Vegan Options

Credits

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

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


1ST OPENING

COR

Hi everyone! Well now… I assumed you all listened to the last episode? That did not go at all like I’d hoped. I mean, that question really flushed a lot of nasty stuff out, but it just revealed how deep the infection really is.

But I’m not one to give up. I’m determined to help get the parents out of this marital purgatory. They need to blump or get off the bidet. So I decided to have a little one-on-one with each of them to see where they are. As a result, this will be two recordings, one with me and Dad, the other with me and Mom. I let them choose the venue. The only rule was it couldn’t be a movie or a sportsball game or anything where we can’t hold a conversation. So Dad had to pick something other than Gore Galore 3 and Mom had to pick something other than a Mariners game.

So I broke out the Tascam and the lavaliers and Dad and I headed to Green Lake. Which is really nice, actually, but I think Dad had ulterior motives.

GREENLAKE

PAUL

It’s really nice out here, isn’t it kiddo?

COR

I suppose, even for an indoor dweller like me. Nature makes me nervous.

PAUL

You’re not bothered by Chad the Doberman, or the twelve pound feline terror.

COR

Yeah but they’re like nature on Xanax. They don’t want to pounce on me from above or drag me into the lake to feed on me.

PAUL

I don’t think you’re in any danger of being ambushed and devoured by a squirrel. And there are no gators in Green Lake. Unless they broke out of Woodland Park Zoo and made this their hideout.

COR

Thanks. I feel much better now.

PAUL

So I figured we’d take a nice stroll around the lake, that’d give us plenty of time to talk. We could probably walk the whole thing in an hour, I’m guessing.

COR

Maybe less if some wild animal starts stalking us.

PAUL

You might get stalked by a labradoodle at worst.

COR

A labradoodle? Is that like something from Dr. Seuss?

PAUL

You’ve never heard of a labradoodle? A cross between a Labrador and a Standard Poodle. They’re a type of designer dog resulting from mixing breeds together.

COR

Oh. I thought those were called mutts.

PAUL

Well, you’ve got nothing to worry about out here. Plenty of room to spread out if you’re worried about getting too close to any dogs.

COR

So how big around is this lake?

PAUL

It’s about four and a half kilometers.

COR

And how far is that in miles? Mom’s right. You do try to sound like you’re Canadian.

PAUL

Listen, my young offspring, you need to start learning how to think in metric! The rest of the world is on the metric system. You need to be prepared for when we finally switch over and catch up with every other country. Well, except Myanmar and Liberia.

COR

Okay, that answers my first question. So let me ask you a follow-up question: How far is that in miles?

PAUL

It’s two point eight.

COR

Wow, I’m impressed with how fast you did that conversion!

PAUL

Well, I didn’t actually convert it in my head just now. I just don’t know how many kilometers are in a marathon so I looked up how many miles it is. It will take ten laps around the lake to be just over the length of-

COR

So you brought me here so you could scope out your running path?

PAUL

Er… let’s say it just happened to work out that way.

COR

Great. I want to have a nice conversation with you about you and Mom and you take me to woods and water so I can get eaten by either cougars or mosquitos.

PAUL

You won’t find either here. Just enjoy the walk and we’ll have a nice conversation. I promise you’ll be fine.

COR

Fine. Okay, so let’s talk about you and Mom.

PAUL

Let’s. So where do you want to begin?

COR

Let’s begin with how you feel about Mom. Do you love her?

PAUL

Of course I love her.

COR

But are you in love with her?

Pause

PAUL

I don’t know, kiddo.

COR

So, does “I don’t know” actually mean you’re not?

PAUL

Not necessarily. There are a lot of things I adore about your mom. There are a lot of ways in which we’re compatible, and we have similar tastes in several areas.

COR

Like what?

PAUL

We like the same movies-

COR

Nope.

PAUL

We enjoy sports-

COR

You, football. Mom, baseball.

PAUL

There is that. Time seems to stand still watching baseball. And not in a good way.

(pause)

We agree on parenting. We’re on the same page on how to raise you.

COR

Or how not to raise me, as it is.

PAUL

Hey! That’s not cool. I think we’re great parents.

COR

That’s the thing though… isn’t part of parenting demonstrating how to communicate effectively? How to regard your partner? Showing respect and kindness and tolerance and forgiveness toward each other?

PAUL

I do all those things. Your mother, on the other hand-

COR

See, that’s what I’m talking about, automatically throwing her under the bus! How is that respectful?

PAUL

Have you listened to her? Her communication skills can use some serious work. That’s what makes me say I don’t know if I’m in love with her. She can be snarky if not downright prickly. She’s judgmental. She’s not very affectionate with me, she’s not very nice to me, and she’s not-

COR

Marisol?

Pause

PAUL

What? Hey now!

COR

I think it’s only fair to put it out there, Dad. I watched the video from the wedding. You brought me a piece of cake and Marisol a piece of cake. Did you take any cake to Mom?

PAUL

Well, to be fair, Marisol happened to be right there-

COR

Not just that, you spent most of your time with her at the reception.

PAUL

(getting more defensive)

It had been a long time since we’d seen each other and we were catching up! Marisol happens to be a very close friend, I’ll have you know! You need to disregard any previous relationship we had.

