Poochie

Copyright, Samuel M. Post. 2011

Note: If you’d like to produce this play, on stage or in a class, that would be a thrill for me and hopefully a fun time for all involved. However, a modest but fair royalty is in order. Please email me and we can discuss this.


Characters
RUTH — mid 50’s
EDNA — 80’s
LISA — 20’s
JIM — mid 50’s
NATE — 20’s
VICK — mid 50’s
NURSE — 60’s

ACT 1

SCENE 1
(EDNA sits in the living room.
Enter RUTH, carrying a basket
of laundry. She puts the
basket in front of EDNA, and
EDNA begins to fold the
clothes.)
(EDNA holds up green shirt.)

EDNA
This is your daddy’s shirt. It’s his best color.

RUTH
Sure it is.

EDNA
Green brings out the color in his eyes.

RUTH
I love green, Mother.

EDNA
It fits him, doesn’t it?

RUTH
Of course it does.

EDNA
Go get him, so he can try it on.

RUTH
He’s not here.

EDNA
Where is he?

RUTH
Pop died, Mother.

EDNA
Oh my God! When?

RUTH
Nine years ago.
(Enter JIM, carrying a small
dog leash, without the dog.)

RUTH
What did the vet say?

JIM
She’s there.

RUTH
What did he say?

JIM
He’ll keep her for the weekend.

RUTH
But what did he say? You did take her, didn’t you?

JIM
Of course. I took the dog to the vet.

RUTH
Well — did he say what was wrong?

JIM
He’s not sure.

RUTH
He said something.

JIM
Not really.

RUTH
You just gave him the dog and left?

JIM
It’s Friday afternoon. They said to call Monday morning.

RUTH
Monday! She’ll be dead by Monday!

JIM
She won’t be dead, Ruth!

RUTH
He’s gonna stick her in one of those cages all weekend. I
hate the thought of Poochie in that cage.

JIM
It’s okay, Ruth. It’s a kennel. Could you calm down?

RUTH
She’ll die. Poochie’s weak! C’mon!

JIM
He’s gonna keep a good eye on her. He plans to do some
doctoring over the weekend.

RUTH
What kind of doctoring?

JIM
I don’t know. He’ll examine the dog and treat her. We’ll
know more Monday.

RUTH
So you don’t know anything. We don’t know anything? You don’t
even care about Poochie.

JIM
I’m fine with Poochie.

RUTH
You said she sounded like an ambulance siren.

JIM
Ruth.

RUTH
You did.

JIM
C’mon. You know that was a joke.

RUTH
It wasn’t funny. And when I told you it wasn’t funny, you
said it again. And again and again. Really annoying! It
gets old.

JIM
The yapping does sound like a siren.

RUTH
So what the hell, Ruth? I said a bad joke. I mean, what do
you want from me?

RUTH
Poochie being sick is not funny.

JIM
Forget Poochie. I can’t say anything to you anymore.

RUTH
You don’t need to worry about me.

JIM
I think I do. You’ve been getting more and more irritable
since you stopped teaching.

RUTH
I was tired of it anyway. I’m glad I stopped.

JIM
Tell that to your face.

RUTH
There’s nothing wrong with my face!

JIM
You don’t smile or laugh. Maybe the kids kept you young.
Maybe staying home all day doesn’t suit you. Maybe you ought
to go on back now.

RUTH
Stop it.

JIM
I’m just brainstorming. There is such a thing as adult day
care.

RUTH
No there isn’t. Not for her. This is the way it’s supposed to
be. People should take care of their own parents. As if I
wanted to go back, or as if they would have me back.
Brainstorm for yourself, not me.

JIM
Then maybe you should start getting out just once in a while,
doing something with your friends.

RUTH
What friends.

JIM
You have plenty of friends.

RUTH
Not anymore.

JIM
That’s crazy. Linda? Bella? Steph?

RUTH
We’ve grown apart.

JIM
No you haven’t.

RUTH
It’s been so long since…

JIM
I know! Call ’em.

RUTH
Not interested. My concern is that you think there’s
something funny about a crying dog!

JIM
It wasn’t crying. It was yapping. And yeah, there is
something a little funny about the way Poochie yaps.

RUTH
It was crying.

JIM
It was yap yap yap yap yap! That’s not crying. I never made
fun of any crying.
(EDNA has finishes folding the
clothes. RUTH takes the basket
and walks around her, behind
EDNA, hidden from her view.
She dumps the clothes and
unfolds them, and returns them
to the basket.)
Here, Mother. Can you help me fold these?
(EDNA begins folding the
clothes. She pulls out the
green shirt.)

EDNA
This is Daddy’s shirt.

RUTH
Yes, Mother. It’s Pop’s shirt.

JIM
You’re unhappy, Ruth.

RUTH
Mother, do I look unhappy to you?

EDNA
Of course you do.

RUTH
I’m not unhappy.

EDNA
Of course you’re not.

JIM
You are. You don’t see it, but you are.

EDNA
Of course you are.

RUTH
I’m not unhappy about my life. I’m blessed. Really, I’m very
blessed. I’m unhappy about this situation with Poochie.
Anybody would be. I care about the dog.

JIM
It’s more than Poochie.

RUTH
That’s insane. You know what I’m worried about? I mean
really, really worried about?

JIM
What?

RUTH
Never mind.

JIM
What!

RUTH
You wouldn’t understand. Forget it.
(pause)
I was hoping you would take care of Poochie.
(indicating her mother)
To her, it’s more than a dog.

JIM
I care about the dog. That’s why I took it to the vet,
because…

RUTH
Not because you wanted to.

JIM
I didn’t want to? Why else would I take her? Of course I
wanted to take her to the vet.

RUTH
I made you.

JIM
No you didn’t. When I saw her like that, I immediately put
her in the car and took her!

RUTH
You knew you had to.

JIM
Had to? I’ve had enough of this.

RUTH
What?

JIM
This!

RUTH
This what?

JIM
Accused of… I don’t know… being a bad guy or something.
The dog was sick and I took it to the vet. Can we just leave
it at that.

RUTH
See? The tone. The tone of that right there.

JIM
There’s no tone.

RUTH
There is a tone, and it tells me you don’t care if Poochie
lives or dies.

JIM
My tone says I don’t care if the dog dies?

RUTH
Yeah.

JIM
My tone is that Poochie is a fourteen year old dog. I’m not
gonna panic because a dog that age isn’t one hundred percent!
I mean, I love that dog, but I’m in my fifties and I don’t
feel perfect in every way! Dogs don’t live forever. There’s a
chart in the vet’s office that puts Poochie at 72 years old
in people years. Plus she’s overweight. So the fact is, THAT
DOG IS OLD and my tone is not the cause of that — and I am
not the cause of that!

RUTH
Overweight?

JIM
Yeah — a little.

RUTH
Poochie is not overweight.

JIM
She’s a little heavy. She needs help getting off the couch!

RUTH
It’s arthritis!

JIM
I think she’s eaten too many eggs for breakfast.

RUTH
You’re blaming me.

JIM
No I’m not.

RUTH
Eggs are good for her.

JIM
Not fried!

RUTH
Nobody gives her fried eggs. I use the spray.

JIM
You still fry ’em.

RUTH
There’s no butter. It’s the same as a hard boiled egg.

JIM
Fried is fried.

RUTH
Fried is not fried when you use the spray.

JIM
To me it’s fried, and I don’t think it’s good for a dog.

RUTH
She loves those eggs.

JIM
I like ’em too — but they’re not good for me either. And
what about the bacon? That’s the worse thing you can eat.

RUTH
I don’t give her bacon.

JIM
You do. It’ll kill all of us.

RUTH
Do you know how often I get bacon?

JIM
You get it once in a while.

RUTH
Maybe once this past year.

JIM
You gave the dog bacon last week.

RUTH
And before that? A year. At least.

JIM
More than that.

RUTH
No — you’re memory there is way off.

JIM
And the cheese cubes. That’s bad for a dog.

RUTH
I don’t give her much cheese.

JIM
A couple of days ago you gave her cheese cubes. She inhaled
’em. She eats ’em so fast she doesn’t even know the
difference. It’s not good for her, Ruth.

RUTH
It’s just a rare treat. She loves those cheese cubes.

JIM
They’re bad for her.

RUTH
Not that bad. It’s a little enjoyment.

JIM
Mostly for you. It only takes the dog half a second to gulp
one down.

RUTH
Leave me alone about the cheese. I can’t believe you dropped
Mother’s dog off to die in a cage at the vet’s.

JIM
I’m not God.
(indicating EDNA)
Anyway, it doesn’t bother her. She doesn’t even know she’s
got a dog.

RUTH
She knows.

JIM
Right now, she doesn’t know one thing about her dog.

RUTH
She forgets. But she knows.

JIM
It’s the same thing.

RUTH
How can you talk like that?

JIM
Just speaking the truth.

RUTH
But the dog still matters.

JIM
I didn’t say it didn’t.

RUTH
You did say it. You said she doesn’t even know she’s got a
dog.

JIM
She doesn’t.

RUTH
You’re so… callous.

JIM
No…no…sweetheart. Just facing facts. One moment to the
next, she doesn’t know she has a dog.

RUTH
It’s her closest companion.
(to EDNA, who is busy folding)
Mother — where’s your dog?

EDNA
My dog?

RUTH
Yeah, Poochie.

EDNA
In the dresser, upstairs.

RUTH
Your DOG, Mother. Poochie!

EDNA
Poochie?

RUTH
Yes, Poochie. Your dog.

EDNA
In the dresser, upstairs.

RUTH
We don’t have an upstairs, Mother.

EDNA
Well that’s where I put it.

RUTH
I’m talking about Poochie, Mother. Where’s your DOG?

EDNA
We have a dog?

JIM
See?

EDNA
Where’s my mother?

JIM
See — she doesn’t remember the dog.

EDNA
Where is my mother?

JIM
There you go.

RUTH
Your mother died.

EDNA
My God! When did she die?

RUTH
Twenty-two years ago.

EDNA
Oh my God. How?

RUTH
She was sick.
(JIM exits.)

EDNA
Oh no. Did she die?

RUTH
Yes.

EDNA
When?

RUTH
Twenty-two years ago.

EDNA
She died?

RUTH
Yes, Mother.

EDNA
She did? Where is she?

RUTH
Dead.

EDNA
Where’s my son?

RUTH
Probably at his office.

EDNA
Did he die?

RUTH
No. He’s alive.

EDNA
Where is he?

RUTH
At his office.

EDNA
Let’s go get him.

RUTH
No.

EDNA
He’s waiting. Get in the car. I’ll drive.

RUTH
He’s not waiting, Mother. He’s busy.

EDNA
Do I have a husband?

RUTH
No.

EDNA
I don’t have a husband?

RUTH
You did. He died too.

EDNA
Oh my God! When?

RUTH
Nine years ago.

EDNA
Why didn’t you tell me?

