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Uh… Boys Will Be Boys?

, , , , , , | Romantic | May 4, 2022

Back in her high school days, Mum was the most beautiful girl in school, to the point where there was a gentleman’s agreement among the boys that Mum was for everyone to equally enjoy from afar — off-limits to confessions and everything.

Me: “Then how did Dad get you?”

Mum: “He punched me in the face.”

Me: “What?”

Mum does kendo and karate. That I already knew. But apparently, their high school didn’t have a kendo club. It did, however, have a fencing club. Mum decided to challenge a few of the fencers to an informal swordfight.

Mum trounced three fencing club members, including the captain, before Dad, a new transfer student, stepped up.

Dad: “All right, so we agree. First to fifteen points. Anything goes.”

Mum: “Sure.”

Dad actually put on quite a good showing. He was in the lead for most of the fight. Mum was stronger than him — still is stronger, actually — but Dad was and still is faster than her. His sword had a longer reach, and he scored by stabbing, not by slashing, compounding that advantage. Dad leveraged his speed to keep himself out of range of Mum, slowly but surely racking up the points.

But eventually, Dad tired out. He started making mistakes, and Mum, who had been conserving her stamina for the whole match, stopped holding back.

13-11 in Dad’s favour slowly tipped to 13-13, and then 13-14. Getting rather desperate, after Mum parried his sword, Dad used his free hand to slug her straight in the face, and then he stabbed her with his sword before she could react.

14-14 now. Anything goes. They had both agreed to that. The punch didn’t count, but the sword stab did.

Mum reared back from the left hook and angrily retaliated by removing a hand from her sword and throwing a right straight right into Dad’s face. She hit him so hard he was thrown off his feet and onto the ground.

Despite being stunned — and half-blind as his glasses had been bent quite out of shape from how hard his mask was hit — Dad still managed to leap to his feet and somehow not just parry Mum’s shinai but actually score the fifteenth point at the same time. 

He had blocked the slash with his sword’s guard, and the tip had carried on to stab Mum’s breastplate.

Me: “What, really?”

Dad: “Yeah, I’ve still got the scar to prove it.”

He shows me his right hand where there’s a keloid scar over the knuckle of his thumb.

Dad: “I got that because I parried [Mum]’s last blow with the guard of my epee. She hit it so hard that the guard slammed into my hand and cut me through my glove.”

The guard of an epee is essentially a metal bowl that covers the top of the wielder’s hand to prevent the opponent from stabbing them in the fingers. The rim of the bowl is pretty sharp, as my Dad clearly found out firsthand. Literally.

Me: *To Mum* “So, you fell in love with Dad because he beat you.”

Mum: “No, I fell in love with [Dad] because he apologised for punching me and baked me cupcakes. It was pretty sweet.”

Me: “The cupcakes or the gesture?”

Mum: “Both.”

Me: “Okay. Okay. I know Dad’s baking is awesome, but seriously? That’s all it took?”

Mum: “No, he was also the only boy in school that treated me as an actual human being and respected me for my thoughts and opinions instead of just my looks or athletic talent.”

Me: “Really? Over a hundred boys in school, and only Dad wasn’t charmed by your looks?”

Mum: “Oh, he was charmed. Couldn’t look straight at me without blushing and stammering. But unlike the rest, he actually listened when I talked and tried his best to treat me like everyone else.”

Dad: *Shrugs* “To be fair, I was a transfer student. I didn’t know about the whole ‘gentleman’s agreement’ thing until after we’d became boyfriend and girlfriend.”

Mum: “You nearly got lynched by the boys.”

Dad: “Thrice. That I know of. And [Teacher] tried to get me suspended for confessing. I think he was jealous.”

Mum: “Oh, he was.”

Me: “So, was it worth it in the end?”

Both Of Them: “Absolutely.”

They never married each other, even after a decade and two children, but are both still very much madly in love. And to think it all started with a punch in the face.

This Stuff Only Happens On TV… And NAR

, , , , , | Learning | April 29, 2022

I’m a biology teacher at a high school. Back when I was a much newer teacher, we had reached the point of learning about genetics and Punnett squares, which are used to show how dominant and recessive genes will be inherited from parents to children. Usually, the second most common example used for these — next to Mendel’s original example with peas — is eye color. However, I didn’t like this because it’s not accurate; eye color is actually controlled by sixteen different genes and is more complex than simple Punnett squares can handle.

