The X Factor (Friday Fictioneers, October 2013)

L’Amphitheatre des Trois Gauls, Lyon, France.

Time again for Friday Fictioneers how the weeks are just flying by.

Resisting the urge to go ‘gladiatorial’ (not to mention my recently revived taste for ‘offing’ people) I’ve elected for a bit of social commentary.  Again. 😉

Thanks again to Rochelle for weekly stage direction duties. 

‘Fat, flat and frumpy!’

Stacey flounced off the stage, fuming.  Who did he think he was?  Dickhead!  Trousers under his armpits,  built-up shoes.

And what was this ‘fat’ business?  200 pounds was a good weight for her age and height.

She’d show them all.  Her Dad called her his ‘little star’ and that’s what she was going to be, whatever it took.   A ginormous star, world-wide.

She passed the stage door-keeper engrossed in his newspaper.  A face beamed out at her from the back page, all dreadlocks and lip-gloss.

Yeeessss!  Stacey punched the air.

Tennis!  How hard could that be?

Some unease about the expletive in this, but a synonym search,  (whilst illuminating 🙂 ) didn’t throw up a suitable alternative.  Sorry if anyone’s offended – I’m open to alternative suggestions. 

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About Sandra

I cruise the French waterways with my husband four or five months a year, and write fiction and poetry. I love animals, F1 motor racing, French bread and my husband, though not necessarily in that order.
This entry was posted in Friday Fictioneers, Just Sayin' and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

81 Responses to The X Factor (Friday Fictioneers, October 2013)

  1. Dear Sandra,

    Stacey’s nothing if not resilient. I applaud her positive self image and your subtle social commentary. Expletive? Nay, a word fitly spoken. Loved this.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Like

  2. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Sandra,

    Your story is admirable and on point. I hope Stacey kicks butt wherever she goes and whatever she does. Could not help but notice that your protagonist has designs on entering the present day’s gladiatorial arena so perhaps you did go there after all. (Just teasing.) Thanks for the beautiful photo. In my research I learned much about Lyon/Lugdunum and cannot thank you enough for taking us there.

    Aloha,

    Doug

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I don’t watch X Factor, but a long time ago I did watch one programme of the ‘auditions’. I concluded we really hadn’t evolved very much over the years.

      Like

  3. Pingback: The Far Arena | ironwoodwind

  4. Good one Sandra, exactly how hard could tennis be…..it’s all relative isn’t it.

    Like

  5. I love her irrepressible optimism. Somehow, I think she could actually do it if she kept at it. Great story.

    Like

  6. You have to admire her confidence.

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  7. elmowrites says:

    Sandra! I nearly went X Factor too when I saw the arena. It’s absolutely our modern version of throwing the Christians into the amphitheatre. I didn’t in the end, but I’m so glad you did. This is a brilliant depiction of the scene, the character and a great reflection of our times.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      You’re right about ‘throwing to the lions’. (See my reply to Doug) X Factor was never on my viewing list, but from what I’ve read it’s moved through a cycle of ‘sob-story’ to ‘cruelly inflicted disappointment’. Gross! Thanks for reading, glad you liked it.

      Like

  8. Ye Pirate says:

    Appeals to my sense of humour, but it is tragicomedy, and very much of today’s world, in many ways…

    Like

  9. Danny James says:

    No problem with the expletive. “Jackwagon” is in vogue now 🙂

    DJ

    Like

  10. Your story, tragicomedy as Pirate put it so well, reminds me of the studies that show American students have high self-esteem, but low performance. Hope and positive thinking are wonderful if balanced with reality. Well done as usual.

    janet

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Yes, I blame our educational system. A sign in letters 12″ high on our local primary school says “Success for All”. That just isn’t so and I have to grit my teeth every time I drive past. Thanks for reading and commenting Janet.

      Like

  11. Well I never! I object to the term ‘dickhead’ when you could have easily used ‘Penis-cranium’.
    I may have to stop reading your stories in the future if you continue with such filth, darling!
    I have no patience for these types of shows (ie. X-Factor, etc..)
    Thanks for the laughs.

