5 Gears in Reverse

Performed at the Lake Dillon Theatre Company, Spring 1999

Starring Jon Whitfield and Alex Miller

ALEX

Good evening and welcome to (name of town/theatre). We’re here tonight to talk about life. Existence. 60, 80, 100 years maybe of glorious, wonderful, crappy, miserable life. But even if you live to be 100, it’s a blip on the geological time scale, hardly even worth registering in the grand scheme of things unless you’re a Mozart or a Hitler or a Bill Gates or a Tony Danza. Chances are, your miserable little existence is no more consequential than that of a mayfly, or an ant.

But our big brains, well, they make us think we’re terribly important, don’t they? And that’s good, because, let’s face it, who wants to have the self-esteem or inevitable fatalism of a mayfly? Or an ant?

(He is interrupted by JON, who enters carrying a boom box playing a tape of a baby crying.)

ALEX

Does this mean you’re ready?

JON

Have I ever told you how very little I like long-winded introductions?

ALEX

Ladies and gentleman, my assistant, Jon.

JON

I’m not your assistant, man. We’re peers.

ALEX

Well, what’s in a name?

JON

A lot. At least according to the lawyers.

ALEX

Lawyers? What lawyers?

JON

Forget about it. Let’s just do it.

ALEX

No, no man. I want to know about the lawyers.

JON

This is a show about life, right?

ALEX

Ostensibly, sure. Although we could argue that all theatre

JON

Lawyers are part of life, right?

ALEX

(sighs, “yes”)

JON

So those are the lawyers. Let’s go. I’m just itchin’ to do this thing.

(He crawls into a sleeping bag)

ALEX

OK, we’re going to go through this once, really quickly, and you need to pay very close attention here, because this goes really fast. Jon and I call this “The Mayfly,” and you’ll soon see why. It’s kinda like …

JON

Do the Cliff Notes joke.

ALEX

Oh, right. Yes, ladies and gentleman, this is like the Cliff Notes version of life. The Brothers Karamazov in just a few paragraphs, Atlas Shrugged in a single sentence, Ulysses described with a simple grunt, that kind of thing.

(JON loudly clears his throat) OK and here we go)

Jon starts to wiggle free from the sock. He punctuates the following monologue with appropriate gestures, actions, comments, etc., using props and costumes. His action should appear to lead Alex’s comments.

ALEX

From conception nine months ago, which is a whole nuther story, the organism evolves from a simple bunch of cells into a zygote whatever that is and then it’s a, it’s a my god it’s some kind of fish or amphibian in there, floating around in a sort of aquarium. Maybe it’s got a fin at some point or a tail, it looks really weird and WHAMMO (JON emerges) it pops out looking kinda weird still but also kinda human and it’s really pissed and confused and hungry and it’s costing you a fortune and it’s even more interested in your partner’s breasts than you are and man it’s like a sucker fish you can’t get him offa those babies … And WHAMMO next thing you know it’s walking and talking and needing expensive toys and telling you it loves you if you’re lucky or wielding large-caliber weaponry in the schoolyard if you’re not so lucky and before you know it it needs skateboards and acne medicine and really appalling body piercings and tattoos and it listens to terrible music you can’t stand at top volume and then WHAMMO it’s gone! Off to college or jail or the customer-service desk at Wal-Mart or whatever. And it appears this one is  (Jon finally gets on “college” sweatshirt) yes he’s off to college ladies and gentleman and you don’t get to see him anymore but man is he still costing you a fortune and you hope he gets good grades but no it appears as though beer is the big  thing and oh my god is he drinking a butt-load of it. Man, this  kid is never going to get a date being that bombed up all the time but wow he gets one anyway and he’s yes he’s sliding into home plate! That’s my boy and oh no she’s knocked up and there goes college and they’re getting married and it’s costing you a fortune again and finally they’re gone until no they’re back they need a babysitter and money and advice then it’s into the workplace yes he’s got a job and he’s wearing a tie and oh too bad his hair is falling out already that totally sucks and his knees are shot too and geez they’re retired already and oh they bought a motor home and there he goes into the Quickee Mart for a cup of coffee when oh acute myocardial infarction and some people mill around eating doughnuts while they strap you on a gurney and haul you off and you’re dead.

(Gesturing at the crumpled Jon) Jon Whitfield, ladies and gentlemen! (to JON) So that’s life?

