In disorienting news out of a birthday party in Philadelphia, PA, it is unclear whether the super fucked story your friend is telling you is meant to be read as funny or sad.
“I couldn’t tell you how it came up,” you say. “I guess we were talking about family, and before I know it, Hannah is talking about how her alcoholic uncle kidnapped her as a child, and brought her across state lines to a father-daughter pie eating contest with a cash prize of $1,000 so he could buy some more time from, like, bookies that were on his tail? She gave me no clues as to how I’m supposed to feel about this.”
Witnesses confirm that you tried to simply mirror Hannah’s facial expressions throughout the sordid tale, relying at times on covering your mouth in a move ambiguous enough to convey either laughter or horrified shock.
“I could only say, ‘oh, my God’ so many times before I needed to offer something more concrete,” you said. “But I genuinely could not discern if she was sharing this as a wacky anecdote or confiding in me about a deep and perhaps unresolved childhood trauma.”
You are said to have braced yourself each time Hannah threw in a “Oh, and I almost forgot,” before adding more horrific yet potentially comical details to this disturbing saga.
“Ultimately, this is a story of reckless child endangerment, unchecked addiction, and no fewer than three felonies,” you say. “But if Hannah has stored it as funny, I don’t want to undermine her agency or her perspective of her own experiences. The problem is I really don’t fucking know.”
In a last-ditch effort to gain clarity of the events unfolding, you pulled a third party into the situation.
“I hailed our friend Raj and was like, ‘Hannah was just telling me about the time she was kidnapped by her uncle’ and he was like, ‘Oh fuck!’ and Hannah was like ‘Right?!’ So, it wasn’t all that helpful.
“At this point, I think I’ll just try to Google the uncle later and determine if he’s alive or dead, and if he’s dead then presumably this was a sad story and I’ll send her a text apologizing and saying if I didn’t react appropriately, it was because I was on shrooms. Actually, I’ll probably just say that anyway.”
Experts predict that Hannah will one day tell someone about the time she spent 30 minutes telling her friend about being kidnapped as a child only to discover they were tripping the whole time, and that person will also not know if that’s funny or sad.