Hudson Theatre Guild NYC 2014 (premiere)
Full Cup Theatre NYC 2015
Sammy Spinelli…unemployed Ad man (55)
Marsha…………..his second wife (50)
Lydia……………his daughter (30)
Barney…………..his younger brother (50)
An Intermission in this play is optional
SETTING: The living room of Sam and Marsha Spinelli. Stage is a combination living room dining area. A small dining room table with four chairs on one side, Other side has sofa, wing chair and older model television set.(not a flat screen) One main front door leads to house, another smaller door back leads to basement. An archway leads off to kitchen and other rooms.
AT Rise: Marsha sits at table drinking coffee while reading the newspaper. Cereal bowls are on the table.
MARSHA. Sammy, come on in and have your breakfast before it gets cold.
SAMMY. (From off) How can cereal get cold?
MARSHA. It’s oatmeal wise guy. Your favorite, raisins and spice.
SAMMY. (from off) I can’t find my damn glasses.
MARSHA. That’s okay you can see the oatmeal fine without them.
SAMMY. (entering holding his phone) ) Funny Marsha. You’re a real card. You know I read the internet blogs first thing in the morning.
MARSHA. A lot of good it’s doing you.
SAMMY. (sits) What’s that supposed to mean?
MARSHA. Mr. Conspiracy Theory. I wish you would occupy yourself with something else besides those blogs. It’s not healthy.
SAMMY. Really, and what’s more healthy than being well informed huh? It’s our only defense.
MARSHA. Against what?
SAMMY. Ourselves mostly. Our own conditioning. Our human nature.
MARSHA. Oh no Sammy. Come on. It’s too early for that. I’ve got a long day ahead of me.
SAMMY. Sure, ignore it and just go on living life like a drone. Well maybe you can but I can’t. I’m out of work, the economy’s in the crapper. There isn’t anything interesting to watch on T.V. besides sports. All they have is that reality television crap. Can you imagine what passes for entertainment these days? A bunch of talentless nobodies cashing in by exposing their inadequacies. And then the idiots out there watch the shows and make the talentless nobodies richer. I wish someone would follow me around with a fucking camera, at least they might learn something.
MARSHA. What? How to rant at seven in the morning?
SAMMY. (getting agitated) You think this is ranting Marsha, you think this is ranting?!
MARSHA Oh shit, I’ll never learn. Look what I started. Drop it Sammy, it’s just the way things are.
SAMMY. Just the way things are? So what! So fucking what Marsha! You think I like the way things are…you think I like being an unemployed middle aged ad-man? Thirty years of hard work with nothing to show for it. You think you know what’s wrong with this country? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it. People are so fucking greedy, so needy that all they can think about is their next vacation. The fucking banking system nearly fails…do you know? Do you fucking realize how close this whole fucking country came to financial destruction in two thousand and eight? Barney told me. He was there you know.
MARSHA. I don’t want to hear this again Sammy!
SAMMY. Well you’re gonna hear dammit! Somebody’s gonna hear it! Those greedy fucking Wall Street pigs! Do they give a fuck what happens to the country? Not a fucking chance…they create hybrid mortgages based on nothing that no one understands and sell it to the public as sound investments. Then those other greedy pigs, the politicians, raise our taxes to bail them out. And do those motherfuckers wind up in jail….nah, oh maybe a few just so those cock sucking no nothing politicians can justify their fucking existence. Cause they’re just as bad. They add nothing to the mix. They’re just fucking yes men there to satisfy their constituents and get re-elected so their whore wives don’t leave them for a younger politician with better prospects. And what’s their motivation? What’s their fucking motivation, all these bastards? To keep what they got! To get more…to keep their fucking trophy wives even though those same needy bitches are fucking the landscapers behind their back. So they’re ruining the country. Their own children’s and grandchildren’s future…to keep their fucking giant swimming pools and Land Rovers. Come on Marsha, come on. Are you telling me that we have the technology to create a black hole but we can’t figure out a way to make a car run on anything but oil? They can make a car that runs on tap water but are they ever going to let a company market it? Never! Cause the head of the big oil companies won’t let them. The head honcho of Exxon, or Gulf or whoever the fuck they are won’t let them. And just who do these fucking guys think they are, fucking with us?! .
