I Didn’t Even Know You Could Cheat At Trees

, , , , , , | Learning | April 28, 2020

Outdoor school has been a long-established “rite of passage” for third-graders here — a time to spend three days away from actual school and learn about the wilderness. Like many of the kids who are attending outdoor school, I am Native, which isn’t uncommon for the area we come from, nor the area we’re in.

We are learning about all the different types of trees, but I’m bored of this lesson and start whispering to my friends. 

It is important to know that everyone in my family has rather… unusual names. It is the late nineties when this happens:

Counselor: “[My Name], are you paying attention?”

Me: “I am! But I know all of this already!”

Counselor: “Oh? Then kindly point out the different types of trees you see around us. If you can get them all correct, you don’t have to go on the nature walk later.”

I stand up, walking over to a big spruce tree.

Me: “This is my Uncle Spruce.”

I walk over to the next tree.

Me: “This is my Uncle Pine, that’s my Auntie Maple…”

I continue on like this for every tree, and the councilor — who is also Native — stops me after a while.

Counselor: “All right, [My Name], you know your trees! But they aren’t your uncles or your aunties; they’re our friends.”

Me: “No, they’re my uncles and aunties! I promise!”

The counselor made a note on his clipboard, and we continued on. Later that night, I was summoned to the counselor’s cabin where they were on the phone with my parents. They put the speaker on so I could hear.

The counselor had told them that I had cheated at the tree lesson, which was a punishable offence. When asked how he knew I had cheated, the counselor told them that no one had ever gotten all the trees correct and told them about me calling them “uncle” and “auntie”. 

My father burst out laughing before my mother could explain; her parents had named all their children after trees, and they had taught all the kids the different types of trees! I didn’t cheat. I knew them because my aunts and uncles had taught me about their namesakes when I was little! 

The counselor blushed and apologized.

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Dan’s About To Move To Albuquerque

, , , , , , | Working | April 18, 2020

(My husband and I go to Disneyworld to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary and paying off our house. This is about a month after “Weird” Al Yankovic released a new album with a song titled “Skipper Dan.” For those not familiar with the song, it’s about a failed actor working the Jungle Cruise Ride at Disneyland.

We get in line at said attraction. As we are waiting for the next free boat to come up, I glance at the nametag of the cast member helping load the boat. Lo and behold, the nametag says “Dan.”)

Me: “Is your name really Dan?”

(He nods sadly.)

Me: “Have people been asking about the Weird Al song?” 

(He nods sadly again.)

Me: “You poor b******.” 

(He smiles with another sad nod. We get on the next boat and our enthusiastic ride operator goes through his opening spiel…)

Operator: “…and on the deck is our own Skipper Dan of Weird Al fame. Hi, Skipper Dan!” 

(Skipper Dan slumped his shoulders and waved. I don’t know if that was an act or not, but know that all us working stiffs are with you, Skipper Dan. Salute.)

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Good Buddies With Dill Nye

, , , , , | Romantic | April 15, 2020

My husband and I are laying in bed, awake and on our phones, but too lazy to get up.

Husband: “Oh, I had a weird dream last night.”

Me: “Oh?”

Husband: “Yeah, we got visited by that scientist guy, the one who flies around on the giant aubergine.”

Aubergine is “eggplant,” for our American friends.

Me: “What on earth are you on about?”

Husband: “You know! The science guy! Lemongrass Tyson!”

It clicks.

Me: “You mean Neal DeGrasse-Tyson?!”

Husband: “Yeah!”

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What About Daddy Cool?

, , , , | Related | April 9, 2020

My brother and sister-in-law taught their three-year-old daughter her last names and their respective names. They are showing what she learned in front of the family. In Belgium, it is not customary to take the name of your husband.

Sister-In-Law: “[Niece], what is your name?”

Niece: “[Niece’s Full Name].”

Brother: “Who is that?”

He points to his wife.

Niece: “Mum.”

Brother: “And what is Mum called?”

Niece: “[Sister-in-Law’s Full Name].”

Sister-In-Law: “Very good, honey. And who is that?”

She points to my brother. My niece speaks after a second’s delay, very upbeat.

Niece: “Daddy [Brother].”

We erupt in laughter.

Brother: *Fake insulted* “Daddy [Brother]? What other daddies do you have?”

I guess my niece considered her last name belonging to her and could not see how she shared it with her dad.

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Was “Richard” Already Taken?

, , , , | Related | April 7, 2020

My mom is pregnant with my baby brother. I am nine at the time.

Me: “So, what’re you going to name him?”

Mom: *Proudly* “Dick.”

Me: “As in… D-I-C-K?”

She nods.

Me: “Um… Mom, are you sure?”

Mom: “Yes.”

Me: “I don’t think that’s a good name. You know what it means, right?”

English isn’t her first language, and Mom is very proper.

Mom: “All I know is that it’s your father’s name.”

Me: “Well… but it’s slang in English for… a you-know-what.”

I point to indicate.

Mom: “Stop being so vulgar! Where did you hear such things? It doesn’t!”

Me: “Mom, I swear it does! He’ll be teased.”

She shushed me and went on to give birth happily. Predictably, he was teased by his classmates and peers, was bullied, and had few friends. Mom ended up divorcing my dad and lamented forever that she named her kid after him. My brother now goes by his middle name.

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