It's time for Readers' Revenge, the weekly feature in which we turn Grantland over to YOU, the unpredictable reader. This week's topic was Your Worst Moment With In-Laws or a Significant Other's Family. As with any good narrative, we'll start with two stories of near-castration, and end with a basketball theme. I received tons of great e-mails as always, so please don't take it personally if yours didn't make the cut. Or if you do take it personally, please try to avoid overt threats when you send your angry rant. (How do so many people know my dog's name?)
Below are the top 10 e-mails, along with a classic from our pal and story-weaver emeritus Seth. You can check out past installments in the box below. The topic for next week is Your Biggest Workplace Embarrassment. Send your very best to firstname.lastname@example.org by Sunday for a chance to make the cut. Stories can involve you or someone you know, and anonymity is allowed. Those with a high degree of hilarity and humiliation always do well. Enjoy!
The Seth From Conway Special:
I had been dating this girl for about four months when she invited me to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Although I felt it was rather early in the relationship to drive 300 miles to stay with relative strangers I accepted because she was, after all, an attractive female. Upon arriving I was pleased with the reception given from her relatives as they all seemed very friendly and were very warm-hearted in welcoming me. After we got settled in (separate air-inflated beds that were already prepared) everyone gathered for a nice meal and then retired to their rooms for the evening.
Later that night, I went to the kitchen to get something to drink when I was approached by Uncle Dave who asked if I wanted to get out of the house for a little while. Being that it was nearly midnight on the day before Thanksgiving I asked what exactly he had in mind. Dave told me not to worry and assured me that he knew the perfect place to go. Now I didn't really know the guy but had heard stories about how he was undeniably the “Crazy Uncle” of the family who once had troubles but had since straightened his life out. Always looking for a unique adventure, and since my girlfriend was already asleep, I agreed and we drove to a local bar. We had a good time exchanging stories but only stayed for a few drinks and then went back to the house. Realizing that I had just experienced a solid bonding moment with a relative I felt content and went straight to sleep.
The next day I awoke to the glorious aroma of Thanksgiving cooking. I explicitly remember lying in bed, looking at the ceiling while thinking to myself “Alright, here we are, Game Day. Let's do this!” I went to the living room where the family had gathered. “Oh great, the parade is on.” I said. Absolutely no one responded and my girlfriend gave me the universally understood expressionless face that all women make that indicates you've massively screwed up. Completely unbeknownst to me, it turned out that Dave was a lifelong recovering alcoholic who had been sober for nearly seven months until I had driven him to a bar the night before. Upon our return he had drank an entire liter of whiskey and destroyed a lamp and coffee table in the living room.
By this time the family was holding a sort of intervention with him and I was forced to sit there quietly and watch the entire horrific event. At one point a teary-eyed Grandma pleaded with me “Why would you do this to him?” Which was followed by “It's not his fault mother! He didn't know!” This went on for two hours. Needless to say, the day was ruined. The Thanksgiving meal was prefaced with a prayer that contained a very specific request that I strongly feel was directed at me. After we ate, my girlfriend's mother then told me that it was nice to meet me but that I should probably get going back home now. Relieved to finally get the hell out of there, I agreed and told my girlfriend we should pack up. She then told me that she would be staying for the weekend but I should go ahead and leave.
Two weeks later she broke up with me citing “Family pressure” as one of the reasons. About four months after that when I had already put the entire event behind me and pretended it didn't happen, I received an eight-page handwritten letter from Grandma. The letter was highly detailed and extremely passive-aggressive. I could only stomach reading the first page before throwing it away.
— Seth in Conway, AR
10. My stepfather-in-law to be was a trapper that lived in the woods. I met him at a party he was hosting with all his hunting buddies. As he and his friends got drunk and stoned, a few guys thought it would be a good idea to bring out their guns and compare. Eventually sober minds prevailed and the guns were locked away, but not before "Dad" pushed a .38 calibre revolver against my testicles and asked, "So what are your intentions with my daughter?"
— Steve, Calgary
9. When I was in high school, I dated a girl whose dad worked for Ford, so for her 18th birthday her parents were going to get her a new car. She knew this, because the same thing happened to her older sister, and her dad had talked to her about it to figure out what color she wanted. However, her mom was apparently unaware that this conversation had taken place and thought this was going to be a surprise, so she thought she was letting me in on a secret when she told me about it. Since I knew that my girlfriend already knew she was getting a car, I discussed it with her freely. This turned out to be a grave sin.
