Dodo of the Year

(They sit around the kitchen table drinking wine from orange juice glasses. In the middle of the table is a half gallon bottle with a screw top.)
JACK: How’s the wine? You like it?
AMY: It’s lovely.
LYNN: Did Paul explain the process?
AMY: I’m not sure. Paul?
PAUL: (to AMY )There is no process.
(to LYNN)
Let’s not do that this year.
KYLE: It’s a tradition.
LYNN: New Year’s wouldn’t be the same without it.
PAUL: Couldn’t we take a year off?
PAUL: I’ve wanted to drop it for years.
LYNN: Why?
PAUL: Why keep it? Some traditions need to end. Remember “The Lottery”?
KYLE: What lottery?
PAUL: The short story…
LYNN: …about stupid rituals. This is a family tradition. Some traditions are valuable.
JACK: Like the Seder.
KYLE: Tradition!
PAUL: What does that have to do with it?
JACK: It’s a tradition. An order to the evening. Same sort of thing.
PAUL: That’s an ancient tradition. With meaning. Ours is…
KYLE: …a family tradition.
PAUL: Exactly! But it’s never been examined. It hasn’t been refined and enriched by history.
JOAN: What’s more meaningful than family?
PAUL: I’m sorry it ever started.
LYNN: I’m not. I love it.
PAUL: How did it start?
KYLE: When you dropped your pole and jumped off the ski lift and broke your leg.
LYNN: The first Dodo of the Year.
KYLE: God, things have changed. That was nothing.
AMY: Dodo of the Year?
KYLE: A trophy that goes to a member of the family who does the stupidest thing that year.
JACK: It’s the main event. It comes after the ‘New Year’s Revelations.’
JOAN: And the ‘What-Are-You-Thankful-For?’ The evening has evolved over the years.
PAUL: It hasn’t evolved. It’s solidified.
JOAN: A family needs that. It’s what makes a family a family.
LYNN: (to Amy )Does your family have a program for New Year’s Eve?
AMY: We don’t actually spend it together.
KYLE: You don’t? What do you do?
AMY: We go our separate ways. To parties.
LYNN: You’ll love ours. Let’s do ‘What-Are-You-Thankful-For?’ before dinner. Who wants to go first? Dad?
JACK: I need a minute.
KYLE: I’ll start. I’m thankful my kids are happy. And healthy. And that they found a decent condo that’s not too expensive.
PAUL: (subtle, but in attack mode) You mean ex-wife.
KYLE: But not ex-kids.
PAUL: (skeptical )When’s the last time you saw ‘em, Kyle?
KYLE: I see ‘em all the time.
PAUL: Over the holidays?
KYLE: Second night of Hannuka.
PAUL: Once a month?
KYLE: Every two weeks.
LYNN: Supervised.
PAUL: So they’ve adjusted.
KYLE: Yeah. Now that they’ve got a place to live. Listen, whatever you do, don’t marry a straight-up bitch, have kids, and get a divorce. It’s hell. But now that it’s over with, I’m thankful.
JOAN: I’m thankful Kyle is here, and living at home again.
PAUL: That’s pathetic.
JOAN: I think it’s nice. I just wish the children were here.
LYNN: Me too. Kids aren’t that bad, really.
AMY: Children are wonderful.
JACK: His aren’t.
JOAN: Jack. I miss them.
JACK: I don’t.
LYNN: I’m thankful Paul’s here.
JOAN: Me too.
JACK: How much did that plane ticket cost ya’?
PAUL: Don’t remember.
JACK: You just bought it.
PAUL: Can’t remember exactly.
JACK: Suddenly you’re rich?
PAUL: No, I’m not rich.
JACK: If you can’t remember how much you shelled out for something like that, you must be doing pretty well.
PAUL: Dad, I’m teaching. I barely scrape by.
KYLE: We’re not buying plane tickets and flying all over the place.
PAUL: Neither am I. I came home for a visit.
KYLE: And spent some serious money to do it.
