I Can See Clearly Now, the Pain Is Gone


In first grade, a piece of paper sliced through the eye of Mario Weddell, FCLC ’12, and he had to wear an eye patch for a while. (Photo Illustration by Mario Weddell/The Observer)


In first grade, a piece of paper sliced through the eye of Mario Weddell, FCLC ’12, and he had to wear an eye patch for a while. (Photo Illustration by Mario Weddell/The Observer)

I got a paper cut in my eye in the first grade. That means a piece of paper wounded me by creating a small incision in my eyeball, when I was six. I repeated my statement to assure you that I am fully aware of how serious a claim this is.

Paper cuts are terrible because they hurt in so many ways. Obviously, there’s the physical pain of having something razor-like slice through your nerves. But there’s also the sorrow of realizing how pathetic you are, a flesh-and-bone Goliath humbled by a paper David. And there’s the two-week paranoia that follows, when you turn all pages very slowly. All in all, paper cuts are the ultimate everyday injury, because they are so subtle and shameful (I’m sure there are other injuries involving genitalia that I’ve chosen to ignore).

I was sitting at my cubby (or whatever the cute name for child desks is), and another student, Michelle, was walking around, handing out classwork. Because I was sitting and she was standing, her hands were at my eye level. The classwork she was holding was made of paper. I hope you see where this is going.

She handed me my assignment, but she didn’t let go. I tugged on it, and she tugged back. I tugged harder, and she let go, causing me to propel the sheet of paper into my own face and across my eye. It was her fault.

And then the pain came. All the pain of the outside world, this universe of trial and error, disappointment and death, sensed an opening in my defenses and flooded into my eye. I let out a tea-kettle-whistle sort of moan and grabbed my face. I couldn’t even open my uninjured eye, because the light was hurting my brain. I was hyperventilating very quietly.

Another student alerted the teacher that I was hurt. Thinking it was nothing too serious, she told me to go to the nurse. She realized it was serious when I tried to run out of the room with my eyes covered, but instead ran into a desk and fell over it. The rest of the story I experienced blindly.

I felt strong arms lift me and cradle me like a belly-up kitten. Powerful strides pounded down the hallway, and then up the stairs to the second floor, to the nurse’s office.

We entered the office, and the nurse asked me to open my eye. I guess that makes sense, but when it’s your eye it feels like the stupidest request she could have made. I summoned all my strength and attempted to raise the two-ton steel defense wall I had clamped down to guard the breach, but my eyelid refused. I told her that Michelle had cut my eye with a piece of paper. I made sure to repeat Michelle’s name several times in the hopes that she would be drawn and quartered by the time my eye healed.

Then the nurse told me to go lay on the little bed behind the curtain until my dad arrived. I had always dreamed of lying behind that curtain, so it wasn’t too bad. A half hour later, I heard the footsteps I knew so well, echoing down the hall. I felt my breath slowly return to normal. In my head, I could see his black work shoes stepping into the nurse’s office, and her directing him to where I lay.

He opened the curtain. “Hey, Tiger.”

He hugged me and I was engulfed by my favorite smell in the world. His deodorant mingled with light perspiration and the hints of shaving cream from earlier that morning. I could feel the warmth coming off his shirt, from driving in the summer heat of his green Toyota Tercel, and I knew everything would be okay (as long as Michelle was appropriately punished).

I sat in his car with my hands over my face. Even the slight glow of the sun coming through my eyelid was excruciating. We went to the eye doctor. The doctor forced my eye open and poked around. He put those nasty dilation drops into both of my eyes, magnifying the pain. It was not fun. He made some dumb jokes about how painful school is for little boys. I loved school. He said something about Michelle having a crush on me. I hated him.

He sent me home with a patch over my eye. I did love pirates, so I felt like the universe was finally showing remorse. I tried to open my eyes. The dilation drops made it impossible to see, so, using the mental map I had of the house, I wandered over to the TV and turned it on. I had the channels memorized so I switched it to some cartoon station.

I tried to open my eyes again. No go. I decided to just listen. Bugs Bunny was on. He said, “Eh, what’s up, Doc?” and I chuckled. Then he said it again. And again.

I never realized how weak the dialogue is on Looney Tunes. I sat there and moped for two weeks.