Scatterbrained Friends are the Worst

Story written by ThatGuyJohn on Friday 1, February 2019

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Sometimes you just have to be honest with your friends.

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“I was Barney,” Chris blurted out as I slid into the passenger seat of his car. We were on our way to a Christmas party that one of his colleagues had invited him to. He had recently broken up with his girlfriend so my wife convinced me that if I didn’t go with him I would be a bad friend. “What?” I replied, swinging my left leg into the car. “You’re wearing a purple shirt,” Chris explained, pinching the sleeve of my shirt. “It reminded me that I was Barney the Dinosaur.” “Firstly,” I said sternly, brushing his hand away from my shirt. “My shirt isn’t purple. It’s smokey mulberry, a very masculine colour.” Chris forced air out of his nose dismissively. Dismissively of me, not the air. I doubted he even noticed the air in his nose. “Secondly,” I said “What? Barney the Dinosaur… what?” “You asked me what I did during varsity to earn some extra money,” Chris replied. “Okay,” I said slowly, as a frown formed on my face. “And your purple shirt…” he continued. “Smokey mulberry,” I interjected. Chris ignored me. “Your purple shirt reminded me that I used to be Barney the Dinosaur for kids’ parties.” “Chris, I asked you that question on Tuesday. It’s now Friday.” I said, still frowning. He shrugged the shrug of a man who was used to ending conversations with a shrug. His shrug was powerless against me, though. “You’re very scatterbrained,” I said, tapping my head for effect. Because that’s where one’s brain usually is. “No, I’m not!” Chris protested as he adjusted the back of his seat. “You’re 40 minutes late.” I held up my wrist to show him the time, but realised I wasn’t wearing a watch. So to save face I flapped my hand around in faux frustration. “I couldn’t find your place,” he replied lamely. “You lived next door for 3 years!” “A lot has changed since I moved,” Chris said, now flat on his back, still fiddling with his seat. “You moved a month ago. What has changed?” I said, tugging the back of his seat, trying to help him up. Chris flew forward, slamming his chest into the steering wheel. This gave the hooter a loud honk, startling the dozing cat that was perched on top of my letter box. It sprang with such force that it dislodged my letterbox causing it to fall to the ground. Chris pushed himself and his seat back while squinting out the window for signs of “change”. “Your letter box! That used to be in a different place,” he pointed out proudly. I shook my head. “We should probably get going. We’re already late,” I said. 20 minutes of awkward silence later and we arrived at the Christmas party. “I’m really not, you know!” Chris said suddenly, picking up where we had left off. “It’s not a criticism, Chris. I’m just pointing it out,” I said, placing my hand on his shoulder a little condescendingly, because obviously it was a criticism. “Oh, it’s not a criticism. Okay, that makes it so much better.” I assumed Chris was being sarcastic but I wasn’t sure. He could be quite gullible, so often took what I’d say in jest, seriously. Like a few months ago, Chris and I popped down to the Waterfront for a catch-up. They had recently automated the glass doors that you previously had to pull to open. They were obviously still a bit glitchy because they didn’t immediately open when you approached them. Chris pulled on the handle unsuccessfully and out of frustration shouted at them to open. Coincidently, they then opened. “What the heck?” he said, confused. “It must be voice activated,” I said sarcastically. “Oh, wow!” he said, impressed at this marvel of technology. Chris now loudly and confidently commands the doors at the Waterfront to open every time he goes. So you can understand the need to check whether he was being sarcastic. “Are you being sarcastic?” “Me? Sarcastic? Never.” he said, aggressively unbuckling his seat belt. “I see I’ve upset you,” I replied, putting on my best apologetic voice. I’m getting much better at it. I get a lot of practice with my wife. “Let’s just drop it. You’re not scatterbrained, okay?” I said to an empty car because Chris had already exited. What a waste of a great apologetic voice. As I got out of the car, I noticed a couple walking towards the party. They were dressed as pirates. Chris’s colleague greeted them near the door wearing a Spiderman costume. Oh no. “Is this a fancy dress party, Chris?” I scowled a scowl that an Olympic scowler would applaud. “No,” Chris replied unconvincingly. I turned to face Chris, hoping my scowl would frighten the truth out of him. My scowl deepend as I caught him pulling a Father Christmas hat down onto his head to go with the Father Christmas coat and pants he was taking out of the boot. “Then why are you dressed as Father Christmas?” “I’m not,” he said avoiding eye contact. “Did you forget to tell me that this is a fancy dress party?” I said, moving about trying to get into his eyeline. “He will feel the wrath of my scowl,” I thought. “See? You are a scatterbrain, Chris!” I hissed. “Just tell them you’re Barney the Dinosaur!” he hissed back. “That’s a great idea,” I retorted sarcastically. “I know! You’re welcome.” he replied proudly.
   