MARSHA. I don’t know Sammy, I don’t know who they think they are.
SAMMY. No, no I mean really. You see, you see Marsha nobody ever thinks of it but I think of it. I’m the only one who wants to know what entitles these mother fuckers. What entitles them to tell us what to do and impinge on our freedoms? What happened in the life of that motherfucking head of the multinational oil company when he was fifteen years old? When he was a pot smoking pre- pubescent punk who was only worried about getting laid or driving his old man’s Bentley to get cigarettes. What epiphany befell him at fifteen years old that told him he would one day grow up to run a big multinational oil company? You think he’s better than me or you?
MARSHA. I don’t know Sam.
SAMMY. It’s a rhetorical question Martha, I’m in the middle of a fucking rant here!
MARSHA. Well is it almost over cause I have to clean the breakfast plates and go to work soon?
SAMMY. You see that’s what I’m talking about? Fuck the breakfast plates. Is the fucking world gonna come to an end cause you didn’t clear the breakfast plates on time this morning? Does it throw off some fucking cosmic balance of the universe?
MARSHA. Fine Sammy fine, the head of the big multinational corporation is no better than you or me.
SAMMY. Damn straight he’s not. That fucking prick. So now what has he got? Now he runs the big oil company and answers to shareholders, and heads of cartels, and a board of director and for what? What’s it getting him? A big house, ten big houses? How many fucking big houses does he need? How many fucking trophy wives? Give it up, give it all up, who wants the fucking aggravation? Does he think he has it made? Does he think he’s free? Strip it all away and you’re free. All the possessions, throw them the fuck out. Go live on a farm and grow your own food and be self- sufficient, then you’re free. Because you know what’s gonna happen if the country continues on the same path as it’s going now Marsha? Chaos, fucking chaos. People think it can’t happen? People think the world economy can’t collapse under the pressure and bullshit and inflated economy? Oh it can. They thought the same thing in 1929. And you know who the first guys were who cracked, who jumped from the roofs of the buildings? The fucking greedy Stockbrokers, and heads of oil companies and politicians! Poetic fucking justice. They couldn’t handle giving up their Limo’s and houses in the country. Can you believe it? They give up their fucking lives cause they lost they’re possessions. Those weak minded, fucking cowards. The coward’s way out, suicide. And these are the fucking people we put in charge! Fucking entitled pussies, that’s who’s running the country.
MARSHA Now why are you bringing up suicide? I don’t like when you talk about that.
SAMMY. Why not? Oh you afraid I might try it? Not me. You know who commits suicide, weak minded people who don’t love themselves. Celebrities who get bad movie reviews. And why are they so depressed? Because their agent doesn’t call them anymore? Too damned bad.
MARSHA. Is there a point you’re trying to make hear, cause if there is I’m not getting it.
SAMMY. My point is I think many people go through severe bouts of depression and decide NOT to take their own life for whatever reason. Notice I say they decide because this act is the ultimate personal decision. Why did the act finally take place when it did? Weren't they just as depressed the day, week or year before? Or even ten minutes before that exact second that the little voice in their head said, yep this is the time, I've had enough I’M OUT! What if the answer were, yes, they were just as depressed the day before but they kept fighting the little voice off by whatever means the mind uses to trick itself? What if depression were in essence, only a temporary malady? I've faced depression, severe depression, yet I decided to hang around and see what happens. I've got eternity to be dead but only a few more years to hang around earth hopefully, and I'm still a little curious about how life works and how it all turns out.
MARSHA. And how did you learn how to fight off depression?
SAMMY. A book I read. When I finished reading the simple concepts and truths in this book I learned how to better control my thoughts so the little guy in my head who said, 'yeah Sammy, things aren't going to get any better for you, this is the time' - - to this day, will never win the suicide argument with me. Since that time I haven’t taken another anti-depression pill. Really pisses off Pfizer and the other big pharmas, to the extent that some surmise that the author of this book died under mysterious circumstances from an 'apparent' heart attack.
