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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Persuasion (not about the book) (09/01/11)

TITLE: Driving Ms. Ethel
By Bryan Ridenour


“Honey, it's time for you t' stop drivin'.”

Stooped with age, Ethel strained to straighten her spine, setting her jaw stubbornly. “I'm not ready t' hang up m' keys,” she complained, striking the hardwood floor with her cane for emphasis.

Earl shuffled to his recliner and eased down. “Dear, you'll have t' admit, y'r eyesight's failin' and your reflexes ain’t what they used to be.”

“Earl, I passed m' eye test when I renewed m' license.” She hobbled into the kitchen, fuming.

Earl groaned, pushing to his feet; he trailed behind slowly. “But y'r eyes have been worse lately.” He watched as she grabbed a box from the pantry and opened the refrigerator, hefting the milk jug to the counter.

“How has it gotten worse Earl?”

Earl settled into a dining room chair. “Well, two weeks ago you encountered that rat in the garage and you thought it was the neighbor's Yorkie.”

Ethel scowled at her husband. “That coulda happened to anybody.”

“But, honey, you tried commandin' that rat to sit for a treat. And when he didn't, you called the Trottenfelders and told them t' come pick up their stupid mutt.”


“So?” Earl asked incredulously. “That's an AKC champion canine. Harry still won't talk t' me and he's borrowin' m' favorite walker.” Earl stood with some difficulty and poured himself a cup of coffee. “And now I know he won't loan us his Hoveround for our trip to the Mall of America.”

She poured milk into the cereal bowl. “OK, so I messed up with th' rat,” she huffed. “One little mistake ain’t too bad.”

Earl sipped from his cup, winced, blew on his steaming drink and pressed on. “But that's not the only thing, Ethel. A couple of days ago you said we were going to have beef stew...some of that canned stuff from the Piggly Wiggly.”

She crossed her arms across her chest. “Canned stuff ain’t that bad.”

“No,” he nodded, “you're right. But didn't you think it tasted a little....strong.”

She shook her head. “Earl you know m' mouth was numb from the dentist.”

“Exactly,” Earl agreed. “You didn't know that you simmered up two heapin' cans of sauerkraut.”

Ethel stared at Earl, surprised. “I wondered why you didn't touch your supper.”

“I wish you wouldn't a touched yours. It's adversely affected your bowels...and the air quality.”

Ethel's face colored furiously. “So, I've messed up twice. Coulda happened to anybody.”

Earl tottered to Ethel, and snatched away her spoon. “And I've got a third example.” Earl dumped the contents of the bowl into the sink, flipping on the disposal. “You were about to eat detergent for breakfast.''

Ethel slumped into a chair. “Maybe you're right.” She swiped a tear streaming down her cheek. “But how am I supposed to go get m' hair done at the salon, or take advantage of the early bird sales and double coupon days on Efferdent down at Major's Mercantile?”

Earl rifled through a drawer and retrieved a pamphlet, sticking it in her hand. “Here's how.”

“Public transportation?” she questioned, skeptically.

“Yep,” Earl nodded. “The bus runs right by here everyday.”

“I don't know,” she responded uncertain. “Don't a lot of shady characters ride on public transportation?”

Earl slapped the counter. “Shady characters? Your son...drives... the bus!”

“Well, maybe,” she said, warming to the idea. She paused, thinking. “And he can protect me from the riff raff.”

“Then it's settled,” he announced. “I'll call Junior and add you to his route.”

“Great hon,” she said smiling, sporting her new dentures.

Earl wrapped his arms around his wife. “Maybe I shoulda let you eat a spoonful of those granules.”

“Why?” she asked, embracing her husband.

“It mighta cleaned you out.” He backed away suddenly.

“What's wrong Earl?”

Earl's nose wrinkled noticeably. “Do me a favor?”

“OK,” she agreed.

Earl scurried off to the living room, spraying a trail of air freshener. “Next time, let me make the beef stew!”

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This article has been read 534 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Tracy Nunes 09/08/11
Great dialogue. Easy to follow and I enjoyed the characters. This would have also been a perfect entry for A Comedy of Errors.
Virgil Youngblood 09/08/11
Earl must have been a retired car salesman. That fella closed a hard sale. Definitely a fun read.
Rhonda Ritenour09/09/11
This entry had me smiling the whole way through and wondering what the characters might say next! Enjoyable dialogue! Keep up the good work!
C D Swanson 09/09/11
Altogether a cute pleasant fun read. Nicely done. God Bless~
Janice Cartwright09/11/11
Now ya quit preachin' and gone ta meddlin' Earl. lol Authentic dialogue and scenario. Something tells me this was written by someone who knows a thing or two about us geezers.
Linda Goergen09/11/11
This was so funny! And a realistic topic for sure as I remember the battle it was to have my parents stop driving! Enjoyed the read and the laugh!
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/12/11
Delightful reading--beginning to end!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/13/11
Oh this is hysterical! I laughed at every line. I could empathize with Ethel. My family worries about my eyesight but I passed the eye exam with ease. However if I ever mistake sauerkraut for stew I'll hand over my keys. You are brilliant!
Catherine Maher09/13/11
Now that's what I call pursuasion, ha ha especially as folks get older. I appreciated this piece b/c it shows a pretty good way to keep your cool and remain loving with the older generation. thanks
Carole Robishaw 09/13/11
Wondren' Iffen I represent this piece!
Helen Curtis09/14/11
This is so funny! Thanks for the laugh!
Loren T. Lowery09/14/11
You've done a good job in fleshing out these two characters; especially being able to show the love that existed between them. I liked too, that you've showed that although the body may give out, the mind can still be quick. I liked also that you gave Ms. Ethel the comfort of knowing she'd be in good hands by someone driving the bus. Such assurance is sometimes beyond measure.
marcella franseen09/14/11
What a cute story! Really enjoyed it.
Joey Parker 09/14/11
The dialogue was very well done and I can easily see this playing out in houses all around where I live. Nice work.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 09/15/11
Congratulations for placing 22nd overall.