Dreams vs. Realities

Credits

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

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


PAUL

You park too close. I can’t get out half of the time.

ALLISON

Well it’s not like you need anyone to get in the passenger side.

PAUL

I’m on the driver’s side. Your passenger side is my driver’s side, honey.

ALLISON

I understand that, but you don’t need the space, is what I’m saying.

PAUL

I park so close, so close to the left that you have the whole right side to yourself. I understand the Subaru is a big girl, however-

ALLISON

You’re just trying to do a manspread thing with your car, it’s ridiculous.

PAUL

It’s comfortable.

ALLISON

I need space to open the door-

CORAL

Mom, Dad, I am recording right now.

ALLISON

Oh, okay.

PAUL

Right. Okay.

ALLISON

So I can just start whenever?

CORAL

Yeah, but before you do, let’s go over the results of our survey from last episode.

ALLISON

Survey?

PAUL

(Richard Dawson style)

Survey says…

ALLISON

What is that supposed to be Richard Dawson? You can’t do a British accent to save your life.

PAUL

(makes obnoxious buzzer sound)

Wrong answer.

CORAL

Guys-

ALLISON

Your British accent sounds like a pirate that just had a root canal.

PAUL

I’ll have you know I took dialect coaching from Edgar Hannaway.

ALLISON

Who’s Edgar Hannaway?

PAUL

He was my high school drama teacher.

CORAL

Parents! Do you want to know the survey results or not?

PAUL

Remind us what the survey was about.

ALLISON

It was about whether or not I should review my Dewalt, if I remember correctly-

CORAL

No, no. It was about the coffeemakers, remember?

PAUL

Nice try, Allison.

ALLISON

I thought we weren’t going to do that since they couldn’t do a taste test.

PAUL

Do you even listen to the show, Ally?

ALLISON

No, do you?

PAUL

I have it queued up in my podchaser, as a matter of fact.

CORAL

It’s called a podcatcher, Dad. Podchaser is a website where you can leave reviews on podcasts.

ALLISON

And that’s where they go to vote on our stuff, right?

CORAL

No… people go to our website to vote on our stuff.

ALLISON

Well I’d be surprised if anyone is listening to our show yet, so…

CORAL

As a matter of fact, we do have listeners and they have voted on the coffeemakers!

PAUL

Really?

ALLISON

They have?

CORAL

Yes, and it was a unanimous decision. Congratulations, Mom. We’re keeping your Chemex thingamajig.

ALLISON

Yay! Our listeners obviously have discriminating tastes! Thank you all!

PAUL

It’s a shame, as I was really looking forward to getting that three hundred fifty bucks back.

ALLISON

Well, I’d say we both dodged a bullet, since you were going to use it to buy a skateboard. You’re in your forties, Paul. That ship has sailed.

PAUL

You’re never too old to learn to ride a skateboard, Allison. Give me a few weeks and I’ll be grinding ollies and doing casper catches-

CORAL

Eech. Dad- just don’t.

PAUL

Hells ya! When you see your old man-

CORAL

Really, Dad. Let me stop you there. The votes are in, the Janko goes, the Chemex stays. Remember, you promised to honor whatever the voters decided.

PAUL

Well what do they know?

ALLISON

They know the exquisite flavor of a quality-

CORAL

Mom, you’re gloating. Please don’t gloat.

PAUL

Show some sensitivity, Ally. You have no idea how much I’m going to miss that Janko.

ALLISON

You established such a bond with it in the last three weeks.

CORAL

And now that that’s settled, we can get on with the show. Go ahead and do your regular intro now.

ALLISON

Hello, listeners! We’ve got a very special show for you this week. Thanks to this show, we’ve accumulated a few more things down in our garage, so we’ve decided to give it a clean.

PAUL

That’s right, and we need your help.

ALLISON

As usual, we don’t agree

Interrupting

PAUL

Now, that’s not always the case.

ALLISON

You realize you just made my point, right?

PAUL

Oh. Uh, well, obviously I was making a joke.

ALLISON

You totally weren’t, but we’ll let that go in the interests of time.

PAUL

Listeners, we agreed on a lot of things, and we actually have a nice pile in the back of the Subaru to go to Good Will today.

ALLISON

There are four things in the Subaru. And one of them is NOT going.

PAUL

Four things is a start. And they’re all going.

ALLISON

I told you, you are not taking my Makita Jig Saw.

PAUL

When is the last time you used it? Hell, when was the first time you used it?