Thus, I decided to use blood type as an example for our Punnett squares. It’s a slightly more complicated example, due to A and B types being codominant, but at least it doesn’t require lying to students.

Then, one day, a girl came up to me before the start of class.

Student: “Mr. [My Name], I think I’m doing the squares wrong.”

Me: “What’s the problem?”

Student: “My dad is AB and my mom is A, but I’m O. I can’t make the squares work.”

Me: “Oh, yes, that wouldn’t usually work. Are you certain you have everyone’s blood types right?”

Student: “Yeah, I asked them last night.”

Me: “Oh, I see.”

Student: “An AB parent can have an O kid, right?”

There was a hint of anxiety behind this question, as if she was pleading with me to tell her they could.

The answer — as I found out only after I was put on the spot with this question and Googled it — was that it is possible but exceptionally rare for this to happen. Still, even if I didn’t know that for certain yet, I knew there were usually exceptions to most genetic rules of thumb, so I hedged a little.

Me: “Usually not, but genetics are strange; there are always mutations or unusual recombination happening, so most of the stuff we teach in genetics is how things usually work, not a promise it will always be that way. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are times when AB parents have O children.”

Student: “But how often does that happen?”

Me: “I’m not really certain.”

Student: “But is it common?”

Me: “I don’t think it’s common, but it could happen.”

The student was quiet for a bit while thinking, looking increasingly worried. Eventually, she spoke up again.

Student: “What about eye color? Brown is dominant, right?”

The girl had brown eyes.

Me: “Eye color is more complicated since it’s controlled by many genes; Punnett squares don’t really work with them.”

Student: “So, brown really isn’t dominant?”

Me: “It kind of is. If you have one parent with blue eyes and one with brown, you’re more likely to end up with brown eyes, but it doesn’t always happen that way.”

Student: “But parents with blue eyes can have a brown-eyed daughter?”

Me: “Yes, definitely!”

Student: “Okay, good. Is that common?”

Me: “Well, it’s not exactly common, but it definitely can and does happen. I’m afraid I don’t know the exact odds without looking it up.”

Student: “Oh, okay. Thank you.”

She still looked worried and a bit dejected as she wandered back to her seat. I was not at all happy with how the conversation had gone, but I couldn’t think of anything else I could say or do, other than lying to her, to make things better, so I had to just leave things be and get on with starting class.

The next Monday, I saw the student again. She was looking very upset while looking at me as if she couldn’t decide whether to approach me or not.

Me: “[Student], are you okay?”

Student: “No! You were right!”

Me: “Right about what?”

She looked like she was considering answering, but she glanced around the classroom that was starting to fill with students, some of whom were clearly interested in our discussion in front of the class.

Student: “I don’t want to talk about it here.”

Of course, I respected that, but I found her to talk in private later. It turns out the man who raised her was not her biological father after all. He had fertility issues, and in the end, his brother ended up donating sperm for them to get pregnant, but they had never told their daughter. The blood types not adding up was the thing that made my student start thinking, but ultimately, she had come up with lots of other things, like eye color, that didn’t quite add up, and so she had decided to confront her parents during the weekend. They admitted the truth when she confronted them.

She was very upset at having this hidden from her, especially since, apparently, her biological father had moved to another country shortly after she was born, so she barely knew anything about him. I did my best to reassure her and remind her that anyone who cared for and loved her all her life was her real father, regardless of genetics, but she was less concerned about that and more about feeling like she had been lied to her entire life.

She would eventually come to accept the news, but not until she had time to deal with her feelings and emotions. As for me, I decided that I wasn’t going to be teaching any blood type-related Punnett squares after that year. I’ll still sometimes use the old standard of eye color but only after stressing that it’s an oversimplification. I figure, that way, if I ever have a brown-eyed student asking why their parents are both blue-eyed again, I can at least honestly say that is a real possibility and that I had already warned them we were oversimplifying eye color. I’d prefer not to be the cause of any more children getting unpleasant realizations.

A Delightful Prom Alternative

, , , , | Romantic | April 28, 2022

High school prom is an event all unto itself. My friends and I were not big into the dance as we were all outcasts and didn’t see what the big deal was. We were talking about how we didn’t want to go to prom but we still wanted to do something, so our boyfriends told us to get dressed up and they would take us out. 

