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Scar Wars

Sometimes we play a game called “Scar Wars” with our teenagers.

Scar Wars is a great game in which each participant tells the story of one of his or her scars.

Ideally, you would tell your best scar story.  The scar story that is the most gruesome, the most shocking, the most idiotic, the most suspenseful, or the most hilarious.  As you might imagine, the game quickly becomes an exercise in storytelling, exaggeration, one-upmanship, and vocabulary.  The winner is often the one who can come up with the most convincing description of pain – “searing, excruciating, blinding, debilitating” – that sort of thing.  If not, then it’s the person who was doing the most moronic thing when they got scarred.  Like the last time we played, Caleb won for holding a gas can too close to a fire in his back yard when it combusted in his hands, giving him a tiny cluster of perfectly round scars where the drops of burning gasoline landed.

(You can see why this is a great game for middle schoolers.  And boys.  And those with a flair for the dramatic.)

Sometimes we use a bracket system to determine the winner, and sometimes we use a trusty applause meter, but no matter the method, winning Scar Wars comes with the respect and bragging rights due a good scar.

Today, in honor of Star Wars Day (“May the 4th be with you”) I decided to share some of my best Scar Wars stories with you.


Most idiotic:
 One afternoon, as my little brother and I were playing unsupervised in the basement (all good stories start this way), we decided, “Let’s take these old couch cushions and stack them in a big pile.  Then let’s stack these books onto this folding chair onto this swivel chair and use our masterfully constructed tower to climb up on top  of the deep freezer.  Then we can jump off the top of the freezer onto our cushion pile!”

And that is what we did.

The thing I like about this story is that it is impossible to predict where the injury occurred.  Did I fall off of the book/folding chair/swivel chair tower?  Did the deep freezer tip over?  Did my brother land on me?  Did  I miss the cushions?    The possibilities are endless.  Here’s what actually happened:  I made it up the swivel chair, then the folding chair, then the books and onto the freezer successfully.  I was perched on top of the freezer, crouched down so that my head wouldn’t go through the ceiling tiles.  I launched myself off of the freezer and landed onto the soft, springy pile of couch cushions.  In fact, the cushions were so springy, that they in turn launched me (and by “me” I mean “my forehead”) right into a protruding corner of the wall.

At this point I had a very intense multi-sensory experience.  First I heard my brother go “WHOAH!”  Then I felt my head pounding, then I saw swirly blackness, then blood.  Then a lot of blood.  A minute later we were upstairs and my dad was gently cleaning my face and saying, “You got a little boxing cut right in your eyebrow.  It’s really small, they just bleed a lot.  What were you guys doing anyway?”

“Oh, we were just jumping off of the deep freezer.”

I think that all kids should play unsupervised in basements so that they can amass these kinds of character-building experiences.


My little eyebrow scar, with me in every photo since 1993. (In my right eyebrow, your left. Well, not YOUR get it.)
My little eyebrow scar, with me in every photo since 1993. (In my right eyebrow, your left. Well, not YOUR get it.)

Biggest scar:

One afternoon, my little brother and I were playing unsupervised in the cul-de-sac.  We were building bike ramps with Erica and her brothers.  You know bike ramps – where you put a cinderblock in the middle of the street and 2 big pieces of plywood going up one side and down the other.  As bike ramp professionals, we knew that the trick to getting some serious air was to back all the way up to the end of the street, pedal as hard as you could (so that your bike reached maximum velocity by the time you hit the ramp), and then jerk up on your handlebars just as your front tire hit the peak.

Why did our parents let us do this?

You might not know this yet, but there is an irrational, first-born, competitive, insecure, perfectionist monster living inside of me.  I have a problem saying no.  I want to be the valedictorian of everything.  I wanted to be the valedictorian of bike ramp jumping.

I stared intently down the street at our make-shift ramp. Focus. I leaned forward onto my toes and pedaled with all the strength in my thighs and calves and abs and arms.  And just as my front tire crossed the little black line where the two sheets of plywood met, I yanked up on my handlebars with gusto.  And I flew.

Then, in slow motion, I flipped.  An X-Game-caliber 360°.
Then I landed.
Then my bike landed on top of me.
Then my friends rushed over with great concern.
Then I looked up and said, “Did you guys see that?  I flew like 3 FEET in the air!”
Then I hobbled inside and my mom poured peroxide on my knees and I hated her.
Then I was a legend.


(You absolutely should listen to comedian Brian Regan talk about his bike ramp experience here.  Laugh out loud funny.)

