Banishing The Birthday Blues

, , , , , | Hopeless | July 13, 2019

(Birthdays have always been a struggle for me. No matter how many people I invite, only the usual close relatives show up, and sometimes my best friend who I’ve known for 23 years. Besides that, I never had many friends. Somehow my “BFF” has managed to excuse herself out of it for five years now. So, my birthday goes by with just my mom, my brother, his girlfriend, my grandma, and my uncle coming in the afternoon. My friend calls to say that her car broke down and she can’t make it… again. Surprise. In the evening, I expect two of my bandmates — whom I have known for less than a year — and they don’t exactly live nearby. They have been traveling by train for two and a half hours to get to me, so I invite them to stay the night. They arrive, congratulate me, shove two bottles of wine and a homemade cake in my hands, and look around.)

Bandmate #1: “Where are all the guests? I brought my guitar and everything. I thought there was a party?”

Bandmate #2: “Yeah, we were excited to meet all your friends! Where are they?”

Me: “Well… it’s just us three now. Some family came this afternoon, but they went already. And my one friend cancelled… again.”

Bandmate #1: “Well, that’s not fair!”

Bandmate #2: “Your best friend cancelled… and your other friends?”

Me: “I don’t really have any… Not nearby at least.”

Bandmate #1: “Well, that’s just stupid! We don’t live nearby, either, and yet we are here. What trouble is it to just come over?”

Bandmate #2: “Don’t worry. We’ll get you wasted enough to not be sad about the bad turn up!”

(And they did. They conjured up another bottle of rum from their bags and we drank — I never even drink, but screw it just this once — sang songs, played games, laughed, and chatted until 4:00 am, and I can’t recall having a happier birthday ever!)

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A Gender-Fluid Household

, , , , , | Related | July 13, 2019

(These stories are from over 15 years ago. My biological dad ran out on me and my mum when I was a baby, so since infancy, I lived with my mum, my aunt, and my grandmother in varying combinations. No dudes around, which meant that as an 11-year-old male, I have picked up some slightly strange habits. Mum has been dating this guy for about two years and I love him, and he loves me. She decides it’s time for us to move in with him. On the second night in our new place, I go and shower and come out wrapped in my towel as always.) 

Stepdad: *sitting on the couch reading, looks up at me and snorts* “Mate… what are you doing?”

Me: “Showering?”

Stepdad: “Well, yeah, but… Okay, so you don’t have boobs to hide, right?”

Me: *indignant* “No!”

Stepdad: “Right. Well, you can wrap the towel just around your waist, then. You’ve also only got short hair, so you don’t need to wrap it up like that…”

(Yep, I’ve been wearing the towel wrapped around me up under my arms and wrapping up my hair turban style. It never occurred to me why my female relatives did that and it had honestly never occurred to Mum to correct me. She laughs and apologizes after [Stepdad] tells her I am lucky I’ve never showered at school or I’d be a laughing stock. This must pique his interest into other things I might have picked up because for the next couple weeks interactions like this are pretty normal. I’m washing my face before bed as always, when my stepdad wanders into the bathroom.)

Stepdad: *snorts again* “Mate. Use the soap, or just water.”

Me: *indignant* “Mum uses this!”

Stepdad: *very gently* “I know, bud, but that’s makeup remover.”

(A few mornings later, I’m getting ready for school. As always, Mum has already left for work, but my stepdad works from home. Again, he walks past the bathroom as I’m doing my morning stuff. He does a double-take and I can see he’s trying to formulate a nice way to bring something up.)

Stepdad: “Uh… Uh, hey, bud?”

Me: “Yeah?”

Stepdad: “Look. If you want to wear it, I’ll back you completely but… you do know that’s mascara, right?”

Me: “Yeah, so?”

Stepdad: “Well, nothing, mate. Just… most blokes don’t wear it because it’s makeup.”

Me: “WHAT?!”

Stepdad: *giggling* “Well, at least you were taking it off at night!”

(I didn’t know it was makeup. I thought everyone wore it; it was the only makeup my mother wore except lipstick for a fancy night out or something, and I knew THAT was makeup but assumed everyone wore mascara. Another night:)

Stepdad: “Mate, did you use my razor?”

Me: “Yeah, sorry. I couldn’t find Mum’s.”

Stepdad: “No worries, mate. Didn’t realise you shaved already! I didn’t have to shave until I was fifteen. We’ll get you your own.”

Me: *excited* “Thank you! Can we get the pale blue ones Mum uses? Yours was really sharp; I cut myself a few times.”

Stepdad: *looking at my face* “Are you using it against the grain, bud? I can’t see any cuts…”

(I roll up my pant leg to show him a couple of cuts on my ankle.)

Me: “Nah, just these ones, and one on my underarm. What’s ‘against the grain’ mean?”

