Groom vs. Gravy Boat

Credits

Erin Lillis – Allison Baxter
Coral Baxter-Ellis – Tal Minear
Carl G. Brooks – Paul Ellis

Written by Shannon Perry
Opening music “Coffee” by Cambo
Closing music “Life Illusion” by Ketsa


ALLISON

OK, Coral, crank it up, let’s record.

CORAL

Dad’s not home yet.

ALLISON

Exactly. I don’t want him to know about this one. You can publish without him finding out, right?

CORAL

Of course. Neither of you ever listens to the episodes.

ALLISON

Why would I want to listen to them? I was in them.

CORAL

Whatever you say, Mom. We’re recording, so start when you’re ready.

ALLISON

OK. Hello, Deconstructors, Allison here. I’m going to skip the usual introduction because I don’t have a lot of time. It’s just me right now because I have a special favor. One of Paul’s best friends from college is getting married for the third time next month.

CORAL

This is about Uncle Chuck?

ALLISON

No names, please.

CORAL

Mom, what are you doing?

ALLISON

You’ll see. So Mr. C, as we’ll call him, is getting married. Again. I am not particularly fond of Mr. C. His second wife was a good friend of mine who he dumped for Ms Two Point Five.

CORAL

Wait. He dumped Aunt Jen for another woman? I thought they fought about having kids?

ALLISON

Ooops. I wasn’t supposed to tell you the truth. Oh, well. Time you knew anyway.

CORAL

So what are we doing here? Dad’ll be home in, like, 10 minutes.

ALLISON

Stop interrupting me, and we’ll be done in nine.

CORAL

Go.

ALLISON

Our family is going to the nuptial festivities, which is bad enough, but in addition, I’ve been put in charge of buying the couple a wedding present. Mrs. Three is nearly as much of a nightmare as her fiance, so I figure that gives me license to be as awful as I want to be.

CORAL

Mom, I never knew you were so devious. Wait. Nope. Yes I did.

ALLISON

Jen is one of my best friends, and she ate so much ice cream she’s now lactose intolerant and has a fudge allergy.

CORAL

No more fudge?! Get ’em, Mom!

ALLISON

It’s weird doing this alone. Since you keep chiming in, why don’t you join me at the other mic? Ladies and gentlemen, my dau- my kiddo, Coral.

CORAL

Nice save.

ALLISON

Someday I’ll stick the landing.

CORAL

You’re getting better. Just keep trying. Carry on.

ALLISON

So here are some choices I’m considering: a rock climbing trip to Joshua Tree.

CORAL

Wait. I don’t get it. That sounds like fun.

ALLISON

She’s afraid of heights and he hates camping. And deserts. And sunlight.

CORAL

Perfect. What else you got?

ALLISON

One of those escape rooms where you try to figure out the mystery and free yourself.

CORAL

Also fun….

ALLISON

Her: claustrophobic. Him: no good at puzzles.

CORAL

Belgian waffle maker?

ALLISON

I’m pretty sure they’d love that.

CORAL

She’s Atkins; he’s Paleo.

ALLISON

You really are my child.

CORAL

You had doubts?

ALLISON

Well, I sowed my wild oats pretty freely in my youth, kid.

CORAL

Ew. What else?

ALLISON

Gravy boat.

CORAL

I don’t get it.

ALLISON

It’s just a crappy wedding gift you get from people who don’t really like you. Or cheese knives.

CORAL

Don’t you have, like, four gravy boats and at least two sets of cheese knives?

ALLISON

You’ve met your dad, right?

CORAL

If you go with the gravy boat, you have to be sure to invite yourself over at least a couple times a year so they have to drag it out.

ALLISON

Exactly. Ooo! Maybe we get an oil painting of our family for them, then drop by a LOT.

CORAL

Or one of those family photos where we look like a bunch of meerkats who just heard an eagle.

ALLISON

I like how you think, kid.

PAUL

(hollering, from a distance)

I’m hooooome! Where is everyone?

ALLISON

Crap. He’s on time for once. We’re in the studio! Coral, ixnay on the eddingway esentprey, got it?

CORAL

Seriously? Pig Latin? Way to be sneaky there, double-oh-seven.

ALLISON

Oh, shaddup, child of my loins.

CORAL

Gross. Nothing worse than a parent saying “loins.”

PAUL

There you are! What are you two up to?

ALLISON

Just setting up for tonight’s recording! Hey, could you go pour me a glass of wine?

PAUL

Didn’t we agree we’d only record sober after the… Drunk and Stoned episode?

