The Cliche

Seeing as some of my more recent posts have all been in the humorous vein, I thought I would share an exercise from one of my former college classes.  The point of the exercise was to use cliches to humorous.  Anything could be cliche–the plot, the narrative, the prose, the utilization of overused phrases, anything.  This is what I produced in the spring of 2009.

John and Martha were considered an item.  One evening they were together in their favorite restaurant.  The fact was that John had recently uncovered that he was gay, and was trying to think of a way to let Martha know, who was still in blissful ignorance.  He also had to tell her his boss had permanently laid him off, though he was hoping the news of his playing for the other team might make that occurrence less pressing for her.

It was the moment of truth, and when he opened his mouth to speak, he couldn’t confess, at least not right then and there.  “Martha, you and I need to have a dialogue,” he suggested.  “I think there’s some issues we need to talk about.”  John was cautiously optimistic, for at least he was being proactive.

Martha exacerbated his optimism by saying “I can relate to the need for a dialogue, John.  I’ve had a very sudden wake-up call, if you catch my drift.”  John sensed something was conspicuous by its abstinence, and asked Martha what she meant, so they could be on the same page.  Marta took a large sip of her red wine and blurted “John, a month or so ago I didn’t get on the rag.”

Suddenly things became crystal clear for John.  “Do you mean to say you’re pregnant?”

“I . . .” Martha chocked on her words.  “I nipped it in the bud.”

“You mean to say you terminated your pregnancy?  But why?  Wasn’t there a viable alternative?”  John was really mad.  He pulled no punches.

“Quit getting up in my kool-aide, John!” screamed Martha, standing.  “The bottom line is that at the end of the day, I can’t always listen to my better half!  Ever since you’ve started hanging out with Nathan, there’s just been this disconnect between us!  There was no constructive reason to have this baby!  Especially since it wasn’t cost effective!”  She sunk back into her seat, face wet with tears.  Miraculously, no one in the restaurant had seemed to notice this outburst, so John felt no added pressure when addressing Martha.

“You mean,” he whispered.  “You knew I was permanently laid off?”

“It was a no-brainer,” said Martha.  “Just like the fact that your door doesn’t swing that way.”

“I never imagined this scenario,” muttered John.  “But why didn’t you say anything before, Martha?  Why did you spend all this time suffering in silence?”

“Because, John,” said Martha, looking up at him, her eyes glittering with tears.  “It was a need-to-know thing, and besides . . .” she smiled a little sadly.  “I also subscribe to the gay lifestyle.”

“Well, far be it from me to judge you for keeping that a secret.”  John held his chin and wrinkled his eyebrows in thought.  “You know, I think there might be an upside to this situation.”

“What on earth do you mean?” said Martha, straightening up in her chair.

“We can turn this into a win-win situation.  Now we can each play for the other team, and use each other as a cover-up.  Does that resonate okay with you?”

“It sounds cutting edge,” said Martha.  “And über-cool.”

Now that John and Martha had gotten with the program, they wrapped up the story by finishing their dinner in new-found bliss.


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