Go Ask Daddy About Face Trauma and Sweet Rides

photo credit: leg0fenris via photopin cc
photo credit: leg0fenris via photopin cc

There’s a point in the soccer off-season meant for reckoning.

GAD GRAPHICBy reckoning, I mean counting wounds. Bruises. Bumps. Scratches. Cleat marks. Before the signs of battle heal, my girls take inventory. I’ve heard counts on the order of 90. This winter break is perfect for restoration for these soccer-only girls.

They’ve had mystery bruises and swollen knuckles. Other injuries don’t show up on reckoning day. But you can count them by neck braces, knee braces, and ankle braces. And stories.

There will always be stories.

Marie had a full-speed collision with a boy eight years ago. The ball squirted right, and both players bounced on their butts after their heads clunked like coconuts. The boy crumbled and cried. Marie? She won the ball.

It wasn’t until after the game that I took inventory.

“Marie!” I shouted. “You’ve got a shiner!”

She hated that I told that story over and over. But when Grace took a smack to the face during a game years later, she wanted to be like big sis, too.

1. Do I have a black eye or a shiner?

photo credit: illuminaut via photopin cc
photo credit: illuminaut via photopin cc

Either way, it’s blunt trauma to the face, which sounds like something they’d say on Bones or CSI Miami.

(Hi, Emily Procter).

They’re one in the same. Black eye sounds like you might have fallen and plunked your head on a trash can. Shiner implies a fracas. This is my definition and has no bearing in any degree of research whatsoever.

A shiner looks shiny. That’s why it’s called a shiner. Urban Dictionary, in its growing role in defining words, says it’s of Irish origin. It refers to punishment British officers doled out with their boot to soldiers who failed to keep machinery shiny.

That carries less street cred than would a fracas. That’s my definition, of course.

2. Doesn’t a lady also sing You Lift Me Up?

photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer via photopin cc
photo credit: Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer via photopin cc

Who doesn’t sing You Lift Me Up? Josh Groban’s version is perhaps most popular. I skipped right past stories of blind children and Celine Dionne singing this on YouTube. Why? I saw two words from my teen years that stopped my heart in its tracks: Celtic Woman.

I saw them sing and play violin (or fiddle?) on PBS once when I was young. I was looking for a ballgame or Go-Go’s video or cable movie starring Sharon Stone.

But there they were, in gaudy dresses and headphone microphones before hip hop artists and Madonna wore them. In a smoky room with changing colors and a well-behaved audience, they wowed me in all my awkward teenage glory.

I credit Chloe Agnew, Lisa Kelly and Hayley Westerna for planting in me a seed of crushy-ness. It nudged toward PBS and NPR for crushes and away from Lita Ford and Vixen.

What was the question again?

3. What was your first car like?

photo credit: Collector Car Ads via photopin cc
Maddie looked like this – but she kept her top on. photo credit: Collector Car Ads via photopin cc

I learned to drive a 1970 Ford pickup that smelled like a hardware store. I took my driver’s license test in a 1983 Eagle Wagon. But my first car … the first one that was mine, all mine, was a 1962 Buick Skylark. My former brother-in-law called it my Ghetto Cruiser. But baby, that car was sweet.

So many stories.

Like, the time my dad’s friend John, a talented mechanic who’d lost his left hand in Vietnam, helped us fix the engine. When we came in for lunch, mom asked how it went. “John fixed it – single handed!” I said, knowing exactly what I was saying.

John dropped his head, and his belly laugh let me know we were cool.

My dad and I toiled beneath the hood of that girl many times. We’d mix up spark-plug wires, and resorted to how-to manuals on the engine to find the right sequence. At her worst, Maddie felt like an old woman’s ride.

At her best, she sparkled and roared. She was a sexy cougar. She wore low-profile tires, sweet rims, and a dual exhaust with glass pack mufflers.

Someone stole Maddie from an auto shop freshman year in college. The insurance company cut dad a check for $2,000. We’re convinced it was an inside job.

Dad dreamed the cops would find Maddie, restored, and we’d get her back.

What was my first car like? A dream. She was an absolute dream.

4. Do you have to have a goalkeeper and defenders?

photo credit: loop_oh via photopin cc
photo credit: loop_oh via photopin cc

I read 144 pages of the FIFA rules of the game. And I’m not 100% sure of the answer to this!

I know you can receive a red card for spitting at someone. Or jumping at someone. I know all the contingencies if a ball gets popped during play. (You’ll have to ask about that one).

Nowhere in those pages could I find a rule that you must have a keeper or defenders. Against some teams we play, it’s tough to tell who’s on defense, anyway. If I’m honest, I’ve lost my own defensive line in a match, too. Sometimes, things fall out of shape.

Like in life, there are no timeouts in soccer to fix things.

One time, down 2-0 in a tournament final, I sent up defenders, one by one, to attack. Late in the game, I even sent up the keeper. We needed points. Losing 3-0 because our goal was open wouldn’t hurt less than 2-0 while we defended it.

Parents started to scream that it HAD to be illegal!

Nope. Here, read these 144 pages …

5. Is the movie “Cool Runnings” a true story?

photo credit: richiebits via photopin cc
photo credit: richiebits via photopin cc

It’s based on a true story, which is like saying Froot Loops is part of a nutritious breakfast. What did you expect when Disney pollutes a story?

The movie depicts the origins of Jamaica’s unlikely bobsled team. The team members are fictional. The real cool runners weren’t sprinters, but army recruits. And rather than get the cold shoulder from their Nordic counterparts, the Olympic village treated the team like rock stars.

That scene at the end, of the Jamaican team crashing? Well, they did crash. But they didn’t carry the sled across the finish line. They just pushed it there, and lifted it after they crossed. That makes a lousy end-of-movie Disney moment, though.

Even Disney distortion, it’s a meaningful story. We love stories, don’t we? We want the folly, the impossible dream, just enough hope to move us forward. We want some adversity, some animosity. We want the resistance to power through.

And that moment in the end. We want that too.

And if you feel like strapping on the shin guards and boots and making a story too, bruises and all, well, I’m OK with that, too.

underdog quote


  1. Believe it or not never got a shiner myself and got my fingers crossed for my girls now, but still you totally taught me something new as I didn’t really know the difference either.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      How’d you get your shiner?

      1. I didn’t get one, but I guess that could always change, but hope not!

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        My bad! I thought you had a shiner story. I hope you never have one. Unless it’s how you gave one.

      3. Aww thanks Eli always!! 😉

  2. Yvonne says:

    Oh, those gorgeous Celtic Women! It’s kind of unfair that they cornered so much of the charm and talent market!

    Do you still mourn for Maddie? I wouldn’t blame you.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I always found them dreamy. They charmed me enough to stay on PBS and forget all about Sharon Stone.

      I do think about Maddie sometimes. When I lived in Tallahassee, there was a girl at Florida State who drove one like her. I used to look longingly at her at stop lights.

      The car. Not the girl.

  3. Lyn says:

    I had a shiner a few years ago when a brick wall head-butted me. It went from the top of my forehead to my chin 😀 My first car was a 1962 Hillman Minx. Love Celtic Woman. Have you heard Celtic Thunder? Just brilliant. My granddaughter loves them – and Celtic Woman.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Brick walls never get the shiner, do they? Nor do metal polls and fists. That’s quite a bruisal footprint that one put on you. Is there a blog link to the story?

      Just looked up the Hillman Minx. Smooth ride! Love it. I think I’ve seen one in a Mr. Bean flick.

      Just looked up Celtic Thunder. I thought maybe they’d be the boy version. Not as dreamy, but probably just as talented, right?

      1. Lyn says:

        No, no post about it. The photos of me would scare people away from my blog 😮

        Oh yes, Celtic Thunder are as talented. LOL just ask any 14-90 year old female 😀

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I think I have two photos of me on my entire site. I prefer to leave the beauty to my girls.

        Those Celtics sure are photogenic, aren’t they? I honestly cannot tell you which one was my favorite.

  4. Oh man….so bummed about Maddie 😦
    I’ve never owned a cool, vintage car and have always wanted a sixties-something Chevelle. My husband had one when we first started dating and then sold it to buy me an engagement ring. I think it still makes him sad.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I just hope someone took her and beautied her up and loved her, at least.

