advice that has been repeated through generations of the family. In the culture of the Philippines, I guess the advice wasn’t as stupid as it sounded to my ears. I guess.

One of the things that people in my family are very strange about is scarring. An unsightly blemish of any kind on one’s legs or arms or face is almost equivalent to the kiss of death. A scar of any sort supposedly made one much less desirable to members of the opposite sex – and, mind you, this really only applied to women and scarring. Men in that culture seem to be able to get away with anything (including infidelity – but that’s for another time).

Much to my mother’s dismay, I wasn’t ever a very girly little girl. I refused to wear dresses and liked to run around in jeans. I was constantly getting bruised and banged up and liked to show off my band-aids like badges of accomplishment. I was told then that if I had scars from the cuts and scrapes, I wouldn’t ever find someone to marry me. They said the same thing to me when I got the chicken pox: If I scarred from the scabs, I would be ugly and would not ever get married.

I listened to their warnings and then proceeded to pick off my scabs and throw myself off of the front stairs onto the concrete walkway. I still have the scars on my knees and on my face. The scars have faded over time and became less noticeable as I became an adult. I never really minded them much. I know they bothered my mom. Whenever I would catch her looking at them, she would have a look of disgust pasted on her face.

While packing up from a picnic, a cousin of mine flew into a terrible crying fit when she cut her thigh with a knife end that was poking out of a bag that she had been carrying. The cut was about two inches long and wasn’t wide or deep at all. There was barely any blood coming out of it. She kept repeating that it was going to scar her leg while she bawled. The older women tried to reassure her that if she took care of the wound, it wouldn’t scar badly. If I had listened to my parents, that could have been me sitting there being a stupid drama queen.

During the last summer I spent dating the boring attorney, I flew off of my mountain bike while biking in the woods in Wisconsin. I sliced my elbow up enough to require eight stitches at a hospital. When my mother saw the damage that was done, she said, “At least Tom was with you when you did that.” I gave her a look that told her that her comment required explanation. She then went on to say, “Since he was there with you, he won’t hold it against you.”

Hold it against me?? What kind of stupid thinking is that? My husband and I joke about it from time to time. He'll say I'm lucky that he was able to look past the scar on my elbow. Now, would I have actually wanted to marry someone that couldn't?

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