Litter vs. Landmine

Credits

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

Written by David S. Dear and Shannon Perry
Opening music “Coffee” by Cambo
Closing music “Life Illusion” by Ketsa


DECONSTRUCTED CRITICISM – LITTER VS. LANDMINE

CORAL

Dad? We’re ready to start! Come on!

PAUL

I’ll be with you in a minute! Go ahead and start without me!

ALLISON

What are you doing?

PAUL

I’ll be with you in a sec, just start!

ALLISON

Where are you?

PAUL

I’m in the back yard. Just go ahead! You know how to do the intro.

CORAL

What’s he doing in the back yard?

ALLISON

No idea. Marking his territory?

CORAL

Ew, Mom!

ALLISON

Men do that. They like to strut around, checking out their fiefdom. Marking it like wolves. Or dachsunds. Whatever.

CORAL

Well, we can go ahead and do the vote from last week.

ALLISON

Oh, OK. Remind me what we voted on?

CORAL

You voted, right? You went to the website and voted?

ALLISON

Of course. As always.

CORAL

What’s the URL?

ALLISON

The URL?

CORAL

Of the website. What’s the URL?

ALLISON

Www….

CORAL

Https, actually, but please go on.

ALLISON

Oh, all right, I didn’t. Just tell me what I didn’t vote on because I’m a neglectful mother who should have her child repossessed by Child Services or Homeland Security or something.

CORAL

I’m a kid, not a weapon of mass destruction. The options for voters were…

PAUL

I’m here!

ALLISON

Ooooof! And what did you bring with you, a dead rat?

PAUL

What do you mean?

CORAL

What is that stink?

PAUL

I don’t smell anything.

ALLISON

How can you not? It’s worse than your “It’s business time” cologne.

PAUL

What? How can you say that?

ALLISON

Because I’ve smelled them both.

CORAL

I think you stepped in something, Dad. Something…fecal.

ALLISON

Take off your shoes RIGHT NOW and go clean that crap off. Literally!

PAUL

FINE.

ALLISON

OK, let’s do this. What were the choices?

CORAL

OK, remember last time Dad was feeling sick? The choices were: One, go see a doctor, or at least a doc-in-a-box. Two, take something and go lie down like a good boy. Three, consult with WebMD or Dr. Google, and four, stop whining and cowboy up. And the answer was…

ALLISON

Please say four, please say four, please say four-

CORAL

Number two: take something and lie down.

ALLISON

Meh. I’ll take it. Go hose down your father.

PAUL

I’m here. Can we start already?

ALLISON

We’ve been waiting on YOU, pal. Ooooo, did Daddy let you in? Hello, my sweet little cuddlebug!

CORAL

Mom, I started recording. And you can’t have it in here.

ALLISON

Him. He prefers he/him.

CORAL

Are you trying to dunk on me?

ALLISON

You have your preferred pronouns, he/him has his.

CORAL

Well could you please take he/him out of here? He/him doesn’t need to be in here while we’re recording.

ALLISON

(as she gets up from mic)

Fine.

PAUL

This is going to be an interesting episode…

Sound of door closing

ALLISON

Okay, he’s out. Happy now?

CORAL

Kind of.

PAUL

Well we might as well start rolling-

CORAL

We’re already rolling, Dad.

PAUL

-so here we go. Hey everybody, welcome to Deconstructive Criticism. I’m Paul…

ALLISON

And I’m Allison…

PAUL

And we talk about the things we need in our lives. Or don’t need. Like a cat.

ALLISON

I think most of our listeners would agree that everyone needs a cat in their lives. There’s something about having a cat that makes a place homey. Have it curl up on your lap while reading a book-

PAUL

People Magazine does not count as a book-

ALLISON

Or lying in front of the fire on a chilly February afternoon.

PAUL

Or the sound a cat makes when it-

ALLISON

Purrs? I know, it’s such a nice, gentle rolling rumble that-

PAUL

No, I was going to say the sound of furniture fabric being rent bit-by-bit by those tiny scimitars. I suggest removal as soon as possible.

ALLISON

Absolutely not! Do you know how cruel it is to declaw a cat? It’s as if I had you remove all of your fingertips down to the first knuckle.

