Funny Contemporary Romance

“I hate it when my pants make noises when I walk!”

It wasn’t our kind of day. So, her look said it all.

“Can you still return them?” I replied, helpful, sort of.

She stopped walking.

 “I can’t hear them,” I said. “I swear! Get them wifi enabled? Then you could get some online help?”

“Oh, you!”


Me. So I cooked up something. Anything. Not a foodie, obviously. Mac and cheese. Now, that is something.

“Oh, yuck! What is this goop?”

She did that exaggerated ladling with the wooden spoon thing. You know when you lift whatever you despise and slowly let parts of it dribble down…

“You’ve got this all wrong!” I said. “That is the perfect young man’s meal! It comes out of a box, cooks in water, and expires inert on a plate. Fix with cheese powder and curry and wolf it down alone while surfing, gaming, or doing whatever is far more important.”

“Anything out of a box can’t be good for you!”

“Uh, agreed.”


Was it all about how food looked? Mac and Cheese was orange. Spruce it up with curry and I guess it looked worse. People go to a tailor for the right cut and the perfect suit. Did I have to become a fast food haberdasher to graduate from being a money-is-tight five-minute chef?

Whatever. You do what you must. Or not. We started at the grocery store. I roll by my local Food Basics, and she grimaces. Oh, the horror!

“What?” I say.

“Drive on!”

“Sobeys?” I inquire, hopefully.

She sniffs. “No Fortinos, Longos, Commisso’s Fresh Foods, or Farm Boy in this town?”

Oh, let her tease it out of me! That’s the thing about long-distance relationships. If you live somewhere small, the big city girl has big ideas. I don’t live in a town with a sneeze-and-you’ll-miss-it main street.

Suddenly, she grabs my arm. “You mean that store? Stop the car.”

It’s the fourth of July or something. She’s galivanting ahead of me. Is she trying to get away?

I’m practically trotting to keep up. “Sobeys! So-be-it!” I joked. She doesn't say anything.

Ever notice how in food stores, when you first walk in its produce, produce, produce. Little green bags for all the fruit and veggies. But the Bag Nazis got rid of all the bags that count, just so that you can kick yourself shopping without them and wince in front of the cashier:

“Sorry! I can’t buy bags; I have sixty or more at home! Can I leave the store with everything in the cart?”

Will people think you are stealing? Whatever already!


But there is still hope. We met because she had to be in my forgotten neck of the woods for her job. She was consulting on some failed water project that made her yawn when discussing it. I don’t know if she yawns because she hates having to fix the mistakes the local yokels have made, she’s working long hours, or she’s just not that into me?

But here we are at my place, and there’s more stuff that can't fit into my fridge—none of it in bags. Spread out all over the kitchen table. Stuff I don’t think I can even pronounce the names of, let alone use for anything!

“Here’s real cheddar cheese!” she instructs, handing it to me.

 It’s all wrapped up, a block that will have mold on it in no time.

“And here is the milk you could mix with the cheese powder to make it more nutritious.”

Milk? Check.”

“Recipe is here. I’ve got to go to work this afternoon, as you know. Are you sure you are up to this?”


Of course, I was. Up to this. Or that. Fed up. Well, actually not. I hoped to be fed up, as Uncle Clyde used to joke at the end of every Thanksgiving meal. Funny, haha, he was—every single Thanksgiving.

But that was beside the point. I needed to figure out how to cook. Working from home has its advantages. I could get my work laptop. Chatgpt to the rescue!

Dear Chatgpt. Can I call you Gpt for short?

Certainly! You can call me GPT for short. How can I assist you today?

Gpt, I want to make a spaghetti dinner for someone who might become special. She’s an uppity engineer, and I’m just a junior programmer, so there’s that. I never made spaghetti before. Do you have any ideas?

Absolutely! Cooking a homemade spaghetti dinner is a thoughtful and delicious idea. Here's a simple recipe for spaghetti with a classic marinara sauce that you can try:

(Yeah, this is the recipe I got, but it was not to my liking. Everything in brackets is me seeking clarification from Chatgpt.)


8 oz (about 225g) spaghetti

2 tablespoons olive oil

(Thanks for the recipe. Instead of olive oil, will two tablespoons from a beat-up bottle of canola oil do?)

[Certainly! While olive oil is a common choice for Italian dishes, you can use canola oil as a substitute. It has a neutral flavor and a higher smoke point, making it suitable for sautéing onions and garlic. Feel free to use the canola oil you have on hand, and I'm sure your spaghetti dinner will turn out great. Enjoy your cooking!]

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

(Gpt, what’s the difference between “chopped and minced?”)

[That’s easy! Chopped ingredients are larger and retain more texture, while minced ingredients are very finely cut and almost blend into the overall dish.]

1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes

(Hey! Gpt, my man! My hopefully soon-to-be girlfriend bought only fresh tomatoes! What am I gonna do!)

[Hey there! No worries, fresh tomatoes can be fantastic for making a delicious marinara sauce. Here's a simple recipe for a fresh tomato marinara sauce that you can use for your spaghetti dinner.]

(I compared the new recipe to the first recipe Gpt gave me, no biggie!)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

(Hey, there, my chatster! My foodie girlfriend bought fresh oregano, basil, and parsley! Is it panic time!)

[Not at all! Having fresh herbs is fantastic, and it will elevate the flavor of your dish. Here's how to incorporate fresh oregano, basil, and parsley into your spaghetti dinner: Rinse the fresh oregano, basil, and parsley under cold water and pat them dry.

Strip the oregano leaves from the stems and chop them finely.

Tear the basil leaves into smaller pieces or chiffonade them (roll them and slice thinly). Chop the fresh parsley.]

I was able to follow everything else pretty much to the letter. The cooking of the spaghetti was like doing mac and cheese. The sauce needed me to stir and not burn it!

All done! I settled into coding, so lost in thought that she was back before I knew it!

Shuffling footsteps. Ring at the door.

“C’mon in!”

“What’s that fantastic smell? Oh, right, spaghetti! Thanks for making it!” 

December 12, 2023 04:11

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Grace Page
05:14 Dec 23, 2023

Cute storyline with some unique ideas thrown in like long distance relationship and Chat GPT…the flow was often a little disrupted and at one point became more of a recipe with a bit of thoughts thrown in before a slightly abrupt ending, but it was refreshing that each topic you wrote about, you really seemed knowledgeable about!


Joe Smallwood
06:59 Dec 23, 2023

Hi Grace, Thanks for reading. Disruptive and short. Agreed. This week is all about flash fiction, which I look forward to trying. I have been working on shorter fiction because longer stories take too much out of me! It's deliberate, is what I am saying. Thanks again.


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Marty B
06:53 Dec 21, 2023

Hmm! Made me hungry, now whats for desert!?


Joe Smallwood
17:28 Dec 21, 2023

Lol Thanks for that! 👌


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Rebecca Detti
17:11 Dec 19, 2023

I really enjoyed this Joe! Loved the use of chatgpt!


Joe Smallwood
03:37 Dec 20, 2023

Thanks for reading, Rebecca! Chatgpt was fun to use.


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16:59 Dec 16, 2023

Sweet story Joe I enjoyed reading it. Like your style a lot, it's very unique. Great stuff!


Joe Smallwood
20:47 Dec 18, 2023

Thanks for your encouraging words, Derrick.


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Mary Bendickson
04:54 Dec 12, 2023

Sweet smell of success!


Joe Smallwood
23:17 Dec 14, 2023

Thanks for reading, Mary.


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