by Alice Conroy
Two Progressive Parents discuss their teenage son, politics, and their interior decorator.
|Notes: It may not be the most intellectual thing I've ever written, but hey-it's funny. Enjoy!
PS-they're both white, it's part of the joke...people have been confused before.
Shawn, a lawyer: He is, despite his high salary and success, slightly neurotic. He has a bad habit of quoting scare-tactic news reports, and is often the practical one; he remains good natured and good intentioned.
Lisa, a socialite: With her husband’s extensive salary Lisa has climbed the social ladder. She is very well connected, and because of this, very vain. She has somehow convinced herself that society would not function without her. She carries herself with a level of enthusiasm and perkiness that borders on strange; her mask slips in the end.
Cameron: Their adopted black son.
A well-furnished, modern living room. Lisa and Shawn converse. Lisa is in her early forties (though she looks younger), and wears a sleek but simple off-white or very pale cream outfit preferably consisting of flowing pants, and a sweater that is sharp and angular. Shawn is 45, and has aged (but aged well). He wears a navy blazer with matching pants and a plain shirt. He looks very professional, and his clothes fit well, but do not look tailored. Both are white but not waspish.
Lisa: Yes, and I promised to get some Prosecco, so I need you to get some on the way home from work.
Shawn: I have a big hearing tomorrow. I might not be home until late.
Lisa: What is this for again?
Shawn: I already told you. Twice. I’m representing the occupy Wall Street movement. They’re suing Dannon, the yogurt company for copyright infringement.
Lisa: Copyright infringement?
Shawn: “We’re the 99 percent?” They can’t be talking about their yogurt being 99 percent fat free, not as long as I have something to say about it. How was your day?
Lisa: It was fine…I had lunch at school for the arts…I already told you the Henderson’s want us to come for dinner tomorrow night.
Shawn: Do we have go again?
Lisa: We can come, but I have to leave from there to go to toe benefit.
Shawn: Benefit? What Benefit?
Lisa: For the New Museum of Baltimore!
Shawn: Oh god! Is this about Joyce’s sculpture collection?
Lisa: The New Museum of Baltimore is an organization dedicated to displaying and supporting the work of local artists, and we…
Shawn: It’s a bunch of Hubcaps in her attic.
Shawn: Is this another one of toes things where you watch Sex and the City re-runs with your friends and get drunk on white wine?
Lisa: We get drunk on Prosecco, dear, and we’re all out.
Shawn: (exasperated) I’ll try…can’t you get the wine? What are you doing all day tomorrow? (Stops, looks around) did the carpenter come today?
Lisa: Henry is a designer…the day I let a carpenter into my bedroom…
Shawn: Did he come?
Lisa: Yes, he did. He says that he should be able to finish the skylights by next weekend.
Shawn: Do we really need skylights in our bedroom?
Lisa: I read in Interior Design Digest that skylight in bedrooms were all the rage in New York…or was it living rooms…
Lisa: Nothing. (Beat) I think we should redo our kitchen.
Shawn: What? Why? Our kitchen is fine; just for once, I’d like to live in a house that is not undergoing some form of renovation.
Lisa: We haven’t done THAT much work on the house…
Shawn: What about the rooftop organic garden, the master bathroom, the walk in closet, the wine cellar? I can’t take much more of this…
Lisa: Listen, Joyce just had her kitchen remodeled.
Shawn: Why is it every time JOYCE does something, you have to out do her?
Lisa: I do what I have to. She buys a wine humidor; I get us a wine cellar. She gets a new Mercedes; I key the cherry red paint job.
Shawn: (unable to hear his wife, though the audience DOES hear) what was that?
Lisa: Nothing. (Smiles) My point is that Joyce is getting granite countertops and a new oven; I need to do something…OH! We could get repurposed marble counters! That would wipe the smile of her perfect, collagen injected lips! We should also get a new stove; the chrome on ours is starting to look a bit dull…
Shawn: We did the kitchen…when was it…three years ago?
Lisa: Shawn, do YOU want our kitchen to be three years out of date?
Shawn: I, uh, don’t particularly care…
Lisa: Of course you do! It’s settled. I can’t believe it…repurposed marble…in my kitchen!
Shawn: We’ll see….wait a minute…Where is Cameron?
Lisa: Oh. He walked over to Joey’s to pick up his DS.
Shawn: You let him walk all the way over to Joey’s house, in Baltimore, AT NIGHT?
