Scene – Backyard around lunchtime
(Charles is seen grilling while other guests are socializing around him. A boom box is sitting to the side of them on a lawn chair. Everyone has big smiles. Tony, Becky, and Lucas all walk up to Charles while he is grilling. Tony leads the conversation. )
TONY: Great party, man. Thanks for inviting us.
CHARLES: Oh don’t worry about it I know we are all new to the neighborhood so I just wanted to see if we could all meet each other.
TONY: Well, you picked the perfect day for a barbecue. The weather today is amazing.
BECKY: Oh yeah, I know! The sun is up, and the birds are chirping. It’s beautiful
LUCAS: Let’s all be happy this wasn’t last weekend. Remember the rain that came in? Oh, boy, was that a storm.
CHARLES: It’s funny you say that Lucas because we were planning this for last weekend, but we checked the forecast, and that changed our mind. Moved it to this perfect day. So how is everyone?
TONY: Alex and I are great. We are still waiting for the paperwork to get processed to see if we can adopt. We’ve only heard good things, though. Being this far in the process shows we are getting close.
CHARLES: That’s amazing. Trust me. Having a kid is great.
BECKY: I don’t have any of my own, but oh is my niece Amanda the cutest.
CHARLES: Becky, you’re missing out. It is amazing.
LUCAS: Being a kid was so fun, the best moments I had were spent with my dad. He made the days go by so fast and made memories that will last a lifetime. I’m sure you will be a great dad, Tony.
TONY: I’m actually a little nervous. It would be such an exciting new step in my life, but man are kids a lot of work.
BECKY: Oh, are you trying to adopt a baby or one that’s older?
CHARLES: If I could’ve skipped the baby step, I would’ve. Yes, it was worth it because we have Charlie in our lives, but there were a ton of diapers.
BECKY: Oh go for older. They never get adopted. Plus, you don’t have to think of a name.
CHARLES: Oh, the name is the best part!
LUCAS: Coming from the guy who just used copy and paste for his youngling
BECKY: Anyways. I’m sure you two will be wonderful parents.
LUCAS: Just wait till they’re old enough to play sports.
TONY: We can’t wait. Standing on the sideline and cheering our kid on is something to dream about, let alone live
BECKY: The little uniforms. Oooooh how adorable are the little uniforms.
CHARLES: All of them with the same goal. The same pull to win. Play after play. Pass after pass—the adrenaline. Charlie lives for it. It’s in his blood.
BECKY: Don’t you just love how they all cheer when the game is over? They’re so young that they’re just happy to be there.
CHARLES: Yeah. Charlie loves playing offense. He loves it so much that he pouts when they have to put in the defense. He’s done it from when he first started playing all the way until high school. I think he’s grown out of it now.
TONY: What do you mean to put in defense? They’re always at the back of the field.
CHARLES: You know what I mean. Once your team scores a touchdown, they kick the ball back to the other team after they try for an extra point, and defense goes on. He loves catching the ball for an extra point.
TONY: Extra points? Touchdown? Catching? Kicking the ball TO the other team? You’re not saying what I think you’re saying, are you?
CHARLES: Are you confused by how football works?
TONY: Astonished Football?!
LUCAS: Oh this is gonna be good.
CHARLES: I thought everyone here played football.
TONY: Oh you were wrong to assume that.
CHARLES: Why would it be wrong to assume that you play the best sport out there?
BECKY: Oh dear.
TONY: The best sport out there? Have you never heard of the past time that is agreed across the world as the best?
CHARLES: I thought football was only played in America-
TONY: It’s soccer.
LUCAS: Technically, other countries call it “football.”
LUCAS: But you two aren’t talking about the same sport.
LUCAS: But he isn’t saying soccer is better.
BECKY: Hey, hey, hey. If you don’t play the same sport, that’s fine, right? (Beat) Right? (Beat) Right?
TONY: No it’s not.
CHARLES: He finally got one thing right.
TONY: I don’t want your kid anywhere near mine. I don’t want him tainting their mind.
BECKY: Five minutes ago, we were all having fun and chatting. We can all still be friends. You thought each other were nice.
CHARLES: That’s before I found out he was one of those… one of those field fairies.
TONY: (Gasps) You take that back right now.
CHARLES: Oh, I’m sorry? Are you whining? Did someone barely tap you, and now you’re on the ground crying? Wah wah wah? Oh, are you waiting for a flag?
