The Lonely Girl's Guide to Product Design


The Lonely Girl’s Guide to Product Design





“Hi, Mom.”


“Sally! How are you? How’s the new job?”


“Busy busy. How are you?”


“I’m an old lady learning new things, thanks to you. I am almost comfortable with that new tablet thingy you gave me for Christmas. I even exchanged emails with your brother.”


“I knew you could do it. You’re never too old –”


“—We’ll see if you feel that way when you get to be my age. But at least I’m learning new things. Are you?”


“Mom, the new job is all about new things. They just put me on a team making our next super-secret product.”


“Secret schmeecret. I’m your mother. Tell me everything.”


“I can tell you this much: we’re making an MVP.”


“’Most Valuable Product’?”


“No, Minimally Viable Product.”


“Sounds dreadful. Why don’t you make a good one instead?”


“It’s the way of the world now. You put something out that is basic but works. You sell a bunch. You use that money to make something better: Version 2.0. Then repeat to get to Version 3.0.”


“Sounds like your new company lacks vision.”


“Call it urgency. Call it patient vision for an impatient market. Speed matters. First to market gets to stay in the market. I get to keep my job. All that.”


“OK; not the way your father did it at GE. Never mind. Find a nice boy yet?”



“I know you don’t like me asking that every time you call. But that’s what Moms are supposed to do. I’m still your Mom no matter how old you get or how fancy your job.”

“Did I say anything?... OK, OK. I’m looking, but Mr. Right must be hiding in some other company or some other condo or some other Starbucks.”


“Remember, I found your father in a library. That used to work. You knew what you were getting if you found somebody in a library. Nothing fancy, but they last. Thirty two years now.”


“Mom, I don’t know anybody else whose parents lasted more than ten years. I was lucky to have you and Dad, and so was Robbie. But, really, a library? I don’t even know where the closest library is. Maybe I can find Mr. Right on Google.”


“Well, don’t give up. We put money aside for a wedding, and all my friends have grandkids now.”


“Do you ask Robbie the same question? Maybe he could use that money.”


“Boys are different, in case you didn’t notice. Daughters are special.”


“I’ll have to call Robbie and tell him he’s not so special. Coming from you, it’ll mean more than when I say it.”


“Stop it now. You know what I mean… Sally, I just had an idea. Maybe you should find an MVB.”




“’Minimum Viable Boyfriend.’




“Find one who is just ok enough to get you started. Then you can do something on weekends besides video gaming or walking by yourself in those hills full of cougars and bears.”


“… Mom, maybe you’re onto something. With Mr. OK, I could get invited to couples parties. Then I could meet Mr. A Little Better and steal him from his unworthy girlfriend. I could chain my way right up to AJ –”


“AJ? Who’s this AJ?”


“… Just somebody at work.”


“You never mentioned him before. Is he minimally viable?


“Totally doable!”

“Sally! You’d better say three Hail Mary’s for that. Anyway, work your way up after finding any raw material you can shape into a Minimally Viable Boyfriend.”


“Mom, that sounds ruthless.”


“Tic, toc, my child. Neither of us is getting any younger.”


“I’ll think about it. Gotta run. Bye, Mom.”


“Love you. Bye.”

Thomas R. Willemain

Dr. Thomas Reed Willemain is a former academic, software entrepreneur and intelligence officer. His flash fiction has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has appeared in Ariel ChartGranfalloon, Hobart, Burningword Literary Journal, The Medley, and elsewhere. He holds degrees from Princeton University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A native of western Massachusetts, he lives near the Mohawk River in upstate New York.  


  1. good connection especially since a male wrote it.

  2. "Minimally Viable Boyfriend" That is a great concept. Well done! From Linda

Previous Post Next Post