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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Memory (07/10/08)

TITLE: Salesmen, Soaps, and Sitcoms
By Betty Castleberry
07/13/08


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Etta Jo removed the stopper from the cheap cologne. The pungent scent instantly filled the shop.

Lorene held her nose. “That stuff stinks.”

“I like it. It reminds me of Wade Lawson. He always liked it, too.”

“If you like it that much, keep it. I’ll never sell it anyway. And Wade Lawson? You mean that big guy that used to go through town selling brushes door-to-door?”

“Yep. Did you know he had a thing for me?”

“No, and I don’t want to hear about it.”

Etta swept her gray hair back in a dramatic gesture and rested her wrinkled elbows on the counter. “As my best friend, I thought you might be interested. Wade must have thought I was special because he always offered me a discount.”

“Maybe he needed the business.”

“No, that wasn’t it. The whole thing started the first time he knocked on my door, wearing a gray suit and skinny tie. Remember those skinny ties they wore back in the 50’s?”

Lorene nodded and handed her a fountain drink.

Etta took a sip and continued. “It was hot, so I asked him in. First I made sure Lizzie Hermann wasn’t peeking out her window. You know how nosey she is. Wade showed me some brushes and power cleaner for the bathroom. I got to noticing he wasn’t bad looking.”

“Good grief, Etta. Wade looked like a bull dog.”

“You didn’t see him when he talked about his brushes. His face went soft. I’ll never understand why he wasn’t a better salesman, because he really believed in his product. Anyway, that’s not the point. After that, I always invited him in, and he started confiding in me. The reason he never married was because he had a hereditary condition that caused him to sleep walk. Claimed he did all kinds of things while he was sleeping and never remembered them. He said he once drove to a fancy Italian restaurant, ate dinner, then drove back home without ever waking up. The only way he found out was when he checked his pockets the next morning and found a receipt from Luigi’s Spaghetti Emporium. Being a salesman, he always kept a close eye on his car mileage, and he found just enough extra mileage on the odometer to get him to the restaurant and back.”

“Do you expect me to believe that?”

Etta narrowed her eyes. “He woke up with heartburn, too, but that’s not all. His sister used to be the maid for a bachelor millionaire who made his fortune in toothpaste. She earned a huge salary and got all the free toothpaste she wanted. Wade said she had the prettiest teeth you ever saw. Well, one day when his sister went to work, this millionaire handed her a check. Said he was tired of living a life of luxury and was running off to a deserted island. He gave Wade’s sister his entire fortune.”

Lorene folded her arms. “Nobody gives their entire fortune away.”

“Well, he did, and I heard more. After Wade’s father died, his mother wanted to remarry, but his brother was opposed to it. His brother couldn’t talk her out of it, though. Just as she and her groom were about to say “I do”, a scruffy bearded man ran into the church and yelled, “Stop the wedding!” Etta lifted an eyebrow. “Do you know who he was?”

“I have no idea,” Lorene replied.

“It was the toothpaste millionaire. Turns out he made a radio out of coconuts or something, and heard about the wedding. He wanted Wade’s mother for himself. It worked out great because his mom had secretly been in love with the millionaire all along. Evidently, there were enough sparks flying between them to power up a 747. Now they both live a simple life on his island, and rumor has it they’ve discovered a plant that may be the cure for sleep walking.”

“That’s the most far-fetched nonsense I’ve ever heard. In fact, it sounds like a soap opera.”

Etta Jo went blank. “I don’t recall things as clearly as I used to. I suppose some of it could be from “The Secret Storm. Maybe even Gilligan’s Island.”

“A defunct soap opera and sit com?”

“”I had to fill in the gaps.”

“Let’s forget it.”

Etta Jo sighed. “Looks like that won’t be a problem for me, Lorene.”


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This article has been read 683 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 07/17/08
Fuller Brush man or Watkins? Delightful!
Betsy Markman07/17/08
I felt like I knew these two old ladies, and I liked them a lot! You have a great imagination.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/17/08
I fell in love with Etta and her wonderful made-up stories. I even loved "unlovable" Lorene. Excellent characterization and humor in this piece.
Sara Harricharan 07/18/08
ROFL! This is hilarious! I am still chuckling, I loved the way this story was just going, this is definitely top notch for creativity and I loved the ending best of all. Great job! ^_^
Marsha Landers07/19/08
What an uplifting story. I enjoyed it so much!
Joanne Sher 07/19/08
This had to have been an absolute HOOT to write. I LOVED reading it! Just a joy to read, and I don't think I stopped laughing the whole time.
Rhonda Clark 07/19/08
Too cute. I know more than a few ladies who would do something like that. It's such fun to listen to them.

My granddad would tell stories like that on purpose.

Chely Roach07/20/08
This was HILARIOUS! Loved it!
Joanney Uthe07/20/08
Hmmm, seems Wade was selling more than brushes, or Etta was, one of the two. This is just hillarious. I really enjoyed it.
Sheri Gordon07/20/08
Very fun to read--I could picture your fingers having a hard time keeping up with your brain as this story came tumbling out. Great job with the topic.
Mariane Holbrook07/20/08
As hard as I laughed reading this, I can only imagine how you must have laughed writing it. Very, very funny material! Kudos!
Lyn Churchyard07/20/08
This just got betterer and betterer the more I read! Masterful job.
Melanie Kerr 07/21/08
Very entertaining. I worry some say that I will be like this - mixing up fact and fiction and not quite having a handle on reality!
Dee Yoder 07/21/08
Oh my...these old ladies are a hoot! I thought I recognized Gilligan's Island when she told about the coconut radio-lol! Very funny take on the topic. (:
07/21/08
You have a great imagination, and a great way of bringing it out. I thought to myself, "Well, they always say, 'truth is stranger than fiction'." Then I got to wondering, this sounds like fiction sprinkled with fact--or fact, mingled with fiction...Guess it was both!...Helen
Lauryn Abbott07/23/08
Very funny. It offered a good laugh to wake up this morning! Thanks!
Deborah Engle 07/23/08
A memory that plays tricks on you? Oh no! And I think I have one of those.This could be me in a few years!
Loren T. Lowery07/23/08
No one can spin a yarn like you : ) Their conversation was reminiescent of dialogue one might hear from "Steel Magnolias" A delightful entry!
Yvonne Blake 07/23/08
**smile ** My husband says that I add to my memories too. I say it's poetic liberty.
Karen Wilber 07/23/08
What a hoot! I was sorry to get to the end of this bit of fun. Great storytelling with lots of laughs.
Joshua Janoski07/23/08
What a great imagination you have. Even though the story was a bit far fetched, I could picture it happening. In fact, I think I'm going to find me a nice woman that is heir to a massive toothpaste fortune. Not because I want the money. I just want to stay cavity free for free. :)

LaNaye Perkins07/24/08
Betty you have such a vivid and wonderful imagination. I loved this story. Well done my friend.