Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Everchild Equation--A One Act Playlet For Your Enjoyment

Curtain closed.  Spotlight illuminates center stage.  Solitary figure walks out of wings and stands in spot.  It is Nance.  She faces stage, begins soliloquy.

Nance:  Human nature is a funny thing.  As adults, we do grow older and taller, but we remain children in the face of many things.  I found this out last week, when I was taking care of St. Patsy after one of her minor surgeries.

Curtain draws wide to reveal a sunny, beautiful, pastoral scene of a wide lawn and a fishing dock over a lake.  St. Patsy is seated in a padded lawn chair; Bobby, a 50-something man, is standing at the lake's edge, trimming brush.  Nance goes to St. Patsy and fusses with her chair.

Nance:  Mom, are you sure you're comfy here?  Do you need anything?  Do you have your sunglasses?

Patsy:  I'm fine, Nance.  Now go and fish for a while.  Go on!  Did Bobby fix you a pole?

Nance:  Yes. (lifts pole with bobber from beside chair) I'll be right over on the dock.  Let me know if you need anything.  (walks up and onto dock; tosses line in)

Bobby:  (after a moment or two)  Any bites?

Nance:  Nope.  These worms are mostly dead.  But I don't really care.  I just wanted to fish a little.  It's gorgeous out here!

Bobby:  We really lucked out.  Hey!  See that? (points a little to his right)  Right there.  It's a snake.  Mom, see it?  That little thing just poking out above the water?  Watch. Right there, going toward the dock.  Snake!

Nance:  (horrified and paralyzed) No it's not.  Where?  No it's not.  Bobby, don't. 

Bobby:  (casual and oblivious to his sister's trauma, as usual) Yeah!  Right there.  It's probably gonna come in and sun itself on the rock there, or on the steps to the dock.

Nance:  SHUT UP.  No it's not.  NO IT'S NOT.  Mom!

Patsy:  Oh, Bobby.  It's probably not.

Bobby:  I lost sight of it now.  It probably went under the dock and will come up--

Nance:  (in a major panic)  What?!  No it can't!  There's no way!  Bobby, stop it.  I mean it now.

Patsy:  (calmly, almost disinterested) That snake is already gone.  It's under the boat or--

Nance:  Mom!  The boat is right there!  It's right in front of the dock, sitting there!  What are you talking about?

Bobby:  Mom, remember that huge blacksnake I saw out here that one time?  That thing was as big around as--

Nance:  Shut up.  I have a bite.  (begins to reel in and lift pole; screams as she pulls up the snake, which had been briefly attached to the worm) OH MY GOD!  WHY?  (throws pole down on dock and runs screaming into yard)  WHY, MOM? WHY?  MOM!  WHY?  MOM!  ALL I WANTED TO DO WAS FISH!

Bobby:  What?  What happened?

Patsy:  (calmly; shading her eyes with her hand) Wow, Nance.  I've never seen you run so fast.

Nance:  (tearfully) Did you see it?  Did you see it?  Oh my GOD.  That stupid snake!  That stupid, stupid snake was on my line!  All I wanted to do was fish and that stupid snake had to ruin it.  Why?

Bobby:  Was it really?  Where is it?  Is it on there?

Nance:  No.  It fell off.  But not before I saw the whole stupid, awful thing.  Its mouth was open!  It was disgusting. 

Patsy:  (conversationally) You should have seen her run, Bobby.  She really ran.

(Bobby has walked over to the dock, where he inspects the now empty hook.  He picks up the bait container and looks at the worms.)

Bobby:  These worms are dead.  They're no good anymore.  If you're done fishing, then, I'm just gonna dump them out.  (leans over; shakes them into lake)  Was that snake really on there?  Are you sure?

Patsy:  (adjusting her visor)  You should have seen her run.  I'm surprised she didn't throw the pole into the water.

Nance:  (indignant)  Yes, it was on there!  The whole thing was on my line!  I didn't know there were snakes down here!  Now what will I do?

Bobby (grins; to Patsy)  There's all kinds of snakes down here.  Remember when Ken was here and found that huge snakeskin in the yard there?  And the one guy down the road said he saw a python out here one time.

Nance:  Oh shut the hell up.  (gives him The Finger)  A python.  (glances around)  Let's go  up.

(End Scene 1)

Scene 2

Scene opens in Rick and Nance's living room. St. Patsy is asleep in the chair, left.  Rick and Nance are on the couch, center.  Nance is finishing her story about the day's events to her husband, who is exhausted from his first day at his new job.

Nance (earnestly)  He just would not stop yammering away at me about snakes for the rest of the day.  It was awful.  I think you should call him or send him a text message.

