“Normal Girls” Belong In The Past

, , , , | Related | October 13, 2019

(I’m the first in my mother’s family to attend university, and everyone is very proud of me… except for one person, apparently. I find this out when I visit my aunt and uncle one day and find my aunt looking torn between frustration and laughter.)

Me: “Hey, what’s the matter?”

Aunt: “I just got back from visiting [Great Aunt who lives in a nursing home and is experiencing the onset of dementia]. I told her you were going to university, and you know what she said?”

Me: *wondering if I want to know* “No, what was it?”

Aunt: “She said, ‘Why does [My Name] have to go to university? Why can’t she just work behind the cash register like a normal girl?'”

(Not that there’s anything wrong with working in retail, but “like a normal girl”? Gee, thanks, Auntie!)

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Going “Out” In My Ka

, , , , | Related | October 12, 2019

(I live with my parents well into my twenties. To keep a modicum of privacy, when my parents ask of an evening, “Oh, you are off out? Where are you going?” I say, “Out.” It drives them crazy, but they understand that this is how I can keep living with them: by having parts of my life private. I tell them about a man if we become exclusive, but not if we just go on a couple of dates. Flash forward 15 years. I am living on the other side of the world. I ring my dad, and we are chatting about random stuff.)

Me: “Oh, yes, I meant to tell you. We bought a new car.”

Dad: “Oh, what model?”

Me: “It’s a Ka.”

Dad: *resentfully* “Fine, be like that.”

Me: “No! It’s a Ford KA! It’s a small, three-door city car that–” *realising* “–Ford does not sell in Australia.”

(I think my parents still regard me as a sulky and laconic teenager.)

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Going Hard On Softball

, , , , , | Friendly | October 11, 2019

(My husband served three combat tours in Iraq as a convoy driver and suffers from very severe post-traumatic stress disorder as a result. One of his triggers is strange people showing up to our residence unannounced such as salesmen, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. When he is medically retired from the Army we buy a house on a long private driveway/road that has five other homes along it. The driveway is pretty secluded and leads to the shore of a large pond at the end. The driveway has several large, “NO TRESPASSING,” “NO SOLICITING,” and “PRIVATE DRIVEWAY” signs at the entrance due to the fact that the residents do not want to be bothered by strange callers. My husband really enjoys living there and has even made a really good friend with one of the neighbors, a Vietnam veteran with equally severe PTSD. This is what happens when a teenage girl decides to go door to door in the neighborhood to recruit players for the softball league that she is on. The doorbell rings multiple times as if someone is leaning on it.)

Husband: *starting to freak out* “There is someone at the door and there is a strange car in the driveway! Answer the door for me!”

(I am working on my doctoral dissertation in the family room level of our split level and I walk upstairs to answer the door.)

Teenage Girl: “Hi! Are you the mom? I am with [Softball League] and I am recruiting middle- and high-school-age girls to play on our team–”

Me: *cutting her off* “Excuse me. Did you not see the “no trespassing” and other signs at the beginning of the driveway? You are not welcome here. My husband has PTSD from the war and you are upsetting him. Leave now!”

Teenage Girl: “Yeah, that’s what the guy at the end of the road said and he was really angry. He started screaming at me to leave, but our coach told us to go to every street in this section of town to try to get players for our softball league. I didn’t think that the “no trespassing” and “no soliciting” signs applied to me because I am recruiting for [Softball League].”

Me: “Does your coach know that you just broke the law by entering private property that has been posted multiple times? Furthermore, there are no children on this street. With the exception of the state trooper that lives next door and my husband and I, everyone on this street is over the age of 55.”

Teenage Girl: *shoves a brochure into my hand* “Just take this brochure; you must know some teenage girl who wants to join our softball league. You and your neighbors are just trying to hold our team back. The people on this street really need to be more patriotic and support your community!”

(I realize that my husband has let [Vietnam Veteran] into the house through the sliding glass doors on the upstairs deck, and I hear him and my husband start to curse at the top of their lungs.)

Vietnam Veteran: “Are you stupid, young lady?! We lost brothers in two different wars trying to defend your freedom to have your stupid softball league! Don’t accuse us of not being patriotic unless you are prepared to enlist in the armed forces the day you graduate from high school like both of us did. We almost died for your freedom and we have the right to live in a place where people can’t bother us! This is private property. Leave now!

Teenage Girl: “But we don’t have enough people for our softball league!”

