send Email  copyright 2013

 

copyright 1999, Gripper Products



Peace at the Dinner Table

Cast:

Robin, the mother

Birdie, the daughter (in her 20ís)

Cassie, the maternal grandmother

Buffy (a dog)

Henry, Birdieís husband (probably a different race from the women)

Act 1, Scene 1

The livingroom of Robinís home. Robin is making up the hide-a-bed. Birdie is quilting. A mail-covered table stands beside the hide-a-bed. The walls are decorated with Birdieís quilts ó she is talented. A poster of two women, with the caption Our Mothers Are Our Sisters is on the wall. Buffy enters, with a stuffed bunny in her jaws.

Robin takes the bunny from Buffy and throws it across the room to Birdie.

Birdie

 

[Birdie catches the bunny and teases Buffy with it. Then she puts the bunny behind her back. Buffy walks back to Robin for petting.]

Mother, Buffy has got to be the dumbest dog in the galaxy. Weíve had her five years now and she still canít find her bunny when I put it behind my back.

Robin

[petting Buffy]

And we love her just the same.

 

Birdie

Youíd have yelled at me if I were that dumb! You yelled at me if I didnít get my homework done!

Robin

[pulling sheet taut on hide-a-bed]

You were supposed to grow up and move out. Buffy is supposed to stay home and comfort me in my old age.

Birdie

You think I want to live here? Iíll be out of here so fast ó just as soon as my quilts make me famous and rich. So quit nagging! (pause) Youíre nicer to that dumb dog than you ever were to me. Why couldnít you appreciate dumbness when I was her age?

 

Robin

[pulling up bed cover]

I was younger then. Iíve come to appreciate Buffy in my old age. Iíd even say sheís become my guru.

Birdie

[Buffy brings another stuffed animal to Robin.]

That explains why youíve become so weird lately!

Robin

[Robin throws the stuffed animal and Buffy brings it back to her.]

Honey, I love you. Are you unhappy with me?

 

Birdie

[Robin throws the stuffed animal again.]

You know Iím unhappy with you! I hate it that you listed your bedroom with the Bed & Breakfast office and now you sleep in the living room. I hate it that the Bed & Breakfast customers come early and you feed them dinner ó dinner with our family. I hate it that you talk to them and play with Buffy in front of them. And you tell them all your weird ideas. Donít tell me you didnít know Iím unhappy with you!

 

Robin

[folding up the hide-a-bed]

[Buffy finds the bunny and brings it to Robin. Robin ignores Buffy.]

Gee honey, Iím sorry youíre unhappy. My bedroom brings in $100 a night as a bed-and-breakfast rental. Even more if they come for dinner, like tonight. I know your quilts will make you rich and famous one day. But right now, we need money. So, please, be nice to our guests.

 

[Robin throws the bunny for Buffy.]

 

Birdie

So get a real job. Get out of the house. I hate having you around all day. And I hate watching you play with that dumb dog.

Robin

[Buffy returns with bunny. Robin reaches down and pets Buffy]

So you want me to move out?

Birdie

Thatís right. You and your little dog, too!

Robin

Isnít this a little unusual? I mean this is my house. You moved in here with your husband so you could work on your quilting. Now you want me to move out?

[Robin pets Buffy soothingly, sits down and puts Buffy in her lap.]Birdie

You can make $100 a day with your Bed & Breakfast. This house is paid for. You can support yourself if you move out. I canít.

Robin

Birdie, dear. Youíre upset about something. But it canít be because Iím living in my own home, playing with my own dog. Let me give you a hug.

[she puts Buffy down and takes a few steps toward her daughter.]

Birdie

Not that again! Thatís another thing I hate. You think you can fix everything with your hugs and your logic. You donít understand anything!

Robin

Maybe it would be easier for you if you called me Robin, instead of Mother. It might make you feel more like an adult if you treated me like an equal.

Birdie

Equal! Iím so much better than you itís pathetic. Youíve never recognized or admitted how wonderful and talented I am. Youíre never satisfied. If I did my homework, you wanted me to read for recreation. Here I am making a masterpiece quilt and you bother me with bed-making.

[Henry enters, greasy from fixing cars.]

Henry

Whatís for dinner? Iím hungry!

Robin

Itís only 3 oíclock in the afternoon. I havenít started dinner yet.

Henry

[Henry walks toward Birdie, reaching out to hug her.]

I earned money today. I can take the two of us out to dinner.

 

Birdie

[pulling the quilt to her body and turning away.]

Donít get my quilt dirty!

 

Henry

[looks at his hands. Buffy comes up to him

with her stuffed animal. He takes it and

throws it across the room.]

I washed them with the garden hose. Theyíre as clean as I can get them. Come on ó put down that quilt and letís go to dinner ... and a movie.

Robin

Go on honey. Youíve been wanting to get away from me for a bit. If you go to a double feature, you wonít even have to see the guests...or talk to them at dinner.

Birdie

Mom ó you stay out of this! Let me finish this circle and Iíll think about it. That dog is disgusting. How could she put that bunny in her mouth after Henry touched it with his greasy hands?

Robin

Henry ó if you want, you can use some of my goop in the kitchen to get the grease off your hands. Tell me ó what did you fix?

[Buffy brings the bunny to Robin and plays tug of war with it.]

 

Henry

[walks back stage right. We hear water

splashing. He shouts over the water.]

I put a new battery in the Watsonsí car.

Robin

Water wonít get that grease off. Use the goop in the jar beside the sink.

[the water stops.]

My car needs a new battery, too. It canít go anywhere. Could you put one in tomorrow?

Henry

Take it to Sears. Theyíll throw in the labor if you buy their battery.

[he re-enters the living room rubbing goop

on his hands. Again he approaches Birdie.]

Robin

Thatís no way to run a business.

[She throws the bunny and Buffy chases after it.]

Henry

[approaching Robin with his hands held out toward her]

Itís good business to save a client money. Why pay me for something Sears will do for free?

Birdie

[she pulls the quilt to her chest and turns away.]

 

Yuck! Donít get that stuff on my quilt!

Robin

Honey, put down that quilt and go out to dinner with your husband.

Birdie

Iíve got to finish this circle. Why wonít any of you let me finish this circle?

[Cassie enters. Buffy brings the bunny

to Cassie who at first ignores her.]