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Comments

    Welcome to the Den, John. I relate to your story because I have ex-friends like Chris (I'm wiser or less tolerant than your narrator). I presume you are from the UK: note that I write and comment based on S.E. (Simplified English, Routh's term for the US and, strangely, Israeli bastardized version of our almost common language) and I am unfamiliar with some peculiarities and aberrations of P.E. (Primitive English, my label for the UK/CAN/AUS version). If I indicate as an error or less desirable choice in wording or punctuation that which is actually correct or preferred in P.E., then I stand corrected and you should ignore that comment unless you intend significant S.E. readership.

    This is very well written both technically and effectively. The primary problem is in format. This site has a peculiarity in that tabs and initial spaces in the original are sometimes omitted from the posted version others see. Check the difference between 'edit' and 'read' versions of your story on your 'manage writings' list or in 'Latest Activity' after posting. The result is that paragraphs may run together which makes reading tedious at times and can often cause confusion as to the speaker of an unattributed quote. We usually handle this by leaving a blank line between paragraphs. Crude but it works. Some of your paragraphs are indented and others not: don't know if that's caused by the original format you posted or the Den's processor or what.

    my shirt. “My shirt {since the quote is a continuation the period would normally be a comma}
    signs of “change”. {the period should be before the " -- at least in S.E.}
    Like a few months ago, Chris {arguably a comma splice: comma shouldn't join 2 complete sentences;
    without the "Like" first part couldn't be considered a complete sentence as it may be now}
    Never.” he said, / You’re welcome.” he {period should be comma both places if "he" is lower case}
    aggressively unbuckling his seat belt. {Liked this but still trying to picture someone "aggressively" ...}
    “He will feel... of my scowl,” I thought. {when "..." used for quotes '...' or italics usual for thoughts}

    As an aside, your narrator seems a bit obsessive: who remembers -- and remarks -- on Friday that he asked a question on Tuesday? ( Hey, I'm getting older: maybe that's just me!)

    A really neat little vignette. Could picture it. Maybe the narrator could go the party as an executioner if he could only find a nearby head to appropriate as a prop. Write on.
    Thanks for your feedback, AlexScribe - much appreciated.

    I'm actually from South Africa, but you're spot on regarding the use of P.E. Do you suggest I adopt S.E. going forward?

    Also, thanks for the heads-up on the formatting issues. I wasn't sure what was going on.
    Hell, John, some of you guys are more UK than the UK people! As to S.E. or P.E. it depends on your intended market, presuming you intend to publish more formally than this. There are also sub-divisions in both: CAN differs from UK etc., as in autos being left-hand drive. There aren't that many differences, and many can be avoided by neutral syntax: e.g. 'swinging my trailing leg into the car' 'what I did while at [university/college] to earn some extra money' 'resulting in a loud honk' 'for signs of “change” to justify his claim.' 'Chris and I went down to the Waterfront [club] to catch up.' etc. Not much you can do with "Father Christmas" except maybe alternating with "Santa (Claus)" would work for all. There will still be some elements that would be disruptive in one case, but a simple edit should fix those. The standard for syntax in S.E. favored by many editors (and me) is the 'Chicago Manual of Style' which is available on-line as well as in hard copy.
    Couple of items I skipped earlier:
    40 / 3 / 20 {Small numbers (varies but at least up to 100) should be spelled out with a few exceptions: time; day, numeric month, year in dates; key numbers as 24 hours, 60 minutes, numeric addresses, etc.}
    letter box... letterbox {be consistent; if "mailbox" is common in P.E. use as it is normal S.E. term}
    when you approached them. {not wrong but more fitting if "we" instead of "you" maybe}
    so often took what I’d say {not wrong but "taking" would be more common usage in S.E.}
    “It must be voice activated,” {"They" since only antecedent is plural}
    My scowl deepend {"deepened"}
    Write on.