humor, life

The Boy in Pink

I am excited to say I can now call myself a CreepyPasta author! They posted Deadlands on Wednesday, and I found it by accident yesterday. That’s not a complaint, it’s a happy surprise. It was surreal to see my story on the site I’ve visited almost daily for several years. After this post I would like to complete the next story I’m working on. If I can get a few noticed, maybe Bestie’s husband will take pity on me and help with my domain sooner. In the meantime, it’s back to business.

I had a lot of trouble deciding what to write about next in regards to my personal adversities. There’s still so many to choose from, like wetting my pants in Mom’s office at 12, or puking all over Bestie when I smelled tuna. Then the puke thing reminded me of getting puked on myself, and I thought, yea, that’ll do. It’s funny for two reasons because it coincides with my worst ‘mistaken for a boy’ experiences.

For this story we return to 6th grade, but first, I need to introduce Pumba (named for her amazing personality, not appearance. She’s actual super pretty). She came to our school in 5th grade, but because I was being raised to follow in our culture’s ignorant footsteps, we hated each other that first year. Now, she is the only friend I still have from high-school besides Thelma.

Was I confused to walk into the first day of 5th grade to see my first black kid? Sure I was, but I didn’t care. I didn’t speak to kids who weren’t Bestie, and I assumed she would be no different. I only wanted to sit quietly until class began, but she talked to me first. Before I relay our first interaction, let me remind you I had a the first of two boy’s bowl haircuts, boy clothes, and purple flower flip-flops. Mom told me I would regret he haircut, but I wouldn’t listen. As always, I would have to learn the hard way… except twice this time.

“Hi, why are you wearing girl’s shoes?” Pumba asked, curious.

I remained silent at first, but decided “because I’m a girl” was a safe enough answer. Fool.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were a boy.” Pumba replied. She spoke softly, she wasn’t trying to be heard by others… but she was.

As surrounding children stopped their own activities to laugh, a mixture of anger and humiliation radiated through me. It wasn’t the first time I was mistaken for a boy, but it was the worst (up to that point).

I identified with Naruto so hard purely because people looked at me the exact same way. I hung in there for every annoying “believe it!” catchphrase just to see someone else endure the same thing. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, I wasn’t able to become a ninja.

My little brain grasped for any comeback to turn the tide and settled on, “Why are you going to this school? Black kids go to the public schools!”

“I’m not black, I’m Indian.” She replied, completely unfazed by my ignorance.

I ran to class, too frightened to say “I thought they were all dead.” Clearly they weren’t, and I couldn’t afford to be wrong again. Later, Dad tried explaining the difference between India and the Indians I knew of, but it would be years before I understood countries beyond our own existed. The important thing is, Pumba and I were forced to spend several hours alone at the end of 5th grade and we became close friends as a result.

That’s why, in 6th grade, when our school rented a greyhound bus to shuttle us to a museum over two hours away, we sat next to each other. Two other friends, Maggie and Meg, sat behind us and we settled in for a long ride. Unfortunately, about thirty minutes into the drive, Pumba began to feel sick. We weren’t concerned, she never said it was a nauseas sick – if she had, I would have moved.

As it was, I turned in my seat to talk with Meg and Maggie while she rested quietly, head leaned against the window. I had all but forgotten her when I felt the light tap on my shoulder. I turned to see her sitting erect, eyes wide, one hand covering her mouth, the other pointing to the rear of the bus.

For 11yr old me, it was an almost comical sight. “Ha, what’s wrong, are you…” that’s how far I got before noticing there was something seeping between the fingers of the hand covering her mouth. Then time slowed as I saw she was actively vomiting.

I understood her request too late. As I fell backwards in desperate attempt to get out of her way, the dam broke. Violent jets of vomit threw her hand aside, spraying me as I lay fallen in the center aisle. Large brown chunks covered my torso and legs as I scrambled to roll clear of the chaos. When it was over, teachers rushed to Pumba’s aide, ignoring my primal screams and gags completely.

I ran into the small, smelly restroom to clean myself up. It was no easy task, but I managed to wipe my arms and legs clean. My shirt however, was ruined. I removed the… chunky bits, but the stains and stench remained.

When I came out, a chaperone approached me. “Well, it looks like you got most of it off… I’m sure you can get a t-shirt at the gift shop.” She smiled, lifting her hand as if she were going to pat me on the back, but dropped it awkwardly as she remembered my soiled status. I stared at her blankly until she returned to her seat.

I reluctantly returned to my own upon accepting no better option was available. Thankfully Pumba didn’t get sick again, but I couldn’t help be a little salty over her cleaner shirt. She had a line down the front, but minor drippings compared to the full drenching I received. I stared at my feet until arrival, finding it easier to ignore the looks of disgust as the stench overpowered any fragrance sprayed to combat it.

In my youthful naïveté, I believed they would take us to the gift shop first. You know, so we could buy those promised t-shirts? No. Gift shops were for the end of the tour. It took our first guide’s insistence for a teacher to compromise by going to the gift shop for us. Pumba didn’t bring money, but Teacher bought her a blue museum shirt I would have been pleased with.

With my $20, she purchased a hot pink nightmare with a picture of our state on the front, and list of state facts on the back. It was a size too big and as she handed it to me she said, “I had to cover the tax for you, but I thought you might like to have at least one pink shirt.” I think she expected a thank you, but I was frozen in a state of disbelief.

Instead of reaching for it I asked, “Can I take it back? I hate it so much.”

Obviously she said no. As we walked away to change, I heard the tour guide ask, “Why would you get the boy pink?” I quickened my pace before I could hear any more.

I was forced to change into the shirt, but as I followed Pumba into the girl’s restroom an employee stopped us. “Wait! You can’t go in there! That’s the women’s!”

A teacher had to intervene before I was allowed to enter. For once, other children were the least of my worries. They were terrible, but practically neutralized under public scrutiny. No, the big problem from that point became that special breed of adult who thinks they’re the most charmingly witty souls to ever walk the earth. Every employee who spoke to us and most passing patrons noticed me.

The most popular line was “Hey, it takes a real man to wear pink.” which was almost bearable if not for the playful punches to the arm.

A close second, especially once we made it to the outdoor trails and exhibits, was “I could spot y’all a mile away thanks to this young feller!”

Honorable mentions:

“Well starch my knickers! Never seen a fella love pink s’much!”

“Don’t feel bad, Boy. I had a nephew who was backwards, but he did ok later in life.”

“What’s wrong, Champ? Get dressed in the dark this morning? Looks like you grabbed your sisters shirt don’t it?”

“Scuse me, son. I was just reading your shirt there… sure is pretty.”

When the long day came to an end I was too angry to tell my parents, but I didn’t have to. Apparently my teacher asked Mom to be reimbursed for her tax money. I knew she found out about the shirt by the look on her face. When saw me wearing the monstrosity she yelled, “Is that why she’s wearing that hideous thing?!”