My two friends and I got dressed in our “prom” best and waited for the guys to pick us up. Our guys showed up in tuxedo T-shirts with jackets and top hats, looking amazing and silly at the same time. 

They took us to the [Fast Food Chain] one of them worked at. They had one part of the dining room blocked off. The employee’s dad greeted us, also wearing a tux shirt and top hat, and seated us at individual tables with white table cloths, candles, actual china, silver flatware, cloth napkins, and roses in tiny vases. 

We had our “fine dining” experience where we had our courses of burgers and fries brought out to us by the guy’s older brother — in a tux shirt and top hat — with sparkling grape juice being poured like fine wine from an ice wine bucket in the corner.

We had excellent service from the dad and brother who were the utmost professionals the entire time, though we were laughing, giggling, and just cracking up at how beyond sweet and ridiculous this all was.

The boy that thought of everything and somehow talked his family into this magical date night is now married to my friend with three amazing kids. 

He was telling his oldest son about how he came up with it all at BBQ last weekend, which makes me wonder if another girl is going to be swept off her feet?

The Real Inspiration For That Netflix Show

, , , , | Learning | April 25, 2022

This is the story about someone who I’ll call my friend for convenience, though honestly, I’m not sure I deserve to call him that. I’d known him since elementary school, but he was always just a bit different. I never heard that he was neurodiverse or anything; he just didn’t try to fit in. He spoke with a very mild speech impediment and was always sticking his nose in a book, even walking through the halls reading, somehow not running into anyone in the crowded halls while doing it.

He flat-out said, on more than one occasion, that he thought all of us were doing lots of foolish things just to fit in and he wasn’t going to do something that didn’t make sense to him just to seem normal.

Needless to say, he was never the most popular person in school, and as such, I’m ashamed to admit that I also somewhat shunned him at first. But one year, he ended up sitting next to me in one of our classes and in the cafeteria, so I got to know him better and found out he could be quite funny and enjoyable to hang out with. Sadly, I was too worried about popularity to properly call him my friend back then.

This story starts in health class, where we were getting your standard abstinence-only sex-ed spiel. During one of the last days, I remember thinking the teacher was rushing through class a bit more than usual, not giving as much time for questions and such. I didn’t know why until the end of the class when she asked if anyone had questions and immediately called on my friend.

My friend stood up.

Friend: *Very quickly* “Teachers here aren’t allowed to teach about birth control, but that doesn’t stop students!”

He then went into what was clearly a well-practiced, rapid tallying-off of the most important details about birth control in the short time left in class, ending with:

Friend: “I can explain more during lunch if anyone wants to know, and I also have condoms that I will provide to anyone to asks for them.”

While never officially saying so, he pretty strongly implied that he had already arranged things with our teacher to have enough time in class to go over everything.

Since I sat near him at lunch, I saw people coming to him for questions. At first, they all seemed to be there out of perverse curiosity and as a joke rather than wanting actual information, but my friend ignored their humor and gave them real information. Eventually, word got around and he got some more serious people showing up. Mostly, they were just there for the free condoms, but any time he gave them to someone new, he insisted on giving them “the talk” first.

His talk wasn’t just about the use of birth control but also stressing consent and saying that anyone who would bully someone into sex when they weren’t ready or having unsafe sex clearly didn’t care about that person’s emotional well-being and, as such, was not a good person and didn’t deserve to have sex with, or even be dating, the person they were pressuring. My friend even offered some advice on how to go about sex in a manner that would please everyone, though he rarely was taken up on this.

Oddest of all, though, was that my friend vocally declared himself to be a virgin and committed to staying a virgin for at least the rest of that year, with his repeating both claims and promises the subsequent year. He explained that while he was trying to ensure those that chose to have sex did it safely, he also didn’t want anyone to feel like they had to have sex to fit in, and he figured letting people know he was a virgin and he didn’t mind that fact may help lower the pressure on others to lose their virginity.

Of course, some mocked him for this, and more than once it was implied that his information was useless because, “What does a virgin know about sex?” His response was that he knew how to use Google and ask wiser adults, that it didn’t take a genius to understand the basic use of birth control, and the fact that there were so many unplanned pregnancies in teens demonstrated that having sex clearly wasn’t enough to make one an expert on birth control.

