Matrimony vs. Acrimony

Credits

Carl G. Brooks – Paul Ellis
Tal Minear – Coral Baxter-Ellis
Erin Lillis – Allison Baxter
Sarah Rhea Werner – Farah
Richard Nadolny – Chuck

Nikki Richardson – Elaine
Melissa Medina – Marisol
Written by Shannon Perry
Opening music “Coffee” by Cambo
Closing music “Life Illusion” by Ketsa

PAUL

Are you recording?

CORAL

I am, Dad. Relax. I have spare batteries and three additional memory cards. We’re good.

PAUL

It’s a big day.

CORAL

It’s Chuck’s wedding day, not yours, you know.

PAUL

I know, but your mom is already on the warpath, and that makes me nervous.

CORAL

Can you blame her? She sets one foot in the door and the bride tells her where she can go “to change.”

PAUL

Was that so bad?

CORAL

She bought the dress she’s wearing especially for this occasion.

PAUL

Really? Man, I wish she’d let the salesgirl help her.

CORAL

When you next talk to her, the first thing you will tell her is how beautiful she looks, OK?

PAUL

Oh, yeeaaaaahhhh. That’ll make my life easier. Good thinking.

CORAL

It might also make her feel a little better about herself.

PAUL

Kid, when you’ve been married as long as me and your mom, compliments mostly roll off like rain off a duck.

CORAL

Give it a shot anyway.

PAUL

Will do. Hey, keep on eye on her, willya? When she gets uncomfortable, she tends to drink too much. Tipsy is good; she’s fun Allison. Drunk is very very bad.

CORAL

Go find Chuck, Dad.

PAUL

Yeah yeah. Mingle and record, my sneaky offspring. Mingle and record.

(calls)

Marisol! Hey, Marisol! Wait up!

CORAL

Really? Wow, Dad. So here’s the situation, listeners. I am currently under a big tent in the Methow Valley, with, quite honestly, characters from the Great Gatsby. Beautiful people, well-dressed, lots of summery hats and wafty dresses and linen suits. Everybody seems really young, which is surprising, since Chuck and … crap. I don’t know the new wife’s name — dad calls her “three” and mom says she won’t be around long enough to bother. Oh, wait, here we go. There’s a massive banner in scrolling gold script that says, “Congratulations, Charles and Elaine” and there’s a gold lamé ball and chain hanging off the C in Charles. Hilarious AND classy. The ceremony was… typical. Dumb joke about the word “obey,” she took his name, of course, and now the reception is warming up.

ALLISON

Why is my child talking to her-their collar? Did I inadvertently give birth to Dick Tracy?

CORAL

Your child has a wireless lavalier buried in their corsage, courtesy of dad.

ALLISON

You’re joking.

CORAL

Don’t worry. I plan to let everyone know I’m recording them.

ALLISON

Oh, don’t do that! How else will we get the scoops?

CORAL

OK, so one, that’s kind of unethical, and two, no one gives the “scoops” to some random sixteen year old kid. Are you tipsy? Already? The reception started, like, nine minutes ago.

ALLISON

It’s an open bar with a short line, Coral. And I’m not “tipsy,” just…

CORAL

Just?

ALLISON

Mmmm? Cheerful. I’ve also been to the gift section. It’s a whole additional tent, like a tentstension. They unwrapped a bunch of their loot last night, and it’s all displayed like the crown jewels. Nine gravy boats. NINE! HA! What did we end up giving them?

CORAL

We gave them a waffle maker.

ALLISON

Oh, dear. Well, may they have many happy minutes with it. Now go mingle, wee one, for you are tiny and hard to detect.

CORAL

OK, but I’m telling people I’m recording.

ALLISON

If you must. Goodness, your father found and latched on to Marisol in a hurry. I believe I shall go celebrate her heritage by ordering a margarita.

CORAL

Whoa, mom, easy on the cultural stereotypes, ok?

ALLISON

All right, all right, Jiminy Cricket. Hop off and get scoops.

CORAL

Hey, mom?

ALLISON

Yes?