JON

That’s pretty much it, near as I can tell.

ALEX

I’d have to say you’re something of a nihilist, or a      fatalist or an existentialist or one of those guys.

JON

Yeah, so?

ALEX

Well, I think there’s a little bit more to it than that. There wasn’t much about love in there, for instance. Or much in the way of pleasure. You dealt almost exclusively with the negative parts of life.

JON

Well, I saw this bumper sticker once. It said “life sucks, then you die.” It’s kinda my philosophy.

ALEX

Jon, that’s wonderful, that you can center your understanding of life’s wonders and mysteries around a five-word slogan gleaned from the back of a Pinto …

JON

Actually, it was a Mazda.

ALEX

…from the back of a Mazda. But I’m going to suggest here that employing that simple doctrine for our show is going to cut things a bit short. Just, for example, give us a look at what your bumper sticker life might look like, acted out on stage.

JON

Right now, here?

ALEX

Yes. Let’s see it. Ladies and gentlemen: “Life sucks, then you die,” by Jon Whitfield.

JON

OK. Here goes: (some quick gestures of pain with lots of yelling and a sudden, dramatic death)

ALEX

Jon Whitfield, ladies and gentleman.

(Jon gets up, bowing) )

That’s very nice, Jon, but it hardly comprises an evening of theatre, does it?

JON

Well, no …But maybe we could pair it with some other short thing, or segue it into the AA meeting that uses this place right after. Sort of a 12-step program for theatre patrons or something.

ALEX

I’ve got an idea I’d like you to       consider. (They whisper)

JON

OK, OK! I like that. Let’s rock.

(Exits)

ALEX

Ladies and gentlemen, join us as we take you on a short, but not too short, exploration into the journey of life!

(JON enters with boombox with baby crying, wearing diaper. ALEX has a bottle and is trying to feed Jon, who resists.)

Oh, a son! A son! What shall we name him? Something easy to spell, and not too weird, but something a little unusual but not trendy. I’ve got it! Jon!

JON

John? John is unusual? The only name more common is Muhammad.

ALEX

Jon with no “h.”

JON

Oh. OK. Cool. (resumes crying, becoming increasingly more difficult until …)

You know something Alex, this is, I don’t know, kinda lame.

ALEX

What are you talking about?

JON

I dunno. Starting off with the baby thing, it’s so predictable.

ALEX

Well, this is how most people start out.

JON

Yes, but this is theatre, man. Let’s do something different.

ALEX

Like what?

JON

Well, if you think about it, life would be more fun lived backwards.

ALEX

Backwards?

JON

Yeah. I mean, life gets better the younger you are. Who wouldn’t want to be 5 years old again? No job, no worries, you can just play all day. I mean, think of what a relief that would be after you’ve lived an entire, stress-filled life.

ALEX

I see what you’re saying. So, you mean, start out with …?

JON

That’s right, pal.

ALEX

OK, let’s do it!

(JON grabs a potted geranium

and lies down with it on his

chest.)

ALEX

Oh, Dad, you were a real bastard in life, but I loved you, I guess. Now that you’re gone, I don’t know what I’ll do … after I’ve finished dancing on your grave, that is.

(He turns away in thought as

Jon staggers to life)

ALEX (a little unsure)

Oh, um, you’re alive Jon, er, Dad. Yay.

JON

I’m not alive man. I’m the living dead, slow moving and hungry for flesh. (He begins accosting audience members, perhaps singing snippets from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”)

ALEX

Jon? Jon — C’mon, we’ve go to keep moving. Leave this poor woman alone!

JON

OK, OK.

(He lies down again with oxy

tube taped to his nose)

ALEX

(as DOCTOR, w/stethoscope) I’m afraid you’re going to die Mr. Whitfield. Would you like to see your daughter?

JON (POPPING UP)

Actually, I’m feeling much better. I think I’ll go for a walk. (He pulls on a pair of adult diapers and EXITS)

ALEX

(w/Brit accent a la python)

You’re not fooling anyone you know. You’ll be stone- dead in a moment. Oh, that’s something else.

(to AUD)

Um, we’re in a little bit of uncharted territory here, so bear with us for, um, you know, what’s next.

JON (OFF)

Nursing home!

ALEX

Right! (as OLD MAN) Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a 30-day supply of Viagra and a hot, willing septuagenarian!

