Contest #172 shortlist ⭐️

100 comments

Funny Speculative Creative Nonfiction

“O Woman That I Used To Love, what should we get for dinner tonight?’’

“Honestly, my Greatest Disappointment? I don’t care.”

“You do care. You want me to suggest a place to eat so you can shoot it down. Whatever I say, you will wrinkle your little nose like I decided that we should eat out of the cat’s litter box.”

“You could not be more wrong, but you usually are.” 

“Perhaps you could stop on the way home and pick up some takeout.”

“I could, but I won’t. Our nightly conversation about dinner is the only authentic communication we will have all day, so I’m going to stretch it out as long as possible. It’s the only way I can exert control over you in an as passive-aggressive way as possible since I know you are hungry and short-tempered.”

“All true. Hey, I’ll order Pad Thai. Not that you are satisfied with anything, but you usually don’t hate that. I won’t order spring rolls because you like them. Instead, I’ll get the crispy ones I like—just to piss you off. When you complain, I’ll counter with the idea of your picking up dinner next time. Then you will sulk in the bedroom and I can watch TV peacefully without your talking during the interesting parts.” 

“Eh, I don’t really want Thai food.”

“Of course not. What do you want?”

“I want you to treat me like you did when we were dating.”

“I want you to look like you did when we were dating. How about Taco Bell?”

“How about someplace that doesn’t have paper napkins or E. coli outbreaks?”

“How fancy do you want to get on a Wednesday? And why do you agonize over every meal like it’s going to be your last? It’s just food, not a commitment—like the one you roped me into. You weren’t really pregnant, were you?”

“Of course not. But I thought I could have been.”

“Ah, yes. We’ve never really talked about your duplicity at the beginning, but we’ll just sweep that under the rug and not worry about it for another few years until we’re forced into marriage counseling.” 

“Agreed. But for tonight, I want to sit down and order off a menu. I don’t want to get take out, drive-thru, fast casual, pick a number, or a microwave burrito at 7-11. Let’s go to a restaurant with actual waiters and waitresses. You do remember waitresses? I believe the last affair you had was with the blonde waitress at the diner by your work.”

“Hardly an affair. More like a two-month fling. She went back to college in the fall. So, how about we save sit-down restaurants for special occasions? Like the weekend? I can’t remember eating out every night as a kid. My mother cooked three meals a day!”

“Your mother didn’t have to work. If we could afford it, I’d like to sit home, stir a box of Rice-A-Roni, overcook pork chops, and dish out a side order of childhood trauma—just like your mother.” 

“You are nothing like my mother. Sometimes I wish I could conjure up enough emotion to hate you. As it is, you’re an annoyance. A mosquito in the room. Hair on a bar of soap. Gum on my shoe.”

“Applebees.”

“Applebees?”

“Or some other mid-price family restaurant. Just pick one. Texas Roadhouse. Olive Garden. Outback Steakhouse.” 

“Perfect. We’ll go to a full-service restaurant and get a $7.99 Molten Lava Chocolate Cake for you to take one bite out of. Then you can sit on your bottom while women half your age scurry around to bring you as many Diet Cokes as you wish—along with a platter of limes! In the entire 19th century, the British Navy consumed fewer limes than you do.”

“I. Can’t. Wait. Let’s go to a restaurant where you will reject the first three seatings we are offered, embarrassing me in front of the waitstaff. What do you have against sitting in a booth, anyway? You will ask the waiter what’s on draft, order Miller Lite regardless, and eat the entire bread basket. After looking at the menu for ten seconds, you will order the least healthy thing—stuffed, battered, buttered, fried, creamy, glazed, supersized, or chocolate-encrusted. And yes, you do want fries with that. A double order!”

“And you . . . after fifteen minutes of reading the menu like an Egyptologist seeing the Rosetta Stone for the first time, you will order what you always do: a grilled chicken breast. $17.99 for a bland slab of frozen chicken you could microwave at home.”

“You want me to cook at home? Gordon Ramsay couldn’t conjure up beans on toast on those ancient appliances.”

“Here we go.”

“You promised me we’d move into a larger house when the kids got bigger. Well, they got bigger and left for college. Now it’s just you and me in the same 2000-square-foot shack.”

“That shack is almost paid for. I’m sick of house hunting. There is no need to move. Why do you want to double our mortgage? Stop watching HGTV. If you’re lucky, maybe Joanna and Chip Gaines will feature our shack on Fixer Upper.”

