HOOHAH: The Finalists

ETA: Voting is now closed.

First, a HUGE thank you to everyone who entered the contest, spread the word, and laughed at me with me in my video. I’ve had a lot of fun with this contest and will definitely be doing more vlogs in the future. (No, don’t go unfollowing me…)

Now, on to the reason you’re all here: the finalists! Seven people left wonderful — and varied — stories, and frankly, I’m having a hard time narrowing it down to five. So… I’m including all seven. They’re listed here in the order they were posted, and there’s a poll at the end where you can vote for your favorite. The winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card!

John B

I came home from work unexpectedly one day, and when I was changing, I went to hang up my sport coat in the bedroom closet. Imagine my surprise when I found the cable guy in there! Our cable was working fine, and none of the wiring runs through that closet, so he and I had a good laugh about the “brain cramp” that led him to show up for a service call and go looking for the connection in there. And he didn’t even have the light on! I sent this in to Readers Digest, but they haven’t printed it yet, so thanks for letting me share this amusing anecdote!

Erica Orloff

I love to light candles. I was lighting candles, and accidentally dropped my bic lighter down the garbage disposal. I was afraid to stick my hand down there, and MEANT to tell my Significant Other to do it when he GOT HOME (he works nights; I work days). I forgot. I went to work (at the time, worked at a publishing house).

The garbage disposal was the kind you put the lid on it, turn, and then it runs. He CAME HOME, ate, rinsed his dish, ran the water down the garbage disposal (you know where this is going, right), put the lid on the disposal, turned it . . .

AND THE DISPOSAL EXPLODED, sending flames shooting to the ceiling, BURNING OFF HIS EYEBROWS and his ARM HAIR.

And . . .

He called me at work.

And his response. For real. Was.

“Tell the truth. Did you really just try to kill me and make it look like an accident?”

And he was serious.

And hence, not only is that a COMING HOME story, but also how I would kill him and get away with it.


My mom’s brother surprised her last November by arriving unexpectedly; completely out of the blue. They hadn’t seen each other in 5 years. He traveled from Colorado to South Carolina and on a random, ordinary Wednesday afternoon showed up at the restaurant where Mom and I were having lunch. She had her back to the door (yes, I planned it that way), he walked in leaned over her shoulder and said, “Hey, I hear the food is really good here.”

For a brief moment, I thought Mom was going to have a heart attack. Then she jumped out of her chair, threw her arms around him, screamed, cried and engaged the attention of everyone else in the restaurant!

For the full 5 minutes that she hugged him, I sat calmly looking around the room. Everyone in the place had put down their forks, set down their drinks, and just watched. Everyone had smiles on their faces. For the next hour, people were walking over to our table asking, “What’s the occasion?”

After 3 months of planning, I was so relieved when I could finally give my uncle Stephen a hug and say, “YES, we pulled it off!”

Amy Gettinger

Most of 1987 was the pits. In February, my brother was diagnosed with advanced leukemia. He lived in Michigan, and my parents went to stay and help him and his family all spring. I was teaching in Orange County, CA. Then in March, my boyfriend suddenly moved to the East Coast without an invitation for me to follow.


During my spring break in April, the folks were back home in Fresno and I went up to see them and take a little comfort in their presence. We had a birthday dinner three days early so they could return to my very ill brother.

Unsettled and depressed about my brother, I stayed in Fresno with my sister and friends two more days. But I knew I needed new friends to provide an antidote for the idiot boyfriend’s departure, and there was a Sierra Club hike scheduled the day after my birthday, so I returned home to Orange County on my thirtieth birthday. For the entire car trip, I groused and complained and kicked myself for being the kind of person who would end up spending such a milestone birthday alone, in a car, driving away from the comfort of my family home at such a difficult time. Hey, I had another whole day to stay in my safe zone with my sister, but instead, I was driving hours on this of all days just so I could go on a stupid Sierra Club hike, where I’d probably be too shy to meet anyone anyway.

On my arrival home in OC, there was a vase of flowers from my ex-boyfriend. Too little, too late. I wanted to throw them across the room.

The next day, on that stupid hike that had caused me such birthday stress, I met my husband.

Vickie Condie

On a cold blustery night in 1956 I returned home from school to our then ancient two story victorian home in Cortland, New York. Shortly after I felt unusually tired; most likely attributed to the fact that in a couple of hours I had to go for my piano lesson with the meanist old woman that God had ever created.