I got really smug. Mom was having an episode and I knew exactly what that teacher was in for. Mom was ushered into a classroom where we could no longer hear what was said, but I knew victory was at hand. The one thing she got really serious about with school was money. Dad wasn’t there to balance her fury, and by time she was done they reimbursed the $20, gave me a school shirt to wear home, and made the teacher keep the pink nightmare.

It was far from a total win. I still didn’t get to buy stuff I actually wanted from the gift shop and my original shirt was in a trashcan, but it ended better than I expected. If anything, finally accepting I couldn’t pull off that haircut no matter how I wore it was the true victory.

For the record, Pumba went on to be our graduating class’ success story. She got fancy enough to have a view of Bryant Park in New York for a time. These days she is settled down and happily married with two beautiful, little poodle dogs. Not literal poodles, but they have that look. The point is, we’re all super proud.

Thank you for reading! Life is going to be busy for a while as we have to travel home for a family gathering tomorrow, and next week I have to clean out a junk closet so Hubby can fix the ceiling. Apparently we had a roof leak that is beginning to grow mold, so. Fun. Aside from finishing my scary story, I hope to start my next classic soon. I’m not sure which to choose yet, but if anyone has suggestions I’m completely open to them. Eventually I would like to do Dracula, but I’m not quite ready to tackle a full length book yet. I think I need to get my domain up and organized before I take on a project that large.

Stay safe out there! Sometimes they really are out to get you.

Poetry Disclaimer: The below poetry is horrible. Do not read it if you are serious about poetry. It is for amusement purposes only. This was written by me as a crazed, suicidal teenager. PLEASE DO NOT HATE ME FOR IT. I have nothing but respect for ALL religions and one like this is rare, but my OCD will go insane if I skip one. For full poetry details see Sex, Drugs, & Robbery.

“Breathe Tonight”



Why is this so ridiculous?
Life is so utterly meticulous.
“Oh God, why me?”
Why say “oh God”?
God is nothing but a myth of a fraud.

People ask forgiveness in prayer,
Hoping life will be fair.
Life is a curse not fit living,
Thinking God is a gift that keeps giving.

God is a bedtime story,
To drown the screams in your head roaring.

The human soul, a myth or a role?
A story untold, waiting to unfold?

There is no salvation,
No hope of revelation.
Live each day, hoping not to suffer,
Lay low, and hope you recover.

No one cares,
There’s no one else,
There is no God, save yourself.
humor, life

Because It’s Cool

Of course I peed my pants, everyone my age pees their pants; it’s the coolest! You ain’t cool unless you pee your pants.

Billy Madison

After enjoying the Fear Street trilogy and writing half a scary story, I realized I should go back to basics. I lured you all here under the pretense of crazy and comedy, not horror. Plus, I eat ketchup on steak without shame now because I know I’m not alone. Let’s see what else we can dig up, shall we? Today, I want to share another ridiculous embarrassment that only happened because of my stubbornness.

Reminder: I know some of you tend to feel guilty for laughing at these, but don’t. I’m 33 now and I’ve been laughing at them for years. Yes, it sucked at the time, but you know what? I’d do it all again. It gave me stories that make people laugh, and they honestly are funny. If we saw it on tv, we would all laugh. But most importantly: this kinda stuff happens to teens every day. There are people living their own versions of this who have no clue it won’t matter in a few years. In the thick of it, you can’t fathom a day when your life isn’t ruined. If even one person going through that reads these and it actually helps them get through it - yea, bring it on. I’ll do these all day, I got a million more, just hold tight. 
But seriously, this is the best thing I’ve watched this year. I intend to have the book series before the day is over.

Before I begin, I’ve always had a sort of dream I would like other opinions on. I love classic stories. Poe, Lovecraft, Shakespeare, and so many more, but I hate the old timey speech. What if, someone were to rewrite those classics in modern language? I don’t mean a reboot where some schmuck tries to modernize the story and ruin it, those people should be shot. I want to rewrite them exactly as they are, merely translated to our language. Has anyone else done this? I would love to try it, but no one else has ever shown interest to the notion. Anyway, on to the show.

Let’s talk about a Senior field trip to a museum. A few things to keep in mind:

  1. Only the history class and teacher (Mr. Moore) went.
  2. It was the last class of the day. We each drove ourselves to the museum.
  3. I was dating the high-school sweetheart. He isn’t in this story, but he is relevant as to how I found myself in the following situation.
  4. I was already working at the restaurant from my Queen of the Walk series.

The day of the field trip was hell. I woke to my alarm with a desperate need to pee, almost painful. I emptied my bladder and dressed for school as usual, but as I applied make-up the urge to pee returned with vengeance. I knew something was wrong immediately. I have a boss ass bladder. I trained it to only need attention 2-3 times a day in my plight to avoid public restrooms. Sitting to do my business, I felt a burning sensation as a trickle of urine exited my body.

Terrified, I feared the worst. Was it an STD? Had to be, right? I shudder to think of my reaction had Google not been there to save me. Even back then WebMD identified it as cancer, but admitted an Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) was also a likely culprit. Knowledge is power. I learned it was a common issue which normally resolved itself in a matter of days.

Unfortunately, it listed “frequent intercourse” as the common cause. Normally, I would say “that’s the reason I didn’t tell my parents,” but I’ve never lied to you guys and won’t start now. I wouldn’t have told them regardless the problem or cause. I tried to psych myself up, mentally defeat the UTI, but clearly science doesn’t give a damn about my mental resilience. Telling myself ‘it just feels like you have to pee, but you don’t’ didn’t make it true.

If you’ve never experienced one first hand, I’m not sure how to describe the intensity. Have you ever had a lot to drink before going to bed? Has it woken you in the middle of the night because your bladder was about to explode? If you’re like me, maybe you’re too lazy to get up. Maybe you ignore it successfully and fall asleep, but what did it feel like next time you woke up? Add an extreme burning sensation as if someone heated your urine to the boiling point and you have a decent idea.

After each class – and a few times during – I was forced to use public restrooms. As if I could afford to lose more pieces of my soul. The longer I held it, the more I had and hotter it burned. To make matters worse, I was expected at work after school. Perhaps my years of (almost always) successfully hiding my period made me cocky, but I thought I could pull it off. At least I can say I gave it the old college try.

I kept my problem secret from everyone, including Thelma. Any bathroom related issues in high-school were basically social suicide, and I was already dead in the water far as that went. Needless to say, my mood was poor; but as we drove to the museum, I felt good about making it through the school day. The hard part was over and I believed the rest would be downhill. It’s amazing how stupid we are as children. The urge to pee was prominent when I got in the car, but I was too lazy and sick of the school’s disgusting toilets to go back. I should have gone to the bathroom upon arrival, but again, Past Me was a stubborn dumbass.

As we gathered at the entrance, I saw we had been duped. I love museums and was pleasantly surprised to learn we had one…. but I would describe that place as ‘a large house filled with town history.’ I decided it’s only going to take a few minutes to walk through this place. I can wait until work, it’s just down the street.

