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Funny stories about family

Where Can We Get On The Waitlist For This Book?

, , , , | Related | August 12, 2022

Yishun is essentially the Florida of Singapore. A whole load of weird and scary things happen there compared to the rest of the country. As such, Yishun has racked up a somewhat negative reputation. Some of the more superstitious Singaporeans have even started calling the place cursed or haunted, including quite a few of my Army buddies.

My younger brother is an aspiring writer. I’m reading his latest manuscript.

Me: “So, the plot is essentially that the SAF [Singapore Armed Forces] has a unit of wizards that act as a rapid-response strike force to fight against ghost pirates and demons in the Straits of Malacca.”

Brother: “Uh-huh.”

Me: “And they’re garrisoned in a fictional ‘Yishun Camp’.”

Brother: “Yup.”

There’s a long pause.

Me: “I’d buy that. A couple hundred wizards camping out in Yishun would explain a lot about the place.”

Happy Birthday! Here’s Some Stress!

, , , , , , | Related | August 11, 2022

I don’t like to make a big deal out of my birthday. I used to share a birthday with my childhood best friend who passed away far too young, so for me, the day is not so much something to be celebrated anymore but more of a painful reminder that she won’t ever celebrate it with me again.

If my family brings it up, I’ll usually just invite them over to my place for dinner, since I enjoy cooking, and I ask people to give a little money to cancer research in lieu of a gift. My mom has a different idea of how things are supposed to be done.

Mom: “So, what are you planning for when you’re turning forty? Where are you going to have the party?”

Me: “I wasn’t planning on a party at all, to be honest.”

Mom: “But you’re only turning forty once in your life! You need to have a party!”

Me: “That could be said about every birthday, really, but okay. Why don’t you guys come over for dinner?”

Mom: “Oh, no. You shouldn’t have to cook on your birthday. We should at least go to a restaurant. It’ll be my treat; let’s call it a birthday present. Where do you want to go?”

I name a place close to where I live that’s not the most upscale restaurant, but I know the food is great. Also, I’m hearing impaired and have trouble following a conversation if there are a lot of people talking at once, but this place is usually nice and quiet.

Mom promises to take care of all the arrangements and also invite my dad and my younger brother along.

The day before my birthday, I call my mom to ask what time we’re supposed to meet.

Mom: “I talked to your brother and we decided that we should go to a nicer place since it’s your birthday. He’s booked a table at [Expensive Restaurant Downtown]. We’ll all meet there at seven o’clock.”

Ooookay. I don’t drive and I have to go on two different buses to get to that restaurant. This is where I SHOULD put a stop to the whole thing, but my mom is the kind of person who absolutely has to have her way and will hold a grudge for ages if something doesn’t turn out the way she wants it, and I don’t want to have to deal with that for the next few months. Anyway, she’s promised to pay for it, so I decide not to argue.

We get there and it turns out that this restaurant has a large, open dining room, which is fully booked. Our table is in the middle of it all, and I mentally brace for an evening where I’ll have to struggle to hear anything at all.

We sit down and I’m quickly exhausted trying to figure out what the rest of my family is talking about, but I have no complaints whatsoever about the food or the service, which are both extraordinary.

After we’ve finished our meal, I need to go to the bathroom. When I get back, I find that my brother has also gone to the bathroom. Mom tells me that she’s already taken care of the bill and that she and Dad are leaving because it’s getting late.

I stay behind for a moment to say goodbye to my brother, who soon arrives back at the table and starts putting his coat on.

Brother: “This was really great. Happy birthday, sis, and thanks for the invitation!”

Me: “Sure. Have a good night!”

He leaves, and I’m the last one remaining. As I’m gathering up my things and preparing to leave for my bus, our server comes up to me with an apologetic expression on her face. 

Server: “Excuse me. I’m afraid the bill still hasn’t been paid in full.”

Me: “No, that has to be a mistake. My mom said she’d taken care of it.”

Server: “Yes, your mother paid for your meal, but [my brother’s meal] hasn’t been paid for.”

I ask to see the bill and the server is right. My mom has paid for me, for herself, and for Dad, but she hasn’t paid for my brother’s food, and she also hasn’t left a tip. Tipping isn’t required in Sweden, but it’s considered polite to do if you’ve received extraordinary service, which we have.

Everyone else has left at this point, so I don’t have much of a choice but to fork up the money.

Me: “I’m so sorry. There seems to have been a misunderstanding about who was supposed to pay for what. How much do I owe you?”

It turns out that my brother’s meal was a lot more expensive than mine, but I pay for it, and I also leave a well-earned tip for the server.

The next day, I call my mother to thank her for the evening, and I also bring up the issue of the unpaid meal. 

