Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: The Comedy of Errors (not about the play) (08/18/11)
TITLE: Mange Meeting
By Jody Day
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Mrs. Smith insisted on cooking dinner for the prospective in-laws. Sue helped her set the table with their best china and silver, and their finest linen tablecloth.
“You’ll love Danny’s mother, Mom. Mrs. Martin heads up the prayer ministry at their church, just like you. You are both wonderful cooks. You two can exchange recipes.” Sue’s nervous hands worked at folding a linen napkin, just so. “And Mr. Martin’s a deacon, just like daddy.”
Sue and her mother worked so hard at preparing the event that they didn’t notice dark clouds gather. The rain started gently at first, then torrential sheets pelted the house. Mr. Smith appeared with candles.
“Just in case the power goes out.” His grim expression worried Sue. Mr. Smith was known for speaking his mind. She worried he might put off the Martins with his blunt approach to things. She sidled over and gave him a hug.
“Dad, this meeting is really important to me.” She fluttered her eyelashes at her father.
“Don’t worry, Sue, I won’t embarrass you, if that’s what you are getting at. I resolve to hold my tongue and make a good impression.” Sure, Danny, shared their faith and would soon have a business degree. But he couldn’t hand his beloved daughter over to just anybody.
Just when they thought the Martins might not come out in the storm, the doorbell rang. Sue’s head swam with nervousness. The scene played out in slow motion. Her parents went to the door, the Smiths walked in, raincoats dripping wet, and their dog...
Their dog?! A mud covered, mangy looking long-haired Westie walked in with Danny and his parents. Reality grabbed Sue with its cold hands and jerked her wide awake. The dog shook violently, splattering mud all over the foyer, their clothes and Sue’s mood.
The six people looked at each other in astonishment. An awkward silence hung in the air for a few seconds until Mr. Smith came to the rescue for his daughter’s sake.
“Oh well, who can’t stand a little mud on a night like this?” They all breathed a little sigh of relief, shook hands and made initial greetings. Sue accepted a kiss on the cheek from Danny, but promptly glared at him. Why didn’t he tell her they were bringing their dog? And why, in the name of all that’s decent and appropriate, did they bring that mangy mutt tonight, of all nights?
Before long they were seated at the dinner table. The lovely pot roast and vegetables were just going around when the dog, who had been sitting on a towel in the foyer, leaped into Mr. Smith’s lap and then onto the table. He took Mr. Smith’s serving of pot roast, munched it as he walked across the table, then bounded between the Martin’s toward a white love seat at the end of the room.The Martin’s made no attempt to restrain the mutt, or apologize. They just glanced at each other and continued eating.
Sue looked from the muddy paw prints on the linen tablecloth to her fiance with a face that spoke volumes. The color completely drained from Mrs. Smith as she watched mud and filth sink into the fabric of her love seat. She bravely smiled and served her husband another slice of pot roast. Mr. Smith’s mouth twitched, set itself in a grim line, then exploded.
“I would offer your dog something to eat, but looks like he just helped himself.” Sue’s father blushed with anger. Tears spilled out of her mother’s eyes.
“Our dog? We thought it was your dog!” Mr. Martin stood and Mrs. Martin’s hand flew to her mouth.
The two men faced each other. Tension electrified the awful silence. Then...guffaws!
Mr. Smith threw his head back and laughed. Mr. Martin’s eyes widened as he realized the mistake and cracked up as well. The women joined in.
“The mud...” laughter, the holding of stomachs...”my tablecloth...” more giggling until the tears came...
Danny and Sue stared at their completely out-of-control parents.
“That filthy animal saw an open door and an opportunity. We’ll never forget this night.” Mr. Martin bellowed with laughter.
The group spent the evening making wedding plans. The one thing they agreed upon right away: “No Dogs Allowed.”
*Based on a true story.
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