ALLISON

Oh yeah. How about a ginger ale, then?

PAUL

OK, Coral, what can I get you?

CORAL

We’ll both have water in travel mugs, thanks. Gear, remember? This stuff is expensive. Be glad I don’t make you drink out of sippy cups.

ALLISON

SIGH. Our child thinks I can’t handle my wine!

PAUL

Our child has seen you squiffy.

ALLISON

Water in a travel mug, please. May I have ice, child?

CORAL

Two cubes.

PAUL

Don’t argue with the expert, Ally. Waters all around, then. Back in a jiffy. Don’t start without me!

ALLISON

Wouldn’t dream of it!

PAUL leaves

Right, listeners, we gotta make this quick. Your choices are: rock climbing, escape room, waffle maker…

CORAL

You like my idea?

ALLISON

You kidding me? It’s brilliant. Aaaaaand gravy boat. I’m leaning toward gravy boat, as I have a few extra I could pass along.

CORAL

When do they need to get their votes in by?

ALLISON

Let’s call it…. one week. If I have to order something, I need to make sure it arrives in time.

CORAL

Ok, folx, you know the drill: we’ll get the choices up on the website and on Twitter, and you have one week from the day this is published to cast your votes. We’ll let you know what happened when the votes are in!

ALLISON

Shhhh. Here he comes!

PAUL

Water, two cubes, one each.

ALLISON

Thank you, good sir.

CORAL

Merci, mon pere.

PAUL

De nada. You’re both in good moods.

ALLISON

It’s actually just one good mood.

CORAL

That’s right. We’re sharing.

ALLISON

Thrift, my child; thrift!

PAUL

What’s gotten in to you two?

ALLISON

Nothing in particular. Out of dad’s seat, kiddo. Time to record!

PAUL

Alrighty! I suppose we should kick it off with the voting results, eh?

ALLISON

However it pans out, you’re not getting a motorcycle.

CORAL

Even if the voters chose that? Remember, you agreed to abide by the voting results.

ALLISON

Wait, you actually made that one of the choices? Paul getting a motorcycle?

PAUL

There’s wisdom in that one there. Like father, like child. The fruit of my groin.

CORAL

Ew. I think you need to study up on that saying, dad.

ALLISON

Nonetheless, this will not abide if you all chose a motorcycle for Paul. Unless one of you started a GoFundMe for his burial costs. And I can’t believed you did that, Coral!

CORAL

It was kind of an experiment. I just wanted to see what would happen. I even created an Instagram account and put the choices up there.

PAUL

You did? Cool! For the motorcycle did you do one in cobalt blue?

ALLISON

You should go with gray. Gray motorcyle, gray jacket and chaps, so you blend in well with the nine straight months of gray Seattle weather.

CORAL

Please, mom, don’t do that again.

ALLISON

As long as you refrain from adding deadly options to the voting poll. No motorcycles or base jumping or anything from Australia.

CORAL

Well maybe if the two of you stay on topic and quit throwing snowballs packed with rocks at each other.

ALLISON

I suppose that’s what paintball’s for, huh Paul? You voters got that one right!

PAUL

We are getting way off topic here. Let’s hear the voting results, Coral.

(in Richard Dawson style)

Survey says…

CORAL

Okay, so the voters chose… cue music.

ALLISON and PAUL start singing or humming something arbitrary

CORAL

Okay, okay, my bad. You can stop now. That was an err in judgement on my part. So the voters chose… a vanity from IKEA.

PAUL

Yes!

ALLISON

Ah dammit!

PAUL

Well, better clear out whatever it is you have in the back of the Outback, we’re headed down to Kent. Ikea awaits!

ALLISON

Ugh. I hate Ikea. All the college students with their moms and dads distractedly drifting through the aisles like tumbleweeds. Those employees dressed as bumblebee referees that are far from helpful, and it’s a veritable maze going through there. I’m going to fasten a rope to one of the lampposts in the parking lot and tie it to my waist before I go in. If I get in trouble, Paul, I’ll holler for you to pull me out.

CORAL

You should get a sherpa.

PAUL

You mean shepard, Coral.

ALLISON

They have it right, Paul. It’s a sherpa.

PAUL

No, it’s a shepard. A shepard is the one who guides the flock on where to go. They’re saying you need a shepard to steer all those people through the maze that is Ikea.

ALLISON

No, Paul. A sherpa is the one who guides climbers up the Himalayas. If I’m tying a rope to myself the joke makes more sense.

CORAL

Let me stop you both right there. When I said you should get a sherpa, I mean the style of vanity from Ikea. It’s called a Shürpa, with an umlaut over the u. I think this one is really nice.

