BRAND MANAGEMENT IN AN AGE OF ANXIETY • by Walt Giersbach

“Thing is, I’m a situational smoker. I only have a cigarette when I’m facing a critical situation.”

I half listened to the guy’s voice over the shouted chatter, wondering where my friends had wandered to. The club was a happening place, but crowded and stuffy. And the loud guy kept bumping into me. Did I really need to endure this pandemonium in order to be socially desirable?

“Yesterday,” the loud guy vented, “it was my boss telling me to hype the revenue figure, which could get me indicted by the SEC, while my super boss in Chicago ordered me to report the earnings accurate to the penny.”

Bump bump, making me slop my drink on my dress. I turned on my too-tight heels that’d cost two hundred smackers, intending to say I’d give him a critical situation if he didn’t… Then my brain switched channels as I saw this Hollywood handsome fellow with hair tumbling into his left eye. His tan in the middle of Manhattan wintertime. The camel hair jacket I wanted to roll up in like a burrito.

“So I stepped out to Third Avenue and smoked a Gauloise for ten minutes until…”

“You smoke Gauloises?” I was in awe of this walking GQ ad.

He turned. He noticed me. “Only about three a day. Sometimes two.”

“What is it about those French cigarettes? Memories of moonlit midnights in Montmartre,” I gushed like some drama queen.

“The smell drives away irritable strangers,” he laughed. The people he’d been chatting with turned and drifted over to the bar for refills. “And it tests my theory.”

“Your theory?”

“People are attracted to others who respond to the same products. That is, no guy is ever going to have a satisfactory relationship with a woman who drinks brandy Alexanders or strawberry daiquiris. I once thought I’d found the perfect mate until she confessed she’d read Fifty Shades of Grey three times and cried over The Sound of Music. And believed Ayn Rand should’ve run for President.”

“What’s the connection? I mean, except for my agreeing everything you said is on target.” The club atmosphere sort of faded as I looked deeply at this thinking man in a crowd of clowns lobotomized by alcohol.

“Subliminally, we respond to marketing messages because they define our needs. Thus, we respond to people whose buttons are pushed by those messages. Some people really do believe they can have it their way at Burger King, that things go better with Coke.”

“Or, you believe the skies are still friendly to fly after 9/11.”

“Exactly. I was on an arranged date last week and my nice companion ordered a chardonnay from a mediocre California vineyard. Then she filled the rest of the glass with Sprite. I sipped my Bordeaux wondering if the beginning was the end.”

“Oh, my God,” I exhaled and actually touched the camel hair with my finger, “I tasted a Le Conseiller made from hundred percent Merlot that had hints of licorice, earth and red fruit, medium-bodied with light fresh cherries in the finish.” I closed my eyes in memory.

He leaned close, stared into my eyes and said softly, “I would love to take you to that place and sample the Bordeaux. My name is Raoul, but I’m only half French. The other half is Irish.”

“I’m LeBaron O’Hara. I’m Irish-American.” This was a now or never moment. My brain was like a car engine racing with the transmission in neutral. Raoul and I could be married before breakfast if this conversation continued. He was the perfect man in a colossal city full of zombies, cretins and mouth-breathing Muppets. The answer to my fairy tale quest for a good man, a true man, a man of understanding.

”Interesting name.”

“My parents said it had something to do with where I was conceived.”

“In a Chrysler?”

“My older brother’s named Fairlane.” I shrugged. “Go figure.” The rest of the room disappeared in a fog as I leaned in to Raoul and we exchanged the brands that were compounded into creating our personalities.  “I hope you don’t think I’m a snob, the French wine and cigarettes and all.” I waited for him to shake his head — about the snob part — and went on. “Having a demanding job in advertising and being on the road a lot, I usually settle in with a glass of Jameson’s Irish.”

“Oh. You’re Catholic?” He stepped back.

“I beg your pardon?”

“Well,” he said, “it’s only that Protestants drink Bushmills. My father’s an Anglican bishop in Ulster and drummed that into me.” A cloud of concern creased his forehead. “Okay, listen, I have to toddle off. Early day tomorrow.”

