The Jeong-Espinosa Family Replaces Charlie with a Dog

And graduates from hanging out in the bathroom to acting out a teenager’s worst nightmare—that is, if the teenager were capable of understanding the implications of two or more simultaneous events.

My entire family is here. I’m in my room. Hm.

If we envision moving our p.o.v. along the positive z-axis (yeah, oriented so it’s going out of the screen, bite me), we’d find ourselves in a comically large room as green as it is empty. No one bothered to clean it out after the eldest J.E. child graduated from hiding in his room to living in a house where privacy is less a luxury than an impossibility.

The world ‘child’ here should provoke some opposition in the spirit of Fiddler‘s Yente. “From such children come other children!”

That aside, Jasper’s existence, even in absentia, has created ripples in the O.G. J.E. household strong enough to change one person: freshly-titled Abuela Claudia. This role is serious business for Newcrest’s sweetheart, enough to give her liver a break as she plots to ensure her grandchild turns into an empanada.

Almost 30 posts in and I still have to use Google to remember the name of the place where most of the protagonists live. At least it’s not Oak River/Aspen Valley/Mountain Field/the two nature things one.

Forty-eight servings in, she opens the fridge door and interrogates its contents, her mind blanking on where she put that leftover Dulce de Leche. Right, it was directly under the deli jar in the container with the red lid. She removed the lid to find someone else had the same idea.

Any frustration Claudia may have felt was overshadowed by her desire to measure her son’s progress. Of the half he’d left uneaten, they weren’t leaking and looked about as even as one could expect for a less experienced folder. They were deep-fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar—not choices Claudia would have made, given her background in bodybuilding—but they were probably more appealing to a child’s palate this way. She snapped a photo and checked the empty living room before savoring one of the carb bombs right in front of the fridge. Divine. There was her conversation topic for the next week.

Hector’s phone conversation with Charlie (i.e., teenage girl Charlie) and the continuation of a ballpoint-pen colony of bats, drawn over Kendra’s existing sleeve while she waited her turn to talk to Charlie, were halted by the sound of their mother’s voice projecting from her usual perch. Kids, we’re going to Charlie’s! Other Charlie! Pay attention; your brother’s house isn’t going to render itself!

Mike’s off on a casual weekend space trip. Doesn’t matter. Turn the boosters on and get your ass back down here.

Abuela propels herself through the open-air concept arches with at least a dozen containers of fresh pastries. She plays a short round of dead-fish Tetris in Charlie’s fridge, where Korobeiniki is replaced by her eldest’s almost rhythmic protests of “Mom,” and, occasionally, “Mom, c’mon.”

“It’s my job to feed you,” she counters, right at the point where the victory theme would take over. She opens a container and waves it inches from Charlie’s face. “Hector made these! Look how nice!”

The U.S. gave us crystal meth, and Yeltsin drank himself to death. That song.

The Dr. sees an opening to redirect his mother’s unabated stream of affection towards someone who hadn’t been jaded by excited matriarch overexposure. “If you’re looking for Jasper, he’s just—“

“Darling!” Claudia interrupts as she banks around the kitchen corner. Jasper tolerates a couple minutes of cooing before he notices the treat in her hand. “Here,” she says. “You have to try this.”

Claudia holds one of Hector’s empanadas at eye level for Jasper to take a bite. It’s amazing; crispy and gooey and messy—something that would make a very satisfying mess on the tile floor, he thought. Bits of powdered sugar were already falling into the grout. But when he opened his mouth for another bite, he saw something that made him hold back bile.

The pastry was full of poop. Poop! Light brown gushing baby diarrhea.

He shook his head no. This didn’t deter Claudia from brandishing the dessert at eye level, chanting “Take a bite! Take a bite!” as the contents of Jasper’s potty threatened to ooze into the outside world. He shook his head more forcefully and ran into his parent’s bedroom, bawling. Charlie watched his mom slump over and zone out in the manner she usually did when she thought no one was watching.

“Maybe next time?” Charlie reassured her, taking the rejected empanada and biting into it.

Jo was two-thirds of the way through Mike’s favorite story about his daring space exploits, a story she didn’t reveal was already recounted to her almost verbatim by Charlie. She gave no indication of having seen his stand-up routines either, which she was exposed to in the same manner, despite that information being publicly available elsewhere. She tuned out and used the extra time to plan out her next five blog posts. Microplastics. Indoor air pollution. Boundaries on physical touch. Feign surprise at exactly the right moment. “And that’s when the ray gun jammed!” You don’t say, Mike! She also had to throw her hat into the ring on whether or not eggs were healthy, but wanted to build more credibility first. She also had to pick up eggs on her next jog.

Jasper recovered from his empanada meltdown in time to inform his aunt and uncle that Winterfest exists and he approves.

Claudia holds the bar with both hands, leaning into her shoulders with straight arms. What was she doing here again? Eh. Visiting Charlie reminded her of how quiet her house was compared to the old country.