About a week before her birthday, I went over to her house to pick her up for a date. I made pleasantries in the kitchen with her and her mom, then she went upstairs to get something. While she was out of the room, her mom turned to me and in a sinister, loud whisper implying that she was seriously pissed off, uttered these words to me: "I am going to castrate you." Apparently my girlfriend had brought the car up in conversation at some point (either forgetting or not knowing it was supposed to be a surprise), and her mom assumed that I had spoiled the surprise. This is apparently grounds for getting your balls chopped off. Luckily my girlfriend came back downstairs and I was able to leave with my testicles intact, but to this day that remains the most uncomfortable moment of my life.
— Kyle, Cleveland, Ohio
8. So, back when I was dating my now-wife, we (she) decided that it would be a good idea to stay with her parents for a week at the beginning of the summer before starting summer classes at our college. Now, I had met them a few times in the past, but never really for more than a dinner or short event. My biggest fear about staying with them for an entire week was, obviously, how am I going to drop deuces and have nobody know when I do it. For some reason, I think that it's a good idea to hold it in for the first three days of this seven day week.
On day four, I can't hold it for much longer and appear to have a great sneak-poop window. As everyone is heading out to the backyard pool, I take a fake phone call and slip back towards the guestroom telling everyone that will be out soon. I slip into the tiny bathroom by the kitchen and take all of my talents to south beach. I get up flush, and, of course, clog city. No plunger in sight fuck. Desperate, I give it one more flush even though the water hasn't receded yet. Naturally, the water rises, rises, rises and starts spilling over the top. I start panicking. I immediately determine that I have two choices, either find a way to stop the disaster, or run to my car, drive away, drop out of school and find a job at a Walmart somewhere in Iowa.
Luckily, there are a bunch of towels in the cabinet right above the toilet. I quickly block the crack beneath the door with three of them, and clean up the literally two inch flood of sewage with the rest. Since I'm in no position to care at this point, I stick my hand down the backed up demon toiled and manually declog that mother and flush successfully. Now the towels I left them all folded while cleaning up. I wring them out quickly in the sink, but they are still quite wet. Of course, my only option at this point is to stick them back in the cabinet above the toilet, wash my hands, and head out for a swim. Unfortunately, the we didn't have enough pool towels for everyone outside swimming.
No problem, my now-mother-in-law says, I'll go grab some extra ones from you know where. She heads inside and I presumably turn white as a ghost while wondering if a person can drown themselves without tying themselves to a heavy object. She is back out in a minute and whispers something to the husband. Soon enough, we are all inside observing the soaking cabinet wondering what could have happened. He searches relentlessly for any sign of pipes running behind the crapper that he could access. I'm not saying a thing!
He finally decides to call a plumber to check it out. Within a couple hours, there is a massive hole in the wall behind the toilet with two experts wondering how a cabinet could get soaked by leaking pipes when there were no pipes to be found. I now laugh every time that I see that patched up wall in that tiny bathroom of my in-laws' house. If my father-in-law asked me on his deathbed if I knew what happened, I'm not saying a thing.
— Anonymous in Texas
7. My father-in-law is domineering (once, passing a home gym set-up at Sears, he challenged me to do as many pullups as I could; I declined, several times) and at the same time overly sensitive. Add to that a dash of prejudice and ignorance (he was convinced I'd be great at chess because I'm Asian) and it's no wonder my wife (his only daughter) tends to avoid prolonged exposure to him. For the most part I've managed to either politely ignore him, or laugh him off.
One Thanksgiving (of COURSE it had to happen at Thanksgiving) he seemed determined to get under my wife's skin by bringing up politics, class and race. If that almost sounds like we were having an erudite roundtable discussion of these sensitive topics, well, that's entirely the wrong image. It was more like he was ranting about the poor neighborhoods in his small town and we were awkwardly trying to change the subject while eating our turkey and mashed potatoes. He kept baiting my wife to respond and, as I could see her start to lose her temper, I tried to diffuse the situation by asking him point-blank to just please move on to something else.
Well, he moved right along to calling us liberal do-gooders who don't know how the real world works, and then proceeded to casually say, "They should just take a flamethrower to those neighborhoods and get rid of those people." At this point I snapped. The accumulation of years of politely ignored verbal jabs, and following a long build-up during the Thanksgiving meal during which I mostly wanted to defend my wife from his boorish taunts, I finally couldn't contain my anger.