JON (ENTERING)

I thought we agreed no Viagra jokes for the old man parts!

ALEX

Sorry. I couldn’t resist.

JON

Well, dammit. Straighten up and fly right.

ALEX

Um, let’s watch a rerun of Matlock and then hit the bingo parlor!

JON

That’s better. Then we’ll go play shuffleboard and be at Furr’s for the early-bird dinner at 3:30! Man, why do old people eat dinner so early?

ALEX

Because they get up at 5 a.m. (exits)

JON

What am I doing in a nursing home anyway? I was always so healthy and vibrant.

ALEX

(entering as SON)

Because you were wetting yourself. But c’mon dad, we’re going home.

JON

Home! Yippee! I’m potty trained! (strips off diapers) Say, where’s my wife, anyway?

ALEX

I’m sorry to tell you dad, but she’s di-she’s right here! (He produces dummy and sort of hides behind it speaking like a woman). Oh, Jon, I’m so glad you’re pottty trained. I’ve missed you so much! I’ve had nothing to do with myself except make my baskets. And guess what? I made you a basket, a very special basket just brimming with Viagra.

(He hands him basket. Jon gives him

a LOOK re. Viagra reference.

Spotlight on JON for following)

JON

I lived with Agnes for 52 years, and there were many things I didn’t understand about her at first that I learned to accept, even love. The hormonal swings, then the absence of hormonal swings. The notion that I should be able to read her mind at all times, the meatloaf she served me for half a century even though I told her I hated it. After she died, I would have killed for a piece of that meatloaf. (wipes a tear) And then there were her baskets. (holds up BASKET). Agnes’ baskets. She made them year-round, from your traditional Easter basket to Christmas decoration baskets …

she even made Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana baskets for our Jewish friends, and Ramadan baskets for our Muslim mailman. (ALEX is holding up baskets for display) Her Arbor Day basket was once featured in the Sierra Club newsletter, and her Presidents Day basket featured likenesses of Lincoln and Washington rendered in maple twigs. Baskets were her passion, and I understand passion but, I mean, WHAT THE HELL IS THE DEAL WITH THE

FRIGGIN’ BASKETS! (He launches into audience). Why did she spend all her spare time making these things? The whole house was filled with baskets. We never once ate a meal at our table because the whole thing was covered with stuff for making friggin’ baskets! I just don’t understand the baskets! I never understood them. (He breaks down sobbing on audience member)

ALEX

Jon? C’mon man, pull yourself together. My wife did this thing with pottery I never understood. We’ve all dealt with it. (To male aud member) You sir, tell Jon about something your wife does you don’t understand. (He may try several).

Y’see Jon, you’re not alone here. You’re part of a huge brotherhood of man, populated by billions of guys who don’t understand women and their baskets any more than they understand why we have in the garage dozens of coffee cans filled with nuts and bolts and nails and washers and (growing enamored with topic) grommets and brass fittings and toilet parts and old carburetor springs and used brake pads and broken bits of baseboard moulding and … well, you get the picture.

JON

Really?

ALEX

Really. Now c’mon, let’s get going.

JON

OK. Where were we?

ALEX

Well, your wife had just come back to life and given you … THIS! (He holds basket like a cross to a vampire. JON shrinks in terror).

Just kidding! I tell you what, Jon, since this is obviously a sensitive subject for you right now, and since we don’t have an actress to play your wife, why don’t we skip it and just go straight to the retirement bit?

JON

That sounds good. (SITS) Ah, retirement! All day long to just do what I want. No boss looking over my shoulder, no idiots calling me on the phone. Yep. (He sits with arms folded, but soon shows he’s bored). Yep. No idiots. No phones. No … nuthin. (beat) This sucks. (looks around) Damn this is boring!

ALEX (AS WIFE/W/CLIPBOARD)

Did you say you’re bored, dear? I thought you might be so I have this little old list of things that need done around here. Lessee, you could finish the deck you started building in 1973, you could re-do the wallpaper in the rumpus room, you could help me can some peaches, you could go collect twigs for my upcoming Colorado Day basket series you could …

JON

I think I’m going back to work. (dons hardhat) Yes, work, where men in hardhats do things with their hands. A place where no, no baskets are being made, a place where men look up to me to lead them into the fast-paced world that is American manufacturing.

