Friday, March 4, 2011

#FridayFlash - The Problem with You

“The prolem with you,” the professor said, “is that--is that you lack the nessary vision to sthee beyond the brooder scheme of things.”

He held a goblet filled with ice and vodka, waving it around as he talked. A spider-web of blood vessels painted his cheeks, and the side of his mouth drooped slightly. Condescending eyes, half-shrouded by withered eyelids, looked me over.

“You need to thing about the future,” he said. “You need a plan--a long-range proshection of where you want your pathetic life to go--what’re going to get, and how’re you going to get it.” A crooked finger pointed generally at me. “Because while baggy jeans and a Mötley Crüe t-shirt might build you a nice career stocking shelves at Wal-mart, they won’t buy you a house on Park Avenue.”

His head bobbed forward then, a tussle of white hair flowing down across his brow. Wiry eyebrows lifted as if asking whether or not I understood what he was talking about. I wanted to say that Park Avenue was a continent away and I was quite happy living within the sight of Mt. Rainier, thank you very much; instead, I nodded. Sure it was placating and definitely less than a little insincere--and the old man probably knew it as much as I did--but so what? Part of the game or not, the conversion had already lasted fifteen minutes beyond the five I originally gave it.

“Now take her last boyfriend--Matt”


Glancing at Amanda, the professor’s daughter, seeing an I’m-so-sorry look in her eyes, I knew she was ready for this to end as well. I couldn’t blame her. In her shoes, I would have felt the same way.

He squinted. “No, not Matt. Mark.”


“Yes, it was Mark.” He nodded. “Now, Mark couldn’t grasp the complexuries of life. To him, life was… a Happy Meal. Something with a cheap toy to play with.”

Amanda sighed.

“I don’t consider Amanda to be a Happy Meal, sir.”

He smiled. “Well, that’s something, at least.”

Amanda slipped her arm around mine. “Daddy, we really have to go. We have reservations.”

The professor glanced at her and took a deep breath. “If you must.” Looking at me, he said, “We can finish our talk later tonight.”

“Daddy, I--”

He turned away.

Walking out, her arm still wrapped tightly around mine, Amanda said she was sorry. “I don’t know why he always does that to me. Don’t let it push you away.”

I opened the door of my Corvette, a vintage 1965 model. “Don’t worry,” I said. “I see the same thing every day from some of my employees, the ones who think they’re smart enough to run the company.” I gave her a reassuring smile as she climbed into the car, and the panic left her face.

I started to shut the door, but stopped. “By the way, when do I get to meet your grandparents?”

She shrugged. “Someday, I guess.”

“How old are they again?”

“Eighty-five and Eight-three.” She frowned. “Why?”

I shook my head and shut the door, thinking that tonight might be just a couple of beers, maybe a burger--nothing special. As I made my way around the car, I stopped and took one last glance at the house. In the window, I saw the professor standing there watching me.

I smiled and gave him a wave.


  1. It's always relieving for a father to learn his daughter is not someone's Happy Meal.

  2. This was very funny at the beginning with the vodka-induced slurring, but I'm not sure it went afterwards...I must have missed something or I'm too tired...


    Flashquake #fridayflash

  3. The Prof is a piece of work! The first few sentences show me he's a pompous, alcoholic, stroke victim. One it seems, with delusions of grandeur. Amanda's dates all get the same speech I'm sure. Her new suitor seems up to the challenge. Great work Stephen!

  4. Oh, the bit new boyfriends dread, the meeting of the parents, and their evaluation.

    I had to laugh at myself Stephen, after reading the first few lines I thought "Jeez, look at all the typos, Stephen must have been drunk when he wrote this. :-)

  5. That last line almost made it seem like the Prof and the date were in cahoots. Interesting that he would choose to take her for a burger after saying he doesn't see her as a Happy Meal, too.

  6. ha! what a character, that prof. enjoyed! peace...

  7. Thanks for the comments, everyone. This is one of those stories where the title could apply to all of them in ways. It's easy to see that the professor has problems. He's judgemental. He's pompous. And he's blinded by his own superiority to see that Amanda's new guy may be okay. Amanda's problem is bringing another potential home to meet her father. If he's already done this to her before, then why does she risk it again? The MC's problem is dressing down. Wearing baggy jeans and a rock-n-roll shirt when he's meeting a girl's father?

    John: You bet. As a father of a little girl, that's the one thing I want to see from any guy she takes an interest in. Way, way, way down the road, of course.

    Denise: I hope the explanation above helps.

    Harry: He does seem up to the challenge. The guy already deals with this type of attitude at work. The question that remains, however, is whether he wants to.

    Steve: You made me laugh as well. By the way it started, it's easy to see how you would wonder.

    Icy: Consider what happens just before the burger decision. Why would he ask the age of her grandparents? I think the professor misjudged this guy completely. He does know how to think about the future.

    Linda: Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  8. Quite an interesting look at characters. All three of them seem quite quirky. This was a fun one to read.

  9. I too was all set to send you a note about the typos, then realized the guy was drunk. You portray the awkwardness of the situation well, though I was left not quite sure where it was going.

    I think it is interesting that the father sort of dismisses the guy largely based on his dress, and the guy owns his own company. It's in the Seattle area, so I have visions of a high tech start up - a real clash of cultures there, stodgy old professor and new seat of the pants entrepreneur. Though I sure even if he had dressed in a tux, the old man would have found fault.