CORAL

You look beautiful.

ALLISON

Oh. Thank you, Coral. You look wonderful too.

CORAL

Dad cleans up nice.

ALLISON

He does. When he has a reason to. See you later, sweetie.

CORAL

Ouch. Granted, mom can be a bit of a drama queen, but the look on her face-

FARAH

Crystal!

CORAL

Ooof! Coral, actually.

FARAH

Whatever! I haven’t seen you since you were a little girl!

CORAL

I’m actually non-binary, Aunt Farah.

FARAH

Oh, honey, we can drop the honorarium, I think. You’re old enough to just call me Farah.

CORAL

Oh, OK.

FARAH

So tell me what that means, “non-binary.”

CORAL

Well, it means I don’t identify as either masculine or feminine. I’m somewhere on the spectrum.

FARAH

Like, autistic?

CORAL

No. I just don’t think gender is only identified by gonads or that there are only two. Or that you’re one unchanging identity all the time.

FARAH

That’s… deep. So no pink for you?

CORAL

All the colors of the rainbow, Aunt- Uh, Farah.

FARAH

So, you’re gay?

CORAL

Wow, so, I appreciate you wanting to educate yourself on this, but maybe another time? I can email you an article-

FARAH

You bet. You bet. Do that, Crystal, because I. Want. To. Support. You.

CORAL

Well, lucky Crystal, whoever they are.

FARAH

(calling)

Hang on, B, just finishing up with Allison and Paul’s little girl!

CORAL

Yep, saw that coming. ‘Scuse me.

approaches a conversation between Chuck and Paul

CHUCK

Dude, did you see Marisol? Damn, she looks good. How did we let that slip by?

PAUL

You didn’t, bro; she ducked you like a monkey flung you at her at the zoo. I let her go….

CHUCK

Yeah, well you gotta be kicking yourself now. You see that ass?

CORAL

Yes, and he’s talking to my dad.

CHUCK

Ha!! Good one, kid; how’s the bi life?

CORAL

The what?

PAUL

She’s- they’re not bi, Chuck. Non-binary.

CHUCK

So, is that, like, the opposite? Like, you hate everybody?

CORAL

Congratulations on your wedding, Chuck.

CHUCK

Thanks, Paulison. Did you get some champagne?

CORAL

I’m 16. And could we drop the Paulison nickname?

CHUCK

Ahhhhhh, it’s my wedding day! Everyone gets to celebrate! And you are the perfect blend of your mom and dad, hence: Paulison.

CORAL

Yes, I know the “thinking” that went into it.

CHUCK

You’ve got your dad’s eyes and your mom’s stick-

PAUL

Whoa, there. You’re talking about my wife to my offspring, remember? How much champagne have you had already?

CHUCK

Champagne is for pussies. I have whiskey in a flask in my pocket. Sip, kid?

CORAL

I’m driving us back to the hotel tonight, but thanks for the offer. I’m recording, by the way.

CHUCK

Now what does THAT mean? Man, I cannot keep up with all the new words: LGBTQ, trans, bi, recording…

CORAL

I mean I have a microphone on me and I’m recording what you say.

CHUCK

Oooooo, a documentary?

ALLISON

I believe it would be a dick-umentary, in this case.

CHUCK

Allison.

ALLISON

Chuck.

CHUCK

Have you talked with Marisol yet? Man, she looks great.

pause

ALLISON

She does. So does Elaine. Very elegant.

CHUCK

Huh? Uh, yeah. She does, doesn’t she? My lady. How does a guy get so lucky to find the perfect woman?

ALLISON

Process of elimination?

PAUL

How did you and Elaine meet? Remind me.

CHUCK

You introduced us. She sued your boss.

PAUL

Oh, yeah. Heh heh. Good times.

CHUCK

You called her some pretty choice names, actually. And wanted me to go out with her to sweeten her up.

PAUL

Yeah, OK, water under the bridge, water under the bridge.

ELAINE

Charles? There you are. We have lots of people to mingle with, so don’t stop anywhere too long.