I held my bladder as Mr. Moore gave the usual field trip speech, “Be respectful, and don’t touch anything.” He waited until after we were inside and he was blocking the exit to add, “Since we all drove ourselves, this is not technically a field trip. You can go straight home when you leave, but I would like you all to look around first.” He was extremely passionate about history, but his love for our town’s history bordered on unhealthy obsession.

Yes, our town has a lot of interesting parts to it, but I lost all respect for the man after our lessons about slavery. For any fellow John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight fans, you may have seen S07E20, US History about Southern private schools’ archaic history lessons. That was Mr. Moore. He told us things I fear to repeat and he believed them, but the scary part was how many students eagerly adopted his conviction. Alas, I’ll save those for another day. I’ve been working hard to avoid tangents and don’t want to backslide now.

Thelma and I walked through fairly quickly. I did see a few interesting things I would normally have enjoyed, but it was hard to focus when it felt like my bladder was coordinating an armed rebellion against me. As we made it to the final display on the second floor, a new level of urgency struck. I knew beyond any shadow of doubt I could not hold it any longer. All fear of public restrooms vanished as I raced to locate a toilet.

Suddenly, the museum didn’t seem small anymore. After a complete run-through, I failed to find restrooms. I imagined fleeing to my car, preferring to wet my pants privately, but then I saw it. Tucked into a small hallway a beautiful, skirted stick woman’s open arms and expressionless face beckoned me. I ran into her loving embrace and plowed straight through it, into an actual woman who was trying to exit. She cursed and I apologized without stopping.

Somehow, I was lucky enough for the bathroom to be otherwise empty. Had the woman I bumped into been a few seconds slower, this story may have progressed much worse. So desperate was my situation, I couldn’t yet breathe easy. As I ran the last few steps into the closest stall, I began… leaking. I clinched with all my strength, not a drop should have been able to squeeze through. My thoughts as I stood in the stall, next to a clean, functional toilet with piss slowly running down my legs, are impossible to translate.

I’ve never performed well under pressure, not physically. My brain will offer solutions, but even the best ideas are useless if you don’t possess the capacity to execute said solution. I knew I needed to undo my pants and get my ass over that toilet, but my fingers didn’t work. I wasn’t wearing traditional button up jeans, I wore capris pants with a tie-string. I was often pantsed (you know, when they yank your pants down) at school and always utilized every tool at my disposal to prevent such actions. In my haste, I pulled the wrong string, creating a tight knot I couldn’t undo even if I weren’t actively peeing my pants.

I was further distressed to discover it was not the short trickle I’d experienced when returning to the bathroom every hour; it was the full stream of a drunk girl on her second bottle of wine. Adrenaline surged through me as I pulled at my pants and wiggled my hips. I was rewarded with slow yet steady progress. I watched the urine puddle grow and spread into neighboring stalls with despair. I expected someone (most likely a classmate) to walk in any moment, but they didn’t.

No more than 60 seconds could have passed between the time I entered the stall and finished soaking the floor, yet I feel like I experienced hours worth of thoughts. I’m not sure why I didn’t sit on the toilet with my pants up. It’s not that I didn’t think about it, I considered it almost immediately. I even realized it would make a huge difference in the clean up if someone entered.

Each time I imagined the door opening, my stomach lurched and I thought I would puke. When the stream finally ran dry, I let go of my pants in favor of toilet paper. I ignored my pants as they finally fell to the floor, instead concentrating on dropping as much TP as possible. I know “life-threatening situation” sounds dramatic for a pants wetting, but I was 17, a Senior, and finally at a point where boys didn’t spit on me everyday. The prospect of everyone learning I wet my pants on a field trip (while Billy Madison was insanely popular) felt that way in the moment.

I wanted to clean my mess. I struggle for a word stronger than shame; the emotion I felt was so much deeper. My legs and pants were soaked. The puddle spread through my stall, two others, and the open floor. My mind raced for a solution, but there was so little time. I would be lying if I said the grossness didn’t play a part in my decision, but I truly feared I would be discovered any second. I wore a thin, long sleeve shirt over a skimpy tank top. The kind I would normally never wear in public but technically covered the important bits.

I had no choice. I secured my pants once more, removed my shirt, and tied it around my waist. With my head down, I speed walked out the door. I made it to my car without seeing anyone, but wasn’t out of the woods yet. I didn’t know if anyone saw me exit the bathroom which led to hours of paranoid daydreams and a fresh surge of panic with each new text. I also needed new pants if I didn’t want to explain why I was ditching work last minute.

My trunk was basically a suitcase and I hoped to get lucky. I was willing to wear pajamas if it was all I had. I lucked out with slightly stained but acceptable jeans and threw the wet pants into the dumpster at work. I used the horrible bathroom every 20 minutes, terrified of a repeat occurrence, but survived the shift.

That night, I called Thelma. I wanted to think of a way to ask “So, anybody happen to notice pee all over the bathroom floor at the museum?” But Thelma beat me to it.

“Dude! I forgot to tell you! The funniest shit happened after you left the museum! Some lady’s 3 year old pissed all over the bathroom floor.” Thelma paused, laughing hysterically. My heart lifted, but I was too afraid to hope.

I held my breath until I could wait no longer. “No way, you’re screwing with me right? What happened?” I forced a laugh, trying to hide my anxiety.

After a few deep breaths she was able to continue. I feel bad about this now, but admit I was extremely proud and laughed with Thelma when it happened. #Honesty. So, here’s what happened:

The manager walked into the bathroom minutes after I left but never saw me. What she did see, was a mother kneeling in front of her small child.

Manager promptly exited the bathroom, intent to confront Mother. “Excuse me! Ma’am? You cannot do that! You’re going to have to clean that up!”

Mother, taking a few steps back, is confused at first. “I’m… sorry? Um, I think you have the wrong person.” Thelma mistook the lady’s genuine confusion for ‘complete guilt’ and mistook my resulting laughter as genuine instead of guilt.

“No ma’am, I saw you come out of here. I understand children have accidents, but you need to be the one to clean it up.” Manager lowered her tone, aware she was attracting attention.

“Lady, we didn’t go in there, we just stopped so I could fix her backpack.” Mother now had the child’s hand, backing away from the crazy woman.

“Look, I’m sorry I spoke loudly, I was just… surprised. It’s really not a big deal. I’ll get you a mop, there’s one right down the hall.” Manager changed tactics, but to no avail.

Mother looked to the crowd around her with a facial expression begging do you people see this?! But found no support. As Manager walked away, she called after her, “I don’t know if someone has crapped or puked – because we didn’t go in there – but I’m not mopping up someone else’s mess in someone else’s house. Maybe you should hire a janitor if you aren’t capable of cleaning your restrooms.” With that, she scooped up her child and left.

Manager walked to the front windows, watching her until she was out of sight. With a sad, slow shake of her head, she addressed the crowd. “I walked in there right as they came out. And she knows that, but she wants to stand there lying to my face rather than admit her daughter peed all over the floor.”

All agreed with her regarding the sad state the world had become. Anyway, the UTI cleared up within a few days, but the first was unquestionably the worst.