There was one memorable time later in the year when two men who had jokingly harassed my friend a little in the past for his sex-ed campaign were being a bit more persistent, telling him he was a virgin because no one would ever have sex with him. He eventually got fed up with it and pointed out that he was now well known as a man who not only knew how to have safe sex but also advocated consent and ensuring that a woman gets plenty of pleasure from the act, and that can be tempting to quite a few women. The fact that he was a sworn virgin was just more tempting to certain women, as if he was playing hard to get, and he had frankly gotten more than a few implicit offers to help “remedy” his virgin status whenever he decided he was ready. He then went on to point out that those women were polite enough to accept a no and understood the importance of consent, unlike certain individuals.

Eventually, rules were passed about not congregating around lunch tables that weren’t assigned to you, ostensibly to avoid cluttering the cafeteria, but they seemed to be selectively enforced only when someone came to my friend for information or condoms.

Almost immediately after this, my friend came to me with an odd request.

Friend: “Can you put a bowl of candy above your locker? I’ll provide the bowl, the candy, and a little note asking people to please only take two per day. All you have to do is put it out.”

Me: “Why?”

Friend: “I’ll let you know soon enough. It isn’t anything bad, and it might even amuse you.”

I was confused, but still, free candy is tempting, so I agreed. He had one or two others also put out free candy.

It was two weeks later that the reason for his madness became clear when he put out his own bowl — filled with condoms instead of candy.

Apparently, the principal of the school was very unhappy about the open discussion and supposed “encouragement” of sex. He had tried to get my friend to stop without success.  He had even called [Friend]’s parents only to find out that they fully supported him; they were the ones driving him to a free clinic to get all the condoms he was passing out! The whole “no congregating in the cafeteria” rule was an attempt to indirectly curtail my friend while skirting the issue with free speech.

And, as my friend suspected, the moment he put out the condom bowl, he was dragged back into the principal’s office to be asked to stop doing it.

To this, he pled freedom of speech. He pointed out that they had no problem with bowls of free stuff being put out since they said nothing about the candy, so obviously, they were just trying to shut down his sharing condoms. He threatened that his family would sue if they tried to stop him from distributing condoms. Honestly, he wasn’t sure if they could win such a case, but they would make the fight very public, going to the news and all, which would ultimately leave the school and principal looking pretty terrible regardless of the final legal ruling.

It apparently worked because the free condom bowl stayed out and the school stopped trying to silence him so blatantly. Though, sadly, he stopped providing me with free candy once his point had been made.

I still can’t say my friend was popular in the traditional sense, but he did become very well known in school. He may not do things the “normal” way, but I have to say I approved of his way of doing things, even if the principal apparently hated him for it.

Sounds Like Her Brain Is A Little Starved Also

, , , | Right | April 13, 2022

I work reception at a high school. Kids pay for their lunch with swipe cards, which their parents can load with however much money they like. However, we recently made a policy that if a child has no money on the card, they can still buy a meal at the student kitchen. This is to ensure that no child goes hungry because a parent forgot to top up the card or is a little short one week.

We send out an email to parents to inform them of this new policy.

The week it’s launched, I receive the following phone call from a parent.

Parent: “You guys sent me an email saying I hadn’t paid my son’s card, but there’s money on it.”

Me: “Let me check that for you.”

I search the system and see that the child does indeed have credit on there. I can’t see any messages that went out informing them of a low balance.

Me: “I can confirm that there is credit on the card. I can’t see any emails sent to you regarding a low or zero balance. When did you receive the email?”

Parent: “A few days ago!”

Me: “Do you have the email in front of you?”

Parent: “Yeah.”

Me: “Can you read me what it says?”

Parent: “We’re writing to inform you about our new ‘no child goes hungry’ policy…”

Then, it clicks. I know the email she is talking about.

Me: “That email wasn’t informing you about a low balance. It was informing you that if your child ever has a zero balance, they would still be able to get food—”

Parent: “But there’s money on the card!”

Me: “Of course, but if there was ever a time in the future that they didn’t, the email is just letting you know that they can still get food.”

Parent: “But I always top up my son’s card! Why are you sending me this email?”

Me: “We sent this email to every parent to make them aware of a policy change. You don’t need to worry about it. As I said, it’s only if there isn’t any money on it. We’re doing it to make sure no child goes hungry at school.”

Parent: “My son never goes hungry! I always make sure he has money on his card! Why would you send me something like this?”

No matter how I tried to explain it, this woman just didn’t seem to understand. In the end, I told her to disregard the email and she ended the call.