Mom: “Oh, I guess he might have assumed that I would pay for his food, as well. But you know he doesn’t have a lot of money, so thanks for taking care of that. At least you didn’t have to cook on your birthday!”

I never got that money back from my brother. He claimed that since he was invited he should not have to pay for anything. So, that was a birthday party I did not ask for and did not want, and I ended up having to buy my brother a dinner that was a lot more expensive than it would have been if I had just cooked at home like I’d offered to do in the first place.

For my next birthday, I’m planning to either hibernate or leave the country.

Not Being Cryptic About Your Dislike

, , , | Related | August 10, 2022

My mother got it into her head that I liked Cryptic Crosswords (the clues are word puzzles). Worse, it happens in a year when I’m living with my aunt instead of her for convoluted family reasons, so the first I know of this is when I visit around my birthday. I am also seventeen at the time, with no ability to blunt my opinions.

Mum: “Since you like cryptic crosswords, I got you this book to help you learn how to solve them better!”

She looks at me with the beaming pride of a parent who just got you a pony.

Me: “What? I hate cryptic crosswords. Where did you get the idea that I liked them?

Mum: “But… I’m sure you like them. Oh, well, here’s your present.”

When I leave, she doesn’t let me forget the book.

Mum: “You just need to learn how to do them, and then you’ll like them.”

I deliberately leave the book behind when I go back to the aunt’s place. It comes up on my next visit.

Mum: “I’ve been loving these cryptic crosswords; this book is so useful for them. Come sit here and solve some with me.”

Me: “Absolutely not. I told you last time, I hate them.”

Mum: “But they’re so easy and clever! Here, listen to this!”

For the next agonising half-hour, she tries to convince me of how much I’m “missing out” by reading out the questions and then explaining how to work them out. I am bored out of my skull and less engaged than I would be with a regular crossword, which is already dangerously unengaged.

Me: “No, stop. I am not on board. I don’t like these questions. I think they’re smug, and they make my brain hurt. I don’t want to do this.”

Mum: “But you love cryptic crosswords?”

Me: “No, you love cryptic crosswords. I like Sudoku.”

Mum: *Confused* “But you like them.”

On the next visit, the crosswords were not brought up, and I made it to the Christmas visit, thinking things had finally settled down… until I opened my presents. There was a brand new book of cryptic crosswords and how to solve them.

This goes alongside my memory of being eight years old and declaring, “But I hate ABBA!” when opening gifts and getting a very unwanted CD.

I still don’t know where she got the idea that I liked the darn things.

Best Un-Punishment Ever!

, , , , , , , | Related | August 9, 2022

I was about ten years old when this happened. I dragged myself home from school, dreading my destination because I was on punishment detail for pissing my dad off. My punishment this time was a list of chores to be done to our lawn and garden.

As I trudged inside the house, my mom and dad popped out of nowhere.

Mom & Dad: *Excitedly* “Go to your room! Go to your room!”

Me: “Huh?”

My dad began yanking my jacket off while my mom grabbed my shoes and the backpack that I was holding.

Mom & Dad: “We’ll put this away for you! GO TO YOUR ROOM!”

Me: “But I got punishment detail—”

Dad: “Full pardon granted! GO TO YOUR ROOM!”

Me: “I… Wha… Okay?”

I headed to my room with a big question mark hanging overhead; my parents were NOT the most “accommodating” people.

I peeked into my room. Nothing was amiss, not that I expected them to leave me any surprises or gifts. Maybe they had a friend over and they were discussing something ultra-personal that they didn’t want me to hear?

I shrugged and switched on my Super Nintendo… and out from my laundry basket sprang my dear beloved seven-year-old little (half) sister who I had not seen in two years because her mom was stationed overseas in the military. And “beloved” is an understatement; I had taught this girl how to ride a bike, we spent every waking moment together when we could, and we wrote each other nonstop when separated.

Her stepdad had been kind enough to finally fly her all the way across the globe to stay with me for three weeks while he stayed in a hotel.

It ranks as one of the best surprise heart attacks I have ever gotten.

Aren’t Homonyms Fun?

, , , , , , , , | Related | August 8, 2022

My nine-year-old is reading a book and comes across a word she’s apparently heard in a different context from her teacher, who’s from England.

Daughter: “Mom, does ‘poaching’ mean something different in England?”

Me: “Well, it has two meanings, both in England and here. It’s a way of cooking, and it’s also hunting illegally.”

Daughter: “Okay, now this book makes more sense. I didn’t get how the characters were hunting in their kitchen.”

Me: “Right. You can poach an egg or fish…” *realization dawns as I’m speaking* “…or… you can poach an egg or fish.”