“If only you were half the man Chip Gaines is.”

“If only you were half as good-looking as Joanna.”

“You don’t lift a finger to help around the house.”

“You haven’t lifted a pot or pan since the kids left for college. Why have appliances if you aren’t going to use them?”

“The same reason you have a gym membership.” 

“Oh my god, I am not going to sit across any restaurant table—or booth for that matter—and look at your face for forty-five minutes. I don’t want to hear you complain about who didn’t unjam the copier at work. I don’t want to hear about your father’s recent medical appointment and what was lanced. All I can stomach right now is making a decision about what we want to eat. I will buy it, see you shove it down your gullet, and pat myself on the back for not loading up the car and leaving you tonight.”

“Oh, please leave tonight. I will help you pack. I’ll try not to miss the long evenings when you talk to the dog more than me, the clothes you can’t quite get into the hamper, and the half dozen glasses you leave around the house for the dishwashing fairy.”

“So, pizza?”

“Pizza’s always good.”


🜋 🜋 🜋


“Darling, what should we get for dinner tonight?” 

“Honestly, babe? I don’t care.” 

“So, pizza?”

“Pizza’s always good.”


November 14, 2022 01:52

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

100 comments

Aesha Amin
13:03 Nov 14, 2022

The way I'd happily be the third wheel for a couple like this, with a bag of popcorn of course. Also, I love the way I felt the love despite the sassiest insult they threw at each other. I wish comebacks this good didn't take a week after a fight to occur to me 🥲

Reply

18:08 Nov 14, 2022

I think after a certain age we're all unfiltered. I love sitting next to great-aunts at weddings and funerals. They dish all the dirt, in full voice and with running commentary. Extra butter! 🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Mike Panasitti
02:58 Nov 16, 2022

This made me want to peel a cinnamon roll out of its crispy cellophane wrapper, crack open a sweaty Coke and ingest a vial of Ativan. Thanks for making my evening, Deidra! With much love, one of your loyal minions.

Reply

14:11 Nov 16, 2022

Cinnamon rolls AND a sidecar of Coke? (Would you like a 5# bag of sugar with that? :)

Reply

Mike Panasitti
19:35 Nov 20, 2022

Deidra, I'll pass on the bag of sugar, but would be immensely grateful if you could take a glimpse at my posting for the week. If you'd like another beta reader for your latest, do tell.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Alexandra David
13:05 Nov 14, 2022

Sadly hilarious

Reply

18:08 Nov 14, 2022

And also hilariously sad.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
07:47 Nov 20, 2022

Great dialogue! You capture both's side perfectly. It all rings so true, and I loved the alternate ending of where just avoiding conflict is so much simpler. "fifteen minutes of reading the menu" lol, fast deciders and indecisive people ordering dinner, I think that's a newly discovered angle of the opposites attract maxim. A very enjoyable story, well done.

Reply

13:43 Nov 20, 2022

Thanks, Scott. Having moved from the South to the North again, I think geography plays a role in how we communicate. Oversharing Southern Gothic vs. icy Yankee sensibility :)

Reply

18:09 Nov 22, 2022

Thats true, talking through the options is a better way to look at it. I spent some time in Tennessee and really enjoyed how open and chatty everyone was. And when I was in New York, if I stopped in a buffet line for 2 seconds, someone behind me would shout "hurry up", Bill Burr style. It was a bit shocking in the beginning but then I gradually learned it was fine to shout back something lol, Wisconsin is perhaps somewhere in the middle of those two.

Reply

19:39 Nov 22, 2022

LOL on the NY Minute. I remember buying Broadway tickets and I literally asked, "Um, do you have --" and the agent said "PICK ONE. THERE'S A LINE!" Terrifying... As for the South? I lived in New Orleans for three years. They talk TOO much and at 2 mph. Oof. (And I'm a huge Bill Burr fan.)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Laurie Roy
21:30 Nov 19, 2022

Bahahaha it’s like you’re in my house right now,

Reply

21:34 Nov 19, 2022

Yup.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Dave Abare
20:33 Nov 19, 2022

"Honestly?" is what I'd named my submission, so when I saw this posted I thought, quickly, and for some inexplicable reason, they removed the question mark lol. Similar themes as well...enjoyed it! Always love dialogue between colorful, honest, and flawed humans. Rock on :)

Reply

20:52 Nov 19, 2022

Ooo. Great minds think alike. I'm coming over to see yours :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Rebecca Miles
18:45 Nov 19, 2022

The way you capture voice is fantastic. I remember a while back you recommending stories to me written all in dialogue. Thing is, everytime I read one so darn funny and natural as this it sends me creeping into the corner. This is so good, please tell me you write drama or TV scripts!

