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At Least A LITTLE Discretion Is Advised

, , , , | Related | September 18, 2021

I am picking up my seven-year-old nephew from school. I ask how his day went since he looks pretty sour, and after a little pressure:

Nephew: “I was reprimanded in music class and told to write to not say swears in the classroom. It’s so unfair!”

Me: “Oh? What did you do?”

Nephew: “I was told to research and present some stuff about my favorite song, things like rhythm and style, and write what it is about, but the teacher got pissed when I sang mine. She didn’t get angry at others!”

I’m puzzled, and sort of not believing what he’s saying, but I figure it’s worth letting him tell the whole story.

Me: “Uh… but what song was it? Do you remember the lyrics?”

Nephew: “It was [Song], and I remember the lyrics! Listen: ‘Australian Aborigines lay down on the ground and, with a roar of fertility, release their c** into the Earth.’”

I freeze, a little startled by the… unusual choice of song, both because the singer it’s from is not the easiest of songwriters to understand, even for adults, because the sound is pretty atypical, and because, well, the lyrics aren’t the most appropriate. I stop close by his home, trying to keep my poker face.

Me: “Do you actually understand what that stanza is saying?”

Nephew: “Yeah! Aboriginal people sometimes lay belly-down on the ground, and then they spray the boys’ seed of life into the Earth.”

Me: “But you know what that seed of life is?”

Nephew: “No… Actually, do you know?”

I pretended to not know, as I wasn’t exactly thrilled by the prospect of explaining ejaculation like that, but I did get to talk with his dad. Apparently, his father — my brother — and his wife had decided to do away with parental control on media as soon as he started grade school… even if it meant having some very awkward talks with teachers about the child’s language and tastes.

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Just Tell The Family You Went To Borders

, , , | Right | September 17, 2021

My mom and I are from Germany and we went to visit our relatives in Canada. They live close to the American border.

One day, we wanted to drive to a tourist attraction. There was road work ahead and our lane suddenly ended. I had to drive left into some kind of parking lot because I was unfamiliar with the road. We were confused and tried to get back on the road. I wanted to take a road that could get us back. My mom thought otherwise.

Mom: “Don’t take that road, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

I wanted to follow her advice but couldn’t. Then, we saw a strange official sign.

The next thing we knew, we were on a single road on a bridge going to the US. We were both horrified. There were cars behind me and I couldn’t go back. Fortunately, I was able to turn my car around and avoid entering the US, but we still had to wait in line to enter Canada — and without our passports; they were safely back at the house.

It was so embarrassing to tell the customs officers sheepishly what happened.

Me: “We took a wrong turn and never wanted to leave Canada.”

He looked at us sternly. We could only give our German ID, which he couldn’t read, of course. Then, we had to park and wait in an office. The people there looked also very unimpressed. The last person, finally, was really nice.

Worker: “Don’t worry about it; this happens a few times a week. But next time, please take your passport with you.”

We were really relieved. But we never told our relatives, although our trip was about an hour and a half shorter than planned.

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The Art Of Showing Off

, , , , , , | Legal | September 16, 2021

One day, after picking up a few friends in my car, we happened to drive past an art gallery that had a display about art’s role in advertising and marketing. One of my friends works in that area, so he was pointing out some interesting parts of the display through my window to the other passengers as I was parked next to it waiting for the lights to change.

Just as the light turned green, a police officer started knocking very aggressively on my passenger side window. I rolled the window down and asked the officer what was happening. He pointed aggressively at my friend.

Officer: “You! Out of the car right now!”

As you can imagine, we were all very confused. As my friend got out of the car, the vehicles behind me were all beeping their horns because I was blocking traffic, but the officer closed the door as soon as my friend got out and wouldn’t let anyone else in the car follow. I asked him what he wanted us to do.

Officer: “I don’t care. Get lost.”

We had missed the light, so we had to wait for the next green light, at which point I parked in the first space I could find so that the cop couldn’t get me on a traffic offence. This took five minutes, and we were just about to get out of the car and go find my friend when he came walking along.

Friend: “Hey! Where did you go?!”

Me: “I’m sorry, [Friend]. The cop made us leave. We were just coming back for you. What happened?”

Friend: “Oh, you’re not going to believe this. He thought I had stuck my finger up at him. I told him that he was mistaken — I was pointing at the art exhibit — but he wouldn’t believe me. He asked me if I could prove my story and I was like, ‘No, you made my friends leave!’ I think he was trying to show off for his partner, because he asked his partner if he had seen anything and he just looked really uncomfortable and said no. That’s why he let me leave.”

Unfortunately, he didn’t get the officer’s badge number and decided to let it go instead of filing a complaint.

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Gotta Love Consequences

, , , , , | Legal | September 14, 2021

This happened when my parents went on their honeymoon in Spain. Back then, there were ID checks each time you transferred from one nation to another, and the one at the France-Spain border in particular had a queue going on for miles.

My father, who was driving, moved to the emergency lane, went past a line of 100+ cars, and merged back into the queue just before the Border Police shack.

Out of the shack came a French gendarme with the red and green traffic baton. He singled out my parents’ car and directed them to move onto the median strip. Once they were there, he put the baton under his armpit and walked back inside the shack while the other motorists jeered and cheered.

It was more than an hour before my parents were allowed to join the queue again.

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Teamwork Can Move Mountains… Or At Least Trees

, , , , , , | Friendly | September 10, 2021

One evening when I was young, the Seattle area was experiencing one of its windstorms, which can produce winds up to ninety miles an hour. My dad came home from work a bit later than usual. He explained that the road had been blocked by a tree felled by the wind. When he got to the downed tree, he was in a small line of traffic; people were honking their horns and he saw the same thing on the other side of the tree.

Dad is pragmatic. He turned on his hazard lights, shut off his engine, got out of the car, went to the driver of the stopped car in front of him, and explained a plan.

Dad: “There are at least a dozen cars blocked by this tree, meaning there are at least a dozen drivers. Surely we can lift the tree together and move it out of the way. Honking certainly isn’t going to move it, and it’s not on any power lines or anything dangerous.”

And he was right: there were enough drivers and passengers who were willing and able to pick up the tree and carry it to the side of the road. After a couple of minutes, traffic was able to pass the road as usual.

I still live in the greater Seattle area, and since getting my driver’s license, I have twice been in the same situation. Both times, I’ve done what my dad did, telling the other drivers, “A while back, this happened to my dad, and he had an idea…” And every time, we get the tree moved in a matter of minutes. Teamwork for the win!

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