A bonus tidbit you may find amusing: a few years later, Thelma got an UTI and peed all over a dressing room floor at an outlet mall. The only difference is she got caught. She told an employee she couldn’t clean it up, apologized, and never returned.

I just realized this the third story involving a bathroom incident and I’m not even halfway through them. Oh well, this is probably enough for today. Thank you for your indulgence, and I sincerely hope you laughed.

I still haven’t been able to get a photo of Heathcliff, but he received pets this morning! He ran to me for breakfast and rubbed between my legs like a pro so I went with it. In lieu of his photo, I will pay the cat tax another way.

Ari mothered Romulus a lot as a kitten. They remain very close.

Remember, stay safe out there. Sometimes, they really are out to get you.

humor, mental health

MVP

Like Google, my life would have been so different with this.

Has anyone seen the talking buttons people are using to train dogs? I saw some people on YouTube use them with their cats! I must have them! I’m a little concerned this may be what pushes their critical thinking skills over the tipping point in evolution, and ultimately results in their becoming the master race… but I don’t know. Now that I say it out loud, I kinda want some even more. This has nothing to do with my topic, I just really, really want to feel like my cats are talking to me.

I’ve been thinking about Past Me again. It’s getting to be a dangerous hobby, but I thought it be nice to check masochism off my bucket-list. I wonder if there’s a world record for most diagnosed mental illnesses. If so, I have to be close… though, this does loop us back to the psychologist problem. Crazy how that keeps popping up. At least I know I’ll get hypochondriac off the bat, that’s a given.

We binged Superman and Lois (so freaking good) all week, and the season finale did the cliche motivational ‘determination conquers all’ speeches. The universal commonality shared by all genres, the ultimate mind-fuck for a dumbass raised by tv. “Remember, no matter how hopeless the situation, you can win with enough determination.” If anyone out there is twisted as I am and enjoy others’ embarrassments to lessen their own, then do I have a treat for you.

Omfg guys, there’s an awesome word for it! I’m dying right now!

It took a while to accept determination would not guarantee victory under any circumstance. Sure, they weren’t all preceded by speeches of the motivational variety, but they include me opening my fat mouth when I shouldn’t because tv taught me the underdog always wins. I wish I could have heard how backwards that sounds when I was 9. The first two times weren’t far apart, both happened in 4th grade. To complete the picture in your head, make sure you picture the unkempt girl with mismatched clothes and a boy’s bowl haircut.

Our school had a different “activity” each day of the week. In PE, we played flag football, but keep in mind, there are only 15-20 kids in the class. It goes without saying I was picked last in everything, my team always lost. One day, probably after watching Little Giants, the score was tied, and only a few minutes remained. The other team had the ball, but if we could get it back, I might be on the winning team once. Maybe I could be promoted to second to last… or third… no, don’t get cocky. One step at a time.

“Who cares? I’m hungry, let’s just get this over with.” Team Captain said in the huddle. After setting my hopes on such a vivid daydream, I found this to be disappointing.

We’ll lose for sure… unless… (insert fantasy of the most rousing locker room speech in history). “Wait! All…” Oh crap, I’m really saying it! “…we have to do is get their flag one more time, then we could really win!. We can do this! If we work together, I know we ca ca can ca.” Their faces were not encouraging, but realizing the other team could also hear me allowed my anxiety to overcome the fantasy induced auto-pilot. Once my stutter kicked in, my eye-twitch started, and the resulting laughter was enough to effectively clamp my mouth shut.

“Nobody cares! Whatever team you’re on is the team that loses.” Team Captain taunted.

My lesson learned, I kept my mouth shut and head down. That’s what I wish I could say, but it wouldn’t be worth talking about if I were that intelligent. No, I showed my ass and made it worse.

Dont panic, this happens sometimes. All you have to do is get that flag. Then they’ll see. “Oh yea?! Well, ju just you wa wait.” I shrieked over a new burst of laughter.

When I said that, I said it with full knowledge the other team’s quarterback was the fastest kid in class. So fast, our Freshman year, he would be a starting player on the high-school football team. I’m told it’s a big deal, I don’t actually know how to play football, but I know you have to hit whoever has the ball.

You won’t be surprised to hear Mr. QB decided to run the ball himself. I was the only kid to chase him. His teammates opened a path for me, and sat back to enjoy the show. If he had ran fast, straight for the touchdown, I would have given up when the gap grew too large. As it was, he ran just the right speed to keep the distance tantalizing enough for me to believe I had a chance. Not that I understood that, I believed I was extremely fast and about to give him the surprise of his life. My fingertips grazed a flag, and he dodged just out of reach. I chased him across the gym floor, believing one last push would get me the victory I craved. I wanted to see the look on all their faces when I held that flag up high. As he approached the finish line, I desperately lunged forward with both feet, flying through through the air, and across the finish line behind him. Everyone was already laughing before I face-planted, but my fall gave way to a fresh roar with increased volume.

The next incident was a few months later, in daycare during handball. We played in the cafeteria when it rained, and a since it doesn’t require much skill or muscle mass to hit a ball made from tape with your hand, I wasn’t terrible. I felt more confident in daycare, I was far from last picked. There was only one group of older kids, and if I stayed out of their way, they didn’t bother me. Normally, I gloated silently as I dreamed of the day I would be the oldest, and therefore, a Captain, but something must have gotten into me that day. Instead of keeping my head down and taking no chances, I tried to participate in the game. The longer I played without making a mistake, the more I dropped my guard. The game was almost over when I blew it.

One of the younger kids on our team struck out. The pitcher taunted him, “Wanna try again? You’ll never hit it, so I don’t mind watching you try for a while.” He won a round of laughter.

My smartass-reflex triggered. “Be careful, the way you swing you’re liable to slap yourself in the face.”

If given a choice, I would have been too chicken to say it. But once it was out there, well, everyone laughed. At my joke, not just at me. It was intoxicating. Never-mind it was at another’s expense, my primitive mind could only handle so many revelations at once, and a big kid was laughing at my joke. The point is, I was drunk on their laughter, and wanted more. Oh! That might have been the first definitive sign of my predisposition for addiction! Anyway, the kid wouldn’t try again and it was our third out. As we switched sides I couldn’t help myself, “alright, let’s hurry up and get three quick ones so we don’t lose because of Loser over there.”

It was the last inning, all I had to do was lay low while we maintained a one-run lead. But I didn’t. No, when we had 2 outs with kids on first and second, the batter hit a line drive straight to me. Did I catch the stupid piece of balled-up tape and win the game? Ha! No. Did I pick the ball up, and throw it to the third baseman for the final, game-winning out? Nope. I stared into space as the ball bounced off my chest and fell to the floor. I picked it up, and saw kids running everywhere. I had no clue where to throw it. I watched every kid run around the bases while three different teammates screamed for the ball. We lost. Because of me. Karma justly served.

“If you don’t know what to do, throw the ball to the pitcher, dumbass.” is permanently seared into my memory. The 6th grader screaming at me was extremely fat, I couldn’t look away from her flapping jowls as she shook her head with each word.

