Romance Funny

"Mom! I'm a grown man," I said, strangling my cell phone. "I don't need any help scheduling my life."

"I know, son. I'm just trying to suggest maybe you don't have enough time to go fishing today. You're flying out to visit your sister in three hours. She'll be very disappointed if you miss your flight."

"I'm not going fishing. I’m just going to go down to the river and test out this new lure I bought to make sure it works like it should. It will only take me fifteen minutes, thirty tops."

"Son, you live fifteen minutes from the river. It'll take at least an hour, if not more,” she countered.

"All right, all right, I won't go! Sheesh. You miss one funeral, and they never let you live it down," I said, exasperated.

“Have you packed for your trip?" she continued to interrogate.

I walked into my bedroom. Everything was in its place, right where I had thrown it. Stepping over a pile of clothes, I stood on my comforter and looked at my empty duffle bag lying on the bed. "Yes, Mom, I packed. I'm not an idiot."

"I never said you're an idiot. I'm just trying to help. Did you print your ticket out? What gate..." I cut her off.


"Sorry, I can’t help it. I hope you have a great time. Your sister is very excited. You haven't seen her or your nephews since you were married to Tammy. Now that you aren't with her anymore, Thank the Lord, you can reconnect with your family."

"Yes, mom. I know I disappeared. But she just didn't have time for our family in her life. I didn't stand up for myself, and I know that hurt you all–but I’m trying. I’m going to fly to So Cal and endure Disneyland and Chuck E. Cheese with my cute little… ankle-biting psycho nephews. Will that make you happy?” I asked, rolling my eyes.

“Daniel Alan Hammond, your sarcasm doesn’t make me happy and is not appreciated. Ronny and Sammy love you.” she scolded.

“I’m just kidding. I’m kidding… Hey, I have to go put the clothes I’m taking with me into the dryer, I need to let you go. Hugs and kisses. Tell Dad I’ll call him when I get back, and we can go down to the river.”

 “I thought you said you had packed?” she continued.

“Bye, Mom. Talk soon. Love you,” and I hung up.

I put the phone into my pocket and dove face-first into the pile of dirty clothes on my bed, rolled over, my arms behind my head. Disneyland. I hate Disneyland. Why’d I agree to go to Disneyland? My face scrunched in a frown. The last time I was there, I was thirty-two. My wife Tammy and I had just gotten married. It was our honeymoon. She just had to go to Disneyland. I wanted to go to Vegas. She gave me the look, and that was that.

We both had been there separately when we were kids and had vivid memories of riding the Matterhorn, Space Mountain, and my personal favorite, the Pirates of the Caribbean. But Disneyland is for kids. It’s for families. We were on our Honeymoon. Seriously?

You show up as an adult, and it ain’t the same. The scale of everything is weird. In your childhood eyes, you remember everything as being huge–but your adult eyes realize the foreshortening tricks the engineers used to make it seem more fantastic. I could appreciate the skill it took to create the illusion. But the screaming kids, running all over the place, and the rude people. Oh! And, the lines, and the families holding hands and blocking the sidewalk, and the unblinking human-sized mice, and dogs… It was all too much for me. It felt like a Stephen King movie. I was waiting for one of the happy-faced characters to pull me down into the sewers and murder me. I had to get outta there, and I made my displeasure known. Needless to say, my honeymoon was a bust.

So, I’m sorry I’m not excited to go back, Mom–I have PTSD–how about a little sympathy for your forty-year-old son? My stomach started to rumble, so I got up and went to the kitchen. Not a damn thing for human consumption unless I want to make tomato soup from hot water and ketchup. I decided I needed to go get food. I pulled on a coat, grabbed my keys, and jogged down the stairs.

“Hey, Sarah. Wassup?” I gave my best grin. She ducked into her apartment door. Must not have heard me.

Opening the car door, I decide to go to the food carts and get some Birria. Why walk the three blocks to get food when you can drive?