ALEX (AS EMPLOYEE)

Mr. Whitfield, I need you sign this for shipping and the staff is upset about the new schedule. I also need to tell you that Witherspoon says he’s coming for an inspection in (checks watch) five minutes, and the men’s bathroom is flooded on our level and the packaging we need to get product shipped today never arrived and … my ass hurts.

JON

Your ass hurts? What could you possibly mean by that?

ALEX

Oh, it’s just a symbolic lament to demonstrate my overall unhappiness with my job, how I blame it mostly on you and a reminder that, no matter what you do, all 120 of your employees, we’re walking around and our ass hurts. All the time. It never stops.

JON

Ah, so it’s a metaphor, then, for the unhappiness you feel in your jobs?

ALEX

That’s right. And there’s nothing you can do about it. We are like chicks in the nest, our tiny beaks open and imploring for you to bring us worms. But no matter how many worms you bring us, it will never be enough.

JON

So,       the extra week of vacation worm, the 401(k) worm, the new microwave in the lunchroom worm … all of it doesn’t even signify?

ALEX

We, as employees, are blind to the efforts you made to bring us those things. We simply expect it, and want MORE MORE MORE! (Light on JON)

JON

You know, at this period in my life, surrounded by worm-gobbling worker birds who always wanted more, I used to occasionally leave the office for a walk. I used to pass by this street where they always seemed to be jack hammering something, and I used to stand and watch these guys (LIGHTS UP on ALEX w/hardhat jackhammering. We hear the NOISE). And I’d think, man, what I wouldn’t give to just be this guy jackhammering. It looked so simple, so easy mentally.

Surely, the noise alone would keep anyone from pestering you, and the vibration would shake loose any pressing thoughts that might occupy your mind. But then I thought that, if I took a job as a jackhammer guy, I’d be bored to tears in a day or two. So I went back to my office, but this time, with a weapon against the worm-seeking workers …

ALEX

Mr. Whitfield, we have a problem. (JON appears to be listening and ALEX’s lips move but all we hear is loud JACKHAMMERING). Furthermore, my ass is (more JACKHAMMERING). And so I think we should just abandon the project altogether.

JON

Very good. Carry on. (ALEX exits)

JON

(To Audience)

So, when people ask me how I worked for 43 years in the same plant as a middle manager, I tell them it was easy once I discovered my internal jackhammer.

ALEX (ENTERING)

That’s really nice, Jon, really nice. Real, “glass half full” kind of stuff.

JON

Well, we all have our techniques for dealing with life’s problems. For some people it’s alcohol, others use aromatherapy or crack, still others use …

ALEX

Jackhammers.

JON

That’s right. But if you want something more uplifting, maybe we can fast forward — or backward — to my wedding.

ALEX

So, skip middle age altogether?

JON

Sure. It’s boring anyway. For me, just a bunch of baskets and jackhammers.

ALEX

OK. So, what are we doing? The typical wedding night scene where you can’t get the bridal gown? The she’s-too-fat-to-carry-over-the- threshold gag? Or how about the really embarrassing speech by the best man scenario?

JON

Actually, the most telling part of my marriage to Agnes occurred just after the ceremony. Everyone had gone to the reception and we were having photos taken outside (reflectively) It was a beautiful spring day, birds were singing … (ALEX hands JON the DUMMY; ALEX starts taking pictures)

ALEX

(throwing female voice while

continuing to take pictures)

Oh, Jon, I feel positively giddy!

JON

Easy old girl. We’re going to have

52 years together and …

ALEX

Old girl! 52 years! How do you know that?!

JON

Never mind. Just a premonition, uh, young filly.

ALEX

Oh, married life will be so grand! Just you and me and ….

JON

Alex, dude this isn’t working.

ALEX

What do you mean?

JON

We need another person for this. This is stupid.

ALEX

Well, OK, but where are we going to get another person? (He follow’s JON’s GAZE into AUD). Ah, I see what you’re thinking.

JON

OK, who wants to play Agnes? If we don’t get a volunteer, we will have to pick someone.

ALEX

C’mon, it’ll be fun. (They pick a FEMALE audience member and hand her a SCRIPT)

JON

So, don’t even pretend that you know how to act or anything, OK? Just read the lines as they come.