MARSHA. Really? What did the book have to say?
SAMMY. The premise is that all depression is temporary. It’s a low mood swing. You need to mentality train yourself not to be depressed. How do you do that? Here's the concept. Okay. you're depressed, for whatever reason. First, no matter how bad you think you have it there is a guy sitting in an underground prison in Siberia who has it worse than you. And he hasn’t committed suicide. How do you get rid of the low mood? Well first we have to go with the supposition that even the most depressed person in the world, maybe it's that guy sitting in the gulag, is not depressed one hundred percent of the time. What if only five percent of the time he isn’t depressed? Why isn't he? If life is so bad why isn't he depressed every waking moment of every day? If that were the case then I would say, yeah, okay, why go on. But I truly don't think it is psychologically possible to be depressed one hundred percent of the time.
MARSHA. I’m not following you Sammy.
SAMMY. Let me put it another way. What if this depressed person were sitting in his house or apartment and the place caught on fire! For the five or ten minutes that it takes him to get out of that place and get to safety what happened to his depression? Was his mind saying, hey, you're too depressed not to just sit here and burn to death. No his mind shouted GET THE FUCK out of here and you can be depressed later! YOU CAN BE DEPRESSED LATER! Keep repeating this to yourself, Hey, I've got kids to take care of, skydiving to do, books to write, I think I’ll be depressed later. Your mind just took away your depression. You tricked it? So what? You won the battle. When the severely depressed person is watching T.V and someone very funny comes on and makes him laugh hysterically, guess what, where's the depression? Oh, you tricked it again? So what, you're still here! You get to eat one more cheeseburger and drink one more milkshake! I'm not saying it's easy. I'm not saying everyone can do it but you know what, if just one person reads the book and can DO IT I think it’s worth it.
MARSHA. You make it sound so simple Sammy but you can’t possibly know what a person is thinking right before they kill themselves.
SAMMY. You’re right, I don’t. But think about this. What if after it's too late, After the trigger has been pulled, the pills have been taken, the rope has been strung or you're about to hit the water after you jump off the bridge your final thought is...."What the fuck did I just do?"
MARSHA. Are you done? Are you done now because guess what? One of us has to go to work around here to keep the lights on.
SAMMY. (rises from table) And what the fuck is that supposed to mean huh?
MARSHA. It means maybe you should be looking for a job!
SAMMY. In this economy? At my age? I’m fifty five years old and washed up. Whose gonna hire a fifty five year old washed up advertising man?
MARSHA. There must be some ad agency that could use you.
SAMMY. Fuck that! I’m done with that shit. Picking my brain, using my talent, stealing my ideas. How many Cleo awards did they steal from me? Me, the guy who thought up the international courier theme song. And Ajax the ice cream man! Ajax the fucking giant ice cream man! As iconic a figure as the fucking Green Giant!
MARSHA. Ajax the ice cream man was twenty years ago Sammy. You need to find something to do now! You need to get out of this house. You sit here all day in your bath robe and watch T.V.
SAMMY. I watch the commercials! To see which of my ideas they’re stealing.
MARTHA. Then try doing something else.
SAMMY. Like what something else? I’m an ad man, an idea man. What should I do at my age, flip hamburgers?
MARSHA. Why not? At least it will stop you from moping around the house.
SAMMY. Whose moping Marsha? Are you saying I’m moping?
MARSHA. Are you still taking your depression medication? Because if I find out you went off your medication Sammy…
SAMMY. You’ll what? Leave me like my first wife left me.
MARSHA. I didn’t say that.
SAMMY. No, I just told you I stopped taking the fucking medication that the fucking pharmaceutical companies are fucking getting rich off of didn’t I? Weren’t you listening?
MARSHA . No.
SAMMY. Why not?
MARSHA. Because I had to listen to it yesterday, and the day before and the other hundred times you’ve said it. and now I have to go to work.
(she starts to gather her things as Sammy moves to her)
SAMMY. No wait Marsha…Marsha honey, just wait a second…I’ve got tell you something.
MARSHA. Tell me what?
SAMMY. A dream I had Marsha honey. A dream I had last night.