Most miraculous:
When I was 17, I was in a car accident that should have wrecked me.  I was driving at night, in the rain, on the freeway, heading home from a show downtown.  I realized, through the sheets of rain, that my exit was coming up quicker than I thought.  I should have gone on to the next ramp and circled back through town, but I didn’t.  I switched lanes in a hurry and my car hydroplaned.

I fishtailed the whole way down the exit ramp, all my efforts to regain control in vain.  In slow motion I spun twice and hit a tree, right on my driver’s side door – I must have been going at least 45 miles per hour.

I remember seeing flashlights, a blonde woman inside the ambulance, watching them cut off my clothes, waking up inside a CAT scan on a bright orange backboard and picking tiny shards of glass out of my shoulder.  Then I woke up for good and my Dad was there.

When we went to see the car, we were stunned.  The drivers side seat was gone.  The impression from the tree was so deep that the door was bent in past the center console.  My steering wheel was sticking out of the drivers side door – right through the metal.  The roof had waves in it; it looked like half a car. The tree struck right where I was sitting.

I didn’t break a single bone.  I didn’t have a single cut on my face.  In fact, I didn’t really have any cuts at all – a couple little nicks from glass, a tiny one on my shoulder and one on my elbow.  I walked out of the hospital that night a little nauseous, a little bruised, and on A LOT of muscle relaxers, but largely, miraculously, fine.

Most disgusting:
The scar, formerly known as the black crater of burnt flesh on my forehead, formerly known as a pyogenic granuloma, formerly known as skin cancer, formerly known as “what the heck is that bump on my head?”  (Story here.)


So happy Star Wars Day, and happy Scar Wars day.
May the fourth be with you!

(Share your best Scar Wars story in the comments and I’ll do the applause meter in my house.  I’ll also share my favorites in a post next week.  Spread the word. #Scarwars)

  • Lydiadv16

    When I was 15, I got hit in the head with a firework at  a Detriot Tigers baseball game. They rushed me to the 1st aid station and gave me 7 stitches and now I have a little bald spot on my head.

    • Kate Conner

      Whoa, firework stories are always good ones.  My brother has a bunch of those!

  • Bill M.

    I’ve got 2.

    First, I was making a sandwich and I had a block of cheese that I needed just a slice off of. So I do what any male would do, and find a knife and sharpen it until I could successfully perform surgery on an earthworm. Then I proceeded to cut into the cheese, and because I don’t know how to cut things, cut into my finger. It bled… a lot. But I wrapped it up, went and finished making my sandwich, ate said sandwich, watched Pawn Stars then went to the doctor because it was still bleeding. Never once in my life did I think I would need to get stiches after cutting the cheese.

    Second, I ate a live goldfish at a church event because my brother dared me to (I also have a hard time saying no), said goldfish gave me salmonella, salmonella infected my appendix, appendix leaked (did not burst) into my body causing my body to be septic and to be days away from dying at 17. Doctors figured it out (when they ask “Have you eaten any raw chicken or fish lately?” apparently a live goldfish counts as raw fish. Who knew?!) and removed my appendix and treated the rest of me. So I have three scars on my stomach that remind me not to trust my brother when he tells me to do something.

    • Kate Conner

      Bill, those are amazing!  Spoken like a true youth pastor.  (It’s hilarious now, but I’m really glad you didn’t die when you were 17.  I know Rev is, too!)

  • Bonnie Wick

    I was a pre-teen (Not sure exactly how old) and we had a trampoline in the back yard. We also had an old glass fish tank outside taking up space since we’d gotten rid of (flushed down the toilet) all the fish.
    Me and my younger siblings(probably 3 or 4 of us) went outside to jump. Being the oldest I let all the younger kids get on before me. Using that old glass fish tank as our stool. Thay all got up fine and were happily jumping. I, on the other hand, tried getting up, but because I was older (and bigger) than the rest, when I tried to get up the tank shattered and I ended up hopping inside to my Dad to be fixed up. I now have a 2 inch scar along the bottom of my left foot for my efforts!

    • Kate Conner

      At first I thought you were going to say someone LANDED on the tank!  Whew!

      • Bonnie Wick

        LOL. Nope, just my clumsy self stomping through it! Although I have flipped off that same trampoline before… But there are no scars in that story.

  • Dad

    Thanks Kate for the great laugh this morning, and for the memories.  May the 4th  B with U”


  • Knittedgalaxy

    I have a 4 inch scar in the middle of my back, right on my spine. When I was in high school I had this HUGE (to my high school mind it was huge, it was of adequate size) lump that suddenly appeared on my back. Junior year, my parents finally agreed to allow the doctor to remove it. “It” was a lypoma or a lump of fatty tissue that had congregated in one spot, in the middle of my back.