COR

Maybe you need to too?

PAUL

I’m not having a conversation with my kid about my ex-girlfriend-now-very-good-friend! I’m glad to talk to you about me and your mother and our marriage but we’re not talking about Marisol again.

COR

(a bit demurely)

Okay. Sorry. We’ll keep it about you and Mom. You were talking about the way you two communicate. Or don’t.

PAUL

I was talking about the way she communicates.

COR

But communication is a two-way street, isn’t it?

PAUL

I feel like it’s often a one-way street and I’m constantly going down the wrong way. I’m not throwing your mother under the bus. I’m constantly getting hit by it because someone tagged the street sign with Cambo or something like that.

COR

I don’t think any insurance company would cover that analogy.

PAUL

The backbone of every relationship is communication. And it feels like we are at fundamental odds with how we communicate. I’m not sure if we can rectify that. That’s what makes me wonder if we would be able to make this work. I just don’t know.

COR

Have you considered maybe a therapist to help you two figure out how to communicate?

PAUL

Absolutely not. Your mother would absolutely refuse to go to a therapist. She says her parents have made it over four decades without seeing a therapist, so we shouldn’t have to with only two decades under our belt.

COR

Huh. Well, maybe the two of you need to sit down and figure out what you want to do. It’s like the status of your marriage is waiting to get triaged and it’s miserable for all of us.

PAUL

Well I can try but I can’t promise you anything. Your mom is not easy to reason with. I can barely get her to talk to me as it is.

COR

I guess all you can do is try.

PAUL

Yep.

(beat)

You know, I’ve really enjoyed hanging out with you one-on-one. You’re actually easy to talk to. You have the wisdom of someone twice your age.

COR

Uncle Chuck is more than twice my age. I hope I don’t have his wisdom.

PAUL

Well, he did figure out how to beat the Clanch.

COR

The what?

PAUL

Never mind. Hey, wanna try running a lap around the lake with me, see how long it takes?

COR

That’s a hard pass.

2ND OPENING

COR

Okay, so that was my time with Dad. This one is my one-on-one with Mom. Suffice it to say it went a bit differently. She decided to take me to Woodland Park Zoo. Ugh. Here is the “thought process” she used when picking this:

WOODLAND PARK ZOO

ALLISON

I thought you liked animals.

COR

I do. That’s why I don’t like the zoo.

ALLISON

That doesn’t make any sense. You’re a vegan because you love animals, just not how they taste, right?

COR

Wow. A little off the mark. It’s not about how they taste, it’s about not killing them. Which last I remember you have to kill them to taste them anyway.

ALLISON

Clearly these animals are all alive and well, and taken very good care of, I’ll have you know, so I don’t know what your issue is.

COR

AND exploiting them. I’m walking through animal penitentiary. The zebras are even dressed in prison outfits.

ALLISON

Oh stop being so hyperbolic. There are no towers with armed sentries. There’s no razor wire around the perimeter. There are no inmates banging on bars and throwing things at us.

COR

We haven’t been past the monkey exhibit yet.

ALLISON

You used to love the zoo. That and the circus.

COR

I felt uneasy at the zoo every time I went. And I hated the circus.

ALLISON

What’s to hate about the circus?

COR

Animal exploitation, remember? It’s even worse than the zoo. At least here they try to pretend to replicate their natural habitat. I doubt elephants ride yoga balls in the wild or lions have to protect their prides from whips and chairs.

ALLISON

What about the clowns?

COR

The only thing worse than the animals. Who ever thought clowns were funny? They’re inherently disturbing.

ALLISON

Ugh. Keeping up with changes in teens is worse than keeping up with technology. Or which Real Housewives franchise is which.

COR

Okay, how about we have a nice conversation and I’ll just ignore the animals.

ALLISON

As long as you can take off your Robe of Teenage Judgmentalism. Can you do that?

COR

I’ll take off the robe if you take off your mom hat. Just for now. You can put it back on afterwards.

ALLISON

Deal. So let me start by saying it is nice to spend some alone time with you. I get to catch up with all that’s been going on with you. Like this whole nickname thing.

COR

It’s not a nickname. It’s my new name now. And I’d rather talk about something else. I want to talk about you and Dad.

Pause

ALLISON

What about me and your dad?

COR

How you are doing?

ALLISON

We’re doing fine.

COR

Is that so?

ALLISON

Yes. We’re doing just fine.

COR

“Cor, tell your mother to empty out the Almond Roca piling up in the cat box.” “Coral, tell your father to pick up his Lego pieces before I show him what it feels like when it presses into the bottom of a bare foot.” Does that sound like you’re doing fine?

ALLISON

As a matter of fact, it does. If we actually had to talk to each other it would be much worse.

COR

Well I don’t think it’s fair that I have to play verbal courier all day long. You two need to figure your shit out.

ALLISON

There’s no shit to figure out. Your father is an ass and not worth talking to.

COR

So is the plan to eternally cohabitate without ever speaking to each other? You realize once I’m off to college you have no more go-between to rely on to communicate.