MARSHA. Why don’t you tell a shrink?
SAMMY. No please, just sit…just sit down for one more minute.
(he sits her down gently in a chair then sits opposite her)
MARSHA. So tell me about the dream.
SAMMY. Well, I dreamt I was at Yankee Stadium watching the ball game. And all the regular players are on the field except for the first baseman. And someone hits a grounder to third and the third basemen throws the ball across the diamond to first base only instead of the regular first baseman there’s an elephant playing first!
MARSHA. An elephant is playing first base for the Yankees?
SAMMY. Yeah but not like a real wild elephant. Like a human sized cartoon elephant wearing a Yankees uniform and cap. And you know what the best part is Marsha, you know what the best part is?
MARSHA. He works for peanuts?
SAMMY. No, no, hey that’s a good one. No the best part is, get this Marsha, the best part is… he’s got a really long trunk and the first baseman’s mitt is on the end of it so this elephant can catch everything! I mean an infielder can’t make a bad enough throw that this elephant can’t catch! It’s amazing.
MARSHA. (she rises) It sure is Sammy….look, I gotta go.
SAMMY. But what did you think of the dream?
MARSHA. I think it could revolutionize baseball. An all animal team. Maybe you can get an armadillo to play catcher. He wouldn’t need a chest protector.
SAMMY. But it has to mean something?
MARSHA. Oh it does.
SAMMY. Well what does it mean Marsha?
MARSHA. It means I’ve got to go to work and you’ve got to go back on your meds…now. I’ll call you later.
SAMMY. Wait one sec Marsha. Have you heard from my daughter…have you heard from Lydia? I haven’t heard from her in a while?
MARSHA. (in doorway) So why don’t you call her?
SAMMY. I can’t call her, she’s busy…besides, I’m the father, she should be calling me.
MARSHA. Yeah, right Sam.
SAMMY. And she’s very busy with that law practice in New York City.
MARSHA. Pick up the phone and call her why don’t you? I’m sure she’d love to hear from you. Oh and Sammy, there’s something wrong with the furnace so stay out of the basement till the repair man shows up. There’s fumes down there. I opened the windows but you should stay out of there anyway. Sammy, are you listening to me? This is important.
SAMMY. Yeah, yeah, I’ll take a look at it later.
MARSHA. Sammy, you’re not listening. Stay out of the basement. The repair man should be here by tomorrow the latest. You hear me?
SAMMY. Yeah, I hear you. I’ll stay out of the basement.
MARSHA. Good. I love you. There’s an extra pair of reading glasses in the drawer. I’ll talk to you later. Call your daughter. (she exits)
SAMMY. (talking to the door) Yeah but she’s very busy with her law practice in New York City.
(he goes to the drawer in the end table and takes out a pair of reading glasses then sits in the wing chair reading blogs on his phone..He starts to dial his daughter, then reconsiders and hangs it up. He looks out the window. Turns the remote on the television but it doesn’t come on.)
Where’s the picture? It’s broken.
(He tries to turn it on from the television itself but still no picture)
What’s with this piece of crap.
(he checks the plug)
It’s plugged in….god damned piece of crap. I told her we needed a new set.
(he sits back down and reads blogs from his phone again. Then gets up and dials the phone again)
Hi, can I speak to Lydia Spinelli please….yeah, tell her it’s her father…..yeah, sure, I’ll hold….. (a few beats as he picks up remote and tries the television again) Piece of shit…(to phone) oh, no I’m sorry, I wasn’t talking to you….oh, she’s in a meeting?... yeah but this is important, can’t I speak to her for just a second please? Please? It’s very important….thank you… (two beats) Lydia, hi it’s daddy….yeah well I just needed….I know you’re in a meeting….I just needed to tell you something fast….yeah it’s important, it’s about this dream I had….yeah but Lydia honey…yeah but….okay….
(he hangs up the phone sits at the table and buries his head in his hands. He lifts his head)
You see, this elephant was playing first base for the Yanks.
(head back in his hands as there is a knock at the door)
Go away, there’s nobody home.
BARNEY. Sammy, open the door. It’s Barney.