    Like

  12. paulmclem says:

    In Serena’s defence most women tennis players are like stick insects 🙂

    Like

  13. If your going to be a star you have to be larger than life
    I loved the photograph you shared with us – thank you
    the theater ghosts speak loud and clear

    Like

  14. DCTdesigns says:

    This little girl has drive and determination. I fear there will be not stopping her. I think you went gladiator after all.

    Like

  15. howanxious says:

    Stacey is brave to try so many things. But I have a personal experience that it just gets messed up very often. A very interesting write. I loved it. 🙂
    -HA

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  16. Linda Vernon says:

    ahahah! Just delightful to read, Sandra! 😀

    Like

  17. Tennis, how hard can that be? Plenty hard, except for your protagonist! Interesting and different use of your own prompt.

    Like

  18. hugmamma says:

    ha, ha…love the attitude! 🙂

    Like

  19. The language is authentic and fits the character (enhances her, actually) and I love the scene ou set here. I got a little confused by the lip gloss, dread lock character… and switch to tennis. The stage scene was excellent! Since it is your photo, where is this? I’m curious.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Hi there. The location is printed beneath the photo. Sorry you were confused again this week, (and after I promised last week I’d try not to be so obscure the next time 🙂 ). As Paul correctly surmised in the comments above, the glossy-lipped, dread-locked character was Serena Williams, the tennis player. And, at the risk of doing the whole thing to death here, she’s decided to achieve her goal by becoming a world famous tennis player, as opposed to a world famous singer. I’ll try harder next week. 😉 Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Like

  20. sandraconner says:

    Hey, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Of course, If I’m going to resort to cliche’d truisms, I suppose I’ll also have to include, “Pride goeth before a fall.” But with only 100 words at your disposal, I suppose you have to leave it to each reader to decide which one fits Stacey.

    Like

  21. sandraconner says:

    Lovely header photo, by the way.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Thanks; taken on my morning walk. I love the photographic opportunities that autumn provides, though I didn’t appreciate the stiff breeze sweeping down from the North Sea this morning. 🙂

      Like

  22. Great read as always Sandra. No offense taken! Sometimes, there is only one word that will do. I love your character’s spirit!

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      I’m glad I don’t seem to have offended. I’ve come to accept that my ‘offence-gauging’ monitor works less accurately as I get older… Glad you enjoyed it Amy. I’ll be catching up with the other submissions today sometime and looking forward to yours.

      Like

  23. kz says:

    big stars need to have big dreams 🙂 loved your character’s confidence. great story as always 🙂

    Like

  24. She definitely has the right attitude— very good take. (though I’ve never seen X-factor)..

    Like

  25. Too true. I being one with unrealistic expectations that have carried me into many adventures – and lot of ups and down in weight!

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  26. Did she beat him to death with a tennis racket?

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  27. claireful says:

    Great idea for the picture this week Sandra; and a great picture. I’ve forgotten what the percentage is for teenagers whose ambition is to be famous, but it is shockingly high.

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Yes, everyone seems to be looking for their 15 minutes of fame, one way or another. I remember reading that statistic but like you, can’t remember what it was.

      Like

  28. rgayer55 says:

    At first I thought you were describing me with the pants under the armpits line. How I wish I had some horned-rimmed glasses and a pocket protector to complete the outfit. I appreciate Stacey’s spunk, but think I’ll opt for table tennis. All that running might make my pants slide down to my waistline (wouldn’t want that!).

    Like

  29. Good for her. She’s a tough cookie. Dickhead’s a good word.

    Like

  30. annisik51 says:

    Unfortunately, your character is true to life. I know one of these characters. What’s really sad is that when all energy is directed at pursuing ‘fame’, these people’s real talents remain suppressed and undeveloped. I would not have sneered at ‘Success For All’. It is possible, I feel, but only by discovering and developing what we are good at. Good story. Ann

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Not sneering at the phrase, just irritated that, particularly for these under-sevens it seems to be instilling the message that all you have to do is to come to school and you’ll be successful. A qualifier wouldn’t go amiss.