Rick:  (stifling a yawn; surprised)  What?  Your brother?  I should call or text your brother?  And say what?

Nance:  And tell him to quit it.  Quit it or you''ll beat him up.

Rick:  I should call Bob and say, Quit teasing my wife or I'll beat you up.  Is that what I'm supposed to do? 

Nance:  Well, I feel like you should do something!  You weren't there to protect me from the snake!

Curtain, finis

post header image found here


  1. I am laughing SO HARD here! Not that I wouldn't react the exact same way. (Well, I wouldn't really - snakes aren't my bugaboo. Now if it was a rat - or a dog...)

    The other night I dreamed that there was a snake in our back yard, but that I was perfectly safe as long as I stayed in my shopping cart. Yes, I was in the front basket of the cart, just like a little kid. I'm not sure how I was "driving" it, but I was going from the garage to the house. What. The. Heck.

  2. Anonymous1:57 AM

    It was around 8:00 AM, and I just walked about a mile and a half down an unpaved road in Zimbabwe. I was with two girls I met at the hostel, Anne and Jeanette, and we had gone to see the Big Tree, which is exactly what it sounds like. We had already seen the tree, and we were continuing along the road, when we sighted a group of baboons in front of us, walking toward us.

    Now, I don't know how much you know about baboons, but they're thieving bastards with sharp, scary teeth, and if you happen to have food on you, they will punch, slap, or claw you to get it. Just doing a YouTube search for "baboon attack" is enough to terrify anyone.

    Anne happened to have a bit of food in her backpack, but it was in a Tupperware container, and we didn't know if the baboons would be able to smell it or not, and if they'd attack her for it. So we despite the fact that we had almost completed the loop of our walk, we decided to turn around and go back the way we came, which would take about twice as long. We turned around and walked away from the baboons, but after looking back a few times, we realized they were gaining on us. We quickened our pace, while trying to seem nonchalant, and hoped that the baboons would somehow decide to change their path.

    Eventually we ran into a local, who told us that so long as we walked past them quietly and avoided eye contact, they'd leave us alone. We did as he instructed, and walked right through the middle of the pack, absolutely terrified the whole time that they'd try and steal Anne's backpack or attack us!

    Of course, they walked right past us, and we were fine. Clearly they didn't care about whatever was packed away inside the backpack, or they had more important plans for that day. But I still remember how creeped out we were!

    That also reminds me of the time I petted a crocodile, but that's another story completely!

  3. Anonymous1:57 AM

    ...and of course I forgot to sign that last comment.

    - Mikey G.

  4. I might survive seeing a snake on land, but there's no way my constitution could handle seeing one swimming in the lake, or, God forbid, at the end of my fishing line. Rick needs to beat your brother up, clearly.

    And Mikey G's stories gave me a fever it was so scary. I'm going back to bed.

  5. j@jj--Thank you for that vote. As of now, Rick still has done NOTHING to champion me. Our whole family has a get-together this Sunday, and I plan on pressing the Issue. I know my older sister Patti will rally to my defense, and at least she will smack him around.

    Mikey--Quit hijacking my blogposts so that you can regale us with your fascinating travelogues.

    But, really, you need to send this story to the fine folks at Tupper Ware! If this isn't an endorsement, I don't know what is. And, please, let's don't ever do anything like this when we travel together one day. Let's just go see nice pandas or koalas or bunnies.

    Bug--Hey, listen, if I could still ride in that shopping cart seat, I would. Those were the days. I'm glad you could LAUGH AT MY SEVERE TRAUMA. It's almost as bad as my detached mother. As my students used to say, "Why I can't get no love?"

  6. I don't much mind snakes. In fact, I once apologized to a little grass snake I inadvertently stepped on in the driveway with my enormous size ten New Balance walking shoe. (I actually said, out loud, "Oh, snakey, I'm so sorry, are you all right?" It slithered away, apparently unharmed, possibly cursing.)

    Nope, with me it's bugs. Spiders especially, but even worse, those multilegged thingies that crawl up out of drains. I'll smoosh them, I'll drown them, I'll stomp them. I even sprayed one to death with Desenex foot
    powder aerosol, which was the only weapon to hand. To make it all even more frustrating, I have lived with a thirty-year series of cats, who, when presented with the horrible bug monsters, would tuck all their paws under, and say "Whaddya expect ME to do about it?"

  7. fauxprof--My sister got the spider phobia, and she got it bad, so I am well aware of its effects. I'm not real crazy about bugs myself, but they don't terrify me like snakes.

