Sometimes your friends are just weirdos in disguise, and these Redditors learned that the hard way. During visits to their friends' humble abodes, they saw beyond the veil—and couldn't believe their eyes. From hoarders to nudists, and everything in between, you never truly know anyone until you investigate their most private spaces.
When I was probably about 11, a friend had a big sleepover for our friend group of about 12-15 guys. We were mostly jock/preppy, affluent future frat boys. The kid hosting had recently become the stepson of a chiropractor.. Everyone started arriving and hung out looking at their big house and making plans for the night.
Our host assured us that we could do whatever we wanted because his mom and stepdad were out on a nighttime bicycle ride for the night. Nope. That's not what was going down at all. The parents came out in full-blown BDSM gear. His stepdad didn't have the head part fully zipped up, and he was leading his mom by a leash.
This was all in plain view. He said a few kind words instructing us to behave for the night and then led mom to the car and drove away. After a moment of stunned silence, we then had a big group argument about what we just saw. The host, who thought this was perfectly normal, assured us that it was just a biking thing.
We didn't know everything, but we knew enough to know it wasn’t that. But a half-hour later, it was behind us, and we proceeded with normal tween boy stuff running around outside in the woods and yard.
When I was 10, I was at my friend’s house with a few other girls our age. We stayed up late watching TV. At one point, my friend’s mom came downstairs and told her that she finished clipping her nails. She then gave my friend the clipping from her big toe. My friend then put that in her mouth and started chewing on it.
When we asked her about it, she just stated, “It’s good,” and acted like it was nothing out of the ordinary.
Our neighbor had venomous snakes in his house when I was a kid. It was a lot of snakes in buckets, in cages, all over the place, and there were other critters like squirrels as well. He invited us over to show off what he'd caught in the woods. My dad seemed to think it was cool, so I didn't realize how strange it was.
One time when my dad was at work and just my mom was home, my neighbor came over in a panic. He'd been bitten in the arm by a diamondback rattlesnake. We all got in the car, and she drove him to the hospital. I will never forget being in the waiting room. It was like a movie. My mom was upset when the doctor came out.
And, for some reason, the first thing he said was that there was nothing they could do for him. My mom lost it and started freaking out. But then the doctor explained that since he'd been bitten so many times in the past, his body had natural anti-venoms, and they wouldn't need to do anything for him. He was just fine.
I had a friend whose amputee grandpa demanded to watch everyone in the bathroom when they went. He had a mirror just to look in there. When I didn’t fall for that, they put shampoo in my hair so I’d have to take a shower. My friend thought nothing of it, but I ran to find the phone so fast to call my mom to pick me up.
I had a sleepover in high school, and one friend went to the kitchen in the middle of the night. She saw my dad wasted only in his underwear and a stained shirt on his knees in front of the fridge drinking mustard from the bottle. The rumors spread, and I was more confused because I thought everyone’s dad did the same.
In 9th grade, the mom of a person from my friend group called my mom. My mom didn’t know how to describe their invitation and ended up saying it was a playdate when she called out to me. She asked me if I wanted to go over on the weekend. I agreed even though it seemed a little weird, but he was nice just probably shy.
On Saturday, I biked over there, and my friend’s mom answered the door. She seemed surprised that I got there on my own. So, I went upstairs to his room and asked what he wanted to do. He opened up his toy chest full of well-loved plushies and action figures and asked if I wanted to play with them. It was a little odd. Weren't we a little old to be playing with toys?
Still, I wasn’t going to knock a little nostalgic make-believe time, so I told him okay and asked how he wanted to play. He said, “We make them fight!” I sat on this 14-year-old’s bed, holding out toys for him to bonk other toys against them and make “pow” noises for three hours. I kept suggesting we do something else.
But over and over, he just said, “Just wait ‘til after we make THESE guys fight!” I did not go over there again. I told my parents it felt like one of my babysitting gigs. He was fine at school, though. So, we just kept it to that.
My friend’s single mom worked multiple jobs and wasn’t wearing her shirt while she barked a chores list as we sat around the coffee table doing homework. My friend didn't even bat an eyelash, but the minute she noticed a new face sitting on the rug boring a hole on a distant wall to avert her eyes, her face turned pale.
