I Yam Dead

, , , , , , , | Related | March 2, 2020

(My dear grandfather has died quietly in his sleep of old age. We are hosting a wake for a whole week in my grandparents’ home, hosted by my grandmother. Local custom states that we have an open casket in the living room, which was a bit unnerving at first, but we get used to it. Despite protests from family members, my grandmother insists on being an impeccable host, cooking and serving drinks and snacks to my many, MANY aunts, uncles, cousins, and over a dozen great-grandchildren. I have just been served a homemade local dessert — Ube Roll — as I am chatting with my cousins.)

Me: *takes a bite* “Hmm. I think something is off with this roll.”

Cousin #1: “Yeah, it’s hard as a rock!”

Cousin #2: “I think she might have left it out too long and it’s gone stale.”

Cousin #3: “And it’s really heavy! Did she actually make it with rocks?”

Me: “I can’t eat this.”

(The dessert really is bad; it is basically a paperweight.)

Cousin #1: “Me, neither.”

(We all look around at the many relatives struggling with their “rock cakes.” A few have discretely tried to leave the room with their dessert to “eat it outside,” but Grandmother is keeping a vigil on everyone. Disposal is going to be tricky.)

Cousin #1: “Poor [Grandmother]. She’s been through enough without spending the next few weeks finding half-eaten stale ube roll wedged behind cupboards and hidden in drawers all around the house.”

Cousin #2: “Wait a minute. [Grandmother] served all the great-grandkids first, and they all had empty plates when they ran outside to play. They couldn’t have eaten them, could they? They must have stashed them.”

Me: “But where? I can’t see where.”

(We look around for a while to see if we can find any cleverly-hidden half-eaten cakes but to no avail.)

Cousin #1: “Where could the little idiots have put them? There’s no way they ate them!”

Cousin #3: “Unless…”

(All of us look over towards the open coffin.)

Me: “Oh, no…”

(We slowly approach Grandfather with trepidation. Being the closest, I am silently volunteered to “pay my respects” one more time. I bend down and check the lower half of the coffin, which is closed. I turn back towards my cousins.)

Me: “Well, let’s just say that if Grandfather is accidentally buried alive, he won’t go hungry for a while…”

Cousin #1: “You mean those little b*****ds stuffed their cakes into poor Grandfather’s coffin?!”

Cousin #2: “No wonder all the kids wanted to pay their respects to Grandfather for so long! I was surprised that kids that young would be so thoughtful!”

(Luckily, we were able to remove the evidence without Grandmother noticing. One of us took her upstairs to “reminisce” while the rest of us collected the alarmingly heavy cakes from all the relatives and threw them out without her noticing. Wouldn’t have wanted to see what would have happened had the stash been discovered later on by poor Grandmother!)

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Not Trained For This Situation

, , , , , | Related | February 18, 2020

(For my grandma’s 80th birthday, her kids all host a big party for her. My youngest uncle has just had a new house built, so that’s where it’s hosted. I’m the oldest grandkid; I am 17, while my uncle’s son is two years old. After spending the morning running around preparing and cleaning up the house, my two-year-old cousin — now very bored — begs me to play trains with him. It will keep him quiet and occupied in the back room until the party begins, so I agree. The next thing I know, I’m suddenly aware that there are four other kids in the back room with us, and there’s music and talking in the rest of the house. I’m about to go join the party when two little girls take over my cousin’s train set.)

Cousin: “No! No, no, no, no, no!” *begins to cry*

Me: “Hey, buddy, it’s all right. Look; they’ve got the red train and the blue train, and you can have the green train! That’s your favourite one!”

Cousin: “No!”

Me: “Okay, which train did you want?”

Cousin:My trains.”

Me: “Yes, they’re your trains. The girls are just borrowing them for a little while. It’s important to share so that you can all play together.”

Cousin: “NOOO!” *throws himself on the ground, about to go full meltdown*

Me: “Right. I’m going to pick you up, and we’ll go find Mummy, okay?”

Cousin: “Nooo… ‘kay.”

(I wander out into the party, my cousin goes to cuddle with his mum until he feels better, and I go on my way to eat cake and talk to people I know.)

Lady: *grabbing my shoulder* “YOU!”

Me: “Uh, hello? I’m sorry, I don’t think I recognise you–”

Lady: “What are you doing outside the playroom?”

Me: “Sorry?”

Lady: “You’re going to be sorry. I went to check on my dears and found you missing.” 

Me: “I don’t understand.”

Lady: “How dare you?! You’re getting paid good money to watch those kids, and you fob it off to steal party food?”

Me: “Paid?”

Lady: “When I checked, there was no one watching the kids. My girls were even about to get into a fight with each other. You’re going to get back there and do your job, and when I find [Aunt], I’ll see that she never hires you again.”

Me: “Can you let go of me now?”

Lady: “You need to learn some responsibility and–”

Dad: “[My Name], there you are. Come here; it’s time for the speeches. Oh, hello, Mrs. [Lady].”

Lady: *suddenly sickeningly pleasant* “Oh, hello, [Dad]. I haven’t seen you in years! How have you been? How’s [Mum] doing?”

Dad: “She’s fine. [My Name], this is [Lady]. She’s a part of Grandma’s congregation. I used to babysit her when I was your age.”

