At six-years-old, I drove a safety pin into the palm of my hand, threading it through my skin until it came out the other side. When the pin hung off my palm, I pulled it through, tearing the skin. My mother stood at the department store counter, making a return. I sat on the floor next to the clothing racks, picking up pins and practicing a child’s version of Human Pincushion. I had seen my brother drive a safety pin into his hand a few days prior and I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I shoved another pin into my hand and this time I left it there. I walked up to the counter, and waved to my mother.
She was not impressed.
“Where did you get that? That’s how people get AIDS,” she said. She grabbed my hand and pulled the pin out. Then she put it on the counter with a few other unwanted pins. The check out clerk carried on with the return, minding her own business, while I burst into tears.
My mother told me to stop crying. To be a big girl. It just made me cry more. I could stick a pin in my hand, but I wasn't a big girl.