She ducked out of the room, threw on her bra and work shirt, and brought out a carton of cookies from a secret stash. She was pretty much shocked into silence. I think she was terrified that I'd tell my parents, but all we cared about was cookies.
I hadn’t been to my friend’s house before when she asked me to come over, so I accepted. We were in her living room watching TV when she took a sip of water from her cup. A funny commercial came on and made her choke on her water. When she stopped coughing, I watched her spit straight onto the carpet. I didn't go back.
When I was in high school, a friend asked me and two other friends to his house for dinner. His mom served homemade bean soup, which was very good. When we were almost done, she brought out a chocolate cake for dessert. She cut each of us a slice and then plopped it into our bowls, where we all still had an inch of soup.
My friends and I all exchanged puzzled glances. The family, however, dug right in. So, we learned that chocolate cake soaked in bean soup was an ordinary dessert in their house.
We were at my aunt's house for a birthday party. When it was time for cake and ice cream, my cousin’s boyfriend only wanted ice cream. He walked over to the table, popped the top off the carton, grabbed some ice cream with his bare hands, and was walking around dripping all over the place like it was completely normal.
I helped a buddy pull an engine, load it, then move it from his truck into his garage. His garage smelled awful. I happened to slip and fall when I noticed something terrifying. His garage was essentially his basement, on dirt, with no concrete or anything. His main sewage pipes were suspended under the house by twine.
There was a large hole dug in the ground and one pipe went straight into the hole that ended about 3 feet down. I asked him about it. He said he had bought it like that. The house was built before sewers, and there was no septic tank either. The previous owner had dug a tunnel under the house leading to a storm drain.
How this passed inspection is beyond me. It did explain the big hole around the pipe. He told me how it’d get clogged up with toilet paper, which they then had to dig out with shovels.
One of the first times I met my husband's family, my husband gestured for me to sit down. Their house was very cluttered—not hoarder cluttered, but close. They had two couches that faced each other and some other chairs. Not knowing the “rules,” I sat on one of the couches that had a lot of stuffed teddy bears on it. Absolute chaos ensued.
You would’ve thought that I had sat down on actual live bears. My husband's mother and twin brother both visibly reacted as if I had damaged the 30 or so unremarkable stuffed bears. That was when I was told that the couch was for the bears, and only for the bears, and that no one was allowed to sit on the bears' couch.
The bears all had little beaded necklaces with their names on them to tell them apart because they were all the same brand and style.
When I was visiting a friend in junior high, I took two slices of cheese on top of my bread. His mother literally grabbed my bread from my hand, removed the other cheese slice, and put it back in the box. I didn't say anything—just moderated my sandwich. Then later, they let their Great Dane go to town on their feet.
I had a friend in high school whose mother was from Jamaica. His family annually did a colon cleanse together. I think it was a custom from his mom's culture. They’d literally take medicine to make themselves poop their brains out for a day or two every year. The best part of it all was that they only had one bathroom.
When I was a kid, the neighbor’s TV was always at 75 percent volume or higher. Once, I was playing with the neighbor and went inside to use the washroom. They were sitting in the living room screaming at each other over the TV that was on blast. I had heard them before, but watching them was a whole different experience.
I went over to my ex's parent's house while I was getting to know him. His parents lived in a gated golf course community. I made him dinner and realized that they didn't have any trash cans inside the house. There was a small recycling bin in the pantry and two giant trash cans in the garage. So, I asked him about it.
He fetched a grocery bag from the pantry, collected the garbage, and threw it outside. There were also no trash cans in their bathrooms, so I was really glad I never went over there on my period. He said it kept things "more sanitary," but all I could think of was the hassle to go to the garage to throw something away.
Five fire alarms in their house were all low battery. That meant that every 10 minutes, there were a high-pitched series of beeps. No one thought to replace the batteries. They just got used to the beeps going off randomly. Sometimes all of the alarms went off at once. How do you live or even sleep with that happening?
When I went to one girl’s house for a sleepover, her mom was obsessively taking photos of us all night. At one point, we were watching a movie when my friend fell asleep on the couch. Her mom pulled out a huge newscast-type heavy-duty camera and started recording her daughter sleeping for several uncomfortable minutes.
