For The Record, This One Has A Happy Ending

, , , , | Related | July 30, 2021

This was long ago, when I was a teenager. I’m in my sixties now. My stepfather was a perfectionist. I wasn’t allowed to shovel the walk in case I missed a spot and someone slipped and sued us. I wasn’t allowed to wash his car because I might scratch it. And I definitely wasn’t allowed to touch his stereo system. Back in those days, a good record player/radio with three-foot-tall speakers was expensive, but the sound quality was amazing. 

One day, my stepfather was listening to the radio on his sound system. 

Stepfather: “You know, if you listened to decent music like this, instead of that garbage kids like these days, I’d let you use my record player.”

Me: “Oh, really?”

I ran upstairs and grabbed the record my friends and I had been listening to every day since it came out the week before. Coming back downstairs, I put it on the turntable, switched it on, and dropped the needle… right on the song we’d been listening to on the radio, almost perfectly synced up. 

He takes a moment to think.

Stepfather: “Fine, you can use the record player.”

Me: “Thanks, Dad.”

Stepfather: “Not too loud, mind! You could damage the speakers.”

Me: “Yes, Dad.”

Stepfather: “And only decent music, like this. None of that hippie crap.”

Me: “Sure thing, Dad.”

Stepfather: “And not too late. Or too early.”

Me: “Right.”

Stepfather: “And mind the needle! If you wear it out, you’re buying the next one.”

Me: “Of course, Dad. I can do that.”

He finally ran out of stipulations.

Stepfather: “Well… fine!”

I sat back to enjoy the first of many evenings enjoying my records in the living room. And my relationship with my stepfather improved as he began to trust me more.

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We Just Call It Instant Karma

, , , , | Related | March 8, 2021

I’m in the car with my dad and stepmother, and it’s worth noting that my dad has a short fuse, especially on the road. This one guy in a Ferrari almost hits us and then cuts us off. My dad starts cussing him out while my stepmother is trying to calm him down, and I can see that he’s thinking up ways he can get back at the guy. Then, a whole bunch of cars start trying to box Ferrari Guy in, and we realize that he ticked off a bunch of people, not just us.

Stepmother: “Don’t get involved in that, [Dad]. That’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Me: “They’re wolf-packing him.”

Stepmother: “Wolf-packing?”

Me: “That’s what my driving teacher called it when cars are bunched together like that.”

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Auntie Dearest Created Terror All On Her Own

, , , , , , | Related | January 13, 2021

My family took a trip to Disney World back in 1997 when I was eight years old. With me were my mother, step-father, twin four-year-old half-brothers, and twenty-two-year-old step-aunt (my step-father’s sister). My parents offered for [Step-Aunt] to go as she was fresh out of college and they felt that they may need help with three kids; they even paid for all of her meals, flight, and hotel room.

My family and I had a lot of fun going to all of the parks, but I really wanted to go on the Tower of Terror ride in the park that was known then as MGM Studios. Unfortunately, the day that we went there, the Tower of Terror was having issues and closed down for the day. I was distraught when I found out we couldn’t ride it that day.

The next day was our last full day in Florida before we went home, but my parents were too tired from all the parks and wanted to relax with us kids by the pool. I was insistent that I needed to ride the Tower of Terror and asked if one of the adults could take me.

Mom: “[Step-Aunt], would you please take [My Name] to MGM?”

[Step-Aunt] appeared reluctant, but my parents reminded her that they’d paid for everything so far and this was the only time they were asking her to do this for them on the trip.

My mother got me ready to go to the park but made sure to give me some money and a list of emergency numbers in case I got separated from [Step-Aunt]. My mother then gave [Step-Aunt] specific instructions.

Mom: “You are not to turn off your cell phone, you do not let [My Name] out of sight, and please make sure to put more sunblock on her if you are gone for more than two hours.”

[Step-Aunt] took me from the hotel and we started walking to the theme park, but I soon realized we weren’t going to MGM but to another theme park, Epcot.

Me: “[Step-Aunt], this is the wrong park!”

Step-Aunt: “We are just going to get a drink and then we will go to MGM so you can ride the Tower of Terror.”

At this time, Epcot was known to be the only theme park where you could get alcohol, as they had areas themed after different countries, each with their own alcohol. I went along with it because I figured [Step-Aunt] was telling the truth, but after [Step-Aunt] got her first drink, we started walking further into the park while she was drinking. By the time [Step-Aunt] had finished the first drink, we were in a new country’s area and she got a second drink.

I tried arguing with her, but [Step-Aunt] said she just needed another one and we would get going soon, but I had my doubts. After [Step-Aunt] got her third drink from a different area:

Me: “When are we going to MGM?”

Step-Aunt: “We may not even make it there and you will just need to deal with it.”

[Step-Aunt] continued to drag me through four more country areas, getting a drink in each one. I even tried buying my own snack and water since we had been in the park almost three hours and I hadn’t had anything since breakfast. [Step-Aunt] told me no because then she would need to take me to the bathroom and that would slow her down.

At one point, when [Step-Aunt] went to the bathroom herself, I snuck over to a payphone and called my mom.

Me: “Mom? We’re not at MGM; we’re in Epcot. [Step-Aunt] has just been getting drunk, and she won’t let me buy food or water. I’m thirsty and sunburnt.”

My mother was furious.

Mom: “What store are you near? Go there and wait, and do not go anywhere.”

A minute later, when [Step-Aunt] got out of the bathroom, my mother called her on her cell phone to tell her that she was on her way to get me and that she was not to leave. [Step-Aunt] tried claiming that I was a liar and that we had gone to Epcot after we had been to MGM and ridden the Tower of Terror. My mother wasn’t buying it.

