Nurture or Nature

6 Jul

Friday again. FridayFictioneers are on the loose here. My 100 word (ish) story, Nurture or Nature is below the accompanying photo prompt from Amanda Gray. (Thanks, Amanda. Soft pastel dawn? Or sunset? Either way it’s beautiful.)

     “Something to drink?”

“How do you stand it out here, dad?”

When Charles started college I’d filed for divorce, signed everything away and moved to the desert in three wonderful, liberating weeks. An only child and a mama’s boy, his visits were, though he hadn’t figured it out yet, mostly at his mother’s behest, a proxy thumb of sorts. She’d never forgiven me for getting out from under hers.

“This place has its advantages, son,” I replied.

“Name one.”

“Your mom won’t visit.”

Charles reflected on this and finally smiled.

“Got any beer?”

He was going to be okay.

“Coming right up.”

77 Responses to “Nurture or Nature”

  1. The Writer's Village July 6, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    light-hearted and wry – just the way I like it.

    I’m now hearing the stones’ “under My Thumb” playing at the end 😉

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 5:45 am #

      “the girl who once had me down…”

      Thanks for commenting no kindly (and imaginatively) and for being so patient as i found my way back to these pages. I really appreciate your feedback.



  2. unspywriter July 6, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    And sometimes we’re the ones who move to the desert. 😉

    Great characterization and perfect humor in 100 words!


    Here’s mine (yet again, rather a counterpoint to yours):

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 5:55 am #

      Dear Maggie,

      Thank you for your comments and your note that it’s not always the men that move to the desert. Figuratively speaking, I’ll bet it’s many more women than men. We’re actually kind of boorish and clueless at times (be nice).



  3. Steven S. Walsky July 6, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    Interesting title…adds another hundred or so words to the story.

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 6:02 am #

      Dear Steven,

      Thank you for your comment about the title. I just kept thinking about Don Ameche in the movie Trading Places. It’s an age old argument and the jury’s still out. Nice to meet you.



      • Steven S. Walsky July 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

        You’re welcome.

  4. Parul July 6, 2012 at 11:25 am #

    Very clever take on the prompt! Amusing! 🙂

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 6:09 am #

      Dear Parul,

      Thank you so much.



  5. Mike July 6, 2012 at 11:48 am #

    Another great story Doug.
    I loved the idea of ‘the proxy thumb’ very clever.

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 6:10 am #

      Dear Mike,

      Thanks for enjoying the proxy thumb. i t happens all to often that separated parents use their cchildren as clubs to beat each other over the head with. Shame.



  6. Linda July 6, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    I must admit that I find it liberating when the young finally start to come into their own Doug. Before that I find them rather boring. You have some used some lovely word constructs to create images that many can relate to and being under the thumb is definitely the best 🙂

    I’m on the list but for those who happen across, my offering is also here:

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 6:32 am #

      Dear Linda,

      I’m with you re kids and watching the lights finaly come on..and stay on at some point in their lives. (Wish mine had come on sooner.) Thanks for some great comments this week. i really appreciate them.



      • Linda July 12, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

        I think we probably all think that about ourselves Doug 🙂

  7. Sandra July 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    A real moment of contact between the generations, Doug, poignant and funny. I loved the image of a ‘proxy thumb’. I’ve known one or two people who employ that approach. 🙂 Loved it, well done.

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 6:34 am #

      Dear Sandra,

      It’s a shame when the ‘proxy thumb’ thin happens. Too often we pass our conflicts and bad behavior down through the generations. Thanks for such a nice comment. I loved your story this week.



  8. Jess Schira July 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

    Love the sly humor. This scene is so easy to visualize. Great job!

  9. TheOthers1 July 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Lol. This made me chuckle. I was picturing the pause as he thought about that. Well done as always.

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 6:35 am #

      Dear CC,

      Thanks for the vote of confidence. I always love hearing good things from you.



  10. flyoverhere July 6, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

    A pivotal moment in the father/son relationship I think. Lots of info packed in such few words and the dialog was perfect. For others who are interested mine is here

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 6:40 am #

      Thanks for the good vibes and positive comments. Keeps my fuel tank topped off and my engine purring.



  11. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields July 6, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    Sounds like Mom’s a bit of shrew. This made me laugh and feel some sadness at the same time. As always love your use of language.
    Here’s mine…I had a struggle this week. Even researched tarantulas in NM but didn’t use my findings.