I have trouble sleeping. So, that night when it was time for bed, I laid on the floor just staring at the wall in the dark. I was facing away from the door laying on my side when I heard the door creak. Then I heard footsteps. Suddenly, a flash lit the darkroom like the sun. I got up just in time to see the door close.
I knew it was her mom taking pictures of us. The weirdest part to me is that it was about three in the morning when it happened. That meant the girl's mom either had an alarm set or just stayed up that late to wait for us to fall asleep to take more pictures.
I slept over at a friend’s when I was around 10. She was the only girl in her family and had five brothers aged four to 15. Everything about my friend’s room was normal. But her brothers’ room was bizarre. They shared one huge room with three bunk beds. Each mattress had a fitted sheet, a pillow, and absolutely nothing else.
No top sheets, no blankets, no comforters. They didn’t even wear pajamas. They just slept in the clothes that they had worn that day with their shirts tucked into their pants with belts on too. Their room didn’t have a door, and neither did their connected bathroom or their closets. They were fundamentalist Christians.
The boys’ setup was meant to prevent them from touching themselves.
Back in high school, I was chilling with some friends. There was one who I only met twice because he was more a friend of a friend. We were getting stoned but ran out, so the friend who I didn't know said we could go to his house and take from his dad's stash. We agreed and so went over. Nothing could’ve prepared me for what I saw.
As soon as I walked in, I saw a pig just lying in the living room. It was a full-size hog, not a cute miniature one. That wasn’t the last surprise, though. We went upstairs and started rolling, and then a goat walked in.
My godmother was a first-generation immigrant and ran quite a successful daycare out of her home in the 90s. My two younger brothers and I spent a lot of time at her home, and I was usually the oldest child there. I was eight when I started making her favorite drink for her. She drank them all day running her home daycare.
At eight, I knew how to mix drinks, that forks were better for stirring than spoons, and that the big plastic bottles were of low quality. This went on daily for years until my family moved. My godmother ran her daycare until the end of her life. Now, as a father, I’m trying to figure out how anyone let her have a daycare.
When I was 10, a new kid moved into our town and started at our school. I always tried being nice to new kids because I moved and changed schools a lot and knew how hard it was. We became friends, and he had me over for a sleepover—but it got creepy real fast. At his house, he showed me his inappropriate Polaroid picture of his mother with a dog.
A family friend's dog had died. I was over a few days later to play basketball and saw that the dog was laying in its usual spot near the TV in the living room. I made a comment on how I thought that he’d passed, and my friend confirmed it. They were waiting for his sister to get back home from college to bury the dog.
They just left their emaciated old chihuahua there. It wasn’t like a gassy, swollen, stinking mess. It was more like a tiny little dog mummy all dried out, but still, who does that?
My friend had nine siblings. Whenever I was there for dinner, he always told me that I had to "protect my food." He literally covered his plate by surrounding it with his arms. His brothers kept taking food from the younger ones, and their parents didn't do anything to stop them. It was just what happened during meals.
I had the weird family who made our guest feel uncomfortable. I was about 12 and had a huge zit on my bum that was incredibly painful and deep under the skin. I couldn't pop it no matter how hard I tried and, in my extreme pain sitting down, asked my dad to pop it. He agreed, and I dropped my pants and then bent over.
My dad then put on gloves to do the deed. In the middle of all this, my younger sister's friend walked in without a sound as we were behind a wall that connects the hall sector to the living room. She gasped and just walked out of the room.
I invited a few people over for my 10th birthday party. The plan was to have a sleepover and play video games and board games. It sounded great to my nerdy friends and me. On the day of the party, my friend Mark got off the school bus with me. We went inside and saw there wasn’t any pizza or cake waiting in the fridge.
I asked my dad who started screaming about how my mom was supposed to get everything on her way from work. He told me that she wasn't going to be home until seven at the earliest even though my friends were arriving at four. After we left the room, Mark asked if it was normal for him to be that angry when he forgot something.
I shrugged. When the rest of my friends showed up, I offered them fruit snacks and said that the pizza would be coming around 7:30. So, we're playing games and taking turns when Jon asked if my parents were home so he could meet them. I told him that my dad's home but sleeping as he got up early to take his “medicine.”
Then I said that my mom was coming home after seven. This white lie worked well enough, so we kept playing. My mom finally got home at eight, but she only brought disappointment. No pizza or cake. I greeted her when she came into the living room, and she asked if we had any food yet. I told her that my dad told us that she was supposed to be getting the food.