Reply

20:16 Nov 19, 2022

I write for myself. It's far less disappointing :) Try pure dialogue. You might love it...

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Suma Jayachandar
15:37 Nov 19, 2022

Well, this has written 'Whitt' all over it😊 Wait, why do some parts of it sound familiar? Ah! must be the rewarding experience of having crossed certain milestones in marriage. Lovely writing as ever, Deidra. Thanks for sharing.

Reply

20:17 Nov 19, 2022

Suma!! Oh, we do need to have a nice long lunch one of these days. You pick the continent. I'll be there :)

Reply

Suma Jayachandar
04:16 Nov 20, 2022

Aww. A visit to the U.S. is definitely on cards. You are welcome to come to Bangalore anytime 😊

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Cindy Strube
02:15 Nov 18, 2022

Organic, unfiltered marriage… Joined in acrimony? Is “over-the-top realism” a genre? This qualifies! It’s wonderfully cringey, and reminds me of one fictional and one real pair: 1. Horace Rumpole and wife Hilda (She Who Must Be Obeyed) - the books, not the TV series. 2. Olaf and wife Lila, customers of our family business years ago. (The problem here may have been one-sided). He was a nice Norwegian man, with an ill-tempered wife. He once said, “Ja, Lila, she’s a bit of a shrew, you know… But, vhat can I say? She’s my vife!”

Reply

20:26 Nov 19, 2022

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Liz Taylor and Richard Burton. George : You're a monster - You are. Martha : I'm loud and I'm vulgar, and I wear the pants in the house because somebody's got to, but I am not a monster. I'm not. George : You're a spoiled, self-indulgent, willful, dirty-minded, liquor-ridden... Martha : SNAP! It went SNAP! I'm not gonna try to get through to you anymore. There was a second back there, yeah, there was a second, just a second when I could have gotten through to you, when maybe we could have cut through all ...

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
22:21 Nov 15, 2022

I love all-dialogue stories.

Reply

00:21 Nov 16, 2022

Fun to read, fun to write. Like popping M&M's into your mouth by the handfuls.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
AnneMarie Miles
21:34 Nov 14, 2022

You know there are so many couples out there like this, yikes! I wasn't sure how you were going to wrap this one up but giving us the real conversation at the end was a necessary and comical contrast! "I want you to look how you did when we were dating" - ouch! Felt that sting 😂 Loved all the references, too, as I'm a big HGTV and Gordon Ramsay fan!

Reply

21:43 Nov 14, 2022

Next time you are at Applebee's, look around....(haha)

Reply

AnneMarie Miles
21:52 Nov 14, 2022

Oh I know! My husband's co-worker told him about a "very nice restaurant" he'd gone to with his wife, and then he revealed it was Applebee's.... but he was serious.... 😐My husband and I still make jokes about it. 😂

Reply

21:56 Nov 14, 2022

What's wrong with 3000-calorie entrees? You don't fancy a Sizzlin' Skillet? The only thing funnier is going to Chili's for chili or To-Go Alcohol or Big Mouth Burgers...

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Calm Shark
15:47 Nov 14, 2022

A good hearty insulting conversation. I love it! I love this prompt especially because it can be funny to watch unfiltered people talk to other unfiltered people.

Reply

18:05 Nov 14, 2022

The filtered world is much more civilized, but kinda boring :)

Reply

Calm Shark
23:42 Nov 14, 2022

No truer words have been said.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Helen A Smith
15:53 Nov 28, 2022

All ingredients for a great marriage. Very funny Deidra. This couple fit together like a pair of worn gloves. Despite all the things these two cross patches hurled at one another, I could feel the love underneath. It made me feel like ringing up the nearest take away and ordering some food. “I want you to treat me like you did when we were dating.” I think we all want that.

