“Miss Communication”

kawarthaREADS: An excerpt from the short story collection "Humour on Wry, with Ketchup" by local author Bruce Gravel

Author Bruce Gravel
Author Bruce Gravel

Local author Bruce Gravel has published four books of humour since 2008. His latest book Humour on Wry, with Ketchup, a collection of 32 short stories guaranteed to give you giggles, has just been published.

Bruce’s other three books are: Humour on Wry, with Mustard (88 short stories published in 2008), Humour on Wry, with Mayo featuring Travels with Fred the World’s Worst Tourist (52 short stories published in 2010), and the novel Inn-Sanity: Diary of an Innkeeper Virgin (published in 2009).

Bruce’s books are available in local stores including Chapters Peterborough, Happenstance in Lakefield, CraftWorks at the Barn, Whetung Objway Crafts, Kent Bookstore in Lindsay, and the Peterborough Visitors Centre. The books are also available at www.brucegravel.ca or amazon.com, where you can see the cover and sample stories.

Bruce will be signing copies of his new book Sunday, September 9, 2012, from 1-4 p.m. at Chapters Peterborough.

“Miss Communication”, from Bruce Gravel’s short story collection Humour on Wry, with Ketchup (July 2012)

The cover of Humour on Wry, with Ketchup by Bruce Gravel
The cover of Humour on Wry, with Ketchup by Bruce Gravel
Lydia, her sister, Colleen, and Lydia’s teenage daughter, Jocelyn, travelled “from away” (means mainland Canada) to visit Lydia and Colleen’s 80-year-old mother in Newfoundland. Two days into the visit, Lydia developed severe sinus congestion. She was understandably reluctant to go to a hospital; not only would it cut into precious family time with Mom, but the nearest hospital was a considerable distance away from the small outport fishing village where her mother lived.

Jocelyn announced a solution to her mother’s sinusitis problem.

“There’s a product called ‘Breathe Right’ and it really works,” she said with the unimpeachable authority bestowed upon teenagers by virtue of watching television and surfing the Internet. “They advertise it on TV all the time. You can buy it at a drugstore.”

The threesome trooped down to the village’s drugstore/post office/courier depot/Sears catalogue outlet/passport photo station/bookstore/gift shop/family planning centre/florist. It was like something out of the 1950s (in other words, modern by Newfie standards). The small store’s aisles were narrow and the shelves were jam-packed with products. They eventually located the “Breathe Right” display, right next to the Prescriptions Counter, where about 20 people were lined up, patiently waiting to pick up their medications.

Lydia, Colleen and Jocelyn crowded in front of the “Breathe Right” display.

“Here, Mom,” said Jocelyn. “You see, you’ve got quite a selection. They come in different colours, as well as clear, of course.”

Behind them, they heard some chuckling from the locals in the prescriptions line. Oblivious, Jocelyn continued:

“And they come in different sizes, too. Large and small.”

“Well, I don’t need a large one,” said Lydia. “A small one will do.”

Two loud guffaws erupted from behind them, plus a smattering of sniggering. Colleen turned her head to look, wondering what was so funny, while Jocelyn pressed on:

“Now you’ve gotta be careful putting it on, and then, after, you’ve gotta be careful taking it off, so you don’t pull off the skin.”

More guffaws and giggles.

“Anyway, these things will make your life so much easier. They’ll let you have a good night’s sleep,” said Jocelyn.

Lots of chortling came from behind them now. Perplexed and a little irritated, Lydia and Colleen both turned to stare at the crowd. Everyone in the line was either laughing or smiling at them. Meanwhile, Jocelyn looked down and gasped.

“Ohmigod! Uh, Mom? Aunt Colleen? We gotta move away from here right now! We haveta stand somewhere else, anywhere else!”

The two older women looked back at the shelves and blanched. Below the “Breathe Right” display on the top shelf, were three shelves crammed with condoms.

Hastily purchasing a “Breathe Right” product (Lydia didn’t care what colour or size it was), the threesome beat an embarrassed retreat out of the drugstore.

Long after they had returned to their mainland homes, their mother still heard the hilarious story making the rounds of the village about the three women “from away” who had an animated conversation about condoms in the drugstore; a conversation led by one woman’s teenage daughter, who knew everything about them! And the mother was okay with that!

The above story is true, albeit the names were changed to protect the acutely embarrassed.