I was already so upset with myself, I didn’t have time to stop my mouth from saying, “Does it feel funny to talk with those jiggling all the time?” (I genuinely wanted to know, I wasn’t trying to insult her.) My hand also turned traitor, clearly pointing to her triple chin to eliminate any confusion toward my meaning. My mistake was immediately apparent, but I also felt my second laughter high. Granted, that one was shorter lived. It stopped when the girl tried to attack, but teachers intervened before she could catch me. I suffered the usual old taunts anew for a few weeks until she felt satisfied with her vengeance, but it was worth it. It made most forget my handball blunder.

I’m not sure if it falls exactly into this category, but it reminded me of an incident from the only year I played league softball. If you read the 14 Year Old Virgin, you may remember the softball fields where everyone went to socialize. I was 11, and the bleachers were packed, we were the oldest group playing.

Somehow, I made it to first base. That had never happened before. My routine for the two innings Coach was legally required to let me play was hit the ball, and run as fast as I can to first. As I walked back to the base, I looked at Coach to learn the ball was caught, and returned to the dugout. This time, no one caught it, I had to stay on first while the next person batted. I couldn’t watch what happened to the ball or I ran diagonally. I focused every ounce of my attention on making it to second, forcing the distracting fantasy of scoring out of my mind. One step at a time.

The familiar crack of ball on bat sounded like a starting gun and I was off. I never ran faster, my feet slapped the bag at full speed, with a satisfying feel. As per routine, I looked to Coach on my walk back to base, but this time a girl stood in my way. She was coming at me. I didn’t have time to look around, I tried to ask, “what are you…” but she lunged at me! I dodged backwards, stealing a glance at Coach, wondering why someone wasn’t stopping this crazy chick, but they were laughing! I was furious. Here we were trying to play a serious game, but they were going to let this happen?! Unbelievable!

I dodged backwards 3-4 times before I tripped over my feet and she tagged me. “Fine!” She got me, good for her, maybe we can get on with the game now.

I tried to get back on base, but the referee guy started screaming, “You’re out!” all dramatic like with the handle signals and everything. I couldn’t believe he was going along with this charade too.

I tried to explain to the man, “my foot touched the base way before she had the ball in her hand.” I was beginning to worry they might think she had the ball sooner than she did. That was the farthest I had ever gotten, I wouldn’t be cheated out of it.

But I guess technically I was out. Coach had to come explain, “first base is a special exception. You can run past first, go back, and be safe, but any other time, you have to stop on the base. You got that?” He was giving me the Look and the Tone. I’m sure you know the Tone, it’s universal when used with the Look. The ‘am I talking slow enough?’, or ‘got it, dumbass?” Tone. The laughter was deafening. Thankfully there was no YouTube, but the number of home videos out there is terrifying. I should look into changing my name, maybe in a Covid world I could do it without leaving my house.

Softball successfully turned me off sports until Sophomore year. To my dismay, I sucked at sciences. We had a very easy school, I was on honor roll for 7-12 without ever taking home a single book. I’m actually really proud of the scams I worked out, but it will have to be its own story one day. It gets to be a long list if you go into every different tactic, which the god complex side of me kinda wants to do… sorry. Anyway, moving on.

Sophomore year I was forced to take Anatomy & Physiology. It was extremely disappointing to learn that’s what A&P stood for all those years. The class came along with the first teacher to ever be too strict to cheat. Try as I may, I couldn’t find a way around her system. The only kids getting any breaks were the few on her tennis team. Thelma and another friend of ours I’ll have to introduce later also joined, but to everyone’s surprise, I was good at it. Believe me, no one was more shocked than this bitch right here. Something about tennis just clicked for me.

Tennis became a huge part of my life, but all that matters right now is my first tournament. We were down a player, and the #2 singles spot was mine. I’m going to continue to shock you for another moment. I won my first match. I won it by so much, the other girl cried! Coach came to the fence, “I’m so proud of you!”

“I know! Can you believe it?! She’s full on blubbering!” I was literally bouncing with excitement.

“Well… yea I guess I am kinda proud you made her cry,” Coach chuckled, “but I’m more proud of how considerate you were to call a break and take her some water so she can calm down a little.”

“Oh! Yea, that’s why I did it! Good looking out.” I winked.

“Why.. why else would you?”

“Well, it certainly wasn’t to get a closer look. Alright, has it been long enough?”

I finished my first match 6-0, 6-2. We had an hour break before the next match began. During that time I lived up to my snobby bitch reputation admirably. “I was worried last night, but if those are the kind of players I have to beat, I’m going home with a trophy!”

You probably already know that isn’t how tournaments work, but please do keep in mind I was a sheltered fool from a tiny private school. Hell, by the worlds standards, a poor private school. I still struggle to tell the difference between wealthy, rich, and the 1%. If you live in a home that didn’t come with wheels, to me, you’re rich. The end.

The school my next opponent was from had a professional tennis player for a coach and they began learning tennis in elementary. Well, that’s what they claimed. My theory is steroids. That chick hit like-a-man! Her serve looked like an MLB pitch! I stood completely still as the first ball wizzed by. I never moved a muscle. It took a full 10 seconds to register what happened. I finally switched sides and backed up when I saw her make ready for the next serve. The same thing happened. A green blur passed by, my arm twitched as if it were going to swing, but chickened out. I switched sides and stood far behind the court. The girl threw the ball high for another ace, then barely tapped it over the net. I couldn’t run fast enough. She had me 0-3 (in school, they did 1-4 to keep score, it’s easier for people who don’t know the real way) in the first game.

I looked at games around me to copy where others stood to receive their serve. I finally returned the ball. She smashed a volley at me, (my specialty, if you hit your opponent, it’s your point) I only had time to hold the racket up. When the ball hit, I heard the strangest popping sound. The ball didn’t work like it should have, it lost all momentum, barely managing to bounce off the net and roll to her side. I scored one point. First of 3 I would receive throughout the match. The strange popping sound was my string breaking. We had to stop while my racket was re-strung, I cannot stress enough, this tiny, tiny girl, was a beast.

I should have seen enough to understand it was beyond my capabilities to beat her. It was my first year playing, I made it much farther than anyone else. That in itself was enough to be proud of. But no. The break gave me long enough to think about all those underdog victories. I sat amongst my peers and Coach ranting, “I can come back from this! She’ll underestimate me now and I can use that! I want it more than she does, that’s what really counts. People come back from worse all the time. I’m going to make her work for every single point and she’s gonna cry just like the last one!” What the hell is wrong with me?

The first game, I was pumped. It was my turn to serve, it was my weakest point, but I didn’t care how pathetic my lobs looked after her all-star aces; I was going to win. How many times have I seen someone save the world with sheer determination? I knew I had the exact feeling Naruto and Sasuke had when they freed Kakashi from Zabuza’s water prison, I had to beat her. They were totally the same thing.

And if you don’t know Naruto references, this is how things end for Zabuza (the one with all the dog bites).