Reply

22:30 Nov 28, 2022

Worn gloves, indeed. Also known as Stockholm Syndrome :)

Reply

Helen A Smith
17:54 Nov 29, 2022

I take it by that you mean they’ve become mutually dependent on one another, but not in a good way. It’s another way of interpreting it. That they have become captives in a tired relationship. It would depend on the couple. If they see it as harmless banter, or is there a destructive edge to it - like the couple on “Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Chris Campbell
06:47 Nov 27, 2022

Deidra, Very funny story. A strangely familiar conversation I have several times a week in my house (bar the truthful insults... bar any insults). I laughed most at the line, "...after fifteen minutes of reading the menu like an Egyptologist seeing the Rosetta Stone for the first time, you will order what you always do..." Before Covid was born, I think I might have fancied myself a budding Egyptologist when I went out to eat. Good to see that I'm not the only one who likes to write dialogue-only pieces. Well done!

Reply

22:43 Nov 28, 2022

Opposites definitely do seem to attract -- but better to marry a complimentary mate than an exact replica of ourselves. Maybe. (Who knows?) Dialogue-only pieces are pure joy to write, and you excel at them. Recipe is pretty simple: Set up two imperfect people, toss them into a difficult/annoying situation, and just take down dictation :)

Reply

Chris Campbell
23:47 Nov 28, 2022

Yep, you got it. Just listen in and record it. I am very lucky to have a complimentary mate that used to be an Actors Agent. Her feedback on my writing is invaluable and always honest. Thank you for the compliment on my dialogue-only skills. You're pretty good yerself! Having a background in playwriting has certainly helped me carry written conversations; however, the scenes that play out in my head are so vivid at times that I worry I'll not remember them, so I write them down as they play out and edit them later.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Suma Jayachandar
04:15 Nov 26, 2022

Woohoo! Congratulations to one of my fave people on Reedsy.

Reply

04:25 Nov 26, 2022

BACKATCHA, SUMA :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Aeris Walker
03:25 Nov 26, 2022

Perfect ending haha. And I love how somehow Chip and Joanna Gaines got dragged into this. Congrats on the shortlist!!

Reply

03:37 Nov 26, 2022

Thanks, Aeris. This goofball bit was an unexpected hit. Is everyone pre-holiday stressed out by their families?? And Chip & Joanna Gaines have probably started more internecine marital battles than all of social media combined. ("This is why we can't have nice things, Karen!!")

Reply

Aeris Walker
03:45 Nov 26, 2022

Lol, I think so. We hosted thanksgiving this year, so our house was two days of cleaning and casseroles and too-many people in one space and crying babies and AGH now onto Christmas 🥴

Reply

03:54 Nov 26, 2022

Tis the season to weep silently in the bathroom.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Tommy Goround
02:25 Nov 26, 2022

#13? Clapping. You will be the first person with two pages of awards from reedsy.

Reply

03:31 Nov 26, 2022

13 x $0.00 = -$65.00

Reply

Tommy Goround
03:45 Nov 26, 2022

Ouch.

Reply

03:55 Nov 26, 2022

Hahaha. Everyone needs a hobby, and writing is fairly inexpensive. And free therapy!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Cindy Strube
18:45 Nov 25, 2022

This one had to receive acclaim!👏🏻 Congratulations!

Reply

18:51 Nov 25, 2022

*stage bow* Thanks for the support :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Daniel Allen
13:26 Nov 25, 2022

You've written a story that I think every family across the globe can relate to. That's no easy feat! I particularly like how you built the tension up and up and up, and then, just when everything seems ready to explode, you release it all with the simple joy of pizza.

Reply

15:15 Nov 25, 2022

It's a well-known fact that hot cheesy carbs fixes everything on a subcellular level....

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Sophia Gavasheli
22:44 Nov 16, 2022

My cheeks hurt from laughter! Thank you for cheering me up, Deidra (reading always does it for me). I was scrolling through my activity feed and was immediately hooked by those first lines (😂). I love how you reveal the couple's entire relationship and dynamic through dialogue; it felt so natural, not at all forced. And that last line...so relatable. Fantastic job!

Reply

00:21 Nov 17, 2022

Woo hoo! - I'm glad to provide a chuckle in cold, gray mid-November.

Reply

Sophia Gavasheli
02:25 Nov 17, 2022

Indeed. If you have time, would you mind reading my story, "Why Do You Write?"

Reply

14:37 Nov 17, 2022

Absolutely! :)

Reply

14:45 Nov 17, 2022

HIGHLY RECOMMEND THE READ. So good...

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply