Jacques Lopez, 36
Jacques Lopez is covered in scars. Scars with stories. Which is lucky for me as although he is a man who doesn’t subscribe to outbursts of self-disclosure, whenever I ask about a scar, I learn a little more about him: his experiences, his reactions, how he sees the world. These scars allow me to start conversations and use my natural ability to interrogate…ahem…interview him to satisfy my curiosity.
- Right Eyebrow: 1993. High school student in Bangkok. Jacques threw a punch at the wrong guy. He didn’t know it at the time but the wrong guy was the son of the local mafia kingpin. Jacques got lucky and regained consciousness in an alley, beaten up, bleeding, but escaping the signature mark of this guy: an external gunshot through the cheek.
- Side of Right Eyebrow: 1982. One of his first memories is sliding headfirst down the carpeted stairs in his home in Miami, FL. The chicken pox were so itchy and he knew he shouldn’t pick at them. Alas, there is only so much restraint a 4 year old can display and he now has the scar to prove it on the side of his right eye.
- Under Right Eye: 1994. Bangkok. With only a few Baht in his pocket, Jacques hopped on the cheap bus to head home one morning. He thought the bus stopped but as he stepped off the bus, the bus stuttered, then gunned it through the traffic light. One foot on the bus, the other on the road, Jacques bounced his face off the street and need stitches for the cut.
- Right Middle Finger Knuckle. Early 80’s. C’ote D’Ivoire. Living in west Africa, Jacques’s adventures as a lone boy on his bike left him with many scrapes and bruises but the scar on the knuckle of his middle finger is thanks to messing around with a knife. “My mom had given me a Swiss Army knife which I took outside. Across the street was a huge area of mixed grass and brush and a massive pile of dirt. I used the knife to stab a banana tree and tried to whittle pieces of it. I sliced off the top of my knuckle.”
- Middle Finger Middle Knuckle to Base. Late 80’s. Virginia. “I heard you could make teargas with ammonia and bleach so I mixed those two liquids in a mountain dew bottle. I brought it outside and shook it. Nothing happened. Then I put it down and just touched the bottle cap and BOOM. It exploded.”
- Back of head: 1982, Napa, CA. His first scar. “I was little. I was messing around with a broomstick in the playground by my grandma’s house.” He remembers bleeding from the back of his head but not much more than that. I guess there’s something to be said for faulty early childhood memories.7. Side of Torso: Early 1990’s. Rural Thailand. On a rented motorcycle driving around with friends. At the end of the night as Jacques took a turn on the road the gas caught, the bike went one way and sent Jacques headfirst the other way into a field of tall grass. His first thoughts were: “I’m not dead. Nothing’s broken.” And then he saw his side, one cut bleeding and pretty deep. Back at the hotel, Jacques convinced one of his friends to stitch up the cut with a needle sterilized with a lighter and a piece of linen from the hotel comforter. The carbon from the sterilized needle left black marks on his skin.
- Left Knee: Mid 80’s. West Africa. Of the many invasive, disease ridden insects on earth, many of them live in the humid world of West African countries. Jacques traveled to a number of neighboring countries with his mom, dad, and brother when they lived in in C’ote D’Ivoire. A fly lay eggs on his knee most likely as he slept, burrowing the eggs inside his skin. The most common areas for nesting insects happens in elbow crooks and armpits: soft moist areas of your body. The spot above his knee become tender, red, and increasingly sore. Hot compresses were applied. What broke through his skin? A 1/2 inch larvae. “The whole thing came out. It looked like a fat white leech.”
Did anyone else just gag?
For inspirational portraits and short stories, check out Who I Am: American Scar Stories. You can also get daily mini scar stories from people I come across in daily life. Find these on my Instagram page or the American Scar Stories Facebook page.
And once again, thanks for reading.