SCENE: Thanksgiving evening at the Valentine House. Dinner is over and the dishes have been washed. The family sits in the living room. Mark and Maggie’s daughters (Casey, age 21, and Mary Meg, age 20), are home from school and sit next to each other on the couch. David, Mark and Maggie’s 18 year old son, sits on the floor. Mark and Maggie sit in their respective chairs on opposite sides of the fireplace.
MARK: It is so nice to have the family all together again. We are going to have so much fun this weekend. (Mark pulls out a piece of paper from his pocket)
CASEY: (whispering to Mary Meg): Uh oh – please tell me that’s not an itinerary.
MARK: Here’s the itinerary. Tonight we finish off Thanksgiving Thursday with a movie. Tomorrow is Festivation Friday.
MARY MEG: (whispering to Casey): Good Lord - he’s giving names to the days.
MARK: We’ll get up early – go to breakfast. Then get the tree and decorate. After that is done, we’ll go ice skating at the rink, then back home for Family Game Night. Then for Celebration Saturday…
DAVID: (interrupting) Remember when we used to go with you to get the tree and you would make us tell mom that the tree only costs twenty-five dollars even though you really paid fifty?
MAGGIE: YOU PAID HOW MUCH FOR TREES?
DAVID: Oops – guess you never told her, huh?
MARK: (to David) Remember the part about that being our little secret? There was no statute of limitations on that.
DAVID: I just thought surely she would have figured that one out by now.
CASEY: Can we go back to Hesitation Friday for a minute?
MARK: It’s Festivation Friday.
CASEY: Whatever. You know that none of us can ice skate right?
MARK: What do you mean?
CASEY: None of us ever learned how to ice skate.
MARK: (to Maggie) How did we let that happen?
MAGGIE: Don’t look at me – you were in charge of teaching them sports.
MARK: Ice skating’s not really a sport.
MAGGIE: It’s in the Olympics.
MARK: Well, so is dressage, and that’s not a sport either.
MAGGIE: Do you even know what dressage is?
MARK: No, and that proves my point. If it were a sport, I would know about it.
MAGGIE: Well, it looks like you can take ice skating off the itinerary. Now you can use your free time to pick up the dry cleaning. You remembered to drop it off last week, right?
MARK: In a sense, yes.
MAGGIE: But in a more real sense…?
MAGGIE: So, in what sense did you drop it off?
MARK: In the sense that I dropped it in the back seat intending to drive to the cleaners before I got distracted.
MAGGIE: Why do you always say, “In a sense, yes”, when what you really mean is “no”?
MARK: It softens the blow. Anyway, I’ll take the dry cleaning in tomorrow. Tonight is movie night. Cell phones off everyone. Mary Meg, can you make some hot chocolate and popcorn?
MARY MEG: I’m not sure we have any.
MARK: I just bought some.
(Mary Meg looks sheepish)
MARK: What are you saying? You drank it all?
MARY MEG: Not exactly.
MARK: So then, is there any left?
MARY MEG: In a sense, yes.
MARK: And now a dark cloud rolls in from the west, covering our once joyous celebration with gloom and despair. We can’t have a family movie without
hot chocolate. You should go to the store and buy some more.
MARY MEG: But I’m in my sweats. You’re still dressed – you could go.
MARK: I am your father.
MARY MEG: So I’ve been told, but what’s that got to do with anything?
MARK: You should be nice to me – you know, respect your elders, honor thy father and mother – any of this ringing a bell?
MARY MEG: Vaguely, but I’m in my sweats.
MARK: And I carried you for nine months in my womb.
MARY MEG: I’m pretty sure that was mom.
MARK: Technically, yes, but I suffered through those nine months as well.
MAGGIE: (with a tone of mock solicitude) Please tell me more about your hardships during those nine months.
MARK: It was no picnic. In fact it may have been harder for me than it was for you because I didn’t have people pampering me all the time.
MAGGIE: Wow, are you on thin ice!
MARK: I don’t care. I’m saying what needs to be said - political correctness be damned. You guys are always playing the uterus card. (in a mocking, sarcastic voice) “Oh, childbirth is so painful and takes sooo long. Everybody wait on me hand and foot while I have this baby. And then when I’m done, I’ll talk about it for the rest of my life whenever I need attention.” And you’re always talking about how if men had to have the babies, our species would go extinct. Well if not for men, we’d all be speaking German right now. Men supply the muscle and the toil and sweat and the blood that make this country run. And when we have pain, we don’t complain about it – we soldier on.
