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Encounters with friends & strangers

Can’t Hear You Over The Sound Of Your Icon’s Ovaries

, , , , , , | Friendly | August 10, 2022

A certain mobile game I play is mostly single-player but has multiplayer elements. Different players can form groups of up to thirty, called alliances, to overcome some harder challenges or battle other alliances for supremacy. Players in each alliance tend to become pretty close friends, in my experience.

I was chatting with a few players in my alliance, just some friendly banter back and forth. At one point, I jokingly switched my player image from the one I’ve used for over a year — one of the nonhuman heroes — to a different one, a female human with dark, windswept hair. After the conversation died down, I decided to keep the change, since it had been so long.

The next day, a player who hadn’t been present during the initial exchange noticed my new player image.

Player: “Hey, [My Name], what gives? I thought you were a guy?”

Me: “I am a guy, yes.”

Player: “You really shouldn’t be using a female image, then!”

Me: “Player icons are not restricted to reflect players in real life. Or did you think I was a four-foot-tall rabbit before?”

They acknowledged my point and let it go.

There’s Hope For The Future AND The Past!

, , , , , , , , | Friendly | August 10, 2022

This happened shortly after I moved into a new apartment building three years ago. The landlady and owner of the building lived right next to my apartment on the first floor. She was a very nice old lady, and we would often sit out on our shared little patio and talk from time to time. She even told me I reminded her of her granddaughter one day.

After I’d lived there for about six months, she approached me one night while I was sitting outside.

Landlady: “So, who is that man that I’ve been seeing come over?” 

Me: “Oh, that’s my friend, [Friend]. We have been friends for a while now.”

Landlady: “Ohhh… When are you going to go steady?”

Being a young person, I assumed she meant dating.

Me: “Oh, we aren’t dating. He’s just my friend.”

After making some food for the two of us and coming back out, she said to me:

Landlady: “You know, you are a very social person. You always have so many girlfriends over. I see all these different girls come over. You must be very popular.”

I was hesitant about telling her this information because I wasn’t sure how she would react. I tried to word everything in the best way possible, but I was freaking out inside. Not only was she my landlord, in charge of whether or not I lived there, but I had grown quite close to her in those past six months and I didn’t want to feel judged. Old ladies tended to have old-fashioned viewpoints. But I took a breath and said:

Me: “Um… Actually, I am interested in women and those women were my partners.”

Despite my held breath, she only looked shocked for a brief second before replying. 

Landlady: “Oh, well, that’s okay, honey. I used to sleep around a lot, too, when I was your age. You will find a nice lady to settle down with someday.”

I was completely worried about the wrong thing. She moved right past the fact that I’m a lesbian to the fact that I had been sleeping around. She proved to me that older people aren’t always stuck in their ways, and I see the older generation differently now.

Why Do People Even Need To Know This?

, , , , , , | Friendly | August 8, 2022

I am shopping with my baby. She’s a pretty happy baby and is babbling throughout our shopping and gaining attention from other shoppers. One lady stops to talk to us.

Lady: “Oh, my, he’s adorable. What’s his name?”

Me: “Oh, actually, her name is [Daughter].”

Lady: “You gave a boy a girl’s name?”

Me: “She’s a girl.”

The lady immediately recoils from us and glares at me. 

Lady: “You should dress her like a girl, then! Pierce her ears or something so people know she’s a girl!”

She walked off, leaving me very confused. My daughter was wearing a white onesie with tiny blue and pink anchors and navy blue pants, but she also had on a big pink flower headband. Guess she thinks girls can’t wear blue?

Origami Really Is Calming

, , , , , , | Friendly | August 6, 2022

Last week, I took my four-year-old daughter to the park. For some reason, she has been experiencing a massive resurgence of the “terrible twos” stage, regularly throwing tantrums and being especially wilful. If she doesn’t want to do something, she’ll let you know about it.

At the park, she behaved beautifully. I thought maybe today was going to be a good day — the first in a long time. As always, when it was time to go, I gave her several warnings: we’re leaving in ten minutes, leaving in five, two more minutes, etc. She seemed fine with those, telling me, “Okay, Mummy!” each time.

Her perfect behaviour rapidly ended when I told her it was now time to go.

Daughter: “Five more minutes!”

When I told her no, she shrieked loudly and tried to run back to the climbing frame. I managed to grab her. She kicked, screamed, shouted, and scratched, all while doing “the toddler flop” — when kids collapse to the ground and make it as hard as possible for you to pick them up.

I managed to get her out of the park, and we started back home, but she flopped again and again, screaming and crying. We reached a very busy road. My daughter was wailing away and trying to break free. I was concerned about making it across the road safely, so I stopped and sat down and hoped she would scream herself out eventually.

The whole time this was happening, I received glares, disapproving head shakes, and people muttering about me. Everyone was judging me for the awful parent I must surely be.

Despite my best efforts to soothe my daughter, she just wasn’t having it. I had no idea what to do.

Then, a lady passed by and looked at my daughter. She smiled softly and then approached my daughter.

Lady: “Wow. I love your dress. Are you Elsa?”

My daughter stopped for a moment and then looked down at the “Frozen” dress-up outfit she had insisted on wearing.

The lady did a curtsey.

Lady: “Queen Elsa, your majesty.”

My daughter sniffed.

Lady: “Do you want to see a magic trick?”

My daughter sniffed again and nodded slowly.

The lady rummaged in her carrier bag and pulled out a box filled with what looked like paper.

Lady: “What’s your favourite colour?”

Daughter: “B-blue.”

The lady’s face lit up.

Lady: “That’s a great colour. Okay.”

She fished through the box and took out a blue piece of square paper.

Lady: “I’m going to turn this piece of paper into a bird.”

My daughter sat up, looking very sceptical, but the lady set the paper down on the wall and began folding the paper this way and that so quickly that even I lost track. My daughter was so mesmerised throughout the whole thing that she forgot she was supposed to be throwing a tantrum.

Eventually, the lady produced an origami crane, which she handed to my daughter.

Lady: “This is a paper crane. They’re very lucky. But they can also get very lonely. They like to have lots of friends. Will you be his friend?”

My daughter nodded.

Lady: “Paper cranes especially love being friends with toys. Do you have any toys who would be friends with him?”

My daughter shot to her feet and practically dragged me home. I barely had time to thank the lady before we were off down the road. As soon as we got home, my daughter raced into her bedroom to introduce her new “friend” to all her toys.

She was so enamoured with making sure the crane made friends with each and every one of her toys (including all the bath toys), that I got several hours of peace to enjoy a cup of tea.

I don’t know if you’ll ever know quite how much your help meant, but if you ever see this, thank you, kind stranger. My daughter loves her new friend.

Maybe Not On Whatever Planet You’re From…

, , , , , | Friendly | August 4, 2022

A few days after a large fire nearby made going outside impossible, I’m talking with my neighbor.

Me: “Plus, [My Cat] was extra grumpy that day since I wouldn’t let him out in the yard.”

Neighbor: “Why not?”

Me: *Pauses* “Because the smoke would be bad for his lungs.”

Neighbor: *Very condescending* “Cats don’t have lungs.”