CORAL

I’m with Mom on this one. No declawing.

PAUL

By removal, I was referring to the cat.

CORAL

Do you really not like the cat?

PAUL

I don’t dislike the cat. I just find every move it makes suspect. It is by nature a thief, a terrorist, and a fur covered imp. Every intention that creature holds is unadulterated evil.

CORAL

Yeah, that totally sounds like something someone who doesn’t dislike the cat would say.

PAUL

You know, it’s not so much that I despise the cat. Which I don’t. I honestly do not detest that thing with every fiber of my being-

CORAL

I’m convinced.

PAUL

-it’s that she got that cat without even saying word one about it. All of a sudden I walk in the room, and… cat. Staring at me thinking how delicious my brain might be. Was I consulted? No.

ALLISON

Au contraire, señor. I specifically remember saying to you “I’m considering getting a cat” and you saying “That’s a great idea!”

PAUL

How have you lived in this house for almost twenty years and not learned the language of sarcasm? I said “That’s a great idea”. Can you hear the difference?

ALLISON

“That’s a great idea!” “That’s a great idea!” Nope. Don’t hear it.

PAUL

I think you deliberately twisted the intonation of my words.

ALLISON

In a court of law a jury would never convict me. They’d be like, “read back the transcript Coral” and Coral would read “He responded ‘That’s a great idea'”.

CORAL

If you’re going to have me be a court stenographer, you can go ahead and drown me now.

PAUL

Well I find you guilty of deliberately hearing what you wanted to hear.

CORAL

How about we drop the whole Law and Order bit?

ALLISON

So you sentenced me to life with a dog. Dear listeners, Paul was so pissed off with me getting a cat, he thought it would be a good idea to get a dog without consulting the family.

PAUL

Like you got a cat without consulting the family.

ALLISON

Not true! I told you I was considering getting a cat. You didn’t even do that much. You just showed up with a dog one day and said “Everyone, meet Chad!”

PAUL

And Chad is a very sweet boy, isn’t he?

ALLISON

How irresponsible is that? You have no idea if that thing is a cat-killer or not! How do you know he isn’t predisposed to killing cats?

PAUL

I couldn’t have been so lucky on that front but he obviously isn’t. He’s scared to death of it.

ALLISON

What kind of dog is scared of a cat? How can a Doberman be scared of a sweet little old kitty? The poor guy is missing his top right fang.

CORAL

My guess? It’s because the dog’s name is Chad.

PAUL

What’s wrong with that? Not nearly as stupid a name as Dr. Gustafson. What kind of name is that for a cat?

ALLISON

It’s a fine name. It fit him. And it makes perfect sense.

PAUL

Yes, I know why you named it that. Still, it’s a stupid name for a cat.

CORAL

Yeah but I don’t know. Why’d you name it that?

ALLISON

I named him Dr. Gustafson because he made me think of a professor we had.

CORAL

Did he teach zoology or something?

PAUL

No, he taught economics.

CORAL

So that makes a lot more sense now.

PAUL

When we were at university together-

ALLISON

Wait… did you say ‘at university’? What are you, Canadian now?

PAUL

What’s wrong with that? We were at university together.

ALLISON

You know what, Coral? I can already hear your father trying to make this some long, drawn out story when it’s really quite simple. Dr. Gustafson was a ginger. Since it’s a ginger cat he made me think of Dr. Gustafson so that’s what I named him.

PAUL

You shouldn’t say that.

ALLISON

Say what?

PAUL

That word. You shouldn’t use that word to describe him.

ALLISON

What, “ginger”?

PAUL

Yes. It’s racist.

ALLISON

Wait… okay… ginger is not a race. It’s a hair color.

PAUL

Well it sounds racist when you say it. So stop using that word.

ALLISON

Oh my god, Paul… I don’t even-

So I’ll say redhead for your delicate sensibilities.

PAUL

That doesn’t sound much better. Not as bad, but not much better.

ALLISON

Are you serious? How is that bad?

PAUL

Think about it. Washington just had to change the name of their football team due to how insensitive their previous name was.