ALLISON

Well that’s coincidentally confusing.

PAUL

I always feel compelled to pronounce the vowels with the umlaut correctly. Like Mötley Crüe. How would you say that?

(attempts to use the umlauts)

Mötley Crüe?

ALLISON

Or Carlötta Beautox? How would she say it with the umlaut?

PAUL

Carlötta Beautox, opening for Mötley Crüe.

CORAL

You know, dead horses are not ones to complain but could we stop beating this one and move on to tonight’s topic?

PAUL

So, what’s tonight’s topic? Oh yes, whether or not Paul trains for the Seattle marathon this year or an Ironman next spring!

ALLISON

That’s next week, actually; tonight’s topic is more theoretical.

PAUL

Oh, god. Now what?

ALLISON

If you intensely dislike someone, but he’s an old friend of your life partner-

PAUL

We are going to the wedding, Allison.

ALLISON

I’ve been to two of his weddings already. I’ve practically memorized his wedding vows.

PAUL

Horse puckey. He writes his own.

ALLISON

He recycled them.

PAUL

He didn’t.

ALLISON

Word for fricking word. Slotted in the new wifey’s name, remember? He nearly said wife one’s name, caught himself, then pretended to cough.

PAUL

He said a gnat flew into his mouth.

ALLISON

Shall we trot out the video and see?

PAUL

Come on, is it really such a huge thing to ask? You get to get all dressed up, there’s lots of good food and free booze-

ALLISON

We have food and booze here!

PAUL

He’s my best friend, Alli.

ALLISON

That doesn’t actually make me like him more; it kind of makes me like you a little less.

PAUL

Why do you hate him so much?

ALLISON

We’re in the middle of a podcast, remember?

PAUL

It’s part of the conversation, isn’t it? Come on, and don’t tell me it was Jen. You hated him before he even met her.

ALLISON

I just do. He’s just very dislikeable.

PAUL

Come on….

ALLISON

Paul, stop.

PAUL

How do you expect our listeners to make a decision based on such incomplete information?

ALLISON

Fine. There are plenty of reasons: he’s boorish, he’s boring, he’s self-obsessed, he’s lazy, he doesn’t respect women,

PAUL

Now hold on, what’s your proof that he doesn’t respect women?

ALLISON

Who do you respect? Man or woman? Give me a name.

PAUL

Ray Bradbury.

ALLISON

Let’s say Ray Bradbury were still alive and happened to walk past you on the street. Would you or would you not slap his ass and say, “Hey, dolly, why so glum?”

PAUL

Oh, come on, who’d he ever do that to?

ALLISON

Me.

PAUL

I’ve … I’ve never seen him do that.

ALLISON

Are you doubting my word?

PAUL

No, no. Just… I know you don’t like him.

ALLISON

So I’m making it up in hopes it’ll drive a wedge between you, hmm?

PAUL

No, that’s not- I just… That’s just Chuck. That’s how you know he likes you. When did he do this?

ALLISON

Last time? Graduation day.

PAUL

Jesus, Allison, that was ages ago! And he’s clearly changed if he hasn’t done it since then.

ALLISON

He hasn’t done it since then because I told him I’d wrap my honors tassel around his neck and hang him in the library. Which, incidentally, would be the first time he ever set foot in that building.

PAUL

Ahhh, no wonder he’s always been a little afraid of you.

ALLISON

Good. In any event, we are lurching away from the question at hand: is going to his celebration basically condoning… nay, rewarding his bad behavior and all around buttheadedness?

PAUL

You think having you at his wedding is a reward?

ALLISON

Has he said otherwise?

PAUL

Oh, yeah.

ALLISON

Reeeeeeaaallly. What exactly has he said?

PAUL

Shouldn’t we get on with the real podcast now? I think the marathon idea was a good one.

CORAL

Yeah, that’s not gonna work, Dad. She’s on the scent now.

PAUL

So here’s the deal, listeners: the Seattle marathon is Thanksgiving weekend-

ALLISON

Really?

CORAL

Baying for blood.

PAUL

But whose?

CORAL

Does it matter?

PAUL

It does if it’s mine.

ALLISON

Oh, stuff it, you two. It’s a legitimate question. If I’m going to this man’s wedding – AGAIN – I’m entitled to know what he thinks of me.

PAUL

He thinks you’re a bit … abrasive.

ALLISON

“Abrasive”? Paul, Chuck couldn’t find that word in a dictionary, much less use it.

PAUL

Maybe his language was a bit more… homespun.

