Encounters with friends & strangers

My Mother Would’ve Killed Me If I’d Acted Like This Kid

, , , , | Friendly | May 7, 2021

After we move away from our old town, one of my children makes a new friend.

Son: “Can I invite [Child] from school over for lunch?”

Me: *Gladly* “Yes, but don’t ask him yet. I want to talk to his parents first.”

I manage to meet the child’s mom during a parent-teacher conference. After the standard greetings, I decide to go for it.

Me: “[Son] wants to invite [Child] home for lunch one of these days. Is there anything I should know? Allergies, likes and dislikes?”

Mother: “Oh, that’s great! [Child] has really struggled in finding other children to talk and play with; I’m glad to hear they’re becoming friends! He isn’t allergic to anything, but he really likes pasta with tuna and tinned meat, so you might want to keep that in mind for when I send him to lunch with you.”

Me: “Okay, thank you.”

When I get home, I pass this on to my son, who then actually invites him to our house. I make sure to pick up some good tuna and upper-label tinned meat, since it isn’t something we usually eat in my home, and while I am at it, I also set aside some time to make a chocolate cake.

The day comes and I pick up both [Son] and [Child] from school, ask the maid to add a seat to the usual setup, and then put everyone at their seats. I serve them both, I serve myself, and then I sit down to eat, too. As I start to eat, I notice that [Child] is staring at his pasta with a confused expression.

Me: “Is everything all right, [Child]? Don’t you like it?”

He looks up from his plate.

Child: “Hmm… Mrs. [My Name], this isn’t tuna pasta.”

Me: *Chuckling* “Don’t be silly. It’s tuna; just try it.”

Child: “But… it’s not tuna pâte; it doesn’t look like it at all. This is tuna from the can. I don’t eat canned tuna.”

Colour drains from my face. I’m feeling confused, ashamed, and annoyed all at the same time, but I mask it the best I can.

Me: “Ah, well, at least try it. If you really don’t like it, I’ll just give you the meat afterward.” 

He does try to eat a few tentative forkfuls, but his face scrunches up in weird ways and, in the end, he pushes his plate away and puts his fork down. My maid comes, picks up his still-full plate and my son’s empty one, and then comes back with two tins of meat each.

Child: “What’s this? This isn’t [Store Brand] canned meat; this is [High-End Brand]! How can I eat it?”

Son: “Wait, you like canned meat?”

Child: “Well, yes, but not this one.”

Me: *Sighing* “Have you ever tasted it?”

Child: “No, but I know I won’t like it because it’s not [Store Brand].”

Me: “Fine, do you like salad?”

Child: “Nope!” 

I’m torn between feeling bad that I couldn’t feed a guest properly and feeling angry that he is being so picky while his mother didn’t bother to tell me any details. Knowing it’s pointless to push it, I just let him stare at his unopened can while my son keeps on eating his meat and salad quietly. My maid brings out the freshly-squeezed orange juice, to which my son’s friend crosses his arms and pouts, so I don’t even bother asking. With a single gulp, my son finishes his juice and then looks at me pleadingly. Figuring I can’t go wrong with it…

Me: “All right, [Son], fine, I’ll bring out the cake. Do you want any, [Child]?”

Child: “Is it from [Supermarket Chain]?”

Me: “No, it’s not, but I swear—”

Child: “Then I don’t want it. Homemade cakes suck.” 

I would be very offended if I wasn’t just done, so I let it slide and let them both get up to go play. I relax a bit in the living room and then go to work. When I come back that evening, I do the obvious.

Me: “How did your time with [Child] go?”

Son: “It was super boring. He wanted to play ping-pong but didn’t want me to get too close to the edge, and all he could talk about was about how his dad was an exterminator or how much he liked ACE. I was almost happy that he got picked up by his mom.”

Couldn’t blame him. It wasn’t long before the two drifted apart due to major differences between them, and I’m still miffed that the mother didn’t think of warning me about her son’s narrow diet.

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The Force Sure As Heck Ain’t With Him

, , , , , , , , | Friendly | May 4, 2021

In high school, a group of eight friends and I speak a lot of languages, and we have been translating a certain catchphrase about “being someone’s father” into every language we know together during a free period at school. We decide that we should make a group outing of it to go to see “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” in theaters, and we decide to go back to my parents’ house to hang out afterward. We are all fifteen, so my parents are driving us from the theater to our house.