MAGGIE: This from the man who was just whining about having no cocoa.
MARK: All I’m saying is that we do our share. At least you had lots of people attending to you when you gave birth. I sat through all those labors and didn’t get so much as a thank you.
MAGGIE: ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!! THANK YOU?!!
MARK: You’re welcome. OK, now that that’s settled, let’s choose a movie.
MAGGIE: You’re an idiot.
MARK: Is that the one with Will Ferrell?
DAVID: How about A Christmas Carol?
MARK: The Alister Sims one?
MARK: I veto that one.
MARK: It’s set in England.
DAVID: Well that’s where the story takes place.
MARK: Not the Bill Murray version. That takes place in New York. Let’s watch that one.
MAGGIE: What’s wrong with films set in England?
MARK: Unless it’s Monty Python, all English films are boring. They all get nominated for ‘Best Costume Design’, which is Oscar-speak for boring.
MAGGIE: What about Harry Potter? James Bond? Sherlock Holmes?
MARK: Boring. Boring. Boring.
MAGGIE: But this is a Christmas movie.
MARK: Yeah, but it’s not the good kind of Christmas. It’s the (switching to sarcastic voice and British accent) “Oh, let’s ‘ope Father Christmas brings us some plum pudding. We can eat it with our tea and crumpets while wearing our frilly dress shirts. It will all be ever so delightful” kind of Christmas movie. No English movies. Did you know that fourteen people actually died from watching “The English Patient”? It was interminable. And you said that you didn’t like it either.
MAGGIE: The problem wasn’t so much the length – it just didn’t move fast enough.
MARK: That’s what she said.
MAGGIE: Hey, there are children present! You can’t do “That’s what she said.”
MARK: They’re adults.
MAGGIE: What about David?
MARK: He’s 18.
MAGGIE: But kind of an immature 18.
MARK: I’m not saying he’s our sharpest kid, but he is legally, an adult.
DAVID: I’m right here, you know.
MAGGIE: I think it’s because we didn’t spend enough quality time with him when he was younger.
MARK: The head injuries couldn’t have helped either.
DAVID: Hello? Still right here.
MAGGIE: (to David) Did you tell Dad that you lost your wallet – again?
DAVID: It’ll turn up.
MARK: Did it have your ID in it?
MARK: So you lost your ID – you know what that means?
MARK: It means that you’re just Dav now.
(Mark looks expectantly at the others, waiting for laughs that don’t come)
Get it? David loses his I-D, so now he’s just Dav… It’s funny? …Anybody?... Tough room. Oh, we have to go out for breakfast early tomorrow because I have a doctor’s appointment at 9:30.
MAGGIE: A doctor’s appointment – what’s the matter? Does your uterus hurt?
MARK: Very funny. My heel is killing me – I think I have bone spurs.
MAGGIE: I’m surprised the doctor’s office would even be open, you know what with it being Infestation Friday and all.
MARK: It’s FESTIVATION Friday! C’mon, this isn’t rocket science people. Festivation Friday. It’s alliterative and intuitive.
MAGGIE: Anyway, why waste your time and money on a doctor’s visit? It’s plantar fasciitis. Stretch it and put some ice on it for ten minutes every day it’ll be fine.
MARK: Oh, that’s right. Silly me thinking about going to a medical professional, when we have someone with medical training right here in our house. Hey kids, did you know that mom was pre-med in college for a few weeks?
MAGGIE: Three years.
MARK: Oh, I didn’t realize it was that long. (Mark is about to continue when a thought occurs to him and he excitedly says) Ooh, that’s what she said!
MAGGIE: You can’t set up your own “That’s what she saids”. That’s cheating
MARK: Only if it’s premeditated. I just stumbled upon that one. Anyway, back to your medical qualifications – THREE YEARS pre-med - well that changes everything. Let me update my search criteria.
MAGGIE: What search criteria?
MARK: WebMD has a section where they tell you what level of medicine someone is qualified to practice based on where they went to school and what they studied. (Mark mumbles to himself as he types into the computer) … Let’s see… 3 years… pre-med… Notre Dame… that qualifies you to diagnose (says this part loudly) – Here it is - Jack Squat. Nada. Zilch. Bupkis.