PAUL: It was expensive, okay? Especially this time of year. But it was important. I did some consulting on the side and saved the money.
JACK: Consulting?
PAUL: Tutoring.
KYLE: Tutoring is not consulting.
PAUL: It’s a word, okay?
AMY: It sounds more professional.
KYLE: It still isn’t consulting.
PAUL: Whatever. I’m here.
LYNN: And you had to buy two tickets.
KYLE: Ouch.
PAUL: I bought one.
JACK: (to AMY )You bought your plane ticket?
AMY: Technically.
JOAN: (to AMY )He made you pay for your own plane ticket?
AMY: He didn’t make me. I wanted to.
LYNN: Is that considered rude? In England?
AMY: No. It’s practical.
PAUL: It doesn’t matter. A lot of our expenses are pooled anyway.
LYNN: Is that so?
PAUL: Yeah.
JOAN: Pooled? What do you mean?
PAUL: Don’t you and Dad sort of have your finances in the same sort of pot?
JACK: We’re sort of different because we’re sort of married.
PAUL: We’re living together.
JOAN: You’re living together!
PAUL: Yeah. Didn’t I tell you that?
KYLE: That would have been a good one to save for the New Year’s Revelations.
PAUL: It’s no big deal.
JOAN: (to AMY )Do your parents know this?
AMY: Yes.
JOAN: They approve?
AMY: They like Paul so much.
JACK: They probably think it saves money.
PAUL: It does.
JACK: In the short run. Wait ‘til later.
JOAN: Your parents approve, but do they care about you, darlin’?
AMY: Oh yes.
PAUL: I’m an adult. I’m thirty years old.
JOAN: You can be a child at any age.
JACK: I’ve met men in their eighties who hadn’t grown up yet.
LYNN: This has nothing to do with what anybody’s thankful for. Paul, what’re you trying to do?
PAUL: Nothing.
LYNN: You didn’t have to tell them that. That’s like sticking a dagger in your mother’s back.
PAUL: No it isn’t.
LYNN: It feels that way to her. Ask her.
PAUL: Hey! You’re the one who’s so crazy about this ‘thankful’ routine. Don’t you want us to be honest? Amy and I live together. I live there, with her – not here – with all of you. It’s a happy arrangement. That’s what I’m thankful for.
LYNN: I’m thankful I’m not a jerk like you.
KYLE: Me too.
JACK: There’s a lot to be thankful for.
JOAN: I’m not thankful for anything.
LYNN: C’mon, Mom.
JOAN: I’m not.
LYNN: (to PAUL )See what you did.
PAUL: I didn’t do anything.
LYNN: Look at her. She’s not thankful for anything.
PAUL: I didn’t do that.
LYNN: It’s because of you.
PAUL: I can’t make her thankful.
LYNN: You don’t have to tell her things like that.
PAUL: Oh, I should be like you? And do lots of things I know would crush her, and not tell her about any of ‘em?
JOAN: What?
PAUL: You know what I’m talking about.
LYNN: Screw you.
JOAN: Lynn!
KYLE: It’s true. She’s done some terrible things.
JACK: I don’t doubt it.
PAUL: See?
JOAN: Stop this!
PAUL: Remember Tim Clinard? The off campus apartment? Living together.
JOAN: What?
LYNN: What’s wrong with you?
PAUL: And Stuart Meeks? Back in Mom and Dad’s bed. When they were in Israel? For a month!
JOAN: (loud )Stop it!
PAUL: Half the time, they didn’t even shut the door.
KYLE: No, they didn’t.
JOAN: (louder )I said stop!
(Pause. They wait.)
So, Grigoriy. What are you thankful for?
JOAN: Thankful.
(He holds the vodka and drinks.)
JOAN: What…are…you…thankful…for?
(He drinks again.)
(LYNN rises and attempts to explain, using a fair amount of pantomime.)
LYNN: I’m…thankful…for…
(She puts her arms around her mother’s neck and gives her a kiss on the head. Her mother reacts coldly.)
(She does the same with her father.)
