a skit by Robert Patrick
for Ross MacLean
dominance gear. She cracks a whip.
and the Equality Congress. We of the Equality Congress
hereby abolish the playing of roles in our society. All racial,
gender, and age roles will henceforth stop being played or
they will be severely punished. And above all, without excep-
tion, we forbid the playing of family roles. Anyone
stereotyping themselves will be immediately and without trial
hauled in to fulfillment headquarters and made to be in-
dividual, just like everybody else. There will be no exceptions
made. Remember (Light is fading on her) … No playing
family roles. Playing family roles is hereby abolished forever.
right in off the street and use language like that. What if the
Family Role Police are watching?
You think for a minute the Family Police don’t know what
goes on in here? All they have to do is take one look at that
neon sign you got in the window-an apple pie crossed by a
pipe and slippers. How much do you have to slip ‘em under
the counter for that?
today got no respect for their elders.
like that pays good money for it.
Half the bars on State Street have turned into Family Bars
now. What with everybody having to call each other
“citizen” in their homes-
You know what word I meant: H-O-M-E.
SON Oh, right. I shoulda said “dwelling units.” Right?
SON Anyway, what with everybody having to call each
other “citizen” in their “dwelling units” so they don’t
stereotype each other, all the bars in town are startin’ to fill
up with us undesirable elements.
POP You should complain. Hustlers like you make big
money from other people’s misery.
SON (Correcting him) “Other citizens’ misery.”
POP (Overlapping, correcting himself) Other citizens, right,
right, right. Hustlers like you make money out of
SON Ssshhhhh. Hush, here comes a sucker.
POP (Aside to audience) Heh. heh. He’ll get his. And it
serves him right. (MAW, a fifty-year old, pink cheeked,
white-haired lady in a blue flowered housedress with a little
straw hat decorated in daisies totters in, clutching shopping
bags and puffing) That’s the notorious Maw, the biggest
hustler of them all. Shell take him for every cent he’s worth.
And probably burn him to boot. Hee-hee-hee . (To MAW)
Good afternoon, Citizen.
MAW Huff-huff. Don’t know what’s good about it. Can’t
hardly get around at all with these pains in my legs. And all
the salescitizens so rude. I just thought I might (coyly) stop in
and have a harmless little drinkie-wink. There’s nothing
wrong with that, is there?
SON (To audience) Holy vasectomy, what a stereotype.
Why, I’ll have her eatin’ out of my hand in no time. (To POP) Say, citizen, give this charming citizen a drink on me.
POP Now, now, can’t have that sort of thing going on here.
(Stifles a giggle)
MAW I should say not. What kind of place is it where a
citizen can’t drag herself in without gettin’ classified in a
cliche manner by a person who in less tolerant times might
have been termed a smart-ass young squirt? (She sits down at
a table, primly.)
SON (To audience) Ho, boy, is she ripe for the picking.
(Saunters to MAW’s table). I say, citizen, don’t get doc-
trinaire on me. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with one
social unit being fraternal with another, is there?
MAW Well, just so long as it’s understood that I’m not the
sort of apolitical backslider who’d put up with any patroniza-
tion or veiled sexism.
SON Why, I would never even try a thing like that with an
obvious right-thinker such as yourself, no matter how
adorable, twinkling and homey she- (MAW bridles) -I beg
your pardon, I mean “such a citizen” might look.
MAW Well, then, in the spirit of total equality I accept your
apology and your drink to further strengthen the bonds of
understanding between all forward-looking conformists to
the great principals of individualism. And you must let me
boy-I mean buy-you one, too.
SON (To audience) Hey, she’s getting’ all my signals. I know
this type. She’s bought it before. (to POP) Bring my drink
over to this citizen’s table, official dispenser of alcoholic
beverages for the relaxation of free workers.
POP (Setting drinks, which he has been mixing all along, on
table.) There you are.
SON Here, my good functionary (Starts to reach in pocket).
MAW No, no, I’m sure that’s your allowance, you must let
me pay to make up for being too stern.
SON No, no, no, it is my right as an offender against the
tenets of voluntary superego sacrifice to make amends to the
sweetest little drinking companion a fellow-
POP and MAW A what?
SON I was going to say “fellow-citizen.”
POP and MAW Well, all right.
SON (Withdrawing hand from pocket, empty) But if you in-
MAW No, I guess it’ll be all right this one time, you naughty
SON and POP What?
MAW I was going to say, you naughty boi-ling mass of
SON Oh. (He and MAW snicker together)
POP Well, I guess I’ll just go in the backroom and leave you
two dogma-birds alone-I have to sort out some (wink) pop-
bottles. (He exits)
MAW (Snickers) Now that citizen shouldn’t talk that way.
SON You’re right. There might be a cuddly old darling here
with refined sensibilities.
MAW Not here, there wouldn’t. This is a respectably anti-
role playing bar, or else I wouldn’t come in.
SON Oh, of course not.
MAW (Slyly) I was just thinking of the fact that innocent
young citizens who need understanding and guidance might
come in here and be offended by such language. . .if you get
SON (Delighted) Why, yes, of course I do. (To audience)
Well, talk about dropping a playpen. She just can’t wait to
ruffle my hair and warn me about girls. (To MAW) Yes, cer-
tain young citizens like that might be in here … young
citizens who might need what only the warm, understanding
heart of an older citizen can give . . . like extra pocket money
MAW (To audience) Uh-huh, here it comes. I can hardly
believe it, but this pushbutton is trying to hustle me. Why, in
five minutes III have him shelling out a fortune just for the
privilege of telling me how teacher picked on him at school
today. (To SON) Yes, I suppose a place like this might attract
that sort of disgusting antisocial pervert.