(in a low voice) Oh no, itís the cassowary.

Cassie

How do you finish a circle? Circles have no beginning or ending. I remember that from geometry class.

Birdie

Grandma Cassie, why do you always butt in when you have no idea whatís going on? (Pause) Iíve got to get out of here!

[she puts down the quilt. Henry reaches for her.]

Birdie (continuing)

 

Go wipe that stuff off your hands.

 

Cassie

[to Robin]

 

Why do you let her sass me like that? I never let you get away with talking to me like that.

Robin

Sheís upset, Mama. Sheís going to say stuff like that until she stops being upset.

[she hands the sheet sheís removed

from the bed to Henry to wipe his hands.

Buffy persists in offering bunny to Cassie.]

Cassie

[Cassie takes bunny and puts it behind

her back. Buffy walks away. Henry

wipes his hands on the sheet.]

Youíre not going to send your daughter to therapy, are you? It would be a disgrace to the family!.

Birdie

[to Henry]

Now you have to go wash your hands again! Thatís her sweaty old sheet!

Cassie

[to Birdie]

[holding bunny behind her back]

Birdie dear, thatís the first sensible thing Iíve heard you say in years.

Birdie

[to Henry]

Címon Henry, you can wash your hands at the restaurant. Weíve got to get out of here!

 

[She places quilt on the chair seat, takes

Henry by the sleeve and leads him to the door.]

Henry

[to Cassie]

Come on, Cassie. Quit teasing that dog. Canít you see she wants to play? Throw the bunny!

Cassie

Iím trying to teach her to be smart. Some day sheís going to learn that the bunny doesnít disappear when it goes behind my back.

Birdie

Letís go. Iíve got to get out of here, before the guests come!

[Birdie pulls Henry to the door. They exit.]

Cassie

(disgustedly) Are you still taking in Bed and Breakfast boarders?

Robin

[gets bunny from behind Cassie and throws

it for Buffy. They continue this game

throughout the next few interchanges.]

Yes, Mama.

Cassie

Thatís all you have to say for yourself, Robin? Whereís your dignity? Your self-respect?

Robin

Do you want to know how my day was?

Cassie

I suppose I should be interested. Tell me. How was your day?

Robin

Letís see. This morningís boarders left me a tip because they really liked the breakfast. And Iíve almost saved enough to put on that greenhouse Iíve been wanting...

 

Cassie

The answer is Great. You say, My day was great!

Robin

Huh? Mom? Iím supposed to say my day was great, no matter what happened? You donít want details?

Cassie

Why would I want the details of your day? Your days are all alike. You get up. You do yoga. You meditate. You walk that stupid dog. You cook. You clean up from the B&B folks. You get ready for more B&B folks. You arenít supposed to bore people who care enough to ask how your day was ó so you tell them your day was great.

Robin

I never could keep up with fashions. You should have had Birdie for your daughter ó youíd have understood her. She cares about fashions. She doesnít like the bed and breakfast boarders. Sheís always criticizing what I wear. You two could have a great time together complaining about me.

Cassie

No you donít. Iím not taking that freeloading wannabe artist off your hands. If you want to let her and her grease-monkey husband live with you, thatís your stupid choice. I can come here and gloat that all my children have moved out ó Iím a better mother than you are!

Robin

Since your days are more interesting than mine, tell me: how was your day?

Cassie

Great! My day was great!

Robin

Details, Mom! Tell me ó what did you do today?

 

Cassie

I didnít come here for pleasantries. I came here to watch your television. Mineís broken and I want to watch my soap.

Robin

[laughs]

Okay. Itís in the guest room.

Cassie

How dare you laugh! Didnít I teach you not to laugh at your mother?

Robin

This would be easier for me if I could call you Cassie, instead of Mom.

Cassie

Iíll always be your mother. I want you to remember that. So far as you are concerned, my name is Mom, and will always be Mom.

Robin

Okay, Mom.

Cassie

Why is your television in the guest room instead of in the living room where it belongs?

Robin

I get a better rating from the B&B board if the television is in the guest room. Which reminds me ó the guests are coming early tonight, so theyíll be having dinner with us. Please be nice to them.

Cassie

You care more about what the B&B board thinks, than what I think! Iíll tell your customers what a bad mother you are.

Robin

Mom! You know I love you.

Cassie

Then bring the television to the living room so we can watch it properly.

Robin

I donít want to watch the television. I want to read this book about starting a greenhouse.

Cassie

We never do anything together. I thought you were into this mother / daughter bonding thatís so popular in the womenís magazines.

[Henry and Birdie enter, tired, yelling at each other]

Birdie

You should have been fixing our car instead of the Watsonsí.

Henry

I got paid for fixing the Watsonsí.

Birdie

Now we have to eat Momís health-nut cooking for dinner. And make nice with her guests!

Henry

How was I supposed to know our car would break down?

Birdie

Youíre the mechanic!

Henry

Maybe we could borrow your motherís, and still...

Birdie

Her car needs a new battery. Remember? Weíre stuck here!

 

 

[Birdie picks up her quilt, sits in her chair and

begins quilting again.][Robin scans bookshelf.]

Henry

Iíll weld the radiator back together tomorrow. Then we can go out to eat.

Cassie

Oh goody! Youíre back! Now all four of us can bond together.

Birdie

You mean youíre staying? Iím stuck with you?

[Robin finds the book sheís been looking

for, and takes it from the shelf.

Begins walking to back of stage]

Cassie

Henry, would you carry the television out from the guest room so we can all watch my soap in the livingroom?

[Henry exits to rear of house]

Robin

You can watch if you want to. Iíd rather go read my book.

Cassie

How are you ever going to get close to your daughter if you donít do things with her? (pause)

[to Birdie]

Stay and watch the soaps with us.

Birdie

Soaps? Donít you just love Crazy In Love? I canít wait to see if Michelleís illegitimate baby survives the car crash!

[Henry returns with the television set.]

 

Cassie

Put it there.

[indicating the mail-covered table]

[Henry does so, knocking mail to the floor.

Robin dives for it and clutches it to her

chest as she walks toward the back exit.]

[to Birdie]

Oh, the baby will survive. Iíve been praying for it. Iím just worried that Michelle wonít trust Hortense again.

[she notices Robin]

Where do you think youíre going?