(She goes to the window.)
…fresh air…
(She gestures toward the kitchen.)
(She points at the roof.)
…shelter…a house…
(Grigoriy doesn’t get it. He pulls out his Russian-English dictionary.)
LYNN: Give me that dictionary.
(GRIGORIY gives LYNN his dictionary. She looks up thankful.)
There. Thankful.
PAUL: Da. I thank.
LYNN: Da! Da!
KYLE: That’s right. You thank. So what are you thankful for, Grigoriy?
PAUL: Abraham Lincoln.
JACK: Abraham Lincoln.
PAUL: Da. Mikhail Gorbachiev.
KYLE: Abraham Lincoln and Michail Gorbachiev. The guy’s lost it.
LYNN: He doesn’t understand. Grigoriy,…
…what are you thankful for?
PAUL: Lincoln. Gorbachiev. I thank.
LYNN: Why do you thank them?
(He looks up a word in the dictionary.)
PAUL: Slaves.
JACK: Slavs?
PAUL: Slaves. Da.
LYNN: Lincoln did free the slaves.
KYLE: Gorbachiev didn’t.
AMY: Maybe they felt like slaves.
KYLE: He opened the economy. But the Russians weren’t slaves.
AMY: From the worker’s point of view, perhaps it was similar.
KYLE: Are you saying the workers in the Soviet Union were slaves? Don’t be ridiculous.
PAUL: Don’t call her ridiculous.
KYLE: Her interpretation of history is ridiculous.
JOAN: Grigoriy is thankful. That’s good enough.
PAUL: She’s thinking abstractly about labor, as an economic force in history. She’s had a better education than you. You’re just plugging in stuff you’ve heard about slavery.
KYLE: Don’t tell me what I’m thinking. And she’s not thinking abstractly. She’s kissing up to your Russian cousin. I think he’s got the hots for her. Hey, Grigoriy, you got the hots for her?
PAUL: Hots?
JOAN: That’s enough.
JACK: Even if he did, you’d never be able to explain it.
LYNN: Some things are the same in any language.
KYLE: Isn’t that right, Grigoriy?
LYNN: Grigoriy…do…you…have…the…hots…for…Amy?
PAUL: Hey.
LYNN: Do you think Amy is pretty, Grigoriy?
PAUL: Cut it out.
LYNN: Lemme see that dictionary.
(She takes his dictionary and looks up a word.)
PAUL: (to AMY)
Maybe we should go.
AMY: Go where?
PAUL: Anywhere.
AMY: In this snow? At this hour? We just got here.
PAUL: I don’t like it.
AMY: They’re just teasing him.
KYLE: Sure. It’s harmless.
PAUL: (to AMY)
They’re insulting you…too much. I knew it would be this way…but this is too much. I don’t like it.
AMY: Be polite.
(LYNN finds the word in the dictionary.)
LYNN: There. You…
that word…
(showing GRIGORIY the word in the dictionary and pointing to AMY)
LYNN: Amy da Grigoriy too.
PAUL: Hold on.
LYNN: Lemme look up another word here.
(She takes the dictionary.)
PAUL: Give me that.
LYNN: No. I’ve got it.
(PAUL pounces and tries to seize the dictionary from his sister. They struggle, and he gets it away from her. He goes outside for a second and returns without it.)
PAUL: You’ll need to put on your cross county skis if you want to find it.
(GRIGORIY exits, in order to search for his dictionary.)
KYLE: How deep was that snow when you came in?
PAUL: At least a foot.
KYLE: Did you toss it underhanded?
PAUL: I threw it.
JACK: How’s your arm these days?
PAUL: Fine.
KYLE: (to AMY)
He always had a good arm.
JOAN: It’s dark out there. He’ll freeze.
LYNN: No he won’t. He’s Russian.
JOAN: I hate this.
JACK: Why?
JOAN: They’re being mean to our guests.
JACK: They are?
JOAN: I think so.
JACK: It’s better than putting on airs. They feel more at home that way. Amy, don’t you feel at home here?