Lisa: It’s Mt. Vernon.
Shawn: Its six blocks to Biddle Street. You let him go alone?
Lisa: What’s the big deal? Besides, if we had gotten him a cell phone, this wouldn’t be a problem.
Shawn: He’s only fourteen. Besides, I don’t want him to get cyber-bullied.
Lisa: Cyber bullied? It’s a cell phone for god’s sake!
Shawn: (heavily) Joan told me. She’s working on a case right now. This boy…it’s a tragedy really. He committed suicide, no warning or anything. And I don’t want Cameron to...
Lisa: So if we buy Cam a cell phone, he’s going to make the six o’clock news?
Shawn: No. I just think he’s too young. (Beat) I can’t believe you let him walk all the way to Joey’s house alone!
Lisa: Well, I did. Anyway, when I was I kid, I would go out by myself at night all the time.
Shawn: Honey, you grew up on a farm, in Nebraska. This is Baltimore for god’s sake.
Lisa: Nebraska’s not that different. I remember when I was ten; three of our pigs went missing. The sheriff never found anything, but I always, to this day, suspected that they had been pignapped!
Shawn: I rest my case.
Lisa: Fine; what would you have done? He asked to walk, I let him walk. What do you think is going to happen anyway?
Shawn: I don’t know…besides, I’m not so sure about him spending time with Joey, either. Did you know he got suspended from school?
Shawn: He punched a kid in the face, I’m pretty sure he lost a tooth! Cameron told me.
Lisa: I never heard about this. I had lunch with his mother last Tuesday; she wanted me to get her a table at Woodbury kitchen. She never mentioned it. And why didn’t Cam tell me about this?
Shawn: Did you need to know?
Lisa: Yes. What if Cam gets in a fight? What would Joyce think? Besides, we can’t let him do WHATEVER he wants
Shawn: But we can let him walk six blocks in downtown Baltimore?
Lisa: Oh, what’s so bad about Baltimore?
Shawn: (falls silent, and gives his wife an “are you insane” look)
Lisa: He’ll be fine! He’s a capable boy, and we’re in Mt Vernon…this is the safest neighborhood in the city!
Shawn: yes but….
Shawn: A man got shot behind the wine store yesterday afternoon! (Lisa interjects an exclamation of surprise) The GOOD wine store. They still haven’t found the thug who did it; I heard it was only for a few dollars too.
Lisa: Oh. Is he ok?
Shawn: He got away. Oh. No. He died in the hospital.
Lisa: Oh… (Beat)
Lisa: This may not be a good time, but, um… we never did decide who was going to get the Prosecco…
Lisa: Just saying…
Shawn: No. I think you should get it. Every time I buy you wine it’s either too cheap or too good to serve to company, and I’m getting sick of it.
Lisa: Oh, come on! What are you doing tomorrow that’s so important!?
Shawn: What am I doing that’s so important?
Shawn: What are you doing that is so important? I’m going to COURT tomorrow!
Lisa: I already told you…I’m hosting the Black Leadership Society’s bi-annual luncheon.
Shawn: Is that supposed to take an entire day?
Lisa: Well….I need time to get my speech ready, to chat. And I need to make sure that Herman Cain doesn’t do anything inappropriate…
Shawn: Herman Cain? You booked Herman Cain? How did you book Herman Cain? WHY did you book Herman Cain?
Lisa: Well, we needed a black leader…Obama was understandably busy, and that puppet Michel Steele is a joke…It was the best I could do on such short notice!
Shawn: Ok, but Herman Cain? The man’s an idiot!
Lisa: Oh, I agree…But I needed to do something. I have a commitment.
Shawn: He stands for everything we hate! (Grumbling) Nine percent income tax….
Lisa: I know, I know…
Shawn: We’re BETTER than that…
Lisa: Were GOOD people.
Shawn: The city needs us.
Lisa: We’re good people. We give to charity, we voted for Obama...
Shawn: We adopted cam...
Lisa: About that…
Shawn: What? OH! Not this again…
Lisa: YES this. I think that we should tell Cam that he was …adopted.
Shawn: Why? He’s fine. I read in “concerned parent magazine” that children who know they’re adopted…They turn to drugs, they act out, and they have...issues.
Lisa: He’s …
Shawn: (hears an ambiguous noise, and looks out of the window) did you hear that? I can’t see anything…its too dark. I can’t believe you let him go out there. This is the definition of bad parenting.
Lisa: What’s between here and Joey’s?