Robin

To the kitchen.

Cassie

Running away again. Thatís been your pattern since you were a child.

Robin

And itís saved my life more than once.

Birdie

Come on, Mom. Watch the soaps. It wonít kill you just once.

[She turns on the television. It buzzes.]

Cassie

Whatís wrong with the reception? Didnít you pay your cable bill?

Robin

[turns off television]

Iíve got a roof antenna. I donít need cable.

Cassie

Then why doesnít your television work?

Henry

The television needs to be attached to the roof antenna, and the attachment is in the bedroom.

[He indicates the room where he got the television.]

Back there.

Birdie

So, bring the attachment out here.

Robin

He canít, honey. I had the attachment put into the wall when I remodeled.

[Henry exits]

Cassie

Why didnít you say so in the first place?

Robin

I told you to go to the guest room.

Cassie

I brought you up with a television. I made sure you watched all the important things for children like the Mickey Mouse Club and Engineer Bill. How could you turn against television?

Robin

I just donít like the stuff, Mom. Iíd rather read.

Birdie

And she tried to make me read instead of watching television. Can you imagine? If it were up to her, Iíd never have discovered the soaps!

Cassie

Letís go in the back room and watch this thing.

[indicates television]

Henry would you be a dear?

[looks around]

[shouts]

Henry! (Pause) Henry!

Robin

[peers out window]

I can see him outside. Heís tinkering with the car.

Birdie

Which car?

Cassie

Never mind. We can hear it on the radio soap station.

[Cassie gets up, crosses room, turns on radio]

 

Birdie

I guess I can just picture Jasonís darling blue eyes. Arenít they the deepest turquoise?

Cassie

[sitting down again]

Dear, your set needs adjusting ó theyíre violet.

[Radio blares: The President has been shot!]

Birdie

Youíve got the wrong channel.

[Radio: The ambulance is arriving.]

Cassie

Rats! They always do that ó whenever thereís a big news story, they cancel the soaps.

[She gets up and turns off the radio]

Birdie

That doesnít make sense. What can I do about the president? So heís been shot. Itís not as if I drove the ambulance and needed to know where to go to pick him up.

Cassie

I wonder if driving an ambulance is really exciting or if it gets boring like any other job.

 

Birdie

[shouts]

Iím never bored with my quilt making. (Pause) Henry! (Pause) Weíve got to get him in here to move the television.

Cassie

Iím sure the television is covering the shooting, too. They have a license from the government, just like the radio stations.

Birdie

Iíll write my congressman. This isnít fair.

Cassie

Your congressman wonít vote for it. He wants to be on the news if he gets shot.

Birdie

Why canít people just be peaceful and not kill each other and go to war?

Robin

 

We used to have a saying in the 70's during the womenís movement: How can we have world peace when we donít even have peace at the dinner table?

 

Birdie

Is that why you always try to keep me from criticizing you at the dinner table? I think itís silly. I should be able to say what I think and not have to worry about world violence.

Cassie

Sounds overly simplistic to me ó politics is just a bunch of slogans.

Robin

 

I donít know ó sometimes I get the feeling you two would throw nuclear bombs at each other if you had them.

Birdie

 

Weíre not that bad. Donít start on your family of man theories. Iím just complaining that I canít watch my favorite show.

Robin

Think of it this way ó politics is another soap opera.

Cassie

Then they need a new script writer. I get to see my soap opera characters in bed with each other. Iím there when they get hurt in a car crash. I see their babies born. I cried more when Michelleís illegitimate baby was born than I did when you were born.

Birdie

You just knew she loved that baby more than anything in the whole world! The love in her big hazel eyes was so beautiful. The camera did a close-up. You never see that with politics!

[Birdie picks up her quilting again.]

Cassie

Michelleís eyes arenít hazel! Theyíre deep brown, like a dogís.

Robin

You cried more at a fictional birth than you did at mine! And you always claim youíre a better mother than I am. I cried when Birdie was born.

Cassie

After all that screaming you did when the Lamaze didnít work, who could tell?

 

[Birdie looks amazed during the following conversation.]

 

Birdie

You suffered when I was born ... thatís so sweet. The best moms on soap operas suffer during childbirth. Iím so glad you did something normal!

Cassie

[to Robin]

You suffered? This is the first I heard of it? You screamed, sure. But you were up the next day riding your infernal bicycle.

[to Birdie]

Believe me ó your mom never did anything normal. She didnít even teethe until 10 months. And then when you were born, she insisted on nursing you even after you got teeth.

Birdie

[to Robin]

You nursed me! Thatís charming! I love it when they do a close-up of a nursing mom cuddling her baby. Michelleís pink fingernail polish looks so perfect against that pale yellow baby blanket.

Cassie

That baby blanket is green. And believe me your mother didnít wrap you in a baby blanket to nurse you. She picked you up, lifted her t-shirt and fed you without any effort at looking perfect!

Birdie

But she nursed me from her own body. Thatís love.

Cassie

Your mom was too lazy to sterilize bottles. She just drank her herbal lactating tea, carried you around a front pack or back pack, and put you on to suck like a little leech whenever you cried. If you want my opinion, she looked like a cow.

Robin

Did you watch the nature channel? Those nursing calves were adorable! And the nursing piglets were even cuter!

Birdie

[still quilting]

Mom! Youíre gross! Canít you even let me give you a compliment that you did something right without bringing up disgusting nature shows?

Cassie

Havenít you learned by now? Your mother never does anything right. Look at her. Sheís actually happy the president got shot so she doesnít have to watch the soaps with us!

Robin

[genuinely upset]

Why do you both hate me?

[off stage ó metal clangs]

[Henry screams]

 

Robin

Thatís Henry!

[Robin rushes out side door.

Birdie follows.

Cassie stares at them and sits down.]

[Buffy curls up beside Cassie.]

Cassie

[Throws bunny. Buffy doesnít move.]

[to Buffy]

Go! Chase the bunny. How dumb are you?

[Buffy doesnít move.]

Come on, silly girl! Chase the bunny!

[Buffy doesnít move.]

Are you worried about Henry? (pause) Do you want me to pet you?

[Buffy doesnít move.]

Iím worried about him too.

[Cassie begins petting Buffy.]

I donít want to go out there and get in the way. I hate feeling useless. (pause) Do you feel useless a lot? (pause) Such nice soft hair. (pause) Are you sure you donít want to chase the bunny?