Stepdad: *trying desperately not to laugh* “All right, we need to have a chat…”

(A few weeks later, after he gently corrected a few things – -and told me many times if I wanted to keep doing things the old way that I could, but he knew I was clueless about how men did things — he watches me bring my two glasses of water out of my bedroom the same way I do every morning.)

Stepdad: “Thirsty last night, mate? You could have used one cup. I bloody hate doing the dishes.”

Me: “But you need two. One isn’t for drinking.”

Stepdad: *looking at me confused* “What do you mean?”

Me: “Grandma always has two. One for drinking and the other one sits there. She always told me not to drink from the other cup.”

Stepdad: *bursts out laughing* “Bud, the other cup was for her teeth.”

(Chalk that one up to child stupidity rather than only having female role models. He really was the most gentle and accepting man helping a prepubescent boy figure out what he wanted to do and what he was doing just because he’d always seen his mum doing it. I’m SO GLAD he was around before I started high school; I can’t imagine that would have been a pleasant experience doing things the way I’d always done them. To this day, he is kind and gentle and my number-one supporter in everything I do. Now I have my own baby boy and Dad likes to crack jokes like, “He’s getting big! We’ll have to get him his own razor soon.” I love my dad.)

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The Tooth Fairy Cometh!

, , , , | Related | July 12, 2019

When I was six years old, I, like most six-year-olds, was in the process of losing my baby teeth. And like many families, my family was invested in the myth of the Tooth Fairy. And, also like many families, particularly ones with multiple children, the execution of the Tooth Fairy was… not always spot on. On one such occasion, I had lost a tooth but woke up disappointed to find that my tooth was still under my pillow and no change had been left behind. I wasn’t devastated, but you get your money where you can when you’re six and it never feels good to be left out of something all your friends talk about.

My parents clearly felt guilty, because they decided to rectify the situation. Instead of doing the usual Tooth Fairy routine that night, they decided to be a bit more creative. That afternoon, there was a knock at the door. I was told to go upstairs and play in my room, since the guest was probably a friend of my parents’ and they wanted to hang out alone. This was the usual routine, so I didn’t think anything of it. A few minutes later, I was called back downstairs. My parents explained that the guest was actually the Tooth Fairy, who felt awful about skipping our house the previous night. She just had so many houses to visit. She took the tooth from my parents and exchanged it for a pocket made of construction paper. It had my name on the outside and was filled with change. Luckily for my parents, I did not question the logic of why the Tooth Fairy would knock or why they were just carrying around my lost tooth on their persons. 

But what they didn’t know, or didn’t think of, was that in my first-grade class, we had a spelling test every Friday afternoon. If you did well on the test, you were rewarded with candy… which was handed to you in a construction paper pocket with your name written on the outside. I spent the rest of the year in that class 100% convinced my first-grade teacher moonlighted as the Tooth Fairy. And given that I wasn’t very fond of her to begin with, she suddenly went up a few notches in my esteem!

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An Action Gets A Beautiful Reaction

, , , , , | Hopeless | July 3, 2019

At the beginning of my junior year honors chemistry class, my chemistry teacher lit the tabletop on fire. It was one of the best classes of that year. This story takes place before Christmas break. 

My high school raises money for a charity called Fish Family. We are broken up into groups by first hour, like English classes and such. My chemistry class was fifth hour, so it wasn’t part of the competition. But it was Christmas and we were all in the giving spirit, so we raised like 40 bucks in the first few days. But then, my chemistry teacher made our class an offer we couldn’t refuse. If we raised a hundred dollars, he’d shave his head.

A few days later, one student donated a few hundred dollars. The teacher waxed his head in class and made us mac and cheese from scratch. I was sick for the big day, so I didn’t get to see, and I’m still sad I missed it but it will remain one of my favorite junior memories.

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Not Feline That I Don’t Work Here

, , , , , | Right | June 18, 2019

(I am a well-known sales associate in a toy shop in a shopping centre. We get one-hour lunch breaks, so I tend to change out of my uniform completely to go for a wander. Today I leave the centre to buy lunch at a large shop directly across the road. While I’m inside browsing in the cold food section, a middle-aged female customer grabs my arm. I’m wearing a bright blue jumper with a happy Christmas cat.)

Customer: “Wait up. Where’s the smoked salmon?”

Me: *turning around so it is 100% apparent I’m not wearing any form of uniform* “Wait, what? Sorry, I don’t work here.”

Customer: *still clutching my arm hard* “You’re a cashier! It won’t take long. I’m in a hurry!”

(I pull my arm away, pinched my jumper with both hands, and wiggle it so the cat on the front is very obvious. Then I say, in a small voice to emulate the cat:)

Me: “She. Doesn’t. Work. Here. Are. You. Mad. Don’t. Touch. Strangerssss.”

(The woman rolled her eyes, called me a lazy c***, and tried to flag an onlooking employee to report me, who was holding back hysterics watching the whole thing.)

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