S.M.A.R.T Goals

Submitted into Contest #58 in response to: Write a story about someone feeling powerless.... view prompt

78 comments

Drama Funny


As someone who’d always considered himself a shining example of an emotionally healthy, well-adjusted adult male, Rodger never imagined he’d land up going to a life-coach for help. But then, he didn’t expect to find himself a walking cliché – middle-aged with an expanding waistline and wandering wife at the age of 43. The whole concept had seemed ridiculous before. Rodger no more needed someone to coach him in the finer points of living than he needed someone to teach him how to grow his hair. Or so he had thought.


Now, his once luxurious mane was falling out at about the same rate his life was falling apart, which was to say: rapidly.


One of the common features of a standard mid-life crisis, along with the purchasing of a Ferrari, is the random assignation of blame. Lacking the funds for the former, Rodger had had fully embraced the latter. It was all his wife’s fault, he told himself repeatedly.


The confidence - the zest for life - Lauren had provided in the early days of their marriage was exactly what seemed to be lacking in Rodger’s life ever since he’d sailed past the event horizon that was his 40th birthday. What Lauren had once given him, she had now taken away, and, as he found himself watching helplessly as his life crumbled before his eyes, Rodger resented her for it.


Their inevitable breakup loomed large in Rodger’s mind, and he was certain the reason was alienation of affection (he’d looked up that legal definition and far preferred it to my wife is sleeping around). Lauren was having an affair. He had no proof, but the signs were clear. She’d recently shed a few pounds, she’d started wearing makeup again and buying expensive new clothes that were far too young for a married woman in her early 40’s (mutton dressed as lamb, Rodger thought but wisely refrained from saying), and she seemed generally happier and healthier than she had in years. Her only complaint in life seemed to be with her hopeless husband. If Rodger’s life was on a distinctly downward trajectory, Lauren’s was going the opposite way. The only logical explanation was the intervention of a philanderous third party.


At the same time as blaming his wife for his present woes, Rodger recognized that if he could just do something to win her back, all would be well. Unfortunately, he had no idea as to what that something might be. Asking Lauren outright if she was seeing someone else would only cause another fight. When he mentioned the issue obliquely, remarking on her sudden transformation, she’d said only that it was down to the new life-coach she’d started seeing. She’d even recommended he give the whole self-improvement thing a go, although she did so with some colorful phrases like 'man up' and 'grow a pair' thrown in for good measure.


Lauren’s remark might have been of the off-hand variety, but Rodger, desperate to do anything to resuscitate his dying marriage, decided to give it a try. So, he made himself an appointment with Lauren’s life-coach, hoping that even if results weren’t forthcoming, his effort alone would show his wife his willingness to change. He could ill afford the unplanned expense but, on balance, it seemed the only logical thing he could do. Besides, he told himself, what's the worst that can happen? A bit of life-coaching never killed anyone.








Rodger arrived punctually for the appointment, as was his habit. The office looked exactly like a doctor’s consulting rooms – a utilitarian desk, devoid of paperwork, with a single chair before it, presumably for clients. On the walls, instead of depictions of the limbic system and step-by-step guides to effective hand hygiene, was a collection of cheesy motivational posters. The only way to guarantee failure is to never try, stated one in boldface print. Beneath was an image of a boy rising out of a wheelchair as if overcoming physical disabilities was only a matter of persistent effort. Just do it, exclaimed another in what seemed a brazen flouting of copyright laws.


Not a big fan of the self-help stuff, Rodger was put off immediately, a feeling only enhanced by the figure seated behind the desk. One generally expects professionals in their chosen fields to look the part – personal trainers need to be in shape, teachers must have a scholarly air about them – so it stood to reason that a life-coach would look like he had his shit together. This guy, however, seemed to have stepped off the cover of GQ, right down to the wavy blond hair and winning smile. Rodger, sucking in his gut and acutely aware of how his bald-spot must be gleaming in the overhead fluorescents, hated the man on sight.


“Hey, buddy, you must be Rodger. Mind if I call you Rodger? I’m Brad, expert life-coach at your service,” he continued without giving his new client a chance to reply. “Come on, take a seat. I can see we’ve got lots of work to do.”


Rodger complied, wondering if he was being insulted. He decided it didn’t matter. He just wanted to get this over with. “Look, Brad, I’m not even sure why I’m here – “


“Oh, so your life is going swimmingly then, is it? No problems at all?”


