Thursday, September 10, 2009

Finding a Nice Girl

I am bogged down with work this week, so I didn't have a chance to write more Eden stories for you. I looked this over and did a few minor changes. I thought I would repost it.

Submission for The Protagonist Game
Protagonist: John, the architect from Minnesota
Goal: to find true love
Obstacle: Mother
Action: Takes up stalking

John was shocked back into existence by his mother flicking on the light and shouting “Get Up!” from the doorway of his room. Almost thirty and still living at home with a “Momma” alarm clock, John sat up, rubbed the drool off his face, and made his way to the shower to get ready for work.

Living at home definitely had its perks. John’s mother always made him a hot breakfast in the morning and ironed his work cloths. He had grown rather immune to her nagging impatience for him to start a family and move on.

“John, dear,” his mother said as she poured him another cup of coffee, “are you working late tonight?”

“I don’t think so,” he muttered with a mouth full of toast.

“Mrs. Winston’s granddaughter is in town, and she really wants to meet you.”

John stopped mid-bite and set his fork down, “Now why would she want to meet me, Mother?” he stared at her suspiciously as she began clearing the table.

“She is really a lovely girl, from Texas. She is thinking about moving here, and when I told her I had a successful architect for a son... she was interested.” She was fluttering around the kitchen trying to deflect his glare.

“Successful architect? Is that what you’re telling people? Great.” John slammed both hands on the table, pushed back his chair, and stood up. “I’m going. I will probably be late.” He crossed the kitchen and stepped out onto the back step, slamming the door behind him.

John’s mother had been bragging about him again, and he was getting really tired of her interfering. John practically stomped through the snow to his muddy old Dodge Omni parked on the street, cursing the Minnesota winter and his mother under his breath.

Successful architect? After John finished school, he had lucked into a job at a firm in the worst part of town, where he sat in the smallest cubical double checking measurements. Far from a successful architect, John spent most of the day reading handwriting comparable to chicken scratches on photocopies of photocopies.

He gritted his teeth as he pulled into the parking lot two blocks away from his office, and began the uphill trudge on foot.

It wasn’t like John couldn’t find a date on his own; he wasn’t unattractive or balding, but he was awkward and always nervous around women. He had talked to a couple of women on the way into work on a few occasions. When someone from his office pointed out that they had been prostitutes, John decided it would be best to stare at the sidewalk on the walk to and from the office to the parking lot.

Sometime between making a coffee run for the entire office and assaulting the copier with a screwdriver, John decided he should take a more aggressive approach to the whole “dating” thing. He made use of company time by researching self help books on Amazon and visiting message boards and matchmaking websites. By lunchtime, John was completely frustrated and exhausted, but he pushed on through forums of likeminded posters.

You don’t look for true love… it finds you. Has true love found you, or is your true love waiting for you to take notice? This fail safe guide will help you recognize your true love… This got John’s attention. An even fifty dollars later, John was viewing his “fail safe” guide.

Disgust overcame him when he discovered it was more like Stalking 101 than any self-help book he had ever seen. He didn’t even have a woman he was interested in enough to talk to let alone follow home with a pair of binoculars.

“This is stupid,” John said aloud, and cowered when he realized the words had left his lips. He looked around, and the few people who were sitting at their desks continued working diligently. John deleted the guide, shut down his machine, and left the office early.

Leaving the building behind him, John walked toward the parking lot and his car. While the journey was downhill this time, the sidewalks were slick, so he had to take it slow. This gave him plenty of time to think about his wasted day. He was sick with himself, and continued muttering, “What’s wrong with me?” under his breath as he walked on at a snail’s pace.

As John turned the corner toward the lot, a fog of strong perfume floated before him. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a woman standing next to an abandoned building. She was wearing a long dark coat and red heels. With his head bowed, eyes on his feet, and moving slower, John pretended he was invisible.

“Hey, baby. Wanna date?” a woman called from the shadows.

Head still down, John stopped. He raised his head and turned to her; she stepped out into the daylight on the sidewalk. “What’s that?” his voice cracked as she moved several steps closer.

“I said,” she met his eyes and flashed him a feathered lipstick smile, “Do YOU want a date?”

There was a moment of silence, and John contemplated running away, but reluctantly, he returned her smile. She winked at him and slid her small hand into his.

The light was on when John walked into the kitchen at 11:30. His mother was sitting at the table in her night clothes with rollers in her hair and a sour look on her face. “Mad at me, are you?” she didn’t even give him the chance to answer, “Where have you been?”

“I had a date,” John smiled looking slightly disheveled.

“Oh?” her face lit up, “nice girl?”

“Absolutely,” he said walking past her into the hallway leading into the living room.

Happiness and enthusiasm gathered in her voice, “Will I get to meet her… soon?”

“Maybe,” John said over his shoulder as he started up the stairs to his room.