      A Chevelle would be a stellar choice. Well, if he wound up with you in exchange for the Chevelle, he wound up pretty good, actually.

  5. NotAPunkRocker says:

    Maddie is/was gorgeous! When I win the lottery, I am going to buy a few vintage cars since I’ll be able to afford gas for them then.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      A girl I went to school with once told me, “the only reason girls smile at you in traffic is because of your car, you know.” You could possibly have a collection of cars like Jay Leno does, if you get the numbers right.

  6. You did have a sweet first ride. I’m jealous. I bought my first car when I was 18 – a 1980 Toyota Tercel Hatchback, silver. Very pedestrian…but it got me where I wanted to go (until it blew up on the highway in the middle of nowhere…in January…but that’s another story…)

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      She was a good girl, Maddie. You could have gone cruising with me. And think about it Jenn – that car gave you all it had. Right to the last mile.

      Is that story on the blog yet?

  7. firebailey says:

    My first car was a Buick Regal circa 1970-something that I purchased with my hard earned $250. It went through a quart of oil a week but the upside was that the filter was always clean so it rarely needed an oil change.

    I loved that car. Especially when I had to replace it with a Pacer after I wrapped the Buick around a tree.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Nothing quite as sweet as a $250 car. Those old girls are pretty oil-thirsty, but you were able to find the silver lining.

      The Pacer is another under-appreciated American classic. How’d you wrap the Buick around a tree? Usually Buicks can win those battles, or at least tie.

  8. ksbeth says:

    i always learn so much from you, and hope you had a great holiday with your girls. p.s. – when i was in advertising, ‘cool runnings’ was one of the first movies i ever promoted. you have the real story right, and disney loves to ‘disnefy’ everything it touches, so all is kicked up a notch. wear your shin guards!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      the questions just keep coming, beth. these girls keep my brain pliable.

      Even without the Disney touch, the Cool Runnings story is cool, mon.

  9. You’ve done it again Eli. Conjured up all kinds of stories in my head. The one that is the most cringeworthy has to be the time my son was booted in the face by his soccer coach’s dad. I was on the sidelines chinwagging with the parents when my boy’s teammate toddled over to tug on my sleeve. “Kelly! H has been hit in the face.” I look over and sure enough the game is halted. The coach and his dad are mopping tears off 6 year old’s face. I can’t react – he’ll come to me if he wants to. No way am I going to go on that field and mother him. He’d never forgive me.
    What happened? Coach’s dad went to retrieve the ball from behind the net and boot it to center. My son was in goal and somehow ball curved and zoomed right for his face. Oops.
    Lovely mom that I am I forgot all about it and was shocked later that afternoon as I was driving him home from cross country skiing (yes back in the days when I said yes to every sport) and he asked in slurred frozen voice “Mom is it normal for 1/2 of your face to be numb?” Pulled the car over that very second and gave him a proper once over. Swollen cheek and eye. Not a shiner but still a beaut.
    As for Cool Runnings? Yah, mahn. That John Candy was quite the guy. Miss him.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Why do the funny die young, Kelly?

      I think when kids are tough, it’s not always easy to know when they’re really hurt! The older they get, the tougher they want to be.

      A girl on one of my teams knocked a wayward toddler hurtling through the air with an errant shot that hit her face. I was sure the girls would be concerned about the baby, but they had too much trouble stifling their laughs to check on her! She was fine, by the way.

  10. ProteanMom says:

    Sorry about your first car. My first car was unceremoniously used as a weak down payment on a newer car after it failed me – twice.

    Tire blow outs on a freeway… not fun.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It was just too sweet a ride to hold onto, I guess. How long until the newer car became a weak down payment for the next car?

      Tire blowouts can’t conveniently happen on residential roads, can they?

      1. ProteanMom says:

        That newer car lasted until we decided to sell it and get rid of as much debt as possible. We then bought a truck. 🙂

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Ginger in a Pickup. Sounds like a good blog.

  11. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me says:

    I’ve had a shiner or two – they hurt like hell. They just do.
    Hmm…that probably sounds bad to admit I’ve had more than one black eye in life…
    The Pacer was a strange little car. Reminded me of those little egg crate cars that you could get as toys – pull them back, then let them fly across the kitchen floor.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I don’t think I ever had a true shiner. I’m a good ducker.

