I bruise often. No, I don't mean easily. At any given time I have two or three random bruises, and there's nothing easy or comfortable about most of them, although I often have a hard time recalling where they came from. Currently my left knee cap is a lovely shade of plum. I have a vague memory of whacking it on something. Under a desk, I think. It's hard to say. Not because it didn't hurt at the time, but because I blunder into so many obstacles that it's hard to decide which one left a mark.
Take the heater in my bedroom, one of those black cubes about six inches square. Every night I turn it on to warm up the icy floors before my husband takes his evening shower. And every night I turn it off before I go to sleep. Nearly every morning, I trip over it in the dark and stub my toes because I forgot to shove it safely under the end of the bed.
The trailer hitch on my Jeep is another notorious assailant. You'd think after the fifth or sixth time I raised a goose egg on my shin hauling groceries out of the back of the car, I'd get a clue, but somehow that hitch always comes as a total surprise.
Some bruises have not only left a mark, but a permanent impression on my psyche. The worst, hands down, was the first summer I lived in South Dakota. I'd gone to a friend's house for roping practice one sunny Saturday, the weather warm enough for a thin cotton tank top. I roped a big yearling, missed my slack, and instead of around his neck the loop came tight on one back leg.
My horse stopped. The calf kept going. And the breakaway hondo on my rope…didn't. Not until the rope was stretched taut, the five hundred pound calf dragged almost to a stop. Then, snap! The rope recoiled, straight back at me, the end lashing around my torso and bare upper arm like a bullwhip, the hondo nailing me in the ribs.
There is a frozen moment, between the impact and the pain, when your brains scrambles to figure out how to eject from your body before the hurt sets in. I failed. I can't even describe how it felt without tears springing to my eyes. I peeled my shirt up to find a perfect impression of the hondo on my ribs, with a welt that snaked in a full coil across my stomach and arm. A rope tattoo, complete with the spiral ridges, that gradually morphed from red to purple to green then yellow over the following month.
More recently, my child was invited to a birthday party. After driving an hour into town every day of the week to work, getting me into a car on a Sunday is like stuffing a cat into a barrel full of water. My husband offered to take our son to the party if I would help my dad bed down the calving barn. Fine by me. First I had to open the big double doors, which are held shut with a spring-loaded metal bar. Unfortunately, I miscalculated the distance between the bar and my face, and when it popped open it smacked me in the cheekbone.
I walked around with a purple smudge under one eye for two weeks, looking as if that half of my head hadn't slept in a month. My husband declared it proof of what he'd always suspected: I would rather punch myself in the face than be sociable.