Now Rodger knew he was being insulted. As if being married to the queen of sarcasm wasn’t enough, he had to deal with a pretender to the throne. And pay for the privilege! “I didn’t say that,” he replied through clenched teeth. “I’m just not sure if you can help me, is what I meant.”


“Oh, I can’t help you.”


“Excuse me?”


“There’s only one person in the world who can do that, Rog my man. You. My job is to give you the tools to dig yourself out of whatever hole you’ve landed yourself in.”


Rog? The only thing he hated more than unnecessary abbreviations were unsolicited nicknames. Rodger was tempted to shorten the guy’s name to Bra in response – fitting, seeing how he was a tit – but better judgment prevailed and instead, he asked, “How’re you going to do that, exactly?” Looking at his watch as if to say and make it snappy.


“I’m so glad you asked.” Brad displayed his annoyingly perfect dental work. “You’ve come to me because you have a problem, something that’s ruining your life, and you have no idea what to do about it.” It was a statement, not a question. “Let me ask you this, Rog,” Brad continued. “How’d you feel if you woke up tomorrow and found your problem had been magically solved?”


“Um… pretty good, I guess?”


“I doubt it, buddy. You see, we all have only one problem in life – lack of power. We long to feel in control; to be in the driver’s seat. When things happen to us beyond our control – even good things – we feel helpless. Like spectators. Powerless. Why do you think most lottery winners land up worse off within a year than they were before their big payday? You don’t want your problem solved, Rodger, you want to solve your problem. You want to grab hold of whatever’s bothering you and choke the life out of it with your own bare hands. What you want, in a word, is power.


Rodger had to admit, grudgingly, that this made a lot of sense. As emasculating as losing his wife was, he didn’t just want Lauren to come running back to him for no reason. He wanted to win her back, to feel in control of his destiny again like he had when he was younger and could still get up from the sofa without making sound effects. “And you can give me that… power?”


“Absolutely! That’s why you pay me the big bucks.” Brad brayed a laugh as if this was wit of the highest order. “Let’s talk about goals, Rog. You have any?”


“Not really… Oh, wait. I did kind of decide to try lose some weight back in January. You know, like a new year’s resolution thing?”


“Whoah, buddy, no wonder your life’s a mess! Are you hearing yourself? Kind of? Try? Thing? And phrased as a question like that? Hell, it sounds like you’re asking permission! No, no, no, Rodger. Goals are the key to success, but they have to be firm. Definite. They’ve got to be SMART.


“Smart as in clever?”


“Nope, as in S-M-A-R-T. It’s an acronym, stands for: simple, measurable, achievable, realistic, and with a time-frame.” Brad counted each on a finger as if his client needed a visual aide to grasp the concept. “Let’s look at your goal, your resolution thing. It’s the antithesis of SMART. Try lose some weight? That’s not simple, you can’t measure it – what’s some weight? An ounce? A pound? Ten pounds? Fifty? – which means it’s definitely not achievable and is therefore in no way realistic. And, most important of all, there’s no time-frame. No deadline.”


Okay,” Rodger conceded, “I see what you mean. But don’t deadlines just add pressure and ensure failure?”


“Putting down a time-limit introduces the possibility of failure, sure, which is why people don’t like to add them to their goals. No one wants to fail. But, Rog, if you rule out the possibility of failure, don’t you take any chance of success off the table as well? That’s exactly why precious few succeed in life – they’re afraid to fail!”


This was sounding to Rodger a lot like the spiel of the motivational speaker he hired to address his employees twice a year but, even so, he couldn’t fault the logic of what Brad was saying. Maybe, just maybe, he was on to something here. “So I need to set a SMART goal?”


“Right. That’s step one. Next, you need to frame your goal as a statement of powerful positive intent. A PPI, I like to call it.” Brad paused to scratch his annoyingly square jawline. “Let me tell you a story quick, Rog. Ever heard of Muhammed Ali?”


“Sure, he was that boxer guy, wasn’t he?”


“Yep, the greatest pound-for-pound fighter ever to live.” Brad gazed dreamily off into middle-distance as he said this. Mancrush alert. “Now, at the prefight press conference, Ali would tell the world exactly what was going to happen in the fight the next day. ‘I’m going to knock him out in the fifth,’ he’d say, for example. Then, come the fight, what do you think happened, Rog?”


“He’d knock his opponent out in the fifth round?”


“Bingo! You know why?”