Mom: “I will meet you at [Nearby Store]. If you’re both not there, I’m going to call the police for abducting my daughter. If only [My Name] is there, I’ll tell them you abandoned her.”

[Step-Aunt] and I waited for about twenty minutes in the store in silence until my mother showed up, practically sprinting. My mother was furious seeing me so sunburnt and dehydrated.

Mom: “You have thirty minutes to get back to the hotel. [Step-Father] wants to talk to you.”

[Step-Aunt] tried arguing her case, but my mother just told her to go. Then, she bought a sports drink, water, and a snack for me and let me regain my strength. When I was feeling better, albeit sad about how I’d been treated all day, my mother brought me back to the hotel but said she would take me to ride the Tower of Terror later if I was up for it.

When we got back to the hotel, [Step-Aunt] wasn’t there but [Step-Father] said that she had shown up but had gone home early. After I rested and got an actual meal, my mom took me to MGM before they closed for the night and I was able to ride the Tower of Terror. Besides the issues during that day, I had a great time on the trip.

I didn’t find out until years later what exactly happened with [Step-Aunt]. When Step-Aunt got back to the hotel, [Step-Father] was furious with how his younger sister had treated his daughter and asked what she had been thinking. [Step-Aunt] said that she had been planning on getting drinks at Epcot that day, that she was just going to drag me around for the day, and that she was just planning on lying about going to MGM before when they got back.

[Step-Father] was so angry.

Step-Aunt: “[My Name] isn’t your real daughter, anyway! Shouldn’t my happiness matter more to you?”

This really struck a nerve with [Step-Father] as my bio-dad bolted before I was born and [Step-Father] started seeing my mother when I was just five months old. As far as he, my mother, and I saw it, he was my real father. 

Step-Father: “You have two options, [Step-Aunt]. One, I give you some money and you take the bus back home, or two, you pay for your own flight back home, because I am about to call the airline and cancel your ticket.”

She tried pleading with him, but he was so angry with what she did that after she left, he didn’t talk to her for almost two years.

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But Is He Fly For A Rabbi?

, , , , , | Related | October 6, 2020

Back when I am a young teenager and CD players in cars are a new thing, my family goes on a road trip. To prevent fighting, the deal is that every person gets to play one song from their CD and take turns. There is absolutely no voting because we’ve already learned that this just leads to screaming matches when my step-dad doesn’t get his way. My family typically prefers classic rock, but I’m into punk rock.

My step-dad, usually just to be argumentative and whiney, hates every band I like. His song just ended. It’s my turn, and I remove his CD to put mine in.

My step-dad immediately starts whining, not even looking at what CD I’ve used; the song hasn’t started yet.

Step-Dad: “Do I really have to listen to this garbage?! We should skip your turn and play another song from [His CD].”

Me: *Eyeroll* “The song hasn’t started and you’re already whining for another turn? Dude, shut up.”

Mom is checked out and not paying attention.

My step-dad’s face starts to go red how it does right before he starts literally throwing a tantrum. My song starts, and it has a weird intro that sounds like a funny voice speaking pig-Latin. His expression changes and he gets excited about it.

Step-Dad: *Laughing* “Well, you should have told me you were putting on Def Lep—”

The actual song starts, to reveal that it is indeed not classic rock, but rather is a funny punk song about a loser that claims women think he’s cool, For A White Guy. [Step-Dad] hates this song, because he’s painfully insecure about his masculinity and level of coolness and thinks the song is racist.

Step-Dad: *Angry again* “What the h*** is this?! You’re not allowed to listen to this band! I already told you to throw that CD away!”

Me: *Shouts over him* “It’s my turn; I get to pick the song. You’re not my dad; you can’t tell me what I can listen to. Besides, Mom bought this CD for me, so! Shut! Up! And! Deal!”

Mom: *Stops mentally disassociating* “Be quiet, everyone. Just play the CDs like we agreed. No arguing. No voting. Just one at a time.”

I sang along loudly. [Step-Dad] was mad for the rest of the trip and sulked, complete with dirty looks and intentionally turning away from anyone who tried to talk to him. He refused to take his turns because he was too busy pouting. He never seemed to figure out that I prefer his silence over his tantrums, so a cold shoulder from him is a vacation for me!

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Sounds Like A Supervillain Origin Story

, , , , | Related | September 15, 2020

This story takes place when I’m maybe ten years old. My family is financially quite comfortable, especially my grandmother, who has come down from halfway up the country to visit. My brother and I have been taken by my mother, stepfather, and grandmother to a country pub, and when crossing the car park, I find a £5 note.

I am incredibly excited because we don’t get pocket money or the chance to get money for chores. Five pounds wasn’t much even about twenty-five years ago, but it is a big deal to me. In my excitement, I trustingly announce aloud what I have found.

Stepfather: *Demanding* “Hand over that fiver! I’ll hand it over at the bar.”

I’m initially reluctant.

Stepfather: “Whoever dropped it might really need it and it should be given back if possible.”

I understand this; after all, if it made me so happy to find it, so how sad must the person who lost it be? And how happy would they be to get it back? I’m sad not to keep it but hope it makes the owner happy.

My mother and grandmother claim a table outside while my stepfather goes inside to buy drinks and my brother and I go to check out the play area. When my stepfather comes back out with drinks, he announces, not intending for me to hear:

Stepfather: “This round is thanks to [My Name]!”

Looking back now, with the benefit of much greater awareness of what my parents were like and a lot less naivety, I would be shocked if it ever crossed his mind to hand it in at the bar. No, he saw that a child who had never had money of their own had found a little and decided it should be his, instead.

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