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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Phew! (02/11/10)

TITLE: Electrician Goes Overboard


It’s a strain to keep your face blank.

Your wife says, “Relax your jaw, Decker—it’s just one day.”

“But I’m an electrician,” you say.

Your wife tilts her head and crinkles her forehead. In spite of the look, you feel fairly certain she’s feigning the sympathy. “Find the dress first,” she instructs, picking up her overnight bag. “Then, go for shoes and accessories. Sorry to run out on you like this, but mom needs me, and I’ll be back tomorrow before the dance.” She misses your cheek, pecks your nose. You hear her voice trail off down the driveway. “…she looks hideous in yellow and orange.”

The following morning you wait for your daughter to arise. The hours tick by. You forgot to ask for guidance regarding this. At ten you call her cell phone.

“Dad—you let me sleep too long!”

While she gets dressed, you go to the computer, pull up a diagram of the mall and decide on a circuit that avoids unnecessary double-backing or criss-crossing. You need to do this right. You haven’t shopped with Leandra since she was four when you bought her dress-up clothes for her friend’s tea party. She’s almost sixteen now.

On the way to the mall, you explain the plan. Leandra says, “But, Dad, we don’t shop at the mall.”

“We don’t?”

She shakes her head.

“Where do—“

“Mom likes Kohls.”

“Which is—“

She swings her thumb over her shoulder. “Back that way.”

You pull a wifferdill through a gas station to circumvent U-turning across six lanes of traffic.

“Woo-hoo,” laughs Leandra.

The interior of Kohl’s is altogether too overstuffed with prints, colors, and textures to find anything specific, but you dutifully follow your daughter from one rack to another. You spot a pink fru-fruey dress and hold it up. “How about this?” you ask.

Leandra looks from you to the dress and back. “You’re letting me get spaghetti straps?”

This should be a clue.

She takes the dress, returns it to the rack. “You know, Dad, there’s this place at the mall I’ve been wanting to go...”

Back in the truck Leandra asks, “Mind if I change stations?”

“Pick anything you want,” you answer. “Well, within reason.” You realize it’s been ages since you’ve listened to 60s rock n’ roll. Ellen programmed your radio, and you’ve never thought to change the settings.

Once you reach the mall, you try reverting to the plan by parking at the South Entrance. Leandra says, “Oh, not here. The store’s at the other end.” You put the car in reverse and merge back onto the loop. “I think I need a haircut, too, Dad…something with bangs. Maybe.”

“You’d look nice in bangs,” you say.

“Really? Mom’s not so hot on them.”

The day progresses among a tangle of destinations. You gain firsthand knowledge of what a boutique is, how to pronounce it, and how you can save a ton of money by shopping the back corners. You learn how a moderate platform shoe doesn’t really over arch the foot; how your daughter’s drowning in math class, absolutely despises changing in the locker room, and adores a sophomore named, Seth, who, incidentally, will be at tonight’s dance. All this and how mineral-based make-up reduces acne.

You glean from some of what is said, and some of what's not said, that your wife has some control issues. Yet, foolishly, the doubts, second-guessing, and fear don’t really kick in until Leandra’s upstairs getting ready and Ellen’s outside parking the car.

An image appears in your mind’s eye—your daughter making her grand entrance into the living room. She’s wearing a black strapless mini-dress with fringe at the hem. Perhaps you went overboard. Waves churn through your gut as Ellen opens the front door and announces in three syllables, “I’m ho-ome.’ She drops her bag.

“Ellen, you’re home.”

“Come here, Decker—you big lug of handsomeness.”

And now someone’s really coming down the stairs—clopping because she’s just not used to peep-toed platforms.

Your wife gasps. “Black?”

“It’s not orange,” you point out.

“Eye shadow!”


“Hoop Earrings!”



“Lightly conditioned.”

“Decker!” she yells. You wish lighting would zap you. Poof.