Because he was psychic. Roger was tempted to show he was no slouch in the sarcasm department himself, but he wanted to hear where this was going, so instead, he just shook his head in reply.


“Because of his statement of powerful positive intent, buddy.” Brad flashed that grin again. “You see, when you say you’re going to do something with such conviction that it seems there’s no doubt in your mind then, inevitably, you’ll end up doing what you said you would. It’s all down to the PPI. It’s a universal law, works every time.”


“So I say whatever I want to happen and it’ll just magically come to pass?” Rodger asked, unleashing the sarcasm at last. He’d been afraid of this – some airy-fairy self-help mumbo jumbo with no practical value.


“ ’Course not, Rog. There’s no magical quick-fix involved. Once you’ve framed your SMART goal as a PPI statement, you still have to put in the work. There are no shortcuts, I’m afraid, but I can teach you a little trick.” Brad leaned back contemplatively in his seat behind the desk before asking, seemingly apropos of nothing, “How do you eat an elephant?”


Rodger was caught so off-guard he could only stare, wondering if Brad had lost his mind.


“I’ll tell you – one bite at a time! That’s exactly how you tackle your goals – break them down into simple, manageable, actionable steps. Just ask yourself, each day, what can I do right now that’ll take me a teeny bit closer to eventually achieving what I want? Forget the future, live in the moment, and embrace the belief that the small things you do today will shape your life tomorrow. Once you’ve got that, then all you have to do is – “ Instead of finishing, Brad pointed to the poster proclaiming the slogan of a certain popular sports shoe manufacturer to make his point.


“Okay… “ Rodger didn’t quite know what to say. It all sounded good in theory, but then, so does a pyramid scheme. He wasn’t sold just yet.


“I know it’s a lot to take in, Rog, so I’m going to help you out with a little good ol' practical application. Let’s make this work.” Brad then regarded his client carefully, before saying, “I want you to close your eyes for me.”


Rodger did.


“I want you to think about that problem of yours. The one that brought you here. That one thing you just can’t get a handle on.”


Eyes squeezed shut, Rodger thought about Lauren. How he didn’t want to lose her. How he’d do anything, anything, to win her back; to recapture the essence of what they’d had together in their youth.


“Now I want you to think of a SMART goal related to overcoming that problem. A goal that, if achieved, would not just take care of the issue but make you feel in control as well. Powerful. Okay?”


Nothing came to him at first. Rodger remained as clueless as to how he could repair his floundering marriage as before. But, as he thought carefully about all Brad had said; about what he’d learned during the session, something came to him. A realization. What that lame motivational speaker would have called a lightbulb moment. It was so simple - so obvious -  and it had been staring him in the face this entire time without his even realizing it. Suddenly, Rodger knew exactly what he had to do.


Brad continued. “I want you to frame your goal as a statement of powerful positive intent, just like Ali. I want you to craft it, Rodger. Polish it. It’s going to become your personal mission statement, the undercurrent to your every waking thought, the fuel to the engine of your ambition. You got it?”


Rodger nodded that he did.


“Good.” Brad leaned forward. “I’m going to count to three now, and when I finish, I want you to get up, proclaim your statement with feeling - really shout it out like you mean it – then break it down into bite-sized pieces and go out and do what needs doing. Ready?”


Rodger was. His hands trembled in anticipation. He could almost taste it – power, at long last. He’d never been more ready for anything in his life.


“One… Two…Three!”


Jumping up from his seat, Rodger opened his eyes, took in a deep breath, and yelled, “I will strangle the son-of-a-bitch life-coach who’s been screwing my wife! Right! Now!” Then, having delivered this exemplary example of a SMART goal framed as a statement of powerful positive intent, he took a few quick strides across the room – not exactly small steps, but manageable, actionable ones all the same – launched himself over the desk and onto the stunned man sitting behind it, wrapped his hands around Brad’s annoyingly smooth throat, and proceeded to choke the life out of him.


Rodger smiled as he did. He had to admit he’d been wrong - the life-changing session had been worth every cent.       

September 09, 2020 12:57

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78 comments

Doubra Akika
20:22 Sep 10, 2020

I loved this, Jonathan! The humor came at all the right places! I could totally picture the ending 😂. Sucks for Brad and his SMART goals. I’ve met people like him, so peppy and annoying with their quips😂. Only thing I noticed Rodger never imagined he’d land up going to a life-coach for help I think the land should be end Amazing story again! Your writing is so creative. Hope you’re staying safe! (P.S if you get the chance, would you mind checking out my recent story? I’d love your feedback!)

