A few years ago Matt was at family dinner with me at Bob and Cathie's house. All of my nieces and nephews were there so the place was a circus, as it commonly is on Sunday evenings.

Matt and Emrie, my sassy niece with whom I have always had a very inconsistent relationship, hit it off relatively well from the beginning. This was probably because Matt is artistic and was perfectly happy to sit with Emrie and color while the other grownups did grownup things.

Emrie was 5 at the time. The two were at the kids table, furiously working through a coloring book of Disney princesses, when we suddenly heard a very serious argument break out.

Matt: You aren't coloring between the lines.

Emrie: My mom said that it doesn't matter.

Matt: Well, it does. You need to color between the lines or it won't look good.

No. Stop. Go back to the beginning and read that conversation again. Because I promise that you read it in the wrong tone.

You read it in the tone most grownups use when talking to five-year-old children. You read Matt's parts in a very sweet and encouraging voice.

That's not the voice Matt was using.

Matt was speaking in a tone that one might hear in a professional setting between colleagues with a competitive and sometimes rocky relationship.

Ok. Please proceed.

Emrie: No I don't. I can color however I want.

Matt: Then it's not going to look very good.

Emrie: Uh-huh.

Matt: Uh-uh.

Emrie: Uh-huh.

Matt: Uh-uh.

Emrie: Uh-huh.

Matt: Uh-uh.


It was around this point that every adult in the entire house had stopped talking and instead tuned in to this fight.


Emrie: UH-HUH!

Matt: UH-UH!

I actually started to think that maybe we would need to intervene. This was getting out of control. My 35-year-old best friend had sunk to the lowest-common denominator in a fight with a five-year-old about coloring books.

But before any of us could interject, Emrie stood up on her chair, and, in the most triumphant voice I have ever heard, she said: "Uh-huh! And by the way, I can see your underwear!" She pointed to his waist where his shirt was not covering a small fragment of his underwear that was sticking up out of his pants. And then she marched off.

Matt just sat stunned while the rest of us slowly acknowledged that Emrie had won the fight.

Two years went by. And then Thanksgiving happened last week.

Matt was in attendance, once again having dinner at Bob and Cathie's house, with all of the children, circus, etc.

Things seemed to go fine. Then we left and as soon as we got into the car,

Matt: I told Emrie that I was wearing different pants.

Eli: Huh?

Matt: I was talking to her and I told her that I made sure to wear pants with a shirt I could tuck in so my clothes would cover my underwear so she couldn't see it.


Matt: Because of that time she told me she could see my underwear.

Eli: What did she say?

Matt: She had no idea what I was talking about. So I tried to remind her.

Eli: How did you try to remind her?

Matt: I said, "remember that one time we were coloring and you saw my underwear?" But she still didn't remember so she just walked away.

Eli: Matt! What the hell!?

Matt: What?

Eli: Do you not hear how creepy that sounds?!

Matt: Why is that creepy?

Eli: She's probably going to tell her mom tonight that Eli's strange friend Matt took her aside and asked her if she remembers that one time she saw his underwear and then told her that she can't see it again.

Matt: No. I just asked her if she remembered when she saw my underwear when we were playing oh I hear it now.

I then offered to call my sister and explain the situation to her so she could have a conversation with Emrie, which I just now realize I still haven't done.

Matt and Skylar playing patty cake at Thanksgiving. I still don't know.

~It Just Gets Stranger