Sideswipe: April 13: 10th birthday special

Real estate graffiti at its best ... snapped near Ngatea by Stewart Germann.
Real estate graffiti at its best ... snapped near Ngatea by Stewart Germann.

We received more than 600 submissions this week for Sideswipe's 10th birthday competition. The best was from Rida Vivier, who wins a trip to visit friends and family in Australia, thanks to Air New Zealand. Today, we publish her entry and the best of the rest.

The Air NZ Winner

"When my son was 4 years old my mum bought him a superman costume for his birthday," writes Rida Vivier. "He was super excited and would run around inside the house with one arm held in front of him. After a while I suggested that he go outside as we had a very big backyard for him to run around in. He became very serious and told me that he couldn't go outside. Perplexed I asked him why? Holding his cape to show me and with all the seriousness of a 4-year-old, he told me that he couldn't go outside or he would fly away. I kept my smile to myself and told him it will be OK, he can hold my hand. We went outside and he was a little scared, clinging to my hand. I still feel guilty for doing it but I whisked my hand away and he stood there frozen for a few seconds. He was momentarily surprised but then went running around the backyard. To this day I will never forget the day my son stopped believing he could fly."

Rida has won Air New Zealand flights for four people to one of five Australian destinations.

Need to get out more

"A friend had guests from the country to stay and took them to a busy Auckland restaurant for dinner," explains Sandra. "During the meal one of the country guests was looking increasingly concerned and explained that she thought there must be an altercation going on outside as the waiter kept walking in and out with a baseball bat. Somewhat surprised, my friend looked to see the waiter coming back in with the baseball bat which actually turned out to be an oversized pepper grinder!"

Kids are classic

A few weeks after my mum's death I was having a discussion about it with my three children. My then 3- year-old daughter was asking lots of questions and then piped up with: "When you die mum do you want to be buried or laminated?" ... I have a vision of myself propped up in the corner of the lounge. (Debi Woodward of Taupo).

No ants in her pants

"I was living in a cottage surrounded by bush," writes Lynda Buhler. "I had my washing on the line and in the evening brought it inside. The next morning, I had a shower and grabbed some clothes out of the laundry basket. When I put on my knickers I felt something cold in the crack of my bum and thought it was the label, so a quick wiggle and I adjusted myself and finished dressing. I was happily going about my day, every now and again having to adjust this dammed annoying label ... Then, in the early evening I felt something move. I down-troued real fast - in a frenzy to remove my undies. Sitting there quite happily was this huge, flat brown cockroach!"

Out of frying pan and into fire

Bernadette Murphy was washing the dishes one evening when her pet budgie (who was flying free around the kitchen) misjudged his landing. "He overshot my shoulder and tumbled into the sink of hot soapy water. I fished him out and he sat in his open cage in the living room to dry off. Next minute, to my horror, I noticed he'd hopped out of his cage and, in a halting attempt at flight, fluttered directly into the fire, landing on a piece of wood surrounded by flames! In a quick reflex action I swept my hand behind him and slapped him out of the fire, propelling him at great speed to the other side of the room where he hit the wall with a loud "thwack" and slid to the floor! Amazingly he was ok."

Kids are classic 2

A reader writes: "My 3-year-old daughter recently walked up to me and said "I really love you, Daddy". I said "Thank you sweetheart, you should say that to mummy too". Without missing a beat, my daughter turned to my partner and said "Mummy, I really love Daddy"."

Kids are classic 3

My young sister was writing a card for our father's birthday. As ambitious as she was and infatuated with potato chips and onion dip, she decided to write a birthday message. She was still learning how to form letters and her 'p' would sometimes have a wee curve at the bottom, and so when Dad opened his card it read 'Happy birthday, Daddy. I hope you have some chips and die.' I'm happy to say Dad is still alive and my sister still loves chips and dip. (PJ Venneman)

Cultural cringe

Shafraz writes: "My friends from work got together to buy us a wedding present. They settled on something kiwiana and found a great picture of the classic Kiwi dairy with the pohutukawa in full bloom. It was a wonderful gift but they were horrified when I pointed to the irony of giving the painting of a dairy to an Indian couple!"