RUTH
You knew.

EDNA
Knew what?

RUTH
You knew he died.

EDNA
Who?

RUTH
Pop!

EDNA
Where is he?

RUTH
Pop died.

EDNA
He died! Oh my God. Was he a good man?

RUTH
Yes, Mother. He was a great man.

EDNA
Was he my father?

RUTH
No — he was your husband.

EDNA
Was he a good husband?

RUTH
A very good husband, Mother.

EDNA
Who was he married to?

RUTH
You.

EDNA
He married me?

RUTH
Yes. You’re my mother. He was my father.

EDNA
Did he get me a car?

RUTH
Lots of ’em.

EDNA
What kind?

RUTH
Well, he got you an Oldsmobile. A Crystler. A Buick…

EDNA
Where is he?

RUTH
He died.

EDNA
Oh my God! And you didn’t tell me.

RUTH
You knew, Mother.
(Enter JIM)

EDNA
I did not know. Why didn’t you tell me?

RUTH
You think there’s anybody at the vet who could check on
Poochie?

EDNA
Who’s Poochie?

RUTH
Your dog.

EDNA
Where is it?

RUTH
At the vet.
(to JIM)
She remembers the dog when it’s here, sitting on her lap all
day.

JIM
And the dog’s not here.

RUTH
Why are you like this!

JIM
You’re the one missing the dog now — not her.

RUTH
That’s a little cruel.

JIM
No. She just doesn’t remember.

RUTH
Mother, have you fed Poochie?

EDNA
Is she hungry?

RUTH
Probably.

EDNA
Poochie! C’mere, Poochie!

RUTH
(to JIM)
See!
(to EDNA)
Poochie’s at the vet. She’s sick.

EDNA
Let’s go get her. I’ll drive.

RUTH
We can’t get her until Monday.

EDNA
Then let’s go see her. I’ll drive. You can ride in the front
seat.

RUTH
You can’t drive, Mother.

EDNA
I’m a good driver. Let me tell you something. I drove to
Florida, and back, without stopping, before they built the
interstate! Before you were born. I’m a better driver than
you. There was my dog in the backseat and a big bail of hay
and my horse rode…in the trunk.

RUTH
You never had a horse, Mother.

EDNA
I most certainly did. We had a long row of horses downtown.
My God, they went all the way around the block.
(pause)
Is somebody knocking on the door?

JIM
There’s no knocking.

EDNA
Check the door.

JIM
There’s nobody at the door.

EDNA
See if we have some extra food.

RUTH
We don’t need extra food, Mother.

EDNA
There’s a line out there and they want food!

RUTH
There’s no line, mother.
(EDNA gets upset and starts to
cry.)

EDNA
Please God! Get some food for those people out there!

RUTH
Okay, Mother. We’ll go to the store and get some food. Want
to go with me? Want to go for a ride?

EDNA
Yes.

RUTH
What do you want to get at the store?

EDNA
Cabbage.

RUTH
We’ll get cabbage. Anything else?

EDNA
We need some sugar.

RUTH
Okay, we’ll get some sugar. Cabbage and sugar, and we’ll go
for a ride in the car. A nice ride in the car.
(EDNA calms down.)

EDNA
Now?

RUTH
Yep. We’ll go to the store and you can ride along and we can
talk and ride around. Just the two of us. How does that
sound?

EDNA
That sounds good.

RUTH
We’ll look at houses. Want to look at some of the old houses?

EDNA
Okay.

RUTH
Let me get my keys.

EDNA
Okay.
(Exit RUTH.)
(JIM sits with EDNA.)

JIM
You’re a good folder, Edna.

EDNA
Thank you. Do you need anything folded.

JIM
No thanks.

EDNA
(She holds up a shirt.)
Doesn’t this shirt belongs to your father?

JIM
I think it does.

EDNA
Does he want to wear it?

JIM
He might.
(Enter RUTH)

RUTH
Okay, everything’s taken care of. Everything’s fine now,
Mother.

EDNA
Is my mother here?

RUTH
No.

EDNA
Where is she?

RUTH
She died.

EDNA
She died!

RUTH
Yes.

EDNA
When?

RUTH
Over twenty-two years ago, Mother.

EDNA
Why didn’t you tell me?

RUTH
You knew about it then.

EDNA
How did she die?

RUTH
She got sick.

EDNA
You never told me.

RUTH
I was with you.

EDNA
How could you be with me?

RUTH
I was.

EDNA
I don’t think so.

RUTH
I was with you in the hospital, Mother.

EDNA
She’s in the hospital? Let’s go see her. I’ll drive.

RUTH
She’s not alive, mother.

EDNA
What happened to her?

RUTH
She died.

EDNA
Oh my God!
(Enter LISA, hurrying, carrying
a suitcase.)

LISA
Hi!

RUTH
You’re home?

LISA
I’m home!
(She passes through, briskly,
and exits.)

JIM
Did you know she was coming today?

RUTH
No.

JIM
I guess she’s done.

RUTH
Obviously.

JIM
(calling)
Lisa!

RUTH
Let her put her things down. Elizabeth!
(Enter LISA. She gives her EDNA
a hug and a kiss.)

LISA
Hi Grandma.
(She gives her mom and dad a
hug.)

EDNA
Are you hungry?

LISA
I just ate.

EDNA
What did you eat?

LISA
Pizza.

EDNA
What kind?

LISA
Pepperoni. Thin crust. It was awesome!

EDNA
Do you want something to eat?

LISA
I’m not hungry.

EDNA
I could fix you an egg.

LISA
No thanks.

EDNA
A fried egg.

LISA
I just ate.

EDNA
How about a bowl of broccoli soup?

LISA
No thanks, Grandma.

EDNA
It’s the best soup I ever made.

LISA
Really? Your soup is so good.

RUTH
There is no soup.

EDNA
There’s no soup?

RUTH
No, Mother. You did not make any soup.

EDNA
(to LISA)
Sweetheart, I think there’s something wrong with me.

LISA
There’s nothing wrong with you, Grandma.

EDNA
Are you sure?

LISA
Of course I am. You’re the best grandma in the world.

EDNA
Do you know what’s wrong with me?

LISA
Nothing, Grandma.

EDNA
Something’s wrong and nobody will tell me.

LISA
I would tell you. But nothing’s wrong.

EDNA
Are you sure?

LISA
I’m sure.

EDNA
Nobody will tell me what’s wrong.

LISA
You’re fine, Grandma.

RUTH
(to LISA)
You didn’t tell us you were done.

LISA
Yep.

RUTH
How’d you do?

LISA
Listen, I wanna tell you something. I know you’ll get mad
about it.

RUTH
No we won’t.

LISA
You probably will.

RUTH
We won’t be mad.
(to JIM)
Do we ever get mad at her?

JIM
No.

RUTH
We won’t be mad.

LISA
I know you will. I know you.

RUTH
What it is?

LISA
You need to know my mind is made up. It’s already done.
It’s been done, so I don’t want to argue about this — it’s
just for your information.

RUTH
What?

LISA
I’m stopping school for awhile.

JIM
That’s not a good idea.

LISA
I’m out.

RUTH
You can’t do that with one year to go.

LISA
I already did.

JIM
Nobody quits at the end of junior year.

LISA
You’d be surprised. A lot of people do.

JIM
Do you realize…

LISA
I realize everything.

JIM
The money.

LISA
I’ll pay you back.

JIM
You can’t pay that back.

RUTH
(to JIM)
We don’t want her to pay us back.

JIM
I didn’t say we did. I said she can’t pay all that back.

RUTH
Don’t upset her.
(to LISA)
We don’t want you to pay us back.

JIM
It’s just the truth. She says she’s quitting school and will
pay us back when she has no concept of what it would take to
come up with that kind of money.

LISA
I said you’d be mad.

RUTH
Well, yeah. Anybody would be.

LISA
It’s not a bad thing. You’ll see.

RUTH
Not a bad thing? When do exams start?

LISA
Next week.

RUTH
You quit right before exams?

LISA
Sort of.

RUTH
Young lady, you will march right back to that school and put
your things back in that dorm and take those exams and get
your degree!

EDNA
I’ll drive.

RUTH
Mother, please. This is about Lisa going back to school.

EDNA
I’ll drive.

RUTH
You can’t drive!

EDNA
Why not?

RUTH
You don’t have a license.

EDNA
I most certainly do.

RUTH
Please, Mother. I’m talking to Lisa!

EDNA
Who’s Lisa?

LISA
Me! Hey, Grandma!
(LISA hugs EDNA.)

EDNA
Hello, Sweetheart.

RUTH
I will not let you ruin your life.

LISA
I started thinking about my life, and I’ve decided that I
need to follow my bliss. College is not my bliss right now.

RUTH
College is not your bliss?

LISA
No!

RUTH
It could be. I loved college.

JIM
So did I.

LISA
I hate it! I’ll go back — but right now I hate it!

RUTH
Since when do you need a bliss?

LISA
Everybody does, Mom.

RUTH
Then what is it?

JIM
Yeah — what is it?

LISA
Not going to school!

JIM
That’s not a bliss.

LISA
It’s mine.

JIM
You can’t have a bliss for not doing something.

LISA
I hate it.

JIM
Hating something isn’t a bliss. That’s the opposite.

LISA
The bliss is freedom. I have a passion for freedom! I mean, I
didn’t hate the people, or the professors, or the rooms or
classes. Even the campus architecture is okay. Even the
food. I didn’t hate any of that. They were all great, and I
can go back one day, if I want to. But I was turning into a
robot. That’s what I hated. Turning into a robot! Go here. Do
that. Write this. Write that. Be here at a certain time. Be
there at a certain time. Constantly worrying about
assignments and grades and Dr. Halbotto’s ridiculous voice,
like he’s about to have an orgasm from his own stupid tongue
while he’s reading that Middle English Chaucer crap!

RUTH
Lisa!

LISA
I couldn’t take it anymore. So I liberated myself. I’m
following my bliss!

JIM
Excuse me. I still don’t get the bliss.

LISA
I told you. Quitting school.

JIM
Lisa — that is not bliss.

RUTH
It most certainly is not.

JIM
That’s nothing. A bliss has to be some thing.

LISA
Exactly! Quitting school is some thing. It’s liberation.
Liberation is the bliss, Dad.

RUTH
Liberation to do what?

JIM
Yeah, what? Okay. Okay — maybe it feels like bliss, at
first. Everybody feels a relief when school’s out.

RUTH
That’s because you have to wait for it. And because you
finished something. It’s empty when it’s the middle of the
semester.

LISA
Exactly! Empty! That’s my perfect bliss. I’m sure of it,
Mom. Dad. It’s not like this is a logical thing that I
thought through. This is my gut is speaking here.

RUTH
What about your dream to be a journalist?

LISA
That wasn’t a dream.

RUTH
It was! We sat in here and talked about it. You were gonna
write about films. You were gonna be the next Roger Ebert.