She asked where he was, and I pointed her to the bedroom. She excused herself and went in the room. It wasn’t long before we heard my parents arguing and screaming at each other. I was unfazed but noticed that my friends were uncomfortable. It was then that I realized that what was going on wasn't normal. I felt awful.
I said that my parents were probably going to be arguing most of the night and that I’d understand if they wanted to go home. They all wanted to go home. So, I went with each of my friends to the phone for them to call to get picked up. They called their parents one by one, but I had to talk to Frank's parents for him.
He was too shaken by what was going on. Soon, all the parents arrived and picked up my friends. Mark was the last to be picked up and asked if I wanted to hang out at his place for the night. I told him that if my parents found out I left without telling them or leaving them a note saying where, they'd be even angrier.
I told him that I couldn't leave a note saying where I was going because I didn't want to have his parents dragged into it. We hugged, and he left. My parents finished screaming at each other by 11 when my dad left shouting that he was going to his buddy’s place for the weekend.
I was reading a book in the living room. My mom walked in and saw that everything was put away and all my friends were gone. She asked me where they went. I'll never forget the pain in her eyes when I said they called their parents and went home already. I thought it was normal and everyone’s parents argued endlessly. I just thought parents were always angry.
I was 17 and went over to my new girlfriend’s house for the first time to have dinner and meet the parents. There was a chicken on the dining room table. A real live mother clucking chicken. My girlfriend made introductions, the parents were great, everything was completely normal, we passed rolls and praised the Lord—except for one thing.
Nobody acknowledged the chicken at all. The whole time Eggbert was walking around on the table, pecking at stuff, making chicken sounds, and looking at me like I was the dummy. I was afraid to look this bird in the eye. To this day, I’m still confused.
I spent a summer in Sweden once visiting a friend. One weekend, we stayed at his sister's house. She and her fiancé lived deep in the woods. When I first came in, I noticed that they had a small stack of round, empty butter containers in each room. And when I asked about them, their response was chilling: "Oh, those are for the snakes."
Their cats brought in live snakes and then dropped them randomly in the house. The snakes were small, harmless, and usually desperate for a way back outside. So, during the day, when they saw a snake, they picked it up and took it out. It was easier at night to cover it with a container and deal with it in the morning.
I was sitting at my friend’s dining table for lunch. When we were eating, the house phone rang. In an instant, everyone, including the mom and dad, dropped to the floor around me. I was the only one left sitting at the table bewildered. The dad informed me that I now had to answer their phone, “Hello, Johnson's house."
Then I held the phone out to the dad and told him that it was for him. Everyone laughed, and I was still really uncomfortable. The next time that phone rang, I was the fastest to the floor. They were such a fun-loving family. I loved going around there!
I babysat these kids who always asked for a "cool cup." I had no clue what it was. They asked for them constantly but were too little to really describe them enough for me to understand. I mentioned it to the mom in passing one time, and she started laughing. She cut the tops off of bell peppers and took out the seeds.
Then she filled the peppers with tap water. The kids went nuts over them like there were the best treats ever. It was really weird to me that drinking water out of bell peppers was a thing to beg for on the regular.
I was at my friend's house after a high school exam. When I came in, his dad and step-dad were playing a board game—but his mom was a whole other story: She was busy making out with some random dude on the couch. She gave us $20 to get pizza and come back. I don't know what was weirder, my friend incredulous because it wasn’t his dad’s week with him.
Or if it was when we got back, and his dad and make-out guy were gone with the table all set up for pizza. Weirder still, his step-dad and mom acted like it was just a normal Wednesday.
I had a friend whose family was into trophy hunting. I didn’t know until I went for a sleepover. There were animal heads everywhere, but the weirdest part was that she didn’t have sheets on her bed, just animal fur. She slept with nothing on and thought it was normal. I faked a stomach ache and called my mom to get me.
I grew up as a Jehovah's Witness, and my mom pushed me to be friends with people within the religion. One girl was only allowed to speak to people within the religion, so she was homeschooled. She was only allowed to watch one movie or one TV show a day rated G-PG with approval. The three of us, aged 16, were only permitted to watch cartoons.
