Throughout my childhood, my siblings and I often “volunteered” at charity events at the pet store my dad managed.
This story begins, quite specifically, with a charity car wash.
My best friend and I—we were 13 and 11—had inappropriate crushes on the “college dudes” who worked for my dad in the summer, so we thought it would be fun and scandalous to hang out with them at the car wash. Oh, also we wanted to help out sad pets, or whatever.
The day held some ominous characteristics that, in hindsight, I should have considered.
It was extremely sunny.
The event occurred atop a parking lot made of asphalt.
Water was involved.
—and several other precarious details.
There I was, with my bff, dancing and singing along to”I Want It That Way” with the college dudes, oblivious of what was to come.
What would’ve been a pleasant, pre-adolescent, carefree memory would soon become tainted.
When I got home, I began to feel the consequences of my actions.
First, I became extremely sleepy and thirsty.
My face grew hot, and I began to shiver uncontrollably.
My shoulders were killing me. It felt as though my bra-straps had transformed into piano wire and were slicing through the skin (I’ve played far too many video games to see piano wire as anything other than a weapon; blame Agent 47).
I eventually decided to inspect my shoulders.
I got up and staggered into the bathroom. When I looked into the mirror, I was horrified.
After reluctantly giving the pain just a tiny bit of attention, its narcissism grew out of control, and I could focus on nothing else. The next few days were a blur.
The next thing I remember is my little brother running inside and calling for me.
In spite of my own suffering, my brother’s enthusiasm was surprisingly persuasive.
I followed him outside.
Little-Girl-Neighbor was standing there with a legit pollie-want-a-cracker? mother effing parrot.
Without waiting for consent, she lifted her parrot from her shoulder and placed it upon my own.
It was awful.