I had a fleeting moment of, ‘holy shit it’s really happeningwhen I scored an amazing point on my first serve. I returned the ball 3-4 times before she hit it out-of-bounds. Then it was over, she pulverized me quickly and efficiently with only one further out-of-bounds error. When I lost the first match 0-6, we took the customary 10 minute break before she finished me off.

During the break I sat quietly, hoping all forgot the long, conceited speech I made 20 minutes earlier. Fooled you again! No, I totally made it worse. “Well it’s just so hard to focus when she has an entire crowd cheering her name and I’m the bad guy wrestler getting booed off stage.”

I said it as an excuse for my poor performance. I couldn’t think of anything else, and it spilled out of me before I could apply any filters. It wasn’t taken that way. It was taken more as, “wah wah, poor me, boo hoo, no one is cheering for me, I want cheerleaders.”

For the duration of the second match, Coach stood alone and cheered my name through all six games. She never stopped, not even when the two girls willing to stand with her abandoned ship. I found it touching, on one level it meant a lot to me. She is a very special person and I hope the years have been kind to her. On another level, it was incredibly awkward, I was getting creamed the whole time. I kept thinking her voice is going to be hoarse, she needs to chill. But that would be an incredibly rude, ungrateful thing to say. I was also upset about how awkward the thank you would be. I assumed that kind of thing surely required a thank you, but how painful would it be to say? ‘Thanks for cheering me on while I got my ass handed to me!’

You know what, I’m not saying I ever would do it, but the super villains that want to destroy the universe and all existence… I mean, I understand why. I accept it would be wrong to do so because it would involve making life-changing decisions for others, but I see their point. It’s important to honor basic moral principles, otherwise one tends to implore emotionally flawed decision making skills. But in a hypothetical scenario where everyone else was cool with it, I wouldn’t argue.

humor, mental health

Diary of a Mad, Spoiled Brat (Pt. 3)

Entry 3: The Look

When I was little, Dad bought a 10 gallon fish tank and pimped it out. 6 months, 20 fish, and 1 litter of kittens later, it sat empty in the garage.

One day, Dad found a baby lizard and decided to put the old aquarium to use. He made an impressive habitat with a layer of dirt, a few small rocks, and several well placed sticks. It was a mini forest, and in the center, he put a chunk of petrified wood that looked exactly like Pride Rock.

This kind, not one of the regular garden lizards.

I was one happy camper. I named him Gecko and moved him into my room. One morning, I noticed Gecko hadn’t moved since the night before. I poked him, but he still didn’t move. Gecko was dead.

It was a shame he died, we only just met. I didn’t know what kind of funeral a lizard would want, so I settled for placing his body on top of Pride Rock while I mulled it over. I was paying respects, it was a position of honor. I thought it a very considerate thing to do, I didn’t relish touching a dead lizard, in case that wasn’t clear. With that chore done, I resumed playing Mario.

Several days later Dad came to check on Gecko. As he looked into the aquarium, I wondered if perhaps I should have mentioned Gecko died. Before I could decide, Dad said, “Pause your game sweetie, we need to talk about Gecko.”

I hesitated, trying to decide if I should pretend to be surprised, but I couldn’t pause at that moment. “Is it because Gecko’s dead?” I asked without looking away from the tv.

“You… you know he’s dead? When did he die?!” Dad’s tone was either amused or angry, it was really hard to tell which.

“Yea. I mean. He didn’t wake up yesterday.” Yesterday probably sounds better than last week.

“Why didn’t you say anything? Wait… did… did you put him on the rock after he died?” His look made me feel like the answer mattered.

“Umm. Yea…no..sort of before?” My voice trailed off as I strung together every answer, hoping one was the right choice.

The Look Dad gave me as he carried away Gecko’s house was one I would become intimately familiar with. It is the Look that begs, ‘What the hell is wrong with you?’

Oh how I wish I knew.

I think Dad understood I was developing… issues long before Mom. At least to the point of taking action. It’s not surprising, he’s a social creature. Everyone knows a guy like Dad. He’s the guy who holds you hostage in conversation each time you randomly bump into each other. Some try to escape, but few succeed. Not once did he go in Walmart without seeing a minimum three people he knew. They pretended not to see him, he chased them down, and the long wait began. I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m bashing Dad, I’m not, he’s the nicest, most honest, caring man I have ever known. For that reason, he just isn’t capable of grasping the concept Mom and I are not that way.

At first, people started off with greetings and a smile, but then came the worst part. As they listened to Dad prattle on about what he’s been up to, they felt obligated to acknowledge me. Some actually tried to touch me. Whether it was ruffling my hair, patting me on the back, or just holding out their hand for a high-five, I wasn’t playing along. I stood out of arms reach, and kept quiet when asked the crap people usually ask kids. They mostly took the hint and tried for their own escape, but it cost me the Look. Totally worth it in those cases.

“Well, it was great catching up, but I really need to…” that’s how far most got before Dad interrupted.

“Oh I forgot to ask, how’s your mother?” He targets a weak point, but calls it ‘manners.’ No one can run off on such a considerate question. Especially one that opens up several more avenues of talking points regardless of the answer. Small talk is a fencing match, never let anyone tell you different. It’s a deadly dance of words and wit, where words cut like swords and wit is your only shield.

In the end, it was left to me, I was the only one in a position to save us all. In the best interest of myself, Dad, and his victim, I had to intervene. “Dad! Dad! Daddy, can we go now? I’m ready to go Dad, come on I wanna go home!”

The trick is, you gotta find yourself a good handhold, something like a belt loop or pinky finger, something they fear could tear or break if pulled hard enough. Then you yank on that as you beg to leave. Most of the time, his victim understood I was showing them mercy, and helped me out with a push from their end. Something like, “Aw, she looks tired, you better get the little one home.” The really smart ones are already walking away, one hand lifted in a goodbye wave, as they said it. I appreciated those so much, we were kindred spirits.

Unfortunately, some could be bad as Dad himself. I had to exert extra effort in those cases. “Dad! Can I have this really expensive toy I just fell in love with? Please, please, please!” Or there’s always the classic, “Dad, I need to potty really bad.” That one didn’t give me a chance at new toys, but no one wants to deal with a piss soaked kid. No one.

It was rare for all three of us to venture out, but if we did, Mom and I ditched Dad when his antics began. She, like myself, ran away from familiar faces. Mom encouraged me to interrupt anyone fool enough to corner her into conversation, and I was rewarded handsomely. Until I told someone, “we have to go, Mom hates talking to you.” That one got me the Look from all parties, and dragged away by the ear. Let me tell you, that’s a pain I still remember. Tv portrays it as a cliche way to handle children, but it seriously hurts, it should be classified as child abuse.

Dad was more sympathetic to my plight. He told Mom, “Something like that was bound to happen with you teaching her that shit.”

I find it ironic he be the one to worry about my ability to socialize. He became so distressed I went through kindergarten and first grade without making friends, he began to arrange play-dates for me. How he was unable to see the correlation between my appearance and lack of friends, I’ll never understand. I went to school looking worse than Ruby Sue from Christmas Vacation. I wouldn’t let Mom dress me in outfits or do my hair, and she didn’t have the patience to force me. Dad thought it was adorable, I assume because of some kind of parent blinders, there’s no other explanation.