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Jonathan Blaauw
13:36 Sep 11, 2020

But did you strangle them? That's what I wanna know... Thank you for your kind words and insightful suggestion. I can't say it was an error, exactly, because in speaking I use land up and end up pretty much interchangeably. But I'm just strange, we know that by now. I'll let my subconscious decide whether to change it or not before the deadline - if I overthink these things any more I'll end up/land up in a looney bin🤪 I will definitely check out your story asap.

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Doubra Akika
15:36 Sep 11, 2020

It was my pleasure! To answer your question, my crimes are always done thoroughly, so you’d never know...😂 Strange can definitely be a good thing. Thanks as well😁!

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Elle Clark
17:56 Sep 09, 2020

You properly had me rethinking my life part of the way through this - no idea if you’ve been to/ have trained as/ have seen a life coach but I suspect that it’s just another case of you being a supreme bullshitter. I genuinely started thinking about my goals and if I could make them SMART and what my PPI statement could be. I just don’t know how you do it. I noticed a set of inverted commas after ‘mind if I call you Rodger’ that shouldn’t be there but no other typos jumped out. I actually wasn’t a massive fan of some of the cliches n...

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Jonathan Blaauw
07:04 Sep 10, 2020

Thank you, as always, constant reader. I really don’t know what I’d do without you. Your feedback is spot on, and I’ve put the story under construction while I iron out the wrinkly bits. Like a lot of my stories, I reverse engineered this one – I come up with the ending then make the rest fit. I wouldn’t have chosen spousal conflict except for it was the only way I could come up with to get Rodger to strangle Brad. So the beginning was tacked on by necessity and I think it shows in the lazy clichés. Hopefully I can fix it up a bit. Yo...

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Elle Clark
07:15 Sep 10, 2020

I love a good twisted cliche - the fact that they’re well-known and then get subverted is one of the key components of comedy. Plus you have to have a measure of intelligence to take something and subvert it and I do like me some intelligent humour. I thought about NaNoWriMo as I was reading it! I’ve heard of SMART goals before (everything goes through being in vogue in professional development no matter what field you’re in) but it’s been a while since I’ve thought about them. PPI here is payment protection insurance. It was a big scand...

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Jonathan Blaauw
07:47 Sep 10, 2020

I'd love to write a tongue-in-cheek self-help book about DUMB goals. Durable, Unspecific, Magnificent, and Bizarre. Or something, we'd have to think about it a bit more. The possibilities are endless! If I'd known about PPI I'd've put a funny line about it in the story. Maybe I still will. Please tell your Oxford friends to credit me when they add I'd've to the dictionary as a real word. After Sarah's meatball story I'm a little afraid to upset her... seems potentially unsafe. You can tell her, in case she decides to eat the messenger ...

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Elle Clark
07:44 Sep 10, 2020

Oh! Also, I wanted to congratulate you on an excellent use of tit as an insult. It’s not used enough but it is one of my favourite insults.

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Jonathan Blaauw
08:08 Sep 10, 2020

Teach it to your students. We don't learn enough of the important stuff in school!

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Jonathan Blaauw
12:02 Sep 10, 2020

I've rewritten the entire first part. Once it's got your 🦦 of 👍 (that was meant to be seal of approval but I could only find an otter. If you don't look too hard it could be a seal, so just pretend) I'll take away the construction sign. Speaking of approval, any idea why my Sherlockian story wouldn't have been approved? I know it probably wouldn't have been eligible for the comp, which is fine, but I thought a story would really have to misbehave to not be approved. Unless it's just an oversight or something. Just mildly curious... it's a...

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Elle Clark
21:57 Sep 10, 2020

The story will have been dismissed because it used preexisting characters. It’s a pretty standard thing - I normally see Harry Potter stories by teenagers. It’s in the terms of use that stories have to be original creations that don’t infringe on the rights of any other party. Now to your updated story: I think this new opening is SO much better. Excellent editing! Quick fixes- No dash after wandering wife Was to say: rapidly Personal opinion: the zest for life bits would work better with dashes as parenthesis. I also think...

