Saturday, October 8, 2022

Easter Island

CAST LIST

DOTTIE, a woman in her seventies. She is losing her memory.

TOM, a man in his seventies, Dottie’s husband. He has retired to take care of her.

WALLY, a man in his forties. Son-in-law to Dottie and Tom.

LOLA, a woman in her forties, divorced and remarried daughter of Dottie and Tom

Scene: Dottie and Tom, sit in front of the audience. Tom directly faces the audience. Dottie is half facing Tom, and half facing the audience with her chair on an angle. Her expression is vacant, interspersed with moments of intense awareness. Tom delivers his lines directly to the audience. Dottie delivers her lines only to her husband in a tone of neutral reminiscence.


TOM:

My name’s Tom. And nobody ever dared call

me ‘Tommie.’ Except for Dottie here. She used

to call me that when we were kids and had just

started keeping company. Back then, she liked

everything about me—except the drinking. Dottie

never touched the stuff, except a little champagne

at the kids’ weddings. Then she’d start giggling a

lot. But me, I drank like a fish 325 days out of

every year. The other 40, I didn’t touch a drop.

Because that was Lent, and I’m a good Catholic.

Sure, I tried just giving up green olives, which I

hate, and that worked when I was 10, but you’re

supposed to give up something you love. And I

loved booze. God, how I loved it. So I gave it up

for Lent every year. And let me tell you, that was

quite a sacrifice. By Easter Sunday, I’d had all I

could take of abstinence, and while the kids

were out hunting for plastic eggs filled with

dimes, I’d be in the kitchen downing Jack

Daniels as fast as I could in recovery from

40 days of sobriety.

DOTTIE:

You’d keep at it all day. Every time I came in the

kitchen to baste the ham with ginger ale, you’d be

swilling. When dinner came and it was time to

carve the ham, you’d be at the head of the table

in front of the whole family, the kids, your parents,

my mother and sister, her husband and kids, everybody

watching, and you’d be too drunk to carve right.

Remember the year you knocked the whole platter

off the table and broke it? Belonged to my dead

grandmother.

TOM:

I said I was sorry.

 

(Dottie leans back in her chair and looks toward the ceiling.)


DOTTIE:

I just don’t think a man who’s divorced should be

allowed to be president.

TOM:

 Are you talking about Reagan again?

DOTTIE:

The only worthwhile thing he ever said was,

“Politicians should be changed often like diapers…

and for the same reason.”…Remember the year you

cut yourself and bled all over my Easter ham? You

needed fourteen stitches. We had to wash the ham

in the sink to get the blood off.

TOM:

...I said I was sorry…When the kids got older and

had families of their own, one of my son-in-

laws—(He pauses to look at Dottie) Sons-in-law?--

(She nods.) –would volunteer to carve the ham.

DOTTIE:

They could see how drunk you were—I bet

Reagan never served a bloody ham. Nancy wouldn’t

have allowed that.

TOM:

(sighing)

I said, “No way. I’m the Dad. And the Dad carves

the ham. I mean, it’s not like I was the only one

hammered. All my sons and sons-in-laws and one

of my daughters and two of my daughter-in-laws,

they were usually three sheets to the wind too.

DOTTIE:

Every Easter, you’d say, “You can’t cut the ham…

but you can cut the cheese!” Every year you said

that, every year… But then he was good in Bedtime

for Bonzo. Not as good as the monkey, but good.

TOM:

(Ignoring her lapse)

Yep, and everyone would laugh. We kid

around a lot in our family. Another joke is that

we always got our kids their driving learners’

permits as soon as we could. We were in line

at the DMV the morning of their 16th birthdays.

That way you could call them from the bar to

pick you up when you were too plastered to

drive home. The law says you got to have a

licensed driver riding shotgun. Doesn’t say

anything about the licensed driver having to

be sober.

DOTTIE:

That worked until they turned 21 when they

were legal to get drunk themselves. Then they’d

have their kid brother or sister pick them up at

the bar…I don’t think a man with big red shoes

should be President either.

TOM:

You’re getting your Ronalds mixed up again,

Dottie. One Ronald was Ronald McDonald. He

was a clown. The other was Ronald Reagan.

He was the—I guess it’s a natural mistake.

DOTTIE:

What’s an ‘unnatural mistake?’

TOM:

(Ignoring the question)

 In my hay day, I could drink any one

of them under the table.

DOTTIE:

Literally.

TOM:

She’s talking about this one Easter when my

son-in-law, Wally, passed out and slid right

off his chair under the table to the floor…

Good times. (Looking offstage) Remember,

Wally?

 

(Wally enters wearing a barbecue apron and carrying a long barbecue fork.)