Was it my religion? I’m apostate, a materialist and a dedicated drinker. Or my choice of brands taking this possible mate off on the tide? “Wait!  Raoul, I haven’t told you of my passion for Italian artisan cheeses.”

“Yes, I’m sure some of us ignore the cholesterol issue.” He stifled a yawn.

“I lied,” I screamed at his retreating back, as though a product I loved had just been removed from the shelves. “I can’t stand your stinky Gauloises!”

I was suddenly enveloped in the existential despair of a Saturday night alone, knowing that tomorrow there’d be another club, and then another.


Walt Giersbach’s fiction has appeared at Bewildering Stories, Big Pulp, Every Day Fiction, Everyday Weirdness, Lunch Hour Stories, Mouth Full of Bullets, Mystery Authors, OG Short Fiction, Northwoods Journal, Paradigm Journal, Short Fiction World, Southern Fried Weirdness, and Written Word. Two volumes of short stories, Cruising the Green of Second Avenue, have been published by Wild Child (www.wildchildpublishing.com).


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 average 5 stars • 1 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Samantha

    The story started off as promising only to end up in a desperate woman trying to find a “classy” prince charming…Too much ad/marketing hype and name-dropping that did not pull it off and make it flow naturally..

    Ayn Rand for president???

    Jeff, what’s your angle since you have the advertising background.

    • Loved your Atlas Shrugged comment! The singles scene and cocktail party set were never my preference. Give me a darkened bar with its smoky stench and people of questionable character any day. Now to your advertising/marketing reference. Ego is society's Achilles heel - a coat must make you look cooler, not keep you warmer, and the beat goes on...
      • Samantha
        "a coat must make you look cooler, not keep you warmer, and the beat goes on.." Damn good!
      • Michael Ampersant
        Just wanted to say, Samantha said it already...a coat...
  • Samantha

    The story started off as promising only to end up as a desperate woman trying to find a “classy” prince charming…Too much ad/marketing hype and name-dropping that did not pull it off and make it flow naturally..

    Ayn Rand for president??? The MC shrugged, so did Atlas…

    Jeff, what’s your angle since you have the advertising background.

    • Loved your Atlas Shrugged comment! The singles scene and cocktail party set were never my preference. Give me a darkened bar with its smoky stench and people of questionable character any day. Now to your advertising/marketing reference. Ego is society's Achilles heel - a coat must make you look cooler, not keep you warmer, and the beat goes on...
      • Samantha
        "a coat must make you look cooler, not keep you warmer, and the beat goes on.." Damn good!
      • Michael Ampersant
        Just wanted to say, Samantha said it already...a coat...
  • Paul A. Freeman

    I felt the whole story was in need of a further edit, especially with dialogue issues. The idea behind the piece was sound, but the sudden disappearance of the MC’s pseudo-sophisticated veneer seemed a bit forced.

    • I think that the force "branding" of the MC was intended.
      • Samantha
        For someone that did not like "a colossal city full of zombies, cretins and mouth-breathing Muppets." she could have just kept off scene...im with Paul on this one.
  • Paul A. Freeman

    I felt the whole story was in need of a further edit, especially with dialogue issues. The idea behind the piece was sound, but the sudden disappearance of the MC’s pseudo-sophisticated veneer seemed a bit forced.

    • I think that the force "branding" of the MC was intended.
      • Samantha
        For someone that did not like "a colossal city full of zombies, cretins and mouth-breathing Muppets." she could have just kept off scene...im with Paul on this one.
  • I believe this story made good with the title.

    As a note, I stumbled on the language used early on by the interior monologue and dialog of the narrator. It also seemed out of place with the character. However, the end of the story wrapped that up for me.

    The ending showed the games both characters were playing in order to establish some common ground (though an extreme measure of it) in establishing a relationship. The fact that she had the expensive shoes and valued other expensive tastes showed her attempt at being socially desirable might have been just as superficial as the wacky brand management that the male character used to filter dates.