ALEX

We’ve even highlighted them for you, so you know exactly what to say and when. You ready? OK, start right here.

AGNES

Oh, married life will be so grand! Just you and me and the kids … you off to work each day and me home playing mom and making baskets.

JON

Yep, it’ll be fine. What was that about baskets?

AGNES

Oh, well, I haven’t told you this before but baskets are my LIFE! I love making baskets. It’s a tradition in my family.

JON

Baskets?

AGNES

That’s right.

JON

Like … what kind of baskets?

AGNES

Oh, little baskets you fill with twigs and dried flowers and hang on the wall, commemorative baskets for things like Armistice Day and Kwanza.

JON

And, so, these baskets are for …? I, I don’t get it.

AGNES

Well, come on Jon, everyone loves a cute little basket. (To AUD) Don’t you all love little baskets with ribbons and … See Jon, everyone loves baskets. Why, you just sit down and take your glue and your twigs and your wicker and gingham and you just (JON is NODDING his head as we hear the sound of the JACKHAMMER. As it ends, ALEX thanks AUD member and escorts her back to seat)

ALEX

You know, women hate when guys do that to them.

JON

Do what?

ALEX

Run the sound of a jackhammer in their head while they’re talking about something they consider to be important.

JON

Oh. That. Well, how do you think I got through 52 years of marriage with a woman who was more interested in wicker than, well, my wang.

ALEX

I just don’t understand why you married her if the baskets were such a unfathomable mystery to you.

JON

Let’s do the bit about The Talk

ALEX

The Talk?

JON

Yeah, you know (he whispers)

ALEX

Oh, right. OK. (He dons AGNES wig and starts dancing seductively about JON). Jon, how long have we been together?

JON

I dunno. Three months?

AGNES

It’s actually been 17 and a half months.

JON

Oh. That long?

AGNES

And I just want to know: What are we doing?

(ALEX starts spinning a

Twilight Zone pinwheel,

then a pocket watch thing)

JON

What are we doing?

AGNES

Where are we going?

JON

Where are we going?

AGNES

I just wonder if, you know, it isn’t time to really look at us, you know, our relationship, and where it’s headed. I mean, I love you and you love me …

JON

Yeah, it’s great. Great just the way it is.

AGNES

Is it? Haven’t you ever thought that maybe we should (giggles) I don’t know, formalize our relationship a little more?

JON (TO AUD)

That night, I think Agnes had some voodoo or something. (ALEX continues dancing around him) Some kind of cosmic ray came out of her breasts or … I don’t know, and before I knew it, we were agreeing to marry. We started talking about rings and weddings and invitations. But I still felt like we had so many issues, so many problems … like Agnes’ dancing …

ALEX (FLITTING OFFSTAGE)

Marriage will solve them all.

JON

I did love Agnes. It just all seemed to happen so quickly. I was 31, but I felt like I was still 20. Not a care in the world …

decent job, cool friends. I was out just about every night (switches to PARTY MODE, w/music). Yeah, woo- hoo! Alright I’m 21! (Does a SHOT).

(During the following,

ALEX dances by with cards denoting

birthdays)

JON

Yeah, alright! I’m 25! Still rockin’! OK, 27, I’m still young. Alright 29, not sure I like the sound of that. Oh boy I’m 30 (music ends abruptly, ALEX exits) Wow. 30. That used to sound so old to me. I always thought that, by the time I was this age, I’d be this guy looking like Ward Cleaver, coming home every day in a Buick to a house full of kids or something.

Damn. I still feel like I’m 20.

ALEX (IN ROBE)

Yes, Jon, and what have you done?

JON

Who are you?

ALEX

I’m the Great Spirit of Responsibility that dwells in every man. (he walks into an audience member. Jon helps him find his mark)

JON

I’ve never seen you before.

ALEX

I know. Too busy partying. Drinking. Womanizing. The only time I ever see you is when I set the alarm clock for work that you never remember.

JON

Man, I was wondering how …

ALEX

Now it’s time to wake up and smell the decaf double latte. Look at Agnes.

JON

I don’t see her.

ALEX

Pretendyou see her Jon. There are only two of us.

JON

Oh. I thought you were like the Ghost of Christmas Past or something and was going to show me a bunch of stuff.

ALEX

No. I don’t have those kinds of powers. When they were giving out powers, I was behind Aquaman. At that point, there wasn’t much left.

