A while back I took my foster daughter Kara to the free shot clinic the hospital was holding out in a park.(Kaiser won't put her on my insurance until I pay a shload of money to adopt her)
So we're standing in line in 100 degree heat with hundreds of other families (Very few Mexicans, oddly)
There we stood, parents and kids quietly staring at the trailer door. Waiting for their turn to hand in their shot card, go up the steps and get multiple punctures.
There was the occasional whimper from inside...never loud...but the whole line of children would flinch like a window had shattered.
I was holding Kara's hand tightly, partly to comfort her, but mostly to keep her from bolting.
We joked a bit and talked with her half-brother(my son) to while away the time before the pain came.
My mind traveled back a decade or two to boot camp where we were lined up on thinly padded floors and walked a gauntlet of pain between two lines of syringe and injection gun-wielding drones carrying the look of people who'd seen and heard it all.
They tell you not to flinch because the injection gun will slice you if you move, but we all had streaks of blood running down our arms anyway.
I HATE needles. So this, for me, was a passage. The gulf war had a few bad little moments, but that was my first trial.
So our turn comes up and I lead her up the steps and into a softly lit trailer full of matronly-looking nurses with the businesslike smiles of the few irredeemably good intentioned hardasses everywhere.
The lady takes Kara's card and after some thoughtful study asks me; "Would you like to get the HPV shot as well?" I said "yes." (Kara instinctively shook her head no.)
The nurses got their needles ready and as kindly as they could, took each of Kara's arms, raised their needles and started counting: "On three,"..."one,"...STAB!
I would comment on the humor of that old trick, but what happened next was AWESOME.
Kara likes needles even less than I do, so she was holding a deep breath when they stuck her.
She let it out in the longest, shrillest, most heartrending scream I've ever been unfortunate enough to be inside a closed space with.
It went beyond painfully loud. My ears gave up and immediately started making that underwater noise you get when you've done some real damage. Damned if my EYES didn't start to hurt. And it went on and on like an opera singer had stepped into a bear trap...
The nurses just squinted a little and kept smiling.
After the noise died down a tearful and shaking little girl was handed back to me with a hearty "All done!". Then we opened the door to the trailer and stepped out into utter chaos.
There were still plenty of kids waiting to get their shots. Only now ALL the kids were in various stages of pleading, struggling, crying and staring at us in horror. There were a few parents chasing after kids that had just up and run for it.
The parents were too busy with the kids to pay me much attention, but I'm dead certain that if just one person had said: "Get 'im." My meep would've been had.
We got in the pickup and I waited until we were a few blocks away before laughing so hard that I cried.