    • Samantha
      love in the time of "cholera" title type of thing?
      • Maybe the exact opposite of true love. A completely brand-centric love that has to align 100% for the male in this story.
        • Samantha
          Both "brands" were cheap and see-through...maybe they would have done well in a stock-take sale but not in this context I felt.
          • I think that the transparency of the branding was the whole point of the story.
          • Samantha
            I agree but would have liked it done more convincingly in terms of build-up and dialogue with some superfluous brands left out.
          • I still think this story will run well in the run-up to Christmas. It is appealing to just the right market :)
  • I believe this story made good with the title.

    As a note, I stumbled on the language used early on by the interior monologue and dialog of the narrator. It also seemed out of place with the character. However, the end of the story wrapped that up for me.

    The ending showed the games both characters were playing in order to establish some common ground (though an extreme measure of it) in establishing a relationship. The fact that she had the expensive shoes and valued other expensive tastes showed her attempt at being socially desirable might have been just as superficial as the wacky brand management that the male character used to filter dates.

    • Samantha
      love in the time of "cholera" title type of thing?
      • Maybe the exact opposite of true love. A completely brand-centric love that has to align 100% for the male in this story.
        • Samantha
          Both "brands" were cheap and see-through...maybe they would have done well in a stocktake sale but not in this context I felt.
          • I think that the transparency of the branding was the whole point of the story.
          • Samantha
            I agree but would have liked it done more convincingly in terms of build-up and dialogue with some superfluous brands left out.
          • I still think this story will run well in the run-up to Christmas. It is appealing to just the right market :)
  • I don’t react positively to stories that use what the writer thinks is a clever gimmick to anchor a story. Both characters came across as players in a parody and were not convincing. But, then, perhaps this was the writer’s intent. I took an instant dislike to both and, given their over-the-top brand-preference parallels/differences, I think they are ideally-suited for each other. The ending became obvious halfway through the story. More suited to a Seinfeld skit. 🙁

    • MPmcgurty
      Interesting that you bring up Seinfeld. That was my exact thought as I read the ending.
      • Ahh, now 2 sick-os
  • I don’t react positively to stories that use what the writer thinks is a clever gimmick to anchor a story. Both characters came across as players in a parody and were not convincing. But, then, perhaps this was the writer’s intent. I took an instant dislike to both and, given their over-the-top brand-preference parallels/differences, I think they are ideally-suited for each other. The ending became obvious halfway through the story. More suited to a Seinfeld skit. 🙁

    • MPmcgurty
      Interesting that you bring up Seinfeld. That was my exact thought as I read the ending.
      • Ahh, now 2 wierd-os
  • Genghis Bob

    Loved it. The characters, neither of whom is very likable, and aren’t self-aware enough to know it, can communicate only through exchange of product preferences. Brand names are the new pheromones, and the story is funny because we know that, for some people, it’s all too true.

    Meant to give this a 4, but it’s early Monday and I mis-fired, so you got a 3 from me. I’ll make it up to you on your next story. . .

    • joanna b.
      Thanks for your comment, Genghis Bob. I understood the story almost exactly the way you did, and I like the way you label the concept: brand names are the new pheromones.
  • Genghis Bob

    Loved it. The characters, neither of whom is very likable, and aren’t self-aware enough to know it, can communicate only through exchange of product preferences. Brand names are the new pheromones, and the story is funny because we know that, for some people, it’s all too true.

    Meant to give this a 4, but it’s early Monday and I mis-fired, so you got a 3 from me. I’ll make it up to you on your next story. . .

    • joanna b.
      Thanks for your comment, Genghis Bob. I understood the story almost exactly the way you did, and I like the way you label the concept: brand names are the new pheromones.
  • I agree with Ward, the story lived up to the title.

    The only part that threw me was when the female snob admitted she was conceived in the back seat of a car. And her parents named their children after cars. Which was kind of funny, but not in keeping with the characters.

    Slightly entertaining, but not enough of a story to keep me interested. 3 stars.

