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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/03/08)

TITLE: Mr. Thrifty
By Jan Ackerson


I never intended to be a forty-three-year-old bachelor. I’ve had several girlfriends, but nothing ever lasted for long—they always leave because of one of my two major flaws: my tendency to blurt out without thinking, and my extreme frugality. I get called stingy a lot, but I prefer thrifty.

Anyway, when my buddy Roger and his wife Kate invited me to a free concert at their church, I only heard the word “free.” I checked my calendar while Kate babbled on about someone named Annie who’d be there, too. (“You’ll like her, John, she’s got a great personality…”) I recognized the setup, but an evening of free entertainment was worth the inevitable awkwardness of a blind date.

Turns out, Annie really did have a great personality, and green eyes, and hair that floated. We talked for an hour over coffee in the fellowship hall, and for another hour in the parking lot while Roger and Kate alternated between impatience and amusement. When we finally parted, it was with an arrangement that we’d meet the next evening. She was the manager of a fabric store in the city; I’d pick her up at closing time and we’d catch a late movie (a dollar a ticket).

That date was super, too. Annie was even happy to share my popcorn. It was on our third date that everything went south.

We agreed to meet at a café in the city for lunch. I rode the Metro bus in, using my monthly pass. We took an outside table—I’ve read that people tend to linger over meals eaten outdoors. Maybe, I thought, she wouldn’t have time for dessert.

Annie and I were enjoying our third refill of coffee (free) when that blurting problem showed itself. “Look, Annie,” I said. “Here comes a gal with a drop-kick dog.” Annie’s eyes widened, and she looked over her shoulder.

To my astonishment, she jumped out of her chair and hugged the woman, then allowed the little dog to wriggle free and jump into her arms. I couldn’t help noticing that the dog’s nails were polished pink, and there was a silly pink bow between her ears.

Then, to my further astonishment, Annie whirled back at me, her face pale and her voice low. “You haven’t met my friend, John. This is Claire, who very nicely took my appointment at the groomer so I could have lunch with you. And this drop-kick dog…” She held the pooch close to my face. “…is my Pomeranian, Miss Princess Periwinkle. And you are a…a…” Annie looked pleadingly at her friend. “Will you take me home, Claire?”

As I watched their retreat, I thought in desperation: Fix this, fix this NOW, before it’s too late. Annie could be the one…But some other part of my brain was calculating cab fare to the suburb where Annie lived. Close to forty bucks…I’ll fix it tomorrow, I thought, and I paid the bill and rode the bus home.

I thought about Annie constantly.

She didn’t return my phone calls for five days.

I should have followed her…

I bought a dozen pink roses and had them delivered to Annie’s house. $64.00, plus $13.99 for delivery.

No response.

I should have followed her…

I sent a bouquet of gourmet caramel apples to her store when I knew she’d be at work. Apples: $199. 92. Delivery: $12.99.

Response: silence.

I should have followed her…

After two weeks had passed, I knew what I had to do if I ever wanted to reach Annie.

I made the necessary arrangements and asked Kate to make up a story and drive Annie to my place. Annie wouldn’t know my house; she’d never been here. I’d take it from there.

I don’t know what story Kate came up with, but it must have been good. I watched as her car pulled up, but Kate stayed inside while Annie walked to the door and rang my doorbell. I disguised my voice and called out “Come in.”

When Annie opened the door, she saw me on the living room floor, surrounded by three Pomeranian puppies…I hadn’t been able to choose. Have you ever seen a Pomeranian puppy? I tell you, hardly anything’s cuter. Oh, yeah…they were a bargain at $950 each.

I should have followed her, all right.

Annie took it all in, then her eyes softened and a grin brightened her face. “Oh, John…” She scooped up two of the puppies, and they enthusiastically kissed her pretty cheeks.

Lucky puppies.

