Biff America: The Cups of Time


“Shit, Honey Bun, you look like Frankenstein.”

I continued to drive, assuming my partner would explain her sighting. I was hoping there was a clarification, or maybe even a compliment, hidden in that statement. After all, while no one would call Mary Shelley Frankenstein’s character attractive, he looked fit and had great hair.

But without any further elucidation to come, and without taking my eyes off the road, I dared to ask: “What reminds you of Frankenstein about me?” “

“All those scars on your arms. You look like a patchwork quilt. I looked down and couldn’t disagree.

We were heading south through Wyoming; the sun was low in the west and was shining through the passenger side window on the right side of my chest. For some reason, the lighting, coupled with the layer of dust and pollen from our just finished bike ride, seemed to highlight any blemishes from the wounds on my skin. Viewed in their entirety, my arms resembled those of a medical school training corpse.

Later that day, after a shower and a change of clothes, we sat on lawn chairs, ate and watched the sun set behind the Snowy Range. Although the lighting was not perfect, I was able to take a closer look at the havoc six decades of sunshine, fun and dropping took on my hands and arms. To be clear, the same results could be seen on my calves and thighs, but since Ellie was still eating, I kept my pants on.

Even confined to the relatively small paddle of my right arm – just one of my five appendages (yes, I have five) – it was surprising to see the toll that an uncoordinated life on the outside could leave in its wake. . But I’ll say most of these skin blemishes were the result of something that I enjoyed right up to the point of impact.

I noticed a two inch long, much discolored and thin line that I remember getting when I was little with a nail going through a window in an abandoned building. A few summers ago, there was a quarter-sized semicircle gained by climbing too close to a barbed wire fence. A third was a combat injury sustained in the line of duty when I tripped and fell while carrying a tray of wine glasses while I was a waiter.

I will add, here in the mountains, I am not alone.

Visitors aside, it would be hard to go to a cafe, gym, or local event and not see the scars of a life well lived. It amazes me when I travel to more civilized and lower places, when I meet people my age and older with unblemished bodies. This does not mean that they are not damaged. What is less obvious and more damaging are the scars we all bear that are invisible.

“Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a tough battle.” Although some attribute this quote to Plato, he never said this. But he said a bunch of other smart stuff – look at him. The truth is, no one knows who said this, but no truer word has ever been said.

Where the mutilations of our skin are mostly the result of passion and play and can fade and even heal, this is not always the case with the scars of our emotions. Now granted, some pains of the past – broken hearts, small embarrassments, emotional missteps – fade over time. For example, I know a guy who gave a speech in front of his whole high school and later found out his fly was down. Although initially devastated, it wasn’t until a few years later that he was able to laugh about it (OK, that was me). But there is no one alive who can escape the collection of internal scuffs and scrapes, some more damaging than others.

These wounds do not heal so quickly. These are lesions that we need to recognize within ourselves – how they affect our behavior and attitude even decades later. But more importantly, understand that there are invisible hurts in others that might not be an excuse for bad behavior, but certainly are a reason for it.

But getting back to the surface of the mutilations that many of us wear, some with pride and some not, I find them beautiful. It is these scars that define our lives and reflect our lifestyles. But after saying all that, I’ll confess at times, and in certain lightings, I’ll put on a long-sleeved shirt.


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