ALLISON

Yeah but they weren’t the Washington Redheads!

CORAL

Can I interject here?

PAUL

Absolutely. Your generation knows what is and isn’t appropriate to say.

ALLISON

Yes, tell him how ridiculous and over-the-top he sounds.

CORAL

This episode is not the PC round table. It’s about cats and dogs. And not as in “fighting like”.

ALLISON

You’re right. We were talking about how your father brought home Chad the Doberman without running it past anyone.

PAUL

Chad is a good boy. I think he’s fitting rather well into our household, all things considered. He doesn’t perform that life-threatening figure eight trip hazard around your feet. He doesn’t lay on the kitchen counters when we’re not home. He doesn’t yell at the top of his lungs at 2am when he wants to come back in the house. He’s a very good boy.

ALLISON

Oh, yes. He can shed on command, and even without being told. I feel like our house is covered with Tammie Faye Bakker’s loose eyelashes everywhere. His aim is true, and we have my nitrogen burned clematis as a testament to that. Not to mention he has turned our yard into a Cambodian field with the number of land mines that lay strewn about our yard, which I’ve asked you to disarm daily. With Dr. Gus I’m not likely to step in his litter box, so his mess is self-contained. And at least his noise is limited to 2am rather than every other minute of the day when Chad the Doberman has to bark at everything. “Hey, Amazon delivery!” “Hey, other dog!” “Hey, Coral just flushed the toilet!” “Hey, the evening news is on!”

CORAL

Should I stop flushing altogether?

PAUL

He’s a great watchdog. He’s warning all the ne’er-do-wells away from our property.

ALLISON

I don’t know… your friend Chuck still comes over.

PAUL

But I figured since I didn’t get any say with you getting that ugly ass mangy tabby with the missing fang, the torn ear, and the crooked tail who was apparently rescued from war torn Syria it gave me license to get a beautiful sweet Doberman Pinscer.

ALLISON

Hey! Don’t say that about Dr. Gustafson! He may look a little rough but he’s a very sweet kitty! I love him!

PAUL

(muttering)

At least one guy in the house gets to hear that.

There is a significant awkward silence

CORAL

Um, okay parents. You need to pitch to the listeners which we should keep, the dog or the cat or both? Try to be nice about it when you do, please.

ALLISON

I’ll go first. Cats are good for lowering your blood pressure instead of raising it. They are very tidy creatures, so no matter how rough they may look they keep themselves clean and confine their business to a box. They like to be appreciated on their terms and don’t need constant validation or affection.

CORAL

That’s good, Mom. Dad, your turn.

PAUL

Okay. Well, a dog is a good way to keep your home safe. They are excellent protectors and keep watch over the family and makes sure they are taken care of. They’re loyal companions and offer love without expecting anything in return. As long as you use positive reinforcement instead of dealing with any mistakes they make in a harsh or negative manner you will have a companion that will never disappoint you.

CORAL

Huh. Okay. So nothing about the cost of owning a pet, like food and vet bills? Or about how much they shed, or the amount of dander they produce?

PAUL and ALLISON mutter their contentions to CORAL’s statements unconvincingly

AFTERWORD

CORAL

Well, we now have a dog and a cat. Dad sure loves that dog and Mom sure loves having a cat. Personally it’s nice to see each of them displaying some level of affection for a change, even if it isn’t toward any of the humans in the house. I’m hoping they start to get comfortable expressing their affections and maybe it will bleed outward, maybe find its way past just their pets. Or maybe it will be an excuse for them to not have to show any affection or be demonstrative in any way to anyone else because they now have recipients they can dole it out on? I don’t know. It’s hard to say.

How do I feel about the dog and the cat? It’s not for me to decide. I mean, yes, I do live here, but it’s not my house. I don’t pay the mortgage. I’m just the kid. What do you think, though? Should they keep the dog or the cat? Or should they keep them both? Or get rid of them both? Let us know what you think. Whatever you decide I’ll remind them we’re supposed to hold them to it. Vote at dcritpodcast.com That’s the letter “d”, crit, podcast.com. That’s it for this episode. Okay, I think I’m going to lay down for awhile and hopefully kick this cold or whatever this is.

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