  12. Jeffrey Hollar July 6, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    This was a very nice take on the prompt. One man’s desolation is another man’s refuge. Nicely done, as usual, sir.

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 6:42 am #

      Dear Jeffrey,

      Thank you, sir, for your observations. Sam Kinison would have had a house in the deep desert eventually:)



  13. Joanna (Lazuli Portals) July 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    I loved the ‘thumb’ lines and feel Charles’ dad’s sense of liberation. Great story, as always.

    We’re here (and captcha-free, I’m assured)

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 6:54 am #

      Dear Joanna,

      In case no one else has sung your praises for eliminating the Captcha’s, let me be the first. I so hate those things! And thank you for your kind comments on my story. I’m sorry I got back here so late to reply. Schedule has been hectic and convoluted.



      • Joanna (Lazuli Portals) July 10, 2012 at 6:57 am #

        Thanks Doug! It was a battle, but I’m thrilled that I won! 😉

        Thanks for taking time to reply; I appreciate it 🙂

  14. elmowrites July 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    It’s sometimes hard as [adult] children to understand our parents’ choices, but you show a real affection between these two guys and I think it’s not just the son who is going to be okay. Elegantly crafted as usual, Doug. They say a picture tells a 1000 words, but this time it was your 100 words which told a 1000 stories.

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 6:56 am #

      Dear Jen,

      You write the nicest comments. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You caught on to the tone i wanted to set about the dad. He’s definitely okay with his life and choices. Just hard to get the rest of the world to see through his eyes.



  15. EmmaMc July 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    We know so much about the relationship between the three of them in just 100 words. Loved the pivotal moment between the son and father, just lovely. Really good job, as usual!

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 6:58 am #

      Dear Emma,

      Thanks for mentioning that I packed a lot into a little. 100 words does promote brevity, doesn’t it? It’s one of the main reasons I love being paart of FridayFictioneers…the other is you:)



  16. susielindau July 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    I love the glimpse into the relationship and the growth of understanding between the two of them. Very nice Doug! Loved it!

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 7:07 am #

      Dear Susie,

      You still dodging forest fires? Thanks for commenting this week. Must be hard to see the keyboard with all that smoke.



      • susielindau July 10, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

        Governor Hickenlooper lifted all of the fire restrictions and it rained buckets (literally) last weekend. We have a canopy outside on our deck and I filled a garbage can with rain water yesterday! It is really greening up and the temps are much lower.
        There is some smoke in the foothills and I am thinking it may be from Wyoming.
        Thanks Doug!
        I hope you stop by my party with a link on Wednesday. Those that participate, click on blogs and make a lot of new friends!

  17. erinleary July 6, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    We all find our peace somewhere. Glad he found some way out there! Nice male bonding moment between father and son.

    Mine is on the list at #15 or here:

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 7:08 am #

      Dear Erin,

      Thaks for stopping by and for being patient while I juggled things to get around to replying.



    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 7:15 am #

      Thank you for taking the time to read. I appreciate the feedback.



  18. JKBradley July 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    I could use a beer, too. You’ve created a very real environment and situation. Well done.

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 7:17 am #

      Dear JK,

      The first beer is on me. I’ve lived in that desert long enough; I ought to be able to describe it. Thanks for reading.



  19. Kwadwo July 6, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    Father and son growing to understand each other despite the divorce. Nicely done.

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 7:18 am #

      Thanks for reading. See you in a few days!



  20. Russell July 6, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    I got a big kick out the the tags, Doug. Pretty soon you’ll be writing country music. You’ve already had a man get out of a personal prison, mentioned Mama, and getting drunk. Throw a train in there somewhere and we’ll put her to music.

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 7:22 am #

      Dear Russell,

      I’m glad someone is reading the tags. I might try to work in a country song next week just for you. I love the way your mind works.



  21. tollykit July 6, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    A well told story. The kind that leaves a wry grin on my face. I enjoyed the description and the conversation was just perfect.

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 7:24 am #

      Dear Tolykit,

      Thanks for the kind comments. Wry is usually a result of long experience. I must be getting older…working on wiser.



  22. mysocalledDutchlife July 6, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    Some people aren’t so much hanging on the apron strings as chained, clamped and handcuffed to them for good measure! Vivid and emotional story, with a nice touch of wry humour and a good reminder that there are two sides to everything. These two are going to be alright.

    I’m here:

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 7:29 am #

      Dear MSCDL,

      Chained by habits formed through years… Very few ever break free. I want to be one of them. Thanks for reading and commenting.