LISA
That’s crazy talk.

RUTH
That’s good talk. It makes you shoot for something.

LISA
I don’t want to shoot for something. I want to BE something.
Somebody. All the time! Not a robot shooting for something,
waiting to be somebody.

JIM
Being in school is not being a robot. It’s work. So that you
can be somebody.

LISA
Not for me. My heart’s not in it.

JIM
Your heart has nothing to do with it.

LISA
Do you realize what’s happening to journalism these days?
We’ve entered into the era of user generated content. I read
this amazing book, “What Would Google Do?” Have you read it?
It’s about atoms and digits. Atoms cost money, Dad. Digits
are free. So with digital media, the cost of distribution
gets to zero! Journalism is dead. My blog is free. I hire and
fire myself.

RUTH
Journalism is not dead, and digits are not free.

JIM
It’s just a book.

LISA
That’s all school is, really. Reading a list of books.

JIM
Reading with a purpose.

LISA
To get trained for a job I don’t even want and can’t get?

JIM
You’ll get a job.

LISA
But with my blog I don’t need a job, really.

JIM
I guess not — if you hire and fire yourself.

LISA
Isn’t it beautiful?

RUTH
No it’s not beautiful! Do you get paid for it?

LISA
Not with money.

RUTH
Then what?

LISA
Satisfaction! Sharing!

JIM
That’s not pay.

LISA
It is for me.

RUTH
Did you drop those courses?

LISA
Not officially.

RUTH
So you’ll have a transcript full of F’s?

LISA
I guess so. But the dirty little secret is that grades don’t
matter!

RUTH
Grades don’t matter! How will you get back in with a
transcript like that?

LISA
Who cares about transcripts!

JIM
Say what!

LISA
I don’t need a transcript.

RUTH
Those grades will stay on there the rest of your life.

LISA
Yeah — and they don’t mean anything… outside of that
narrow context. That weird university.

JIM
I knew guys who stayed in college to keep from being drafted.
Quitting school meant going to Vietnam.

LISA
I’m not going to Vietnam.

EDNA
Where’s my Poochie?

RUTH
See!
(to LISA)
Your father thinks she can’t remember Poochie.
(to JIM)
She’s well aware of Poochie not being here.
(to EDNA)
Poochie’s at the vet.

LISA
Why’s Poochie at the vet?

JIM
She’s sick. Old and sick.

RUTH
We don’t know what’s wrong because your father dropped her
off and apparently didn’t wait around to find out. You two —
you’re just alike.

LISA
You just dropped her off?

JIM
It’s Friday afternoon. We’ll know more on Monday.

LISA
You didn’t find out what was wrong? Why didn’t you find out,
Dad?

JIM
They were closing.

RUTH
She was lying around. Not eating.

LISA
Is she gonna die?

JIM
She could. Poochie is fourteen years old.

RUTH
Thanks to him, we don’t know. I should have taken her
myself.

JIM
They’re taking care of the dog!

EDNA
Where’s my mother?

LISA
Where’s her mother?

RUTH
She’s always asking for her mother.

EDNA
Is my mother dead?

RUTH
Yes, mother — she died twenty-two years ago.

EDNA
Why didn’t you tell me?

RUTH
You were there when she died, mother.

LISA
Mom — do you have to…

RUTH
What?

LISA
I don’t know…do you have to tell her that?

RUTH
What would you say?

LISA
I don’t know. Make something up.

RUTH
Sometimes I do.

LISA
Think of something that makes her feel better.

EDNA
Is your daddy here?

RUTH
He died, mother.

EDNA
God no. When?

RUTH
Years ago, Mother. You forgot.

LISA
Mom.

RUTH
I don’t want to patronize her. She asks these questions all
day long.

EDNA
What do I ask?

RUTH
You ask when Pop died.

EDNA
When did he die?

RUTH
Nine years ago.

EDNA
Why didn’t you tell me?

RUTH
You knew.

LISA
Mom! Please change the subject.

RUTH
You have no idea.

LISA
(sitting next to EDNA)
Grandpa was the best, wasn’t he, Grandma?

EDNA
Where is he now, dear?

LISA
He’s at work.

EDNA
Is he on his way home?

LISA
He’ll be home pretty soon. Let me call him.
(LISA pulls out her cell
phone.)
Grandpa, when will you be home?
(She listens and puts away the
phone.)
He’ll be home in an hour, Grandma.

EDNA
Who?

LISA
Grandpa.

EDNA
Where is he?

LISA
At work. He’s coming to see you.

EDNA
Do you want a piece of cake?

LISA
No thanks.

EDNA
Coconut cake?

LISA
Oh my God yes. Do we have some coconut cake?

JIM
No — we don’t have any coconut cake.

EDNA
I made a three layer coconut cake.

RUTH
There’s no cake.

EDNA
No cake?

RUTH
No mother. There’s no cake.

EDNA
There’s a nice coconut cake in the kitchen. I made it.

RUTH
No, you didn’t.

EDNA
I didn’t?

RUTH
No.

LISA
Mom — why can’t you go along with her?

RUTH
Sometimes I do.

EDNA
What’s wrong with me?

LISA
Grandma, I have a boyfriend and guess what?

EDNA
What?

LISA
We’re getting married.

RUTH
You are not getting married!

JIM
No you’re not.

LISA
I am getting married.

EDNA
That’s lovely.
(they hug)
What kind of cake will you have at the wedding?

RUTH
She’s not having any cake.

LISA
Coconut.

JIM
Nobody’s getting married.

LISA
We are getting married.

EDNA
Is he married?

LISA
No, he’s marrying me.

EDNA
Then he’s married.

LISA
He’s not married yet.

EDNA
Good. Is he getting married?

LISA
To me, Grandma.

EDNA
He’s married to you?

LISA
He will be.

JIM
How in the world…

RUTH
Is that’s what this is all about!

LISA
It’s part of it.

RUTH
You are not quitting school to get married.
(LISA nods.)

LISA
I’m not quitting school to get married. I’m quitting school,
and I’m getting married.

JIM
Wait a minute.

RUTH
Who is it?

JIM
Yeah — who’s the boyfriend?

EDNA
Is he a married man?

LISA
No, he’s not married.

EDNA
Is he a good man?

LISA
Yes.

EDNA
Then he must be married.

LISA
Not yet.

RUTH
You are not getting married.

LISA
Mom, we’ve already decided.

RUTH
You’re not ready for that.

JIM
Nobody’s really ready for it.

RUTH
You will graduate first and get a job and then start thinking
about that.

LISA
Who said I wouldn’t get a job?

RUTH
You’ll have a hard time.

LISA
I’ve never had a hard time getting a job.

RUTH
In this economy, you’ll have a hard time.

LISA
I always find jobs.

RUTH
Who is this boy?
(LISA gets a text message on
her phone and reads it.)

LISA
He’s here!

RUTH
Who’s here?

LISA
Nate. You remember Nate.

JIM
Do we know Nate?

RUTH
No.

LISA
I told you about Nate.

RUTH
I’ve never heard you talk about Nate.

LISA
You don’t listen! I’ve talked about Nate a lot.

RUTH
(to JIM)
Do you remember Nate?

JIM
Nothing.

LISA
Neither of you ever listen to me. I’ve told you plenty about
Nate.

JIM
I don’t remember Nate.

LISA
He’s from Minnesota? We’ve been dating for five months and
you would not believe what an incredibly talented bass player
he is. He also writes this amazing poetry. He had this one
poem, called “Caldron,” published in SuedeVoices.com.
Amazing! And he’s also a vegetarian, like me.

JIM
You’re not a vegetarian.

LISA
I am so! Anyway, he’s here now. He just drove up.

JIM
Drove up?

LISA
He’s outside. Listen, he’s got all his stuff. I told him we
could live here for awhile.

RUTH
Live here?

LISA
Just a few days. We’ll get our own place soon, I promise.
(She begins to exit.)

JIM
Hold on!

RUTH
We’ve got to talk.

LISA
He’s right outside with his stuff!

RUTH
We didn’t give you permission…

LISA
He’s waiting!
(from the door)
Dad, you wanna help him bring his stuff in?

JIM
No!
(She exits.)
(blackout)

SCENE 2
(One week later. Late at
night. JIM enters and turns
on the light. He’s wearing
pajamas, carrying a sandwich.
He picks up the remote, surfs
channels for a few seconds,
and takes a bite.)
(Moments later, NATE enters.
He’s wearing boxer shorts.)

NATE
Caught ‘cha.

JIM
(chewing, he looks up)
A little hungry.

NATE
Good sandwich?

JIM
Tuna salad. Too much celery in it.

NATE
Celery’s good. Gives it the crunch.

JIM
Too much annoys me.

NATE
A celery sandwich with a little tuna in it.

JIM
That’s it.

NATE
Wouldn’t bother me.

JIM
It might.

NATE
I don’t eat tuna salad much, so I don’t have some ideal that
I compare it to. Whatever way it shows up is perfect to me.
You know. That’s me. Whereas you’ve got this vision of
perfection — the correct amount of tuna and mayo and celery.
You’ll never be satisfied, you know? For you, it’s not even a
sandwich, really.

JIM
It’s not a sandwich.

NATE
No it’s not.

JIM
Excuse me?

NATE
It’s not a sandwich.

JIM
Then what is it?

NATE
It’s just, you know, another disappointment that you’re
calling a sandwich.

JIM
This is a disappointment.

NATE
Yeah.

JIM
And not a sandwich.

NATE
If it were, you’d eat it.

JIM
I am eating it.

NATE
What you’re eating there is a concept.

JIM
I’m eating a concept.

NATE
Yeah — after you talk about it, and describe it, and
evaluate it — you don’t really have a sandwich anymore. You
don’t get to really enjoy it.
(He takes a bite.)

JIM
It’s okay.

NATE
Yeah — it’s okay. But it’s not a sandwich.

JIM
It’s bread with tuna, celery, and mayonnaise. I call that a
sandwich.

NATE
It was a sandwich. Now it’s a list of ingredients.

JIM
It was ingredients. Now, it’s a sandwich! I call it a
sandwich.

NATE
It’s not in the realm of sandwiches. It’s like government.
Our constitution is a government for the people, by the
people — you know — but people talk about Obama like he’s
the president.

JIM
Obama is the president.

NATE
Not the way people talk about him. People turn Obama into a
list of ingredients too. Same thing with churches.

JIM
Then what the hell is this?

NATE
What?

JIM
Are we talking about a sandwich?

NATE
No! That’s what I’m trying to tell you. You take a perfectly
good sandwich — tuna salad, right? — and put it into a
different realm. You take all the sandwich out of the
sandwich.

JIM
(offering the sandwich)
Here — you want it?

NATE
No thanks.

JIM
Take it.

NATE
I’m not asking for your sandwich.

JIM
Seriously — if you’re hungry, you can have it.

NATE
I’m not hungry.

JIM
Then leave me alone. It helps me sleep.