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Jonathan Blaauw
07:49 Sep 11, 2020

Dismissed! That sounds very official. But there are no practical implications related to dismissal of tale, are there? It doesn't disappear or anything? Quick fixes made. What do you mean a short amount of time? Redoing a few paragraphs took me double what your whole story this week did! And yours is flawless! But still, thank you😀 Shame, hope things improve there. This whole virus thing is getting a bit much now - just when we think it's going away, it comes back. We'll probably be doing this dance well into next year and beyond. Tir...

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Pragya Rathore
14:08 Sep 09, 2020

Wait, so was his wife not having an affair after all? Fabulous job as usual! I loved the protagonist's small insecurities mixed with his sarcasm, and the ending was out-of-the-blue and yet spot-on. I also liked how he viewed the life coach's office:"as if overcoming physical disabilities was only a matter of persistent effort." I'm still laughing thinking about poor Brad. Awesome!

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Jonathan Blaauw
14:42 Sep 09, 2020

Thank you kind fan I deliberately left that open-ended. He thinks she’s having an affair (is she? Isn’t she? Who knows?) and that drives his actions. It becomes his reality, whether it’s actually true or not. Part of my thinking there was that, if I was the reader, I think that’s where I’d be looking for the twist to come from. So it was misdirection, mainly. Thank you so much for reading and your comments, as always. You’re the best! 😀

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Pragya Rathore
15:40 Sep 09, 2020

You're most welcome. And I think you should definitely add the tag 'FUNNY' on this story! :D And the fun fact was so enlightening... (The ellipsis indicates sarcasm :p)

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Pragya Rathore
15:42 Sep 09, 2020

Oh, and another suggestion: in the first line, make it: " think they'll happen to you until they do."

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Jonathan Blaauw
12:14 Sep 10, 2020

Now you know something interesting about Africa! I've taken your suggestion to the extreme and demolished the entire first part of the story. Input much appreciated, thank you 😀

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Shreya S
04:36 Sep 16, 2020

I was laughing from start to end, gods 😂 Absolutely brilliant. Brilliant. I really can’t say anything more, this was just really good.

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Jonathan Blaauw
05:52 Sep 16, 2020

Thank you so much, really appreciate it 😀

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21:58 Sep 14, 2020

🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣😂😂😂 That ENDING!!!!!!! Why? Just WHY??? First Dei, now you🤣🤣🤣 Don't do this to meeeeeee🤣😂😂🤣😂🤣😂 I-

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Jonathan Blaauw
11:31 Sep 15, 2020

Thanks for reading! Will check yours out asap (been waiting for more from you 😃)

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19:32 Sep 15, 2020

😌✌️😃😃

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Juliet Martin
09:02 Sep 14, 2020

Haha love this! Such a humorous and engaging way to run with the prompt. Your dialogue in this one really stands out - it is so effective and full of character and you blend it really cleverly with gesture or with Rodger's observations to create an utterly immersive read. I also love the humorous tone of the narrative, this is particularly effective for me in your clever parallels at the beginning, between buying the Ferrari and placing blame, and his hair and his life - it is a really satisfying, well-crafted narrative which makes your stor...

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Jonathan Blaauw
16:27 Sep 14, 2020

Thank you. I was wondering where you'd gone off to. Good to have you back. I see you have a new story, looking forward to checking it out asap.

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Kristin Neubauer
19:09 Sep 11, 2020

Hah! Great twist at the end which I didn't see coming. The whole thing was great but I thought the beginning, where you're describing the life Rodger never expected to have, was right on. So many of my friends are in their mid-40s now, looking around and saying "how the hell did this happen?"

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Jonathan Blaauw
08:19 Sep 12, 2020

Tell them to go see a life coach. I hear it really helps one get a grip on their problems 😀😀😂 Thank you for reading and your kind words. And for your lovely story which brightened my morning!

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Arya Preston
07:18 Sep 11, 2020

Wow, I did not foresee that ending at all! This story was so hilariously laid out and the delivery was impeccable. The thing I admire most about your writing is your wonderful characterisation, especially presenting Brad as *that* guy which just enhanced Roger's utter distaste towards him. Your creativity never ceases to entertain your readers, but seeing the words "SMART goals" resurfaced a horrific memory in middle school. Needless to say, this was such a delightful story and I can't wait to read your previous ones :)

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Jonathan Blaauw
13:29 Sep 11, 2020

This story was written in honor of everyone who’s ever sat through a SMART goals talk and felt like strangling the person giving it. That’s why I originally put it in the fantasy genre 😃 I think you know what I’m going to ask now… but I’ve seen the public apology on your page, so I’ll restrain myself and just be patient. You know how George Martin takes decades to release a new book and when he finally does, the hype is so great people love it no matter what? Clever strategy, Ms. Stark. Very clever. No, I do actually understand. Now that...