SAMMY. My brother Barney?
BARNEY. No, your sister Barney. Open the goddamned door.
(he opens the door and Barney enters)
SAMMY. Hey Barney, what are you doing here? I thought you were in Florida?
BARNEY. I was in Florida. But your daughter called me. Said I should come up and visit you.
SAMMY . Lydia called you?
BARNEY. That’s right. She called me. So did your ex-wife.
SAMMY. Nancy called you?
BARNEY. That’s right. They’re worried about you. They think you’re cracking up.
SAMMY. They do?
BARNEY. Yeah Sammy, they do. I do too. I’m sure Marsha does too.
SAMMY. Nah, not Marsha, she’s a good egg.
BARNEY. Yeah, well I think maybe something’s gotta be done, don’t you?
SAMMY. Nah, I’m fine.
BARNEY. Are you Sammy? Can I sit down?
SAMMY. Sure come on in, sit down. You want something to drink? You want to watch T.V.?
BARNEY. No, I didn’t fly all the way up here to watch T.V.
SAMMY. Well anyway we can’t watch T.V. Cause the fucking T.V.’s broken. .
BARNEY. Then why’d you ask me if I wanted to watch? You see, I think you are cracking up.
SAMMY. (screaming) I’m not cracking up! Does it seem like I’m cracking up!
BARNEY. Alright, alright, calm down. Sit. You’re not cracking up okay?
SAMMY. Okay that’s settled then.
BARNEY. It’s settled. Calm down.
SAMMY. I am calm goddamnit!
BARNEY. You’re sure?
SAMMY. (sitting in chair) Yes, yes I’m sure. You see, I’m sitting in the chair, nice.
BARNEY. Okay Sammy. Good (he pulls out his cell phone) Excuse me, I’ve got a call coming in.
SAMMY. Anyone I know?
BARNEY. Your ex wife. (into cell phone) yeah, I just got here Nancy. I’m with him now….how is he?
SAMMY. Don’t say it. Don’t you say it Barney.
BARNEY. He’s fucking cracking up.
SAMMY. (On his feet screaming at the cell phone) I am not cracking up Nancy! Don’t you fucking believe him, I am not fucking cracking up!
BARNEY. (to Sam) Alright, alright calm down. (yelling) Sit down Sammy…Sit down and shut up! (Sammy sits as Barney talks to cell) You heard that Nancy? Yes, I know, nuts or not, he still has to pay the alimony…how sweet of you to remind me. Yeah, sure, I’ll keep in touch.
SAMMY. You know what this is, don’t you Barney?
BARNEY. No, what is it?
SAMMY. It’s a conspiracy. The fucking world is about to go to hell in a hand basket and all the big wigs need a scape goat.
BARNEY. And you’re the scape goat Sammy?
SAMMY. Me and a few enlightened others, yes.
SAMMY. Cause we know too much. We’re on to them.
BARNEY. On to who?
SAMMY. All of them. The bankers, Big Pharma, Wall Street, the politicians, organized religion. All the globalists, they’re all in cahoots.
BARNEY. They are huh. Why?
SAMMY. (up on his feet again) Cause they need control Barney, don’t you see that?
BARNEY. Control of who?
SAMMY. Everyone! The masses! They don’t want the common Joe knowing what’s going on. They want to keep him in the dark. This conspiracy has been going on since the founding fathers for Christ sake. The Masons, didn’t you ever hear of the Masons? They’ve got to keep the masses dumb. Dumb and poor so the only thing they’re worried about is keeping food on the table and a roof over their head. Meantime the politicians are getting ready to lower the boom.
SAMMY. To start with, if they don’t get the spending under control they’re going to devalue the fucking dollar like they do in third world countries. You’re gonna need a fucking wheel barrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread. I hope you bought some gold Barney cause you’re gonna need it.
BARNEY. Do you have any gold Sammy?
SAMMY. Maybe I do and maybe I don’t.
BARNEY. That’s great.
SAMMY. The Chinese.
BARNEY. What about them?
SAMMY. They’re the ones. They’re the ones who have all the gold. And all the silver! They’ve been hording it. Fuck, they secretly own have the country. The United States of China.
