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The Ultimate Game

, , , , , , | Related | May 13, 2022

In the mid- to late 1980s, my older brother and I were big in going to card shows. We collected sports cards, mainly MLB and NFL, but we also had NHL, NBA, and we even collected sets of cards from Garbage Pail Kids, TMNT, X-Men, and so on. My older brother also worked hard at building a collection of comic books and he went out of his way to get a few decent ones into his collection like the first X-Men and the first Wolverine and the first Batman. Our collection was tens of thousands of cards and a lot of different sports memorabilia — such things as signed rookie cards of Mike Singletary, Walter Payton, Ken Griffy Jr., Robin Yount, and so on.

I was more into video games then, as well. My older brother wasn’t as much, but he liked the idea of trying to collect and build up a video game collection, as well.

The years went on, and in the early 1990s, we had a massive collection of game consoles, games to go with them, and our sports cards. We had tables we’d set up at card shows and we’d sell, trade, and buy. At the time, we had probably amassed over $50,000 in merchandise.

I was about thirteen years old, and I came home one day and everything was gone aside from my Sega Genesis, a controller for it, and a couple of games.

My older brother cleaned us out — all of our sports cards aside from a handful that I had secretly stashed that I really liked, all our sports memorabilia, all his comic books, and all of our video games and consoles… along with $600 I had in my room, hidden away (clearly not well enough).

He took the following game consoles:

  • Three NES systems, along with the NES Power Pad, Power Glove, six controllers, and over a hundred games
  • Two SNES systems, four controllers, and nearly a hundred games
  • One SNES Famicom system, one controller, and maybe half a dozen games we had for it
  • One Atari 2600 and every single game
  • One TurboGrafx 16, the two controllers, and about a dozen games
  • One Gameboy and around fifty games
  • One Sega Genesis 32X adapter and the dozen games I had for it

The police got involved, and since I couldn’t officially prove it was my older brother that took all this stuff, I could at least prove that he only took $600 out of my room because he also knew where it was stashed — stupid me for letting him know. The police gave him twenty-four hours to return the $600; otherwise, he was going to be arrested. The very next day, the $600 was returned.

I never did see any of the other merchandise returned. Apparently, my older brother, who was sixteen when this all took place, wanted a start-up fund to get into the weed business.

This Is Why Pets Are Better Than People

, , , , | Related | May 8, 2022

When my sibling was sixteen, they adopted the sweetest white kitten. Unfortunately, two years after that, they got very interested in witchcraft and decided only a black cat would do. Rather than see him taken to the pound, I adopted him, and he’s an adorable love bug.

An important piece of information for this story is that my sibling generally wears hoodies with thumb holes cut in them so their hands are covered up to the fingers.

My sibling came home for a visit and tried to go over to pet the cat. Surprisingly, he hissed at them, which he never does to anyone, not even the vet.

Sibling: *Swats cat* “Well, f*** you, too.”

I picked up the cat to remove him from the situation.

Me: “I’m really sorry.”

Sibling: “I told you he should have gone to the pound.”

Me: “Honestly, this is the first time he’s ever done that. He’s normally very calm.”

Sibling: “When I had him, he was always doing this stuff.”

Now, this is an absolute lie. He, of course, had the standard kitten zoomies and the “look, I have teefies” bite testing phase, but no more so than any cat.

My sibling continued to be very hostile to him throughout their visit, which he mostly spent hiding out in my closet. 

But a few days after they left, [Sibling] posted an image of a bite mark on their Facebook page, claiming he was responsible. I, of course, contacted them to assure them he was fully vaccinated and to ask why they had never told me he bit them.

Sibling: “You need to send him to the pound. He’s vicious.”

Me: “He’s never bitten anyone before. I don’t know what happened. If your insurance won’t cover it, I’ll pay for everything.”

Sibling: “He should really put down. He’s vicious.”

Quite disheartened, I prepared to take my kitty to the vet just to be sure he wasn’t getting sick or something that might have caused him to bite. 

Then, my best friend pointed something out. On my sibling’s Facebook page was a picture of them at the train station getting ready to leave to visit us. They were making a devil horns pose, with the backs of both hands showing, and on one hand WAS THE BITE MARK.

To say I was angry was an understatement. I called them up to tell them that I knew full well they’d been bitten prior to seeing my kitty. 

Me: “Why would you even imply that he bit you when you already had the bite?”

Sibling: “What are you talking about?”

