Monday, January 16, 2012

Reader's Diary #796- Jason Lawson: The Date

From New Brunswick author Jason Lawson comes "The Date," a short story about a young man named Frankie who's on his first date with a girl named Amanda.

"The Date" starts off somewhat strong. There's a subplot about Amanda's father, who used to work with Frankie, being newly unemployed. The father likes Frankie and sees him as a salt-of-the-earth type guy. His daughter usually dates snobs and Frankie might be good for her. Unfortunately the father's employment woes are quickly forgotten and while the theme of snobbery continues, it's not handled well.

Just as Frankie and Amanda are about to go into a fancy Japanese restaurant-- a first for Frankie-- they bump into one of Frankie's friends and co-workers named Mort. Mort is presented at first as a humorously unrefined character. Normally well-liked, Frankie is now mortified (pardon the pun), that Mort will ruin their evening, especially when Amanda invites Mort and his girlfriend along to the restaurant. At first, as a reader, I think we're supposed to feel a couple of emotions. While we can sympathize with Frankie's embarrassment, we're also supposed to see that underneath it all Mort is still a decent guy. At least that's the way these tales usually go. However, if that was Lawson's intent, it fails miserably when he decides to make Mort such a rude jerk. Just because one is not used to drinking expensive wine is certainly no excuse to be mean to your waiter. Although that behaviour is nothing compared to the racism towards the Japanese employees. That no one calls Mort on his unacceptable behaviour and that the two girls even seem to find it to be wildly entertaining, just ends up turning the whole thing into a disgusting mess. I'm shocked by the comments following the story that people found this funny and turned Mort into some sort of folk hero.

Stranger, but less offensive, is the oddly dated language. The lead is named Frankie, shows up for his date in a suit, and refers to it as "calling on your daughter" to Amanda's father. It took a Jackie Chan and a K-Car reference to finally make it clear that the story wasn't set in the 1950s.

This story was eventually worked into a self-published eBook. Hopefully some of these issues have been resolved, but I'm not planning to find out any time soon.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)


Teddy Rose said...

Yikes, this does not sound like a story I would enjoy in the least. Thanks for the warning! I have no time for intolerance unless it is clearly in a story to make a point, like a social commentary.

I reviewed another Library of America short this week:

Julie @ Read Handed said...

Your description did sound appealing at first, but I don't think I want to get involved with the "mess" you say ends the story. For Short Story Monday today, I talked about a book of short stories by Dagoberto Gilb called Before the End, After the Beginning. I'm also giving away a copy!

Sam Sattler said...

I won't be bothering with the story (from what you say about it), but I did enjoy your "mortified" pun a lot. Funny...

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That was a pretty awful story. Mort was a complete caricature.