    I laughed when I read of you spraying an offender with Desenex. We had a neighbor once, a youngish divorcee, more than a little odd, who purposely had a can of hairspray for the singular task of killing bugs, primarily spiders and flies. She liked the way it paralyzed them. Back then, a kid of about 10 or so, I just shrugged it off. Now, I know it was more than just creepy.

  8. Snakes don't bother me much, but bugs do. We had cockroaches as big as your hand in Bangkok and I'm still terrified of anything that looks even vaguely like one. I didn't do too well with the scorpions when we lived in Phoenix, either. I only have one sister, 8 years younger, and grew up with a couple of bookish, peaceful parents in a no-teasing/no practical jokes sort of house, so I actually found the part where you were being tormented by your brother to be much worse than the snake part.

  9. MsCaroline--Bless your heart, thank you. It's funny, really, how close my brother I are now after years and years of relentless teasing and tormenting from him. I was always overweight my whole childhood and into junior high, and he was vicious. I cried a lot, and there was never anything I could tease him about. He was impervious. I don't ever remember either of my parents doing much to rein him in. But that was a long time ago.

  10. Ha, ha! That gave me quite a chuckle. It reminded me of when my brothers, who were fond of scaring the be-jesus out of my sister and I whenever they could, thought it would be great fun to throw a snake on my sister when she walked into the living room one day. My sister liked snakes about as much as I did (and do), and jumped several feet into the air when the snake landed on her. We won't say the level of decibels her screams reached. As it turned out, it was a dead snake that they had found in the bayou. This was of little solace to my sister, who was so enraged at my brothers for such an unforgivable act of cruelty, that she ran up and bit one of them as hard as her teeth could chomp down. (The other brother took immediate flight.) There was blood, lemme tell ya.

    And here's my bug story: Back in college, I drove a car with no AC. During the summer, I often left the windows cracked while I was at work so the inside temperature would not be quite so suffocating when I had to drive home. This, of course, allowed critters to get in there, but I ignored this possibility. Until one day when I was driving along the access road about to get onto the freeway when I noticed a little tickle on my leg. I figured it was just a loose thread from my skirt. Until the thread started to move. When I looked down, there was a 2-inch cockroach climbing upwards at an alarming pace. This was my left leg, i.e., near the door. Not sure how I did this, but I managed to get that door open while still driving, shaking my leg vigorously all the while, and somehow pull into a parking lot where I immediately jumped out of the car and performed what might be described as a rain dance. Getting the car off the road and parked was no mean feat with the door ajar and one leg stuck out, especially if you consider that it was also a manual transmission. To this day I am petrified of cockroaches, although I can deal with them as long as: 1) there isn't the element of surprise; 2) they are several feet away; and 3) I am equipped with weapons of mass destruction.

  11. Ortizzle--How you laugh at my torment! Does your brother still tease her (or you) now? Bravo for your sister for being able to defend herself in a very meaningful way. LOL.

    And Brava to you for your incredible feat. But, WHY DID YOU KEEP DRIVING? I would have thrown that car into Park and thrown myself out of it. Posthaste! I would like to say I would have pulled off the roadway first, but I don't know if I would have. Even now.

  12. ¡Ay! I do not laugh at your torment, it's just that I identify with the fear. I may not have suffered having the snake thrown on me, but I had my own "snake" trauma one morning when our house snake (we knew he lived in the basement because we found his skin there every year when he shed it) was lying curled up in the doorway to the bedroom I shared with my sister. She had walked right past him in her groggy, half-asleep shuffle and I was left alone to walk past it, if possible, unscathed. Huh! "Just jump over it!" my mother shouted to me from downstairs. Yeah. You think SHE was coming up there? My father had already left for work, and of course, my brothers were laughing their heads off. Eventually I took a flying leap over that sucker as fast as I could. My mother finally persuaded a neighbor to come up and trap the beast or at least do something, but by that time, Mr. Snake had scurried back to his hiding place through a crack in the closet wall. Or a crack someplace. We never did find him. I never slept the same until we moved from that house, either. Down to New Orleans where... they had cotton mouth snakes AND industrial size roaches, lol.

    Which brings us back to why I did not stop the car: no choice. There were cars surrounding me on all sides. Screeching to a sudden halt would not have done me much good if I could not actually get out of the damn car; stopping and waiting for cars to pass would have taken longer than zipping into the parking lot, so that's what I did.

  13. Ortizzle--Dear heaven, a HOUSE SNAKE!? I would never have gone home. What a horrific, terrible, awful thing your childhood was.

    You poor thing. With that and the cockroach story, I am amazed that you aren't a raving alcoholic. You are a Tower Of Strength. I am planning a trip to come to Texas and worship your aplomb.


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