But then she crumbles. “It’s all my fault,” she cries. “I didn’t give you enough guidance.”

Phew! That was a close one, buddy.

Tomorrow you can tackle the problem of exactly how much guidance she likes to give.

For tonight, breathe easy.

Every man deserves to savor a rare and poetic victory.

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This article has been read 732 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Beth LaBuff 02/18/10
Somehow I was under the impression (from your title) that you entry had to do with the ocean. :) You have "man's logic" down pat with the mall diagram to avoid unnecessary double-backing. LOL! "Wifferdill" is a new word for me. :) I enjoyed Dad's assertiveness and the mother's reaction. … a lot of entertaining fun here!
Loren T. Lowery02/19/10
I could so identify - with everything!Tereffic job.
Laury Hubrich 02/19/10
Poor guy...He had such good intentions:) Funny stuff.
Bryan Ridenour02/20/10
Superb. I'm probably looking at this scenario in about 14 years with my little princess:) You also introduced me to a new word- "wifferdill." Well written and fun to read! Great job!
Earl Taylor02/22/10
I went shopping with my daughter once; spent too much money I didn't have and let her buy some out-landish looking outfits that she never wore. It was a fun read for me
Chely Roach02/22/10
This was brilliant. I loved the POV...perfect for the tone of this. Great characterization of Decker, and an even sharper one of Leandra knowing the exact moment she had him in her clutches. So, so funny, cause it's so, so true:) I'm still grinning...
Barbara Lynn Culler02/22/10
Great story. Mother should have known better!
Jackie Wilson02/22/10
This was a hoot! What a sweet guy, trying so hard to please the women in his life! Thoroughly enjoyed this.
Gregory Kane02/22/10
I think that I'm suddenly glad that I only have sons. I'm lucky if I can get them to change their socks from time to time.
Wonderfully exquisit writing. Your title also threw me but the rest more than made up for it.
Sarah Elisabeth 02/23/10
Oh my, what a masterful piece of writing!
Rachel Phelps02/23/10
Awesome and challenging person/tense. So perfect I can't help but keep giggling as I write this.
Mariane Holbrook 02/24/10
You just keep getting better all the time! What a fun read! I enjoyed every single word! Thank you!!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 02/24/10
I wasn't sure I liked the POV at first. It seemed awkward to me, but before I hit the middle you had me. Good job. You tackled every dilemma beautifully.
Lollie Hofer02/24/10
This was a fun story to read. I felt sorry for Decker because he was in over his head. On the other hand, he was kind of ornery in allowing his daughter to do things "differently", knowing there would be repercussions when his wife got home. Good story.
Jim McWhinnie 02/24/10
Ah, the dangers involved in being the father of a daughter.
Edmond Ng 02/24/10
I can feel the pace in the story. Phew! It's certainly not easy to be the father of a daughter, especially when it comes to shopping. LoL! (",)
Cindy Carver02/25/10
Very cute story. An enjoyable read with all very likeable characters. Very nice.
Sarah Elisabeth 02/25/10
I knew this one would be up there! Are you going for an Olympic record in EC's Lisa? :-D
Joy Faire Stewart02/25/10
Loved the voice in this fun story. Congrautlations on your EC win!
Carol Penhorwood 02/25/10
Loved this POV. Great job!
Noel Mitaxa 02/25/10
Right from the beginning I knew your MC was hard-wired for failure. But congratulations on keeping the lightness flowing along towards an inevitably morbid close. Very well done.
Catrina Bradley 02/25/10
Congrats, Lisa! I love the voice and the POV, and I can't help but feel sorry for poor Decker. And yes, his wife seems to have come control issues. Nice Job!!
Beth LaBuff 02/25/10
Congrats, Lisa, on your Editor's Choice with this oceanic story! :)
Sheri Gordon02/25/10
Congrats on your EC, Lisa. This story makes me laugh and I was so glad to see it place.