[Door opens. Robin and Birdie lug Henry into the living room,

Robin has most of the weight.]

[Henryís shirt is bloody on sides and back.]

Robin

Mom, could you lift Buffy off the couch so we can set him down?

[Cassie leans forward, as if trying to stand.]

Birdie

Hurry up, Grams! Heís heavy!

[Cassie stands, and slowly lifts Buffy.]

Cassie

[stares disgustedly at her hands]

This dog needs a bath.

[Robin and Birdie carry Henry to the couch

and dump him clumsily, so he bounces.]

[Henry cries in pain.]

Robin

[begins a healing hands routine on Henry.]

Call 911. The car hood fell on his back.

Cassie

Who are you talking to?

Robin

Birdie. Sheís closest to the phone.

 

 

 

Birdie

[picking up phone.]

Why didnít you say so? You know my name.

Cassie

She should tend to Henry. Heís her husband.

Robin

Then you do it.

[Cassie takes phone from Birdie

Birdie goes to Henry and strokes his forehead.]

Cassie

[dials phone]

Itís a busy signal.

Robin

So hang up and dial again. Donít you know what to do when you get a busy signal?

Cassie

[dials again]

The car fell on Henry and broke his back. (Pause) Whatís your address here?

 

 

Birdie

The operator doesnít know Henry, and the hood fell on him ó not the whole car.

Cassie

 

Just tell me where we are.

Robin

334 Queens Street. Goodness! How do you find this place if you donít know the address?

Cassie

I just look for the house with the junked cars out front, then I pull the cord and get off the bus.

[into phone]

334 Queens Street.

Birdie

Hurry. Heís really bleeding!

 

Robin

Would you like me to bring you some ice?

Henry

[groaning]

Not ice!

Robin

[to Cassie]

3rd is a one-way street. Be sure to tell the driver.

Cassie

 

Itís a one-way street, going south.

Birdie

Rip up a sheet so I can tie him to stop the bleeding.

 

Robin

Just hold your hand over the wound. And think healing thoughts.

[Birdie looks at her hands with distaste. Then does as directed.]

 

Birdie

I do wish theyíd hurry. Why arenít they here yet?

 

Cassie

[still on phone]

The schools are graduating kids who canít even read. Why should they know street maps?

Robin

So they can make money from the insurance company when they send an ambulance.

Cassie

Whatís the nearest cross street?

Birdie

[trying to get between Robin and Henry]

Theyíre still asking directions? Heís bleeding!

Robin

[doing healing hands.]

[to Cassie]

South Street

[to Birdie]

 

Then let me do my healing hands stuff.

[Birdie scowls at her mother, but does not protest.]

 

Cassie

Theyíre coming.

Robin

Tell them to hurry. Heís bleeding.

 

Cassie

Theyíve hung up.

[picks up Buffy like a baby.]

Robin

Of course theyíll hurry. Thatís what ambulances do.

Birdie

Why are you wasting your time with that healing hands stuff? You know the Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking said it doesnít work.

Robin

Iím not hurting him.

(pause)

Get him a glass of water.

Birdie

Why?

Cassie

Didnít you take first aid, either? Heís bleeding. Heís losing fluid. You need to give him more fluids.

Birdie

You do it. Iím putting pressure on his wound. And get him a sports drink. Thatís what they said in first aid.

Robin

I donít have any sports drinks. Iíll get him some water and put salt and sugar in it.

[goes to kitchen. We hear water running]

Cassie

When do you think the ambulance will get here?

Robin

[from kitchen]

You know as much as I do.

(pause)

Go outside and look for the ambulance. You can wave them down.

Cassie

Youíre not getting rid of me that easily. Weíll all hear the ambulance when it comes.

[Robin returns with a glass of water.]

Robin

[starts to lift Henryís head.]

Iíll hold his head. You pour the water gently past his lips.

[Henry moans.]

[Robin puts his head down.]

Cassie

You hurt him.

Robin

I know. Thatís why I put his head down. Now Iím going to the kitchen to get him a bendy straw.

[Robin exits to kitchen]

Birdie

You have bendy straws and you donít have sports drinks?

Cassie

When do you think the ambulance will get here?

Birdie

I donít know any more than you do.

[we hear kitchen drawers opening and slamming.]

Cassie

You call them again. Maybe that will hurry them up.

Birdie

Iím putting pressure on his wound. You call.

 

Cassie

Say please!

Birdie

My husband is lying here dying. I donít have to say please.

Cassie

I always made your mother say please. Even when she was hungry.

Birdie

Just dial the phone.

Cassie

Didnít your mother teach you manners?

Birdie

She was mean about it.

[Robin returns with the bendy straw.]

[She puts it in the glass and places it into Henryís mouth.]

 

 

Robin

Heís not sucking.

Robin

Then use the straw like a dropper. Put the straw into the water, cover the top with your finger, lift the straw out of the water and put the bottom end into Henryís mouth. Then uncover the top and the water will flow into his mouth.

Cassie

You make him sound like a science experiment.

Robin

You have a better idea?

Cassie

When will that ambulance get here? (pause) This dog is getting heavy.

 

 

Robin

Put her down.

Cassie

How come nobody in this house ever says please?

[Cassie puts Buffy down.

Buffy gets her bunny and sits beside Henry.

She offers her bunny to Henryís limp hand.]

[sounds of ambulance]

Birdie

Get that dumb dog away from him. (Pause.) The ambulance is coming.

[to Henry]

Youíll be better soon.

[Ambulance sounds, then silence.]

[Birdie is feeding dropperfuls of water to Henry.]

Birdie

Heís like a little bird. (Pause) It stopped.

[knock at the door.]

[Cassie goes to door.]

 

Ambulance Driver Voice

Are you the party that called for an ambulance?

Cassie

My grand daughter did. Her husband is hurt.

Ambulance Driver Voice

Do you have ambulance insurance?

Cassie

I have medicare. What does that have to do with Henry?

Robin

Mom. Let him in.

Ambulance Driver Voice

I canít come in if you donít have a way to pay me.

Cassie

How much is it?

Ambulance Driver Voice

Which hospital do you want to go to?

Cassie

Jefferson

Ambulance Driver Voice

Thatís $400.