      I’ll teach you.

      Wonder which would win a race, a Gremlin or a Pacer?

      1. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me says:

        My shiners are the direct result of the combination of failing to keep my hands up when sparring and slow legs. At least I know WHY I got them…
        OK, now that’s an interesting race question – and funny because my Dad had both a Gremlin and a Pacer at different points in his life. The Gremlin is smaller and the name seems to imply it would be meaner and faster. However. The Pacer had a larger engine and the name suggests wise use of speed and skill. But the Gremlin was smaller in dimension and perhaps packed a decent whollop for a subcompact car, since it was the “poor man’s Corvette.” Both cars at some point in their development boasted six-cyl engines, but the Gremlin was smaller and lighter than the Pacer (affectionately nicknamed “Chub” by my stepmother). The Pacer was heavy. Period.
        The Gremlin gets my vote.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I did a little research – the Pacer has a faster 0-to-60 time (14.5 seconds to 17.8). I’d love to have either one.

      3. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me says:

        That is good research – I definitely didn’t think to even look that up. Well played. Still, something seems so wrong about a car that wide moving fast. 😀

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        But wouldn’t you just love to see it?

  12. Kim says:

    I don’t always click on music videos but I’m still listening to the Celtic Woman version of You Raise Me Up – it is awesome!!! I like the song anyway but think I prefer this version!!!!
    I learned to drive in a super old pick-up with my Poppa!!! Now I finally own my very own truck for the first time ever – it only took me 45 years to get to this point!!!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Isn’t it great? Angelic.

      I think learning to drive in an old pickup prepares you for anything. You’ve kind of gone full circle. I loved having a truck, but then people always call when there’s furniture to move. (At least I sometimes get pizza out of the deal).

  13. They say “blunt force trauma” in ER, too. Hi, George Clooney 🙂

    Wow, are there any Christmas concerts by that Celtic Woman? I’m sure she’d be sold out within seconds.

    Cool Running SHOULD be a true story. I love underdogs who show the world who’s boss!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Was he in that? I never watched it.

      I just wish Celtic Woman would come here to Charlotte. They could even sing the raiders fight song and I’d go.

      I’ll always pull for the underdog. Even on Disney.

  14. Rorybore says:

    There was one unfortunate week when I was a child that I was sporting TWO black eyes. If you’ve ever had a horse rear its head up while you are cleaning it’s hooves and knock you on the back of head: you’ll know why.
    Celtic Women is my very favourite version of that song. It emote so much when I hear that; it’s shameful.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I tend to stay away from the back end of horses at every opportunity. All other manner of quadrapedal farm mammals, in fact.

      I wish YouTube had a video of you watching a Celtic Woman video. I’m glad there’s not one of me.

  15. Brittnei says:

    I love that quote from Victor Ortiz at the end! I never knew the extent to whether or not the story for Cool Runnings was based on a real events or not. I love that I learned about that hear tonight. I also love these questions that you post here. Do your girls really ask them?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I have a deep appreciation for the underdog, Brittnei – and I’m a card-carrying member (as soon as my dues are up to date). All told, Cool Runnings is still an inspiration.

      I learn so much when I research these questions, and sometimes I forget to actually give the kids the answers! They have asked every single one, and there’s now about 270 unanswered questions in the list.

      My Fridays are set through 2087.

      Grace just asked Sunday why we have to dress up for church – that’ll be a fun one to research.

  16. tamaralikecamera says:

    What? I didn’t read anything past that video. It’s pretty.
    Ok, I lied. I read more.
    My first car was a legend. My second car was a death trap legend. My third car was a work of genius. My fourth car has no good stories. Just none. Except that Athena once took a dump in it when she was a puppy. And once I passed a woman with a really hot convertible and I told her that her car was amazing and that mine was a giant nerd.
    She laughed with her head thrown back and then left me in her car’s dust.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Right? I played it over and over while finishing this post. Glad I didn’t lose you to the Celtic Woman specter, though.

      Is there a car post somewhere in your archives? I feel there should be one. I want to know of the legends.

      I have images of Cruella DeVille in your convertible story. I imagine you choking on her exhaust, too. I don’t like that. So I also imagine her opening her car insurance bill.

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