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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/03/08)

TITLE: Move Over, Lucille Ball
By Betty Castleberry


The savory aroma of roast chicken filled the house. I had a few finishing touches to put on my beautifully set table, and things would be ready for our guests.

Craig had asked me to make dinner for his new boss and his boss’s wife. He was anxious to spend some social time with the couple and get to know them better.

You should know I’m just plain old Rhonda and not exactly Mrs. High Society. However, I was willing to put together a simple meal and entertain for one evening.

The dishwasher was full, so I decided to put it on the quick wash cycle to make room for the dirty dishes we would have later. Somehow, I had forgotten to buy soap for the dishwasher. I could have gone to the neighborhood store and bought some. The chicken would have been fine for just a few minutes. Instead, I dug around under the sink and found the dishwashing liquid for hand washing dishes.

I lowered my glasses on my nose and read the instructions. It didn’t say anything about not putting it in the dishwasher. I shrugged and filled the detergent cup in the dishwasher completely full. That left the second smaller cup. Just for good measure, I filled it, too, and turned the dishwasher on.

Tipper, my hairy companion, wound his way around my ankles, yowling. No doubt he smelled the chicken. I tossed him a fish-shaped treat. “I’ve got to put you out soon, buddy. Our guests might not appreciate cat hair in their food.” Tipper munched his treat and didn’t even bother to look up.

I sang off-key while I finished some last minute things and got out ingredients to make cheese sauce for the potatoes. Taking notice that I needed to clean out the refrigerator, I turned around, facing the dishwasher. Soapy globs were beginning to ooze out the sides and ease their way down the front of the machine. The bubbles slid slowly toward the floor, taunting me as they got closer and closer to my freshly polished tiles. I tossed the milk and cheese on the cabinet and ran to the dishwasher, slapping my hands against my cheeks. I wasn’t really sure what to do, so I opened the dishwasher. That was a mistake. Big, billowy mountains of bubbles broke free and plopped themselves all over the floor. I ran to grab a mop, but slipped in the mess, falling soundly on my posterior. That was one time I was grateful for a little extra padding.

When I managed to hoist myself back up, I turned the dishwasher off. I felt a glimmer of hope until a pungent, smoky odor filled my nostrils. My chicken. I tiptoed my way through the suds and opened the oven door. Smoke escaped into the kitchen, and the smoke alarm screamed an ear-shattering warning. My delicately seasoned chicken had become a shriveled lump of charred carbon. I prayed to be more like Job.

Gathering my strength, I turned on the ceiling fan and opened the back door, trying to clear the smoke.

That’s when Craig walked in. He stood at the kitchen door, staring in disbelief. “What in the world?”

“Don’t ask.”

“Honey, Mr. and Mrs. Ames should be here any minute.”

“Then don’t just stand there, help me.”

He dropped his briefcase and picked his way into the kitchen as if it was a mine field. “What should I do?”

“I don’t know. Get some towels, or something.”

He disappeared and returned with an armful of towels. He tossed me a few, and we began soaking up the mess on the floor.

Craig stopped for a minute. “I thought I heard the smoke alarm going off when I got out of the car.”

“You did.”

“Is dinner ruined?”

“Yes. We could tell our guests we’re vegetarians and just eat the salad and potatoes.”

“Rhonda, you didn’t let Tipper out, did you?”

I snapped my head up and looked where Craig was pointing. Tipper sat on his haunches on the cabinet, blissfully eating the cheese I had intended for the potatoes.

It was then that we saw the headlights sweep across our drive. The Ames had arrived.

Tears welled up in my eyes.

Craig noticed. “Don’t worry. I’ll got get us something from the deli. We’ll just eat casual.”

“While you’re out, will you please get me a year’s supply of dishwasher soap?”

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This article has been read 1045 times
Member Comments
Member Date
James Clem 01/10/08
I could really see Lucy in this story!

The story is obviously written in first person. I suggest varying the sentence structure a bit because many sentences begin with "I".
Example: "I sang off-key while I finished..." could read "Singing off-key, I finished..."
This is mostly just a style preference.

