Sunday, October 12, 2008

11 O' Clock News

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(A bedroom. QUINN, in his 20s, reads a book— His wife SID watches TV.)

SID
Guess what?

QUINN
I can’t concentrate when the TV is on.

SID
There’s—

QUINN
Will you turn it down?

SID
I turned it down.

QUINN
I can still hear it.

SID
Of course you can still hear it, I’m not going to watch the news on mute.

QUINN
Well I can’t read.

SID
You can read anywhere, I can only watch TV where there’s a TV.

QUINN
What is this? Suicide bombings, natural disaster, people murdering their children, you never used to watch this. You used to just watch Doris Day.

SID
I want to be aware of what’s going on in the world.

QUINN
Not much you can do about it.

SID
I can at least know that it’s going on.

QUINN
Great. That’s a whole load of help. That’s just what I’d want if I was some African kid watching my parents get blown away. I’d want to know that somewhere some woman on the other side of the world was lying in her bedroom hearing about it on the TV. That would just make it all worthwhile.

SID
You’re so sensitive.

QUINN
At least I’m honest.

SID
We can’t do anything unless we’re informed, right?

QUINN
Do you do anything?

SID
I vote. I’ve… signed some online petitions. Sometimes.

QUINN
You don’t need to know anything to vote. Look at who we elect.

SID
You’re such a pessimist.

QUINN
Out of the millions and millions of people in this country we get two options every four years. And how do those two get picked? By being rotten human beings, usually—

SID
—Not pessimistic at all—

QUINN
—And even then it’s a foregone conclusion anyway. They say every vote counts—

SID
So, what? We should just ignore everything and fend for ourselves? Overthrow the government?

QUINN
At least it’d be productive.

SID
Wow.

QUINN
I mean, we shouldn’t take advantage of people.

SID
We should just stop worrying about them.

QUINN
Right.

SID
Sounds like a good attitude. Real Christian.

QUINN
I’ll tell you one thing, if we’d all quit picking sides there’d be no more war.

SID
Well of course not, we’d all be Nazis anyway.

QUINN
Man, that’s the most loaded—

SID
What?

QUINN
Just call the other guy a Nazi and that puts an end to everything. What a cop out.

SID
I’m just saying if no one ever picked sides we’d all be Nazis. Or dead. Dead or Nazis.

QUINN
Listen to you—now who’s the pessimist?

SID
It’s true. What you’re talking about is total anarchy.

QUINN
What I’m talking about is being able to read a book in my own bed.

SID
It’s my bed too.

QUINN
I bought it.

SID
With my money.

QUINN
And mine.

SID
And mine.

QUINN
Well the TV’s mine, I can throw my shoe through it if I want.

SID
Look, it’s been a long day, why don’t you just go in the living room to read?

QUINN
Because I’m all settled in bed and in my PJs, tucked in like I like to be.

SID
What a baby.

QUINN
I was reading before you were watching TV, I claimed it.

SID
You’re such a baby.

QUINN
Hey, I’m the baby? I’m not the one name-calling. I’m trying to be reasonable here—

SID
Baby baby baby.

QUINN
(referring to the TV)
What are they talking about? Someone who robbed a convenience store? I’m talking about the fundamental inadequacies of American politics.

SID
Will you be quiet so I can listen?

QUINN
No I won’t be quiet so you can listen. If you can listen then I lose.

SID
I don’t want to talk about this anymore. I had something I was going to tell you and now—

QUINN
Aha. That’s it. That’s exactly it. That’s the problem with this country right there. You don’t want to talk about this anymore.

SID
Well look at you. Thurber’s going to help you change the world?

QUINN
You think politics are more important than art?

SID
What do you think, Mr. I’m So Concerned About Global Crises?

QUINN
This is different. I read for fun. And culture. Fun and culture.

SID
I’m trying to watch the news so I know what’s going on. Social awareness trumps escapism.

QUINN
I don’t think you are.

SID
You don’t think I’m what?

QUINN
I don’t think you’re watching it just to know what’s going on.

SID
OK, whatever you say.

QUINN
You said there’s nothing you can do to make a difference.

SID
I never said that.

QUINN
Well, nothing really.

SID
I never said that.

QUINN
I think you watch the news for the same reason I read. For pleasure.

SID
Please.

QUINN
Only instead of an innocent, light-hearted pleasure, yours is a sick, twisted, sadistic pleasure.

SID
Let’s not talk about this.

QUINN
You watch war and murder and genocide to remind yourself about all the other suckers who have it worse off than you.
(A long silence.)
I’m sorry I said that.

(Another silence.)

SID
I was going to tell you something.

QUINN
What?

SID
I’m not going to tell you anymore.

QUINN
Please?

SID
No.

QUINN
Look, I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry.

SID
Go away. Just go read your stupid book.

QUINN
I can’t believe… I’m sorry, it’s been a long day.

SID
I don’t…

QUINN
What can I do to make it up?

SID
Just forget it…

QUINN
Really. I’ll get on my knees. I’ll buy you roses and get on my knees and sing Le Boheme.

SID
Stop talking.

QUINN
OK.

(He does.)