CORAL

Great dress, Aunt Elaine.

ELAINE

Oh, did I grow a sibling?

ALLISON

It’s sort of an honorary title. Coral’s been calling Chuck “uncle” her- their whole life. This is our… child.

ELAINE

I see. I’m not a fan of being assigned relatives. The ones I have are enough.

CORAL

That’s fair. I can call you Elaine, if you prefer.

ELAINE

Well, it’s an improvement on what your father used to call me.

CHUCK

And what her mother still does, huh?

CORAL

Their.

CHUCK

What’s that, kiddo?

CORAL

“Their” mother.

CHUCK

Oh, right, you’re one of the pronoun crowd.

ALLISON

It was a lovely ceremony, Elaine.

PAUL

Yeah. I like the short ones without all the stand-up, sit-down…fight fight fight!

laughs awkwardly and alone

ELAINE

Coral, could I possibly borrow you for a moment?

ALLISON

Coral?

ELAINE

I understand they are quite good with recording equipment, is that right, Coral? The fellow I hired to record the toasts is having an issue, and I’d love your help.

CORAL

Oh…sure.

they walk away

ELAINE

You look quite elegant in that outfit. I’ve always thought tuxedos were wasted on men. They’re cool, aren’t they? They should belong to us all!

CORAL

Thank you. My folx weren’t exactly thrilled with my choice.

ELAINE

I’m sure they had visions of a little girl in dresses and pigtails who’d grow up to have a white wedding of her own. There’s comfort in stereotypes, but conformity is so stifling. Ah, this is Michael, who prefers he/him. Michael, this is Coral, who prefers they/them.

CORAL

Nice to meet you, Michael. Oooh, is that a Tascam? It looks brand new.

ELAINE

And I am already rigid with boredom. I’ll leave you two to your nerdy glory. Coral, thank you so much for jumping in. Please let me know your rates? I believe your father has my email.

CORAL

Oh, no, you don’t need to pay-

ELAINE

Coral, your podcast is professional quality. Don’t undersell yourself. Charles! Keep moving!

CORAL

Oh, boy. She listens to our podcast! That’s really not good.

[pause, comes back to present]

Sorry. So, I see your first problem…

fade out and up again

CORAL

Sorry about the narration here, but the next 17 minutes of tape are all Michael and me geeking out over audio equipment. Probably should have paused, but hey, that’s what editing software is for. And then…

PAUL

Coral! There you are. I need you. NOW.

CORAL

What’s going on?

PAUL

Excuse us, please.

CORAL

Uh, OK. Sorry, Michael. Good luck!

PAUL

Let’s GO.

(walking away)

Because USS Your Mom and ARM Marisol are on a collision course.

CORAL

But they like each other!

PAUL

They do, but your mom is now three champagne flutes, a margarita and at least one G & T to the wind and likely to say just about anything.

CORAL

Are you concerned about mom or about you?

PAUL

I’m … equal-opportunity concerned. Come on, kid, help out your old man?

CORAL

Fine. But if fists start flying, I’m out of there.

PAUL

Deal.

MARISOL

Coral! How delicious you look in that suit!

CORAL

Hi, Marisol! Thank you! I should just let you know-

ALLISON

(strained)

Marisol was just saying she’s moving to Seattle! Isn’t that just the BEST NEWS?

MARISOL

It’s only temporary. A year, maybe two. I’m working with a VR company on natural language for AIs and NPCs.

CORAL

Oh, cool! So you’re working with a games company?

MARISOL

They’re not exclusively games, but they do games as well. Are you a gamer?

CORAL

A little bit-

ALLISON

Gosh, that was a lot of letters. AI I know, but what’s a NPR?

PAUL

National Public Radio. It’s NPC, Allison.

MARISOL

Jargon is the bane of my existence! NPCs are non-player characters in games. They are the characters who are computer generated, not played by real people like Coral or Paul.

ALLISON

Paul plays a LOT of games. And not all of them on the computer, hey, hubby?

PAUL

Ally, you need to sober up.