  23. Brian Benoit July 6, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    Great development of psychology, especially in that second paragraph, but also with his realization about his son. The way you took one thumb metaphor and turned it to another was inspired!

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 7:30 am #

      Thanks Brian,

      You took the time to dig deep into the desert sands and I appreciate it. Took me about five rewrites to get those thumbs to match, left and right, flowing well. Thanks for noticing.



  24. ron pruitt July 6, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

    Hi Doug,
    I’m think it’s really difficult to delineate a complex situation like this one is 100 words, but you did it with style and grace. And yes, the love of beer is a great bonding mechanism. I think I’ll go bond right now.

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 7:32 am #

      Dear Ron,

      sorry to get back to you so late. i’m being dutiful, going down the line and making sure I thank everyone for reading. Your comments are always a tonic to me. Speaking of tonics, your comment reminds me…



  25. Madison Woods July 6, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    I loved watching the kid come around to dad’s point of view. I could even see the light dawning in his eyes. Great story, Doug.

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 10:07 am #

      Dear Madison,

      Thanks for stopping in and reading. Nice comment, too. Makes me smile to know you enjoyed this story.



  26. creativenoodling July 6, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

    Mmmmmmm! So much told in so little space! Me thinks the boy will start visiting on his own accord. 🙂

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 10:09 am #

      Dear CNling,

      Thanks for saying so. Yes, I think the father may have done things right. If he’s not careful his ex-wife might even begin to drop by.



      • Marian Green July 11, 2012 at 3:53 am #

        OH no! Don’t turn it into a scary story!!! ; )

      • dmmacilroy July 11, 2012 at 5:49 am #

        Lol! Marian,

        Never! I’ll leave “the horror” to Joseph Conrad and his ilk.



  27. dbfurches July 6, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

    The physical location of the desert makes a perfect background for the personal drama unfolding in this story. I’m truly amazed at how much information you were able to convey about 3 characters and their relationships in such a short story. The only thing I would change about it is the sentence that starts “An only child…” The dependent clauses pile up and get in the way of the clear idea that you’re expressing.

  28. Swirling Turnip July 7, 2012 at 12:23 am #

    Wonderful. I could feel the sense of rebuilding as well as the bond between the two.

  29. raina July 7, 2012 at 2:00 am #

    great story Doug…like the father and son relationship you are building with these words here….thanks for stopping by ours 🙂

  30. Lora Mitchell July 7, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    Precious quality time and a beer between father and son. Heartwarming. No matter what happens in the future, he will always remember this time with dad.. ps: Soft pastel dawn or sunset? The rust-orange reminds me of sunset.

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 10:30 am #

      Dear Lora,

      Thanks for your comments. I still can’t decide about time of day. It’d be cool in the morning so I’m going to go with sunset. Good time for beer and bonding.



  31. Kathy McClure July 8, 2012 at 12:40 am #

    Hee hee hee — good for them!

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 10:31 am #

      Lovely laugh you have, Kathy. Thanks for visiting.



  32. Adam Ickes July 8, 2012 at 3:02 am #

    Love the humor in this. Glad the son got the joke.

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 10:43 am #

      Dear Adam,

      Thank you for visiting Nurture or Nature. I appreciate the comments and feedback.



  33. Charles Oyeleke Williams July 8, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

    Really, great advantage i can see…the answer brought smiles to my face too and i bet to any man’s who had been bugged by a a member of the other gender.
    Thank Doug for such a refreshing and direct tale.

    PS: I am not on this week but still gotta steal a visit here

    • dmmacilroy July 10, 2012 at 10:44 am #

      Dear Charles,

      I want you to know that I appreciate you checking in even though you don’t have a story to share this week. I love the perspective you bring to this gang of happy writers. I’ll be looking for you next week.



  34. Susan Wenzel (@SusanWenzel) July 12, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    Dear Doug,

    I’m a Susan-come-lately here but just returned from ten glorious days exploring the west coast with the family. I enjoyed the story and can relate to the cleansing sense one acquires in the desert. It is a perfect place to enjoy solace from one’s oppressors.’


  35. tedstrutz July 22, 2012 at 4:53 am #

    Perfect story to fit the prompt… Nice photo.

    • dmmacilroy July 22, 2012 at 7:18 am #

      Deasr Ted,

      Thanks for the visit and comment.

      Where are you? Volcano? Standing by for information. Hoping to hook up with you. let me know.



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