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ANTLER GIRLS
Author's note: this story won 1st prize in a national humour writing contest!

The road trip was one of those spur-of-the-moment ideas conceived during the euphoric
afterglow that often accompanies and empty wine bottle. My friend Deanna and I were looking
for an escape from that most overrated time of year.
“Yes! Myrtle Beach for Christmas!”
“No obligatory family festivities!”
“Just a beach, some sun, ...”
“...maybe a round or two of golf...”
“We’re there!”
A couple of weeks later we packed up my station wagon with golf clubs, suitcases, a cooler of food, and I-don’t-know-how-many-pairs-of-shoes. (In our defense, we didn’t were driving through snowy Ontario into the temperate weather of South Carolina. We would need boots for sure, walking shoes no doubt, golf shoes we hoped, sandals if there was a God, dancing shoes if there was a chance. Slippers for the hotel room, water shoes for the shower. And an extra pair of most because black is not a neutral, I don’t care what they say.)
“Mornin’,” said the cheerless border guard. “Where are you headed today?” although he didn’t sound like he cared much.
“Myrtle Beach,” I said, wishing encounters with authority figures didn’t leave me feeling like I was a fugitive from justice.
“For eight glorious days,” Deanna chirped from the passenger’s side.
He peered into the back of the wagon, and regarded us over his bi-focals. “What’s in the cooler?”

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CHARACTER FLAW

The other day my husband came home from work to find me curled up in my favourite chair, still wearing shabby track pants and a pyjama top, sucking my thumb. My uncombed hair poked up like a rooster’s comb, and my complexion was blotchy from weeping.
            “What’s wrong?” he asked, almost like he was really concerned.
            “Phoebe died.”
            “Ah, I’m sorry to hear that. Did she suffer long?” He loosened his tie with one hand while he reached into the ’fridge for a beer with the other.
            “She had a fatal disease and the doctors couldn’t cure her. She even went to a clinic in the Himalayas, but there was nothing they could do for her.” My eyes started to bubble  for the umpteenth time that day. “Thank God, she went peacefully in her drug-induced coma.”
            “Oh, that’s good,” he said, nodding in commiseration. He savoured his beer for a moment while he regarded me warily. “Who’s Phoebe again?”
             I glared at him. “My best friend! How can you not know that?!”
            “I don’t even know who you are! Who are you?”
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KISSING TOADS

After my divorce, I ran the gamut of blind dates arranged by well-intentioned friends. I  followed every tip suggested on the glossy pages of lifestyle magazines; shopped for exotic food items in swanky grocery stores, joined a local volleyball team, joined a sailing club, joined a co-ed gym - all the time flashing my ringless left hand as nonchalantly as possible. No takers. Which really baffled me, because I am really quite awesome. (It does occur to me that perhaps my over-inflated ego could be a tiny stumbling block.)            
            By my mid-forties, with no romantic prospects in sight, I decided to get professional help. Ah, you say, such wisdom. Nay, I say, not the psychological kind of  professional help.  I signed up with a ‘love counsellor’, a purveyor of perfect mates, a snake oil saleslady who promised to find me my dream man. In retrospect, I should have gone with the psychotherapy.
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SEX DRIVE

            When Mother Nature was forming us into little beings, she provided us with things called ‘natural drives’. Like the drive to eat. To breathe. Stuff like that. I like that we have those instincts. Breathing is one of my favourite things.
            And then there is the drive to mate. Personally, I think this is Mother Nature’s dirty little joke. Right off the bat, she goes and makes boys and girls anatomically appropriate for mating but doesn’t endow them with the same level of drive. Guys are all for it. All the time. If they can’t mate with one female, they move on to another. Procreation is not their main goal, either, as it usually is for us girls. Their main goal is to prove their masculinity by dominating, and if you don’t agree, spend a little time in the barnyard and watch the roosters go at it.

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