  1. Well, I hope this little adventure helps his self-esteem! Poor dude. Actually, I think I know someone like this, very realistic. :-)

  2. Take that mom! Too funny, and great story. No more excuses, get writing some Eden stories! :)


  3. Ha Ha! I don't know who I feel sorrier for, mom or John. At least he had fun. Great story!

  4. Nice yarn - not suer I really like either of them though!

  5. Great story! I think things are going to be very different in the mom/John household from now on.

    The story is nicely paced, and I really liked its funny and bittersweet aspects. Really enjoyed it!

  6. Loved the 'momma alarm clock' and I don't think that was the kind of girl she had in mind for him. But I gotta stick up for bald men. There is nothing wrong with them you know! I should know, I'm married to one and he is gorgeous :)

  7. Good for John. I hope he brings her home and introduces her as a hooker.
    Great story.

  8. ha! now that he got that taken care pf maybe he can think straight - lots o pressure y'know! watch those MN boys - ahem

  9. oh Lily, I agree bald men are gorgeous! The first love of my life (my father) was balding when I met him... he's still one of the most handsome men I know.

    I wasn't out to insult those with a receding hairline. Men are a strange sort... the worry about things that we never seem to notice. I guess women do too, but then we know they are looking at our big butts.

    Yeah, John, isn't very sure of himself... a little "lovin'" can go a long way though. I think after his "date" he has a new definition of "nice girl" and "relationships"

    Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I wrote this a while back as a writing exercise on Inspiration Underground. It was fun


  10. I got sucked into this as soon as I read 'Action: Takes up stalking'! I love your little humorous lines like 'Momma alarm clock' and how he was talking to prostitutes previously. Great story!

  11. This could have been a really bitter tale, but your deft touches of humor make John sympathetic, and that is nicely done.

    Poor guy. I'd love to see his mom's face if he brought his "nice girl" home. Heh!

  12. Wow...I really should have seen how he'd react at the end, but I didn't. Hope he doesn't catch anything!

    Good writing!

  13. Good story! He was a fun character to read about. Plenty of flaws, but nothing too bad to not want to like him. Though that might change now that he's got a taste for hookers...

  14. Hahaha. Loved the alarm clock line too. Now I want to know if the name "John" was a conscious decision or a Freudian one.

  15. Hahaha! You guys are awesome.

    Hope that cracks me up. This post was part of "The Protagonist Game" in the Writer's Toolbox. It's this colection of 4 wheels, and the protagonist was actually "John, an architect from Minnesota"

    I wish I could claim it as a Freudian slip... but no.

    I hope he didn't catch anything, but I think hookers these days are pretty cautious (like I would know, HA!).

    I was once told that hookers wear red shoes (so I wrote that in). Any truth to that, fellas????

  16. Great story - and actually, I think it would take a lot of guts to go on a date with a hooker, for various reasons (from pimps to ... protocol?)
    I like the story quite a bit, and was happy to see some good ol' Minnesota snail-walking, being an expert on it myself.

  17. I have never been to MN, so either I got lucky or you're picking on me :-P

    I wrote another MN story (for this same prompt), but posted it as my alter ego on

    It's about Vegans and Beef Jerky (go figure)

  18. You can call me Jon, just don't call me a john. ;)

    I hope his "date" finally gives him enough confidence to break out of his shell. Sounds like he needed a little jolt, and you certainly gave him that.

    The "Momma" alarm was terrific.

  19. I like it! Poor guy!

    Although I'm miffed that you had to remind me that winter is just around the corner :P

  20. I feel for him. I suffer from the same self-defeating internal dialogue. Maybe I should pay more attention to the people I pass on the street :)

  21. Very nice story - John was very realistic and sympathetic. Nice development in this short piece :-)

  22. Great character and the humour here is well handled. I too would like to see mom's face when she finds out what he's been up to. Great stuff.

  23. I bet there's a bigger story waiting to be told after your "hero" gets himself embroiled in the world of cash trans-action.

  24. At least John finally found his nerve. Good story.

  25. Sometimes a man's gotta do...

    I'm not sure John's date is going to help him shape up and ship out.

    Well painted portrait - wonderful details of this life coasting along in neutral.

    Nicely done.

  26. Ah, the easy way out. Buy a date. Better than some online guide to stalking women, eh?

    But now it's back to Eden time for you. No more hanging with the prostitutes. Even if it might feel good for a few moments.

    It is a nicely done story. Very clean. The writing and storytelling, I mean.

    Jeff Posey

  27. A sad situation getting sadder. Would be interesting to see where this goes next.

    Straight From Hel

  28. A good way to get the mother off his back. Rollers would pop off her head if she met the girl in red heels.

    Do you intend to write more of this story? I like it. I want to know more about what happens. You hooked me with a flash...good work!