If you chopped off all her hair because she thought she was a boy, she would still look like a princess on her worst day compared to me at my best.

The first play-date Dad arranged was fishing with a work friend while the man’s daughter (Girl) stayed at our house. We were the same age, but it was hate at first sight. Dad wanted it to be a surprise, and a surprise it was. My angry tears flowed hot with rage before she was introduced.

Mom was also upset, “Why would you do this? Do you expect me to watch that kid too? Did you think our kid was going to enjoy this? While you go fishing?!” She bypassed the usual warning signs and went straight into a full blown episode. I didn’t mind it this time. I viewed her episodes differently once I felt the intoxicating power of having one on my side.

“You’re making it sound worse than it is, we’re fishing in our own pond, we’re only going to be a few feet away. If you have any trouble just holler for me.” Dad shoved Girl inside before Mom could protest more. He made fast introductions and ran for it.

It was the motivation Mom and I needed to finally put aside our differences and join forces, Dad’s actions were unacceptable. What was I suppose to do with Girl? Why on earth would I want to entertain some kid I’ve never seen before? Did he think she could go in my room or touch my stuff?

Spoiler Alert: That’s exactly what he thought.

“Hey, take her to your room and play back there.” Mom, like myself, was glaring at Girl.

“No way, she’s not allowed back there!” I argued, still wiping snot off my tear-streaked face.

“Don’t argue with me, you get her back there now!” She gave me the Look, except when she gave me the Look, it came with an additional meaning.

Aside from the usual “what the hell is wrong with you?” it also meant, “do what I say right now, or I’ll have an episode that makes you regret being born.” Well I already regretted being born, thank you very much.

I took the kid to my room, and immediately felt claustrophobic. The tiny room was even smaller after cramming in bunk beds, entertainment center, dresser, and shelf. I felt suffocated with her standing in the middle of my room. I retreated to the top bunk, hovering over her like a gargoyle.

This is the pose!

It made me feel safe. Safe she couldn’t get me, safe she wouldn’t try to climb up. All my stuffed animals lived up there, I couldn’t let her sully them with her sticky touch. I knew she was sticky, they’re all sticky. Except me, I was the exception to the rule. You could tell by how pristine my possessions were.

After she lost what I concluded to be a staring contest, Girl spoke. “Do you have any Dogs?” She asked.

“No, just cats.” Not that you can pet them. I answered.

No, I mean dogs like toy dogs. Do you have any?” She tried again.

Uh-oh I have lots of stuffed dogs. If I say yes, shell want to play with one. “No. I don’t have any kind of dog.” Final answer.

“No! Doll! Do you have any dolls? Like barbies?” She clarified.

Oh gods it’s worse than I imagined. “No! I hate barbies! They’re the worst things ever. The only barbies I ever had were hanged, decapitated, or burned at the stake. I might have some of their heads left if you want to see those or the guillotine.” I glared into her like I was Darth Vader.

Then it happened. Girl gave me the Look. “Why would you do that?” She asked. After a long pause, “don’t you have any girl stuff?” She was looking around my room, trying to find something of interest.

It’s one thing to get the Look from my family or an adult. I had no choice in that matter. Pain and punishment followed any retribution I sought against them, but Girl was no one. Just a stranger Dad brought home. A stranger Mom didn’t like either. If I wasn’t so afraid of leaving Girl alone in there, I would have gone to tell Mom whatever she needed to hear to end the horrible nightmare. As it stood, I was stuck. I had to come up with a plan.

“I don’t play anything. I watch tv. Nothing else.” Brilliant, tv is perfect. She wouldn’t have to touch a thing. I grabbed the remote and had it on Cartoon Network before she could respond.

Then she started climbing the ladder. “What are you doing?! You can’t come up here! There’s no more room!” Obviously, improvisation was not yet a talent, give me a break.

She gave me the Look again as she stared at the empty half of the bed. Slowly, she lowered herself to sit on the bottom bunk. “You have Nintendo! Cool, what games do you have? Can we play?” The Look was gone, she sounded excited.

“No, it’s broke.” I’ll sacrifice my entire body if I have to throw it off this bunk to keep you from getting my controller sticky.

“Oh. I just don’t really feel like watching tv. We can watch tv anytime, let’s play something.” Girl said sheepishly, looking at my beloved tv like it was an insect on the bottom of her shoe.

Bitch gotta go. “I love tv. It’s the only thing I do, it’s the only thing there is to do. I don’t understand why you’re even here, why would you come here?”

“I came because Daddy said we were gonna be best friends, but you’re just a mean girl.” She sobbed.

Oh great, now she’s crying for no reason. They’re gonna blame me for this. Well… if I’m getting blamed anyway…“I’m not forcing you to stay here. You could always get off my clean sheets and go fishing with Dad.” This was his mess anyway, let him clean it up. Otherwise, how will he learn. Too bad I didn’t think of it before she started crying.

Spoiler Alert: Dad never learns this lesson.

“I don’t like you at all!” She jumped up and ran to the door. “I’m never coming back here again!”

“Ok thanks, have fun out there!” I said sarcastically.

** Real quick, for the sake of accuracy and my future team of psychologists, this is a good time to mention my tone problem. I haven’t known how to explain it, but I was unable to identify or convey sarcasm like you norms can. Everything came out of me in a monotone voice. Whether I were serious or joking, it all sounded exactly the same. It got me in lots of trouble, but over the years, I’ve (mostly) mastered identifying sarcasm, and almost always convey it correctly. Just know for the majority of my stories, when I say the word “sarcastically” there’s a 90% chance the other people in the story did not interpret it the same way. **

Girl paused with a foot out the door to give me one last Look. When I didn’t try to stop her, she walked out of my life forever. After hearing the front door close, I went to give Mom a heads up. She also came out of hiding when she heard the door.

“Where’s she going?” Mom asked.

“To fish with Dad. That girl was so weird I hate her.” I answered.

“Shit. What did you do to her? Tell me everything you said. Exactly. You didn’t hit her did you?” Mom bent down and gave me her full attention.

This was extremely rare, I wanted to encourage it. If I couldn’t train my cats to do tricks, maybe I could train Mom. I reinforced her behavior with a full account of the truth, and ended my report with a request to have my bedding washed. I wouldn’t be able to sit on the bottom bunk until it was sterilized. The more Mom laughed, the more confident I became my actions were correct. Clearly, I handled the crisis better than she hoped, I was quite proud.

Mom looked out the window as she spoke, “Great job, kid! They look like they’re packing up, I don’t think Girl likes fishing. When your daddy comes in, let me do the talking. You stay quiet and watch tv. In here, and look pouty. Come on, go put on a cartoon real fast. If he asks you a question, you have to go along with what I say, you can do that right?”

I had no clue what she was doing, but it sounded like fun. If she wanted the hassle of talking, I wasn’t going to argue with her. “You bet I can!” Food and tv sounded lovely too.

