Mighty Toy Mamet Covers the Beer Summit

This morning's paper reported on yesterday's so-called "Beer Summit," at which President Obama tried to lay some healing hands on Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Officer James Crowley. Vice President Joe Biden joined the festivities.

The article concluded with this line: "The four men munched peanuts and pretzels out of small silver bowls." That was a prompt I couldn't possibly resist.

Warning: Contains Adult Language. All characters and dialogue are fictional.

A BEER IN THE ROSE GARDEN
-A One Act Play-
by Mighty Toy Mamet


SCENE:

A picnic table in a verdant garden. In the background we see a white, colonnaded mansion. The table is set with small silver bowls filled with pretzels and peanuts. An ornate silver punch bowl with ice is on a side table. We see the necks of beer bottles sticking out of the ice. Four men are seated at the table drinking beer from glass mugs. They are casually dressed, as if preparing for a round of golf. A man in a white jacket stands at attention next to the punch bowl.

BARRY:

Hank...Hank...Hank. Okay. Hank. Look.

[taking a long pull on his beer, holding his hand up to halt the conversation]

Give Jim a chance to speak his mind, Hank. He’s a good man. We know what he is. He's fine. All I'm saying, Hank, is it looks like he made a mistake ... wait, wait, wait… that’s all I’m saying is give him another chance to explain here.

I don't want to tell you your job. I’m no professor, and I don’t want to pretend like I know what happened that night.

HANK:

That’s bullshit.

BARRY:

All that I'm saying is this. Things get set. I know. You know they do, you get a certain mindset... A guy gets a reputation. We know how this...all I'm saying, let’s get this thing beyond us and move on from here.

HANK:

Look, Barry. You may think this is going to blow over. Blow over and, what, be forgotten? Maybe you’ve forgotten what it’s like to be ...[pause] Shit. Never mind ...

BARRY:

... No. Hank. C’mon. What are you saying? Are you saying I don’t know what it’s like to be ... What? I mean, what are you saying here? Are you ...

HANK:

... No, no, no, no ...

BARRY:

... back up a second here. Because I’m where I am now, that means I ... what? I don’t remember where I was before? That’s just bullshit, Hank.

JIM:

Hey. Listen. I appreciate the beer, but I told the kids we’d see the space museum before we go home. Hard Rock Café too.

JOE:

Listen you little cocksucker. Excuse me, but Jesus H. Christ. Do you know who you’re talking to?

JIM:

What the fuck?

JOE:

Wait just a god-damned minute. I mean, look, Barry’s trying to say something. He’s saying something important, and if you don’t shut your piehole… I mean, I’m literally going to crawl in your face and ...

BARRY:

... Joe, Joe, Joe.

JIM:

Is this how this is going to happen? Is that why I’m here? What? So you can give me ... All of you can just ...

HANK:

... See. There. That’s what I’m talking about. Right. There. He’s doing it...

BARRY:

What do you think Tyrone?

TYRONE:

Excuse me, sir. What do I think about what?

BARRY:

You know, about the thing that happened. What do you …

TYRONE:

I try not to think about it much, sir.

JOE:

Look, I think Tyrone ought to sit down with us here. It doesn’t look right for him to be serving. Not today ...

HANK:

It doesn’t LOOK right? Is that what this is about? Looking right?

BARRY:

Well, no. Not exactly. No ...

JIM:

[Standing, fists clenched]

Look, this is bullshit. I don’t care who’s watching…

BARRY:

... no ... wait ...

JIM:

... or what kind of way it looks ...

HANK:

... I only ...

JOE:

... What the ...

HANK:

... wanted somebody to say he’s sorry and move ...

BARRY:

... okay, let’s calm down. Just chill out and enjoy the beer fellas ...

TYRONE:

[opening more beer and filling their glasses]

It’s cold. That’s what I think. It’s cold and tastes good.

BARRY:

How about those Sox? Let’s just talk about the Red Sox? Would that be okay with you? If we talk about baseball a little.

JOE:

Shit on a cracker, Barry. Look, I’m telling you it WAS a stupid thing for him to do. It was done stupidly. Why can’t we just say that. Stupid.

BARRY:

... no, no ... wait now. Joe.

JIM:

... Bullshit. It’s me. That’s who you’re talking about. And my family. My family waiting for me. Shit.

[pause, wiping his brow]

Due respect, I thought Boston was hot in July. Give me another one of those fucking beers. I don’t care which kind. Red Stripe, Blue Moon. I’d even drink some of that yellow Chinese beer. What’s it called? Ching Chong? Good with chow mein though.

[During the following, Barry is intently watching a fly buzzing around the table]

HANK:

Look. I mean, speaking of China. China, that’s the whole problem. I was tired after, what? 20 hours on a plane. You would too. You ever flown from China? No. No, I wouldn’t expect you would have been to China. Not lately.

JIM:

Lately. Kiss my ass lately. Like I don’t ever go nowhere. I don’t go nowhere ‘cause I’m just a cracker cop from Southie. Is that it, professor?

HANK:

I’m not saying ...

JIM:

Yeah? Seems to me you always got something to say. Shit, you get paid to talk and write and that shit. Write books and talk on television.

HANK:

It’s not ...

JIM:

What’s that? You call that work? Bullshit! You're burning my ass with that bullshit.

JOE:

Look. This is what you need to know. When I was growing up in Scranton, we all lived on different ...

JIM:

All due respect sir, you can shove Scranton up your pansy ass.

