Ah, Thanksgiving, the holiday inspired by the occasion upon which the pilgrims and Native Americans ostensibly broke bread together and gave thanks for all the disease, death and destruction the white man was about to bring to the New World.
This got us thinking about all the times someone promised to do something but screwed us over instead (THANKS FOR LEAVING ME STRANDED AT THE AIRPORT AFTER OFFERING A RIDE, DAVE), or gave us a gift that ended up being tons of work (I DO NOT UNDERSTAND BONSAI TREE MAINTENANCE, AUNT KATHY) — or some other attempted kindness that just made us think, well, thanks for nothing.
As it turns out, the MEL staff is well-acquainted with being fucked over.
Miles Klee, Contributing Writer: In seventh grade, I had a massive crush on a girl named Madeline but knew she’d say no if I asked her out — so I didn’t. My friends teased me about it mercilessly, and finally, on a long bus ride for a class field trip, they started chanting “Ask her out! Ask her out!” Within a few minutes, the entire bus was doing it.
I tried to pretend it wasn’t happening. Then one of Madeline’s friends came and sat next to me, asking what the chant was about. Like a complete idiot, I confessed that my buddies were trying to shame me into making a move on Madeline. She got right up and went to inform her clique before coming back to relay Madeline’s message: “She thinks it’s better if you stay friends.”
The chanting died out awkwardly, and I got to spend the entire field trip pretending my heart hadn’t just been shredded for everyone’s travel entertainment. When we returned to school later that afternoon, Madeline’s mom was there and said my mom had asked her to give me a ride home, so I got to spend another 10 minutes alone in the backseat sharing a horrible silence with my unrequited crush.
A big “fuck you” to my boys for that one.
Nick Leftley, Senior Editor: At some point in my mid-teens, I went to a mate’s house to get high. We were very into our homemade bongs — one memorable creation consisted of two three-liter soda bottles connected to an army surplus gas mask — and he’d made the usual elaborate contraption that night. I wrapped my lips around it, took a huge pull and… “BLAFWAAGRAHURKKURPPHHFFFFBLMEUURGH” is a rough approximation of what I believe I said.
Something seemed very, very wrong. It tasted weird. My lungs felt like melting rubber. “What — HA-KURRFF — what did you — HA-KREUGHHH — what did you do??”
My friend looked on in excited anticipation. “Well, I know you like whiskey,” he began, as my world filled with horror, “So I replaced the water with a bottle of Jack Daniels.”
To this day I have no idea if this really had any effect on the potency of the weed, but I do know that I spent the next two hours lying under a bush in his garden, begging the small blossoms that grew on it to help me stop the world from spinning.
Thanks a fucking bunch, dude.
Serena Golden, Managing Editor: I grew up in a small town in rural Northern California, and there wasn’t a lot for teenagers to do there. In the time-honored tradition of bored teens everywhere, my older sister and I spent a lot of time sitting around smoking and drinking with her dirtbag friends. (Also in the tradition of bored teens, they weren’t nearly as bad as they thought they were, but they were still exactly who our mother wouldn’t have wanted us to be spending time with.) One evening we were at a party in the apartment of a guy called Pedophile Mike, in a building affectionately known as the Felony Inn. (My sister now reassures me that Pedophile Mike wasn’t actually a pedophile; all I remember about him is that he had a rubber vagina in a drawer in his apartment and everyone referred to it as Magic the Gathering.)
I wanted a smoke but didn’t have a light, so I borrowed a lighter from this kid named Jacob, who everybody called Johnny Hardcore. What I didn’t know about Johnny — although perhaps I should’ve guessed — was that he enjoyed modifying his lighters such that they functioned more like little flamethrowers. When I flicked the lighter at the tip of my cigarette, it instantly sent up a vast column of flame, engulfing my cigarette and taking most of my eyelashes and eyebrows with it. I’m lucky I kept my face.
Thanks for nothing, Johnny Hardcore.
C. Brian Smith, Staff Writer: I was arrested for underage gambling the week after I graduated from high school. I was up more than $500 on the blackjack table when I saw my two friends get escorted out of the casino by security. One of them waved and shouted across the room, “Hey Bri! We got busted!!” A tap on my shoulder came within seconds. Because of my hefty winnings, however, I was taken to the basement to speak with the head of security, who remarked that my friends weren’t so bright. He escorted me to my car, where they’d left a note on my windshield. He read it aloud: “Bri. Got busted. At the titty bar across the street.” Then he went across the street and busted them all over again.