AMY: Sort of.
JACK: See?
JOAN: What’s wrong with being nice? Grigoriy needs that dictionary.
JACK: You’d feel better if you were thankful for something.
JOAN: I said I was thankful that Kyle and Paul are here.
JACK: Besides that.
JOAN: Well, I’m not. I wish Kyle’s children were here.
JACK: Think of something else. It’ll make you feel better. I’ll go next. I’m thankful I didn’t have any Enron stock.
KYLE: That doesn’t count. It’s got to be something you’re thankful for. There are an infinite number of things we can be thankful we don’t have.
JACK: I’ve got some stock that didn’t do so well. But I’m really thankful I didn’t have that Enron crap. Or worse yet, that I’m not one of the poor slobs who worked for that company.
KYLE: Still doesn’t count. There are plenty of people you could be thankful you’re not.
JACK: Are you the thankful police?
KYLE: We could vote.
JACK: We’re not voting on whether every bit of gratitude qualifies.
KYLE: Guidelines. We’ll vote on guidelines.
JACK: Okay. Did your divorce go through this year?
KYLE: Yeah.
JACK: I’m thankful for that. I never liked her.
KYLE: Wait a minute.
LYNN: It’s honest. Paul thought we should be honest, didn’t you, Paul?
PAUL: To an extent.
KYLE: That was a big part of our problem.
JACK: That I never liked her?
KYLE: Yeah.
JACK: Your mother couldn’t stand her either.
JOAN: Jack.
JACK: What’d you think of her?
JOAN: I won’t say.
KYLE: Mom.
JOAN: She was fine.
KYLE: Did you hate her, Mom?
JOAN: I didn’t hate her.
KYLE: See?
JOAN: She was the mother of your children. I adore those children. Why couldn’t they be here!
KYLE: She wouldn’t let me bring ‘em.
JOAN: You always let her walk all over you.
LYNN: Tell him the truth, Mom.
PAUL: Yeah, Mom. You want us to be honest.
JOAN: She’s a bitch. You were stupid to marry her.
KYLE: I know that! But you guys made her that way! If you had left her alone she probably wouldn’t have left me!
JOAN: What did I do?
KYLE: You nagged her all the time.
JOAN: No I didn’t.
KYLE: You did. You were so picky about the house. The kids. Her cooking.
JOAN: I wasn’t picky. That’s my Jewish mother personality.
KYLE: She wasn’t a Jewish daughter-in-law.
JACK: Exactly.
JOAN: It makes a difference.
KYLE: Do you realize you ruined my life?
JACK: Nobody made you marry her. You ruined it yourself.
KYLE: But once I did, you could have accepted her.
JACK: What the hell is that supposed to mean?
KYLE: Accepted her.
JACK: Huh?
KYLE: Let her be who she is!
JOAN: We tried.
KYLE: You never tried!
LYNN: God! It’s over already! C’est la vie. I think we ought to wrap this up and move on to the New Year’s Revelations. Unless anybody’s got something more they’re thankful for. Mom?
JOAN: Nothing.
LYNN: Still nothing?
JACK: (to AMY)
She’s usually thankful for something. It’s been a rough year.
LYNN: Revelations.
KYLE: I flushed a piece of chicken down the toilet.
JACK: At my house?
KYLE: Mine.
PAUL: Why?
KYLE: It was closer than the kitchen.
AMY: That’s a New Year’s Revelation?
LYNN: It’s weak, but it qualifies. At least it gets things started. Maybe you’d like to reveal something, Amy?
AMY: Could do.
PAUL: You don’t have to.
KYLE: Of course she does.
PAUL: Maybe she doesn’t feel like it.
KYLE: Of course she does.
PAUL: Maybe I’d rather her not.
LYNN: She’s with us, now. Amy, please.
AMY: Paul, should I tell them?
PAUL: What?
AMY: You know. If we’re doing revelations, this might be the right time.
PAUL: Tell ‘em what?
AMY: You know, our secret.