My mom drives [Friend #1] who is sitting in the front seat and [Friend #2] who sits behind [Friend #1].

Friend #1: “I mean, I knew he was gonna make the transition to full-on bad guy, but I didn’t expect him to be so whiny about it. It was a fun movie, but he got on my nerves.”

Me: “Well, the emperor was messing with his head pretty hardcore, and he’s always been emotional. [Friend #2], what did you think?”

Friend #2: “I didn’t get it at all. Is there gonna be a sequel?”  

“Star Wars” was released as episodes four, five, and six in the 1970s and ‘80s, and then episodes one, two, and three in the 1990s and 2000s.

[Friend #1] unbuckles his seatbelt and gets on his knees to look directly into [Friend #2]’s face.

Friend #1: “What. Did you just say?”

Friend #2: “Is there gonna be a sequel?”

My mom is laughing so hard she pulls into a parking lot to let the laughter subside before she can drive further. Once we get to the house, [Friend #1] and I tell [Friend #2]’s twin sister what he said. She looks at her brother like he’s grown a second head.

Twin Sister: “[Friend #2’s Full Name], we watched all five movies last weekend just so we would know what is going on! Don’t you remember?!”

Friend #2: “Oh, was that what those were? I was trying to figure out how to beat [Friend #3] in the chess game we have going on. I wasn’t paying attention.”

A month or two later, we are all hanging out at [Friend #1]’s house. His younger brother puts on a Darth Vader mask and pops out from behind things to startle us. 

After the surprised yelps and laughter die down, [Friend #2] utters this.

Friend #2: “What was he supposed to be, some kind of robot?”

His twin sister smacks him on the back of the head. 

Twin Sister: “I’m sorry, everyone. I have tried so hard with him, but I’m giving it up as a lost cause. If it’s not chess, math, Torah studies, or a musical, he just won’t pay attention.”

[Friend #2] never did figure out what the “robot mask” was.

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Welcome To Your Unfriendly Neighborhood Diner

, , , , , | Friendly | May 2, 2021

My family and I are visiting the USA for a family holiday. Before this trip, my sister and I have never been to North America before in our lives. We live in the UAE, which is located in the middle east. My family is biracial; my dad is German/Brazilian and my mum is Indian. Before the moustache model stole the swastika for his political party, it was used as a religious icon and still is; in fact, if you travel to most places in Asia, you might see it, not as a political sign but rather a spiritual one. As such, my mother has it as a necklace.

After some sightseeing, we hit the road, driving up to visit some family. Along the way, we stop at a diner chain to grab some food. The trip is during the FIFA World Cup, and my father is an avid supporter of his national team. Since we finally have some Wi-Fi, we are all preoccupied with various devices watching and downloading things for the remainder of the drive. During this Wi-Fi frenzy, a massive man who reeks of beer and is wearing a gun walks up to our table.

Man: “See, that’s the problem with your generation — always on their phones. Where are y’all from?”

We’ve already learned our lesson about telling people we come from Dubai because of a previous encounter.

Dad: “We’re from Germany. We’re visiting some family so we’re just getting things ready for the rest of the trip.”

Man: “Oh, y’all are from Germany. Isn’t that where them Nazis are from?”

At this point, the man notices my mum’s swastika necklace. He pulls out his gun and points it at my family.

Man: “How dare y’all come to the States spreading your Nazi bulls***?!”

My entire family held their hands up in fear as my sister and I started crying; a strange man holding a gun on you and your family can do that.

The cops were called and the man was arrested for assault. For the remainder of the trip, my mum didn’t wear her necklace.

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You Can Tell It’s A Cat By The Way That It Is

, , , , , | Friendly | May 1, 2021

My friend is watching my Maine Coon while I’m out of town for a few weeks, sometimes staying the night so the cat isn’t alone. The cat is on a vet-approved diet to lose a few pounds, so no kitty treats, only a measured amount of food. One night, [Friend] calls me via video chat.

Me: “Hey, what’s up?”

Friend: “Your cat is a fat b*****d.”

Me: “Yes. And?”

Friend: “I decided to get a rotisserie chicken for dinner here tonight and your cat was sitting by the table, watching me eat it. He kept trying to reach up and steal a piece and I kept pushing him back down. I told him he wasn’t allowed and he got very upset.”

Me: “Yes, he’s horribly neglected and wasting away. I know; he tells me all the time.”