I sat on a picnic table by myself and dipped my tacos in the broth. Man, I’ve got to learn how to make this stuff. I could just drink it straight. I can also just come here whenever I want and order it. My kitchen is dirty enough. “Oh shit.” I said out loud, “Sorry, ma’am.” I gave the scowling woman a sheepish grin as I got up and ran back to my car. I forgot to put my clothes in the dryer. I guess, worst case scenario, I could buy new clothes when I got to Cali, but I’d rather not. I was getting a little low on funds.

“Aaa-dul-ting!” I sang out, parroting the music from the Simpson’s opening song as I twisted the knob and set the dryer to high. I’ve got plenty of time, like two hours. I kicked a pile of clothes into the corner and then realized I was exhausted. I’ll do those when I get back. The night before, I had been up with Andrew at the bar, watching MMA, and I didn’t get home until late. I would have packed last night, but he invited me to hang out, it’s not really my fault, Mom!

I know full well I’m full of it, but the internal conversations are for my entertainment, no harm, no foul. I’ve got time for a quick nap. Let this food settle. “By the time I wake up, the clothes will be dry. I’ll pack and go. The airport is twenty minutes away. Bing, bang, boom, I’m off to Cali, and the fam will be happy. I don’t need no scheduling help, thank you very much.” Sometimes, you need to hear your own words of self-affirmation. Talking out loud to yourself when no one is around is not weird, it is comforting and beneficial. At least, that’s what my therapist says–or something like that. “Yeah, beneficial. Just like this nap.” I said as I moved to the couch and plopped down. I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and set my alarm for 1 o’clock. “That gives me 45 minutes.” I closed my eyes and fell asleep.

“I’m done! You’re such a child. I’m sick and tired of having to be the only adult in this relationship!” yelled Tammy.

“Sweetheart, it was a mistake. I can’t help the fact that the train stopped me from crossing. Otherwise, I would have made it to the funeral,” I pleaded.

“Well, at last, we agree on something. This whole thing was a big mistake,” Tammy said as she turned, walked out the door, and slammed it for emphasis.

I plopped down on the couch, my head in my hands, and I just cried. Shaking my head, I told myself over and over that it wasn’t my fault. I couldn’t control the train schedule. She was being so unfair. Then I heard my shrink’s voice in my head. What actions do you have control over? I started to think about what I did have control over. I wiped my eyes with my sleeve.

“God damn it, I’m such an asshole!” I berated. I knew she was right. I always did, and I should have stopped at nine holes like I said I would do. But I didn’t want her telling me what to do. She was always controlling my life. So, I decided to do eighteen. I was on fire that day. I didn’t want to stop. One under after nine? Come on! So, I pushed, kept going, and gave in to peer pressure. It was my fault, and I knew it. I screwed up.

What was wrong with me?

I sat there for a while, stewing in my self-disappointment. The thing was, I was done with our relationship too. We had nothing left. Honestly, I don’t think we ever really did. I had been hiding from her for a long time. If I were honest, I didn’t want to go to the funeral. It was her co-worker. I didn’t even know the person. I guess the bigger picture–I didn’t want to be there with her. I pulled out my phone to text her and apologize and looked at it. The time on the home screen said 1:15 pm, and my brain searched for meaning… “Oh, Shit!”

I jumped up from the couch, panic in my chest. Why didn’t my alarm go off? What the actual F… Entering my room, I saw my empty duffle, grabbed it, and ran to the bathroom. I dumped my still-damp clothes into the bag, not caring if I had what I needed, then grabbed my coat and keys and headed for my car.

Running through the airport, weaving in and out of the throng of oblivious humanity, I raced to security. “Sir, you need to relax. Shoes off; check your pockets for any metal objects. Cell phones…” the TSA agent droned on. I raced down the corridors to concourse A while cinching my belt and checking my ticket. A14. “God damn it, A14. Why couldn’t it be A1?” As I passed A10, I saw the door close to A14, and then the agent started to walk away.

“Miss! Miss!” I yelled.

She smiled at me, “Yes?”

“I need to get on that plane!” I panted and gave my most pleading smile.

“I’m sorry, sir, but we called all-aboard 2 minutes ago. I’m sorry, but we can’t reopen the door once it is closed.”