NATE
That doesn’t help you sleep.

JIM
Yes. It does.

NATE
That’s backwards. It’s something to eat while you’re awake.

JIM
Son — does it occur to you what’s going on here?

NATE
Nothing’s going on.

JIM
Something is going on. You’re the one who’s not sleeping.

NATE
I stay up. I’m a musician and a poet.

JIM
Well, what are you talking to me for? I’m not your next song.

NATE
You never know.

JIM
This is your wedding night!

NATE
I know that.

JIM
Your wedding night! You married my daughter!

NATE
So what?

JIM
Why are you here, in my house, eyeing my sandwich?

NATE
I’m not eyeing your sandwich. It’s no big deal.

JIM
After all that today? After all that? I’m quite sure it is
a big deal.

NATE
Well, yeah, we did get married. But it’s just another night.
We’ve been living together, so the only difference in the
wedding night, that’s different from any other night… I
mean there is a subtle difference…

JIM
Don’t draw me a picture.

NATE
Does it matter?

JIM
She’s my daughter!

NATE
I know that.

JIM
This day…this has been a long day. A man has certain hopes
in life.

NATE
You want to know my hopes?

JIM
My hopes. I had hopes my daughter would get married in a
respectable way…

NATE
We had a respectable wedding.

JIM
That was anything but respectable.

NATE
It was completely respectable.

JIM
Well… conventional. A conventional way.

NATE
It was conventional.

JIM
It most certainly was not conventional. Nothing like I had
ever imagined for my daughter’s wedding day.

NATE
See — there you go again. It was a good wedding and you’re
turning it into something else. You just weren’t there.

JIM
That’s what I’m talking about! I’m in here getting ready for
this sudden wedding as fast as I can, in the middle of trying
to tie a damn necktie — and you two come in already married!
The normal thing is for the parents to BE AT THE WEDDING, and
then there’s a reception — where your friends and family can
all have a drink together and make a few toasts, and you
might feel pretty good… you know… proud parent… sort of
congratulate yourself, and then the happy couple leaves and
goes away on a honeymoon. Then they’re gone, you know? Not
coming back to your house. And you forget about ’em for
awhile, because your a little drunk, and you keep visiting
with your friends. Your oldest friends are there, and they
console you because your child is not your baby anymore.
She’s grown and gone and we’re all getting old and life is
brief. So you have another drink and tell some stories about
when we were that age and some of the fun we had and some of
the crazy things we did. Eventually you start to talk about
the things that really matter, and it becomes a memorable
day.

NATE
We had a memorable day.

JIM
Memorable in a good way. I mean, people plan these things. I
hardly know you!

NATE
Don’t worry.

JIM
Don’t worry?

NATE
Yeah, don’t worry.

JIM
Shouldn’t it be the other way around. The two of you don’t
have jobs or a place to live. And you are telling me not to
worry? That makes me worry.

NATE
Don’t. I’m a good guy.

JIM
That may be true and I hope it is. But I know my mailman
better than I know you. I mean, who are you? You come in here
with Lisa and now you get up in the middle of the night and
tell me things I already know. Like my sandwich is a concept.
I happen to know the difference between a real sandwich and
the concept of a sandwich. That really doesn’t have much
impact over here with me — except to get me worried. Yeah, I
am worried — and you are the one person who cannot give me
any comfort by telling me not to. Where did you come from?

NATE
Minnesota.

JIM
That doesn’t tell me anything.

NATE
If we had flown off to Tahiti on our honeymoon, would that
make you happy?

JIM
I’d know something. I’d know you had a pot to piss in. What
about wedding pictures that I can look at in a few years and
see how good I looked now! It’s not normal for your daughter
to tell you she’s getting married that day, to hurry up or
you’ll miss it — and then when you’re in the middle of
hurrying-up, she comes home and says she can’t wait any
longer and she’s already married — like she’s going to the
grocery store so she can cook dinner but then goes to the
drive-through at McDonald’s instead! That’s not normal.
It’s not reasonable. Do you see that, son? That I had real
hopes for a day like this? Like I thought it might be a good
day? Do you understand that?

NATE
It was a great day.

JIM
It was a crazy day!

NATE
You’re doing it again.

JIM
Doing what?

NATE
Conceptualizing!

JIM
Bullshit!

NATE
It wasn’t crazy. It was just a day.

JIM
She drops out of school. You’re unemployed. You move in
here. You walk out here in the middle of the night and want
my sandwich.

NATE
I don’t want your sandwich.

JIM
You act like it.

NATE
I don’t want it.

JIM
Nobody talks about a sandwich that much if they don’t want
one.

NATE
I want your daughter, not your sandwich.

JIM
You’ve got her!

NATE
Thank you.
(JIM walks to the trash can
and, with some force, throws
his sandwich in it. It’s a
release. Calm now, he sits
down.)

JIM
I’ll never forget this.

NATE
I wish you had been there.

JIM
If that were true, you would have waited for us.

NATE
We said four o’clock.

JIM
Ruth needed a few more minutes.

NATE
Why — when it was time for her daughter to get married?

JIM
Why didn’t you wait?

NATE
Wait for what?

JIM
For Ruth and me!

NATE
We didn’t know you were coming.

JIM
You could have waited a few minutes.

NATE
We waited until four thirty. We thought you were blowing it
off.

JIM
Ruth was getting ready.

NATE
Is there any more tuna salad?

JIM
Nope. That was it. You just said you didn’t want it.

NATE
I thought I might have one of my own.
(Enter EDNA, in her nightgown,
shuffling through the room.
She’s holding a pillow and
talking to it.)

EDNA
Poochie’s outside with all the men waiting for food.
(She approaches JIM.)
Are you getting them some food?

JIM
There aren’t any men outside.

EDNA
There’s a big line.

JIM
There’s no line.

EDNA
Go get them a plate!

JIM
Edna, quit talking to the pillow and go back to bed.
(She approaches NATE.)

EDNA
Have you eaten today?

NATE
Of course I have.

EDNA
There’s not enough food for everybody.

NATE
I’m fine.

EDNA
Check and see if the men outside got something to eat.

NATE
The men outside?

EDNA
All the men in the back.

NATE
I’ll check.
(NATE goes to the wall, perhaps
a window, and looks out.)

EDNA
How many are there?

NATE
Five.

EDNA
Does everybody have a plate?

NATE
(pointing)
They’re all eating.

EDNA
Tell them there’s not any left.

NATE
I’ll tell ’em.
(NATE exits. Offstage, he makes
a public declaration…)
There’s not any left!
(NATE enters. Speaking to
EDNA…)
Everybody got plenty to eat.

EDNA
Good. Because now it’s all gone.

NATE
They said there was plenty. They all ate.

EDNA
Oh, they did! Mother fixed them each a plate tonight.
(to JIM)
A nice boy. He fed the hungry men.

JIM
He didn’t feed anybody.

EDNA
Of course he did.

NATE
I fed them all.

JIM
Do you have a family?

NATE
Four brothers and two sisters.

JIM
And they didn’t care about coming to your wedding?

NATE
I haven’t told ’em.

JIM
Really.

NATE
Is it that big a deal?

JIM
It’s normally a very big deal, yes.

NATE
You sure there’s not any tuna salad left?

JIM
I’m sure.

EDNA
It’s cold. I’ll feed the stove.
(She shuffles out, exiting.)

JIM
It’s one of the hottest days of summer and she thinks she’s
cold.

NATE
So when are you picking up her dog? Poochie’s been at the vet
a long time.

JIM
Major surgery.

NATE
How long are they gonna buy that?

JIM
Buy what?

NATE
Your lie. C’mon. Poochie’s not at the vet.

JIM
Kidney transplants are complicated.

NATE
C’mon. I knew the dog was dead the first time you said that.
How long can you keep that going?

JIM
Sometimes you have to protect people.

NATE
You think they’re gonna forget about the dog?

JIM
It was time. I’m letting it settle down before I tell ’em.

NATE
We should get a puppy.

JIM
We?

NATE
Well…you.

JIM
I might.

NATE
Lisa and I can look for one. Maybe a rescue dog.

JIM
(slapping the table, couch,
something…)
Do not tell Lisa!

NATE
You didn’t kill the dog.

JIM
Lisa was close to that dog. I haven’t told Ruth. I don’t
know if she can handle it.

NATE
You’re the one who can’t handle it.

JIM
I handle it fine.

NATE
No you don’t. Why do you let her push you around like that?

JIM
Push me around?

NATE
Yeah. You put up with that crap.

JIM
You don’t know what you’re talking about.

NATE
You’re scared of her.

JIM
I’m not scared.

NATE
Keeping that big ‘ol lie about Poochie to yourself?

JIM
I’ll tell her.

NATE
When?

JIM
She’ll flip out.

NATE
So what?

JIM
I don’t feel like hearing all the…

NATE
Let her flip out! Get a puppy.

JIM
Later. It’s all about timing.

NATE
You get a puppy that’s so cute, when you bring it in, they
fall in love instantly, and then right when they’re goo-goo
ga-ga over this puppy — I mean really happy, right when the
puppy licks her face… right then… tell ’em about Poochie.
(Enter EDNA, carrying a pot)

EDNA
Is this the way to the train station?

NATE
(pointing)
That way.

EDNA
Mother told me to take some food down to the train station.

NATE
You have people to feed there?

EDNA
Two dozen hungry men.

NATE
Two dozen?

EDNA
At least. That’s why mother made such a big pot.

NATE
What’s in it?

EDNA
Cabbage and potatoes.
(She gives the pot to NATE)

EDNA
Don’t spill it.

NATE
I won’t.

EDNA
Let’s go. It’s three blocks down and two blocks over.

NATE
You’re going with me.

EDNA
Of course. I’m feeding hungry men.

NATE
Have you got bowls?

EDNA
You bring the bowls.

NATE
Spoons.

EDNA
Get the spoons.

NATE
Do we have enough?

EDNA
Mother made a big pot.
(She exits.)
(Enter LISA, very upset,
wearing her nightgown. She
flops herself on the couch and
covers her eyes with her
hands.

LISA
Oh my God. I can’t sleep. I had this dream…you were
there, and you wanted me to deliver something. And now I’ve
got this headache.

NATE
Deliver what?

LISA
It was like you kept telling me to deliver this thing on
time… I don’t know… I was holding it. It was really heavy
and cumbersome — but I can’t remember what it was — and I
couldn’t find the place. Then you were running out and you
really wanted it delivered on time… there was this
deadline… and I couldn’t remember when the time was up or
where to deliver it. Then I woke up with this awful
headache.
(He sits down with her, sharing
the couch — and soothes her
head with his hand.)

NATE
What was it?

LISA
I can’t remember. It might have been a machine.

NATE
What kind of machine?

LISA
I don’t know. Something like…
(She gestures with her arms and
hands, as if she’s trying to
remember holding something.)
I can’t remember. It’s fading. My head hurts so bad!