Lady: “You should have said you were related to [Grandma]. I thought you were the hired help.”

(I turn to look at the projector, showing photographs of Grandma through her life, right next to us. The current image is one of Grandma in her wedding dress; I have listened to twelve people today already marvel over how it looks just like me, before I’ve even introduced myself)

Me: “Sure. If you say so.”

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A True Hero

, , , , | Related | February 14, 2020

(We are at a Christmas party with all of our family and friends around. My cousin is very much a follow-the-rules type, except for this one incident.)

My Mom: “[Cousin], how did getting your federal clearances go?”

Cousin: “It went okay, up until the part where they ask if you any wrongdoing in your past. I got a bit nervous because the only thing I could think of was when I was in high school. I taught my whole class to learn sign language to help get everyone through an extremely tough test that wasn’t even a part of the curriculum. We signed helping each other out through the test. So, basically, I cheated and helped everyone else cheat. I was terrified when I had to admit this in the clearance reviews.”

Cousin’s Dad: “While we don’t condone this behavior, I was rather impressed that she taught the whole class another form of communication.”

Me: “Well, did you pass your clearance exam?”

Cousin: “I did! It took a while to get the report to come, but I now have a security clearance.”

(Apparently, the officer was impressed with her and said that was nowhere near as bad as some other stories they have heard. All’s well that ends well, and now she stops cybercrime.)

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When The Police Can Be A Real Jewel

, , , , , | Legal | February 9, 2020

(I’m the person from this story. When they finally discover the cyst on my ovary that is the source of all my troubles, I am immediately scheduled for surgery in two weeks’ time. They want to run some more biopsies because they suspect I have a lump in my breast, which turns out to just be scar tissue from my reduction surgery years ago. One week after discovering the cyst and a week before my surgery, my grandmother whom I’d been living with to help keep an eye on her, dies, which puts me in an awful position. Two of my cousins are given ownership of the house upon her death. One of them, my male cousin, is on the other side of the country at the time of her death, which leaves me to deal with the other, female cousin. She immediately tells me I have to move out at once while I am laid up in a recliner chair, unable to move from the pain and on heavy-duty painkillers, facing major surgery in one week and another six weeks of recovery, minimum. Luckily, my other cousin calls to see how I am holding up and when he hears what our mutual cousin is trying to do, he tells her that he is allowing me to stay until I am well enough after my surgery to move. Two days later, I am woken up by the sound of someone coming into the house in the early morning and I see one of my aunts walking through and then back to the front door. She shows me the jewelry box she has in her hands and tells me she is taking it to the funeral home. I don’t care and just try to go back to sleep. I am woken up AGAIN, probably a few hours later, by my female cousin, my mother, and a police officer in the living room.)

Female Cousin: “…and I want her arrested! She stole my grandmother’s jewelry! Arrest her!”

Mom: “I told you, I didn’t take anything! I don’t know what happened!”

Female Cousin: “You changed the locks on the house to keep us out, and now you’re stealing from me! This is my house and I own everything in it!”

Mom: “I called you and gave you the key to the new locks! My daughter is sick and I don’t know who all has keys to the old locks! I changed them to keep people from coming in without permission!”

(I just try to go back to sleep but can’t because of the noise. Mom is trying to keep her voice down, [Female Cousin] is starting to shout, and the cop is trying to calm them both down.)

Me: “[Aunt] took the f****** jewelry box! She came in here before the sun was fully up and took the f****** thing! She took it to the funeral home! I’m trying to sleep, [Female Cousin]; can you be quiet?!

(With that settled, the cop says he will check with the funeral home. But before he leaves, he turns to my cousin.)

Cop: “For the record, ma’am, you may own this house, but until the estate is settled, you own nothing inside of it.”

Me: “Officer, thank God you clarified that for her. If she had tried to take my property inside this house from me, I was going to load the most illegal stuff I could find onto my computer and pin it on her.”

(Luckily, he found it as funny as I intended it to be.)

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The Art Of Potato-Fu

, , , , | Related | February 3, 2020

(I have a younger cousin who is studying in the UK. He’s returned for Christmas and is answering our grandparent’s questions about the food in his boarding school.)

Cousin: “Potatoes. Day in day out. Three meals a day. Name every type of potato dish you know of and I will have eaten it, and more.”

Grandpa: “No variation at all? Every day you have potatoes?”

Cousin: “Yes. Potato soup, smoked potato, steamed potato, mashed potato, mashed sweet potato, sweet potato fries, even potato tofu.”

Wife: “I’m sorry, what?”

Grandma: “Potato tofu?”

Me: “That’s a thing?”

Cousin: “Yeah, I didn’t believe it, either. I thought my seniors were joking until I actually had it. Wasn’t actually too bad.”

Me: “What did it taste like?”

(My wife and I then got into an intense debate/interrogation about everything my cousin knew about that potato tofu he had, which allowed us to approximate the recipe. When my cousin returned back to Singapore after graduation, we disguised it as normal tofu, which he loves, and served it to him. He flipped out when he ate it, screaming that he did not want to see a single potato again for the rest of his life. After he calmed down, we had a good laugh about it and began plotting to serve the same dish to the rest of his fellow students at their next get-together.)

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