Then her parents made us go to bed at 7:30. It was summer break. She also wasn't allowed to have any posters on her wall as that was viewed as idol worship. Her parents came in to "approve" our prayers for the night. I left feeling really bad for her.
I was on a date with a guy who was cooking dinner for me, and his dog took a huge leak in the living room. Shocked and panicked, I jumped up trying to his attention. The guy didn't even look up when he told me, "Oh yeah, she does that sometimes," and that was it. I asked him if there was anything for me to clean it up.
He just shrugged me off and then said, "I'll just throw some cleaning spray on it after dinner." My jaw literally dropped. I suddenly realized the musty smell that I noticed earlier wasn't from his cool and rustic cabin being under a canopy of trees or that the floor in the same location bowed when you stepped over it wasn’t because it was old.
I had to eat dinner at a table that was a couple of feet away from the dog toilet. I left and never saw him again. So gross.
Years ago, I visited a friend who lived in a bad neighborhood near the city. Upon entering, I passed the kitchen. I saw all four burners on the gas stove were on full blast with nothing on them. There was no vent, and the ceiling had a big burn hole all the way through to the second floor where his mom was in her room.
Her room was the farthest from the kitchen, and she was watching TV on full blast. I realized that the gas stove was the centralized heater for the whole house. I’m a certified fire safety director now. This almost gives me a heart attack just thinking about it.
Three of us went to one friend’s house to play a new video game. As it got later, it turned into a sleepover. So, we woke up to his parents poking their heads in the door telling us that breakfast would be ready soon. We were excited to eat and went to the kitchen where they're serving up some extra eggs and sausage...literally. What I saw haunts me to this day.
I had never seen an adult without any clothes on before, and our friend was totally unfazed by it. He just ate and talked to us like it was the most normal thing ever. We felt really awkward and left as soon as we could.
I was hanging out with this girl at her big, lovely house, which she shared with some roommates. Her one roommate was apparently obsessed with the actress Jennifer Garner. So, above the fireplace on the mantle was this really strange shrine to Jennifer Garner. This included a giant, at least five feet, poster of Jennifer.
Tons of candles, small pictures, autographs, and trinkets covered the mantle. I don’t think it was anything that weird, but who is praying to Jennifer Garner every day?
I went to this girl's house in school because I felt bad that she was getting bullied at school. I think she may have had a learning disability. She was nice but just sometimes said really uncomfortable things for an 11-year-old. She had a three-year-old brother, and I saw her mom reading a parenting book when I went over.
Then she started screaming at the toddler for not vacuuming his room while referencing the book. I was so confused; did she really expect a toddler to vacuum his room? To be fair, he did end up doing it, but my mind was blown. Their family had a really weird dynamic.
When I was seven, I went over to play with a new friend, and she asked if I wanted a snack. I said yes, and we went into their playroom where there was a mini-fridge. Inside was just stacked with candy, full bars of everything, and she casually tossed me a full pack of chocolate. Now, the house was a manufactured home.
It wasn’t a trailer perse, but definitely not very fancy either. I marveled at all of that candy and the fact that she and her siblings had free access at such young ages. And she was surprised at my shock and asked about our snack fridge. I told her we didn’t have one. Then it was her turn to be absolutely gobsmacked.
My childhood best friend lived with his grandparents. His grandfather was a clockmaker and restored old ones. All of the walls in their large two-story house were covered in old, restored grandfather and cuckoo clocks. Each had a sticker with a number so he could keep track of them, and the highest number was over 700!
About 25% of them were wound, so every hour you were treated to a symphony of clocks that you couldn’t get anywhere else.
I was staying at a friend’s house when I was 10. We were up late, playing games and just talking. In the middle of the night, his dad came in frantic. He told us that he heard someone breaking in upstairs and we needed to leave immediately. We got out of the house, and he told the neighbor that they needed to leave too.
The neighbor looked extremely worried and pulled her phone out. We drove around, and he picked up some food for us to eat. Eventually, an ambulance came along with the neighbor. There was no break-in. His father was a schizophrenic and having an episode. Obviously, we know now, but back then, we genuinely believed him.
When I first went to a boyfriend’s house for dinner, I noticed that there was an extra setting on the table. I was confused since everyone was already accounted for and just thought someone else was coming last minute. Nope. We all sat down, and the dog joined us sitting in his own chair. He always ate with the people.