JIM
(beginning to exit)
I’ll get something.

NATE
Get some water.

JIM
That and ibuprofen.

NATE
No pills. Just water.

JIM
She needs to take something.

NATE
Just water. She’s dehydrated.

JIM
For that headache? She needs more than water.
(NATE begins to massage LISA.)

NATE
No — she needs a couple of large glasses of water.

LISA
Daddy — just get the water!

JIM
You need to take something.

NATE
(continuing to massage her)
That’s what caused the nightmare. Her body asking for water.

LISA
Daddy — Nate knows my body.
(JIM exits. Enter EDNA.)

EDNA
(to NATE)
Do you have my hat?

NATE
I don’t know where it is.

EDNA
(to LISA)
Are you sick?

LISA
A little.

EDNA
Do you want something to eat?

LISA
No thanks, Grandma.

EDNA
What would you like?

LISA
Nothing.

EDNA
I could fix you spaghetti.

LISA
No thanks, Grandma.

EDNA
People love my spaghetti sauce.

LISA
I love it. But I’ve got a headache.

EDNA
An Italian girl named Gianna taught me how in her kitchen.
She takes a little sauce from the sauce and puts it in the
noodles so they don’t stick. I’ll make it with some baked
chicken and salad.

LISA
I’m not hungry.

EDNA
(to NATE)
Would you like a bowl of soup? I just made some soup.

NATE
Sure.

EDNA
I’ll get it.
(enter RUTH, in pajamas,
sleepy)

EDNA
Where’s my mother?

RUTH
She died, Mother.

EDNA
Oh my God! When?

RUTH
Years ago.

EDNA
Why didn’t anybody tell me?

RUTH
We did.

LISA
Mom.

RUTH
(noticing LISA)
What’s wrong with you?

LISA
I have a headache.

EDNA
You never told me my mother died…

RUTH
A hundred times, Mother.

LISA
Mom — do you have to say it like that?

RUTH
(to LISA)
We go through this all the time.
(to EDNA)
I was with right there with her when she died, Mother.

EDNA
Where’s my husband?

RUTH
Dead, mother.

EDNA
No!

RUTH
I’m afraid so.

EDNA
What was his name?

RUTH
Bob.

EDNA
Where is he?

RUTH
Dead.

EDNA
How could he die?

RUTH
We’re all gonna die.

NATE
I’ll get the water myself.
(NATE exits.)

EDNA
This isn’t my house.

RUTH
You live here with us.

EDNA
Why don’t we go to my house? I’ll drive.

LISA
You live here now, Grandma.

EDNA
We’ll have lunch in my new kitchen.

RUTH
You don’t have a kitchen.

EDNA
Of course I have a kitchen. Let’s go. Do you want some
meatloaf?

LISA
You make the best meatloaf, Grandma.

EDNA
An Italian girl taught me how.

LISA
Gianna.

EDNA
Who’s Gianna?

LISA
The Italian girl.

EDNA
Where is she?

LISA
She taught you how to make meatloaf.

EDNA
She has a wonderful kitchen. Let’s go see it.

LISA
We’ll go for lunch.

EDNA
I’ll drive.

LISA
Okay.

EDNA
I like meatloaf, but my favorite lunch is a tomato and
cucumber sandwich.

RUTH
Yes it is.

EDNA
Why don’t I have those anymore?

RUTH
We don’t have all the tomatoes like we used to.

EDNA
(experiencing a lucid moment)
Not since Alex died. She was the queen of homegrown tomatoes.

RUTH
Yes she was.

LISA
I remember Alex.

EDNA
She worked for Bob, your Grandpa.

RUTH
(to EDNA)
And she gave us a lot of tomatoes.

EDNA
Every week, a big bag of tomatoes and cucumbers. And every
day for lunch, a tomato and cucumber sandwich on rye bread.
And the secret to the flavor. You know the secret to the
flavor.

RUTH
Thin slicing.

EDNA
That’s it.

RUTH
If you taught me anything, Mother, you taught me the proper
way to slice a tomato. As thin as you can slice it. The more
surface area…

EDNA
The more flavor. Paper thin, if you can do it.

RUTH
That’s it. Paper thin.

EDNA
The thinner you slice, the better the sandwich.

RUTH
Yours were the best thin slicer. No matter how thin I got it,
I could never slice as thin as you could.

EDNA
Remember when you tried growing your own? You had that
garden.

RUTH
Two dozen vines and five little tomatoes.

EDNA
Not enough sun. I told you that. You can’t grow tomatoes with
that giant oak tree in your yard.

RUTH
I tried.

EDNA
You can try all you want — but they won’t grow in that
shade.

RUTH
I wanted it for you, Mom.

EDNA
For my favorite sandwich.

RUTH
I wanted to be like Alex, and walk in with a big bag of
tomatoes, and make you happy.

EDNA
You wanted to make me happy.

RUTH
That’s it, Mother. I wanted to be like Alex, the one to make
you happy.

EDNA
You don’t need tomatoes. You make me happy anyway.

RUTH
Do I, Mother?

EDNA
Of course you do. You’ve always made me happy.
(to LISA)
So do you.

LISA
And you make me happy, Grandma. Especially your food.

EDNA
Are you hungry now?

LISA
No.

EDNA
I’m a little hungry. Let’s fix something.

RUTH
Maybe you should go back to bed, Mother.
(to LISA)
She doesn’t know when she’s hungry.
(Enter NATE, with water, and
JIM, with a bottle of pills.)

LISA
Of course she does.

RUTH
She can’t remember eating. Sometimes she says she’s hungry
five minutes after dinner.

NATE
Thanks kinda’ cool — everything is always new, all the time.

RUTH
How would you know?

NATE
It’s obvious. You’re just so caught up in the day to day…

RUTH
What gives you the right?

NATE
What right?

RUTH
The right to say that!

NATE
It’s just kind of, you know, what’s going on.

RUTH
You have no idea what’s going on!

LISA
Please. I have a headache.

EDNA
Let’s go to Poochie’s house. Get your coat. I’ll drive.

RUTH
Poochie does not have a house, Mother.

EDNA
Why not?

RUTH
She’s a dog!

EDNA
Where’s Poochie?

RUTH
At the vet.

EDNA
Let’s go get her.

RUTH
Go to bed, Mother!

EDNA
With so many to men to feed!

LISA
Don’t you feel like sleeping, Grandma?

EDNA
No.

LISA
It’s late. It’s time for bed.

EDNA
Can you take me home?

LISA
You are home.

EDNA
This isn’t home.

RUTH
It is your home. You have a bedroom, your clothes, a bed.

EDNA
Please take me home.

RUTH
Mother, please leave us alone.

EDNA
I want to go home.

RUTH
(losing control and screaming)
Mother, go to bed!
(NATE gives LISA the water. JIM
offers the pills.)

NATE
We don’t need the pills.

JIM
It’s for the headache.

NATE
She doesn’t need that.
(JIM tries to give the pills to
LISA, and she refuses.)

JIM
Lisa — take an ibuprofen.

LISA
Don’t need those.

JIM
Please, sweetheart. Just take one.

LISA
No.

JIM
(to RUTH)
Water for a headache?

RUTH
Take the ibuprofen, Lisa.

LISA
No!

EDNA
Please take me home!

RUTH
You don’t have a home!

NATE
Calm down. That’s giving her the headache.

RUTH
(to NATE)
You are giving her the headache.

JIM
Yes you are.

LISA
What’s that supposed to mean?

RUTH
(indicating NATE)
It means I don’t know what he’s doing in this house!

LISA
(LISA gets up.)
We should leave.

NATE
Just relax.

LISA
Who can relax here?
(LISA exits, stomping)

JIM
You come in here, move in, pretend to get married!

NATE
We didn’t pretend. We got married.

JIM
Just get out.

NATE
I’m going.

JIM
Good.

NATE
Lemmme wait for Lisa.

JIM
Wait outside.

NATE
No.
(RUTH goes to him, as if she
physically wants to remove him
but doesn’t have the means to
do it. She gives him a push.
He takes a step back, but does
not retreat.)
(LISA enters, carrying an
armful of clothes. She gives
them to NATE. She gives EDNA
a hug.)

LISA
Bye, Grandma.

EDNA
Did you fix a plate for the hungry men outside?

LISA
Yeah. We fixed the plate.

EDNA
I’m going with you.

LISA
No. Stay here.

EDNA
I’m going.

LISA
You can’t, Grandma.

EDNA
I want to go with you!

RUTH
Go to bed, Mother!
(EDNA hurries offstage.)
(LISA and NATE exit.)

RUTH
Where will they go?

JIM
Somewhere. They’ve got friends.

RUTH
If you didn’t stay up so late.

JIM
What does that have to do with it?

RUTH
If you weren’t such a night owl.

JIM
I couldn’t sleep.

RUTH
If you didn’t keep things stirred up all the time.

JIM
I didn’t stir anything up.

RUTH
Why do you care so much about ibuprofen?

JIM
Could you go to bed?

RUTH
I’m not sleepy.

JIM
All I want is a few minutes to myself.

RUTH
You want a few minutes to yourself?

JIM
Yes I do.
(This causes her to snap.)

RUTH
What about me? I never get time to myself. Never! None!

JIM
You have plenty of time alone.

RUTH
I’m taking care of Mother.

JIM
Not all the time.

RUTH
It is all the time. You have no idea what it’s like. There’s
never a break!

JIM
Ruth.

RUTH
There isn’t! Look at me!

JIM
Ruth.

RUTH
You can’t even look at me!

JIM
C’mon, Ruth. Calm down.

RUTH
You can’t! Nobody can! Look at me!

JIM
Ruth, please.

RUTH
Do you see what’s happening here? Do you see that I’m turning
into her! It’s like I can feel my heart drying up! That
there’s no me anymore!

JIM
No you anymore?

RUTH
No. The me is disappearing.

JIM
Ruth — you’re not disappearing.

RUTH
I am!
(Enter EDNA, carrying a dinner
knife.)
Mother — give me that knife.

EDNA
(pointing the knife at RUTH)
Leave this house now.

RUTH
Mother.

EDNA
Leave.

RUTH
I live here, Mother.

EDNA
Get out.

RUTH
Mother.

EDNA
Don’t call me mother.

RUTH
I always call you mother.

EDNA
I’m not your mother.

RUTH
Of course you are.

EDNA
You will not rob our house!

RUTH
Mother, let’s get in the car and go for a ride. I’ll drive.

EDNA
Leave!
(JIM takes the knife away from
her.)
I’m calling the police!
(EDNA exits. Offstage, we hear
her scream out…
Poochie! C’mere Poochie!
(From offstage, we hear a loud
thud, the sound of EDNA
falling.)
Curtain
ACT 2

SCENE 1
(In Edna’s room, in the nursing
home. EDNA is in a
wheelchair.)

EDNA
Is there something wrong with me?

RUTH
No, Mother.

