I remember the scene like this:
My best friends Amy, Erin and I sat in Erin’s bedroom, lights out, black light on, black light posters glowing on the wall and Smashing Pumpkins’ “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” (ed.: thanks for the catch, Renita!) playing over the boom box. It was the middle of another bright, sunny afternoon in suburban Florida.
No, we weren’t doing anything illicit. In the years since, I’ve realized that this set up may sound as though we were up to something. We were merely 14, and therefore a bit odd.
Amy and Erin lounged on one side of the room as I perched on Erin’s dresser, my back to the window. I don’t think we were doing anything particular; we were high-school freshmen, and therefore our time together consisted of a lot of angst about nothing in particular, the occasional dance party (“Pump Up the Jam,” anyone?) and a lot of rock ‘n’ roll. It’s the same story teenagers have acted out throughout the generations.
But on that day, Erin took an ordinary afternoon in a different direction. She picked up a canister of deodorant, intending to startle me by throwing it at the wall beside me. Erin had a great arm.
And terrible aim.
The deodorant slammed into my chin, its wheel slicing through the skin and into the fat below. I covered it with my hand, hurt but mostly startled. When I moved my hand away, Erin saw blood and burst into tears.
Perhaps I should have gotten stitches, but Erin’s mom was a nurse and applied butterfly bandages as her daughter continued to weep. My dad later worried that I’d be so badly scarred that we should consider plastic surgery. I thought the incident was funny, and for years prized the “boo-boo bear” Erin brought me the next day, its chin also covered in a bandage.
The scar is almost untraceable; no one notices it unless I point it out, and they quickly forget it thereafter. But the story of how a stick of Secret Summer Breeze lacerated my chin lives on.
I’ve shared this story a few times over the years, often as a random, context-free fact that no one would guess about me. After a recent comment on my friend Rachel’s blog, I decided it was time to finally write it down. Erin wants you to know that she felt immense guilt. I want you to know that I, too, feel remorse–I didn’t fully appreciate that Smashing Pumpkins album till years later.