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This article has been read 1462 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sheri Gordon01/10/08
This story really works for me because I, too, am "thrifty", and I love numbers. Illustrating the topic with simple math is very creative, and quite effective. Great job with the topic.
Sara Harricharan 01/10/08
Heehee, poor guy. I could almost feel sorry for him. Annie's a great gal though. I liked how you used the prices of things throughout the story, like $950 for the puppies apiece, etc. Great job.
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/10/08
This story works for me because I love romance and puppies and great writing.
Temple Miller01/10/08
The last exchange is oh, so sweet. I love the irony in this piece. Great work!
Lynda Schultz 01/10/08
This is sooooooooo good! And I love the ending.
Marita Thelander 01/10/08
This story works for me simply because I am laughing long after I finished reading it! Pink Nail polish????? BWAHAHA!
LaNaye Perkins01/10/08
This is just precious and sounds so much like a man falling in love. This is one of my favorites this week. Well done!
TJ Nickel01/11/08
Light, fun, perfect for the topic, and the details...the details weave into this story masterfully. I enjoyed it a great deal.
Joanne Sher 01/11/08
Clever and cute and fun. I just may have a guess who wrote this one :)Love the MC's voice/personality.
Joy Faire Stewart01/11/08
Love the MC's voice. A fun piece...one of my favorites this week. Excellent!
Sharlyn Guthrie01/12/08
I recognized Mr. Thrifty. I think he's in my family! Great story writing details...the mountings bills as he tried to "fix" his mistake, and of course the final sentence. Excellent!
Karen Wilber01/12/08
This one hooked me because I just had to see what happened to the guy after "It was on our third date that everything went south." The repetition of the amounts and the chorus "I should have followed her" is masterful. I did not expect the puppy purchase and the last line is great. Fantastic short story.
Catrina Bradley 01/13/08
I like this one a lot. Quoting the price for everything added a punch to the MC's personality. Of course, I wouldn't have chased after someone, or spent that much money on someone, with no sense of humor. I wanted to drop-kick Annie and tell her to get over it. :)
Rita Garcia01/14/08
LOVE IT! Master storytelling from start to finish!
Ann Renae Hair01/14/08
I busted a LOL at the last line. LOVED this story from first to last. Lucky puppies indeed! What a hoot.
LauraLee Shaw01/14/08
OH, my goodness, I am in stitches! Excellent piece!
Catherine Pollock01/14/08
I agree with pretty much everything that's already been said. The last line was great!
Sally Hanan01/14/08
Brilliant. I'm still smiling. You nailed us misers well :)
Holly Westefeld01/14/08
Well, I'd never heard the term "a drop-kick
dog." before, but context clued me in to how badly he had stuck his foot in his mouth. I realize we only have 750 words, but the sudden enlightenment and love of drop-kick
dogs seemed a bit contrived, though love can do strange things to a person.
James Clem 01/14/08
oh man - those dogs are going to cost money every month. Plus... you're now the 5th most important person in the house.
Jan - the topic was "save nine" - I don't see any Savings here - poor guy!
Temple Miller01/14/08
I should have know this entry was your's, Jan. It has your fingerprints all over it - characteristic quality!
Dee Yoder 01/14/08
Hey...I think I dated this guy once...was he around in the late '70's? (If it wasn't this guy, it was his twin-he made me SHARE a meal with him.) I didn't stick around to find out if love changed my date, but I'm glad this guy changed. Great take on the topic!
Betty Castleberry01/14/08
Creative, fun, on topic. Need I say more? Thumbs up.
Linda Watson Owen01/14/08
Oh, what a delight! It's as cute as one of those little poms! LOL! Jan, you're a master at creating 'put a smile on your face' characters. Loved it...loved it!!
Peter Stone01/16/08
Wonderful article. I was in stitches (sorry) seeing the stingy guy having to spend more and more money in attempt to fix what could have been fixed if he had apologized straight away.
Corinne Smelker 01/16/08
I read this last week before I knew it was yours and found it hysterical! Loved the ending! Hope he gets the girl!
Tim Pickl01/16/08
'Mr. Thrifty' gets puppy love! I love it...especially the last line. Perfect Valentines Day story, too.
Beth LaBuff 01/16/08
I fell in love with Mr Thrifty! :) What a great guy. (all it took was the right woman). You've written this perfectly (as usual :). I love it. Thanks.
Julie Ruspoli01/16/08
Great message and the 'Awww!' factor at the end was perfect.
Loren T. Lowery01/16/08
Smiling ear to ear, mainly because I've been there and done that! It hardly ever pays to be frugal---espcially if you're courting the one you love.
Really liked the creative take on the topic.
Patty Wysong01/16/08
Delightful! Absolutely deeeligtful. :-) and I hope he gets the girl! :-)
James Dixon01/16/08
How come women are so much better at seeing into the opposite sex than men? Brilliant.
Rita Garcia01/17/08
Debbie Wistrom02/12/08
Looking at what kinds of things are considered for the EC, and so glad I did, because I found this happy and touchy piece, hope he still isn't a bachelor.