PhD in Friendship


For weeks, all Virginia could talk about was her new boyfriend Craig. It made Larry nauseous to hear her gush.


“Craig is so thoughtful,” she said. “He bought me flowers yesterday for no reason al all. Isn’t that thoughtful?”


“Whatever,” grumbled Larry. He had good reason to be cynical. When it came to men, his little sister couldn’t make a good decision by accident. He’d seen her date a string of loafers, lushes and losers.


“He’s a doctor, you know,” added Virginia.


“What kind?”


Virginia looked to the sky and twirled her hair. “I don’t remember, but he’s really smart.”


“Uh huh,” grunted Larry. “He’s also late.”


As if on cue, the doorbell rang. Virginia jumped into action. “Promise you’ll be civil,” she warned her brother.


“Absolutely not.”


Larry watched Virginia skip down the hall, answer the door and jump into the arms of some stranger. He glared as the two walked hand-in-hand back to the living room.


“Hi. I’m Craig.” He held out his hand and smiled.


“So I’ve heard,” replied Larry.


“I’ve heard a lot about you. Virginia can’t stop raving about you,” added Craig.


“I’ll leave the two of you to get acquainted. Anyone for iced tea?” asked Virginia. She leaned into Larry’s ear. “Please play nice.”


Larry glared back into her desperate eyes. “I make no promises.”


After Virginia was out of earshot, Craig broke the silence. “I heard you’re a watchmaker. That sounds like amazingly technical work.”


“And I heard you’re a doctor.”


Craig blushed. “It’s not medical. I have a PhD.”


Larry nodded like a cop in an interrogation. “In what?”


“I have a doctorate in friendship,” confessed Craig


Larry shook his head in disapproval. “You actually fooled my sister with that?”


“It’s a growing field, actually,” Craig sat forward in his seat. “Think about issues like dementia, mental health and online bullying.”


Larry rolled his eyes. “Okay, in your research, what’s the most important thing you learned about friendship?”


A wicked smile flashed across Craig’s face. “A good friend will help you move, but a best friend will help you move a body.”


At that moment Virginia entered with a tray with a tray of drinks. “How are things going?” she asked.


Larry swallowed a chuckle. “This guy’s got a shot.”

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Gift Card Etiquette


Evelyn sighed in relief when she discovered Theresa sitting in the lunch room. “I have another shopping problem.”


Theresa looked up and smiled. “How may I be of service?”


“My sister-in-law bought me a gift card for my birthday,” explained Evelyn.


Theresa shivered at the confession.


“I know, I know. I feel the same way about it. Now I don’t know what to do,” said Evelyn.


“Is it to a place where you like to shop?” asked Theresa.


“The Dollar Store,” grumbled Evelyn.


“Did you know she didn’t like you before this?” asked Theresa.


“No idea.”


Theresa nodded thoughtfully. “You’re certainly in a predicament.”


“What do I do?” begged Evelyn.


“Proper gift card etiquette mandates that you tell the gift giver what you bought with the card,” explained Theresa.


“What if I use it to buy new socks and underwear? I could really use some.”


“That would be appropriate if you wanted to insult her right back, but that’s beneath you,” said Theresa.


“Don’t be so sure,” mumbled Evelyn.


Theresa shrugged. “Its entirely up to you.”


“No,” sighed Evelyn, “You’re right.”


“That’s the funny thing about etiquette,” said Theresa. “The best way to know what to do, is to do what is the most uncomfortable.”


Evelyn nodded. “Courtesy would be a lot easier if it had more cheap thrills.”

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Online Shopping Review Guru


“People say online shopping is more convenient,” noted Evelyn. She dropped her tablet in her lap in disgust. “But I say its way more stressful.”


Theresa looked up from her phone.


“How do I know if these things are any good? I mean, you can’t even trust the reviews. Half of them are paid for by the seller,” complained Evelyn.


“Are they rated out of five stars?” asked Theresa.


“Isn’t everything?”


“Then read the three star reviews first. Since they’re in the middle, they’ll say good things and bad things. They’re probably the most honest reviews you can find. Then read the two and four star reviews. The two, because the review doesn’t completely hate it, and the four because they don’t completely love it. I never read the ones and fives. They’re just a waste of time,” explained Theresa.


Evelyn look at Theresa in awe. “That makes total sense. You’re like an online shopping review guru.”


Theresa smiled. “I prefer to think of myself as the Guiding Light for First World Pilgrims.”

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Out of His League


There is nothing quite as disconcerting as the sound of a mouse chewing. You know its out there, but you can’t figure out where. Then there is the nagging idea that you wouldn’t what to do if your ever had to confront one. Those are the emotions Eric felt when he heard that sound one night as he entered his dark kitchen just after midnight.


He knew the problem of finding the intrusive rodent rested squarely on his shoulders. Everyone else in his family would simply run away screaming.


Eric flicked on the light and the chewing stopped. It was like a game. Man versus mouse. He checked the traps he set after the last encounter. Empty. It felt emasculating, losing to a mouse. As much as he didn’t want this problem, the enemy was certainly in his territory.


Somehow, he needed to think like a mouse. Eric strategized. All living things need food, water and shelter. The food appeared undisturbed. So was any water source. Eric racked his brain. Surely, he could outwit a witless, tiny creature.