ALLISON

It just needs a new T-shank. It’s got a full 90-degree bevel range and variable speed trigger throttle-

PAUL

I hate it when you do that.

ALLISON

Do what?

PAUL

Throw a bunch of language at me you know I don’t understand just to get me to give up and let you have your way.

ALLISON

Can I help it if you don’t understand what’s so cool about it? We’re not giving it away. Can we get on with this?

PAUL

You’ve never used it.

ALLISON

BUT I WILL.

PAUL

Fine. But I’m writing it down, and if it hasn’t been used by this time next year, it goes.

ALLISON

Like your weight set?

PAUL

Can we get on with this?

ALLISON

Uh huh. Coral, you know what to do with this bit.

CORAL

Cut it all out. Got it.

ALLISON

Right. So here’s how this works. We each have identified one thing that we want to keep and the other wants to throw out.

PAUL

Give away.

ALLISON

Right. Give away.

PAUL

Or recycle.

ALLISON

Or recycle, yes. When you’re done virtue signalling, we’ll move ahead.

PAUL

I’m trying to set a good example here. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

ALLISON

On our show about buying new stuff.

PAUL

New, durable stuff that will last and ultimately result in us buying less throw-away trash.

CORAL

Dad has a point, Mom.

PAUL

See? The younger generation agrees.

CORAL

But you could be a little less preachy, Dad.

ALLISON

The younger generation giveth, and the younger generation taketh away. MOVING ON.

PAUL

We have one minute per item to make our argument for or against. First for, then against. Then we’ll put up a poll on our website and ask YOU, our loyal listeners, to vote for what stays…. and what goes.

ALLISON

But there’s a catch — after these first two items, we’ve each chosen one additional, secret item to put to the test. We’ve both agreed to abide by your decisions, so please make your choices wisely!  OK, Paul, what’s first on the chopping block?

PAUL

Funny you should put it that way, as the first thing up is this ancient wooden cutting board! Allison is going to offer the “for” arguments, so Coral, if you’ll give her the “go,” you’ve got one minute, Allison!

CORAL

Ready, Mom? Go!

ALLISON

This wooden cutting board is actually a family heirloom passed down from my great-grandmother to my grandmother to my mom and finally to me. It’s made of maple, birch, and walnut and finished with a layer of beeswax from my great grandfather’s own hives. My great-grandmother brought it with her from the old country, and there are cuts and grooves on it older than I am. It’s handcrafted — obviously, since it’s so old — and quite beautiful with the intricate checkerboard pattern. It’s been expertly made and cared for over the decades, and the little chips and dings only give it character. It’s sturdy and there are amazing stories attached to it, none of which I can remember right now, but I’m sure there are. I don’t have much that ties me to previous generations of my family, so I don’t want to let this go. How much time left, Coral?

CORAL

About 15 seconds.

ALLISON

Uhhhhh…I …. Like I said, I don’t have much

PAUL

No repetition!

ALLISON

What?

PAUL

No repetition. You’re not allowed to repeat.

ALLISON

Since when?

PAUL

That’s a pretty standard rule of debate.

CORAL

Time.

ALLISON

But he interrupted me. I get that time back!

PAUL

Oh, give it up, you were out of steam anyway.

ALLISON

FINE.

PAUL

Ready for rebuttal?

CORAL

It’s not a formal debate, Dad.

PAUL

Oh, such a mistake to enter into this competition, my dear. I was the leader of a champion debate team in high school!

ALLISON

You say that like that’s new information. Our postman knows you led your high school debate team.

PAUL

Ready, Coral?

CORAL

Go.

PAUL

Fact: This chopping board is gross, unhygienic, and probably riddled with ancient diseases. Fact: it is NOT actually a family heirloom, as this very weathered bit of sticky residue will attest, probably once a “Made in China” label. Fact:

ALLISON

What?!

PAUL

Right here. See? If you ever cooked or even chopped a vegetable on a cutting board instead of scratching up the counter tops, you might have noticed it.

ALLISON

I can’t believe it. Mom told me this was a family heirloom. She said Great Grandma once used it to knock out a bank manager who was coming to repossess their carriage.

PAUL

Your mom once told me her father was Al Capone’s right-hand man. Your mom is a bit of a storyteller, honey.

CORAL

She tried to pass off a plastic ring as royal insignia once. I even saw her get it from the bubblegum machine.

ALLISON

Can we get on to the next thing? Were you finished?

