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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Funny (10/04/12)

TITLE: Absentmindedly Accidental
By Leola Ogle


Cal didn’t mean to do it. It was really an accident, although to hear Mavis tell it, it was deliberate, despite his adamant denial to the contrary.

Cal and Mavis had been married for over fifty years when the incident happened. They truly loved each other. If you spent any time at all around them, you might have your doubts about their love because they constantly snapped and harped at each other. Over the years, it had become a habitual interaction between them that neither took offense at.

It happened during a trip between Texas and California. They made this trip several times a year because they had children, grandchildren and homes in both locations. As usual, these trips were full of their endless picking at each other.

“You chose where we ate breakfast, Cal. I get to choose lunch, so just zip it, buster.”

“Mavis, I am not lost. Wanna drive? I’ll bite your finger if you stick that map in my face again.”

“Cal, that’s not how the movie ended. Humph, you big dummy. You slept through the whole thing.”

“Mavis, I do not slurp my soup. If the way I eat bothers you, eat by yourself and see if I care.”

This was typical of most conversations that occurred between Cal and Mavis. People who knew them just smiled in amusement at their spirited exchanges. People who didn’t know them stared in bewilderment, or fear that a brawl was about to erupt.

Although there were times when each would like to ditch the other, what happened at the truck stop that day was simply because of wounded feelings. This particular road trip their barbs at each other were more heated than usual, perhaps because of the stack of boxes that separated them on the front seat blocking their view of each other.

Normally they never put anything on the seat between them, but this time it was either leave some things behind, or stack them on the front seat because the trunk and back seat were full. It wasn’t as much fun to carry on a conversation with someone you couldn’t see. However, the inability to see each other caused them to be more cutting with their barbs. By the time they arrived at the truck stop, they both felt out of sorts and hadn’t spoken for ten minutes.

While Cal fueled up, Mavis got out of the car, slamming the door. She flung over her shoulder, “I’m going to use the restroom, Cal.”

He knew she was angry. “Fine, Mavis, fine,” he snarled, still stinging from her statement that he should leave his hair alone because she thought his comb-over looked stupid. “Who cares if you’re bald, Cal. You trying to catch a younger woman or something?”

Why did she say that? All he’d done was compliment her about how beautiful she was when they got married. In fact, he raved about it for awhile. Then when she coyly asked if he still thought she was beautiful, she should’ve known he was joking when he replied, “Sweetheart, you’re as old and wrinkled as a prune.”

She wailed like he’d shot her, flailing her arms and knocking a box off the stack between them. It hit him in the head, causing him to jerk the wheel. “Mavis, are you crazy?” was the last words either had spoken.

When Cal took off from the truck stop, he decided he’d keep on with the silent treatment and let Mavis stew a little longer. It lasted for about ten minutes before he decided he would take the high road and break the strained silence. “Listen, Mavis, I do think you’re beautiful. I’m sorry. There, I said it, okay? I’m sorry.”

No answer. He could imagine her sitting on her side of the boxes, arms crossed and scowling. Well, let her fume all day for all he cared. It was going to be a long, quiet trip, and good riddance to all the yapping.

Five more minutes of silence, and he felt his eyes getting heavy. At least all the yammering at each other kept him awake. “Woman, either say you’re not mad anymore, or I’ll stop the car. I should’ve just left you at the truck stop.”

And that’s when Cal realized that was exactly what he’d done, left his darling wife at the truck stop. In the ensuing weeks of repeatedly telling the story, neither Mavis nor Cal understood why everyone thought it was so funny.

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This article has been read 516 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Anita van der Elst10/11/12
Some great realistically discordant marital dialogue in this story. Not that I would know that from experience. LOL. But I will admit that I have had personal experience with the absentminded husband, who forgot he dropped me off at the library. Not so hilarious then but we find it pretty funny when we talk about it now. Hope Cal & Mavis are able to see the humor in their little separation soon.
Noel Mitaxa 10/12/12
Great build-up with such vivid characters and dialogue to an hilarious close. Well done.
C D Swanson 10/12/12
Hahahahahahahahahahahaha! Great job with this, and so realistically portrayed. I loved the ending.

God Bless~
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/14/12
I thought it was funny. Great story.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/17/12
You definitely took me by surprise with the ending. Though you did set it up with the title and "the last word either of them had spoken." Hmm maybe that was cheating just a tad! :) I do like being surprised though so even if it was a tad sneaky, or in reality a touch of comic genius, I'm delighted by the umph that the ending gave me. I could feel my eyes bulging and I laughed out loud.

My only red ink was that it felt more like telling than showing. Maybe instead of telling Cal didn't mean to do it show it by something like Cal pounded his fist into his open hand. "It was totally an accident." might be more showing.

However, even with the tiny red ink this story was an absolute delight. I can see why you did more telling too as the he said she said is a big part of the conflict. You handled the dialog masterfully. I'm sure just about everyone can relate to this odd couple. My first thoughts were of Ethyl and Fred from I love Lucy. That's a huge compliment because I believe everyone involved in that show was genius. You definitely nailed the topic and did a delightful job of building the suspense. I so enjoyed this delightful piece.
Myrna Noyes10/17/12
I thought the dialogue and your characterization of the couple were well done. It was a very cute story! :)
PamFord Davis 10/18/12
Congratulations, Leola!

Wing His Words!
Genia Gilbert10/18/12
Congratulations, Leola. I've been absent from the challenge for a few weeks, and didn't realize you were now in level 4--where you obviously belong! This is a great piece, though a little too true to my experience in over 50 years of marriage. (^_^)
Loren T. Lowery10/18/12
This definitely had me chuckling - wasn't expecting the ending, but it could not have been more perfect. Congratulations!
Myrna Noyes10/18/12
CONGRATULATIONS on your well-deserved E.C. and level wins for this humorous piece!
Karen Pourbabaee 10/18/12
This was a delight to read! Congratulations, Leola, on your placings this week!
Noel Mitaxa 10/18/12
Congratulations on such an hilarious piece of writing - even the judges agree with us. Great work.
Danielle King 10/19/12
The couple were just like me and my husband who have survived 43 years of tit-for-tat. This was really funny. Congratulations!
Bea Edwards 10/19/12
Loved the exchanges only 'old' married folks could understand. But your wonderful piece also gave me pause and caused me to reconsider how my seemingly harmless pokes might not be so meaningless to my best half.
Thank you and congratulations!
C D Swanson 10/19/12
Congratulations Leola! Nicely done. God bless~
Beth LaBuff 10/20/12
LOL! These two brought a laugh to me this evening. What a story. Yes, it is funny! (no matter what they think) :) Super congrats on your ribbon and Editor's Choice award.