Cassie

Will you take a check?

Ambulance Driver Voice

Cash only.

Cassie

Only drug dealers have that kind of cash. (pause) Are any of the other hospitals cheaper to get to?

Ambulance Driver Voice

Jeff is the closest. Are you sure you donít have ambulance insurance?

Cassie

Birdie, do you have ambulance insurance?

Birdie

Gram, weíre unemployed. We donít have any insurance.

Ambulance Driver Voice

Are you on welfare?

Cassie

Of course not! We have our pride!

Ambulance Driver Voice

If you canít pay me, I canít take him.

Cassie

Heís hurt.

Ambulance Driver Voice

Then drive him to the hospital yourself.

Cassie

I could have done that in the time it took you to get here.

Ambulance Driver Voice

Just give me $25 and Iíll go away.

[Robin comes up behind Cassie.]

Robin

Sue me.

[Robin slams door.]

Birdie

[still using straw to feed Henry, who is still moaning]

Now how do we get him to the hospital? None of our cars work.

Robin

Iíll call a cab.

Henry

[in pain, shouting]

No! I canít move. Donít put me in a cab!

Birdie

Get a doctor who does house calls.

Robin

On what planet?

Cassie

They do house calls on Crazy in Love.

Robin

[goes to phone, picks up yellow pages

throws them at Cassie.]

Start calling.

 

Cassie

[throws book back at Robin]

Donít talk to me like that! Where are your manners?

[Henry moans]

 

Birdie

She never had any. I remember when I was eight years old. She held me between her legs and ordered me to say "Please let me go."

Robin

[brings yellow pages to Cassie]

Do you remember why I did that?

[Cassie opens book, dials.]

Birdie

Because youíre mean and power mad, and wouldnít give me the banana.

Robin

I was trying to teach you to say please. I told you I would give you what you need and if you wanted anything else, like that banana, you had to say please.

Birdie

Can we do this some other time? Henry needs to go to the hospital.

Robin

Your grandmother is on the phone right now, looking for a doctor, like you asked. Anyway, I was in the kitchen making dinner. You came in and said, "I want a banana." I said, "If you want a banana, you have to say, ĎPlease, may I have a banana.í"

[Cassie shushes Robin.]

Cassie

[into phone]

Send a doctor over, right away.

Robin

You climbed up on the countertop and walked toward the fridge to grab a banana off the top. I grabbed you down, and said, "If you want a banana, you have to say, ĎPlease may I have a banana?í" (pause) You said, "I donít want a banana. Let me go."

Birdie

[still giving Henry droppers of water]

And you didnít let me go.

Robin

So, I said, "If you want me to let you go, you have to say, ĎPlease let me go.í"

Birdie

Thatís insane. I canít believe...

[Cassie shushes Birdie]

Cassie

Thatís right. Heís hurt. The ambulance wouldnít take him because he doesnít have ambulance insurance. So we need a doctor who does housecalls and takes checks.

Birdie

Thatís no way to discipline an 8-year-old! Thatís child abuse!

Robin

It would have been child abuse to let you escape without saying please.

Birdie

Now you see what she is ó a power mad lunatic! (pause) When is the doctor coming?

Cassie

When is one of you going to say please?

[Birdie makes a face and turns away from Cassie]

 

Robin

All right. Mother, would you please tell us when a doctor is coming over here to look at Henry?

 

 

Cassie

Thatís more like it. But the doctor I called wouldnít come.

[Henry moans]

Robin

You didnít say please!

Cassie

How about The Pain Center?

Birdie

Just start calling!

Cassie

Thatís no way to talk to me.

[Henry moans]

Birdie

Please just start calling!

Cassie

Thatís better.

[she dials]

Do you make house calls?

[Henry moans.]

Henry

Get a back specialist!

Cassie

What do you mean which doctor do I want? Which doctors do you have?

Henry

Get a back specialist!

 

Cassie

Rosen is a nice name. I like roses.

Henry

Is he a back specialist?

Cassie

Why did you give me his name if heís out of town? I want a back specialist who makes house calls who is in town today.

[Cassie hangs up phone.]

The womanís an idiot!

Robin

Okay, Mom. Give Birdie a break watering Henry. Iíll try the phone.

Henry

I donít want water. Iím not a potted plant.

Robin

You need water.

[Henry spits water at her.]

Cassie

You canít have him lying here bleeding on your couch when your guests come! And where will you sleep tonight? This is your bed!

Robin

[dialing phone.]

Of course I can have him here ó heís family.

[into phone]

My son-in-law hurt his back. Can you send over a doctor?

(pause)

I already called an ambulance. They wouldnít take him because he doesnít have ambulance insurance.

(pause)

No he doesnít have health insurance, either. Look ó Iíll give you a check.

(pause)

Nobody keeps that kind of cash around.

I donít care what the undertaker does. Iím not looking for an undertaker ó Iím looking for a doctor!

Birdie

Mom! Give me the phone! You canít do anything right!

[Birdie takes phone from Robin.]

Look, my husband is dying and the ambulance wonít take him. You have to come!

(pause)

Youíre doctors! You have to! You took an oath ó I saw it on Crazy in Love!

(pause)

No I didnít see todayís episode. The president got shot.

(pause)

Yes, Iím worried about Michelleís baby, too.

[Robin grabs phone back.]

Robin

Forget the soap opera. Are you sending a doctor or do I call somebody else?

[Robin hangs up phone.]

[Cassie dips a handkerchief into the glass of water

and begins sponging Henryís forehead.]

Mom, does Henry have a fever?

Cassie

No, but this is what they do for sick people on Crazy in Love.

[Robin reaches for cloth]

Henry

Itís okay. It keeps her busy.

Cassie

I donít need to be kept busy.

Robin

Fine. Then you make the phone calls. Somebody has to get this house ready for tonightís guests.

Birdie

Canít you cancel them? Youíve got an emergency.

[Cassie dials phone]

[Henry moans]

Robin

All the more reason weíll need the money.

Cassie

They want to know if he can wiggle his toes.

Birdie

[to Henry]

Can you wiggle your cute furry toes?

Henry

[still moaning]

Not with shoes on.

Cassie

[quickly]

Take his shoes off.

[Birdie begins to remove shoe.]

 

Henry

Donít tug!

Robin

He can feel it. Thatís good.