Melting pot name game

Kenneth Setiu is a straightforward New Zealand name right? He reckons yes, "but I'm hilariously outnumbered by others who think otherwise. They have good reasons. My surname is from my Samoan father but Google is certain it is a province in Malaysia. One Chinese takeaway owner swore I was a descendant of Mao Zedong, but shorter and once a Taiwanese man spoke in his native tongue to me in Melbourne. Neither of these Asian men knew that I was Hawaiian, according to a local surfer on the Gold Coast. Maybe that's because the Mexican woman on Queen St speaking Spanish to me had not yet met them. Fair enough, I have an 'exotic' look and 'ethnic' name; yet Kenneth is commonly mistaken as English in origin - it's from Scotland. This may explain my mother's maiden name of Hale even though she is three-quarters Maori. Her granny was a Ngawaka, later the name distilled to Walker for the non-Maori speakers of the time. That aside, last Saturday the only Samoan man on a marae in Tuakau mistook me for local Maori simply because I speak fluent te reo. The tangata whenua of the marae happily tossed me a 'Talofa' and reminded me of my Samoanness. But as my wise Dutch wife tells it, I should laugh it off. For our son, Tavita Nupere Ngawaka Drissen Vlaanderen Setiu, it should be pretty straightforward."

When email goes very wrong ...

A reader writes: "A few years ago I decided that the best motivation to make me lose weight was to photograph myself and be totally appalled by what I saw and then be able to see how wonderful I looked so slender a year later. So I set the camera up and took photos in my rolled down knickers sideways and front on, very slouchy so the after ones would look fantastic. The next day my son rang to say: "What the hell are you doing sending me photos of yourself like that?" Somehow I had attached the file to every other letter that contained attachments that day. The local council, when I sent photos of graffiti on the local bus stop, was just one of many recipients."

Not-so-fresh mountain air

Kimberly writes: "My brother is a guide on a well-known NZ glacier and has a penchant for baked beans. One day while out guiding a group of tourists my brother let something slip that would best be termed 'silent but violent'. Moments later one of the female tourists paused and carefully sniffed the air before asking my brother what that interesting smell was! The group of tourists stopped to sniff the air deeply and listen to my brother's explanation. With a reddened face he replied 'that would be the glacial mud' ... then proceeded with details of the mud composition and why why it gave off such an aroma as the tourists listened with keen interest ..."

Kids are classic 4

"I spotted 5-year-old budding zoologist Ryan bothering a praying mantis on the deck, poking at it with a leaf, its front legs were raised in defence," writes a proud Mum. "Can you see it has a swollen abdomen Ryan?" I asked. "It looks like it is about to become a mummy, so be careful not to hurt it," I explained. Later that evening he was telling a family friend ... "I found a praying mantis today. It was a female of the species". She asked how he knew it was female ... "Well it had a very large bottom and was showing signs of aggression," he said.

Ruthless white lie

Christine writes: "When I was 16 and had started dating a cute guy, I had always disliked my middle name and when Steve told me his middle name was Lee - I said mine was Lee too. He came over for dinner a week later and Mum and Dad did the typical parents' grilling, Steve proudly explained how we have so much in common, "we even have the same middle name" he said. Mum and Dad looked at each other puzzled, wondering why his middle name was Ruth."

Hair raising confusion

Hui Trautvetter writes: "My wife left me in charge of reception at her hair salon for a few moments (nothing could possibly go wrong, right?) and a boy about 12 walked in and said he'd booked for a cut with Kim. Thinking she was busy I told him to come back in 20 minutes. Just then Kim came out and said she was ready, so I dashed out, tapped the boy on the shoulder and told him to follow me. Kim gave him his cut, as he was walking out, the original boy walked in. Seems boy #2 was sent out to buy some bread. I was fired."

Neighbourhood watch out!

Keith writes: "My brother-in-law lives on the North Shore. It was agreed by most of the family, who reside in South Auckland, that we will be having the family Halloween 'trick or treat' and party in his neighbourhood. In his attempt to deter us, he said we would have to make real scary costumes. We'll turn up as we are bro! A big group of Polynesian South Aucklanders in his neighbourhood should be scary enough."

Kids are classic 5

A reader writes: "We don't call it 'number 2s' in our house, we call it'dropping the kids off at the pool'. Our 6-year-old daughter was taking a very long time so I asked 'are you dropping the kids off at the pool'? She replied, "'yes, but the naughty ones won't get out of the car!"'

There were more than 600 entries in the last 3 days, so if yours didn't get published this week, keep an eye out over the coming weeks. Ana Samways.

- NZ Herald

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