PAUL: The secret?
AMY: The secret.
PAUL: Oh. The secret. Don’t.
JOAN: If you start a revelation, you have to finish it.
PAUL: Later.
LYNN: Now.JOAN: That is in the guidelines. If you start a revelation, you have to finish it. Isn’t that in the guidelines, Kyle?
KYLE: It certainly is.
AMY: Paul, you tell them.
LYNN: (to AMY)
It’s your revelation.
AMY: It’s really ours.
JOAN: Paul.
PAUL: Not now.
AMY: We’re engaged.
(Silence. Pause.)
JOAN: I don’t know if I can live through this again.
AMY: He was married before?
JOAN: (referring to KYLE)
He was. It was a disaster.
AMY: So I gather. I’m sorry.
JOAN: There are some things you should know about Paul.
AMY: What?
PAUL: Mom.
(Enter GRIGORIY from the snow. Inquiringly, he points east.)
(He points west.)
(PAUL points east and waves him off.)
PAUL: Vot!
(GRIGORIY exits.)
JOAN: We moved South just after Lynn was born. We were a young, happy family.
PAUL: Mom, she doesn’t care about this.
JOAN: Shut up. She’s thinking about marrying you.
PAUL: We prepared for this. We won’t be influenced by anything you say.
JOAN: I told you to shut up. You need to hear this also.
PAUL: I’ve heard it a thousand times.
JOAN: You can hear it again.
(speaking to AMY)
We were happy. Jack started a business. We fixed up a house. Lynn was a fussy baby, but we were still happy.
PAUL: And then I was born.
JOAN: Hold on. I’m telling it. Then I got pregnant with him.
(referring to PAUL)
And he…
(referring to JACK)
…got so angry. Went berserk. Foaming at the mouth like a dog.
JACK: It wasn’t financial.
JOAN: No, it wasn’t the money. Those days were different.
JACK: It was the headache of having another baby. I was ready to let Lynn grow up so I could live a little.
JOAN: I told him when we were coming out of a movie.
JACK: I think it was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
JOAN: He was in a good mood. I thought the timing was perfect. But it was worse than I expected. All I said was, “I’m pregnant.”
JACK: And I kicked in the headlight of our car.
JOAN: I was furious, because…a baby is a blessing. But he didn’t want him at all. So I got him back.
AMY: Obviously, you had the baby.
JOAN: I told him that he wasn’t the real father.
LYNN: You know, I was pretty little then — but I think I remember that.
KYLE: I do too.
LYNN: You weren’t born.
KYLE: They talked about it later. They snorted at each other.
LYNN: They did that a lot. They still do, sometimes.
(KYLE snorts at LYNN. LYNN snorts back.)
Not as often.
KYLE: They used to snort more than they talked.
LYNN: Maybe that’s when it started.
JOAN: (to AMY)
I let him believe it, too. For over two years. Just to make him suffer.
JACK: I was already suffering. For other reasons. You think I believed that crap?
JOAN: Of course you did.
JACK: Don’t make me laugh. I knew you didn’t have an affair. Who would have an affair with you!
JOAN: You…well…there are reasons he believed me. It’s hard to get pregnant without sex.
JACK: We had sex.
JOAN: Once.
JACK: And apparently, that was enough.
JOAN: He had the choice of believing the father was someone else, or that he got me pregnant with a single lapse of concentration. He had the ego to believe it, but there was that nagging doubt.
(JACK rises, angry, preparing to resume the long-standing battle.)
JACK: If he were someone else’s, that would explain a lot!
(She rises.)
JOAN: Like what?
JACK: Like why he’s a complete idiot!
JOAN: That would clearly indicate that he carries your genes!
JACK: Einstein’s genes wouldn’t compensate for your stupidity!
LYNN: Amy, this might go on for a while. Wanna go help Grigoriy find that dictionary?
AMY: Sure.
KYLE: I’ll go too.
JACK: Great idea!
PAUL: Me too.
JOAN: You’re not going anywhere!