ALLISON

He called me a bitch.

PAUL

No. He would never call you that.

ALLISON

In front of you.

PAUL

He’s never called you a bitch … to my direct knowledge.

ALLISON

Wow. Do your joints ache when you do contortions like that?

PAUL

Maybe, you could consider acting less…

ALLISON

Bitchy.

PAUL

Your word.

ALLISON

Your implication.

CORAL

Who else is going to be there?

PAUL

Oh, uh… pretty much the usual crowd: Marty and Shinju, Dave and his whoever-of-the-moment, Mike and Estelle, Jennifer and Josh, the gang.

ALLISON

Marisol?

PAUL

Oh, uh… yeah, probably.

CORAL

Hooray!

ALLISON

Oh yes, hooray. The exotic Mexican beauty that got away.

PAUL

She didn’t “get away.”

ALLISON

Well, she ain’t here.

PAUL

I … upgraded.

ALLISON

Nice try.

PAUL

I mean it.

pause

ALLISON

Women aren’t software.

PAUL

You feel pretty soft to me.

CORAL

Um… much as I hate to break up this lovely and rare moment, I think it’s time for the summation. Do we attend the wedding, or stay home and send a gift? Who wants to go first?

PAUL

I will. My vote is to attend. It’ll be a nice family trip to the Methow Valley — we could even take Chad and go for some hikes. Chuck is one of my oldest friends, and while he may have a few faults….

ALLISON

(snort)

PAUL

While he may have many faults, he is one of those rare people who “knew me when,” and I want to keep that connection. There will be several people there who knew me as a younger guy, and sometimes it’s good to remember who you were once upon a time. Plus, third time’s a charm, so this may be the last chance we have to attend one of Chuck’s weddings. And finally, great food, open bar, and cake.

CORAL

Mom, you’re up.

ALLISON

Here are my objections: Chuck is a serial womanizer who never grew up. He is handsy, a clumsy flirt, and mistakes oily for charm. His fiancee is a snob who sneers at everything from my hair to my shoes while offering “helpful advice.” In fact, pretty much everyone Paul went to college with regards me as a cheese knife gift.

PAUL

What does that mean?

CORAL

No interrupting summations, remember?

PAUL

Sorry.

ALLISON

With the exception of Marisol, who is accomplished, gorgeous, brilliant, kind, effortlessly multi-lingual, single, and a constant reminder of the life and wife that got away.

PAUL

Alli….

ALLISON

All of that said, I’m casting my vote to go to the wedding.

CORAL/PAUL

You are?!

ALLISON

Like Paul said, it’s important to stay connected to people who knew you when. They’re the thread that runs through your whole life, if you let them. I’ve lost track of nearly all of mine, and it makes me sad. The Methow Valley is beautiful, Chad will love it, and I can suck it up for a weekend. Just keep me ever-so-slightly drunk, and

we’ll be fine.

PAUL

Deal.

ALLISON

So do we still have our audience vote?

CORAL

Well, yeah…

ALLISON

Oh, right. Two things to vote on.

CORAL

Mom-

PAUL

Two things?

ALLISON

Uh, yeah.

CORAL

Stay. Or go. Two things.

PAUL

Pretty sure that’s one vote, Coral.

CORAL

One, then. My bad.

PAUL

We good? I’m starving. Pizza OK with everyone?

voices trail off as they walk away

ALLISON

OK, but none of this giant half-vegan nonsense. Three smalls: vegan for Coral, veggie for me, carnivore-in-a-cave for you.

PAUL

Fine with me! I’m going with the three-meat special.

CORAL

Looks like we’re going to the wedding. I hate formal stuff because the clothes are about as binary as clothes can be without actually being pink and blue. So, some fun discussions coming up with mom, hooray. Anyway, that was about as vulnerable as mom has ever been, that I’ve seen, anyway. Marisol is every bit as impressive as mom says. She’s a famous linguist — well, as famous as linguists get, I guess — with a bunch of books and letters after her name. And she’s gorgeous and completely unaware of it and dad adores her. Everyone adores her, but she and dad have a past. That’s “past” in quotes, in case you can’t hear them. After college, she took a job in Italy, and they broke up, and a part of dad has been sad about it ever since. She has an amazing life and travels and hangs out with royalty and celebrities and has been on yachts and in war zones and once both at the same time. And she never married, which makes mom a little nuts. I honestly don’t think Marisol’s waiting around, pining for Paul, but who knows. I’m taking my Tascam to the wedding, so I’ll keep you up to date. Wish me luck, listeners. This is gonna be a bumpy one.

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