>Parallel parking has never been my forte, and this day was one of the first feats. Normally I arrived at school at 6:45am and had the entire parking lot at my disposal; today was senior photo day and we all got to come in later. I parked my little white Ford Festiva on the street, opened the hatchback to retrieve my backpack, and then reached over my head to close it again. No dice. I had parked all too close to the car behind me, not leaving enough space to get it down. So I moved to the side, reached in to the middle, gave it a hard push. It hit me on the head.

Feeling rather dazed, my uber-responsible-firstborn-child self decided I should go check in with my teacher before I took myself home (I’m as confused as you are by this – but let’s remember, I’d just been hit in the head). So, I schlepped myself toward Spanish class and Mrs. Kirschenbaum’s dismissal.

“Hey, Elizabeth!” (yes, I went by my full name then)

I turned to say hello to Carolyn, who gasped and threw her hands over her mouth. “ARE YOU DYING?!?!”

I put my hand to my head and felt wetness, brought my hand back down to see sticky red blood dripping from my fingers. My knees wobbled. Without a word I started crying, whirled around and scuttled cautiously but quickly back to my car. The view of my head in the rearview mirror made me gag; I drove myself home, ran in the front door, clutched my poor mom.

The doctor’s office wasn’t open for another hour so I lay on the bed bleeding side up, mopping with a washcloth and trying not to sob too hard.

Dr. VanVranken had been our family doctor for years, so we slid in the door the very moment his office opened. He sized me up quickly and wiped at my head recklessly with gauze in the process, huge alligator tears flowing down my cheeks.

“That’s going to take stitches.”

I melted into a puddle of teenage hysteria. He looked at me like I was crazy.

“But it’s senior picture day,” I blubbered, “and it’s going to hurt… and I don’t WANT stitches.”

Again the are you crazy? look. “Haven’t you ever had stitches before?”

“Nooooo.” I wailed.

“Broken a bone?”


“Had a cavity?”


“What, don’t you ever go outside?”

“Yes,” sniff, sniff, “I’m just careful.”

With a sad, pitying laugh, he told me that I could either suck it up and get the stitches or he could butterfly it and I could have a scar on my forehead for the rest of my life. Teenage vanity won out, and I assented – albeit through much continuing snot and tears – to the stitches. Dr V put a big piece of gauze over my head, cut a hole so he could see only where the gap in my head was and not the inconsolable seventeen year old. I tried not to move while weeping uncontrollably as he put them in. It took a whopping two.

When it was all over, I tried to collect myself and looked in the mirror, and it was then that I saw it…


Snoopy and Woodstock, in brightly colored scrubs, on my forehead. On senior picture day.

I still have not forgiven him.

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