Friend: “I went to the garage to get a beer from the fridge out there and I came back and saw this.”

He turns the camera to see an empty plate on the table.

Me: “Oh, no.”

He shows me the tell-tale trail leading off the table, across the kitchen, and into the living room, and then stops on my cat trying to drag the chicken under a recliner. Unfortunately, the chair is too low for my huge cat and his prey, so he resorts to trying to pick the carcass clean, grumbling, and making eye contact with [Friend].

Friend: “He won’t let me take it.”

Me: *Laughing* “I’m so sorry. I’ll send you money for another one.”

Friend: “Oh, no, I was pretty much done with it. I’m just showing you what a greedy brat you’ve raised.”

I did send money anyway, both for the chicken and to cover the carpet cleaning. Eventually, [Friend] did wrestle the chicken away, though he paid with his skin. And, if you’re wondering, my cat is almost to his appropriate weight.

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Toss Out The Drama

, , , , | Friendly | April 30, 2021

My cousin’s first wedding, to [Bride #1], is a disaster. Neither of [Bride #1]’s bridesmaids show up, and one of [Cousin]’s two groomsmen doesn’t show up, either. My cousin’s female best friend acts as a bridesmaid, and [Cousin]’s gay male best friend is the groomsman. The other attendees are my aunt, [Bride #1]’s mom, my parents, my sister, my boyfriend, [Female Best Friend’s] boyfriend, and me.

After vows are exchanged, [Bride #1] tosses the bouquet. I have only been dating my boyfriend for a month, and my sister is sixteen and a lesbian (gay marriage isn’t legal yet). [Female Best Friend] jumps VERY energetically and catches the bouquet, as my sister and I have no interest in doing so and have stood well back from her. She lands poorly and sprains her ankle.

Then comes time for the garter toss. [Female Best Friend]’s boyfriend is VERY eager to catch it. I cajole [My Boyfriend] and [Gay Groomsman] to do as my sister and I did: just stand there so it at least looks like someone else is trying to catch the thing. They do so reluctantly.

When [Cousin] throws the garter, [Female Best Friend]’s boyfriend elbows [Gay Groomsman] in the torso and backhands [My Boyfriend] in the face, giving him a black eye. I later learn that [Gay Groomsman] has a couple of cracked ribs! [Female Best Friend]’s boyfriend catches the garter, and [Gay Groomsman] and [My Boyfriend] go off alone commiserate.

[Female Best Friend]’s boyfriend proposes, and she accepts. [Bride #1] is livid and pours the single bottle of champagne over [Female Best Friend]’s head.

Eight years later, [Cousin] has been divorced from [Bride #1] for a while and finally marries [Bride #2]. This wedding is also relatively small, with about thirty people, but it is in a very nice venue, with food arranged by my aunt, her best friend, and my mother.

Everyone shows up, including [Bride #2]’s divorced parents and their significant others. I have also been divorced for a couple of years but am now seeing a guy I really like. He didn’t attend because he has limited mobility and it is a bit of a walk to the venue.

After the festivities are over, [Bride #2] approaches me.

Bride #2: “Here, these are for you.”

She hands me her wedding bouquet.

Me: “Wait, what? Why?”

Bride #2: “My bridesmaids are married, and I hate my brother’s girlfriend. I heard my mom and her boyfriend saying that if Mom catches the bouquet, he’ll ask her to marry him, and I heard my dad tell his girlfriend the same thing. I don’t want drama. I know your boyfriend couldn’t come, but when I met him he seemed super awesome. So, here, come outside and we will do pictures.”

Her three married friends are already waiting outside. With them standing behind me, the photographer has me toss the bouquet aloft while jumping and gets a good picture of me catching it again.

Bride #2: “Thanks. I can tell my parents the bouquet toss was only for people who haven’t been married before.”

Me: “But… I’m divorced… and they’re… already married?”

Bride #2: “Yeah, I know. She doesn’t, though, and I heard about the fiasco with the bouquet and garter toss at [Cousin]’s first wedding. I did not want that! I also refused to wear a garter, so we could get out of the garter toss, but my mom paid for the photographer and specified bouquet toss pics. This was easier than arguing.”

Now, three years after that wedding, I am engaged to the man I was seeing then. [Female Best Friend] from the first wedding is still happily married to the man who proposed to her then. [Bride #2]’s parents are not seeing anyone. So, I guess it all worked out in the end!

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