Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Week 50, Day 346 - "Fuck You, Harry Chapin"

“Fuck You, Harry Chapin”

Written by Joe Janes

12/30/09

346 of 365

Cast:

Bruce, 25

Ray, 50

Bob, 75

Joseph, 50s

Vernon, 50s

(Lights up on Bruce, in a plain solid colored t=shirt and jeans, stage right. Ray, in a tucked in dress shirt and khakis, center stage right. Joseph, wearing greasy coveralls, is center stage left and Vernon, in a hat and old suit, is stage left. They never address one another except when indicated. They speak out to the audience.)

BRUCE

My dad is old.

RAY

My dad is old.

(They wait for Bob who enters walking slowly with a metal hospital cane. He wears a trucker cap, a too small Wisconsin Dells sweatshirt, unmatching sweatpants, a large fanny pack, white socks and Velcro sandals. He makes his way to center stage.)

BOB

My dad is dead.

JOSEPH

My dad is dead.

VERNON

Ich bin tot.

RAY

My grandfather died before I was born. I asked my dad about him.

BOB

He was a nice guy.

JOSEPH (taking a swig from a flask)

How do you do?

BOB

When he wasn’t drinking.

JOSEPH

Go fuck yourself.

BOB

And he couldn’t handle money.

RAY (To Bruce)

Now I know where I get all that from.

BRUCE

I don’t drink.

RAY

Yet.

VERNON (passionately)

Ich kann nicht Deutsches sprechen. Dieses ist gerade auf Linie Übersetzung crappy. Ich nahm eine deutsche Kategorie in der Highschool, weil ich hörte, dass es einfach war. Ich fiel aus. Ist hier alles dieses erlernte I. Ein, zwei, drei. Das ist es.

BOB

I don’t know what my grandfather did for a living. I never thought to ask. He was an off the boat German. Barely spoke a lick of English.

BRUCE

My grandfather lives in another state. I see him once every few years. I don’t know much about him except for what my dad tells me, which isn’t much.

BOB

I don’t know much about him.

RAY

I only recently found out my grandfather was a mechanic.

BOB

He had a good reputation.

JOSEPH

I can fix your car. You don’t have any money. You figure something out. (He takes a swig from a flask.)

VERNON (sad)

Ich traf nie meine Enkelkinder.

JOSEPH

I died of a stroke before any grandchildren came along.

BOB

I have too many grandchildren to keep track of. My kids had kids and divorces and remarriages and added new kids and half-kids and adoptions. When I meet them, I just smile and nod.

RAY

No grandchildren, well, none that I know of.

BRUCE

I have a cat.

(We hear a short horn blast. We hear a loud instrumental version of Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s In The Cradle.” The five actors start walking in a circle with people getting frustrated with Bob and passing him. Except Ray, who stays politely behind his dad. The music stops abruptly with another horn blast. The actors scramble to the nearest spot. They now stand in this order: Vernon, Joseph, Bob, Ray, Bruce. They take on the roles of the spot they inhabit.)

BRUCE

Ich heiratete eine stark vorangegangene und harte hearted Frau.

RAY

I married a strong woman. Who said she would do what I said and then do something else.

BOB

I married a mousey woman who said she would do what I say and then do something else. We got a divorce after twenty years. Then I married a strong woman who ran after me. I do what she says. It’s the most peaceful route.

JOSEPH

I married my high school sweetheart when I was nineteen. Of course, that was doomed. One kid from that union. Then I married an attractive woman who didn’t seem repulsed by me. She had kids. Her husband turned out to be gay. I think she was just glad I wasn’t gay. That was the biggest thing I had in my favor. We had a kid. And another divorce.

VERNON

It is my second cat.

(Another horn blast and even faster “Cat’s In The Cradle” as the actors quickly move in a circle, except for Bob. Even Ray abandons him. A horn blast stops everything and the actors make it back to their original position.)

BRUCE

I asked my dad about my grandfather.

RAY

I told him he used to be good with his hands, but he smoked and drank and wasn’t around much.

BRUCE (To Ray)

Like you?

JOSEPH

Fuck you, Harry Chapin.

VERNON

Bumsen Sie Sie, Harry Chapin.

BOB

I don’t listen to that rock and roll “music.”

RAY

(To Bruce) No… (To Audience) I asked my dad about my grandfather.

BOB

I asked my dad about my grandfather.

JOSEPH

I asked my dad about my grandfather.

VERNON

Ich fragte meinen Vati nach meinem Großvater. Er besaß eine Katze. Meow!

(Horn blast, but no music, they don’t know what to do. Lights fade to black. The Harry Chapin music plays in the dark.)

3 comments:

Aly said...

One of your most real and strongest sketches yet, though I am not an expert, just someone that enjoys the darker comedic bits inspired by the sadness that is sometimes caused by much of what the characters in this sketch described through their dialogue.

To Vernon: The nice thing about having cats is that they will not come home from cat school and decided that they are too not busy to sit on your lap and just say with a smile that what they'd really like dad is to borrow your car keys, see you later can I have them please?

Aly said...

yikes, I mean,
To Vernon: The nice thing about having cats is that they will not come home from cat school and decide that they are too busy to sit on your lap and say with a smile that what I'd really like dad is to borrow your car keys, see you later can I have them, please?

Joe Janes said...

Best. Critique. Ever.

This one was biographical. I actually felt the need to clear it with a family member first. Rare for me.