SON Uh, oh yes, I agree completely. (To audience) Can I
have flubbed? Can’t be. But I better be careful. She might be
Vice. (To MAW) Of course, in line with our enlightened age,
I do think we owe it to our civic consciousness to be tolerant
of such unfortunate deviates. (To audience) That’s in case she
thinks I’m vice. (To MAW) Don’t you? (to audience, quickly)
Of course, that’s better than havin’ her think I’m virtue.
(Winks at audience)
MAW Oooooh, yes, indeedy, yes, indeedy, that’s exactly
what I think. That’s very bright of you. Most younger
citizens aren’t nearly so bright as that. (She winks at au-
SON Really? Gosh, thanks I always was good in Automatic
Morality and Unthinking Creed-Rap when I was in
school. .(To audience) Hey, what is this? Is this dame gettin’
to me? For a minute there I felt really warmed by her atten-
tion and uncritical approval. Better tighten the grip. (To
MAW) You know, if you don’t mind my saying so, that
was-gee-real swell of you to say that.
MAW (To audience) Oh, brother. Have I seen that done bet-
ter. (To SON) Why, bless you-if you don’t mind such out-
moded unatheistic commendation-a person just couldn’t
help wanting to encourage a troubled, searching lad-
MAW –ladder-climbing young moralist like yourself.
SON (To audience) Hey, I’m gettin’ wrong messages. This
biddy is really sincere. Hey, no-that’s they way the toughest
ones get trapped. She’s just tryin’ to bring the price down.
Well, I’ll show her. I’ll bring out my big guns. (To MAW) I
know, I know. Sometimes I think if I just had an older per-
son, maybe a sort of experienced, caring person, who
would -you know -believe in me when all the rest of the
world doubted me? Then maybe I could really make
somethin’ of myself.
MAW (All sugar) Of course you could. Why, you’re not
bad. You just need understanding and a little guidance.
That’s all. It’s really hard for a young man-
MAW -manageable citizen to make it on his-
MAW his-torical principles without a moth-
MAW Moth-eaten old person to show the way.
SON (To audience) Boy, it’s funny. I’ve never felt like this
before. Maybe she’s not that kind of crone. Aw, what am I
thinkin’? They’re all alike. You can’t trust ‘em. They’re all
alike. They’re just like my own mo-mo-mo-mo- well, they’re
just like my own. She’s putty in my hands now. I’ll snap the
trap any minute. I will. I will. I will. (Winks at audience.
Sniffs. Winks at audience again. Sniffs. Winks. Winks other
eye. Winks eyes alternately.)
MAW AWWWWWW, did it have somethin’ in its eyes?
Here, let a concerned citizen take a look at it.
SON (Sniffling) No, not here. Not like this. Not that way.
MAW No? Well … how would you like it, Baby?
SON (Breaks down wailing) No, don’t, I can’t take it. Yes, yes, I can. I must I want it. I want it. Gotta have it. Gotta have that tender, loving care. Gotta have that person to bring my little private thoughts and dreams and self-doubts to. I’m yours. Name your price. Anything. Anything. (He falls on his knees and grovels at her feet).
MAW Okay. Ya can start by payin’ for them drinks.
SON Yes, yes, anything. Pop. Pop.
POP (Re-entering, tough) You watch what kind of language
you use around here, boy.
SON Oh, yes, yes, talk dirty, I love it. I want to pay for this
POP Yeah? She’s got a pretty big bar tab here, you know.
SON (Emptying his pockets) I’ll pay it. I’ll pay anything.
MAW (Tugging half the bills out of POP’s hands as she andPOP exchange big winks) Why, bless your little soul,
chickadee. You get up off that old floor before you catch
cold. I know what you need. You need to say home from
school tomorrow and have Mommy read to you.
SON Yes. Yes. Your place or mine?
MAW Well, I have a lovely little place upstairs with a big
overstuffed chair and a canary and geraniums on the win-
SON Oh, yes, yes.
MAW It’s a shame the rent’s overdue …
SON Here, here, here’s a blank check. Traveller’s checks.
My graduation wrist-watch. Take me. Take me away.
MAW That’s a good boy. And if I only had the money to
spare, I’d get all the makings and fix myself a big apple pie
and maybe some pancakes …
SON Here. Here’s my class ring. Get it. Get it all. I need it,
do you hear? I neeeeeeeeeeeed iiiiiiiiiit !
MAW Aw, don’t worry. Mommy will take care of you.
Here’s the key. It’s right upstairs. You go on up and Mommy
will be right there.
SON You won’t forget-Mommy?
MAW: Now you go right on up or Mommy will have to spank.
SON: (Giggles) Oooooo. Mommy scare sonny. (He runs upstairs and off)
POP (As HE and MAW guffaw) Well, you got ‘im, I don’t
know how you do it, Maw.
MAW Aw, it’s easy. Everybody knows the old saying:
“Young hustlers never die. They just start buyin’ it back.”
POP It’s amazin’ the way you play on everybody’s innate
desire to have a secure social role, Maw.
MAW Is it? Is it, Pop? You’re not just sayin’ that? You really
like the way I do it?
POP Oh, sure. You’re one of the best.
MAW One of the best? Who’s better? Who makes more for
you than I do, Pop? Come on, who? You know I scrimp and
save for you. I’m your good little girl, ain’t I? Ain’t I?
POP (Suddenly hard, pimpish) Don’t make trouble, Maw.
Just get up there and put Sonny Boy’s feet in some warm
water and read him The Wind in the Willows.
MAW Sure, Pop-sure. I’ll do it. Anything. For
you … anything. (She scuttles off)
POP Well, just another day in the Family Bar. (He whistles
“You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You,” starts wiping a
glass, and winks at the audience as the lights fade.)