PAUL

I believe I’ve made my argument. My turn, I think? My lovely wife Allison has made no bones about how much she hates my Lego Best Little Whorehouse in Texas model, which I built on my own, with no designs or models or specially cut pieces. I am a huge fan of musicals, as my wife knows, and I wanted to create an homage to one of my favorites. I plan to do many more of these; Whorehouse just happened to be my first.

ALLISON

And last.

PAUL

Moderator, I did not yield my time.

CORAL

Just the producer, Dad.

PAUL

FINE. I spent many hours on this model, slaving away in a frigidly cold or sauna-hot garage for nearly a year, getting every detail correct, even painting on Burt Reynolds’ mustache. It manages to be accurate to both the onstage musical AND the 1982 film starring national treasure Dolly Parton. It is my intention to one day create enough musical models to have a display which could travel the country, eventually ending up in the Smithsonian. Such a display could earn us enough to pay for Coral’s college education because their grades sure as heck aren’t landing them any scholarships-

CORAL

HEY!

PAUL

Gotta sacrifice to make the argument, kiddo.

CORAL

TIME.

PAUL

That wasn’t a minute. Coral wishes to attend a fancy film school-

CORAL

I called time.

[tense pause]

PAUL

Fine.

CORAL

Mom, your rebuttal.

ALLISON

OK. It’s ugly. The only way you’d know it’s the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is because there’s a pair of Lego boobs hanging out one of the windows and there’s a sign in front reading “Best Little Whoreho”

PAUL

I ran out of Legos!

ALLISON

I did NOT yield my time.

PAUL

FINE.

ALLISON

This cost over a thousand dollars in Legos. A thousand dollars which can now NOT be used towards Coral’s education. Which she won’t need anyway, as her grades are just fine.

PAUL

They.

ALLISON

What?

PAUL

They won’t need. Not she. Their grades, not her.

ALLISON

You’re just mad because she- they called you out on her- dammit! their grades.

CORAL

Parents? I’m your kid. Not your scorecard.

[silence]

ALLISON AND PAUL

(ad lib apologies)

Sorry. Sorry, sweetie. You’re right. I’m sorry, we’re both sorry. Etc.

CORAL

Let’s just move on to the final round.

ALLISON

Right. I’m up, I think? So for my secret please-vote-it-off-the-island item, I choose Paul’s guitar.

CORAL

Mom, you sure…?

ALLISON

When was the last time you heard him play it?

CORAL

Don’t include me.

ALLISON

Right. Sorry. Paul, when is the last time you played this? You gave up on lessons after what, three? You almost never pick it up, and when you do, you just get depressed and pissy. It’s old and ugly and you bought it at a garage sale for what, like forty-five bucks?

PAUL

I just… haven’t had time, that’s all. I still want to learn to play.

ALLISON

You haven’t had time for four years. When is that going to change?

PAUL

So just give up on my dream, huh?

ALLISON

If I wanted you to give up on a dream, I’d have brought in your typewriter.

[ouch.]

PAUL

I can’t believe you said that.

ALLISON

Paul, I’m … that was the heat of the moment. I didn’t mean it.

PAUL

No, you’re right. You’re absolutely right. I haven’t written a word in, what, over a year? It’s not bringing me joy, or whatever the expression is. Go ahead, get rid of it. I’m done for today.

[gets up, walks out]

ALLISON

Shit. Let’s… let’s just scrap this idea, OK, Coral? We just won’t release this week. I … I’m going for a walk.

[gets up to walk out, forgets she has headphones on, gets yanked back]

ALLISON

Goddammit! Stupid headphones!

[wham of headphones, walks out]

CORAL

Oooookaaaaay, that went pretty much as expected. Well, as I expected, anyway. They both have this incredible optimism that this week, it won’t end up in a fight. Maybe that’s what keeps them together — their totally unrealistic optimism. I don’t know what else it could be, TBH. Dad’s been trying to write a novel for, well, pretty much my whole life and probably since before that. It’s the central disappointment of his life. Well, after ME, anyway. I think Mom used to be supportive of it, but Dad’s good at starting things he doesn’t finish. She doesn’t really get how important this one is, though. I wish she could. I think the right nudge from her could get him going. But what do I know? I’m just the kid. So, obviously, I’m releasing this, and the jigsaw and the Lego model are both on the website and voting begins now. Somebody in this family needs to follow through on a promise. Until next time. This has been Deconstructive Criticism.

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