Rivalry with a Side of Puns

Submitted into Contest #228 in response to: Start or end your story in a bustling street food market.... view prompt

2 comments

Funny Happy Friendship

The sun beat down on the bustling streets of downtown Ferndale, where the aroma of sizzling meats and spices wafted through the air. Food stands on either side, with the occasional individual showing off their musical ability, each vendor waiting for a hungry customer. Among the various food stands, two were well-known: Toastie Bites and Taco 'Bout Delicious. The rivalry between the two owners, Marco and Olivia, was often spoken about among the residents of Ferndale.


"You're going to buy a taco?!" Shouted Marco from between the stands. "You can just make a taco at home," he continued as his arms waved to get the attention of hungry passersby. Someone in line at Olivia's stand noticed, shrugged in agreement, and went to stand in Marco's line. Olivia watched the brief exchange in amused anger. "You can make grilled cheese at home, too, Marco!" She smirked. The man who just changed lines nodded again and went to a different stand, looking for something he couldn't easily make at home.


Marco looked at Olivia in disbelief. "Are you kidding me, Olivia?! Do you think that guy has Asiago in his fridge?! We have the best-grilled cheese bites. Not that plastic imposter cheese!" Olivia came out behind her stand to face Marco, her self-sworn rival.


"You think he has a tomatillo in his fridge?!" She challenged.


"Well, yeah, he's a hipster. Did you see that hat?" Marco chuckled.


"I didn't say avocado toast!"


"I am sure he has that too!!"


The man who left the line at both stands looked at the arguing vendors while laughing with the customers around him. This type of banter was part of the usual weekend routine. The group of people surrounding the stands continued to grow with excitement. This rivalry happened every weekend; there are articles about it in the Ferndale Daily.


Anna, Oliva's assistant, waving a yellow flyer in her hand, called back for her boss to come behind the stand. Brian, Marco's assistant, was doing the same. As the owners read the fliers, they looked at their rival, eyes narrowing. The bright, obnoxious flyer announced a competition between all the vendors in two weeks. The prize was a highly coveted spot in the middle of the food market. Olivia and Marco were both determined to get that prized spot. Their profits could increase profits by 50% at this spot.

This event quickly became a heavily discussed topic in the food market. Several other vendors stopped by to see what each person was planning. Olivia was going through the motions of the day, her mind trying to reach a new level of gourmet taco. Marco was talking on this phone; from what Brian could tell, he was trying to connect with an expensive cheesemonger. Olivia could be seen sitting cross-legged on a water cooler, typing on her laptop. Anna shooed away anyone who wanted her attention, whispering, "She's working on something new!"


Marco noticed Olivia's increased focus and began throwing paper cups towards her to get her attention. "Hey, you wanna Taco Bout it?" What do you have planned?" he instigated. Olivia glared at him, choosing to ignore this intrusion on her thoughts. She smirked as she looked back down at her laptop, eager to get back to her planning. Marco looked at Anna, hoping for insight, but she refused to make eye contact with her boss's competition. When Marco realized it was a lost cause, he refocused on his stand and returned to creating a new gourmet grilled cheese bite.


The following weekend, as vendors were shuffling to their stands, there was a bounce in Olivia's step and a sense of urgency in Marco's walk. Both of them were eager to unveil and test their new recipes for the competition. When Olivia took off her sweater, underneath was a yellow t-shirt that read "Team Olivia." Marco laughed hysterically, showing Olivia that his red shirt read 'Team Marco". The two smiled at each other, amused that the other had the same idea. As Brian and Anna came up, wearing their respective team shirts, a crowd was starting to gather around.


People were asking for the opportunity to buy a shirt as well as asking when the dishes that were promised would be ready. As shirts sold, more and more people walked through the market wearing different team shirts. Suddenly, Marco stood on a stool and gathered everyone's attention. "Olivia, from the stand Taco Bout Delicious," he called out. "I challenge you to an impromptu food competition!" Olivia grinned as she stood on her stool. "Marco, from the lesser stand Toastie Bites. Challenge accepted!" As she jumped from her stool, she high-fived Anna and got to work. Marco stood on his stool, looking at the crowd before him, and started to yell again. "We need you to decide who is best! Come back in 30 minutes and prepare to vote, team Marco!" Brian cheered as he stepped down from his pedestal to get ready to show off his newest creation.


Thirty minutes later, the crowd was more significant, with a mummer of anticipation and excitement throughout the crowd. Marco and Olivia stood on their stools in the middle of the food stands, prepared to share their newest creations. Marco gestured towards Olivia, allowing her to present her dish first. Olivia smiled and happily lifted her dish in the air. Dramatically, she yelled, "I present to you all a fried chicken, bacon street corn taco!" The crowd looked at each other with mouth-watering gazes, excited to taste a complex dish.


Marco realized he may not be the one winning this competition and interrupted. "Whoa, hold on!" he called as he lifted his dish. "I present a brie, apple, and hot honey grilled cheese. Called the Brie Happy sandwich!" The crowd nodded, pretending this dish was a good competitor. Any other day, someone would crave this dish, Toastie Bites, but against this gourmet taco, they felt Olivia's dish had the upper hand. Some people were so impressed that they could be seen buying Team Olivia shirts and putting them over their Team Marco shirts. Olivia smirked at her rival. "Sucks to Brie you, Marco. Now, who's hungry?!" She leaped off the stool and prepared the orders for the endless line of customers. Marco still had some dedicated people in his line, trying to cheer him up from his embarrassing loss. The owner of Toastie Bites smiled, laughing it off; he enjoyed the challenge either way. Olivia is a competitive person who seems to be happiest when she feels challenged.