Me: “[Friend] saw your post at the station. You were bitten before you came to visit.”

Sibling: “He did not. I was not.”

Sure enough, the post quickly vanished. But my bestie is smart enough to have screenshotted it once he figured it out.

My sibling tried to send me a request for a doctor’s bill. I sent them back the screenshot of that post.

To this day, I don’t know what they have against my kitty. I do not believe they did anything negative to cause him to hiss at them, but I do believe they saw that and instantly were trying to get something out of it.

She Pushed You Out Of The Way Of A Bullet

, , , , , , | Friendly | May 4, 2022

Back when I was fourteen and my sister was nineteen, she took me to the community pool. I was just learning how to handle my womanly cycles, so I wasn’t really comfortable getting in the water during that time. Still, when I saw my crush, I had to say hello. I sat beside him at the water’s edge. We talked for a few minutes when a woman, who turned out to be his mom, came up.

Mom: “Hi, who are you?”

Me: “Oh, I’m [My Name]. Nice to—”

Mom: “Oh, do you go to school with [Crush]?”

Me: “Yeah, we have English together.”

Mom: “Why don’t you get in the water, [My Name]?”

Me: “Ahh, I’m not in the mood to swim.”

Mom: “Oh, but it’s the pool! Everyone swims!”

Me: “No, I’m okay.”

Crush: “I’m gonna get a soda.”

Me: “Oh, me, too!”

I stood up and almost immediately ended up in the water. When I resurfaced, I saw [Crush] and his mom at the edge of the pool.

[Crush] laughed as I grabbed onto the side of the pool.

Me: “What just happened?”

Crush: “She pushed you! You should see your face.”

My sister came over.

Sister: “[My Name], I thought you weren’t swimming today?”

Me: “I was pushed.”

Sister: “What the f***? Who pushed you?”

Mom: “I didn’t hurt her. She—”

My sister shoved [Mom] in the water and pulled me out. [Mom] resurfaced, sputtering.

Mom: “What is wrong with you?!”

Sister: “Oh, you didn’t want to go in the water? It didn’t matter when [My Name] didn’t want to go in.”

[Mom] went to a lifeguard and complained about being pushed in against her will. My sister told the lifeguard that she only did it because [Mom] pushed me first. We were all banned from the pool for the rest of the summer. That was the moment I realized what an a** my crush was and lost interest in him.

Making Assumptions Can Be Taxing

, , , , , , | Related | May 3, 2022

I am driving with my sister and the song “Neighbors” by J. Cole is on. 

Sister: “Okay, I really relate to this song right now.”

Me: “What are you talking about?”

Sister: “I think the neighbor’s son is selling weed.”

Me: “Why do you think this?”

Sister: “Because ever since he moved back, there has been a ton of cars driving up to their house, staying for like five minutes, and then leaving.”

Me: “You are so stupid right now.”

Sister: “Why?”

Me: “One, he hasn’t moved back in; he’s just helping out his mom at work. And two, it’s tax season, you idiot! All those people are dropping off their tax stuff because she’s a preparer!”

Sister: “How was I supposed to know?”

Me: “She’s been doing our family’s taxes for years!”

In Which Everyone Gets To Learn A Little Something

, , , , , , , , | Learning | May 3, 2022

As a first-grade teacher, I’ve been lucky enough to teach a number of great kids I have very fond memories of, but there is one child that sticks out as memorable even compared to all the other great kids. He was a sweet child with strong empathy and caring for his classmates, he rarely got in trouble, and while not my best student, he always did decently well in classwork.

I first became aware of one of his unique aspects early in the year when his mother “confessed” to me her confusion about what to do with her son. She was a single mother and had always struggled with money, meaning that her son had to settle for his older sister’s hand-me-downs for most of his young life. However, she had been proud that she had gotten a slightly better paying job recently and so could afford to take her son shopping for his own clothes to start his first year of school with.

The only problem was that her son didn’t like any of the options they looked at in the store and ended up hating everything they bought. In fact, he actually pled with his mother to go back to wearing his sister’s hand-me-down clothes. It seemed he liked the “girly” clothes, the pink and unicorns, and all the stuff you couldn’t find in the boys’ section of the local department store.

His mom didn’t know what to do about this. She worried that she had somehow damaged her son by making him wear girl clothes for his young childhood or that growing up in a house of girls without a male role model had prevented him from properly growing into a boy. I immediately assured her that neither of those things she mentioned was a problem or had harmed her son and that there was nothing wrong with her son having unusual preferences in clothes. I told her she should focus on being understanding when talking to her son about his preferences and finding a compromise that both were comfortable with rather than acting as if his not liking his “boy” clothes meant there was something wrong with him.