Dad’s friend was driving away as Mom set food in front of me. I settled on my Dalmatian pallet, ate, and watched a tornado throw Dorothy into Oz for the zillionth time. Dad stormed through the door. I never bothered looking up, my part was done.

“What the hell was that?” Dad asked. I’m not sure who he was addressing. If I looked at him, I might blow the game.

Mom jumped in before he could ask again. “What did you expect? I told you that wasn’t going to go well! That girl was awful!” She protested.

“What do you mean she was awful? I heard some pretty awful things, but nothing her fault.” Dad argued. I could see his shoes out the corner of my eye, he was standing really close. I shoveled a load of food into my mouth and made a neutral grunting sound. Please don’t step on my blanket, please don’t step on my blanket.

“Did you find out anything about her at all before you arranged this whole thing? That girl was a bully!” Mom dropped her voice low, like she didn’t want me to hear any more of it. It must have worked, Dad walked his dirty shoes away from my blanky and toward the kitchen.

His voice also dropped drastically. “What do you mean bully? What happened?” Anger gone, concern the dominate tone. Victory was ours.

“It was inconceivable to Girl we don’t have doll houses or barbies. Our kid has enough problems without you dragging drama into the house! What’s next? You want to put her in dance lessons? See how well that goes?!” Mom was on fire, once she gets started there’s no telling where she’ll stop.

“That little bitch! She came out there and told us she got bullied! She told us the exact opposite like she wasn’t allowed to play with anything. Oh I’m so sorry! What am I going to do? How upset is she? Should I say something?” I almost felt sorry for Dad, but my conscience was years away from developing… plus it really was his fault.

“No! Don’t you dare say a word! I just got her calmed down. She’s fed, she’s comfortable, she’s got that god damn movie on again. Just sit in the room and make sure she doesn’t burn the house down. Do not make her talk about this again. I’m going to watch tv in bed, I’m exhausted now and I can’t tolerate watching this movie one more time.” Mom exited dramatically, slamming her bedroom door for a final touch.

That night, I slept well and deeply in the comfort of knowing such a horrible thing would never happen again. If Mom or I had known Dad was not properly swayed, I like to think we would have taken further action. As it stood, neither of us could see Dad thought his mistake lay in the character of the kid he chose, not in the act itself. Needless to say, we were in for another surprise a few weeks later.

“Ok before you get upset, let me explain. I knew you wouldn’t give it a chance if I said something ahead of time, but this is an entirely different situation.” Dad explained as he wiped the sweat from his brow.

This time, it was an old school friend bringing his son. We were all fishing together. This automatically excluded Mom. Our newfound partnership crumbled as quickly as it began. She threw me to the wolves, and without a second glance, retreated to her room. The man and kid were outside, waiting for us.

“Don’t do this to me! Why? What did I do wrong?” I haven’t done anything wrong!” The angry tears were on full blast.

“No, no no no, it’s not like that at all! This is a reward! It’s a good thing!” He said. Now it was my turn to give him the Look. “Boy is only a year younger than you, and he loves fishing. You love fishing! If we all fish together, we’ll have lots of fun and you can make a new friend! Doesn’t that sound nice?” He waited for my response, but I felt like the Look was a response unto itself.

15 minutes later I was on the embankment with Boy while our dads fished off the pier. My rod stuck in the ground, I refused to participate. I told Dad I wouldn’t fish, but he baited the pole and forced it into my hand anyway. When he got serious with his threats, I pretended to fish until he was distracted. Then I ditched my cricked and cast the empty hook back into the water. I shoved my pole in the mud and stared at my bobber, knowing it would never get a bite. Dad’s glances became less frequent as he convinced himself I was cooperating.

I tried different tactics to get Boy to leave me alone, but he seemed to enjoy talking just for the sake of hearing his own voice. If asked a question I responded “No.” regardless of what he asked. When he realized what I was doing he thought it was funny to ask crazy questions.

“Do you eat pizza? No?! Whoa! Do you breathe air? No?! Wow! What do you breathe then?” To his credit, Boy was having a blast. He thought he was hilarious, but couldn’t seem to fathom I didn’t share his feelings.

“Hey look! I got a fish! Look! Look, hey, why aren’t you looking?” He got loud enough to draw the adult’s attention.

“Alright, way to go Boy! Reel that sucker in!” Dad shouted encouragement.

“She won’t watch! Why won’t she watch?!” Boy whined.

“Uh.. hey! Kid! Look at him go, did you see that?” Dad tried awkwardly to draw my attention.

I continued staring at my bobber like it was the most interesting movie in the world. Finally I heard Dad say, “she’s just concentrating really hard, she does that.”

By then, Boy had his fish reeled in. “Look at the size!” He said, proudly holding it out for my inspection.

“No.” I said again.

“But why not? You could just look, you know?” The way he said it made me turn to face him. I already knew what I would see. He was giving me the Look.

I stared daggers into him. “No.” I said it just to piss him off. It didn’t matter if it made sense or not, I would not suffer that Look again. Not from another strange kid Dad brought home. Like Dorothy, I would need to stand my ground, and melt this bastard with water. “No.” Barely a whisper that time, but he was still giving me the Look.

Boy lost his shit. “Oh yea?! Let’s see what you have to say about my fish now!” He let out a primal scream and charged at me, his fish held out like a weapon.

“The crap?” I didn’t have time to say more. It’s amazing how big of a size and strength difference a year made at those ages. The scuffle was no contest.

Boy lunged the fish at me like it were a sword, but he was slow and clumsy about it. I easily dodged his thrust and grabbed his wrist. Just like I saw on tv, I squeezed until he dropped the fish. He cried out and flailed, catching me with an elbow. That really set me off. I felt so embarrassed, more rage leaked out. When he got free of my grip, he tried to turn to face me, but I was already swinging. I intended to punch him on the back of his shoulder, as he was walking away. But the way he turned, combined with my inability to actually aim a punch, resulted in my hitting his face. Suddenly, everything happened in slow motion. Boy’s head snapped back, and his body followed suit. He fell straight back into the water. He was soaked, I watched his face change as he looked himself over. He cried, looked to me, to his ruined clothes, back to me, he continued this until finally, the adults arrived.

Later, I was told he had a nice bruise on his cheek, but I got lucky with this interaction too. Somehow, the adults only saw Boy rush me with the fish. They thought he was being a typical little boy who learned a hard lesson. I like to think the smile Mom gave me as Dad related the events meant she knew the truth. It probably did, she was pretty smart when it came to those things.

That ordeal was my last blind play-date. Afterwards, Dad switched me over to cousins, but they came with their own hazards. I’ll save that for later, one day when I’m very, very not sober.

Before I go, one last thing; we may all be crazy, I may carry decades worth of resentment about arguably ridiculous things, and sometimes, I say terrible things about my parents; but when it’s all said and done, I have some damn good memories too, and I truly do love them. I understand the way it reads doesn’t always come off that way, but remember, they only had my best intentions in mind when they made terrible, terrible decisions. You’re only hearing one side to the story, and we can never hear their side because we are not, and will never be, that kind of family.

Alright, good talk.