Shawn: five gay bars.
Lisa: Oh my god….That would be fantastic!
Shawn: Um, Lisa…
Lisa: That would be wonderful!
Shawn: Wonderful? (Skeptically)
Lisa: I could start an organization. Just imagine; my son, being used as a poster-child for MY VERY OWN homosexual agenda!
Shawn: (sarcastically) that sounds healthy.
Lisa: I could write a book about parenting gay children! Appear on Anderson Cooper!
Shawn: (to audience) See what I have to put up with?
Lisa: That’ll show Joyce who’s the most (finger quotes) progressive mother!
Shawn: Lisa! Our son is fourteen years old. He shouldn’t be in ANY sort of bar.
Lisa: Oh, come on. Lighten up. What’s the worst that could happen?
Shawn: Someone could slip a roofie into his drink and leave us with a fourteen year old hepatitis case.
Lisa: You put too much thought into this.
Shawn: You aren’t even a bit worried that our son might end up a drugged out hobo?
Lisa: They’re called the residentially impaired…and, no I’m not worried at all.
Shawn: Did you know that you can buy marijuana only three blocks from here? There’s this guy on the corner named Ziggy; he sells it for six bucks a gram.
Lisa: (suspiciously) how do you know how much “Ziggy” charges for a gram of marijuana?
Shawn: I’m a father; it’s my job to know these things.
Lisa: Sure (beat). Cam’s not so naïve... He wouldn’t do anything that stupid. He couldn’t.
Shawn: Fine…what if he gets mugged?
Shawn: Beaten, robbed, and left to die in a gutter.
Lisa: I know what mugging is.
Shawn: Or he could be robbed at gunpoint…
Lisa: Maybe I should call Joey’s, and see if he’s ok. (Gets up, gets the phone, dials) Hi Marie. (Pause) Oh, this is Lisa. (Pause) Really? (Pause) How was Woodbury kitchen? (Pause) What? They gave your table to Ray Rice? Wow. (Pause) Oh, no. Cam wanted to pick up some things from your house. (Pause) You haven’t seen him? (Pause) Yes, I let him walk alone. (Pause) Yes, Alone. (Pause) At least my son didn’t get suspended from school! (Pause) I’m A BAD MOTHER!? YOU’RE A BAD MOTHER!!!!! (Pause) He lost a tooth you filthy… (Pause) Joey Jones? There are two Joeys? (Pause). But Shawn told me that your son... (Pause)You mean Joyce’s daughter? Joanna? (Pause) She’s going by joey now? (Mouths the word “LESBIAN” to her husband, he just shakes his head in disapproval) Yes, for the second time I let him walk alone (pause) I’m irresponsible? WELL YOU CAN GO TO… (Puts down the phone). The old hag hung up on me!!!
Shawn: What did she say?
Lisa: She hasn’t seen cam since the soccer game last Tuesday.
Shawn: She hasn’t?
Lisa: No. Where could he be, then?
Shawn: Maybe we should call the police
Lisa: (nods) we should. Oh god.
Shawn: I hope he’s ok…
Lisa: He must be. He needs to be…oh Cam…
Shawn: Let’s, let’s try to calm down here.
Lisa: Oh god…he must have been mugged…
Lisa: Our son has been shot. Our son is DEAD!!!
Shawn: Lisa, honey, you need to calm down….
Lisa: Calm down? Why? Our only son is dead…He was such a good boy! And generous; he was so generous. Letting Joey borrow his DS. And it cost him his life!
Shawn: Lisa, please.
Lisa: We tried so hard to make sure he turned out the way we wanted. And just like that, poof! Oh, Shawn—what are we going to do?
Lisa: It’s just so…hard.
Shawn: Lisa, I can’t deal with this today.
Lisa: We’re BAD people.
Lisa: We’re pretentious, self-righteous…
Shawn: I’m not self-righteous…
Lisa: We’re horrible, arrogant elitist snobs! We don’t deserve to live!
Shawn: Bad people?
Lisa: The worst!
(This moment is interrupted when Cam enters)
Cam: Is everything OK?
Shawn: Where have you been?
Cam: I’ve been in my room, studying.
Lisa: Oh! (Embraces son. Cam is not so sure WHY she is acting like this.
They separate and a silence falls over the room)
Lisa: Cam...I love you so much! So, so MUCH! Cam… You’re adopted. (She is given a truly venomous look by her husband)
Cam: (looks at his skin) you think?