    • Perhaps if her name was Ferrari Daytona :)
      • Samantha
        Not even a Porsche (does not cone with a back seat in the coupe) or Mercedes both girl names yet expensive cars. Luckily it was not a back seat of a SEAT...
        • Made me think of Asia Carrera ;o)
          • Samantha
            I just looked her up...Wow from Shirley Temple to Carrera...now that's what I call a "broad" range!
          • Carl Steiger
            I'm trying to keep the computer virus-free, so I'm not going to look her up myself.
          • Samantha
            How was I to know? Jeff, where do I send the bill? A Trojan at risk....
          • Actually Asia was a real sweet lady. I met my first wife on the set of one of Asia's movies. I was doing still photography for Asia, looking for those creative shots that were once so popular. (Her movies were shot on film, not video, and as such using a still photographer was more affordable and convenient than getting prints made from 35mm film negatives.) My first wife acted under the name Brandi Lux (it's a phonetic thing). She and Asia were good friends although they never acted together. She introduced me to Asia and at a cast party I got Asia to autograph a certain body part of mine. The thrill eventually wore off - both the autograph and my marriage. How ironic that you said "A Trojan at risk.." These were never used as the risk was never taken seriously until the demise of John Holmes. :(
          • Samantha
            Now him I won't have to look up...household name....now that's a story Jeff! Oh, she is very smart as well (that's what the first paragraph said anyway...those were the days when catching "ads" was by using newspaper as ...dunny paper....
          • S Conroy
            Brandi Lux. Great name! And would have been a perfect name for the MC here.
        • Camille Gooderham Campbell
          This is getting off-topic from the story at hand. Let's try to keep EDF discussion focused on the story, please.
  • I agree with Ward, the story lived up to the title.

    The only part that threw me was when the female snob admitted she was conceived in the back seat of a car. And her parents named their children after cars. Which was kind of funny, but not in keeping with the characters.

    Slightly entertaining, but not enough of a story to keep me interested. 3 stars.

    • Perhaps if her name was Ferrari Daytona :)
      • Samantha
        Not even a Porsche (does not come with a back seat in the coupe) or Mercedes both girl names yet expensive cars. Luckily it was not a back seat of a SEAT...or Turbo as a middle-name....
        • Made me think of Asia Carrera ;o)
          • Samantha
            I just looked her up...Wow from Shirley Temple to Carrera...now that's what I call a "broad" range!
          • Carl Steiger
            I'm trying to keep the computer virus-free, so I'm not going to look her up myself.
          • Samantha
            How was I to know? Jeff, where do I send the bill? A Trojan at risk.... I always said I learn a lot from this site....little did I know the education that I would get in the process......
          • Actually Asia was a real sweet lady. I met my first wife on the set of one of Asia's movies. I was doing still photography for Asia, looking for those creative shots that were once so popular. (Her movies were shot on film, not video, and as such using a still photographer was more affordable and convenient than getting prints made from 35mm film negatives.) My first wife acted under the name Brandi Lux (it's a phonetic thing). She and Asia were good friends although they never acted together. She introduced me to Asia and at a cast party I got Asia to autograph a certain body part of mine. The thrill eventually wore off - both the autograph and my marriage. How ironic that you said "A Trojan at risk.." These were never used as the risk was never taken seriously until the demise of John Holmes. :(
          • Samantha
            Now him I won't have to look up...household name....now that's a story Jeff! Oh, she is very smart as well (that's what the first paragraph said anyway...those were the days when catching "ads" was by using newspaper as ...dunny paper....
          • S Conroy
            Brandi Lux. Great name! And would have been a perfect name for the MC here.
        • Camille Gooderham Campbell
          This is getting off-topic from the story at hand. Let's try to keep EDF discussion focused on the story, please.
  • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

    Sorry. Flat as a pancake made with defective Bisquick.

    Among everything else I found unconvincing, the time it took for him to discover and recoil from her religion stuck out most. Irish Catholics, I’d bet, are the majority in the US. The surprise would have been if she’d been Protestant.

    You need a really sharp skewer to make tiresome people like this funny. No chuckles from me.

    • It reminded me of an old story. Abbreviated: Tommy Flannery takes his girl to meet dad. Dad asks, what do you do? She replies, I'm a prostitute. Dad pitches a fit. She makes a feeble apology for being a prostitute. Dad replies, Oh, that's okay, Lassie. I thought you said Protestant.
  • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

    Sorry. Flat as [redacted by admin].