JON

You’ve met Aquaman?! What’s he like?

ALEX

Aquaman is a dick, just like all the superheroes. And the biggest dick is Superman. But that’s beside the point …

JON

Can I just ask you one question about Aquaman?

ALEX

I suppose

JON

Did he, did he have sexual relations with fish?

ALEX

Only the mammals. You know, dolphins, killer whales …

JON

Aquaman boinked killer whales! That guy rocks. I knew Aquaman was my favorite superhero!

ALEX

What? You’ve got a thing for fish? They’re opening a new aquarium in Denver, you know. Perhaps you can get a job feeding the orcas.

JON

No, I don’t mean …

ALEX

Can we talk about responsibility please.

JON

Oh, yeah. Sure.

ALEX

You’re 30, right?

JON

Right

ALEX

A generation ago, a man your age would have a wife, a family, a home

… what have you got?

JON

I’ve got a killer stereo and an espresso barista and a hot little red sports car.

ALEX

What did you have for dinner last night?

JON

Uhhh … some buffalo wings at the bar.

ALEX

And the night before?

JON

Ummm, I think it was a basket of jalapeño poppers … er, at the (name of local bar).

ALEX

And when was the last time you laundered the sheets on your bed?

JON

Hey, now, c’mon! This is getting a little personal. (Receives a LOOK). OK, OK … lessee, what is this, April?

ALEX

A child, that’s what you are Jon. A child of 30.

JON (AFTER A MOMENT’S REFLECTION)

You’re right, you’re right. (pause) When the hell am I going to grow up? But man, all my friends are like this, too. Why is that?

ALEX

No hats.

JON

What? Hats?

ALEX

Time was, when a man became a man, he started wearing a hat. It was a visible sign that he was a man, not a boy. Here, try it. (He puts a HAT on JON and hands him BRIEFCASE)

JON

Hey! (walking around) Not bad. I do feel pretty grown up.

ALEX

Problem is, if you go outside like that you’ll look like a dork. What you need to find is your inner hat.

JON

Oh please. Is that anything like my inner jackhammer?

ALEX

I’m just telling you how it is. (He starts to waft away, speaking eerily). Remember your inner hat, Jon!

JON (SITTING, TO AUD)

My inner hat. How do you like that? For years I’ve been wondering why I haven’t grown up, and some guy in a bathrobe tells me I need to find my inner hat. Any of you guys old enough to have ever worn a hat every day? Yeah? What was it like? Did it make you feel all grown up and important? What about a beret or a sombrero, do they count? (ALEX comes RUNNING in)

ALEX

Jon, Jon! Look at the time! We’ve got to get going!

JON

What’s the rush?

ALEX

They need this place for an AA meeting, remember?

JON

Oh, right. What’s left?

ALEX

Well, the teen-age years, boyhood, preschooler, toddler, infant and newborn.

JON

How much time have we got?

ALEX

About 7 minutes.

JON

No sweat. Aaahhh! I’ve got pimples and homework and frequent embarrassing erections and I can’t get a date and my ass hurts and Tony DiBenedetto says he’s going to kill me after school and I don’t understand trigonometry and … (to ALEX, who has donned a wig and bra) will you go out with me Suzie?

ALEX

Drop dead, creep.

JON

Oh come on! I’ve got my Dad’s minivan for tonight!

ALEX

Oh, OK then.

(They sit in CAR, JON tries to

get bra off, fails, ALEX crawls

off)

JON

I never went out with Suzie again. She talked, too. The next day at school everyone was calling me “The Locksmith.” Life is hell. I wish I were dead. I had to regain my popularity, so I have a party in my parents house. They’re due home any minute.

(Alex enters with armload of

beer cans)

ALEX

Dude, where should I put these?

JON

Under there! (Alex stuffs them under a chair) OK, we fixed the hole in the wall, the toilet paper is out of the trees, I got most of the puke off the bonsai tree and the carpet’s vacuumed (to AUD). We even went around and sort of scuffed up the vacuum-cleaner marks so it doesn’t look        like I vacuumed. That’s be a dead give away to my folks.

ALEX (TO AUD)

We had the place spotless, perfect, until Jon noticed …

JON

Aaaahhh! Where the hell are the oven knobs!

ALEX

The oven knobs are missing?