[the shoe is now off.]

Cassie

Weíre all watching. Wiggle your toes.

[Henry wiggles his toes.]

Yes. Heís wiggling them. (pause) Both feet?

[Robin removes the other shoe.]

Hold on. Sheís taking the other shoe off.

[Henry wiggles those toes, too.]

Yes. He can wiggle that foot, too. (pause) They say his spinal cord is intact.

Birdie

Now will they come and take him to the hospital?

Cassie

Now will you come and take him to the hospital? (pause) What do you mean, NO? (pause)

Heís bleeding. Heís in pain. Canít you x-ray him or something? At least get him out of here before the dinner guests come. (pause) They hung up.

Birdie

Then call somebody else.

Cassie

They said that x-rays donít fix anything and moving him might hurt him. Heís probably got a cracked rib or even a cracked bone in his spine, but thereís nothing they can do about that.

Birdie

Doctors always fix things on Crazy in Love. Call again, and this time, get a real doctor.

Robin

That was a real doctor. Theyíd be here if they thought they could help. They donít want to get sued.

Birdie

Theyíre not coming because they donít want to get sued?

Henry

I need to go to the bathroom.

Cassie

Youíre not supposed to move.

Henry

Then call the doctor back and ask him how Iím supposed to empty my bladder.

Cassie

It was a woman doctor.

Henry

Fine. Call her back and ask her how Iím supposed to empty my bladder.

Robin

Iíve got a waterproof pad that I put on the guest beds in case theyíre incontinent. Iíll get it so you can put it under Henry.

[Robin leaves to get the pad]

Birdie

Henry is not incontinent. Thatís why heís asking to go to the bathroom.

Cassie

The pad is a good idea. Weíll barely have to lift him to get it in place.

[Robin returns with the pad]

Birdie

You two are toxic! Thatís the word! Toxic parents. They talk about parents like you two on talk shows. You just want to embarrass Henry! And in front of your houseguests, too!

Robin

[holding out pad]

Okay, honey. What do you want to do?

 

Henry

I want to piss.

Birdie

Get him to a hospital!

 

 

Henry

I need to piss now. Pad or no pad. Are you harpies going to figure out what to do, or do I ruin your couch?

Cassie

Nothing wrong with his voice.

[Henry moans]

Birdie

Get back on the phone and call another doctor.

Cassie

Since you donít think I do anything right ó you do it.

[Birdie goes to phone.]

[Robin goes to Henry and puts pad under him]

Birdie

Keep your hands off my husband.

Robin

Iím not about to jump his bones. Especially when they might be broken.

Cassie

The doc on the phone said to pat down his chest and feel for anything broken and sticking out.

Birdie

Nobody pats down his chest but me.

Cassie

The doc wants to know if heís still bleeding.

Birdie

 

Yes, heís still bleeding. Heís ruined this couch.

Cassie

 

The doc says to pour cayenne into his wounds.

Robin

 

Iíll get some.

[she goes to the back stage exit.

We hear more kitchen drawer sounds.]

 

Birdie

 

Do you have a real doctor on that phone, or is that Mom on the other end?

Cassie

 

Just do it. They always do what the doctor says on Crazy in Love.

Henry

 

Itíll burn me.

Cassie

 

The doc wants to know if the bleeding has stopped yet.

Henry

 

Of course not. Does the doc think that being on the phone will stop the bleeding?

Cassie

 

The doc thinks the cayenne will stop the bleeding.

[Robin enters room with a jar of red cayenne.]

 

Robin

Whereís the worst bleeding?

[unscrews jar lid.]

[Henry points to his side.]

[Robin lifts up his shirt, Henry moans,

Robin pours on cayenne and pats it in.]

Birdie

 

(gives short scream) Henry, you didnít scream.

Henry

 

It didnít hurt.

Cassie

 

I can see from here, the bleeding has stopped. (pause) Okay, doc. Now that heís not bleeding to death, will you come over? We promise not to sue you.

Henry

 

If Iím not bleeding, and they canít fix my cracked bones, what do I need them for?

Birdie

 

You always need a doctor if youíre hurt.

Cassie

 

Itís what they always do on Crazy in Love. (pause) No, Doctor, we didnít see todayís episode. The president got shot. (pause) He hung up.

[Robin continues to put cayenne on Henry]

 

Birdie

What are you going to do? It looks like youíre getting him ready to put in the oven.

Henry

 

Will somebody help me roll onto my stomach? I need to piss.

[Robin helps Henry roll over]

 

Birdie

 

Careful where you touch him. Heís mine!

 

Henry

 

Thatís better.

[Robin shakes cayenne on Henryís back.]

 

Henry (continuing)

 

Canít you wait until Iím done?

Birdie

 

You didnít even unzip him first.

Robin

 

You told me to be careful where I touch him. I was only thinking of you.

Henry

 

You mean I have to lie in it? Itís getting cold.

Cassie

 

First it is warm. Then it is cold.

Robin

 

I didnít know you read Joyce.

[Buffy brings the bunny to Robin who is still doing healing hands.]

 

Birdie

 

Donít tell me you read too! Is that where mom got it? From you?

[Robin throws the bunny.

Buffy chases it and brings it to Cassie.]

Henry

 

What is it with you women? You have to have someone to blame. You have to have someone in charge.

 

Birdie

 

Honey, thatís just the way it is. Thereís nothing wrong with it.

[Robin takes cayenne back to kitchen]

Henry

 

Iíll say thereís something wrong with it. Three generations of women who hate each other. And youíre supposed to be taking care of me.

Birdie

 

Youíre just saying that because youíre in pain. We all love you.

[Robin returns from kitchen]

Henry

 

Thatís because you donít know me. You all remember every little hurt youíve given each other and you never forgive. You just trot out your hurts to hurt each other with whenever youíre upset. Youíll hate me when you know me better.

Birdie

 

You hear that, Mom? Quit picking on me and Grams while Henry is sick.

[Robin looks pointedly out the window at the front of the house.]

 

Henry

 

Birdie, thatís not what I meant.

Cassie

 

We need a family crisis, like they have on Crazy in Love. Whenever everybody is angry with everybody else, somebody has major surgery, or a baby, or their factory burns down. Then everybody can pull together and forget their hatreds for a while.

Robin

(still looking out window)

Isnít that what we have here?