SAMMY. Probably cause they realize the world economy is going to collapse.
BARNEY. And if the world economy doesn’t collapse then why did they do it?
SAMMY. Insurance perhaps just in case it does happen.. Who knows? Why does any country do anything. Why do we maintain missiles along with Russia when there isn’t a cold war anymore?
BARNEY. Mutually exclusive destruction. It’s a deterrent. Of course no one is stupid enough to really use them but you do have some crazy rouge nations like North Korea out there. Maybe one of the Arabs get a hold of a nuke. Iran, maybe. Then, we better have some on hand.
SAMMY. Agreed. We need a few to keep the crazies in check. But in reality Barney, if the U.S. or Russia decided to unilaterally disarm what difference would it make? Don’t you think they money saved could be put to better use? Do you really think Russian troops are going to invade Alaska and try to take over the U.S.? What for? You don’t think the Russian president has enough headaches with his own country and region of the world. He needs more aggravation? And by the same token, what the fuck do we want with Russia? We’ve got cities we can’t control right here! We’ve got U.S. territories that you never hear about. When was the last time you heard about a cop shooting a black teenager on Guam? If it happens there, no one gives a shit. It happens here, it’s front page news. It’s still a cop, it’s still a civilian, and Guam is still a U.S, territory. You see what I’m saying Barney.
BARNEY. Not really, no.
SAMMY. What I’m saying is It’s all proximity! All anyone cares about is what’s happening in their own back yard. Nobody wants to look at the big picture!
BARNEY. Proximity huh.
SAMMY. That’s right Barney proximity. Take you for example. Why are you here when you’re supposed to be in Florida?
BARNEY. I’m not supposed to be anywhere. I’m supposed to be where I choose to be and right now I choose to be here with you.
SAMMY. That’s nice Barney. You came for a visit. Right out of the blue.
BARNEY. Not right out of the blue. I wanted to visit you. I haven’t seen you for a while. I wanted to see how you were doing. We’re brothers after all.
SAMMY. Yes we are. And you know what. I’m glad you’re here. So, where you staying?
BARNEY. The Sheraton near Kennedy airport.
SAMMY. You don’t need to stay there Barney, we’re family. You’re my brother. Get your stuff and stay here. We got a guest room.
BARNEY. You sure Marsha won’t mind?
SAMMY. Nah, she won’t mind.
BARNEY. Still and all, I don’t want to impose.
SAMMY. She does whatever I say.
BARNEY. I’d feel better if you asked her. Maybe you should call her. Is she working?
SAMMY. Yeah, she’s on her way to work. I’ll call her later.
BARNEY. How are you doing on the job front?
SAMMY. Come on Barney, it’s a tough job market. What am I gonna do, a guy my age? Drive Limo’s? I mean I suppose I could drive Limo’s to make some dough. Although I don’t think I really need to. I’ve got a nest egg from working all those years.
BARNEY. Really? So why is your ex- wife always complaining about money?
SAMMY. Ah, she’s just a worry wart. I still got some Ajax ice cream residuals coming in! Remember Ajax the giant ice cream man Barney?
BARNEY. How could I forget. Mom and Pop were very proud of you for that Sammy.
SAMMY. Yeah, Mom and Pop. How long they been gone Barn?
BARNEY. Pop eighteen years. Mom eleven.
SAMMY. Eleven years since mom dies. Geez where does the time go….
SAMMY. Remember when we were kids Barn? And every summer we’d get up and play baseball with the guys from the block?
BARNEY. Sure do.
SAMMY. Remember how we used to choose up sides?
BARNEY. (extending both fists towards Sammy)
Put your ‘potatoes’ in.
SAMMY. Yeah, yeah.. we’d pretend to be different baseball players. I was Mickey Mantle and you were Bobby Murcer.
BARNEY. And Denny Flanders always had to pitch and be Mel Stottlemeyer.
SAMMY. Yeah, yeah and my buddy Bobby McHale, the only Mets fan on the block, he had to be Tom Seaver!
BARNEY. Poor Bobby, died in that hit and run. Only twenty four.