I steeled my gaze at him, and with gritted teeth, told my father-in-law: "You sound like fucking Hitler right now."
Stunned silence and jaws dropped all around. He quietly got up and excused himself and left. I sent him a message to apologize later, but we haven't spoken a word since.
— Mike, Long Beach
6. My story takes place when I was 15 years old, and a freshman in high school ('02). I was dating a girl, and she and I were experimenting with sex. So being the horny 15 year olds we were, we started fooling around. Well one day we decided to fool around in her basement while her parents were home. She has a media room just under the stairs so when someone was coming down the stairs we could hear them, and frantically put our clothes on and act like we were watching a movie or something. Well this day her Dad put his quiet shoes on or something and while I was in the process of going down on her, he opens the door, sees that what I'm doing to his "little girl", yells at her "Get your ass upstairs now!!"
She jumps up and attempts to put her clothes back on as fast as possible, and runs upstairs behind him crying. I'm left in the basement by myself, freaking out, trying to find an exit somewhere. This is no walkout basement, so all they have are this little half windows that nobody can fit through, so my only way out is upstairs where her furious father is. So I wait down there for about 30 minutes, and she comes back down sobbing, and tells me her Dad is going to drive me home (reminder I'm only 15 and can't drive yet). So I walk out to the car with her and her father and he tells me to get in the passenger seat. She attempts to get in the back seat, and he tells her to go back in the house, shes not going with us. Needless to say I'm assuming my life is over, he's going to kill me.
This was the most awkward 15 minute drive in my life that consisted of me looking out the window, refusing to look at him at all, flinching every time he moved because I thought he was going to beat my ass. As we pulled up to my house he asked if my parents were home, and thank god they weren't, he told me to never speak to his daughter again and if he found out I did, he was going to beat my ass, and he didn't care how old I was. So needless to say we talked that night. About two weeks later we were off the hook because her older sister got pregnant at 17.
5. I couldn't decide on just one story so I am going for the lifetime achievement award. I have been with my wife for almost six years now and we just celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. In the beginning, her mom was a decent enough human being (if you were able to get past her being obnoxiously loud and an attention whore) and I was trying to impress her, so we got along fairly well for the first couple of months. We lived in a city about two hours away so she normally couldn't just stop in, well, until she started dating a guy (that she met online) in our city. The company that she worked for had stores in our city, so she could use that as an excuse to come down and see this guy while using our one bedroom apartment as her hotel (even though her company would pay to put her up in an actual hotel).
Normally I suppose I wouldn't have a huge problem with this as it's only for a few days and I'm working so it's not like I have to deal with her 24/7, but when she expects to sleep in my bed and put me on the couch, I tend to have an issue. Let me be clear, she didn't ask to sleep in our bed (nor did she care if the sheets were clean) she just hopped her happy ass in there and went to sleep. I put up with it a few times before I finally got fed up with it and told my then girlfriend to tell her mom that I'm not sleeping on the couch in my place when her company will pay for her to stay somewhere. Little did I know this was just the beginning.
A year or two later, my girlfriend is graduating from college and everyone comes into town to celebrate. Still living in the one bedroom apartment, all of our other guests know to get a hotel not her mom. After dinner and dessert the night before graduation everyone starts to filter out of our apartment and we plan to go to a friend's house for a few hours. She stays at our apartment (planning to sleep on the couch) and we head off. A few hours later we come home and put the key in the door, turn the knob, and nothing. Now these doors had a deadlock which could only be locked/unlocked from the inside and our key is only used for the handle.
Normally this isn't a problem as you can't lock the deadbolt from the outside when you leave so unless someone locked it from the inside and never answered the door you wouldn't have a problem. Unfortunately her mom was in our bed, not the couch, too drunk and too high (yes high, and no it's not cool when she's a 50+ year old woman) to awake from her deep slumber. We knocked on the doors, called her phone, the dog barked, threw rocks at the window, but to no avail. I went back to my friends to sleep and my girlfriend went to her dad's hotel and slept on the floor the night before her graduation. Needless to say we weren't exactly excited to hear from her in the morning and her son accused her of being an alcoholic (100% true).