MARISOL

You are wrong, Paul! It’s a wedding! We all need to get more drunk! Enough standing around talking about work things. Let’s dance!

PAUL

Yes! Let’s dance!

ALLISON

You two go on. You’ll look beautiful on the dance floor together.

MARISOL

No offense to your hubby, but I think I prefer to dance with Coral. May I have this boogie?

CORAL

You may. Would you hold my corsage and recorder, please?

ALLISON

Sure.

Some noise as the mic changes hands. Coral and Marisol whoop their way to the dance floor

PAUL

What the hell are you doing?

ALLISON

Enjoying a wedding. Or at least the open bar. What are YOU doing? I’ll bet you’re thrilled Marisol is coming within range.

PAUL

I can’t talk to you when you’re like this.

ALLISON

Did you try? I must have missed it.

PAUL

You’re being a real asshole, you know that? Marisol’s been nothing but nice to you.

ALLISON

You’re right. She has. And I’ll apologize for being an asshole to her. YOU, on the other hand-

PAUL

Me what? I’ve never done anything wrong, not cheated once, not even a kiss or a hand in the wrong place, nothing!

ALLISON

Oh, well, give the guy a medal. Come on, Paul, that’s kind of the bare minimum, isn’t it?

PAUL

We can have this conversation when you can pronounce “minimum” on the first try. Come on, we need to get you to the hotel.

ALLISON

No.

PAUL

Allison…

ALLISON

No, Paul.

PAUL

You’re not having fun; why do you want to stay? So you can watch other people having fun and continue to play the martyr?

ALLISON

That is unfair. You drag me to a wedding with a bunch of people who hate me-

PAUL

Did you ever stop to wonder why they don’t like you? Could it possibly be because you’re not much fun to be around? Let’s GO.

ALLISON

I’m not Marisol. They don’t like me because they think you made the wrong choice.

PAUL

No one expects you to be Marisol. Or wants you to. We already have one of those.

ALLISON

Why did you marry me?

PAUL

You don’t want to ask me that right now.

ALLISON

Why not? I won’t like the answer?

PAUL

Right now, I don’t HAVE an answer.

ALLISON

Wow.

PAUL

Yeah. Elaine’s got a fleet of Lyfts on call. Let’s get one of those to take you to the hotel. We can talk tomorrow.

ALLISON

“Talk”? You and me? We don’t do that. We talk around each other, over each other, and through each other, but talk together? I don’t think we know how to do that anymore.

PAUL

We used to.

ALLISON

I think so. But I was young and eager to please back then. I’m not sure I’ve ever really told you who I am. Back then, because I didn’t know, and lately, because it’s too much of a habit not to.

PAUL

I don’t understand what you’re saying.

ALLISON

Exactly. Tell Coral to have a glass of champagne if they want one, OK? ONE. Want? They wants?

ALLISON

I don’t even know how to verb my own kid. I’m tired. Here: give this back to Coral.

sound of mic behind handed over

PAUL

As soon as we get home, we really need to talk, Allison.

ALLISON

Yeah. We do.

PAUL

Just to clarify, are we really talking divorce? At a wedding?

ALLISON

Let’s not put a name to it yet. We haven’t even had a starter conversation. But it is a Chuck wedding.

they laugh, a little. fade on their footsteps

CORAL

The rest of the recording is the inside of the cloakroom. And dear god, so much gross behavior in a cloakroom at a wedding reception. Get a grip, people, or at least a hotel room. But yeah, here’s where we are. With mom and dad talking divorce. If they manage to talk at all. The four-hour drive back to Seattle was in total silence. We didn’t stop for food, which dad always does; or to take pictures, which mom always does; or to pee, which we all always do. We’ve been back from the wedding for almost 24 hours, and I haven’t heard them say anything to each other. No one’s talked to me either. I wouldn’t know anything was more wrong than usual, except of course we caught it all on tape. I think we’re going to take a break from the podcast for a few weeks. Let’s call this Season 1. I hope there’s a Season 2. Keep an eye on our Twitter account for updates. Wish me luck, everybody. Whatever that looks like from here.

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