She remembers an advertisement on her phone for what might provide an adequate source of noise.

Just to look.

The teens are once again summoned from their rooms by the command of a mother who, despite having acknowledged her need for racket, isn’t aware of the difference between her yelling volume and the average decibel level of everything else in the house. (Somewhat justified, given that Kendra’s room is upstairs.) One may have assumed the upstairs-dweller would be a cat person because of the everything about her, but she finds herself overcome by the presence of puppies. Double puppies.

Adoption agent: what do I do with my hands, WHAT DO I DO WITH MY HANDS

Mike comes home to the adoption agent leaving with only one dog post-“just to look.” So, Perry and Mona Jeong-Espinosa, welcome to the family! We’re fucked up, but not organized-crime levels of fucked up. Just domestic shit.

Perry, a Dalmatian puppy, is seen here begging for food from the person least likely to part from it.

Mona, a gorgeous grey Weimaraner, is bonded to Claudia.

Sandra Lee here kept herself from the bar for an entire day after Mona’s adoption. The younger three, as well, have temporarily put their ambitions on hold in favor of canine bonding; the collective’s top and only priorities are now to pet the dogs, train the dogs, buy toys, play fetch, and cook for the dogs. Hector admits that the latter may have been self-serving.

This motherfucker right here

Goofy bastard that he is, he’s still less awkward around potential partners than his brother was. Recall the organized crime statement—it’s a coincidence that both single J.E.s have a shared crush who happens to be an heir to the Chinese mafia and, worse, has the same name as their brother.

Charlie is in the blazer because she wants to do business something-or-other, Carlie is aiming to be the next Shu

C(h)arlie are taking a more subtle version of the Chantel strategy, miraculously showing up in the same place as Kendra and Hector with jelly doughnuts decorated/squished to look like roadkill. When asked questions about their personal lives, they give a tantalizingly vague answer and divert the conversation. Neither target notices; Kendra actually prefers the air of mystery and Hector has no distinction between ‘good’ and ‘nice,’ let alone ‘nice’ and ‘docile.’

Charlie returns home with a clay octopus mug and a homemade churro in wax paper. Her room is nondescript and has few personal effects, save for a single shelf on the east wall loaded with creepy art. She pushes a matching necklace and earring set made of glass eyes to the side, placing the mug in the resulting space. She takes an ominous bite out of the churro.

They invited themselves over. How come Mike can’t recognize that the “new neighbors” are his best friend and best friend’s wife moving into his old house, but this family can coordinate plans with no supervision?

Kendra and Hector deal with this by not acknowledging it whatsoever.

In the theme of puppy love, Perry is no longer a puppy, but a pretty adult. Hooray for Perry!

Mona almost immediately starts yelling hearts. Which is baffling, since they barely know each other and he was a baby less than an hour ago.

Mike grabs the leash in case getting Mona out of the house will stop the moaning, and—ah crap, not again.

Happy Wednesday!
He’ll be fiiiiiine.

Mike can never remember, but it’s probably a group of space pirates with too much free time and a fuck-you-William-Shatner attitude.

But this is the final career for Mike, as long as he gets to pick which actor plays him in the movie adaptation of his life. The shorter hours allow him to spend more time with his family, although they confuse him: why doesn’t intergalactic peacekeeping require more dedication from its authority figures? What shenanigans are happening when he’s chilling at the park?

This is actually a hidden-object family portrait sans Charlie. As it says in the title, he got replaced.

Something clicks in Mike’s head while watching Claudia with the dogs. Charlie, Hector, himself—give her a cute thing to receive her love, and her mood elevates in a snap. Then the thrill wears off and she’s as dull as ever. Fascinating; if she seems like she’s really losing it, he’ll surprise her with a kitten.

Claudia is still letting herself ride the high from this temporary fix. She’s leaving the house more, down to three juices a day—

—fuck you too, universe.

Mike getting probed, you can set your watch to, but Claudia? That’s just vindictive.


Kenny’s phone buzzed to announce the arrival of what she thought would be Wyatt’s noncommittal response to her time-lapse gif of a hypothetical apocalyptic pandemic where she used Paint to rename the disease “Wyatt’s Mom.”

Another one. Great.

Sure, she can convince Shu and like eight of his girlfriends to follow her there.

Gen’s knowing fourth-wall-shattering expression is what makes this special

Wyatt has moved on from his absurdist “What is a party, really?” period, coming up with a far superior dual theme of Sexual Tension (to be expected, given their age group, but he’s making a statement by acknowledging it proper) and Weird Facial Expressions. This one’s in a house and everything.

Kendra and Hector got into the spirit with Superman Jawline and Big Hair, respectively. Wyatt personally thanked Shu for turning up. He’s indispensable.

Jo has the second half of the theme down cold

“Isn’t it ironic that the term ‘post-modern’ has been around for at least thirty years?” Kendra thought aloud to Supes, intentionally constructing a conversation around Wyatt’s two favorite words. (She was misinformed; it had been in use since at least Bernard’s first lifetime.) “What are they going to call the next artistic movement? Post-postmodernism?”