I had a friend who lived in a third-floor apartment. Instead of taking his dog out for a walk, he hoisted him over the balcony on a leash to lower and then hoist him back up. His dog had a custom body harness and loved every bit of it. Sometimes he gave a good swing, and the dog would spread his legs out like Superman.
And yes, the dog waited by the balcony door when he had to go. He also had a pet robin. He nursed it back to health after finding it injured. He let it go to the woods behind his apartment. For months, the bird came back when he summoned it with a distinct whistle to feed it mealworms. It was his go-to move with dates.
Growing up in rural East England, I had a friend who lived on a working farm. They had a classic big English farmhouse. It was a lovely old place with no flat floors or straight walls anywhere. Downstairs had an interesting layout with a room that was almost hidden away. It was easily missed at first glance of the room.
I only ever went in this room once in the many years of being friends and going over often. It was the "Christmas room" with decorations up all year round. Over the year, they bought presents then wrapped them. Then they left them in the room until Christmas. It’s cool because everyone forgets what they bought by then.
Once, my friend came over and had a totally blackened toenail after getting stepped on. My dad, a doctor, told him that it was just some blood underneath the toenail. He could relieve it by puncturing a hole to let the blood flow out. My friend agreed, so my dad got out his tiny drill and sterilized the tiny drill bit.
After he drilled the hole, blood shot into the air. My friend and I were screaming and laughing the entire time. It worked; he was instantly relieved of his pain. That was when he asked us if that was a normal occurrence in the house. I said that my dad was the usual go-to for medical help, but this time took the cake.
I had a friend with a big family. There were six kids who all had names that started with an S. Everyone was very kind, and the father was Mr. Fun-Loving BBQ Dad almost to an extreme degree. He was a “keeps his drinks on his hat” kind of guy, not in a reckless way but more in an “80s cool ready to party guy” kind of way.
He also made a different giant display every year with custom-made masked figures stuffed with hay for Halloween. He’d get 20 guys to creep around his lawn, house, and roof, then play neighborhood street football games with them. Once, my friend and I were standing around his driveway figuring out what we wanted to do.
His dad came up and handed me, a 12-year-old, a big novelty plastic cup brimmed with soda and ice. I neither asked for nor wanted it, but I said thank you, took a sip, and put it down. And that's when it got weird. My friend’s dad shook his head and then “corrected” me. He handed the cup to my friend who took a sip and passed it back to his father.
He then took a sip and passed it back to me. We stood there drinking the giant, unsolicited soda for 10 minutes, one sip at a time. It wasn’t harmful in any kind of way, but I’ve been thinking of how weird that seemed to me for 20+ years.
I had a friend when I was 14 whose family didn’t talk at all when they ate dinner. The first time I ate with them, I tried to make conversation. That was when the mom gave me a mean glare and shook her head. After dinner was done, everyone just went back to doing whatever. I remember wondering why anyone would do that.
I had a friend in school who's parents had a very eclectic decorating design around the house. They'd been all over the world on trips and collected many cool unique pieces. Part of the collection included fighting instruments from different cultures. Well, being two 13-year-old boys, we decided to start a sword fight.
Of course, we were too loud, and eventually, his dad came caught us. But rather than be mad and yell that we were messing up the blades, he instead grabbed a long sword off the wall and just started swinging at us. We spent the next 30 minutes running around the house and deflecting blows from a grown man with a sword.
I had a friend who was rich, and the whole family had king-sized beds. One of the silliest things that I've ever seen was my friend's little three-year-old brother going to bed. A king-sized frame is made for adults obviously, so it took him like five minutes just to get into bed. But it was piled with stuffed animals too.
It was like watching him climb Mount Everest and then the pile of stuffies consume him. I can't even imagine sleeping in that kind of luxury at three years old.
When I was in middle school, I thought that it was awesome there was no furniture at my best friend’s house. There were juston the floor and one dining room table with chairs and nothing else. We were playing with a toy that shot out tiny discs. And with nothing in the apartment, we couldn't lose the discs.
In reality, the truth was downright heartbreaking. The house was like that because my friend’s mom had been caught in a fatal crossfire, and his father was so depressed that he had trouble caring for the family. And they moved regularly, which was why they had no furniture.
