Karma sucks

December 11th, 2013

Someone called me Auntie. Someone local, at the recycling center. He saw my buckets of bottles and offered to carry them with me from the car.

I thanked him when we finished. "No problem, Auntie!" this man enthusiastically shaka-ed.

He looked to be 10 to 15 years younger than me.

Oh, snap. Someone 10 to 15 years younger than me wants to address me as Auntie?

Buuuuut... I suppose it's karma payback.

Last month I was at a party of Claus' friends consisting of the local University of Hawaii swimming/ water polo community. My high school classmate - we shall call him J.A. - and his sister swam at UH, but I had never met the sister.

Claus came walking up to me at this party with a woman. "Diane, I'd like you to meet J.A.'s --- "


He said, "Or, sister."

Then the sister kind of groans and says, "Wow..."


JA's sister, if you're reading this figuring out it's you, I am SO SORRY. Actually, I really hope you are not reading this and being reminded of my horrible, horrible gaffe.

After the awkward pause in which I'm trying to figure out what to say to salvage this, I stutter, "No, sorry, I mean, so like, and I, well." I was so inarticulate, I made Miss Teen USA competitor South Carolina 2007 look like President Obama's speechwriter.

In my defense she is JA's older sister, but still. I know, my bad.

I could have opened a new Payless Shoe Source with all the feet I just pulled out of my mouth.

10 Responses to “Karma sucks”

  1. Gale:

    I wonder what the Karma is on my daughter getting called Auntie by someone in his 40s by someone local, recently at the airport? It has got to be bad. Not quite as bad as Olivia getting called Auntie by one of the neighborhood adults, but my daughter is not that much older than Olivia, as you know. Could it be that "Auntie" is a title some local guys think is safe to use for anyone female?

    Yesterday, we were barflies to partake of happy hour food specials. We got to know the bartender. I reminded him that the fastest way to bigger tips was to "card" older women. We laughed. But, minutes later, as if he had been eavesdropping at the bar, a young guy at a shop we stopped at on the way to the car, an utterly brilliant young person, took my credit card, flipped it over to look at the ID photo, and remarked, "Wow, you look way younger in person than your photo!" That photo has got to be the worst photo I have ever taken. I really need to go back to the bank and re-do it. I told the salesperson, "and that photo was taken years ago too!" (Another reason to be unhappy with The Bank that Says No!) He ladled sympathy and some kind disbelief. Now that is a guy whose family raised him right! LOL :D

    I hope that there are some freebies in Karma! I have a gaffe of my own that I have to face this Friday at a Christmas dinner.

  2. Ken Conklin:

    Diane, no worry about the Auntie thing. I came from Boston 21 years ago. As I became assimilated to local culture I began calling middle-aged women "Auntie" even when they were younger than I and even when they were lovely to look at. Now that I'm well into kupunahood most of my "Aunties" are considerably younger than I. They don't seem to mind when I address them that way. It did come as quite a shock the first time a 30-40-something called me "uncle" so I do understand your dismay.

    Calling someone's older sister her mother right in front of her is quite a squirmy faux pas. But I'm sure we all harbor similar errors of perception, even if we don't give voice to them. Ku Kahakalau, the founder of Kanu O Ka 'Aina charter school and a sovereignty activist, speaks both English and Hawaiian with a noticeable German accent. Robi Kahakalau, the famous singer, speaks English and Hawaiian with no noticeable German accent, and looks considerably younger. For many years I guessed they were foreign-born mother with local-born daughter. It wasn't until Leslie Wilcox did a half-hour televised interview with Ku that I learned they are sisters. Fortunately I never met either one in person; but if given the opportunity I would have made the same error you did.

  3. camille:

    I think sister/brother is what folks of similar age should be calling each other if your're friends. Ms. Is always safe.

  4. M:

    Hello Diane,
    That's better than asking, "when is your due date?", "I'm not pregnant."

  5. my wife:

    My wife has a small gut, and people say to her "OMG ZZZ are you expecting?!"
    I always LOL.
    Then she starts eating well and exercising for 2-3 days...until status quo again.

  6. dorothy urada:

    Hi Diane,
    Being called auntie doesn't bother me, since I was proud of being an auntie at age 12. It bothers me to be called mama, especially by a person who may be in their 40's. I don't think I would have been a mother at age 10, and I'm NOT their mother. It doesn't reflect well for the restaurant to have a receptionist address a customer that way. Although it gave my friend a good chuckle.

  7. Masako:

    Stuff like that happen all the time at the school I work at. Teachers ask the kids "is that your grandma coming?" and they say "no thats my mom" I've done that with grandfathers. These days we also sometimes assume young parents are older siblings.

    When I was 16 years old I put on lots of make up and snuck into a casino in Vegas to gamble. My brother who is 7 years younger ran up to me and security told me that I need to take my son out of there.

    I notice that these days I'm being called Auntie a lot more. I don't mind, just don't call me grandma yet.

  8. Kage:

    Diane, it happens. :)

    My oldest sister is 16 years older than me. When we used to go shopping or anywhere together she would be asked if I was her son.

    In people's defense, her son is only 4 years younger than me.

  9. makaha wahine:

    I was a cashier at Slims Power Tools and one of the guys told me,"Thanks aunty!". After he left I turned around and told me boss what happened. She said, "At least he didn't call you grandma!". So we just laughed and really, it is all about respect and manners.

  10. M:

    Hello Diane, my daughters boyfriend calls me uncle, it doesn't bother me at all.

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