Excerpt from my play The Crib

ERIN:  I feel terrible about the whole thing.  I can help out.  It won’t be much, but every little bit counts right?

ALLEN:  There’s no need…

AUDREY:  Of course, if Robin got a job, that would make things easier; I’m sure all that organic produce she insists on isn’t cheap.

HELEN:  Audrey, honestly.

ROBIN:  It’s not like I’m not looking for a job.  I just refuse to support a company that is contributing to the destruction of the planet.

LAUREN:  So we’re all paying the price for your principles.

ROBIN:  Wait, suddenly I’m the villain here? What kind of world is this when caring for the Earth makes you public enemy number one?

SARAH:  Oh, please spare us your self-righteousness; you’ve been living in a bubble for years, looking down your nose at our purchases, our vacations, our diet…

ROBIN:   I can’t help it if you feel guilty about the all-inclusive, rape the land resorts you swan off to.

SARAH:  Some of us need a vacation because we’re actually working.  And I’m not still living at home unlike some people.

ERIN:  Is that a shot at me?

SARAH:  It’s not a shot at anyone, I’m just saying I pay for my own vacations.

ERIN:  Yeah, but who do you think paid for your wedding?

AUDREY:  And your divorce.

SARAH:  That’s right.  Let’s all judge Sarah, step right up, the married couples, the widows, the pre-married daters.  After all, she committed the unpardonable sin of not sticking together with someone for decades when you’re miserable.

(Sarah, mortified at the silence, moves to the front door and opens it, but holds back upon hearing…)

EMILY:  I’M NOT GOING TO MEDICAL SCHOOL!

(stunned silence; Sarah moves back into the kitchen at this)

ALLEN:  What?

EMILY:  It’s not what I want to do.  I want to paint, and not just as a hobby, when I have twenty minutes when I’m not exhausted or on call or supposed to be boning up on the latest specialty treatment.  I want to be an artist every day; seeing, hearing, smelling as an artist, not a physician.  That’s my passion.  Art, not  medicine.  And I know that’s selfish, and it’s the last thing this family needs, but if you’re really here to celebrate my future instead of my future earnings, then raise your glasses now.

(general silence)

EMILY:  (raising her glass herself) To me.  (she drinks a generous gulp, then turns almost savagely on her Mom)  And don’t you dare tell me you support me whatever I decide and somehow we’ll manage.  I want to hear your disappointment now and not live with a muted version for twenty years.

ELIZABETH:  I don’t.

EMILY:  (taken off guard) Hmm?

ELIZABETH:  I don’t support your decision and won’t pretend to.  It’s your life, but I think you’re making a big mistake.

MILLIE:  Bravo Elizabeth.

ALLEN:  Mother (shakes head vigorously) Now, Emily, I think what your mother’s trying to say is…

ELIZABETH:  I’ve said exactly what I intended to say Allen.  We’ve seen tonight what comes of biting our tongues.  Resentment.  So if Emily has the courage to say how she feels, what kind of parent would I be to lie?

HELEN:  And how do you feel about it Allen?

ERIN:  Yeah, Dad, you don’t always have to smooth things over; we’re your family, tell us how you really feel.

ALLEN:  What is this, some kind of intervention?  Suddenly, it’s therapy night at the Redmonds.  Why didn’t we charge admission, we could have fit a few more bodies in here.  (if space is needed, Allen can shove the kitchen table upstage in anger at this point to make more room)

ROBIN:  Dad, it’s not a crime to tell people how you feel; there will be no judgement.

EMILY:  Mom was honest with me.  I respect that.  What’s the good in being angry but not telling anyone?

ALLEN: You’re asking me to sum up…  (struggling for the right words) Look, no one answers the question ‘what are you going to be when you grow up?’ with:  ‘an arbitrator.’  But I guess I found I was decent at helping people get along.  Outside the family anyways.  Find a way forward when things look bleakest.  Hour upon hour listening to the narrowest of views, searching for some kind of common ground.  That’s what I do.  (correcting himself)  I did.   So when my kids stayed at home, I told myself:  that’s a success.  They’re here because they enjoy living in this environment we’ve created.  And even though we had to scrimp a bit, hold off on vacations, buy second hand cars and nurse them, patch the house rather than renovate, get a bigger line of credit, I told myself over and over, there’s a bigger reward here.  And then I lost my job.  Just like that.  And tell me, who exactly is lining up to hire a sixty-three year old who needs full benefits and still has a flip phone?  But even when things looked bleakest, along came medical school and then the scholarship.  For once, I thought, just once, maybe those years of sacrifice were paying off.  Maybe, with the help of my daughter the doctor, I’d be able to knock off that line of credit so that I could take my wife on a real vacation, play a round of golf now and then, actually renovate this kitchen.  But apparently that’s not going to happen.  (with growing volume) No, we will have an artist, an environmentalist, a youth worker and a dreamer all telling us how they feel twenty-four hours a day.  Who has time for a job when you’re busy telling everyone how you feel?  We shall all happily disagree with each other while the house falls to pieces around us!

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