Tierney Finster, Contributing Writer: I had my first fat check from Jamba Juice and was ready to spoil my mom on her birthday. As I boarded the train, my friend offered to hold my bags for me. Why? I don’t know. She was, and is, equally as maternal as she is erratic, so it didn’t seem strange for her to offer a hand in this way, but she probably just wanted to spritz herself with the $100+ bottle of perfume I just purchased for my mom at Sephora.
The train was crowded so we sat separately, and once we reached our stop, she bolted toward the main road and waited for me there. The only problem is, the cops were waiting to check that we had all purchased tickets and mine was in my bag. I got a big ticket for riding illegally and had to go to juvenile court, a tough blow for a type-A honors student.
This friend is still my friend, but she still does stupid shit all the time that’s well-intentioned but ends up fucking me over. I use this example because it’s the one she’ll probably remember the least if she reads this.
Andrew Fiouzi, Assistant Editor: A few years ago, when I was temporarily living at home, my aunt asked if I wanted to house-sit for her while she went away for a few weeks. Of course, I accepted. And so there I was, back on my own, living in a lovely little house in the suburbs… Until the following morning when at the crack of dawn, they began construction on the neighbor’s house. For five days, I hardly slept. Sure, I was on my own, but I was also losing my mind.
Tracy Moore, Staff Writer: Beware the free concert ticket. There’s no way to say this without sounding like the jerkiest of jerks, but every time someone would give me a “free” ticket to a show, it quickly became apparent that it was never free, but rather an obligation to spend twice the money for a show you didn’t want to go to that badly in the first place.
It sounds amazing on its face: Someone picked up a ticket for you, on them, and all they want is your company. No, no, they insist, no need to pay for it, their treat! Even if it sounds like a cool show, you probably would’ve never gone on your own. But now they’ve done this nice thing for you. Sure, you think, I’ll go, trying to rally enthusiasm for a show that probably will be good but that you didn’t really want to attend in the first place. But that’s not how free tickets really work. Any decent person will feel obligated to make up for the cost of the ticket somehow.
Once a friend gave me a “free” ticket to Guns N’ Roses. Awesome, who wouldn’t want to see that show?
“You sure I can’t just pay for it?” I asked.
“Nah, just pick up some drinks for me,” the free-ticket broker responded.
Okay. First, we go to dinner, and as the check comes, it’s clear the friend thinks I should get it. Cool, I’ll get it. After all, they bought the ticket, amount undisclosed. The least I can do is get dinner and the pre-show drinks. Next, at the show, it’s clear I’m supposed to grab the first drink, too. Hmm, okay well, I have no idea how much I’m supposed to cover to make up for this ticket that you keep acting like was no big deal, but sounds good. It’s a beer and a shot, stadium prices. Then, as each set of boilermakers is consumed, and it’s time for another round, the friend just keeps asking for another, either explicitly or by just hanging back when the bartender says how much it’ll be. By the end of the night, I’ve spent easily double the ticket cost — whatever that was? — to make up for the ticket I didn’t really want. Remember: I also had to buy all my own drinks!
Yes, it sounds like a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode, and I accept your condemnation. But here’s the thing: A true gift should have no strings. Gifts that do aren’t gifts; they’re negotiations. Now I’ve learned that I should either never take the ticket, or simply demand to pay its exact cost up front so I don’t get roped into a free-for-all.
Jeff Gross, Social Media Editor: In college, I came into a little bit of money. My best friend was growing weed out of his apartment in Daly City, CA, and had been raking it in. He had a friend who he said was a “great dude” who was looking for someone to invest in a new grow op, for the tidy sum of $7,000. I had the money and had never heard of anyone fucking up growing weed. I met him for coffee and let him pitch me why this was a foolproof operation; why I could expect to double, if not triple, my money; and how he had everything figured out. I went to the bank, pulled out seven grand in cash and handed it over to him.
Needless to say, he absconded with all of my money. I had no recourse, really: I wasn’t going to the cops, I wasn’t going to beat him up. I was fucked. Obviously this was more my fault for thinking this kid was a sound investment, but damn if that one didn’t sting for a while.