Henry

 

I donít mean something temporary like a crisis. Crises always end and the people on those shows go back to hating each other. I want you three to stop hating each other.

Birdie

 

Like what? Should I clap my hands and say, "I believe in fairies?" And then the good fairies will give me amnesia for all the mean things my mom and the cassowary have done to me?

 

Henry

 

What did they do? They disciplined you. They forgot about you sometimes. They had lives of their own, and you werenít always center stage. They couldnít read your mind. They disappointed you. They didnít buy you everything you wanted...

Birdie

 

Thatís not half of it. (pause) Mom, why do you keep looking out the window? Itís okay to look at Henry.

Robin

Some young kids are hanging around your car.

Birdie

It doesnít go. They canít steal it. Pay attention to Henry and me.

Henry

But itís all petty stuff like that.

Birdie

 

How can you call my life petty? (Pause) Youíre in pain. You canít help saying these things.

Robin

 

Right now Iíve got to get ready for tonightís guests. Birdie, would you please help me carry the television back to the guest room?

Birdie

 

Somebody has to nurse Henry.

 

Henry

 

Iíll be alright for a few minutes. Buffy will take care of me.

Cassie

 

What about me? I can nurse you.

Henry

 

Donít start another argument. Fine. Cassie, please pass me that glass of water.

[Cassie brings the water from the table to Henry.]

[Buffy comes to sit beside Henry. She has the bunny in her jaws.]

[Robin and Birdie struggle to carry the television to the bedroom.]

Cassie

 

You didnít mean that about me, hating my daughter and grand daughter? Did you?

Henry

 

Yes, I did. Youíve told Robin that youíre a better mother than she is, and youíve told my wife that sheís lazy.

Cassie

 

Both those things are true. How is it hateful to tell the truth?

Henry

 

I love my wife. I think her quilts show real talent, and she works hard on them. I donít call that lazy. I guess itís a matter of opinion, but when your opinion is an insult, it shows that you hate. If you loved her, like I do, youíd appreciate her and her quilts.

Cassie

 

I wouldnít know a good quilt from a bad one.

Henry

 

Then how can you judge my wife?

Cassie

 

At least I can call my own daughter a bad mother.

Henry

 

Again, your opinion shows that you hate.

Cassie

 

But she canít even raise her daughter to grow up and move out. Thatís a motherís job.

[Robin and Birdie re-enter the room without

the television. Birdie is rubbing her hands together.]

 

Henry

 

How can you know that? Maybe letting her daughter stay home and make great quilts is a good thing.

Birdie

Mom, would you quit looking out the window!

Robin

 

Those kids are lifting the hood of your car. Iím going out to shoo them away.

Birdie

 

Oh, Mom!

[Robin exits.

Birdie watches her go.]

Robin

[off stage]

Hi guys! Whatís happening with the car?

[We hear a clang and Robin screams.]

 

Cassie

 

What now?

Birdie

 

Those kids just slammed the hood down on Momís head.

Henry

 

Go get her!

Cassie

 

Donít you say please either?

Birdie

 

Come on Grams. Letís get her.

Cassie

 

Shouldnít I call the doctor first?

Birdie

 

We donít know if she needs a doctor. Please help me get her!

Henry

 

Iíll watch Buffy.

[Buffy brings a bunny to Henry.]

[Birdie and Cassie exit.]

Henry

 

Hullo, Buff. Robin says youíre her guru. What do you make of all this? (Pause) You want me to take your bunny? I canít take your bunny. It hurts to move. You want me to pet your head? Okay, Iíll pet your head. You have such nice soft soothing fur. Youíre right, Buff. Petting you is good for me. I see why Robin puts you in charge.

[Birdie and Cassie help Robin walk into the living room

and steer her to a chair where they help her sit.]

 

Birdie

 

Mom, are you hurt? Do we need to call a doctor?

[Buffy goes to Robin, bringing the bunny.]

[Robin does not respond to Buffy or the question.]

 

Cassie

(yelling angrily)

Have you gone deaf?

Robin

(puzzled)

Has who gone deaf? And why are you yelling? Deaf people canít hear you when you yell.

Cassie

 

At least she hasnít gone deaf.

Robin

 

Who are you talking about?

Birdie

 

Sheís talking about you. Sheís worried about you.

Robin

 

Yelling is an odd way to show it. Who are you people and why am I in your house?

Henry

 

You were trying to stop some kids from stealing parts out of my car. They smashed the hood down on your head. Are you hurt? Do you need a doctor?

[Robin looks at Henry, confused.]

 

Cassie

(brightly)

 

I know. Sheís got amnesia. They called a doctor for that on Crazy in Love and the doctor couldnít do anything. (To Henry) Thatís Melissa, the one who runs the coffee shop. Even her favorite foods changed when she got bumped on her head, and she didnít remember her own daughter. And it was so funny to watch her eat that banana with everybody gasping, expecting her to spit it out...

 

Birdie

It was so sweet when her little daughter hugged her and promised to help her remember.

 

Henry

 

So, be a sweet daughter, and help out your mom. Her headís bleeding. Shake some cayenne on it.

Robin

 

Who are you people? Are you going to cook me?

Birdie

 

You shook cayenne on Henry when he was bleeding. Tell me, where do you keep the cayenne?

Cassie

 

How would she know? (Pause) Sheís got amnesia. Goodness, itís got to be in the kitchen.

[Cassie goes to kitchen, we hear drawer slamming sounds.]

[Buffy continues to offer bunny to Robin.]

 

Birdie

 

Thatís your dog, Buffy. Do you remember your dog? She wants to play with you.

[drawers continue to open and close.]

 

Robin

 

My head hurts. Iím bleeding. I donít know any of you. And I donít know this dog.

Henry

 

Then play with the dog. All the guests here play with Buffy.

 

 

Robin

(leaning down taking bunny)

She is a cute dog. Is she smart?

[puts hand to head, in pain. Sits up again, holding bunny]

 

Birdie

 

Sheís the dumbest dog in the galaxy.

Robin

 

But you love her just the same.

[Cassie returns from kitchen with cayenne.]

Henry

Thatís what you always say about Buffy. What else do you remember?

Robin

 

I donít remember saying that before.

[Robin puts the bunny behind her back.]

 

Birdie

Sheíll never find it there.