JON

Yes! All of them! Where the hell am I going to get oven knobs! (He runs off screaming) Who the hell would steal oven knobs!??

ALEX (TO AUD)

Fortunately, life gets simpler, even though the problems can seem just as thorny.

JON (W/GI JOE)

Dude, I can’t figure out how to attach this GI Joe to this 8-ounce rocket you got me.

ALEX

Here, try this duct tape. (to AUD) As we head backwards in Jon’s life, everything gets simpler, more fun and exciting. To quote Jim Morrison, “A child is like a flower, man, his head is just floating in the breeze.” Every day is a new adventure, every person you meet a potential playmate.

(JON enters in colorful

overalls; he is 5) JON

Dad?

Yes Jonny.

ALEX JON

Dad, what color socks does Batman

wear?

ALEX

Black, usually. Sometimes dark blue.

Oh. Dad? Yes Jonny?

JON ALEX

JON

Fish are like a gallon heavier than people.

ALEX

I didnt’ realize that.

JON

Dad?

Yes Jonny

ALEX JON

My head’s dead! Aaahhh! My head’s

falling off! I love you! You love me! We’re a happy family! (beat, sits down heavily) Dadda. Dadda.

ALEX

Oh, you’re so cute. (puts DIAPER on JON) Well, looks like we’ve come full circle!

JON (NOW LYING DOWN)

Goo goo ga ga.

ALEX

Time for dinner Jonny.

(ALEX hands him falsies)

ALEX

That’s right pal, suck it down. Make you big and strong. Kootchy kootchy koo. Oh, it’s so nice to have you home from the hospital. Just look at our little baby!

JON (THROWING HIS VOICE)

He’s so darling!

ALEX

Well, it’s time to get to the hospital. Time to go back to never- never land.

(He starts stuffing JON

back into the SLEEPING BAG, feet    first. All lights dim, and as

soon as

JON’s head is out

of         view, BLACKOUT)

LIGHTS BACK UP. JON and

ALEX take bows

JON

Man, that was intense!

ALEX

I’ll bet. What was it like in there?

JON (THINKING)

Warm. Wet. Dark. Nice.

ALEX

Well, ladies and gentlemen, there’s our report from the womb: warm, wet, dark and nice. Film at 11.

JON

That’s all I remember man! C’mon, I was a fetus!

ALEX

Do you remember, like, what you were thinking when you were in there?

JON

It’s hard to remember … let me get into a state …

(He curls up in fetal position and

starts kicking)

JON

Dude, I was like omniscient. I knew everything and nothing at the same time. It was a state of bliss.

ALEX

Really? Like, tell me, what is the meaning of life?

JON

You’re just supposed to make the best of it. Also, you should resist weaning for as long as possible.

Man, I can’t believe she’s doing step aerobics at 8 months!

Punishment time! (starts KICKING) . Ooh, half a glass of red wine!

Naughty, naughty mommy.

ALEX

How profound. Anything else?

JON

There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel

ALEX

I think that’s the birth canal, Jon.

JON

No! No, don’t you see?! You were right, Alex. The glass is half full! Oh, this is great!

ALEX

Think harder, Jon. Was there anything in there about, oh, say, lawyers?

JON

No. No, I don’t remember anything about lawyers. Oh, wait … there’s some information about baskets!

ALEX

Baskets? What, what about them?

JON

We’re supposed to … supposed to put up with them. Endure them.

Appreciate them.

ALEX

I’ll be damned.

(They start gathering up baskets

reverentially until they are both

seated, cross- legged, surrounded by

baskets)

JON

I wouldn’t have guessed this is where we’d wind up, you know, surrounded by these things.

ALEX

Well, Jon, I think what we have here is …

CURTAIN

your message from the womb is one of tolerance, appreciation and understanding of those around us.

JON

(turning a basket over in his hand)

Or else it’s just a sign that we’re supposed to be more enthusiastic and demonstrative about celebrating Memorial Day. (they ponder this a moment)

ALEX

(to AUD, softly) Folks, this is about all we have time for tonight.

JON

Yes. We must go. But we leave you with this simple message:

ALEX

A message that will enable all of you to more fully enjoy, understand and appreciate your life. Tell them, Jon (EXITS)

JON

The message is … is, um, the message is taped to the bottom of your chair. (He flees) Start the car Alex!

CURTAIN

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