In between the bed sleeping and graduation fiasco, we met her new online boyfriend who would eventually turn out to be her husband. The first time we meet them it was at a new restaurant and as we're making small talk before we get seated, he grabs her hand and compliments the nail polish she is wearing. This dude is one of the weirdest, most socially awkward dumbasses that I've ever met in my life. He then proceed to hand us one of those spend $30 get $5 off coupons for dinner that his “secretary” printed off for him. Now by no means do I expect this weirdo to pay for my meal, but needless to say a coupon isn't exactly the greatest impression when meeting the daughter of the woman you hope to marry.
Finally we get the hell out of the same state as them and move 12 hours away. Unfortunately they still visit and the stays are much longer now that they can't just pop in to see us. Last year they come to visit for an extended period of time (two hours is too long, but I think they stayed somewhere in the ballpark of a week). We now have a three bedroom house so, hooray, no one is sleeping on the couch and we also have an alarm system. I explain to them before bed that during the night you cannot open any windows or doors or the ear piercing alarm will go off. Sure enough at about 2:30 in the morning the fucking alarm is going off.
In my haze, I forget that we have guests at our house and reach for the gun under the bed. As I'm doing that, I see an outline of someone slowing creeping into our room with what appear to be dreadlocks. Right as I pull the gun out she finally says "oops I opened the window!" She had to get her 2 a.m. toke in and forgot about the alarm. I not-so-secretly wish I shot her. On a trip a few months later, the mom and the new hubby have gone to bed while my wife and I are still up watching the final game of the World Series. I hear a weird noise and mute the TV. Yep in bedroom that backs up to where our TV sits, these two moron are fucking like barn animals when they know we're right outside. Literally she sounded like a dying horse. My other favorite part of their trip was when her husband shaved with his electric shaver on my couch.
4. I met my very religious, very Japanese, very now ex-mother-in-law for the first time a few years back and almost everything went well. I was nervous and eager to make a good impression. We picked her up at the San Francisco airport and spent a great day in the city — the fish market, the shopping areas, Chinatown everything she and my now ex-wife had pre-planned. I had one task, pick a movie to watch to wind down the day. I, of course, being an idiot picked Borat. Wow, is that naked wrestling scene long or what?
— Mike from Upstate New York
3. It was a lazy ole Saturday a few weeks ago, full of promise. I took a pummeling while driving down the interstate at 80 mph from my unbalanced sister-in-law; who happens to be an identical twin with my wife. Five blows to the dome and two blows to the right ear were delivered from the backseat.
The plan that day was to have brunch, take our dogs, and catch the first half of the Kentucky-Louisville Final Four game. I was then to return her home where she and her hub would go to an engagement party later that night. The wife and I would then retreat home and call it an early night.
I should have known trouble was near, because I had just been hosed by my golfing foursome (we also all share the same first name, it's like a group version of being named "Michael Bolton"). A trip was planned to a nearby casino/golf resort. I was not asked because the assumption was that I would not go or commit.
So I was stuck with the girls, doing brunch instead of golfing and gambling. I told myself this was fine because I'd save money by not gambling and golfing. Then the pictures from the course starting arriving on my phone. Bloody Mary Count: 1. My wife, then trying to relocate her metal chair with serrated edges, placed it haphazardly on my bare, flip flopped, foot. The wound started around my ankle and finished at the base of my foot. I have almost cried once in my life as an adult. I can no longer say that. Tears welled up, I said not a word, they laughed. The sister saw the single tear and said, "oh sh*t, he's about to cry!!!" (which made it worse) My ever so thoughtful wife then disappears — I'm thinking "first aid kit? warm rag?" Nope I'm presented with a double shot of Makers.
Feeling good a few hours later, I limp to a sports bar. We sit outside, I wait patiently while they talk about girl stuff. The sister-in-law then starts passing gas in front of me. I decide to take my dog and go inside.
At last, the game begins. I have my foot propped up, a nice cigar, chugging some water, with my dog lying at my feet. The place was pretty empty — it was perfect. Five minutes into the game she starts complaining in drunken girl-demand-voice "Take me home, I'm ready to go, listen to it on the radio" (completely ignoring prior first-half agreement).
I finally cave and snapped at some point. Once on the highway I pull over and tell her to walk home. The wife yells, I back down. The arguing continues, at some point she lunges forward and tries to grab the wheel. I take my hand and grab for anything to push her back. So, the throat is what my hand hits and she goes flying back from my push (remember, she's trying to grab the wheel). I hear her coughing and realize I knocked the wind out of her. She gets her breath back and "wham". My head is getting pounded. Wife screaming. Dogs howling. Bam, "you m f'er". I started laughing at her because the head shots didn't hurt, then she hit the ear twice. I then punched the windshield. It shattered and looked like a cob web 15 inches in diameter.
