The words hung there for a moment, a single exclamation hurled out with impunity, meant in jest. I thought nothing of it, since who hasn’t said much worse playing video games, even in mixed company. But you should know your audience, and in this case I was mistaken in mine.
The day started as normal as any other, with no indication of the events to come. My friend, let’s call her Cassandra*, invited me to come hang out with her and her brother, call him Chris, another friend of mine. So, that night I did, and we just had a few beers and caught up. When their parents came home, we continued as they joined us in a couple more drinks.
Then Cassandra had the brilliant idea that we play some Mario Kart 64, member of the pantheon of classic social drinking activities. All five of us went downstairs, and we fired up the game, with their mom playing and their dad spectating. Several rounds ensued, as beer and conversation flowed in equal measure, and a great time was had by all. As you might expect, there was plenty of trash talk, though good natured. At least at first.
After a few hotly contested races, with wins by all four of us, we were mid race and I was winning handily. The final lap is underway, when the sound of an item box was struck. Cassandra announced the contents “Uh oh Al, Blue Shell.” Obviously, I wasn’t happy, as they were finally starting to gain on me. I responded “Don’t you fucking do it”. The room is all chuckling now, the crowd arrayed against the soon to be winner.
As I near the finish line, I hear the patented whoosh of the dreaded blue shell. Her crosshairs firmly locked on me, she lets fly her unavoidable weapon. With azure destruction blazing in pursuit, I race to the finish frantically. Predictably, it hits me just short of the line, as I tumble in what seems like the slowest of slow motions. Overcome with the absurdity of it all (and I’ll admit the after effects of a few beers drained as well), half laughing, I yell at Cassandra “You Bitch!” I barely right myself in time to cross the finish line, retaining my position in the lead, and I chuckle at the whole situation. It’s only in the fraction of a second after that I realize a pall of silence, broken only by me and the cartoonish music from the screen, has descended.
The hair raised on my arms, in the manner you experience when a brutal storm is rolling in. I turn, a prickling discomfort creeping up the back of my neck, as I sense my impending doom. A solitary laugh comes from their dad in the back of the room, followed immediately by a gasp from Cassandra. Confusion rising within, I look to Cassandra, and as my view swings around, I lock eyes with a shocked Chris. It is their mom, however, who makes things clear as crystal. With the authority of fate itself, she says the words, each hitting with the weight of an anvil “Tell me how you really feel about me, Al.”
A pin drop would have sounded like a nuclear bomb detonating. I was shell shocked, staring at her in horror, processing. A leaden feeling settles into the pit of my stomach, as only now do I realize my grave error. I stammer an apology, nearly incoherent, the remaining family members looking on bemused and unsure of what is to come next. After what seemed an eternity, and an apology from me in what I am sure amounted to a language utterly unrecognizable from English, Cassandra and Chris’s mom finally responded.
“That was hysterical.”
The room erupts in raucous laughter, as the intense desire to die of toxic shame is finally, mercifully replaced with relief. The .50 caliber bullet I just dodged basically took a chunk of ear on the way by. After we all finally caught our breath, their mom reaffirmed her awesome status, totally going along with the joke. In fact, to this day, she still refers to herself when we talk as “Your favorite bitch.”
*All names have been changed to protect the anonymity of the other subjects in the story. However, some readers will be able to figure out who I am talking about, because only one person would choose “Cassandra” as her alter ego.