Since the mother seemed really concerned about her son’s lack of a male role model in his life, I also recommended that she look into signing him up as a “little” with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which our school had a close working relationship with. She did, and eventually, he was assigned a big brother, a young adult still in college. Though in this case, this was for in-school visits, the big brother would come to take my student every Wednesday during the lunch and recess hour and spend time with him, but they were supposed to limit the contact to school hours rather than the larger commitment of a traditional big brother relationship. The student’s big brother was great, very much loved by my student, and even popular with the other kids in the class due to his often organizing larger games for kids to play with him and his little brother during recess.

As the year went on, I noticed my student’s mother becoming more comfortable with supporting her son’s clothing choices. Originally, he would come to class wearing what I’d call gender-neutral clothing, but over time, I saw more and more examples of clothes that leaned more toward feminine.

This all came to a head when I got an email from his mom saying that her son had been pleading for permission to wear a dress to school, and she had finally relented and decided to allow him on the upcoming Monday. She was clearly worried about his being bullied, and I promised I’d do my best to keep an eye on him that Monday.

When he first walked into class, escorted there by his mother who had insisted on driving him to school that day just to ensure he was okay, he was clearly excited to be wearing his bright pink dress. I made a point to tell him I thought he looked great and he beamed up at me happily.

The other kids in the class had a number of questions about his choice of clothing, of course, and sometimes these questions were as insensitive as one would expect for children too young to understand tact. Many asked why he was wearing girl clothing. One kid even guessed he was being punished by his mom for something. However, for all their lack of tact, one great thing about kids that young is that they aren’t as committed to all the stereotypes that adults take for granted and are more open to new concepts. While many of the kids were confused about his dress, most didn’t seem angry or hostile over it.

Unfortunately, not all the students were as understanding and, despite my best efforts, he got a few mean comments about his clothes. By lunchtime, his enthusiasm about his dress had clearly waned a bit.

Just as I was wrapping up my lesson in preparation for lunchtime, I heard the familiar game of phone tag that came from kids near the door noticing my student’s Big Brother waiting outside and passing the word down the line to where the student sat. I was a little confused since this wasn’t the right day for his visit, but I still gave my student the usual wave to say he could go to his big brother. I hadn’t looked out the door, though, and so I was a little surprised when I heard my student’s excited exclamation that his big brother was wearing a dress.

Sure enough, the brother was indeed wearing a dress, one that was clearly too small for him and most likely hastily borrowed from a friend, but a dress nonetheless. He declared that he had heard that my student was going to be coming in with a dress and, “[Student] shouldn’t be the only one that gets to be pretty.”

During recess, the big brother also got many questions from my students about his dress. He answered only that he wore it because he liked to be pretty and challenged any students who implied there was something wrong with that to explain why he shouldn’t get to wear something that made him happy. By the end of recess, my student had rediscovered his earlier enthusiasm from the morning, and now, if challenged about his dress, he proudly declared that if his big brother liked wearing a dress, then there was nothing wrong with it.

From that day forward, the big brother usually wore a dress when he came in to get his little brother. He ended up getting two dresses which he clearly rotated between. He confessed to me in private that he actually disliked dresses, mostly complaining that his legs were always too cold, but if wearing a dress was what it took to make his little brother comfortable, then he would keep doing it.

My student didn’t always get to wear a dress. He told me his older sister didn’t often wear dresses, so he didn’t have many hand-me-down dresses to pick from; however, he always wore one on Wednesdays when his big brother came. And by the end of the year, the students all took it for granted that this one student wore dresses on occasion and treated him perfectly normally despite that fact. Years later, I’d still occasionally spot this student in the hallways of our school proudly wearing a dress while chatting with friends.

I’m sure some of you are wondering about his gender, and I promise all three of us (me, his mother, and his big brother) did ask him about it. He didn’t say he felt like a girl, but he also wasn’t willing to definitively say he was a boy, either. I don’t think he had fully figured out what he was yet. Our best guess was that he was a boy who simply preferred to wear dresses and pink things, though I wouldn’t be overly shocked if that changed as he grew older. I lost touch with his mom after he graduated from my class so I don’t know what he ultimately identified as, but I know that whatever it was, he had people in his life that loved him and would support him regardless.