Unangelic Behavior

, , , , , , , | Related | December 21, 2017

(It’s nearly Christmas and we are finishing the decorations in our living room, including our so-called “Angelic quartet”. It’s a local variation to American “Elf on the Shelf,” with four winged plaster statuettes, nearly the size of newborn babies, sitting and playing, so you can arrange them on the furniture around the Christmas tree, and creep the hell out of any normal guy like me. I make a throwaway comment:)

Me: “I could really do without these dead children.”

(Later, at lunch, my nine-year-old granddaughter suddenly turns to my wife, and asks:)

Granddaughter: “Grandma, why does Grandpa call the little angels ‘dead children’?”

Grandma: “Yes, honey, why do you call them that?”

(The ungrateful bunch of cockroaches I call “family” put down their utensils and look at me expectantly, stopping short of grabbing popcorn.)

Me: “You know, some people believe that if a little baby dies, they immediately get wings and become angels, so they can fly to visit their families any time they feel sad and alone.”

(My granddaughter looks at me, pondering, then turns to my wife:)

Granddaughter: “Grandpa is also a bit of a joker, right?”

(I still call it a win!)

Backed Herself Into A Back Problem

, , , , , , , , , | Related | December 15, 2017

My mother told me this story recently. My grandmother — an intractable, stubborn, and often vicious family matriarch if ever there was one — died not long ago and we were telling stories about her. This one made me laugh long and loud.

My grandmother was forever causing arguments with women in the family. She was determined to make sure that all the females in the family knew she was boss, end of story. The men, however, could do no wrong, especially my father, who was truly the apple of her eye.

My mother got into an argument with her. I had just been born — Mum and Dad’s first — and Mum was still getting used to me, and getting me into a routine of feeding and sleeping. Of course, my grandmother knew all there was to know about new babies and was forever butting in and driving Mum mad. One of her favourite tricks was to arrive at the house, with almost clairvoyant timing, just as Mum had got me to sleep, and insist on waking me up so she could spend time with me. Mum said that, had we lived far away from her so she only saw us occasionally, she wouldn’t have minded, but [Grandmother] lived just down the road and saw us every day. One day after it had taken Mum forever to get me to sleep, she absolutely forbade [Grandmother] from waking me, and the usual fight ensued.

Usually, Dad did what he and all the other male members of the family did when their wives, sisters, or daughters clashed with [Grandmother]; they did their ostrich trick and buried their heads in the sand. This time however, Dad came down on Mum’s side. He didn’t go to visit her, though he usually had morning tea with her every day, so she took to her bed with “back problems.”

When he still didn’t go to visit her, she let it be known that she was now paralysed. Still Dad stuck to his guns and stayed away. Finally, she was at death’s door and Dad didn’t give in. This went on for three days, and on the fourth day when [Grandmother] saw, from her bedroom window, Dad strolling down the road, this pain-wracked, paralysed, nearly dead woman leapt from her bed, ran down the driveway and screamed, “[Dad]! How dare you?! I am in agonising pain, I cannot move, and you ignore me! Ignore my suffering! What kind of son are you? Well, I’ll be dead in a day or so, and you and [Mum] will live with the knowledge that you caused it!”

My dad pointed out that she was standing on her own two feet, in her nightie, in the middle of the road. If she wanted this act of hers to really work, she would have to get back in bed and actually die. Then, he would feel sorry for her

It sounds harsh, I know, but it had the desired effect. Once [Grandmother] realised that her interfering in our family wouldn’t be tolerated and that she would, in fact, be excluded, she stopped being quite so hard on Mum. The only shame is that the other men in the family didn’t take a leaf out of Dad’s book and stand up to her when their wives, sisters, and daughters were being bullied. She carried on being as tough on them as she always had been.

Teacher Only Doing Half Their Job

, , , , | Hopeless | December 10, 2017

(My mom gets a call from my brother’s first grade teacher that he’s behind in class and will need to repeat the grade if he doesn’t improve. My mom brings her mom with her to the meeting, because my nana is a first grade teacher herself.)

Teacher: “[Brother] is doing very well in all his subjects except math; he hasn’t passed a single assignment this year.” *She begins laying the worksheets on the table, and Nana starts looking them over.*

Mom: “I don’t understand. I practiced addition and subtraction with him all summer, and he got it. He knows this stuff, he’s even started learning his times tables.”

Teacher: “Well, I’m sorry, I know it’s hard to hear, but if he doesn’t improve, he might need to go into remediation.”

Nana: “Wait a minute, he’s gotten exactly a fifty percent on all of these.”

Teacher: “Yes, that’s not a passable score.”

Nana: “No, no, look. He answers all the questions on the front perfectly, and doesn’t make a single mark on the back. He’s not bad at math, he’s bad at flipping pages!”

Teacher: “Oh!”

(Mom and Nana convinced her to keep him after school and let him make up all the backs of his worksheets, which he does perfectly. I know teaching’s really hard, but you’d think a college-educated woman would have noticed that he was only doing the front of the worksheets, rather than assume he’s remedial.)

Buy To Let To Bullet

, , , , , , | Related | December 4, 2017

My dad told me this story. When he was a kid, the family moved to a new house. After living there about three months, he distinctly remembers that one night they heard a loud bang, and the next morning, he and his siblings found a bullet hole in the mailbox. It was a great mystery for all the children as they wondered why a random person would shoot at their mailbox.

The mystery went unsolved. More than 40 years later, my grandfather developed rapid-onset dementia and had to be put in aged care. As my dad and my uncle went through his paperwork and belongings, trying to sort everything out, they came across several old documents which shed light on some interesting events that occurred at the time of his family’s move.

My grandfather, despite being a Catholic and never missing a Sunday mass, was not a very nice man. When my grandfather sold the previous property, a farmhouse, before moving to the new one, he deliberately neglected to tell the new owner of the farmhouse that the small piece of land in front of the house — the only entrance to get into the driveway — was actually private property. My grandfather had bought it from the council some years back and now owned it, and he didn’t sell that tiny bit of land to the new owner.

He then, after the sale of the house was finalised, informed the new owner that that piece of land was his, and that he’d give permission for the new owner to use it — essentially, to drive through it to reach their driveway — for a sum of $500 per year, which would be about $3000 in today’s money.

Forty years later, my dad finally understood the bullet-hole in the mailbox.

Making A Badly-Timed Meal Out Of It

, , , , , , , | Related | November 30, 2017

(I am over at my parent’s house while they are preparing dinner. My father is a stickler for having dinner at 6:30.)

Dad: “Shouldn’t you be home getting dinner ready for your husband?”

Me: “We don’t eat until 7:30 or 8:00.”

Dad:What? You should have dinner on the table at exactly 6:30 so that [Husband] can eat on time.”

Me: “[Husband] doesn’t get home until after 7:30.”

Dad: “It’s not right, eating that late.” *my grandmother walks into the kitchen* “Did you hear that, Nanna? They don’t eat until 9:30!”

Grandmother: *looking daggers at my mother* “Dinner should be on the table at 5:30; 9:30 is too late.” *both Dad and Grandmother start leaving the room*

Me: “I never said 9:30; I said 7:30. [Husband] doesn’t get home until then.”

Mum: “Don’t waste your breath; they won’t listen, because everyone else is wrong.”

Me: “What did Nanna give you a dirty look for?”

Mum: “Because I am not home early enough for her dinner time.”

Me: “But you work until 5:30 and have half an hour drive to get home.”

Mum: “Exactly; I am supposed to tell [Store Owner] that he needs to close the store by 4:30 so I can get home to cook dinner.”

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