    Our family doc at the time was getting VERY close to retirement. It was an outpatient surgery, local anesthetic, I was awake(DID NOT WANT TO BE). Heard the doc say “Boy, it’s a lot closer to the spine than I thought!” Thoughts of getting my spine sliced and being paralyzed ran through my head.

    Long story short, I ended up with like 15 stitches, a bunch of bandages, and low range of motion for about two weeks. To make things more interesting, I tell people I was stabbed…just to see their reactions. 

    • Kate Conner

      Yes, made up stories are great!  I sometimes use “I fought a bear.”  And that doc sounds scary!

  • Jonathon Isaac

    Most Idiotic:  It’s my 40th year, the 4th of July, the family has gathered, the small town parade is over, pulled pork sandwiches have been consumed and all is right with the world.  My sister (the youngest brother always blames the older sister) had brought homemade ice cream and, of course, dry ice to keep it cold during the drive to our house.  The ice cream was great, but it left us with the conundrum of what to do with the dry ice.  Smoking water is fine, but we were looking for something more…..dramatic.  Enter plastic bottles.  A small chunk of frozen CO2 and water in a 20 oz. bottle and it starts to get pretty hard.  However, it wouldn’t explode, so we picked it up with a shovel and carried it out to the garden, brought out the .22 rifle and punctured it.  The resulting large bang got us thinking.  What if we used a bigger bottle?  THAT sounded fun.  We were almost out of dry ice and were left with only crumbs and bits.  Dry ice in, a bit of water added, cap on, and take it outside.  Holding the bottle (remember the other bottle took a long time and intervention to blow) , I notice that  not all of the dry ice is exposed to the water, so I did what any grown man would do, and shake the bottle.  Tiny shards of frozen CO2 tend to quickly turned to a lot of gaseous CO2 very quickly, creating a tremendous amount of pressure.  The next thing that I’m truly aware of is that one jagged end of the bottle had quickly separated from the other jagged end of the bottle.  In its haste to be away from its other jagged half, it slashed its way across my wrist creating a decent gash on the inside of the wrist.  There was talk of stitches and even a phone call to a friend to determine if stitches would be necessary.  There was precious little sympathy from the wives, and my mother was trying not to look overly concerned to side with the wives.  The final reasoning for not going to get stitches?  It’s the 4th of July and I refused to be a statistic on the number of firework injuries for the news.

    • Kate Conner

      THAT is hilarious/idiotic/an awesome “man” story.   You would get along with my family – we used to launch bottle rockets out of the ends of my dad’s crutches into the woods.  My brother had to stand out there with a bucket of water, just in case.  

      • Jonathon Isaac

        Bottle rockets!  I took my Uzi squirt gun and hollowed out the end so that I could use it as a rocket launcher.  I had the good sense (I guess not really, or this wouldn’t be a story worth sharing) to point it up.  An ember off the wick fell and burned my hand causing me to lower my weapon just as the rocket launches.  It flew horizontally and hit my the house…..about a foot from the open back door and nearly into the living room.  No scar, but it’s amazing how sensible a child can get when nearly doing something COMPLETELY stupid.

  • Annettecaudell

    Ok, Kate, my scars aren’t all that unusual, but my story sure is. One night this past November, I was laying in the bed feeling a little sick at my stomach. I tried to get a little sleep, but within an hour, I was in the bathroom with all my dinner reserfacing. I HATE more than anything to throw up!! It hurts everywhere! Well I decided to just lay on the couch. As soon as I was verticle, I was up again, running back to the bathroom. This continued for HOURS! Well, if you know me, I hate going to the Dr. almost as much as I hate getting sick, so I decide to take this into my own hands. By this time I was in desperate need of sleep!! Around 3 am I decide to look on the internet to see what I could do to make this stomach virus and nausea go away. Well, I tried……hot…no sugar tea. Nasty! But I forced myself to drink some of it. Within minutes it came back up. I tried putting some “home made” remedy on the bottom of my feet to let it “soak” into my blood stream. Nothing. No change. By this time, I couldn’t sit up or lay down without this stabbing pain in my belly button. After numerous attempts of the “online medical treatments”, I tried my most foolish one ever. I was sleep deprived for the whole night, Kyle had taken the kids to school and when he returned….he found me.  I had taken the biggest Vidalia onion I had, and cut it into two peices…. and had one under each arm!! I was desperate! I wanted to stop throwing up and go to sleep already!! ( I really need my beauty sleep, mainly to keep those around me safe). When he came in, I am not sure if he was laughing uncontrollably at me, or crying because of the horrendous smell that was steaming off my feverish body! That was when He knew it was time for the hospital.
    A few hours later I was without an apendix and the moriphine was AMAZING while I waited on my surgery. I have had three children and never I felt anything like that. So now I have three scars on my stomach, one of which is still purple, and will ensure my one peice bathing suit from now on. Still, I have a few people that still pick on my about my onion experience. But I say desperate times, call for desperate messures. To be completely honest, I still wonder if it would have worked, you know, if it was a stomach virus. Just saying.