He remained still for so long, the chewing resumed. Every sense in his brain heightened as the triangulated the location. It came from the fridge. As if in slow motion, Eric crept to the source of the sound. There was nothing he could see hiding behind it. He dropped to the floor and checked under the fridge.


As soon as his cheek touched the floor, a tiny field mouse bolted from his hiding spot. It crashed into Eric’s nose and deflected off his lips before making a sharp turn back to safety.


Eric’s heart leapt. A high-pitched squeal escaped his lips. He scrambled backward, knocking over the dog’s water dish. Brittany arrived in the kitchen just in time to see Eric writhe all over the floor, soaked with water.


“What happened to you?” she demanded.


“I saw the mouse. It almost ran into my mouth,” panted Eric as he aggressively wiped his mouth.


“It jumped at your face?”


“Like it was possessed or something,” he replied.


Brittany smiled.


“What?” demanded Eric.


“I want you to remember this,” she said, “the next time the girls ask for a cat.”

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Polka Radio


Emily and Gabe were walking through the mall when they bumped into Istvan, an old friend from high school.


“How are you? You look great,” exclaimed Emily.


“Couldn’t be better. How ‘bout you guys?” replied Istvan.


“Can’t complain,” answered Gabe.


“What are you doin’ now?” asked Emily.


“Funny you should ask. I work full-time warming up weddings.”


Emily and Gabe shared a confused glance. Istvan noticed it and laughed.


“Weddings are always notoriously late, and after a few minutes things get awkward. I’m hired to entertain the crowd and keep them warm for when the wedding starts,” explained Istvan.


“How does one even get into that?” asked Emily.


Istvan shrugged. “I got the idea, so I went to a wedding chapel and asked. They said they’d add it as an option to their list of services. All I needed was one shot,” said Istvan.


“Unbelievable,” muttered Emily.


“Haven’t look back since,” added Istvan.


“Good for you, I guess,” said Gabe.


“Thanks. Any who, I gotta run. It was good to see you guys,” said Istvan.


“You too,” replied Gabe.


Once Istvan was out of earshot, Emily turned to Gabe.


“Did that just happen?” she asked.


Gabe shook his head. “Remember, this is the same guy who broke into the school radio station and blasted three hours of polka music during exams.”


“I forgot about that,” admitted Emily.


“That guy’s so crazy,” concluded Gabe, “he’s one incident away from becoming an urban legend.”

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Overheard in a College Cafeteria


“You know, I don’t really feel like I’m an adult. Its like I’ve physically grown older, but my brain hasn’t caught up.”


“I’ve got a sure way to know if you’ve grown up.”




“You know you’ve crossed over into adulthood when nap time is one of your favorite times of day.”


“I love naps.”


“Did you love them as a kid?”


“Of course not. Who did?”


“Exactly. You love naps, ergo, you’re an adult.”


“Huh. That actually makes sense.”


“Well, I am a genius.”


“I’d argue with that, but I’ll let it slide this time.”


“You are a wise woman.”

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Intrinsic Motivation


When Dylan arrived at work, he was immediately accosted by Shawn.


“Check it out,” said Shawn. He shoved his phone in Dylan’s face.


“Whoa,” recoiled Dylan. “What are you doin’?”


Shawn checked his phone, just to make sure it was still on. “It’s a screen shot. I got 100% on the Wonderlic. See?”


Dylan rolled his eyes. “You are living, breathing proof that even a blind squirrel gets a nut every now and then.”


“No.” Shawn pointed at Dylan. “You’re not gonna ruin this for me. Its awesome and you know it, even if you won’t admit it.”


Dylan’s face softened. “Okay, I admit it. What made you take it in the first place?”


“I found it online and figured, why not?”


“Did you register for it?” asked Dylan.




“Then its not official. You can’t use it for anything. For all I know, you’re making it up,” scoffed Dylan.


Shawn’s face grew red, and Dylan thought he noticed tears form in his eyes. “Its real to me. Even if nobody believes me, I know.”


“What good is that?”


“Have you ever wondered if you were capable of more that you already are?”


Dylan frowned. “Not really.”


“I do. I wondered if this was all I could look forward to. Like, I’ve reached my peak This test proves otherwise.” Shawn had a wild look in his eyes.


“I guess you could look at it that way.”


“Well, I do.”


“What do you plan to do with this little epiphany?” asked Dylan.


“I’m going back to school. I’m gonna become a doctor,” said Shawn. A smile spread across his lips.


Dylan dropped a pen. “Have you gone mad? You’ve come to this after one good, self-inflicted internet exam?”


“If nothing else, it’s shown me the sky’s the limit.”


“And the return trip to earth will be one epic fail,” said Dylan.


Shawn scowled. “Maybe, but it’ll be one amazing ride.”


“Whatever, man,” shrugged Dylan.


Shawn went over to his cubicle, picked up a box of personal items and returned to Dylan.


“What’re you doin’?” asked Dylan.


“I quit. I told you, I’m gonna be a doctor,” explained Shawn.


Dylan sighed and rubbed his face. “Wow.”


“See ya,” said Shawn.


“On the way back down,” quipped Dylan.


“Maybe,” said Shawn, “but it beats going nowhere.”

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