You painted a truly hilarious scene. Fun Story!
Karen Wilber01/10/08
Oh, this sounds like it really could have happened. It was just one thing after another and you just kept pulling me along through the story. "I had a few finishing touches" = famous last words. Funny!
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/10/08
Thanks for the laughs. I could just see Lucy as all of this unfolded. Good job.
Temple Miller01/10/08
Absolutely hilarious. Very Lucille Ball-esque. I enjoyed it start to finish.
LaNaye Perkins01/10/08
I laughed the hardest at the suds escaping from the dishwasher. Been there - done that! Too funny and so true. You captured the perfect dinner gone bad perfectly. Well done!
Gregory Kane01/11/08
Hilarious. And what an understanding, patient husband!
I thought that the final line was too tame. Such an entertaining piece deserves a snappier punch-line. But what? There’s the challenge.
Joanne Sher 01/11/08
Cute last line - and you certainly put me in the middle of this whole ordeal. I could definitely see this happening to Lucy - a VERY fun read!
Kristen Hester01/11/08
This was so much fun. A joy to read and very well written!
Sheri Gordon01/11/08
Very cute. And I've done the dishwasher thing -- at my sister's house. This is a fun illustration of the topic. Good job.
Gregory Kane01/11/08
I was wrong. I can admit it. When my wife reached your punchline, she burst out laughing. So there you go.
Laury Hubrich 01/11/08
I related to this too well! Everyone knows when my food is done by the smoke alarm:) Thanks for the heads-up about not using regular soap in the dishwasher! LOL!
Peter Stone01/12/08
Most entertaining watching the string of disasters arising from not dealing with anything when it needed to be dealt with. Loved the punchline, completely in character.
Catrina Bradley 01/13/08
Too funny. I actually did that with my first dishwasher. My floor was really clean by the time the suds were all mopped up.
jodie banner01/14/08
This was hilarious and Rhonda is blessed with a wonderful husband.
Ann Renae Hair01/14/08
At least they had an 'ice-breaker' for conversation with thier guests!
One error(?) 'got get' in the second to last line.
Great story from beginning to end.
Ann Renae Hair01/14/08
'their' guests! Look who's talking about typos. HeHe.
LauraLee Shaw01/14/08
Way creative! I had such a good time reading this piece.
Catherine Pollock01/14/08
Reading this was like sitting in front of the television and watching an episode of I Love Lucy - only better. Great job!
Jan Ackerson 01/14/08
You're one of the best humor writers we've got here--this piece is an examplar of that. I want to write like you when I grow up!
Loren T. Lowery01/14/08
Grinning ear to ear. What a delightful story. And, I think the dishwasher liquid should have said something about not using in the dishwashwer...how else are we to know what not to do ? : )
Holly Westefeld01/14/08
This was a lot of fun, though I saw some of where it was going. I particularly liked Tipper. Thank God for gracious husbands!
Sharlyn Guthrie01/14/08
Sounds like a nightmare! Excellent application to the topic. Love your humor, too.
Dee Yoder 01/14/08
Hilarious! (Though it's NEVER funny at the time.) I dropped my chicken dish on the way to the table one time. It took three hours to cook-and the guests saw the whole disaster! I tried not to cry...honest. This is written so true to life, the dialogue made me think I was eavesdropping.
Julie Ruspoli01/16/08
I loved this. The title drew me in because I just adore Lucille Ball. The description of the dishwasher mess was perfect, I did it to, so I should know.
Tim Pickl01/16/08
Awesome! Kind of reminds me of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Another one to add to a future 'short story book'! :)
Sara Harricharan 01/16/08
Heehee...I know someone who actually did that exact thing just before an important dinner. Luckily she had four sons to help clean up and no cat to eat the cheese. Needless to say, now she never runs out of dishwasher soap! ^_^ Loved this piece!
Patty Wysong01/16/08
What a fun story! Just the other day the kids asked what would happen if we used dish soap instead of dishwasher detergent...LoL. What a good laugh. :-)
Beth LaBuff 01/17/08
What a fun story...but I was wishing I could help her. :) (especially with his boss and wife coming over). Great humorous writing!!