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January Gordon Ornellas

My Friend

By January Gordon Ornellas

In the past year, I’ve noticed a trend with a certain greeting.

At first, I thought the greeting was harmless, even pleasant. 

But now I know better, and I’m here to tell you that strangers who call you MY FRIEND are anything but. I’m not saying they’re diabolical, but trust me, they’re about to take you for a ride!

The first time this happened was in an email. 

MY FRIEND!” The email stated, “We need your help!”

Oh, no, a friend is in trouble!

“We’re only $50,000 short of meeting our goal! MY FRIEND, please send money today!”


The second time I heard this phrase was from Sheila, the X-ray technician.

“Hello, MY FRIEND,” she said, using this disarming little phrase to lull me into a false sense of security. “It’s time to weigh you, MY FRIEND.”

The next thing I knew, I was standing on a scale, a scary number was staring back at me, Sheila was writing the bad number on her clipboard and all the while I thought, Sheila, I thought we were friends!

But of all the friends who have let me down, the one who disappointed me the most was the manager at our favorite Mexican restaurant.

It was last June, and we had family in town, so I decided to order take-out. (No, MY FRIEND, I did not feel like cooking.)

The phone conversation went something like this:

Me: Hello, I’d like to place an order for take-out.

Manager: (in a bubbly tone) Certainly, MY FRIEND. What would you like?

I’m not going to repeat the entire order, but basically carne asada burritos were involved. 

Me: And a large order of guacamole, please.

Manager: Of course, MY FRIEND, you must have guacamole!

I smiled. This guy really got me, which wasn’t surprising. We were friends.

Since it was almost closing time, Steve raced to the restaurant to pick up our order.

He returned 20 minutes later with the bags of food. As he passed out the burritos, I rifled through the bags, dumping out a million tiny salsa containers, but …


I immediately called MY FRIEND, but there was no answer.

“It’s fine,” Steve said, tossing me a container. “We’ve got salsa.”

I shook my head. I didn’t want the red-headed stepchild of Mexican condiments. 

“We ordered guacamole,” I said, scanning the receipt. “And it was $17.99!”

That’s not a very friendly price.

I called my friend the next day.

“Hmm, MY FRIEND,” he said. “I remember placing the guacamole in your bag. Perhaps you did not see it, MY FRIEND.

“I’m pretty good at identifying guacamole,” I responded.

After that, things got a little heated, as they often do when you’re discussing guacamole.

He continued to refer to me as his friend, but clearly our friendship was on the rocks.

Finally, he relented and told me to come by that week to pick up the guacamole.

But then I got busy. A week passed. And another.

Two weeks later, on Father’s Day, I remembered. “Hey, let’s go pick up that guacamole!” I told Steve.

I expected he’d think it was the best idea ever, but he just shot me a look. “It’s Father’s Day,” he said. “Go troll for guacamole on your own time.”

And now it’s been 13 months and I’m wondering if it’s not too late to call up that manager and say, “Hey, can I still get that guacamole, MY FRIEND?”

— January Gordon Ornellas

January Gordon Ornellas is a comedy writer whose stories include everything from colonoscopies to triathlons (equally torturous). Her article, “Rookie’s Triathlon Lessons,” appeared in the LA Times (June 2019). Two of her other stories, “Gobble, Gobble” and “Almost Taken,” were recently published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Laughter is the Best Medicine (April 2020), and another four can be found in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Too Funny! (April 2022). She won honorable mention in the global humor category in the 2022 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition and is currently working on a book, Confessions of a Crazy Softball Mom. January also enjoys writing for her blog (, traveling and spending time with her husband and two adult daughters.

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