Me: “How is it our problem? You are trespassing on private property. Leave now!”

(At this time, the state trooper neighbor has heard the commotion and has come over.)

State Trooper: “Are you guys okay?” *to me, my husband, and [Vietnam Veteran]* “I saw a strange car in your driveway and I heard yelling.”

(I explain the situation to the state trooper neighbor and he pulls out his badge.)

State Trooper: *to teenage girl* “I am–” *states full name and title* “–and you are trespassing on clearly-marked private property. You have upset three of my neighbors, two of whom are veterans with quite severe PTSD. You have been asked to leave multiple times. Get off of this property now or I will be forced to issue you a court summons for trespassing!”

Teenage Girl: “But our team! We can’t have our league now!”

(I hand the brochure that was forced into my hand to the state trooper. The brochure has a number for the girl’s coach.)

State Trooper: “I am going to call your coach and tell her that you trespassed on private property and tried to bully someone into recruiting for you. Do I have to arrest you for refusing to leave?”

(The girl turned white, got in her car, and left the property. My state trooper neighbor called the girl’s coach, who was not very happy to hear what her player did to recruit for the league. Apparently, several girls from the league took it upon themselves to canvas every street in the small city that we live in to get girls to play in their league when they found out that the league didn’t have enough players. The coach told the state trooper that one girl was almost arrested for trying to force her way into the home of an elderly woman just to try to talk the woman’s granddaughter into joining the softball league!)

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That Plan Croaked

, , , , , | Legal | October 11, 2019

We live in a somewhat big plot of land inside a village. It’s not big enough to be a farm, but big enough to allow us to have our small vegetable garden and chicken coop, while still being surrounded by neighbours with smaller plots. 

Our back neighbor would only be there for vacations and the occasional weekend, and would blast bad music on his speakers while the sun was up. 

One day, my father decided to make a pond in the back of our plot. Being so close to nature, it almost immediately filled with frogs that would croak almost non stop. 

A week after excavating the pond, my neighbor demanded that my father dredge it, because the frogs were making too much noise and his family could not sleep. My father refused, and the neighbor said he would contact the police. 

A month or so after, we received a visit from an environmental protection agency about “burning used car oils.” After we showed that there was no oil burning in our home, the agents went away. Next month, another agency visited us, this time about “steel scraps lying around,” and again, nothing came out of it. This went on for nearly a year, involving every single environmental protection agency and committee that exists, and a bunch of different reasons, none of which were enough to give a fine. They were, however, annoying, because every agent could find something that needed to be done, or there could have been a fine. 

The final visit was because of a complaint that my father was dumping detergents into the pond. The policeman explained the complaint, and apologized saying, “I am sorry, but we have to follow up on every complaint, even if they are ridiculous.” He went into the back, took a couple of pictures, and came up front beaming, but did not tell my father why. 

The next week, my father heard our neighbour screaming at his lawyer, stating, “I was the one making the complaint; why am I the one getting a fine?”

The lawyer simply said, “Next time you are complaining that someone is dumping detergents into a pond, it’s a good idea not to wash your car right next to it!”

The lawyer then advised my neighbor to stop the complaints, because we had enough false complaints against us that we could sue for libel and harassment and easily win. My father never did sue, but it still warms my heart to know how karma was so promptly served.

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Every Mother’s Hope For Their Child

, , , , | Related | October 10, 2019

(I’m a fairly innocent kid. When I’m in seventh grade, I’m ecstatic to get the part of a Lost Boy in my school’s production of “Peter Pan.” My character, Pans, wears a pot on his head at all times. My mother begins hatching a plot when I come home with the pot, and that night she springs into action.)

Mom: “Hey, [My Name]?”

Me: “Yeah?”

Mom: “Can you help me with something?”

Me: “Yeah, what?”

Mom: *grinning* “I need you to put on your costume, go out into the living room, and tell your father, ‘Look, Dad, I’m a pothead.’”

(This seems a little weird to me, but I don’t know if there’s a joke there or what she’s talking about. I trust my mother, so I do what she asks.)

Me: *walks into the living room* “Hey, Dad!”

Dad: *looks up from magazine*

Me: “Look, I’m a pothead!”

Dad: *puts his head in his hands and groans*

Mom: *dying of laughter*

(I didn’t fully understand what my mom had been laughing at or why my dad had been groaning until I was much, much older.)

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