“I think that’s part of the joke,” said Wyatt, having picked up on the magic words from across the room. “It’s supposed to be ironic. Also, post-postmodernism is already a thing, and it’s supposed to be reacting to irony.”

“So the next step is post post-postmodernism?” mused the one with six right angles for a jaw, whose name is actually Vincent. “And then postpostpostpostmodernism? And then…”

Wyatt tried to make the point that categorizing all art as reactionary to other art is inherently limiting, in itself a post-postmodern sentiment, but couldn’t sneak a second word into Vince’s ongoing chant of “postpostpostpostpostpostpost.” Kendra was too charmed by some masked crusader’s secret identity to notice him storm off. He would have botched the point or sounded pretentious anyway. God, he couldn’t wait to grow up and at least be able to take himself seriously.

To be self-aware enough to figure out what I’m doing wrong, he thought as he blew out his birthday candles.


Kendra takes the afterparty to the the Romance Festival, along with the budding Mafiosa, Repetition Man of Steel, an anime vampire dreamboat (but you can call him Daichi), and her little brother.

Look how happy she is!

The pre-afterparty had put her in the mood to figure something out for herself. She knew she wanted to date, but even with the pink aphrodisiac altering her mental state enough to radiate its hue in an aura around her body, approaching other Sims was going to be hard. She crushed her empty plastic cup before spiking it conscientiously into a trash can. The plan was to ride this fuck-inaction high, using it to get the initial approach over with thrice and be done.

In the ‘Pro’ column for Charlie: Resourceful. Brings single cupcakes to public events. Side note: Claim single cupcake in the next 27 minutes.

Daichi is used to people pointing out how well his look works for him, so he expected Kendra to start the conversation by admiring his coat. She asks, is the quilted white part one shirt and does the lavender overcoat have slanted sleeves that have to be constantly readjusted, or is the coat one layer on the sleeves and the underlayer a fake shirt sewn into the lapels? Does he wear an undershirt to keep it clean? Mentioning the coat is just a chiffon-thin ruse to touch his arm, of course.

Gustavo is her mom’s ex. On a scale of 1 to 10, is this creepy or super creepy?

She checks her phone for Shu’s answer to her plea for help dealing with Charlie, and her subsequent note clarifying the age and gender of the person she meant, to find a correct but useless response which may have suggested, in a different context, that her mentor in romance fell asleep with his forehead on the ‘L’ and ‘O’ keys. Kendra sighed, and, recalling his earlier advice on mirroring, improvised a course of action.

“So I noticed you invited me to the Romance Festival?” Charlie pressed immediately on Kendra’s approach.

“Oh, well, I invited you, but I also invited these other people,” she said, gesturing left in a way that didn’t uniquely identify which other people Kendra meant, although their identities may have been inferable depending on whether Charlie was aware of the existence of translucent hexagonal markers. “Why do you ask?”

“You never know, you never know,” Charlie trailed off in her usual avoidant manner.

“Maybe, or maybe not,” Kendra clarified. “If you’re confused about what someone wants, maybe you should ask them.” She turned around without watching for Charlie’s reaction. That should be cryptic enough.

The sushi vendor, wondering how the hell this is an actual conversation

She tried to keep her spooky mystery aura by doubling back to Creature of the Light, taking a microsecond break to pick out a topic of interest.

“So. How about those hats?”


Kenny’s birthday party theme is Greek mythical figures. In particular:

Phthonus, representing envy! In this case, not about romance, but because his best friend has a cooler trash can.

Sisyphus! Good luck with that.

Adephagia, goddess of gluttony! Beware! The internet has ruined her image search results.

Dionysus! Claudia is probably also Dionysus!

Kendra looks at her cake, candles snuffed out from oxygen deprivation, a fate which would either kill Sims like herself or fry the personality out of their brains, and realizes her own Gloom. At the time of aging up, she has maxed out zero skills, dated/kissed zero people, developed zero interest in these fucking numbers, and made 15 monster drawings.

There is no local Wiccan bookstore for her to frequent, no Demonology major to complete, no career based on occult knowledge—but dealing with the public as a surly bartender/barista should provide more than enough inspiration for her bilingual horror poetry.

The air is displeasingly dry on Kendra’s last day with her parents. She would have loved some cathartic rain, but maybe would have settled for an uncomfortable level of humidity. Just enough to evoke the threat of rain. That would reflect her feelings better; that the anticipation could be just as bad as, or worse than, the event itself.

I know who I am, she reminded herself as she withdrew from her second-story basement to the unforgiving world beyond. Everything else depends on execution.

She’s also preemptively been replaced with a dog.

3 thoughts on “The Jeong-Espinosa Family Replaces Charlie with a Dog

      1. I’m so happy to find a writer who lets me get inside Sims ‘ minds, and sometimes they think like me (“What DO I do with my hands?”) and that brings indescribable joy!

        Liked by 1 person

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