EDNA
Why do you call me mother?

RUTH
You’re my mother.

EDNA
I’m not your mother.

RUTH
You are. Do you know my name?

EDNA
I know you’re name.

RUTH
What’s my name?

EDNA
You’re you.

RUTH
I’m Ruth. Your daughter.

EDNA
What’s wrong with me?

RUTH
There’s nothing wrong, Mother.

EDNA
Let’s leave here.

RUTH
You live here.

EDNA
This isn’t my house.

RUTH
This is where you live.

EDNA
I need to leave. Now.

RUTH
We left for awhile. We went out and had lunch.

EDNA
No we didn’t.

RUTH
We just got back.

EDNA
I haven’t had lunch.

RUTH
You just had a great lunch. You really enjoyed it. You had
beets.

EDNA
I love beets.

RUTH
I know you do. We both had beets. They were really good, too.

EDNA
I did not have any beets.

RUTH
You did. With chicken, and cabbage, and potatoes. You had
all your favorites. And you had pudding!

EDNA
Where’s the pudding?

RUTH
You just had pudding.

EDNA
I did not have pudding.

RUTH
It was chocolate.

EDNA
Ohhh. Chocolate pudding. Can I have some?

RUTH
You just had chocolate pudding at lunch.

EDNA
Let’s go have lunch. I’ll drive.

RUTH
We just got back, Mother. We’ll go again later.

EDNA
I haven’t had lunch. I’m hungry.

RUTH
You’re not hungry.

EDNA
Something is wrong with me.

RUTH
Nothing’s wrong.

EDNA
Is that door locked?

RUTH
No.

EDNA
It is locked.

RUTH
It’s not locked, Mother.

EDNA
Why am I locked in here?

RUTH
You’re not.

EDNA
Then let’s go.

RUTH
You live here.

EDNA
I do not live here. And I’m not staying here.

RUTH
You live here now.

EDNA
I’m telling you I do not live here. I live on Gravet Street
and there’s one whole drawer in the dresser that is mine with
nothing but my things in it. I’m going home.

RUTH
Oh my God, Gravet Street.

EDNA
That’s right.

RUTH
When you were a little girl. You loved that house. I guess
Spander Avenue was my Gravet Street, and I had more than a
drawer. I had a whole dresser and closet of my own.

EDNA
Let’s go home.

RUTH
This is your home.

EDNA
This is not my home! Who are you?

RUTH
You know me, Mother.

EDNA
Don’t call me mother.

RUTH
Please, Mother. You know who I am.

EDNA
Of course I know who you are.

RUTH
Who am I?

EDNA
You’re you.
(blackout)

SCENE 2
(EDNA lies in bed, sitting up,
eyes closed. EDNA feeds her.)

RUTH
Mash potatoes, Mother. You like potatoes.
(She feeds her a bite.)
These are goooooood potatoes.
(She gives her a sip of tea,
using a straw.)
Is that good? You like your potatoes. Not so much meat or
desserts. But cabbage and potatoes.
(giving her a spoonful…)
You love your potatoes.
(Enter VICK, her brother.)

VICK
You’re here.

RUTH
Yep.

VICK
Want me to come back later?

RUTH
You can stay.

VICK
I can come back.

RUTH
It’s okay.

VICK
If you want time alone with her.

RUTH
It’s okay. I spend plenty of time alone with her.
(He sits.)

VICK
She doesn’t know the difference, anyway.

RUTH
She knows somebody is here.

VICK
Jane Watkins is here! Did you see her?

RUTH
I see her almost everyday.

VICK
How long has she been here?

RUTH
A few months.

VICK
That’s amazing.

RUTH
I’ve seen Rick out here. Haven’t seen any of the others.

VICK
They live out of town.

RUTH
So does Rick.

VICK
Well, not that far. Is he retired?

RUTH
No. He’s just…

VICK
He’s fifty-seven. Close to retirement.

RUTH
Never said anything about it.

VICK
I’m sure he could retire. He’s got enough years in.

RUTH
He probably still enjoys it. He still looks good.

VICK
Can you imagine retiring in your fifties?

RUTH
I am retired in my fifties.

VICK
I guess you are. I can’t retire.

RUTH
But you love your work.

VICK
Where do you get that?

RUTH
It’s all you do.

VICK
I have to. I’ll do it ’til I die. Unless I end up like her.
I’ll bet Jane Watkins doesn’t weigh eighty pounds.

RUTH
Yeah, she’s tiny. Of course she always was small.

VICK
Not that small. You could push her over with a toothpick. At
least she’s in better shape than Mother. She can stand up and
walk around.

RUTH
Yep. She’s walking. Barely, but she’s up, walking. On her
own.
(offering VICK the spoon)
You want to feed her?

VICK
(declining…)
That’s okay.
(RUTH puts a spoon with food in
her mother’s mouth.)
Jane Watkins and Mother right across the hall from each
other. And neither one of ’em has a clue.

RUTH
Nope.

VICK
Can you imagine, if they knew?

RUTH
My God. They’d want to room together again.

VICK
Can Jane talk?

RUTH
Yeah — barely. You have to get really close to her. Go talk
to her. She might remember you.

VICK
Maybe I will.

RUTH
Mother’s college roommate right across the hall and she
doesn’t even know it. If she knew all she doesn’t know, if
would freak her out.

VICK
Not just college. They were best friends in high school too!

RUTH
Even before high school. She grew up on Morrison. It’s right
next to Gravet Street. Now she seems like a spring chicken
compared to Mother.

VICK
Listen Ñ if I ever get like this, just take me out back, pour
some gas on me, and light a match.

RUTH
That’s horrible.

VICK
Seriously. Or push me off a cliff.

RUTH
(snapping the spoon down and
focusing on VICK)
I can live without the morbid stuff right now.

VICK
You know, it’s almost like Mother gave up when Poochie died.

RUTH
That had nothing to do with it.

VICK
That’s when she lost it.

RUTH
No it’s not. She fell.

VICK
That’s when she fell.

RUTH
Poochie had nothing to do with it. She hit her head. Then she
fell again the second day she was out here. She probably had
a stroke.

VICK
Did the doctor say she had a stroke?

RUTH
Not exactly.

VICK
He didn’t say it.

RUTH
One of the nurses said it. The doctor said everything else:
brain atrophy, Alzheimer’s, brain trauma, bleeding, swelling.
It is what it is. Does it matter what it’s called?

VICK
Not really Ñ but it would be nice to know.

RUTH
Why?

VICK
Just to know.

RUTH
There’s no treatment.

VICK
I know that.

RUTH
So why does it matter what it’s called?

VICK
I don’t know.

RUTH
There’s nothing we can do about it.

VICK
It would be nice to know exactly what we’re dealing with.

RUTH
Why?
(RUTH gently rubs EDNA’S
shoulder.)
This is what we’re dealing with.
(RUTH picks up the iced tea and
offers it to VICK.)
You want to give her this?

VICK
That’s okay.
(RUTH puts the straw in her
mother’s mouth and gives her
iced tea)

RUTH
She ate all the potatoes. All the fruit. All the cake.

VICK
That’s more lunch than I had.

RUTH
She still loves to eat.

VICK
Considering how few calories she burns Ñ just lying there…
I still think Poochie may have had something to do with this.

RUTH
Poochie had nothing to do with this!

VICK
She was attached to that dog.

RUTH
This was happening anyway, and she fell. Where do you get
that this has anything to do with Poochie?

VICK
Wasn’t she talking about Poochie when she fell?

RUTH
No!

VICK
Jim said she was calling Poochie when she fell.

RUTH
You weren’t there! She was talking a lot about a lot of
things that made no sense at all, and she might have called
the dog — but that had nothing to do with it.

VICK
You never really know.

RUTH
I was there! I took her to the ER. I do really know. You know
what you’re doing? You’re putting stuff together, like people
who have Alzheimer’s do. You’re conflating! Poochie did not
cause this!

VICK
Okay. It’s just… that was a great relationship, that dog.
Those two.

RUTH
Yeah, it was. They slept together. They sat together. They
ate together. That was a pure and distinct love she had for
Poochie. At a time in her life when she wasn’t able to
express it.

VICK
That’s what I’m talking about.

RUTH
I loved Poochie too. I mean it really broke my heart when I
found out. It was like we lost both of them at the same time.

VICK
How the hell did they name that dog Poochie?

RUTH
I don’t know. I think she just… she just pulled that one
out of thin air. Without the presidents.

VICK
They didn’t stick with Pop’s protocol.

RUTH
Why would she? That was Pop’s thing. Not hers.

VICK
Pop was alive when they got Poochie.

RUTH
He was? I guess he was. How did they get that name?

VICK
I don’t know. He found the dog — wandering in the yard.

RUTH
But it didn’t have a name. I’m surprised Poochie wasn’t
Washington. We never had a Washington.

VICK
Yeah Ñ perfect. Poochie looked like George Washington… that
big white poodle hair.

RUTH
But there was never a match like Garfield.
(It’s a fun, familiar memory,
and together they suddenly
break into hard laughter.)

VICK
God no. That dog looked just like James A. Garfield!

RUTH
The schnauzer president! And the older Garfield got, the more
she looked like him!
(After a good laugh, they calm
down.)

VICK
Grant was the worst match.

RUTH
Yeah. Pop just wanted to name Grant Grant. There were plenty
of presidents that look more like a boxer.

VICK
Andrew Jackson.

RUTH
Just like a boxer.

VICK
And Tyler Ñ with the long neck.

RUTH
Yep.

VICK
Grant matched the personality. The dog acted like a drunk
general.

RUTH
I loved Grant.

VICK
So did I!

RUTH
That was a crazy dog.

VICK
Yeah.

RUTH
Remember when she tore out that carpet Ñ like half a room.
Just like that.
(She snaps her fingers.)

VICK
(indicating EDNA)
She was ready to kill that dog.

RUTH
I don’t blame her. Five hundred dollars worth of damage in
less than a minute.

VICK
But she didn’t look a bit like Grant.

RUTH
Nope. Maybe as a pup. Not a bit when she was old.

VICK
By the time that dog died… when she was old…

RUTH
SHE DIDN’T EVEN LOOK LIKE A DOG!

VICK
She looked like a goat!
(They laugh, enjoy the moment,
and get quiet.)

VICK
You seen Lisa?

RUTH
Sure I’ve seen her.

VICK
What’s she doing?

RUTH
She’s okay.

VICK
Is she working?

RUTH
Of course she’s working.

VICK
Really?

RUTH
Lisa has always worked.

VICK
Doing what?

RUTH
It’s a decent job. She’s a receptionist at the Frinkas
Museum. Part time, I think. We talk once in a while. Pretty
often.

VICK
Does she come out here?

RUTH
Once.

VICK
It’s not the easiest place to visit.

RUTH
She couldn’t handle it.

VICK
I talked to the funeral home.

RUTH
About what?

VICK
About her funeral.