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Arya Preston
15:18 Sep 11, 2020

It was very SMART to categorise this as fantasy, and this was quite a unique plot too! I think comparing me to George R R Martin is such a stretch since I don't have a vicious and heavily opinionated audience waiting for a release lol. I would love to throw out stories each week but I'm extremely picky about each word and sentence that it takes me a while to write one. University has just begun as well, so I'm very excited about that! I can't promise anything, but this week's prompts do look very enticing... who knows?

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21:00 Sep 09, 2020

Here I am, finally commenting on one of your stories before there are so many comments I feel like there's nothing left to say! Your spin on this prompt was excellent. It seems to be the most popular one this week (perhaps because it's the most vague and open-ended?), and I'm enjoying the different approaches. This is certainly the most irreverent one I've seen, though sense that's a recurring theme in your stories? Brad is perfect here, both supremely unlikable and strangely influential. I had to remind myself not to take his advice. ...

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Jonathan Blaauw
08:05 Sep 10, 2020

Thank you! With the characters, it's a bit of both. Knowing what was going to happen, it was a lot of fun to make Brad as unlikable as possible. Your advice is very much spot on. I'll chalk it up... I'll attribute it to lazy writing. The whole husband/wife impending divorce/misery thing is so cliched in itself, that it was kind of, when in Rome... Which is no excuse. I'm going to rewrite/trim a lot of the beginning. Setting the scene is good, but I didn't have to go to town with it. Hindsight is 20/20, I suppose. The grass is always gr...

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13:50 Sep 11, 2020

Your strategy of getting out all your cliches in this comment must have worked - the new beginning is much cleaner! I, of course, have to live with the fact that this monstrosity of a comment exists, but that's a burden I'm willing to shoulder. There are still a lot of parentheses and asides, but I think they work in the context of the story. Also, great little wink towards the ending there with "A bit of life-coaching never killed anyone." Poor Brad.

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Caroline Mundy
09:15 Sep 18, 2020

Hi Jonathan. I was asked to read your story as part of a critique circle and I'm really pleased I did. This is a really well crafted story and was exactly my sense of humour. It had some excellent descriptions and asides, and your characterisation was spot on. Since I'm supposed to be giving you a critique, there wasn't much I could find fault with to be honest. You have a superfluous 'had' in para 3 but I have a mistake in my submission and I haven't worked out how to edit it yet! Really tight and high quality prose that was a pleasure to r...

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Jonathan Blaauw
16:16 Sep 20, 2020

Hi Caroline. Thank you for reading my story (even if it was under duress 🤣). I really appreciate your wonderful feedback. I'm also happy you commented because I lost my critique circle email (or overlooked it) so if you got me, that means I got you! I'll read yours asap (I'm going to like it now so I don't forget). As far as editing goes, you can't edit after the Friday deadline. So by the time critique circle comes around, stories are locked in. What helps is to have someone give it a read before Friday. I'm always happy to volunteer, and ...

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Caroline Mundy
19:41 Sep 20, 2020

Thanks Jonathan and thanks so much for your amazing feedback on my story. I am so pleased you liked it and were able to give such a helpful critique. Thanks for the tip about editing submissions too; I wasn't sure what the rules were. So pleased I got you in my critique group and I'll look forward to reading more of your stuff.

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Yolanda Wu
06:36 Sep 10, 2020

This was such an interesting story and I love the whole SMART goals thing in the story. I remember in year nine, I had to make one every semester and then do a presentation about it, it was a nightmare. But I really loved this story, especially the last line. Amazing work!

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Jonathan Blaauw
12:16 Sep 10, 2020

Thank you! Brad agrees with you - SMART goals suck!

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A.G. Scott
23:53 Sep 09, 2020

well-told story. you use a lot of interesting metaphor/simile/references which add another delightful layer to language which is interesting in itself.

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Jonathan Blaauw
12:17 Sep 10, 2020

Thanks for the read and comment, really appreciate it.