[Joe stands up and takes a step toward Jim. Barry suddenly smashes the fly on the table, startling everyone but Tyrone. He picks the fly up and drops it in Joe’s beer mug]

BARRY:

Now look. You two can either sit the fuck down and shut your fuckin’ mouths, or I can call an agent over to bust you down so motherfuckin’ fast you’ll be crying like pussies.

[They sit]

You think I like this? You think I like sitting here drinking beer with you fuckbags? There are people looking this way. Some of them can hurt you very badly.

JOE:

Let ‘em look. Like my old mother used to say ..

[Barry grabs Joe by his collar]

BARRY:

You think. What? You think I don’t have anything better to do? Nothing better than drinking this pisswater beer? Is that it? What you think?

[He holds Joe down and forces him to drink the beer with the fly in it. The others at the table drink their beers, avoiding eye contact. Tyrone chuckles quietly]

You see that bowl there? That bowl with the beer and ice?

You know who made that bowl? Paul Fuckin’ Revere made that bowl. You know who that is?

JIM:

Please tell me you’re not askin’ me who is Paul Revere. Where do you think I’m from? Revere? Like I don’t know he’s like the guy on the horse with the declaration of independence. From Boston.

BARRY:

So, you know then. You know that I’m a guy who has a friggin’ punch bowl made by Paul Revere? What does that make you think?

JIM:

Well, I guess ... I dunno. What?

BARRY:

That’s right. That’s what it means to be the guy who brought the beer in a motherfuckin’ museum piece. It means you’re listening to me now.

And, here’s what we’re going to do. You listening, Joe? Hank? Jimmy cracker boy?

[They nod]

What we’re going to do is this. What we’re going to do is make happy. You know how to make happy? You know how to make nice? Let’s just call it our happy ending. Tyrone, what’s the word Carter called it?

TYRONE:

Détente?

BARRY:

That’s right ...

TYRONE:

Rapprochement?

BARRY:

That too. We’re going to ...

TYRONE:

Agree that this was a candid but friendly discussion between honorable men?

BARRY:

Yeah. That’s it. Thank you, Tyrone.

Then Jimbo here is going to have his picture taken with my lovely wife. And then some TV reporter is going to kiss his ass to get an interview tomorrow morning. Right? A big hero and martyr. Another Captain Sulley. Until some grizzly bear is caught on video with his head stuck in what? Stuck in a friggin’ can and the cable news guys decide to run that instead of this story. And then ...

JIM:

I was thinking that, also ... I mean, maybe ...

BARRY:

... and then he’ll get a six figure deal book deal for his memoirs. Right? Don’t think about seven figures, cracker. Don’t start thinking you’re worth that.

JIM:

But. But. The helicopter ride?

BARRY:

... and then what? Then, he’s going to shut the fuck up until he’s an old man. That’s what he’s going to do. And when he’s an old, old man with withered nuts, you know what he’s going to do? I’ll tell you what. That’s when he’ll tell his grandkids all about it. He’ll be drooling in a cup, and he’ll be telling ‘em what a big deal he used to be. That’s what he’ll be saying. But you know what? You want to know what? Nobody ... I mean nobody is going to give a rat’s ass about any of that. They’ll be thinking about how bad he smells. He’ll tell them what a big man he was and they won’t be listening. They’ll be looking at the door.

Are we good here, boys? Everybody?

[Jim nods]

HANK:

Now. What? What am I getting? I’m getting jack, I think. A beer? That’s it? That's all I'm getting out of this? I’m the one. I’m the one who’s had his dignity, what? Taken. Stripped away? I guess that’s always the deal, isn’t it? I walk out of here and make the apologies. “I regret the misunderstanding.” Is that how it goes? I say, “I welcome this learning ... this ... what? This teaching moment?” Is that my cross to bear?

BARRY:

Yeah. No. No. Wait a minute Hank. What do you want, Hank? You want Jesse and Al to have a beer with you too? You got me doing this. Do I want to be doing this?

JOE:

You know what I think we ought to ...

BARRY:

You think we care what you think?

JOE:

I just ...

BARRY:

This is what you’re just going to do, Joe. You are not going to say anything about this thing we’re doing. You are not going to. No. It’s like you weren’t even here. Right? Right? Drink your beer and shut the fuck up.

HANK:

Hey ... that thing. What?

JIM:

Can I go now? Leave, I mean? Maybe take a beer with me? For my wife. She’s waiting. She's somewhere, waiting for me.

BARRY:

Get out of here. We’re done. Don’t forget to smile for the fuckin’ cameras on your way out.

- END OF PLAY-

6 comments:

shobiz said...

You've outdone yourself, MTC. Best post ever.

MightyToyCannon said...

Why thank you kindly, Shobiz. We aim to please.

Bob said...

I want to see and hear this on stage. Portland needs a weekly comedy/satire/agit-prop theater with fresh material every show, or at least every weekend. Hot off the Twitters. Kind of like the old Living Newspapers.

MightyToyCannon said...

Ripped from the headlines or hot off twitter would keep things fresh, though anybody looking back at my little play a few weeks from now may have no sense of context. Bob's comment sparked me to look up the Living Newspapers (thank you google and wikipedia). Fascinating stuff.

Stephen said...

Who would you cast?

shobiz said...

My dream-team casting is as follows (actors no longer being alive notwithstanding):

President Obama: Denzel Washington
Sgt. James Crowley: Christian Bale
Henry Louis Gates Jr.: Paul Winfield (deceased, I know)
Joe Biden: Christopher Lloyd (why not some comic relief?)