 

WALLY:

I remember, Pops. Right to the floor. And there

I stayed sleeping it off till Denise woke me up

to go home..

TOM:

Ahh, no harm done.

DOTTIE:

We had to explain to Wally, Jr. that his daddy

wasn’t sick, only taking a little nap just like

they do at his preschool. And Wally, Jr. asked

“Why doesn’t Daddy have his nap mat.”

TOM:

Like I said, no harm done.

DOTTIE:

Denise said Wally, Jr. told his nun the next

day that his father had slept under the table

on Easter Sunday, the holiest day of the year.

TOM:

Like I said, no harm done! And how come you

remember that but not what you had for breakfast

this morning?

DOTTIE:

Eggs and bacon?

TOM:

Pancakes and sausage.

DOTTIE:

I remember 1980. And 1984 too. Not the novel.

The year he was re-elected. I cried all day. A divorced

man in the White House. Who’d have ever thought…

TOM:

…We have traditions for every holiday. Molly makes

Christmas dinner at her house. Helene does Thanksgiving.

And Wally here does Fathers’ Day.

WALLY:

That’s right. Just call me the Grill Master. I use 100

percent ground beef chuck, 20 percent fat, 80 percent

lean. Sara, that pain in the ass, has to provide her own

veggie burger, cooked back at her house because I

won’t allow her mung beans to touch my grill. No

turkey burger shit either. Helene and I have a deal:

I don’t make turkey for Fathers’ Day and she doesn’t

make burgers for Thanksgiving. Nobody cooks

on my 3,849 dollar Blaze Premium Grill except me.

I’m the only one who touches that bad boy. I do it all.

I pat those patties into shape, I flip em’, I slap em’ on

a platter. I watch over them like a ground meat guardian

angel. I do everything but pull out a teat and nurse em’,

and I’d probably do that if I had the equipment.

TOM:

(proudly) 

Yep, and all with a beer koozie in hand. How

many beers would you say you chuck down on

an average Fathers’ Day, Wally?  Just ballpark.

WALLY:

Oh, I’d say maybe 30 when your daughter is nag,

nag, nagging me to show a little restraint. I should

have married your Molly instead of Denise. Molly

makes the most potent eggnog this side of the North

Pole. Santa would be glad to risk a DUI if he had a

taste. Her nog puts her rib roast to shame. But who

am I to say? By the time, I get finished with the

eggnog, which she makes with a gallon of 90 proof

rum, a pint of milk and an egg, I don’t know if I’m

eating rib roast or a solf pretzel!

DOTTIE:

…I always wondered why your burgers are

always burnt to little charcoal discs. Every year,

you say, “Just use lots of ketchup, that’ll moisten

them.” But nothing can rehydrate those hockey

pucks. They’re inedible. The family has to

fill up on potato salad and deviled eggs.

WALLY:

Well, what can I say…

 

(Wally walks off stage shrugging and forcing laughter.)

 

TOM:

See what you did there, Dottie? You hurt his

feelings. (To the audience) That’s Dottie for

you. Proof positive that memory’s selective—

when it’s still there at all. Nobody minded

a little charcoal. We always had a good

time at Wally’s. At least we did before

Dottie went dotty.

DOTTIE:

You love saying that, don’t you? Or do you just

love homophones in general?

TOM:

Homo what?

DOTTIE:

You heard me.

TOM:

I don’t mean anything by it. A few years back,

the doctor diagnosed her with early-stage dementia.

Hell, I could have told him she was nuts the day

I married her. (He pokes her ribs.) You know I’m

kidding.

DOTTIE:

I know. Remember when Joe Piscopo played Reagan

and offered free Ginsu knives with every vote? Some

people say he’d gone round the bend before he left

office. A couple of times Nancy had to remind him

who he was. Maybe he was just too old.

TOM:

For Christ’s sake, Dottie! Will you let it go? He’s

been out of office for 30 years, and there’s no such

thing as being too old. You can be 80. You can be any

age and any color, even orange.

DOTTIE:

Well, that’s a fine how do you do.

TOM:

Can I get back to my story?

DOTTIE:

You’re the boss.

TOM:

I had to stop drinking after her diagnosis. God, I still

miss it. But what could I do? I retired to take care

of her. Some days, she’s pretty good. (He looks at her

and shouts:) Like today, right!

DOTTIE:

I’m demented. Not deaf.

TOM:

Other days, she wanders off and I find

her swinging on the neighbor kids’ swing

set.

DOTTIE:

(shrugging)

So sue me. I like to swing.

TOM:

Yeh, you’re a real swinger, Dottie. Around the time

she was diagnosed, our oldest daughter got divorced.