“But the plane is still here. I can see it. Can you just open the door real quick, just this once, and let me in?” I begged.

Another large male walked up, wearing the same uniform as the small, patient female agent, and stared intently at me; his body language screamed, ‘Please, make my day,’ as Emily restated, “I’m sorry, sir, but the door. Is. Closed.” She crossed her hands at her waist and gave me an over-friendly tilted-head smile.

“Right, the door is closed. Got it.” I turned, dejected, and looked down the concourse. “Deschutes Brewing, here I come.”

“Bloody Mary, and make it a double,” I announced to the bartender.

“You two together?” he asked, pointing at the woman three seats to my left.

The woman was looking at me, a smile on her face. She had long reddish-brown curly hair, was wearing a black knit sweater and jeans, and was carrying a purple purse that was lined with a purple leather fringe. “No,” I answered but thought we should be.

“Alright, double Bloody’s for my two new friends.” The bartender chuckled as he made a show of mixing the two drinks. I, on the other hand, couldn’t take my eyes off this woman, who was staring right back at me. I pointed at my chest and motioned, pointing at the open chair next to her with a questioning look.

“Yes, you can sit by me. Do you speak, or do I need an ASL interpreter?” She chided.

“Oh, yes,” I laughed. “I speak. I’m not sure how well, but people tend not to run away when I do, so I’ve got that going for me.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. So, are you celebrating something, or just afraid of flying, like me?” she asked.

It took me a moment to figure out the question; then I answered, “Oh, I just missed my flight, need to blow off some steam. A double is to make sure I don’t explode.”

We went back and forth. I explained how my family was going to be pissed I missed my flight. She was supportive that if they couldn’t understand, they’d just have to deal with it. Mistakes happen. The conversation flowed like a river. It was so easy. She was so interesting. She was flying out to visit her family, in which she had a rich history of drama and trauma. That explained her double Mary.

“A.M., not P.M.,” I blurted, slapping my forehead.

“I’m sorry?” she said, a look of confusion on her face.

As we were talking, my mind was working in the background, pondering why my alarm hadn’t gone off. “I’m pretty sure I’m going to be rudely awakened tonight at 1 a.m. if I don’t turn off my alarm.” I chuckled. “Sorry, my subconscious must have been trying to figure out why I messed up this trip.”

“Well, I’m glad you did. You wouldn’t have met me if you’d gotten on that plane,” she said with a smile.

An announcement over the PA perked up her ears, “Flight 326 to Phoenix, boarding all passengers.”

“That’s me. I guess I’d better run, or I’ll miss my flight as well,” my new friend said with an exaggerated frown.

“Oh, I wish we had more time to get to know each other,” I said, then corrected, “Can I get your number?”

Laney leaned over, her hair brushing my hand, as she handed me her business card. Her cell phone number was written in purple ink on the back. Before she turned to walk away, she looked at me with a smile and said, “We have all the time in the world.”

January 24, 2024 02:48

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Eliza Levin
03:31 Feb 01, 2024

I really enjoyed this, especially the ending! Great meet cute. The inner dialogue was really natural as well, even with this being a short story you established Daniel’s character so clearly.


David Winfield
22:01 Feb 01, 2024

Thank you. This was a fun challenge and a great exercise in dialogue. The main thing Daniel and I have in common, we both fell for a Purple Fringed Purse.


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David Sweet
22:26 Jan 27, 2024

Glad the ending worked out for him. Felt a little like classic avoidance issues with adult ADD. I can sympathize. Great work with the dialogue. It was very natural and helped the story to flow well from beginning to end. No wasted space. I'm glad you are getting over the imposter syndrome. It's tough to do when we put ourselves out here like this. Keep the faith, keep going, keep writing.


David Winfield
18:34 Jan 28, 2024

Thank you, David. Yes, the ADD angle is a great observation. I hadn't thought of it that way. As far as a happy ending, I talked to the owner of the purple fringed purse and verified that this individual probably wouldn't have lasted long, but I think he was ready and open to change, so putting himself out was a great first step! Thanks for your feedback.


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