    Among everything else I found unconvincing, the time it took for him to discover and recoil from her religion stuck out most. Irish Catholics, I’d bet, are the majority in the US. The surprise would have been if she’d been Protestant.

    You need a really sharp skewer to make tiresome people like this funny. No chuckles from me.

    • It reminded me of an old story. [redacted by admin]
  • Carl Steiger

    Oh no, no no, I did it again. I assumed the MC is the same gender as the author, and then I came to the place where the presumed guy is wearing a dress and heels. Am I the only one so easily disoriented?

    • Samantha
      Could be a drag queen for all we know.....
      • Carl Steiger
        The DQ image got stuck in my mind and I couldn't shake it. If the MC had a name (that of a girly-sounding motor vehicle) early on, I'd have fared better. And now I have the Kinks' "Lola" stuck in my mind too.
        • Samantha
          Maybe the middle name is EFI (electronically fulled injected...) Im soooooooooo disappointed in you Carl...and officially p**** off as you did not get my compliment!!!! I know my spelling and expression leaves a lot to be desired at times....but hey.... HUMAN BEANS....hello!!!! .your great story. I refuse to talk to you for at least 10 minutes now! There!
          • Carl Steiger
            Sorry, my bad, I bean distracted. :-/
          • I caught it after a while, at first I thought you wrote hunan beans which, quite frankly, confused me.
          • Samantha
            hey, my comments are ....well ...mmmm....medical...prevention of Alzheimers for starters... by trying to understand what the hell I'm on about the risk is significantly reduced....I even confuse me....:)
        • Sarah Crysl Akhtar
          Great. Now I'm seeing the MC as Tom Wilkinson a la that movie with Jessica Lange...
          • Samantha
            Im seeing her as Dame Edna Everage ....where is Micheal Stang when we need him most!
          • Hello Possums. I don't see him as that gorgeous.
        • Samantha
          Can conception take place on the back seat of a HARLEY...? that's girly....
        • Samantha
          Do you have KIA motors in the US?
          • Carl Steiger
            Yes, that would have been perfect!
        • Carl - I loved your slip of the tongue, DQ for GQ.
          • Samantha
            drag queen maybe?
    • Sarah Crysl Akhtar
      Didn't sound like a girl to me either. The use of "fellow," for one thing...
      • Samantha
        I think the writer used that among other words to show this cheap "champagne" girl wanted to pass as a MOET....
    • Bump bump, making me slop my drink on my dress. I turned on my too-tight heels
    • I guess it is time for me to come out of the closet.
  • Carl Steiger

    Oh no, no no, I did it again. I assumed the MC is the same gender as the author, and then I came to the place where the presumed guy is wearing a dress and heels. Am I the only one so easily disoriented?

    • Samantha
      Could be a drag queen for all we know.....Guy, girl, whatever. All human BEANS Carl.....
      • Carl Steiger
        The DQ image got stuck in my mind and I couldn't shake it. If the MC had a name (that of a girly-sounding motor vehicle) early on, I'd have fared better. And now I have the Kinks' "Lola" stuck in my mind too.
        • Samantha
          Maybe the middle name is EFI (electronically fuel injected...) Im soooooooooo disappointed in you Carl...and officially p**** off as you did not get my compliment!!!! I know my spelling and expression leaves a lot to be desired at times....but hey.... HUMAN BEANS....hello!!!! .your great story. I refuse to talk to you for at least 10 minutes! There!
          • Carl Steiger
            Sorry, my bad, I bean distracted. :-/
          • I caught it after a while, at first I thought you wrote hunan beans which, quite frankly, confused me.
          • Samantha
            hey, my comments are ....well ...mmmm....medical...prevention of Alzheimers for starters... by trying to understand what the hell I'm on about the risk is significantly reduced....I even confuse me....:)
        • Sarah Crysl Akhtar
          Great. Now I'm seeing the MC as Tom Wilkinson a la that movie with Jessica Lange...
          • Samantha
            Im seeing her as Dame Edna Everage ....where is Michael Stang when we need him most!
          • Hello Possums. I don't see him as that gorgeous.
        • Samantha
          Can conception take place on (the back seat of) a HARLEY...? that's girly....
        • Samantha
          Do you have KIA motors in the US? AUDI is good!
          • Carl Steiger
            Yes, that would have been perfect!
        • Carl - I loved your slip of the tongue, DQ for GQ.
          • Samantha
            drag queen maybe?
    • Sarah Crysl Akhtar
      Didn't sound like a girl to me either. The use of "fellow," for one thing...
      • Samantha
        I think the writer used that among other words to show this cheap "champagne" girl wanted to pass as a MOET....
  • I think the confusion arises from a male writer’ male voice coming through in a female character.

