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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Importance of Being Earnest (not about the play) (08/04/11)

TITLE: Seriously, Herman
By Donna Powers


Tonight should have been the happiest night of my life.

A few minutes ago, I asked Harriet to marry me. I planned everything so carefully, but I guess I didn’t plan carefully enough.

My name is Herman Hooper. I’m a stand-up comic. Comedy’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. I’m not exactly a “10” in the looks department, but I’ve always been able to make people laugh. When I was old enough for my first job, it was as a waiter at the Comedy Club. Here, I can learn from successful comics and be ready to take any open spots on the stage.

One night, a group of girls came in for a bachelorette party. The bride was a lovely brunette and most of the girls were her sisters. Now, I’ve got nothing against lovely brunettes, but Harriet stood out.

Maybe it’s because she was the only blonde in the group. Maybe it’s because she laughed at every joke I told; even the corniest ones. Her appreciative laugh and sparkling eyes drew me back to that table again and again.

When I could see her group was ready to leave, I presented Harriet with a bouquet of flowers (the kind that squirt water out of the center) and she laughed at that, too.

“I’m Herman Hooper,” I told her.

“Is that your real name?” she asked.

“Unfortunately,” I answered. She laughed again. I got her phone number, and the rest is history.

Harriet is everything I’ve ever dreamed of, in a woman. She has cornflower blue eyes curly blonde hair and a wonderful laugh. Her eyes sparkle when she likes something, and when they sparkle for me… wow.

I want those eyes to sparkle for me; for the rest of our lives.

Tonight, she probably knew I’d be asking the Big Question. We’ve talked about marriage and she knew I wouldn’t ask until I had a fulltime job. Henrietta works as an art teacher and makes a steady salary, but she doesn’t want to wonder if she’ll be supporting me.

Just last week, the Comedy Club’s longtime announcer announced his retirement, and the manager asked me to take over that spot.

Tonight, I took Harriet to her favorite restaurant. I waited until dessert was served. Harriet studied her dessert thoroughly, before eating it. She might have suspected I’d put a ring inside it, but I wanted a slightly more traditional approach.

I bent toward her. “Harriet I love you, and I have something I want to ask you.”

Her eyes sparkled in anticipation. “All right, Herman, go ahead.”

So, I got up from my chair and opened the ring box. She caught a glimpse of the diamond and gasped.

Slowly, I walked over to her chair. I extended the box, so she could take a better look. Her eyes never left that box – which is what I was counting on.

Slowly, I bent down; ready to kneel. As I went down – with her still staring at the box - I whipped out a red clown nose and stuck it over mine. To make the moment complete: when I hit the floor, my knee activated a Whoopee Cushion I’d previously placed there, for that purpose.

It did its job.

I began, “Harriet, will you…”

“No!” she interrupted me. “Don’t ask me. Don’t you dare; Herman.”

Her eyes no longer sparkled.

“But, Harriet…

She shook her head. Tears had begun to course down her face. “Is everything a joke to you? Is this a joke? Will our marriage be a joke?”

“But, Harriet …”

“Herman, I know what you do for a living. I think your act is funny. But getting married isn’t a joke – and I won’t discuss marriage with you until I know you’re as serious about it as you should be.”

With that, she stood and marched out of the restaurant; leaving me alone; with my deflated Whoopee Cushion.

Slowly, I stood up and closed the ring box. The one thing I know how to do had failed me. Harriet is everything I’ve ever dreamed of in a woman - and I can’t imagine my life without her. Suddenly, I understood: comedy is my career, but our marriage can’t be a joking matter.

Slowly, I put the Whoopee Cushion in the nearest trash can; took off my nose and ignored the other patrons as they stared at me.

I started after Harriet. It’s time for this comedian to get serious.

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This article has been read 568 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Andrea Willard 08/13/11
Seriously, Herman flowed nicely. In my imagination they get married and raise a beautiful bunch of kids. Write on.
C D Swanson 08/13/11
The proposal was based on the "initial meeting" where she loved his comic style and wit...So I can see where he brought levity into the proposal. I liked it, and I feel he will get the bride when he tells her "in earnest" how much he cares. Nice job! God Bless~
Margaret Kearley 08/15/11
A great story - well written and enjoyable. Hope it works out for him! (I was though a little confused by the introduction of 'Henrietta' in the middle of the story - guess it was in error?)
Linda Goergen08/15/11
It stalled me too when Harriet suddenly seemed to become "Henrietta", when talking about the job situation?? Otherwise an interesting story, that although seems lighthearted carries a serious message. I agree with Harriet, there is a time and place for joking and a time when we need to be serious. Enjoyed the read.
Lillian Rhoades 08/17/11
Let me say that I think I KNOW you meant Harriet rather than Henrietta. I know full well what it's like to think about several names for characters, settle on one, but have the other one linger in your head. At least, I think I'm right. I loved the easy intimate voice of your MC, it flowed along, giving us sufficient insight into his thoughts. Your title was SO appropriate, just perfect.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/20/11
Congratulations for placing 9th in Masters and 14th overall.