    • Kate Conner

      Ha ha ha!  What a great mental picture, I can just see you sitting there with onions under your armpits!

  • Ben Montgomery

     In fifth grade, we had a rare hour outside. Being the sophisticated eight-year-olds we were, we totally hit up the playground. One of the pieces of playground equipment was a large, spider-like thing with horizontal ladder-like structures o…n it.It was terrifying.It was pretty safe as long as you were using both hands and both feet to clamber over it. I’m not sure it was fun, per se, but it was safe.Nobody in their right mind would walk over the rungs with just their feet and their hands waving in the air, fighting for balance.But there were girls, see. And they were daring me to do something manly. Even at eight, that’s enough to do something stupid.I actually did pretty good. I got about halfway through before the arm flailing became useless. It’s okay, though, because my knee broke my fall when it slammed onto a rung. I didn’t break anything, but when I lifted my jeans leg there was a huge gash that was like… Well, since it’s Star Wars Day, have you ever seen the Sarlaac in Jedi? It was kind of like that. Big. Round. Deep. Stuff hanging out.The manliness charade was over. I began bawling immediately.And I bawled all the way through the 12 stitches, even though I couldn’t feel a thing. That’s okay, I don’t have to impress the doctor.The scar is still there, albeit faint.

    • Kate Conner

      “But there were girls, see”  Famous last words!  Great story, Ben.

  • Sarah Peters

    I’m pretty sure I remember you and Becca jumping off of said freezer :) but I was too much of a pansy/goodie-goodie to ever try . . .

    All I’m saying is, I hope you remember what I refer to as the mini-bike incident. It’s the scar story I always share :-D

    thanks for sharing, as always!!

    • Kate Conner

      Oh my gosh, I will NEVER forget that one!  It took you the whole way down the neighbor’s driveway on your stomach!

      • Sarah’s mom

        I don’t think this was the version I was told.  I remember it being down played quite a bit.  You guys were great at building each other’s “character”.  Love you Kate!!  

  • Caleb Montgomery

    Alright, when I was in the 4th grade, I was a major fire junkie. Whenever something needed to be burned, I volunteered to do it. So, if I started to feel like a fire was getting low and needed some “umf” if you please, I would pour gas on it.  Generally, people put gas on a fire by pouring it in a cup or something, standing a safe distance, and tossing the gas on the fire. But not me. I take gallon sized gas can, walk up next to the flames, and put the nozzle of the can practically in the fire. So of course, it blew up. my arm was engulfed in flames as I falls back on my but. I was lucky enough to walk away with just a permanent red blotch on my arm. But the best part of the story is, after a few years, still being a pyromaniac, I did it again. But I got away quick enough that time. In fact, I was on the other side of the law before the gas can even hit the ground.

    • Kate Conner

      Ha ha ha!!!  

  • genny

    4 years old…summer day in 1982.  I had just gotten home from preschool and all the older kids were playing outside.  There was no shortage of bike riding in our neighborhood, but since I didn’t know how to ride without my training wheels yet, I routinely hitched a ride from anyone else who happened to be riding while I was out.  There were 3 siblings who always meaner, rougher and dirtier than the other kids in our neighborhood with (reminds me of Frances from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure). Anywho, a group of us went riding (to a place called “Devil’s Hill”, sounds safe, right?) so I decided to hitch a ride with the oldest mean girl since I knew I couldnt keep up with the pack on my pink, banana seat huffy with training wheels.  I jumped on the handle bars and we took off.  We were towards the back of the pack as she tried picking up speed to catch up to the others.  For some unknown reason, mean girl thought it would be “fun” to try riding with no hands.  She yelled, l0ok Paul, no hands!! In a split second, we happened over a bump in the road caused by the root system of a huge oak tree that had broken through the asphalt.  I flew off the handlebars and slid face first onto the pavement. My baby sitter heard the comotion and came running outside. My bleeding lip soaked through 3 wash cloths on our way to the Hospital. I had a rock stuck in my upper lip!!! I can remember the injections the Dr. gave me to this day.  6 stiches later, I vowed to my Mother that the mean girl would never hike me again!!

