You have never really liked parties, those held in your honor or those held for others. You grew up in a large family, the youngest child by far, and you could often be found reading in the closet where the sleeping bags were stored, or playing with a broken piece of jewelry in your treehouse.
But your parents liked to attend parties, just the regular barbecue, and your parents would have parties too sometimes in the yard and house. Usually this meant that your mother would assign each of your four older siblings fifteen minutes apiece of playing with you, again and again.
This was an old rule of the house and had been happening since you’d been born, but when parties came along, sometimes the older kids would get tired of treating you like a baby. “C’mon Katie, get on my handlebars,” your middle sister said one time. “I’ll take you for a ride.”
You knew that this was not particularly kosher because first, Mom hadn’t approved it. Second, you had never ridden on handlebars before. However, looking around at the party going on in the yard and house and wishing to get away with your sister, you climbed right up there and fastened your butt to the bike.
“Here we go!” your sister said. Maybe she was twelve. You cruised down the driveway in front of your house, made a fine and exciting right turn at the corner, and then your sister decided to turn into the gravel alley that would bring you back to the house from behind.
She was pedaling so fast and made her decision so late and didn’t realize how the bike might react to the gravel, especially with a four-year-old on the handlebars. It was getting dark; you didn’t see anything coming either.
You don’t really remember hitting the rocks with your face first. You were not one to complain. You were up and brushing your blood off your face and knees when your sister patted you down for broken bones, then walked with you in one hand and the bike in the other back around the block to the front of the house so no one from the party would see you like this.
“Mom, somethin’ happened to Katie,” your sister said, handing you over, going back out to the backyard before she could get shot.
You were quickly hauled off in your graveled knees and elbows and the missing skin on your face and nose; your mother needed to bathe you immediately. It was a soda-bath with nothing but your mom’s arm and a soft washcloth. You remember sitting naked in that bath, your mother washing you, when suddenly one of the party guests came into the bathroom too.
“Oh my God! What happened to her!?” the party guest cried.
You had been relaxing in the bathtub, your shy little personality percolating, but then your mother struck up a conversation with this person. Your whole story was told and it lasted too long. The water got cold and you ended up crying, not because of your injuries, just for the inconsideration.