PAUL: I don’t want to hear this.
JOAN: You’re exactly the person who needs to hear this.
(PAUL rises.)
PAUL: You said you wanted Amy to hear this, and she’s going. I’ve heard this before. I’m going to help find the dictionary.
JACK: Sit down!
(Obediently, he sits. Exit AMY, LYNN, and KYLE.)
You’re a moron. What did we need another baby for?
JOAN: It wasn’t on purpose.
JACK: You didn’t take precautions.
JOAN: We got carried away.
JACK: You tricked me.
JOAN: You didn’t have to respond.
JACK: I was loaded. It was my bowling night.
JOAN: You were not drunk.
JACK: I had enough to distort my thinking.
JOAN: It was natural. We’re married.
JACK: You could have used your diaphragm.
JOAN: I didn’t have time. When I woke up your stinking bones were all over me.
JACK: I did not stink.
JOAN: You smelled like beer.
JACK: That’s different from stink.
JOAN: I think it stinks.
JACK: You knew I was going bowling.
JOAN: So what!
JACK: You could have anticipated.
JOAN: You could have given me a minute. Or was I too attractive?
(JACK slams the table.)
JACK: I didn’t want that child!
JOAN: Well, you’ve got him! And there’s nothing you can do about it.
(He sits, conceding defeat. He slams the table again.)
JACK: Damn!
PAUL: What about Kyle? You didn’t complain about him?
JOAN: What was it about Kyle?
JACK: Dunno.
(They shrug. Pause.)
I guess I didn’t care anymore. But I sure as hell didn’t want him.
JOAN: What’s so bad about him?
JACK: I don’t know. Something about him. Look at him.
(They look at PAUL, studying him.)
JOAN: What?
JACK: Tell me he’s not weird.
JOAN: He’s not.
JACK: He’s weird as hell.
JOAN: He’s yours.
JACK: Dammit, Joan. Don’t you think I know that?
Something has happened between AMY and GRIGORIY. They are close, perhaps shoulders touching, sharing an intimate moment within the pages of GRIGORIY’s dictionary.
AMY: Oooo.
PAUL: Vodka?
AMY: Da.
(GRIGORIY gets the bottle and takes a swallow. He gives it to AMY. She drinks.)
PAUL: Amy, are you sure you want to do that?
AMY: Da.
(She drinks.)
PAUL: Good?
AMY: Bad.
LYNN: Bad good, or bad bad?
AMY: Bad bad.
LYNN: Grigoriy….In America, bad…sometimes…means…good.
JOAN: Let me see that bottle.
(She takes it from AMY and drinks.)
JACK: Joan, don’t.
(Jack goes to her and tries to take the bottle. She pulls back, angry, threatening to hit him with it.)
JOAN: Away from me, schmuck, or I’ll crush your skull!
(He backs up.)
This family is disgusting. I’m going.
(She goes to the door.)
LYNN: Mom.
JACK: Come back, Joan.
KYLE: You might need a coat, Mom.
(She exits, slamming the door behind her. They all go to the window and watch. Sound of a car. Headlights. They watch her drive off.)
LYNN: Dad?
(He gets the message.)
JACK: Damn.
(He puts on his coat, hat, gloves. He exits. They go to the window. Sound of another car. Headlights. All is calm.)
KYLE: Should we start Dodo of the Year without them?
LYNN: I think they ought to be here. What do you think, Paul?
PAUL: After this, shouldn’t we skip it?
LYNN: What do you think, Grigoriy?
PAUL: Vodka. Da.
(He exits.)
LYNN: I guess he’s got another bottle. We ought to wait, shouldn’t we, Kyle?
KYLE: Yeah, they’re both in the running.
LYNN: Amy?
AMY: Dodo of the Year? I think we should wait for them.


2 Replies to “Dodo of the Year”

    1. I don’t mind sending you the script as an attachment — but would you mind giving me a little more information (the college, the class, etc.). Just so I know it’s legitimate — and to satisfy my curiosity.



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