  • Jenny Godwin

    You may or may not remember this one.  :)   When I was 16, I was in a car accident that broke my arm, shoulder blade and neck.   And while I do have several scars on my arms and even some on the side of my face, the most painful ones came 2 months after.  I was told I had to be put in halo traction because while part of my neck was “healing,” it was unstable and essentially leaving it still broken.  Halo traction is where they put 4 screws (2 in your forehead and 1 behind each ear) in your head.  Because of the potential for paralysis or trouble breathing,  I had to be awake while they manually put each of them in to try and realign my neck with a pulley system (oh the advances of modern medicine…and being a case study for the operation used after).  So I have two “beauty” marks on my forehead but due to the traction not being effective, I now have a nice one that shines on the back of my neck.  Thanks to the lovely line, I can totally rock an up do! 

  • Anonymous

    Wow, where to start? My most disgusting would probably be my knee. I grew up way before “safe” playgrounds. The playground at our elementary school was liberally littered with all sorts of crazy safety hazards. I mean, we had bricks half embedded in the dirt and poked up at all sorts of deadly angles. We had seesaws, swings, monkey bars, and a merry-go-round that for some odd reason was a hotly contested battleground every single time recess came around.  As many as possible would climb onto the thing, while those who could not actually fit onto it would circle it en masse and then procede to try to spin it fast enough to create the same sort of centrifical force NASA astronauts experience in training. Amazingly, while I took part in this recess ritual frequently, this was not how I managed to dig an enormous gash into my leg. No, I got it while playing chase or tag or follow-the-leader atop a wooden bench that had been built around a tree. Not flush up against it, mind you, just around it. During this daring run, my foot slipped and my leg shot off the edge of the bench. (Because there was no back.) I didn’t go off the outside, so I could hit the ground and roll away, I went between the bench and the tree. The front of my leg connected with the edge of the board just above the middle of my shin, then proceded to scrape a nice long ditch all the way up my leg until it connected with my knee-cap, which conveniently stopped the downward fall. I clearly remember limping up to one of the teachers who was “supervising” us with blood pouring down my leg and lovely globules of mangled flesh and tissue dangling in shreds from my knee downard. The teacher took a look at it, then took me into the office where they sprayed me with bactine and SENT ME BACK TO THE PLAYGROUND. It was the last recess of the day. We would be boarding busses in less than an hour, so they decided there was no reason to call my mother. It was just blood and tissue, after all. So I rode the bus home and my mother nearly had a cow when she saw my bloody self come limping through the door. I’ve had a weird scar just at the lower edge of my kneecap ever since. I’m fairly sure it’s where all the skin got bunched up at the top of the board since it’s a lump with a divit in the skin below it.

    I have others, but I think this is enough for now. :)

    • Kate Conner

      Ugh, that is terrible!  And really, really gross.  (The teenage guys we work with would love it.)

  • Meg Escareno

    Oh, which scar story to share…I might have to share two on account that both occurrences were equally traumatizing.

    1– When I was 5 and my brother, Travis, was 8, I did everything he did. One of our favorite games was “Don’t Touch Ground.” You know the game; you jump from couch to recliner to love-seat to couch again, and you can’t touch ground upon penalty of death by hot lava. We were busy leaping around on our very 1980s brown, floral couch and black pleather recliner, when I leaped and felt my little legs “frog” out on me, and I knew, “this is  gonna hurt.”
    *Freeze frame: The week prior, we’d gone to a garage sale where Travis had bought a little golf set–with tees.  My mom made it very clear that those tees were NEVER to be left out. Ever. 
    *Unfreeze: I came flying back down, missing both recliner and couch, landing smack on the floor with an excruciating pain in my right foot. That’s right, people, a tee had been left out and found my foot. It had gone in parallel into the arch of my foot. My mom came to my rescue and had to pull it out. That was awful.

    2–Travis (12) and I (9) were playing Kick-the-can with three of my boy cousins. One of those cousins was huge. He was a BIG kid, and he was “it.” I was just a little squirt, the only girl, and the one who was about to be obliterated. My big brother, being the kind-hearted brother that he is, ran in front of my cousin just before the monster could kick me out, grabbed the metal coffee can, and whipped it at me.
    Now, I’m not sure if it was the sun that got in my eyes or just the fact that I’ve never been a good catch, but I knew that that can was headed for my cranium and I was not going to be able to stop it, so I wrapped by arms awkwardly around my face, covering my forehead and my nose. WHACK! My left brow bone caught that stupid can for me.
    “WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!” I screamed bloody murder.  You should have seen those four boys’ eyes. They were as big as saucers. There was lots of blood and just a little cut. BUT that’s not the funny part. Because the can hit me so hard, I’d gotten a HUGE egg above my eye and up onto my forehead. Those dumb boys called me Egg-an for weeks.