    • Samantha
      you are right...a guy would used "smackers" more than a girl would...but believe you me, some guys walk much better in stilettos than I do!!!!
    • Samantha
      A Anthony and Stanford (not a car but university name) Sex and the City bitch fight....I can visualise that easily ....
  • I think the confusion arises from a male writer’ male voice coming through in a female character.

    Actually, I think it could have been a funny story HAD the two characters been male and [redacted by admin].

    (Yes, I’m insensitive and am gong to burn in hell. So what else is new?)

    • Samantha
      you are right...a guy would use "smackers" more than a girl would...but believe you me, some guys walk much better in stilettos than I do!!!!
  • Walter Giersbach

    Thanks to you all for your comments. Nice insights, and that’s why I keep coming back to EDF as a reader and writer.

    • Samantha
      How lovely of you! :)
    • I give you 5 stars for your positive response.
    • I love it when the writer comments. Thank you for that.
  • Walter Giersbach

    Thanks to you all for your comments. Nice insights, and that’s why I keep coming back to EDF as a reader and writer.

    • Samantha
      How lovely of you! :)
    • I give you 5 stars for your positive response.
    • I love it when the writer comments. Thank you for that.
  • S Conroy

    Once that marketing theory of attraction came up, I figured it would all end in tears. I was repelled by the narcissist in the camel hair coat and found the woman a bit silly, but still really enjoyed the read and could totally picture the two unlikeable, but realistic characters.

  • S Conroy

    Once that marketing theory of attraction came up, I figured it would all end in tears. I was repelled by the narcissist in the camel hair coat and found the woman a bit silly, but still really enjoyed the read and could totally picture these two unlikeable, but realistic characters.

  • Paul Friesen

    Walt – I was enjoying the tale. When the story became a back and forth dialogue however, I found it really hard to remember who was saying what at certain times, the guy or the girl. A little more “I said” and “he said” would readers like me.

  • Paul Friesen

    Walt – I was enjoying the tale. When the story became a back and forth dialogue however, I found it really hard to remember who was saying what at certain times, the guy or the girl. A little more “I said” and “he said” would readers like me.

  • Yeah, umm, lots of “you had to be there to know”. The good thing seems to be that this crowd knows. (Oh how we date ourselves).
    The break up before it started derailed me, but did not surprise me. Characters like this don’t walk with the spine I am looking for. Paul’s suggestion of edit would be a good thing.
    The premise is cool but takes a lot of doing to pull it through.

  • Yeah, umm, lots of “you had to be there to know”. The good thing seems to be that this crowd knows. (Oh how we date ourselves).
    The break up before it started derailed me, but did not surprise me. Characters like this don’t walk with the spine I am looking for. Paul’s suggestion of edit would be a good thing.
    The premise is cool but takes a lot of doing to pull it through.

  • joanna b.

    the title is great and the story follows it. i’m horrified by the current glorification of “branding” as the be-all and end-all; thus, seeing it satirized so well is delightful.

    in contrast, the undertone, or subtext, or whatever, was sad, pitiful, tragic almost. and because of that, the MC’s anger and use of the word “stinky” at the end was jarring for me. i believe that her continuing to plead with his “retreating back” would have been more in keeping with how I saw her. to me, she was too hurt at this point to be nasty. i did feel for her, misguided as she was.

    oh dear, a comment on the Comments: i’m afraid i’m seeing a trend in these comment threads that concerns me. that trend is that some commenters are mocking the stories rather than critiquing them for the benefit of the author. it’s terribly hard, for me at least, to hear or learn anything if my work is being mocked. i do see Walt’s comment about being grateful for the criticism so perhaps he’s made of sterner stuff. but other authors have come under the gun recently too.