MARK: Wait – there’s more. Did you know that you and Charlie Sheen have the exact same qualifications when it comes to medicine? Also, because you have those three years of classes that you took thirty-five years ago, all you need to do now is to take the MCATS, go to medical school for four years, do residencies for 5 more years, pass the boards and certification exams and you can practice medicine. You’re practically there!
MAGGIE: OK, throw your money away if you want to, but I’m telling you – it’s plantar fasciitis. Anyway, how bad can it be if you were going to go ice skating tomorrow?
MARK: We men soldier on through the pain, remember?
MAGGIE: Yeah, let’s finish THAT conversation.
MARK: No time. OK, A Christmas Carol it is. I guess I can handle the Brits one night a year. Someone hook up the VCR. It came unplugged.
(David crawls behind the TV to look at the cable connections)
DAVID: I can’t see.
MARK: Well, as luck would have it, I have a state of the art, indestructible, high-intensity, tactical flashlight.
MAGGIE: Your father paid twenty dollars for a flashlight.
MARK: A TACTICAL flashlight.
MARY MEG: What does that even mean?
MARK: It means it has tactics. It can perform tactical functions, be used tactically. If, for example, a burglar broke into our home with a regular flashlight, I would have a tactical advantage.
MARY MEG: What if he had a gun?
MARK: Then the advantage would shift to him. The homeowner-burglar interplay is like a game of chess.
CASEY: Don’t flashlights cost like two dollars?
MARK: That was in the old days. There have been significant technological advances in the area of hand-held illumination in recent years. Here, prepare to be amazed.
(Mark turns on flashlight)
CASEY: Wow, that IS pretty bright.
MARK: Worth every penny of the thirty-five dollars, no?
MAGGIE: You told me it was twenty!
MARK: Well, I got the extended warranty.
MAGGIE: For fifteen dollars? And why would you need a warranty if the flashlight is indestructible?
(There is a prolonged silence as Mark tries to think of a reply)
CASEY: (to Mark) She’s got you there, Dad.
DAVID: (to Mark) Don’t blame this one on me – you outed yourself this time.
MARK: OK. It cost thirty-five dollars. You’ve seen through my charade.
MAGGIE: And I didn’t even need a flashlight to do it. (Maggie gets up and exits the living room)
MARK: (speaking loudly so Maggie can hear as she walks away) But twenty or thirty-five, my point is, it’s worth it. This baby puts out 1000 lumens. This is what the professional explorers use.
MARY MEG: There are professional explorers? That’s a job?
MARK: Sure, you know, like Columbus or Magellan.
CASEY: Are you saying Magellan had a flashlight?
MARK: No, but if he had something like this, he could have circumvented the globe in half the time.
MARY MEG: What did he do to the globe?
MARK: He circumvented it. You know, (Mark makes a circular motion with his finger) all the way around.
MARY MEG: CircumNAVIGATED.
(laughter from the children)
MARK: Oh, OK. Glad to hear they’re teaching you big words at Georgetown.
MARY MEG: Actually, they taught me that in fifth grade.
MARK: OK, make fun if you want to, but I refuse to let you dampen my Christmas spirit.
CASEY: That’s right Dad – let your light shine – all 1000 lumens of it.
MARK: Let’s start the movie. Is the VCR hooked up, Dave?
DAVID: Yes. In spite of my apparently extensive history of head trauma, I managed to plug the red wire into the red hole and the yellow wire into the yellow hole. We’re ready to go.
MARK: Where’d mom go?
MAGGIE: (loudly, from the kitchen) I’m in the kitchen making hot chocolate.
MARK: I thought we were out.
MAGGIE: I keep a stash downstairs just for emergencies like this.
MARK: That’s what I’m talking about! The whole family together at Christmas time. Drinking hot chocolate on Festivation Friday Eve.
CASEY: (sotto voce) Also known as Thanksgiving.
MAGGIE: (as she enters the living room) You never finished telling us the itinerary. What else you got?
MARK: Oh, I’ve got a lot more.
MARY MEG: You know we go back to school on Sunday, right?
MARK: But until then we’re going to cram in all the family time that we can.
MAGGIE: Dad’s right. It’s way too short, but you take what you can get and enjoy it while it lasts.
MARK: That’s what she said!