I layed down on the couch and immediately fell fast asleep. Soon my older brother entered the back door and before long was watching TV and also fell asleep. When my mother came home from work she sat down for a couple of minutes to “take a load off” and also fell asleep.

Time stood still. The three of us unaware of anything. Out of my stupor the phone is ringing, ringing, ringing, ringing, ringing. I stumbled to finally pick it up. The wicked witch of the keyboard was trying to make sense out of my incoherent babblings… she managed to instruct me to wake up my mother…. impossible. She commanded me to wake up my brother…..no luck…. She screams me back to the phone line to holler “open the doors and windows and get help”. I complied.

Sixty seconds later our neighbor is pulling my mom and brother out to the front yard and unto what was to quickly become our vomitorium. I ran upstairs and lifted all of the windows open and unfortunately vomited down the whole side of the house….. NICE!

Upon my fathers return from work and discovery that the coal furnace and malfunctioned and left us all in a carbon monoxide filled chamber…. his only response was….”who in the world didn’t make it to the toilet to vomit?”

Welcome home Dad!

Stephen Parrish

The first time I was away from the States for any nontrivial amount of time was when I served a two-year overseas tour of duty in the Army. At the conclusion of my tour I joined a 747 full of soldiers on their way home. When the plane touched down in New York, as the tires skidded on the runway, the passengers broke into spontaneous applause.

Veterans of overseas flights, especially in the 70s and 80s, will fondly remember when passengers routinely applauded the landing, as though the pilot were repeating Lindbergh’s feat. What we were really doing was acknowledging the flight crew’s competence as well as the technical achievements of every aviation pioneer from the Wright Brothers on.

But there’s something different about the applause generated by a cabin full of American soldiers returning home after years of absence. When the wheels touch the runway, when the passengers feel the final shudder of the vehicle bringing them home after a long absence, knowing what lies beneath the wheels, what inviolable principles govern the soil (no matter what dipshits may govern over it), they feel something I struggle to describe in words.

There’s a kind of buzz or hum every American experiences when standing on American ground. You don’t really notice it until you leave the country, and you don’t fully grasp it unless you stay away a long time. When you return, it penetrates you like a mother’s voice penetrates and soothes a child in her womb.

I returned to the States after my first long absence to the music of wheels screeching on the runway, the cabin vibrating and rattling, my fellow passengers clapping, many with arms raised over their heads. Some stomping their feet in the aisles. My cheeks wet. Vowing I’d never take my country for granted again.

I learned, then, a new definition of the word “home.” It’s everything you take for granted.


I was waiting for a plane to a medical conference with my husband, and realized we knew everyone on the plane. One woman was checking my seat number, and she said, “OMG! You’re sitting next to me! I’m so glad there’s a slim person in the middle!” I was so flattered to have been called slim, that I vowed not to let a millimeter of my flesh touch her the entire trip. I sat with my limbs clutched tightly to my belly and barely breathed for 5 hours. By the time we got off the plane, I could barely move.

Thank you, all of you, for sharing your stories.

Now for the voting! You have until Sunday night to enter your vote and the winner (as well as the winner of the second gift card for telling the internet about the contest) will be announced on Monday. Feel free to spread the word. 🙂

I know some people are having trouble getting the poll to work. I don’t know how to fix it. 🙁 If you don’t mind, just leave a comment with your choice and I’ll include in in the total. Thanks!

About Melanie Hooyenga

Writer. Designer. Jock. Reader. Wife. Puppy-Mama. SCBWI member since 2015.


    • Richard, I’m able to see the poll from some computers and not from others. At work I couldn’t, even when I wasn’t logged in as an admin. It’s a free app, so I guess I can’t expect it to be perfect.

  1. Richard: I have not voted. Not unintentionally, not while sleepwalking, not during an out-of-the-body experience.

    It was never my intention to vote (although competing with Erica Orloff is always on the agenda). The purpose of this exercise is to bring attention to Melanie’s blog, not to scarf 25 smackaroos. I’ll continue to lobby on behalf of myself and against the sorceress Orloff in the hope that some of my friends who don’t yet know Melanie will visit. It doesn’t matter who wins the vote.

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