    Camille, you can edit this if I’m out of line but it has been building up in me for awhile that we may be losing sight of the authors’ feelings by trivializing their work.

    • Camille Gooderham Campbell
      Joanna, you are not out of line, and we've started to receive increasing complaints on this subject this week especially, as the problem seems to be getting worse. There will be a special mid-month editorial post to address the problem shortly, and we'll be taking more aggressive action as soon as our policy has been placed front and center in fair warning.
  • joanna b.

    the title is great and the story follows it. i’m horrified by the current glorification of “branding” as the be-all and end-all; thus, seeing it satirized so well is delightful.

    in contrast, the undertone, or subtext, or whatever, was sad, pitiful, tragic almost. and because of that, the MC’s anger and use of the word “stinky” at the end was jarring for me. i believe that her continuing to plead with his “retreating back” would have been more in keeping with how I saw her. to me, she was too hurt at this point to be nasty. i did feel for her, misguided as she was.

    oh dear, a comment on the Comments: i’m afraid i’m seeing a trend in these comment threads that concerns me. that trend is that some commenters are mocking the stories rather than critiquing them for the benefit of the author. it’s terribly hard, for me at least, to hear or learn anything if my work is being mocked. i do see Walt’s comment about being grateful for the criticism so perhaps he’s made of sterner stuff. but other authors have come under the gun recently too.

    Camille, you can edit this if I’m out of line but it has been building up in me for awhile that we may be losing sight of the authors’ feelings by trivializing their work.

    • Camille Gooderham Campbell
      Joanna, you are not out of line, and we've started to receive increasing complaints on this subject this week especially, as the problem seems to be getting worse. There will be a special mid-month editorial post to address the problem shortly, and we'll be taking more aggressive action as soon as our policy has been placed front and center in fair warning.
  • This is very funny. I don’t think it would have worked without the branding. It hadn’t occurred to me that being a Catholic was a brand 🙂 Also I haven’t heard “two hundred smackers” in a long time. Good stuff.

  • This is very funny. I don’t think it would have worked without the branding. It hadn’t occurred to me that being a Catholic was a brand 🙂 Also I haven’t heard “two hundred smackers” in a long time. Good stuff.

  • Dustin Adams

    One of the things I like most about this is its uniqueness. I read a lot of the same types of stories behind the scenes, so when something different comes along, I, along with the other editors, lift it to the top.

    Here, we’ve got a couple properly suited for each other, and yet their very commonalities wind up keeping them apart. The dealbreaker, after a long list of non dealbreakers, caught me off guard, and was a fine twist to a fun ride of a story.

  • One of the things I like most about this is its uniqueness. I read a lot of the same types of stories behind the scenes, so when something different comes along, I, along with the other editors, lift it to the top.

    Here, we’ve got a couple properly suited for each other, and yet their very commonalities wind up keeping them apart. The dealbreaker, after a long list of non dealbreakers, caught me off guard, and was a fine twist to a fun ride of a story.

  • Angela Goebel

    The insight into today’s age of competition in love and material goods was entertaining. I loved your rich word choice!

  • Angela Goebel

    The insight into today’s age of competition in love and material goods was entertaining. I loved your rich word choice!

  • Diane Cresswell

    Walt – this was a fun read. Great bounce back and forth between the two contestants. Almost like a one-upsmanship process. Always interesting to see in real life how brands make you better… or not including religion. And none of it makes you a better person. As you just ended the story.

  • Diane Cresswell

    Walt – this was a fun read. Great bounce back and forth between the two contestants. Almost like a one-upsmanship process. Always interesting to see in real life how brands make you better… or not including religion. And none of it makes you a better person. As you just ended the story.