Things got quiet. Really quiet. I dropped her off, went inside. Thirty minutes passed and we were both over it, laughing manically at the dysfunctional scene that other drivers must have noticed on the highway. I thought I was in the clear. My wife didn't talk to me for two days. I slept in the guest bedroom. I had to take her shopping twice and replace the windshield.
The following Monday, I had a knot on my head, swollen ear, and a lacerated foot. Smashing the glass felt great though, much cheaper than therapy.
— Ol' Ralph, Woodville, Alabama
2. When I was a senior in college, the girl I was dating was a bit of a hippie. She grew up in an affluent, conservative family, and this was her way of rebelling. And I can only guess that part of this rebellion had been dating less-than-desireable guys. So when she brought me home to visit her family for the first time, it was sort of a big deal, as I would the first guy she had dated who her family generally approved of at least until an hour after my visit started.
Her dad was a Lutheran minister. Her mom was the church secretary. Like I said, these were very conservative people.
The first hour of the visit was fine. I minded my P's and Q's and made polite small talk. My attention then switched to making nice with my girlfriend's two younger brothers, who were both in high school. And the easiest way to bond with a girlfriend's brothers is, of course, video games.
So I match up with the elder of her brothers on NBA Courtside 2 featuring Kobe Bryant on the Nintendo 64. Being a 21-year-old gaming veteran, I figured I would wipe the floor with this kid. I soon found out I was very wrong. We engaged in what would have been an instant ESPN Classis game, a back and forth affair with multiple lead changes and ties. I was down late, but hit a go ahead three with five seconds left. By this point, there was trash talk. Good natured, of course, but I slipped in some cursing to show these teenagers how cool I was.
What I wasn't prepared for was him hitting a half court shot to win the game.
I dropped the controller in disgust and muttered probably the worst thing you can say in the home of a minister who's daughter you happen to be sleeping with: "SWEET F***ING CHRIST."
Her brothers instantly freeze, as her dad had just walked into the room and was standing right behind me.
Needless to say, my stock dropped quite fast and I was not welcomed back into that home again.
1. So somehow during my junior year of college I began dating a girl (Let's call her W) that lived in West Virginia (story is too long/random to tell) and I lived in Texas. Needless to say, we didn't get to see each other much. When I flew up to WV for the first time, I barely met her parents, as we were still in the feeling out stage. She then flew to Texas to see me and we became quite serious, but by the slip of her tongue she was caught in a lie that she was staying with her girlfriend in Texas. So by the time I went back to West Virginia, I was already in the hole.
After meeting the whole family (It was two days after Christmas, and they had waited to do their celebration until I arrived) we began playing a game (I forgot the name) where one person pulls a card with a question on it, then everyone at the table writes an answer down and the person who drew the card must pick who answered what. As an example, we can use the second most awkward moment, when W's sister picked a question saying “What is the most attractive part of the person to my left? (me).” So then W, her three sisters, mom, and dad all had to say what was most attractive about me.
So the game is going along, and I'm starting to gain more brownie points as I stick my nose as far up her dad's ass as I can. Then a question comes up something along the lines of: “If you are in an airplane, and it is going to crash, of all people in history, who do you want sitting next to you?” I forgot to mention that W's family is EXTREMELY religious and I am quite the opposite.
So I absent-mindedly fill out my answer, as I have answered this question before, and I'm acting like I'm interested in W's Dad's boring story. Then he reads the answers: Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, Hussein, (some murderer at the time, can't think of who) and my answer Dwyane Wade. I am the biggest Mavericks' fan you will ever find, so naturally the person I wanted to see die at that time the most was Dwyane Wade.
I thought it was hilarious W and her family, not so much. I then got lectured for about 30 minutes about how life is a valuable thing and the only ones who should not have it are the ones that take lives themselves (hypocritical I know, but I kept listening because this guy already knew that I had deflowered his youngest daughter and he was a hick West Virginian, sure to have a gun). They kept saying that I needed God's presence in my life.
Needless to say, the family became even less fans of me, as well as W herself. We didn't last that much longer after that, but thank Dirk (my deity) that I moved on to a girlfriend whose family plays poker every night and cusses like sailors as we get hammered.
— Dirk Is My Homeboy, Texas
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