RUTH
While she’s alive?

VICK
Yeah Ñ it saves a little time and money if she pays for it
now.

RUTH
How much does it save?

VICK
It’s more the convenience than the money. She pays for it,
rather than the estate. Much easier.

RUTH
What if I want to be a part of that?

VICK
Do you?

RUTH
Yeah. But not now. Later — yeah I do.

VICK
It’s just like Pop’s. Same casket. Service at the funeral
home. Same everything.

RUTH
So you left me out.

VICK
It’s exactly the same as Pop’s.

RUTH
But you left me out.

VICK
We can go there together, at the time.

RUTH
But now you’ve done everything.

VICK
It’s a plain casket.

RUTH
You made all the decisions.

VICK
It’s mostly just pre-paying. You want to go over there and
see if there’s anything you want to change?

RUTH
Not now.

VICK
Maybe you could write the obituary.

RUTH
Now?

VICK
They said that would be a good idea.

RUTH
Why now?

VICK
Hospice doesn’t think she’s got a lot of time.

RUTH
When did you talk to Hospice?

VICK
The nurse called me.

RUTH
Called you?

VICK
Yeah.

RUTH
Why’d she call you?

VICK
I’m her son. I guess that’s why.

RUTH
I’m the one who’s out here everyday. I’m the one who’s been
taking care of her.

VICK
That’s true, but…

RUTH
Why did she call you?

VICK
I guess because my name is on the paperwork. I’m the P.O.A.

RUTH
That’s a formality.

VICK
But it’s my name on there.

RUTH
Well tell her Ñ next time Ñ to call me.

VICK
If that’s what you want.

RUTH
It is. I think I deserve it. I’m the one who knows what’s
going on with her day to day. I mean it really takes some
nerve for you to think you know what’s going on here.

VICK
I love her just as much as you do.

RUTH
But I’m the one who’s with her more.

VICK
What is that supposed to mean?

RUTH
It means, next time she calls you — have her call me. You
know, it’s like when I was in college.
Here I am, doing what I’m supposed to do, studying my brains
off, and you drop out, come home, and Pop helps you buy all
that real estate.

VICK
What’s that supposed to mean?

RUTH
It’s not fair. I was getting my degree. I was working.

VICK
I was working.

RUTH
I was studying.

VICK
They were paying for it.

RUTH
They paid for yours too, while you were there.

VICK
You were doing what you wanted to do.

RUTH
But you end up with all these investments.

VICK
That’s what I wanted to do.

RUTH
How is that fair?

VICK
It’s completely fair. I was doing what I wanted to do and you
were doing what you wanted to do. You were a teacher. A
really good one.

RUTH
While you got all that property.

VICK
You’re crazy as hell, aren’t you?

RUTH
It was totally unfair!

VICK
Did you want to buy crappy duplexes and houses and fix ’em
up?

RUTH
No. I was in college.

VICK
Exactly!

RUTH
But think of the money he spent.

VICK
It was my money, too.

RUTH
No it wasn’t.

VICK
It was! Plus my sweat. And you were in college.

RUTH
I was supposed to be in college.

VICK
You went to Europe.

RUTH
That was part of my college.

VICK
You think they spent more on me?

RUTH
I know they did.

VICK
Well they didn’t.

RUTH
You don’t know that.

VICK
I know exactly what it cost. I saw the bills.

RUTH
Why’s that?

VICK
Because Pop and I were in business together! Why do you go
insane every time you talk about… this!

RUTH
You go insane!

VICK
You do. I’m fine.

RUTH
Forget it.

VICK
You forget it.

RUTH
So what did the nurse say?

VICK
I don’t know.

RUTH
Yes you do. I want to know what she said. I have a right.
What did she say!

VICK
Not that much. Her blood pressure, heart rate, stuff like
that.

RUTH
What was it?

VICK
I don’t remember.

RUTH
That’s why she needs to call me!

VICK
Okay.

RUTH
So what did she say?

VICK
I don’t remember.

RUTH
She said something or you wouldn’t have arranged the funeral
without even talking to me.

VICK
It’s my fiduciary responsibility.

RUTH
Fiduciary!

VICK
Yeah, fiduciary.

RUTH
Why is it yours!

VICK
Because I’m her son.

RUTH
And I’m her daughter.

VICK
And I’m Power of Attorney.

RUTH
That’s not what Power of Attorney means.

VICK
That’s exactly what it means.

RUTH
That’s such bull! You know that? You know — after she dies —
after the funeral — if I never see you again — that would
be fine with me.

VICK
If that’s the way you want it.

RUTH
It is! I do everything for her. Everything. And then you come
in and start waving around your Power of Attorney fiduciary
responsibility, throwing your control around.

VICK
It’s really just doing what I’m supposed to do.

RUTH
Without asking me.

VICK
You want me to ask you everything?

RUTH
Yeah! Like which nursing home.

VICK
Listen, when you go shopping, it’s torture. Dad almost had a
nervous breakdown when he helped you buy that Volkswagon.

RUTH
That was over thirty years ago!

VICK
You haven’t changed.

RUTH
I’ve changed a hell of a lot.

VICK
Not really. I guarantee, it’s still agonizing — and I didn’t
want to lose my sanity going around with you looking at a
place for my mother — especially when she’s like this.
This is the best facility in town. Her doctor comes out here.
Do you have a problem with this place?

RUTH
No — but you could have asked! SHE would have wanted me to
be making these decisions.

VICK
She would not have.

RUTH
She would have expected us to work together.

VICK
Why would she expect that?

RUTH
She would have thought we could communicate!

VICK
Why would she have thought that?

RUTH
Because we love her!

VICK
Then act like it. Have some respect.

RUTH
Respect!

VICK
Yeah, respect.

RUTH
Pop would turn over in his grave if he knew how you are
acting now.

VICK
No he wouldn’t. And neither would she. She didn’t want you to
make the decisions or she would have prepared her documents
that way.

RUTH
Documents!

VICK
Yeah, documents.

RUTH
You really don’t understand, do you? You don’t see that that
was just a formality.

VICK
It’s not a formality. It’s her request!

RUTH
She didn’t mean it.

VICK
I think she did.

RUTH
Not the meaning you put on it.

VICK
We can’t ask her now. All I’ve got is a document that looks
pretty clear to me.

RUTH
God you’re such an asshole.

VICK
You’ve got a right to your opinion.
(Enter NURSE with a bag, very
upbeat)

NURSE
So how is Miss Edna today!

RUTH
She ate really well.

NURSE
Great!
(She pulls out a blood pressure
monitor.)
I’m going to check her vitals, give her a little bath and
change her sheets!
(RUTH gets up and the NURSE
sits down beside her. She
starts to check her blood
pressure. RUTH and VICK are
quiet. She checks her pulse.
She pulls out a stethoscope
and checks her heart.)
She’s stable. Sort of on that plateau.

RUTH
Could you call me after your visits?

NURSE
I call Vick every time.

RUTH
Could you call me?

NURSE
Instead of Vick?

VICK
Call us both.

NURSE
I can do that.

VICK
Please do.

NURSE
I’ll need your number.

RUTH
I’m capable of giving you my phone number.

NURSE
I’m sure you are.
(to EDNA)
So how are you feeling today, Miss Edna?

EDNA
Fine.

RUTH
She talked!

VICK
Wow.

NURSE
She talks to us every once in a while, don’t you, Miss Edna?

EDNA
Yes.

NURSE
(to EDNA)
Miss Edna! You sure do look nice today!

EDNA
Thank you.

RUTH
That’s amazing.

NURSE
You know, Miss Edna taught my mom.

RUTH
She did?

NURSE
Oh yeah — and she made a big impact. You see, my mom always
said you gotta make a difference while you’re here. That’s
one of the reasons I’m a nurse.

RUTH
Your mom and told you about mother?

NURSE
Yeah — I heard stories about Miss Edna. Eleventh grade
social studies. You know how some teachers are, they just get
into your heads and stay there the rest of your life. That’s
what Miss Edna did with my mom. Almost every time we ever
talked about teachers, Mom brought up Miss Edna — her
favorite teacher in high school.

RUTH
I guess she was special.

NURSE
She was real special — this lady. Very tough, and
fascinating. My mom’s favorite teacher. Mom used to tell us
about the morning after Bobby Kennedy got shot. It was her
last day of school. Period. I mean her last day before she
graduated. There they were, you know how it is the last day
of school… all the books turned in… just… you know how
it is, the last day of school? Doing nothing all day but just
talking, waiting for the bell to ring… just sitting there
waiting for the rest of your life to start. Half the class
isn’t even there. Exams are over. But not this last day.
Here’s Miss Edna, in full force, waiting on the news to find
out if Bobby Kennedy is going to live or die. That’s what
happened, he was shot and then everybody waited.

VICK
I remember that.

RUTH
So do I.

NURSE
And your mom is there, you know, not telling ’em to have a
good summer. Telling that class that “there are those who
look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of
things that never were, and ask why not?” I mean, think of
that, one of those days, one of those days in history… you
know, like 9/11, where the world stops. They were just
sitting there, a really hot day on the second floor. No air
conditioning back then. Just these real big fans.
Just sitting by the open window staring at that gigantic oak
tree in front of the school, and Miss Edna’s voice crashed
down on them like a rough ocean, telling them the world was
different because hope was dead, and that it was going to
take some work to bring it back to life, and that it was
their job to do that work. My mom decided to be a teacher
that day, because of Miss Edna.
(pause)
You want to wait in the hall while I bath and change her?

RUTH
(NURSE leans over and gives
EDNA a kiss. She offers her
cheek and EDNA gives her a
kiss.)

VICK
I’m leaving. Bye Mother.
(He leans over, offering EDNA
his cheek, and she gives him a
kiss.)

RUTH
Bye Mother. See you tomorrow.
(She leans over and gives her a
kiss and receives one.)

NURSE
You know — it may not look this way to you — but your
mother is having the most pleasant, joyful time of her life
right now.

VICK
Are you kidding?

NURSE
No. She is. She’s peaceful. She looks around. Somebody feeds
her. She naps when she feels like it. This is bliss.

RUTH
I’m not so sure about that.

NURSE
I’m absolutely sure of it. You’re the one who’s suffering.
Miss Edna’s enjoying her life. Her body’s gone, but she’s not
in her body anymore. She’s seven years old, having the most
wonderful time of her life, probably on Coney Island eating
hot dogs and riding the roller coaster.
(RUTH and VICK exit.)
(NURSE begins to pull off the
bed sheets and stops, leaning
very close to EDNA so that
she’s really face to face.)

NURSE
Don’t you look bright today, Miss Edna!

SCENE 3
(Stage left, which represents
the exterior of the nursing
home.)
(LISA and NATE hold hands,
facing each other.)

NATE
You’re my Poochie.

LISA
I know.

NATE
My Poochie woochie.

LISA
I know.

NATE
My Poochie woochie smoochie.