My friend's parents lived with his grandparents. After his grandpa had a stroke, he stayed in the recliner in the front room with a steady stream of adult content playing on loop. I had gone over for a sleepover not knowing this or that the only place for me to sleep was in that living room. Grandpa did not have a bed.
He stayed in his recliner all day and night. Grandma changed tapes periodically after he’d grunt really loud when one was finished. All the kids acted like it was perfectly normal, and the adults made jokes about wishing they could be so lucky. I was eight. There was no phone, so I couldn't exactly call home to be rescued.
In 4th grade, the new "weird" girl in our class invited me to a sleepover in her fancy neighborhood. Being a nice kid and from a lower-middle-class family, I decided that I’d attend. While she was giving me a tour of her house, I couldn't help but notice her bedroom was absolutely massive compared to her parents’ room.
So, I asked what the deal was with that, and she said that since she was an only child, her parents had given her the master bedroom because they wanted her to have a big space for all her toys. That checked out. She was an only child, and her room was filled with insane amounts of goodies...I should've known that that was a big, fat lie.
Later, we went downstairs while her mom was finishing up dinner. I was telling her mom how nice her house was and how cool it was that they let her have such a big room. I mean, what a dream! She nonchalantly told me what really happened was that their daughter had thrown a huge tantrum and demanded to switch bedrooms.
She talked about how after she had put up such a big fuss over something she had decided she wanted, they couldn’t say no. Red flag number one: noted. Then we all sat down for dinner. Well, at least her parents and I did. My "new friend" ate from a dog bowl on the floor. Confused, I started asking a bunch of questions—and the answers shocked me to the core.
Apparently, she only would eat canned beef stew at home because her parents refused to buy her actual dog food. The entire dinner, her mom kept begging her to, "please at least eat some peas at the table with your friend." She only barked in response, and I guessed that meant no because she never did come to the table.
After the most awkward dinner of my entire life, she incessantly bossed me around and did things like refused to allow me to touch her computer mouse when it was my turn to makeover my Barbie on her Mac or only let me watch her jump on her trampoline. Then we started to play with her hamsters but by her rules.
She demanded that I only play with her in a very precise way, and a few times, I think I messed up because she screamed that I was, "doing it wrong!" So, I only had one choice as a lone child in a house of crazies: I faked throwing up in her master ensuite bathroom, claimed I was homesick, and called my mom at 2 am to pick me up.
She got there with lightning speed and took me to a 24/7 drive-thru while I spilled all the beans on what had happened.
When I was 15, I went for a walk with a friend to her mom’s friend’s house to grab something. We walked in on the most horrifying scene: We saw the two-year-old was covering themself in margarine. The floor was covered in roaches, animal poop, dirty diapers, and trash. There was peanut butter on the walls and kitchen table. It was so sad to see.
These kids were dirty and disheveled from living in that. The weirdest part was seeing the toddler smearing margarine in their hair, and no one caring. The rest was disgusting, but I'd seen that kind of living before. But I’d never seen the complete indifference towards a baby though.
When I was six, I needed to use the bathroom at my friend’s house. But, instead of the guest one, he led me to his parents’ bathroom. The place was filled with trash of all sorts—boxes, magazines, an inflatable pool, lots of things. It was hard to navigate. He pulled out a drawer from the installed cabinet by the door. And POINTED to it.
He told me to pee in there. I thought he was joking...until he went ahead and peed in there himself. I couldn’t argue with that, so I too peed in there. Then he shut the drawer, and we went and played more ninja turtles. I have no idea what became of that family.
I went over to a neighbor's house a few months after we moved into the neighborhood. They had a son who was a year younger than me and a daughter who was four years younger than him. We’re hanging out in the garage passing a hockey puck around when we decided to stop for a break and have a snack. He chose a chocolate bar.
He was eating it and finishing his last mouthful when his sister walked into the garage. She wanted some of the candy even though it was all gone. So, he jokingly stuck out his tongue that had a portion of chewed-up chocolate bar and asked her if she still wanted to have some. She replied with a serious "yes"...and then my jaw dropped.
He transferred some of his pre-chewed chocolate bar directly into his sister’s mouth like a bird. To this day, I have a hard time not visualizing them French kissing a chewed-up chocolate bar when I see them at their parent’s house visiting.
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