We’re good Catholics, and it was a tragedy for us.

First divorce in the family ever. But the real problem

was that Dottie couldn’t remember Lola was divorced

from Darrin no matter how many times I told her.

DOTTIE:

I named her Lola because I love the letter ‘L.’ It’s

the letter of ‘life,’ ‘love,’ ‘laughter—’

TOM:

‘Lunatic…’ I kept telling her about the divorce, but

it just wouldn’t stick. Every holiday, she’d look

around the table and ask, “Where’s Darrin.”

Sometimes, she’d get real mad, and say things like,

“Why didn’t you tell me,” or “How dare you keep

that from me,” or even once, “You sonofabitch!

I’m her mother! I had a right to know!” It got so

bad that a couple Easters ago, when she asked where

Darrin was, I told her “Darrin’s dead,” just so she’d

quit asking me. Thought it would be better if she

believed Lola was a widow. That way, Lola would

still be in good standing with the church, instead of

a divorced woman trolling the computer to catch another

man.


(Lola enters.)

 

LOLA:

I wasn’t “trolling,” Dad. Adults go on dating websites to

meet other adults. They don’t meet at the church social.

They post profiles on dating websites.

TOM:

They hawk their wares is what you mean. Is your brassiere

size on your “profile?”

LOLA:

No, Dad.

TOM:

Then what’s on it? Not your address, I hope. That

would be just asking to get strangled in your bed.

LOLA:

Of course not. I try to be authentic about my preferences

and the things I like to do.

DOTTIE:

Do you like Pina Coladas and getting lost in the rain?

TOM:

“Caught,” Dottie. It’s getting “caught” in the rain.

(To Lola) Writing about personal information that

should stay private is just what I would expect from

a divorced woman turned huckster!

LOLA:

You make me feel so worthless, Dad.

DOTTIE:

(Lucid)

Why would you do that to your child?

TOM:

Look, I’m just worried about you is all. At my age

I had hoped to see you settled. I’d like to be able

to die knowing you’ll be taken care of. It’s not

like I was ever that crazy about Darrin to begin

with. But we’d gotten used to him. He fit in with

our family. And as if divorcing Darrin wasn’t bad

enough, you married…(Dripping contempt)…”River.”

LOLA:

Stop it, Dad!

TOM:

He’s 15 years younger than you.

LOLA:

He’s very mature.

TOM:

Yeh, he can tie his own shoes. He’s a hippie.

From California, no less! You know what

they’re like!

LOLA:

Please, Mom. Make him stop.

DOTTIE:

(Struggling to orient herself.)

…Where’s Darrin, Lola?

TOM:

Darrin’s dead, Dottie.

LOLA:

I give up.


(Lola exits.)


DOTTIE:

You mean Darrin on Bewitched?

TOM:

No, Dottie. Darrin never died on Bewitched. They

just got a new Darrin in the sixth season.

DOTTIE:

I liked the old Darrin.

TOM:

Okay, I’ll call the producers and let them know…

Anyway, Lola married ‘River.’ Barefoot. In the

Unitarian church. She brought the new husband

to Easter dinner this year. Everything was okay

for a while. Then just as I was carving the ham,

Dottie looks up and says, “Where’s Darrin?”

I point at the new guy, River, and say, “For

Chrissake, Dottie, he’s right there.” Thought

it might be worth a try. But she stands up and

says, “That’s not Darrin! Where’s Darrin?”

DOTTIE:

(Suddenly back on board)

This time, Lola stood up and said,

“Mom, Darrin and I are divorced.” You could

have knocked me over with a feather.

TOM:

A few seconds pass, and then Dottie stands up

and slaps me right across the face hard. “Why

didn’t you tell me?” she says. Well, I stood up

and raised my hand to her, something I’ve never

done in 50 years of marriage. It was reflex. She’d

just cleaned my clock in front of the whole family.

DOTTIE:

Then you put your hand down and kissed me on

the cheek…So tenderly.


(Dottie puts her hand to her own cheek remembering.)


(Tom turns to her fully and directly for the first time.)


TOM:

I love you, Dottie. Always did. Always will.

DOTTIE:

I love you too…Tommie.

TOM:

I figure I deserved that slap and more for all I’d put her

through over the years. And I didn’t want to spoil the

day. The great grandkids were champing at the bit to

get outside and hunt for Easter eggs. The year before

Granny here had joined the little ones and found

some eggs herself.

DOTTIE:

Yes. Three. Filled with dimes. They’re the musical coins.

TOM:

This year, I’m going to let her hide her own Easter eggs.


Lisa DeAngelis has written stage plays, screenplays, short stories, and her novel Angels Unaware was published last year by Regal House.