LISA
I know.

NATE
How do you know?

LISA
You told me.

NATE
But you forgot.

LISA
I didn’t forget.

NATE
You need a reminder.

LISA
Okay — you’ve reminded me. Let’s go in.

NATE
Just a minute. You’re my Poochie woochie smoochie.

LISA
Okay.
(He reaches for a kiss and she
rejects it.)

LISA
I can’t.

NATE
Why not?

LISA
With all these old people around here?

NATE
It’s a nursing home.

LISA
I know!

NATE
They don’t care.

LISA
It’s not right.

NATE
Why not?

LISA
It’s just not! What if somebody sees us?

NATE
So what? They don’t care.

LISA
It’ll hurt their feelings.

NATE
Why?
(He tries again.)

LISA
Because… they’re so old! Stop it!

NATE
Poochie.

LISA
I’m not kidding!

NATE
Poochie smoochie.
(As he’s saying this, RUTH
enters — on her way out.)

RUTH
Poochie smoochie?

LISA
Hi Mom.

RUTH
That’s what you call her.

LISA
Mom.

RUTH
Somehow, I don’t find that amusing.

NATE
It’s just a nickname.

RUTH
It’s a dog’s name.

LISA
Nate didn’t know Poochie. He came up with it on his own.

RUTH
I find that hard to believe.

NATE
I did.

RUTH
That was the name of your Grandma’s dog.

LISA
Yeah. So?

RUTH
So don’t call her Poochie.

LISA
It’s kind of a habit.

RUTH
Don’t use it around me!

NATE
Okay.

RUTH
(to LISA)
So you finally came to see her.

LISA
I come here once in a while.

RUTH
Sure you do.

LISA
I do.

RUTH
They never mention you being here.

LISA
I do. When I have time, I come here.

RUTH
She is your grandmother.

LISA
I know that, Mom.

RUTH
Nobody ever had a grandmother like that.

LISA
I know, Mom. We shared a room half the time. Remember?

RUTH
You were very close.

LISA
She’s my grandma!

RUTH
The nurse is changing her now.

LISA
How long does that take?

RUTH
Just a minute. She talked.

LISA
She did? What did she say?

RUTH
Just a couple of words. She really can’t talk.

LISA
I know that. I told you I’ve been here.

RUTH
Don’t be afraid to talk to her. She’ll know you’re there. In
fact, you may want to use this.
(She gives her a pamphlet from
her purse. LISA reads it.)

LISA
I don’t need this.

RUTH
There’s information in there about how to say goodbye.

LISA
I don’t want to say goodbye.

RUTH
They say it helps.

LISA
(reading)
I don’t have to read what some pamphlet says I should say.
I’ll say what I want to say.

RUTH
Fine. It’s there is you want it.

LISA
It’s dumb. Here.
(She hands the pamphlet back to
RUTH.)

RUTH
Okay. She ate really well today.

LISA
Good.

NATE
What did she eat?

RUTH
Potatoes, mostly. Vick was here!

LISA
God, Mom.

RUTH
He’s so smug. You won’t believe what he said.

LISA
I don’t want to hear it.

RUTH
Just listen to this…

LISA
I don’t want to.

RUTH
He’s such a stubborn jerk.

LISA
I just can’t handle hearing that now, Mom.

RUTH
You’re my daughter.

LISA
I know.

RUTH
You won’t let me tell you anything.

LISA
It’s just complaining about Vick.

RUTH
I’ve never complained about Vick.

LISA
You’ve always complained about him.

RUTH
You have no idea what he did.

LISA
You think everybody did something to you.

RUTH
What’s that supposed to mean?

LISA
Vick didn’t do anything.

RUTH
That’s not true!

LISA
Yes it is, Mom! It’s Dad, or Vick, or me. Somebody’s always
doing something to you.

RUTH
Well maybe if somebody would listen to me.

LISA
Whatever! Nobody wants to hear you because you blame us for
everything.

RUTH
Just listen to me!

LISA
Nobody can!

RUTH
Do you know what it’s like coming out here every day?

LISA
She’s your mother!

RUTH
I know that. And I’ve given up a chunk of my life taking care
of her!

LISA
That’s what you’re supposed to do!

RUTH
No it’s not!

LISA
Then it’s what you want to do!

RUTH
Maybe it is.

LISA
So stop complaining!
(RUTH loses control and cries.)

RUTH
I wanted to keep her at home.

LISA
Mom.

RUTH
I did.

LISA
You couldn’t, Mom.

RUTH
I didn’t want to bring her here.

LISA
You had to.

RUTH
You think I had to?

LISA
I know you did. Mom — you did everything you could do for
Grandma. And you’re mad at Vick but he’s just, you know,
Vick. You’re really mad at yourself.

RUTH
Why?

LISA
Because no matter what you do, you never think it’s enough.
C’mon, Mom. Forgive people a little. Vick. Dad. Me. Forgive
yourself.

RUTH
What kind of a person am I?

LISA
Just, you know, the one you are. That’s all.
(LISA gives RUTH a hug. RUTH
sits with herself. LISA and
NATE exit and enter EDNA’S
room.)

SCENE 4
(Inside, LISA and NATE visit
EDNA, who lies on her back,
completely non-communicative)

LISA
Hey, Grandma.
(leaning closer)
Grandma?
(no response at all)
I love you, Grandma.
(NATE consoles her.
EDNA extends her hand and LISA
holds it.)
Hey, Grandma.
(After a moment, LISA reaches
her hand to Edna’s cheek.)
Go get Mom.

NATE
She was leaving.

LISA
Just go get her.

SCENE 5
(RUTH and JIM, at home. RUTH is
folding clothes.)

RUTH
We had this dog. An Airedale. What was that dog’s name?

JIM
How would I know?

RUTH
God Ð I can’t believe this. What was that dog’s name?
(JIM shrugs)
That dog was my best friend.

JIM
I didn’t know you then.

RUTH
I’ve talked about that dog a million times.

JIM
I don’t remember.

RUTH
Mother would have known.

JIM
I’m sure she would have.

RUTH
Damn.

JIM
Vick might remember.

RUTH
That’s not the type of thing I forget.

JIM
It’s not the type of thing you remember, either.

RUTH
Am I getting Alzheimer’s?

JIM
No.

RUTH
It’s like Ð one of the main memories of my childhood.

JIM
With Alzheimer’s, you forget your adulthood before you forget
your childhood.

RUTH
God Ð what was the name of that dog? It was this Airedale.
Sort of orange and black dog. A really wet nose. She had this
exact spot where she sat on the couch — and nobody else
could sit there. I mean, she protected that spot on the
couch! That dog was the center of my universe Ð one of the
best friends I’ve had my entire life. Really!

JIM
I believe you.

RUTH
Seriously Ñ we were close.

JIM
I know.

RUTH
I’ve got this photograph in my head. I remember the exact
smell of that dog’s breath. Really hot breath, you know, but
like a papery smell. The smell of wet paper. Super hot air
like wet paper. And I can feel the way it felt when we
cuddled. She really pushed in close and just kind of used me
for a pillow. I mean, really, really sweet! And now I can’t
remember her name! She would sit on the couch in her spot,
and if I tried to sit there, watch out. She’d snap her head
off at me until I moved and she got her spot. Then we’d sit
next to each other, this certain way, and she’d want to
cuddle. And everything was okay. I mean really okay, you
know? Peaceful. Then one day Ð she was so old. So old. And
she just ran away. Pop said dogs do that. They don’t want
to die with their family so they go away to die. Like out in
the woods or somewhere. Far enough so we won’t see.
(Something occurs to her.)
He probably knew Ð didn’t he? Pop knew.

JIM
He might have.

RUTH
I’ll bet Pop did know! He probably had that dog put to sleep
and never told me.

JIM
It’s possible.

RUTH
Pop knew how much I loved that dog, and he let me go through
my whole life wondering what happened.

JIM
How old was the dog?

RUTH
Old. I mean Ð I think from the time I was born until I… it
was probably thirteen or fourteen years old.

JIM
So you knew it had died.

RUTH
Yeah, but Ð I knew but didn’t know. Why did Pop do that?

JIM
To protect you.

RUTH
Not telling me the truth. That doesn’t protect me.

JIM
He did what he thought was best.

RUTH
I’ll never know what really happened. And I can’t remember
the dog’s name!

JIM
Just look through the presidents.

RUTH
Binger! That was her name. She looked like Benjamin
Harrison.

JIM
Yep. That’s it.

RUTH
God — how could I forget Binger’s name? Binger!

JIM
Binger.

RUTH
My best friend Binger and I forget her name.

JIM
Just for a minute.

RUTH
The rest of my life, every time I forget something, I’m going
to wonder if I’m getting Alzheimer’s Disease.

JIM
You don’t have to.

RUTH
It’s always gonna be there.

JIM
It doesn’t have to be. You put it there.

RUTH
I’m not so sure.

JIM
We all forget stuff.

RUTH
And every time…

JIM
No you don’t. There’s no law that says you have to torture
yourself every time you forget something.

RUTH
Either I’m getting Alzheimer’s, or…

JIM
Or you forgot something.

RUTH
I guess so.

JIM
You know — you could worry about that to the point that the
worry itself makes you forget things.

RUTH
I could just be like everybody else and…

JIM
And roll with it. Anyway, forgetting can be a beautiful
thing. What does a dog remember? Nothing! They don’t remember
anything. Everything is fresh. So what have they got?

RUTH
They eat and they sleep.

JIM
Yeah — but they aren’t afraid. I mean, they have some kind
of memory. Like, they start jumping around in the car when
you pull in the vet’s parking lot. They must remember it.
They know they’ve been there before and they don’t want to go
in. But they don’t twist it around into something else. As
soon as they leave the vet, it’s over. That’s it. They don’t
worry about the past. They don’t think about the future at
all.

RUTH
Just whatever they’re doing.

JIM
That’s it! I mean, really, it’s all momentary. They don’t
worry about anything.

RUTH
Mother had a hard time.

JIM
Not all of it.

RUTH
It was hard at first and when she knew she couldn’t remember,
and when she got to point where she didn’t know she couldn’t
remember, it was better. I guess I should be like a dog.

JIM
Let’s get a puppy.

RUTH
Yeah, we should.
(Enter LISA and NATE)
We’re getting a puppy.

LISA
Good idea.

RUTH
Binger.

LISA
Binger?

RUTH
You like the name Binger?

LISA
It’s okay.

RUTH
(to NATE)
You like it?

NATE
Yeah ÑÊthat’s a good name.

LISA
Where is it?

JIM
We just got the idea.

NATE
What kind?

JIM
Don’t know.

RUTH
(to LISA)
Did I ever tell you about Binger?

JIM
A hundred times.

LISA
I wasn’t listening.

RUTH
She was an Airedale. Very possessive. She had this place on
the couch, and it was a little dance we did — and if I sat
with her a certain way…
(curtain)

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