  • disqus_5RXgycx5ff

    OMG I love this. It really made me laugh. “The camel hair jacket I wanted to roll up in like a burrito” was my first clue this was going to be priceless. The Sprite comment? Her name and her brother’s? Really funny–all while saying something interesting about how meet and measure each other, too.

    • "The camel hair jacket I wanted to roll up in like a burrito." The simile doesn’t work well as is because it suggests a burrito is like “roll up in”, which is something burritos don’t really do or aren’t. Burritos are pretty much passive and they are rolled, more or less, in their creation. And the jacket wouldn’t be a burrito, but only a wrap for one. Better I think, and even more sensual, would be "The camel hair jacket I wanted to roll up in to make a burrito."
      • disqus_5RXgycx5ff
        I like it as is. It doesn't sound academic or prissy. It sounds like someone thinking off the cuff, someone who is in a crowded room, taking in new sensations and reacting to them, as this narrator is. I enjoyed not only the comparison, but the entire story. I read it for enjoyment, not to perform an autopsy.
  • disqus_5RXgycx5ff

    OMG I love this. It really made me laugh. “The camel hair jacket I wanted to roll up in like a burrito” was my first clue this was going to be priceless. The Sprite comment? Her name and her brother’s? Really funny–all while saying something interesting about how meet and measure each other, too.

    • "The camel hair jacket I wanted to roll up in like a burrito." The simile doesn’t work well as is because it suggests a burrito is like “roll up in”, which is something burritos don’t really do or aren’t. Burritos are pretty much passive and they are rolled, more or less, in their creation. And the jacket wouldn’t be a burrito, but only a wrap for one. Better I think, and even more sensual, would be "The camel hair jacket I wanted to roll up in to make a burrito."
      • disqus_5RXgycx5ff
        I like it as is. It doesn't sound academic or prissy. It sounds like someone thinking off the cuff, someone who is in a crowded room, taking in new sensations and reacting to them, as this narrator is. I enjoyed not only the comparison, but the entire story. I read it for enjoyment, not to perform an autopsy.
  • So, today I’m in the movie section at a popular used bookstore, and this guy asks me if I follow movies. I say yes and expect him to ask me to make a recommendation. But then he says he often watches their matches on the internet. Hmm. He was talking about the rugby jersey I was wearing. Toulon Club in France. Toulon rhymes with movie, right? I told him I got the jersey free from my brother-in-law’s friend. We talk awhile. The guy is at the bookstore with his wife and three little children who tell the same knock-knock joke over and over. After I leave the store, I remember he was wearing an Airborne T-shirt. I should have given him the Toulon jersey as a Veteran’s Day gift. It would have been a nice story.

    • Mickey, we are who we are no matter what t-shirt we wear. It is terrific to know your cut of the cloth, story or no.
  • So, today I’m in the movie section at a popular used bookstore, and this guy asks me if I follow movies. I say yes and expect him to ask me to make a recommendation. But then he says he often watches their matches on the internet. Hmm. He was talking about the red, white, and navy rugby jersey I was wearing. Toulon Club in France. Toulon rhymes with movie, right? I told him I got the jersey free from my brother-in-law’s friend. We talk awhile about rugby and travel. The guy is at the bookstore with his wife and three little children who tell the same knock-knock joke over and over. I tell them my favorite:
    “Knock, knock.”
    “Who’s there?”
    “Nobody.”
    “Nobody who?”

    After I leave the store, I remember the guy was wearing an Airborne T-shirt. I should have given him the Toulon jersey as a Veteran’s Day gift. It would have been a nice story.

    • Mickey, we are who we are no matter what t-shirt we wear. It is terrific to know your cut of the cloth, story or no.
  • Tina Wayland

    A story after my copywriter’s heart. I completely got the use of brand names, the roll of the dialogue, the superficial characters, the humour… Enjoyed it immensely. This story aims for a specific type of sarcasm and reflection on the ad world, and you definitely hit the mark.

  • Tina Wayland

    A story after my copywriter’s heart. I completely got the use of brand names, the roll of the dialogue, the superficial characters, the humour… Enjoyed it immensely. This story aims for a specific type of sarcasm and reflection on the ad world, and you definitely hit the mark.