SID
Guess what?

QUINN
I’m sorry. I was joking. That was mean of me. I didn’t mean to be mean.

SID
Guess what?

QUINN
I don’t know why I said all that, it was stupid of me.

SID
Guess what?

QUINN
I’m such a jerk sometimes. I don’t know how you ever put up with me.

SID
Guess what?

QUINN
What?

SID
I’m pregnant.

(A silence. A long, long silence.)

QUINN
What?

SID
Didn’t you hear me?

QUINN
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

SID
OK…

QUINN
Sorry, I just didn’t know what to say. I…

SID
Are you happy?

QUINN
Are you kidding? I’m ecstatic! What, wait… when?

SID
I went to the doctor’s today. I didn’t know how to tell you.

QUINN
I thought you were taking birth control.

SID
I was. Are you sure you’re ecstatic?

QUINN
Sure I’m sure. I’m just about a million other things right now, too.

SID
Yeah, I hear you.

QUINN
But ecstatic is one of them.

SID
I’m glad.

QUINN
Aren’t you happy?

SID
I don’t know.

QUINN
You’re going to be a mom! I’m going to be a dad! We’re going to have a little us running around the house, teething on everything! Don’t you think that’s terrific?

SID
If you say so.

QUINN
It’s terrific. Why are you… what’s wrong?

SID
It’s probably just normal pregnant mother anxiety.
(Pause.)
I guess I just don’t know if we’re ready to be parents, that’s all.

QUINN
What do you mean we’re not ready? We’re going to rock as parents!

SID
We’re still in debt.

QUINN
Yeah…

SID
We’re both young and we’re both only children. Neither of us knows anything about raising kids—

QUINN
—Well yeah, OK, there’s all that, but we’re still going to rock.

SID
If you say so.
(Silence. SID turns off the TV and turns over in bed.)
You can read now if you like, just turn the lights off when you’re done.

QUINN
Are you kidding? We’re having a baby! A little baby! You’re not excited?

SID
I don’t want to talk right now.

QUINN
You’re not excited? How can you not be excited? This is exciting.

SID
I don’t know, all right? I’m pregnant, I need sleep.

QUINN
You can’t sleep. I can’t sleep. This is, like, Christmas times forty. A baby… man, I mean, we’re having a baby!

SID
That’s what they tell me.

(Quiet.)

QUINN
What’s wrong?

SID
I already told you, I don’t want to talk about it.

QUINN
I know, but I want you to.

SID
Well too bad.
(Silence.)
I just… I don’t know if I want kids.
(Another silence.)
You know? I don’t… The world is kind of rotten sometimes. Yeah, you know, the wars, the convenience stores. I don’t know that I want to be responsible for bringing another person into it. I mean, if I really loved this baby I’d never have had it. I’d have had my tubes tied. If I really loved my child.

(Silence.)

QUINN
I didn’t know you felt that way.

SID
Now you do.

(Pause.)

QUINN
Yeah.

(Pause.)

SID
You know, there are people starving to death, kids in orphanages or foster care or with abusive dads or whatever…

QUINN
Right. Well we could adopt. Too, I mean—we could adopt as well, maybe. I’d be OK with that. What about that? Maybe at the same time if we hurry. My mom said the twins were always the easiest to take care of, they’d just keep each other entertained.

SID
No, I didn’t mean…

QUINN
OK. That’s OK. I mean, we don’t have to.

(Silence.)

SID
I’m sorry.

QUINN
Why?

SID
I’m sorry I’m not as thrilled as you are. I’m sorry I’m ruining this.

QUINN
Don’t be sorry.
(Beat.)
I’ll watch the news with you if you like.

SID
I don’t want to anymore. Just read.

QUINN
I don’t want to read.

(Silence.)

SID
OK, will you turn out the lights then?

QUINN
Sure.

(He does. Silence.)

SID
I’m sorry. I don’t know why I’m so upset.

QUINN
It’s OK.
(Pause.)
I love you.

SID
I love you too.

QUINN
It’s probably just the shock.
(Beat.)
I mean, you seem a little better right now.

SID
(she’s less convinced than
he is)
Maybe a little.

QUINN
Things always look better with the lights out.

SID
I guess so.

QUINN
You should sleep.

SID
Probably.

(Pause.)

QUINN
I love you.

SID
Thanks, I love you too.
(Beat.)
Thanks for talking.

QUINN
Yeah.

SID
It’s been awhile since we’ve… talked.

QUINN
Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

SID
It’s just been awhile. It feels good. I like talking to you.

QUINN
Good. I like talking to you. And I like when you tell me things, like, you know, your being pregnant and all.

(She laughs.)

SID
Right.

(Beat.)

QUINN
I didn’t…

SID
What?

QUINN
Nothing.

SID
What?

QUINN
I didn’t know you felt that way about things.

SID
What things?

QUINN
About the world in general, I guess.

SID
Oh. Yeah. Sometimes.
(Beat.)
But it doesn’t seem quite so awful right now.

(Quiet.)

QUINN
I’m glad.

SID
Me too.

(Silence.)

QUINN
I hope she has your eyes.

(They kiss. Lights down.)