[Cassie sprinkles cayenne on Robinís head. Robin sneezes.]

Robin

 

Why not? She saw me put it there. What is your name, dear?

[Cassie continues to sprinkle.]

[Robin sneezes again.]

And stop that! Sneezing makes it hurt worse.

[Buffy looks up at Robin and waggles her tail.]

 

Cassie

 

It really does stop the bleeding. I wonder if they shook cayenne on the President when they got him to the hospital.

Robin

 

Why is the president in the hospital?

Birdie

Somebody shot him during our soap opera.

Robin

 

Is this the real president or the soap opera president?

Birdie

 

You really donít know anything do you? How are you going to prepare for tonightís guests?

Henry

Robinís hurt. You two are going to have to prepare for tonightís guests. Shouldnít we call 911 to report the attackers?

Cassie

 

It didnít work last time. And theyíre long gone now.

Robin

 

I should leave. You wonít want me around when you have guests.

 

Birdie

(angrily)

You canít leave. Theyíre your guests. You run a Bed and Breakfast. Thatís how you pay for this house. Who are the guests? How many are there?

 

Henry

 

Yelling wonít bring back her memory. How did Melissa get her memory back on Crazy in Love?

Cassie

 

She hasnít yet, but she only had the accident a month ago. Her daughter is helping her remember.

Henry

 

Does her daughter yell at her?

 

 

Birdie

 

Of course not. Her daughter loves her and is such a sweet girl! And Melissa has a business to run. She could lose the coffee shop if nobody helped her. Even her old boyfriend is pitching in.

[Robin takes bunny out from behind her back

wiggles it in front of Buffy and slowly puts the

bunny back behind her.]

 

Robin

 

Reality check! You folks are expecting guests. Youíve got a hurt bloody man on the couch and a hurt bloody woman in the chair. You have nothing to serve them and youíre arguing about a soap opera?

[Buffy grabs the bunny from behind Robin.]

See! She did find the bunny! Sheís not dumb!

[Robin leans down to rub Buffyís head,

then grabs her own, in pain.]

Ow!

Cassie

 

Thatís too much excitement for you. Just sit still. Weíll take care of everything.

[Robin puts the bunny behind her back again.]

 

Birdie

(loudly)

We will? And how are we going to do that? Can you cook?

[Buffy gets the bunny again and brings it to Birdie.]

 

Cassie

(loudly)

I raised your mother. Iím a better cook than your mother. Of course I can cook!

[Birdie takes the bunny and hides it behind her back.]

 

Henry

 

Thatís great but, please keep it down. Robin and I have headaches.

Birdie

 

Maybe we should call the Bed and Breakfast agency and tell them weíve had an accident and canít handle guests tonight.

Henry

 

We need the money. You canít do that. B&B is how Robin pays for the roof over our heads.

Robin

 

Whoís Robin?

[Buffy gets the bunny from behind Birdie.]

 

 

Birdie

(loudly)

Look! Buffy did it again! She found the bunny!

Robin

(weakly, holding head)

Please not so loud! And tell me, whoís Robin?

Cassie

 

Youíre Robin. I am your mother, Cassie. This is your daughter Birdie. And the bloody man on the couch is Birdieís husband Henry. He got hurt by the same car hood that bonked your head. Now, you rest, dear, and Iíll fix dinner. Do you remember how many guests weíre having?

[Buffy brings the bunny to Robin, who pets her gently.]

 

Birdie

 

Mom, is this some kind of joke? Are you pretending to have amnesia to get me to be nice to you?

Robin

 

Arenít you kind of old to live with your mother? (Pause, looking at Cassie) Or do I still live with my mother?

Cassie

 

I donít live here. I just came over to watch the soap opera, and then I stayed when you and Henry got hurt.

 

 

Robin

(to Birdie)

And why do you live here?

Henry

 

We donít have time for this. Cassie, if you can cook, youíd better get started.

Cassie

 

Okay, Iíll see whatís in the fridge.

[Buffy brings bunny to Cassie who doesnít take it.]

Not now, Buff. You take care of the sick people. And Birdie, you set the table.

[Buffy brings bunny to Henry.]

 

Birdie

(holding quilt)

Iíve got to finish my circle.

Henry

 

Honey, Cassie needs your help to get ready for the guests. The quilt can wait just this once.

[takes bunny and puts it under the couch.]

 

Cassie

(poking her

head in from kitchen)

Does this mean, she doesnít remember anything she doesnít like about me? She canít remind me how I used to make her wear lace and use an orange stick on her nails?

[Birdie opens drawer, gets napkins, begins setting table.]

 

Robin

 

I donít know what you folks are talking about. Henry, do they usually act like this, or are they stressed by the two of us sitting injured in their livingroom?

 

Henry

 

Thatís a tough one...

 

 

 

Birdie

(interrupting)

Where do you keep the salt? The salt-shaker is empty.

Henry

Go look in the kitchen. Robin doesnít remember.

Cassie

(with salt in doorway)

Hereís the salt. I canít find the pepper.

Birdie

 

Robin only uses cayenne. She says itís better for you. Weíve had that argument...

Henry

 

Robin doesnít remember any more. You can stop trying to have arguments now.

Birdie

 

I wasnít...

Cassie

 

It was just asking ... I didnít mean to start a row. Iíll use cayenne. Weíve got guests to feed. Iím a good cook. I can make this work.

[exits to kitchen]

 

Robin

(to Henry)

If this is my house, why do I have quilts on my walls instead of my beds?

[Petting Buffy]

[Birdie sets silverware on the table]

 

Henry

Birdie made them. Theyíre art. Weíre living here until her quilts make her famous and rich.

 

 

 

Cassie

(from the kitchen door)

You could kick her out and make her support herself, like a normal woman her age.

Robin

 

And then who would set my table while Iím recovering from a bump on the head?

 

Birdie

 

You know, Cassie. You could do with some amnesia too. Maybe thatís the key to world peace ó everybody forgets why they are mad at everybody else.

Robin

 

Makes sense to me. (To Buffy) What do you think Buff? You want to eat that yummy stuff Cassie is cooking in the kitchen?

[doorbell rings]

 

Henry

 

That must be the guests. Are we ready for them?

Cassie

 

Yes, we can do this.

Birdie

 

Just like Melissaís family on Crazy in Love.

[end]