Marco sent Brian to the next stand to give the winning team a Nice to Brie You sandwich and to request a taste of the champion food. Anna smiled at the acknowledgment of working at the winning stand and happily obliged. Marco and Brian split a taco while Anna shared the grilled cheese with Olivia. Each individual felt pure happiness when taking a bite of food. The taco was salty, spicy, and savory. Brie Happy was sweet but spicy. Olivia knew she would have lost if the taco sounded less complex; sometimes, the more uncomplicated recipes are the best.


At the end of the night, as business came to a slow halt, Olivia approached Marco. With a smile on her face, she looked at him. "I guess we know who will be the winner next week." Marco chuckled; his pun was being used against him. "Honestly, Olivia, you rightfully won. That was a great competition that I stupidly called," he replied with a shrug. She beamed at him but then quickly shook her head; she knew why she won.


"Your dish should have won," she admitted.


"I'm sorry. What?" Marco asked while distracted.


"Yours was better."


"Is that so?"


"Yes, I only won because I sounded fancy...and had bacon."


Marco had to stifle a laugh because he knew Olivia was attempting to be sincere. Brain and Anna watched this exchange quietly. Olivia did not like to admit defeat, and this was the first win she had had during their rivalry. Once again, Olivia took a deep breath and realized, "My dish was too complicated. The grilled cheese was fantastic. Also, I enjoyed today." At the last comment, Marco nodded in agreement. He enjoys their banter; it's the highlight of every Saturday. He knew their jokes and shenanigans would end if one won that coveted spot. Suddenly, he had an idea.


He casually sat on the edge of the stand. "Olivia, what if we work together?" She looked at him as if he had just sprouted three heads. He took this silence as an opportunity to explain. "Think about it. How much fun was it today? It's fun to work alongside you. If one of us wins the competition, that goes away." Olivia gave it some thought; working with her long-time rival felt like a trick, but she felt Marco had a point. Today had been fun; she enjoyed the banter, laughter, and overall energy. Brian and Anna held their breath, waiting for Olivia's answer. She smiled, considered the offer, and giggled, "You want to Brie partners?" Marco rolled his eyes but laughed. "Yes, we'll be partners," he stated as he held out his hand. Olivia grasped his hand, smiled at the other three, and started brainstorming a business name.


The following weekend, people began to enter the food market wearing their Team Marco and Team Olivia shirts, awaiting the start of the competition. However, when each person reached the stands, they were met with a surprise. The stands were combined, and Marco and Olivia wore red and yellow tie-dye shirts. The new business duo stood on their stools and announced the change." Welcome! "they yelled unanimously. "Delicious Toastie! "


The crowd just stared at them in confusion; where was the rivalry that kept the food market bustling? Where were the insults and banter? The crowd felt disappointed and let down. Sensing the resistance to change, Brian and Anna began to hand out samples of the new fusion. The people looked at the new bite with some hesitation. Marco called out, "It's the same food, made by the same people!" Olivia nodded enthusiastically. As the samples were tasted, people appreciated the apple and bacon quesadilla. Quickly, people began shuffling into the line, but the excitement was not the same as usual.


The hipster from two weeks before was back in line, eager to hear the jokes between each other. He smiled at Marco. "Can't believe you're working with her. Did you lose a bet?" he joked. Olivia overheard and threw her arm around Marco, commenting, "We are business partners now." As she walked back to work on making more quesadillas, Marco shrugged and nodded.


"Yea," he continued, "we are now partners. Taking over the food scene together". The hipster seemed disappointed in the newfound friendship; he took his order and walked away, shaking his head.

As the day continued, business slowed down. Delicious Toastie's team became bored; they needed more customers, and the usual banter between the two teams disappeared. Olivia and Marco walked towards their homes. "I was bored today," Olivia admitted. "today was not fun." He hung his head. "I know, sales were down, and I struggled getting through the day." Olivia slowed her pace, mumbling that being partners was a bad idea. Marco stopped abruptly, yelled, "I got it!" and ran back towards the food market, promising to see Olivia next week.


Olivia hesitantly walked in the following Saturday, worried that this Saturday would be like the last one. She walked towards Delicious Toasties but was surprised as she rounded the corners where the stand was placed. There stood Marco, back in his red Team Marco shirt, holding a yellow Team Olivia shirt. "Hey you!" he called out as he saw her '"I got a plan!" Olivia looked at him quizzically but pulled her yellow shirt on anyway. As people began to walk toward the food stands, Olivia saw that people were a sea of yellow and red shirts. She quickly glanced at Marco with an adoring smile.


Marco stood on a stool and dramatically called attention to himself. "Did you think I would collaborate with Taco Bout Delicious?! "he called out. "It was a hoax! ". He stepped down from his stool while Brian lifted a sign with the saying Brie Happy on it. The crowd cheered in unison; they missed the excitement and banter between the two. As Olivia joined in on Marco's statement, he glanced at his rival again. She looked happy, almost excited at having someone to tease again. They made eye contact, and Marco winked at her. Things felt normal again; life was more fun with his rival.

December 15, 2023 14:12

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2 comments

15:40 Dec 25, 2023

Fun story! I think a two person rivalry is a great setup. On the critique circle feedback, I really like the sections where we are in Marco's point of view. I think maybe putting Marco's pov or emotion into the first paragraph might be an idea and adding some of the descriptions of the scene later.

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Michał Przywara
02:35 Dec 19, 2023

Ha, that's a fun story :) Very wholesome, for a business rivalry, and the lesson is that a bit of friction is a good thing, which is a nice departure from normal friendship stories. The premise of feuding food vendors is a fun one too, and I always appreciate a good pun. Very enjoyable - thanks for sharing!

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