ALLISON

Ah, that’s where you’re wrong. You’re not going to college or moving out until your father does.

COR

Wait… Dad’s moving out?

ALLISON

No… well at least not right now.

COR

Then when is he moving out?

ALLISON

We… haven’t talked about that.

COR

Yeah, what am I thinking? You haven’t talked about anything in the last week and a half. And that’s the problem. You each keep guessing and assuming what the other thinks or wants or feels. If you actually just sat down and had a heart-to-heart you might actually be able to figure out where you want your marriage to go.

ALLISON

I think I knows where he wants to go.

COR

Do you really know, or are you guessing?

ALLISON

I think he made it clear at the wedding. He wants to take me out of the game and put in Marisol.

COR

You don’t know that for sure. Not if you haven’t talked to him about that.

ALLISON

I’m not talking to him about if he’s still in love with her. In fact, I’m not talking about this with you.

COR

You have to talk to somebody about this. Since you won’t talk to Dad I was hoping you’d be willing to talk to me about it at least.

ALLISON

You don’t understand. You’re not married. You’ve never been in love. You told me you’re quiver, or whatever it is.

COR

Aro. But that doesn’t mean I don’t know what it’s like to care about someone. Or to be close to someone. Or to care about what the outcome of your family unit might be.

ALLISON

But you don’t know how complicated marriages can be. There’s a lot more to it than whether or not you love your partner.

COR

Do you?

ALLISON

Do I what?

COR

Love Dad.

ALLISON

Well… I can’t say I don’t love him.

COR

Are you still in love with him?

Pause

ALLISON

That’s a complicated question. Or maybe a complicated answer. Maybe you should ask your father.

COR

I did.

ALLISON

Oh? And what did he say?

COR

If you want to know you’re going to have to ask him yourself.

ALLISON

Did you ask him if he’s in love with Marisol?

COR

We didn’t talk about Marisol all that much.

ALLISON

All that much? So you did talk about Marisol.

COR

Well, not really. Actually he didn’t want to talk about her.

ALLISON

Oh he didn’t, did he? Interesting.

COR

No, that’s not interesting. He didn’t want to talk about her.

ALLISON

See, that’s the thing. There was a reason he didn’t want to talk about her. There are some feelings tied up with her that he doesn’t want to reveal.

COR

Forget about Marisol. This isn’t about Marisol.

ALLISON

It is about Marisol! This is exactly what it’s about!

COR

No, it’s about you, Mom! It’s about how you feel! Take Marisol out of the picture and ask yourself this: Do you still want to be with Dad? Do you still want to be married to him? He’s not sure, you’re not sure, hell, I’m not sure. Even before the wedding. You’re not sure if you want to be in it or not, so now Marisol comes along and you see a convenient excuse to blame her and not have to put any effort into working it out, or at least figuring it out.

Pause

ALLISON

You didn’t see him at the wedding. You didn’t see how he fawned all over her, how he doted on her, left me to drift through the reception area like a drunken tumbleweed. Do you know how many tumbleweeds there are in Eastern Washington?

COR

Stay with the point, Mom. You were doing so well there.

ALLISON

So you ask me how I know? I don’t have to ask him. He already told me so at the wedding.

Pause

COR

Did you ever think that he might be looking for validation that he’s not getting from you?

Pause

ALLISON

You know what? I don’t want to talk about this. I don’t feel like sitting here listening to my kid try to play therapist.

COR

Have you ever considered doing that? The two of you going to talk to a counselor?

ALLISON

Nope. No way. Your father is way too cheap for that.

COR

I understand that some of them work on a sliding fee…

ALLISON

Your father won’t do it. He’d never live it down from his mom, who’s already critical enough of him as it is. He’s only one criticism away from Benjamin Buttoning himself into a permanent five year old.

COR

Well, I suppose it’s back to marital purgatory, ad infinitum.

ALLISON

You don’t get tired of using that term, do you? Ad nauseum.

COR

(a tremble is clearly heard in their voice, at the verge of tears)

I’m just tired of us living like this. That’s all.

Pause

ALLISON

(sighs)

Okay, I’ll sit down and talk to your father. Or at least I’ll try. I’m not going to promise we’re going to come to any grand resolution, but we’ll talk. Tête-à-tête.

COR

Thank you. That’s all I ask.

ALLISON

Now… let’s go to the aquarium. Fish aren’t smart enough to know they’re not in the ocean, so you should feel better about that.

COR

Uh, well…

ALLISON

And then afterwards we’ll go for sushi.

AFTERWORD

COR

So that was my one-on-one with Dad, then with Mom. I’m not sure what I expected. Some big resolution, or how they really didn’t want to be apart? Or how they were done with the marriage with a strong degree of certainty? If anything, I feel more certain about their ambivalence. Even though it seems like a lot of this pivots around Marisol, I think she is really the unwitting catalyst behind what needs to happen with their marriage, one way or another. I suppose I do need to recognize a minor victory in them actually agreeing to sit down and talk. Well, outside what barely passed for a conversation in the last episode. So, hopefully when that happens, if that happens, let’s be realistic… we’ll have an update for you in the next episode. Until then, wish me luck. Wish all of us luck.

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