If you ever meet my younger brother, Luke, and you look at his face really closely, you can see a scar on the bridge of his nose. That scar makes me laugh every time I think of it. It also makes me thankful that my Dad never became a medical doctor.
Growing up, we never had the “don’t throw things in the house rule.” I am pretty certain that Mom wanted the rule, but whenever she’d try to enact it, one of us would throw something at her. It wasn’t rebellion, a fight against authority. Our need to throw things in the house was more of a cultural divide, with my mother as the gatekeeper of all things civilizing while we—the boys—were the barbarians at the gate.
We incorporated throwing into all manner of chores, from laundry to dishes to gardening to housecleaning. Yep, we had chores. Yep, we did laundry. Yep, we threw dishes. Throughout all the years of throwing things in the house, we never broke a dish or a lamp. We would watch whole football games while throwing a football around our living room. With our eyes on the television, we’d have to pay attention to the pigskin being whipped at our heads. We never broke anything. Never. We had sure hands, both in the throwing department as well as the catching department.
I thought throwing things in the house was a universal practice. The first time I tried to unload the groceries from the car by throwing one of the bags to Sunday, I almost broke a jar of mayonnaise on her forehead.
While I’d like to continue bragging about our perfect throwing record, I must be honest. Luke’s scar represents the truth of my claim, and it is this: we had a near-perfect record. Near perfect means that we never broke anything, if you can forget about that one time.
After two decades of time passed, the story has gotten a little fuzzy. I can’t remember if I was in the room or if my older brother was there, but I do remember this: there was a crash of glass and Luke came out of his bedroom with blood streaming down his face. So much for our perfect record.
We lived in a pretty destructive household, so a boy with blood streaming down his face wasn’t too uncommon. I don’t even think Dad looked up from his newspaper.
Luke said, “Dad, I think we need to go to the hospital.”
Again, this statement wasn’t unfamiliar. We went to the emergency room quite often. I bet we were one of the few elementary school kids who could give directions to our house and to the General Hospital there in town. Toward the end of our rambunctious stage, I believe they had a parking space reserved for the Towles-mobile.
Without looking up, Dad said, “What’s the matter?”
Luke said, “I cut myself.”
Then, Dad looked up. “What happened?”
Here’s where the fun began. Luke has never been a good liar. The truth is in his face, so his thoughts exist right there for all to see. If he thinks something’s funny during a funeral, he’s laughing. Something makes him mad, he’s scowling. Something stinks, he’s hoping no one thinks he did it. I must say, his ability to lie must have been given to me and my older brother, Joe. In fact, compared to Joe, I am a lying amateur, but that’s another story.
Here’s what Luke said: “I was putting my football away and it hit the light fixture and broke it. The glass cut my nose.”
Here’s what Luke meant: “I was throwing the football up in the air in my bedroom and it hit the light fixture and broke it. The glass cut my nose.”
Either way, Dad didn’t care. He wasn’t so much concerned about the lie as he was about the bleeding nose in front of him.
“Let’s get you cleaned up,” he said. After getting most of the blood stopped, Dad pronounced Luke cured as he placed the sixth band-aid across Luke’s nose.