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23:07 Sep 09, 2020

Omg that’s so funny. I totally pictured him launching across the desk 😆 ugh Brad deserves it. Everyone knows a ‘Brad,’ With his quips. I once knew a guy who only spoke in cliches. Ugh I could have choked him too. Loved this. Didn’t see a single error either. I read the other comments and I agreed with Laura’s comment about the peanut butter and jelly. You’re so creative I bet you can think of something better. Nicely done . 👍🏼👍🏼

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Jonathan Blaauw
06:31 Sep 10, 2020

Two hitchhiking symbols!? Wow! Thanks 😀 Please try not to strangle anyone. I gave it up recently (kind of a new year's resolution thing), I now do laxative in the coffee. Less messy (for me, if not for the victim). I think I'm going to rework a lot of the first few paras. They need reworking, I think. Thanks for reading and commenting. And for -> 👍👍

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Michele Duess
22:39 Sep 09, 2020

I got to admit I wasn't expecting that ending. And I like the husband's skepticism. I would be too I'm not a fan of self help books or life coaches. And you made the life coach not particularly likeable. You don't shorten someone's name without asking. Good story

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Jonathan Blaauw
07:09 Sep 10, 2020

Thanks, P! 😂 Sorry. Thank you, Paula. I agree, I think the whole self-help industry is a joke. But then, the money they make is no laughing matter, so maybe the jokes on us, as consumers. I'm glad the ending was a surprise, I think Brad felt the same way! Thanks for reading.

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Lee Jay
21:28 Sep 09, 2020

Hahahaha hahaha hahaha hahahaha - HA. "How do you eat an elephant?" "One bite at a time." I think I've known a few Brad's I've wanted to strangle! The ending is such justice. Most days it feels like I can't get up from the sofa without making sound effects...I'd understand if Lauren left me. Hahaha!

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Jonathan Blaauw
12:18 Sep 10, 2020

Next time somebody asks you how to eat an elephant, you know what to say. Or you can do what I do and reply, "With a knife and fork." Not incorrect, technically. Thanks for reading.

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Deidra Lovegren
19:48 Sep 09, 2020

First of all, you are an amazing writer and I adore every jot and tittle. Every comma. Every scrap of snark. Every hyphen that should really be an effing dash. I would murder my delightful husband of 30 years if he said to me: "mutton dressed up as lamb" - but he probably has, watching me squeeze into a cocktail dress. I would mangle anyone saying I'm in a "mire of middle-age mediocrity," but it's a hard truth nonetheless. Writing this sentence is probably against the law in 47 countries: "Beneath was an image of a boy rising out...

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Jonathan Blaauw
07:33 Sep 10, 2020

Thank you! I really saw that exact poster once! It seemed to imply that anyone who was in a wheelchair just hasn’t tried hard enough to get out. I hope someone got fired over that (I should’ve stolen the poster, it’d be a collector’s item in this day and age of rigid political correctness). No one has pointed out that this story doesn’t belong in the ‘fantasy’ category, probably because strangling someone like that is a very common fantasy. So maybe I won’t change it. In terms of anatomical insults, I believe ‘tit’ and ‘asshole’ are mo...

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Deidra Lovegren
20:26 Sep 10, 2020

Here's our book title: "The South African-American Guidebook To Creative Non-Reproductive Tissue Insults" Chapter 1: Muscle - Is that a sphincter in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? Chapter 2: Epithelial - Insults to See How Thin is Their Skin Chapter 3; Connective - Sticks and Stones break Blood, Lymph, & Bones Chapter 4: Nervous System - Send a Message That They Are On Your Last Nerve

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Elle Clark
07:47 Sep 10, 2020

Butting in to give an explanation of tit as it is a quintessentially English insult. It’s more akin to idiot or moron than asshole. Asshole implies malice but a tit is a moron who has bumbled around annoying people. It’s not because they’re a horrible person (whereas an asshole is), they’re just doing annoying stupid things in the moment. Being a tit is a transient state. Unless they’re a tit all the thing.

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Deidra Lovegren
20:27 Sep 10, 2020

At 54, I'm finding my tits are, indeed, in a transient state. Gravity wins.

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Jonathan Blaauw
13:42 Sep 11, 2020

This marks the second time you've made me choke on my coffee, Deidra! Next time I might not live to tell the tale. Laura, I'm very glad you've taken my suggestion of teaching a tit/asshole lesson, and are already practicing. Please video it when you give it to your class. I wish I'd known the difference, I've been letting assholes off lightly by calling them tits my entire life! You live and learn, I suppose. You can be the editor of our book, I think 😀

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Bianka Nova
16:18 Sep 09, 2020

"First things first". Which in my case comes to the only teeny-tiny edit you might have to make. "and led another fight" seems to be missing a "to" in the middle🙃 And then, I must say I loved/hated those characters! They were just so brilliantly written. At first I hated Roger for being the typical husband who remains stuck with the sexist mindset of his 20s, not trying to change at all or not being able to even imagine his wife would want a career. But then I couldn't not feel for him, the way he had to endure Brad's condescending tone. ...

