I don't know why strangers think I'm "with" my siblings and father. I guess once you reach a certain age around here, it's just assumed that you must be married. And if you go anywhere one-on-one with someone of the opposite sex, it's impossible that you might be friends or siblings or PARENT and CHILD.
I give you these excruciating stories in chronological order.
Example 1- I was 20 years old. Which makes this even creepier. I looked like a 17 year old at 20. I probably reached age 20 in looks at age 25. Although, I was mistaken for a high schooler earlier this year. Another story for another time. Anyway, I had gone with my dad to his hometown for an event honoring his old high school football coach. We were sitting there in the bleachers when a lady in front of us turned around and noticed my dad sitting there. Old friend exclamations started flying. "Oh my gosh! It's been so long! How've you been?!" etc... She then looked over at me with a smile and asked my dad, "Is this your wife?" I think I probably made a weird face and my dad kind of laughed it off saying, "Uh, no. This is my daughter." Awkward! They didn't talk for much longer after that.
Example 2- I went with my brother Derek to a western outfitter store. He wanted some sweet "go to meetin'" boots, and I went to help him choose. A nice lady was helping us. Derek would see a style he liked and she'd go to the back to get his size. He tried on a few pairs of boots and then we deliberated. The nice lady walked up just as I said of the boots he was presently wearing, "I like those ones. I think you should go with those." Derek agreed. She decided to throw in her two cents, saying to me, "Now all he needs is a hat and some Wranglers like Jason Aldean, right, Mama?" (wink and smile). I kind of stopped for a second and tried to decide what to say. I didn't want to embarrass her by correcting her when she was trying to be cute and funny. I certainly didn't want to agree with her, thereby confirming her suspicion of our marital status and implying that I thought my brother looked as hot as a country singer when wearing western garb. Shudder! I settled on a weak laugh and smile.
Example 3- I once went shopping for a new mattress set. My dad came with me. It's alright. Go ahead. Ewwwwwww!!! We walked into the store where a salesperson met us. I said, "Hi. I'm looking for a queen size mattress set." He smiled and nodded, then gestured for us to follow him. He said, "Okay now. Is this for the two of you?" I scrunched my nose and looked at my dad. I said as politely as I could, "No. No. Just me." It was all I could do to not pantomime sticking my finger down my throat and make a retching sound. I'm so grown up. I guess what we learn from this is that my dad looks like the kind of guy that marries himself a ridiculously young trophy wife and I look like the kind of girl who gets herself a sugar daddy.
Example 4- The time: this weekend. The place: The Golden Hills Restaurant in Mt. Carmel, Utah. My little brother Dylan and I were traveling down to Kanab together. We stopped for a little refreshment. Golden Hills has the most delicious scones. The restaurant was mostly empty. Only two other tables were occupied besides our own. One by one the other couples left.
Halfway through our meal, the server came up to our table and asked, "How is everything for you guys? Doing alright?" "Yes, it's great! Thank you!" we replied. Then she said, "I just want to let you know that that gentleman who left here a few minutes ago paid for your entire meal." My voice went up about two octaves and my hand flew to my heart, which had just grown 3 sizes. "Are you serious?! Oh my gosh, that is just the sweetest thing! I can't believe it! Why did he do that, I wonder?" The server smiled, sort of nervously and said, "Well, I'm not sure about this, but he said, 'Looks like love.'"
Then we gasped. Then we laughed. A lot. I reached across the table and took Dylan's hand. "Uh, this is my little brother." Dylan said, "And we do love each other very much." We all laughed uncomfortably for a moment. The kind man was long gone, so I couldn't thank him, but I left the server a big tip to try to pay it forward. Even though it was one of the most heart-warming, faith-in-humanity-restoring moments of my life, I felt a little guilty. He did it because he thought we were young and in love. And we are siblings. So he was wrong. His kindness was misplaced. I felt bad. Also, really good. Next time I go out, I'm doing that for someone. It was the best.
So there you have it. I'm not offended at all by the assumptions. They're fair and natural. But you have to admit it's a little weird.