      Like

      • annisik51 says:

        Sorry, sneering was definitely NOT the right word! I shouldn’t write stuff to other people at 2.30 am when I’m falling asleep over the keyboard. ZZZZZ! I agree with what you say. One hopes the qualifier would be in practice in schools. Ann

        Like

        • Sandra says:

          No worries! 🙂

          Like

          • annisik51 says:

            I’d been looking at the word ‘sneering’ as a synonym for sarcasm – to do with my FF story this week. I’m shuddering! It was not meant as an insult! Call it a ‘brain slur’ on my part. I have a lot of them these days! Ann

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            • Sandra says:

              Stop worrying about it… this minute! 🙂 I didn’t take offence. But while we’re discussing this, I thought I’d enlarge on the ‘success for all’ slogan. I read that many schools have stopped playing competitive sports, for fear of demoralising or worse still ‘traumatising’ the losers. That can’t be right, and it affects both the high achievers and the low achievers – the first never getting to see the fruits of their endeavours, and the latter never learning to cope with failure or being inspired to do better. That’s why I disapprove of the slogan. Now stop fretting!

              Like

            • annisik51 says:

              You and I are in agreement regarding this attitude towards competitiveness. The thinking is so flawed! I’m not sure it’s not actually evil. As bad as that. Consider me ‘fretless’ about the sneering thing! Ann

              Like

  31. erinleary says:

    OMG you said dickhead.. 😉 it made the story more real and as Rochelle said, it fit. I don’t follow tennis, but I expect the picture in the newspaper was an inspiration. Fun story – and no one died.

    Like

  32. Pingback: Friday Fictioneers: Step or Thrust | A Mixed Bag

  33. Hi Sandra,
    Thanks for the lovely photo. Expletive? I thought that was my name until I was twelve. It’s always interesting to see what the photographer writes. I thinks it’s a little harder because you didn’t start with a blank slate. Stacey could keep in mind that all the world’s a stage. Heard that somewhere. Ron

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Ron expletive Pruitt… that has a certain ring to it. 🙂 You’re right, it’s hard to write about your own photo. Thanks for commenting, sorry I’m so late getting around to acknowledging. See you tomorrow!

      Like

  34. unspywriter says:

    Thanks for the great photo–and your great story. Since I worked in a male-dominated profession, “dickhead” was an expletive I used quite often. Thanks for the memory. 😉

    Here’s mine: http://unexpectedpaths.com/friday-fictioneers/martyr/

    Like

  35. pattisj says:

    That was an interesting photo prompt for the week, thanks for sharing. I think Stacey might do very well at tennis. I’ve not seen X Factor, either; and took no offense at the language. It fit the character, and is much better than what we are bombarded with by the “entertainment” industry.

    Like

  36. gingerpoetry says:

    dear Sandra, I love your protagonist. Seems she can deal with the “dickhead” (I didn´t know the word but I like it .:-) could be something like the German “Vollpfosten” ). her self confidence is really refreshing. There are so few words but I could really see her – great!

    Like

  37. Dee says:

    Great job Sandra, very entertaining and I too thought Serena….
    I have major issues with the education system in the UK not least that our failings in numeracy and literacy have been published. We had one of the best education systems in the world until the lunatic fringe got their hands on it, why try and fix something that wasn’t broken?

    Like

    • Sandra says:

      Ooh don’t get me started Dee! 🙂 I suppose you read yesterday that one school has decided that birthday party invitations may not be handed out at school unless ALL the class gets an invitation. They defend this on the grounds that they operate an ‘total inclusion’ policy. I remember not being invited to certain birthday parties – I got over it. If I hadn’t been invited to any, then I, and my parents, would have examined the reasons why, starting with my behaviour towards others. We’d also have had some confidence that the school was getting on with what it was supposed to do… educating kids, not trying to change human nature and the natural course of events. Don’t seem to have seen you on FF in recent weeks – good to hear from you again. 🙂

      Like

  38. Bastet says:

    What a lovely take on the prompt! I’m new to Stacy and don’t a a thing about x-factor but your story made me laugh anyway! Great go!

    Like

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