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Jonathan Blaauw
12:25 Sep 10, 2020

Thanks. Your comment has been extremely useful because, with the beginning, that's not the impression of Rodger I was intending to put across. But everything in a short story is meant to be intentional and deliberate, so with that in mind, and your assistance, I've adjusted it somewhat. Thank you very much. And for reading and commenting like you always do 😀 And for helping me in my quest to learn to speak European! I had no idea 'ass' was French. Amazing! I'm going to call every French person I meet 'ass' from now on, I know they like it...

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Bianka Nova
13:04 Sep 10, 2020

I thought that might be the case, but I didn't suggest you change it because in my view it was quite realistic and believable. I've seen this very scenario enough times to know that relationships and break-ups are messy, and people going in different directions (or some of them not moving at all) is often the reason for a bad ending. But I see you didn't want to make Roger even half unlikable, so the rewrite is fine with me too :) (I saw just one "wondering wife" in the beginning that should be "wandering") Here are some other typical Fren...

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Jonathan Blaauw
15:19 Sep 10, 2020

Thanks. I changed wander to wonder and back about a million times, googled, still didn't know which to put, so in the end I rolled the dice, figuring I had a 50/50 chance of being right. And lost. See kids? Gambling is a bad idea 😂😂 Thanks for the insights, on the strength of your comment I have removed the under construction warning - the story is open to the public once again! I have no idea what at least two of those pictures are (you don't want to know my guesses) but I don't think the asses in France invented pizza. I'm sure it wa...

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Bianka Nova
15:26 Sep 10, 2020

😂 None of them are, so they fit perfectly the assumption that "ass" is also French. See, I can also play this game. I believe one is a banjo and the other one I also haven't got a clue, it's some bowl with a flame inside? I'm guessing. It looked as if it might be something a life-coach might use, or maybe a yoga instructor... no idea, I haven't been to see either.

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16:03 Sep 09, 2020

It's realistic. I see that feeling of insecurity spread out like a map throughout the story and I think you did a pretty good job here. The life coach is a good character and his responses to life pulled me in. He had this way of analyzing things that even I just wanted to sit back and enjoy. As for the abbreviation of names, I think it was funny how Rodger thought about Brad as Bra. It was hilarious. I wasn't expecting the end for sure. I mean, i knew Rodger was going to do something awkward but not this. You sure know how to give out li...

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Jonathan Blaauw
12:27 Sep 10, 2020

And the admiration is mutual 😊 Thank you. I'm very glad to hear the end was unexpected, it's always so helpful to get feedback from a real live reader. Have you reached a century of stories yet? No, don't tell me, I'm going to check in a moment.

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Thom Brodkin
14:25 Sep 09, 2020

First things first. The beginning of your story reminded me of Meatloaf's Paradise by the Dashboard Lights. I couldn't take it any longer Lord I was crazed And when the feeling came upon me like a tidal wave I started swearing to my god and on my mother's grave That I would love you to the end of time I swore, that I would love you to the end of time So now I'm praying for the end of time To hurry up and arrive 'Cause if I gotta spend another minute with you I don't think that I can really survive I'll never break my promise or ...

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Jonathan Blaauw
15:02 Sep 09, 2020

Wow, heavy! I just listened to it. Even more hard-hitting given what comes before in the song. Not a good choice for a wedding playlist, I think. Unless as a cautionary tale, maybe. I think he was writing from experience while I, on the other hand, am not married yet. I hope my as yet unknown future wife doesn’t read my stories (especially my next one). In fact, if I take them all down you’ll know I’ve gotten engaged. Yes, I think there is going to be a next one this week. I’m considering taking a leaf out of your tree – the very first sto...

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Kristin Neubauer
17:12 Sep 16, 2020

I am glad you posted the update on your bio, because I keep checking your page and wanting a new Jonathan Blaauw story! I am going to go back and read some of yours from before I joined Reedsy to get my fix. Hang in there with work....hope it settles down soon. Maybe you have to get yourself stuck in an elevator (bring your laptop!)

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