LUCAS: Oh, are you just gonna take that Tony?
TONY: Heck no. Unlike him, I can play offense and defense.
CHARLES: Then take your best shot, T.
TONY: T? You can only get through my first letter? You’ve run your head into a wall so often for “practice” no wonder you guys count by threes twos sixes or ones. Next, you’re gonna tell me you need a time out with 15 seconds left in a quarter. A QUARTER. You guys get a break every thirty seconds, and you are trying to tell me you need another water break?
CHARLES: Strategy. STRAT-E-GY. You will never get it. And I don’t expect you to.
TONY: What strategy? Oops, the run forward didn’t work. Let’s try the throw forward. Oops, that didn’t work. Let’s try the run forward again.
CHARLES: Oh you have crossed the line.
TONY: Which line? 10? 20? 30? 40? 50? On no! Can’t count higher than that! Better start going backward.
CHARLES: Are we not going to talk about how you have so many people on the field, but only one of them is smart enough to use their hands?
TONY: That’s the rules!
CHARLES: Well, your rules are stupid!
TONY: You’re stupid!
BECKY: Can you two please just stop?
CHARLES AND TONY: (At Becky and then they turn away) No!
LUCAS: Oh lord.
BECKY: There must be some way to make you stop.
CHARLES: I’m not stopping until that field fairy confesses he is playing the wrong sport.
TONY: Wow! Hit your head so many times you can only think of one nickname!
BECKY: Oh come on. You guys have to realize there are a lot of other sports in the world.
TONY: And they are all horrible.
CHARLES: Oh look. His second point! One more and you’ll have enough to equal one kick from the 30-yard line.
LUCAS: You guys really think all of the other sports are dumb? Even the one that the other one plays?
CHARLES AND TONY: Yeah?
BECKY: Guys. You can’t be that close-minded. What about baseball?
TONY Baseball? Really? “America’s pastime?” More like America’s snoozefest.
CHARLES: It takes forever for anything to happen. The best plays require so much set up that it isn’t even worth the time to play.
TONY: Softball is the same thing.
BECKY How about track? I mean, everyone runs, so what’s wrong with track?
TONY: Are you kidding me? Yeah, we all run, but we run for a purpose. Left turn after left turn. Might as well watch NASCAR where everyone stays in first gear, but don’t even get me started with NASCAR. People saying that’s a sport ridiculous. Keep machines out of play.
CHARLES: I know, right? Like. Where’s the ball?
LUCAS: Soccer has a ball…
CHARLES: Don’t you dare…
BECKY: He’s making a good point. So you’re saying it needs to have a ball. So golf?
TONY: Ewwwww. Golf?
CHARLES: Yeah, why would you even say that? There’s no contact, no team, it’s just a waste of energy.
BECKY: So contact, team, and a ball. So dodgeball.
TONY: Nah, dodgeball is just something you learn about in middle school, and you only use it to pass the time until you learn about real sports
LUCAS: It’s only fun on a beach during spring break. Nothing serious
CHARLES: Okay. Gross. Think of all the sand you’ll get in… places…
BECKY: Then play it in a gym
CHARLES: Inside? You’re trying to get me out of my element? The best time to play is in the rain! So how are you going to keep that away from me?
LUCAS: Don’t some stadiums have a roof?
CHARLES: Yeah. And the people who built them probably think flag football is a viable substitute for the real thing.
BECKY: You two are impossible. (Charlie enters.)
CHARLIE: Hey dad…
CHARLES: What is it, best running back in the state?
CHARLIE: See I’ve been meaning to talk to you.
CHARLES: You finally want to switch to QB like your old man! Ha I knew you’d come around.
CHARLIE: No, actually, it’s something else. See I’m 16, and I’m growing to be a new person, and I think I’ve wanted to try new things.
CHARLES: With care and compassion Son. You don’t have to break it to me like I’m going to be disappointed. If you’re gay, you’re gay. It’s fine. I still love you.
CHARLIE: No, actually, that’s not it. I want to play soccer.
CHARLES: Complete shift in mood You what.
TONY: Like a soccer announcer, And it’s a goooooooooaaaaaaal!
CHARLES: Tell me you’re joking.
CHARLIE: It just seems so fun. Some other kids at school have been talking about it, and I was hoping that-
CHARLES: Hoping that what? I just don’t understand. You’ve been playing football since you were born. I remember tossing the ol pigskin in the front yard back when you had to use both hands to throw it.
CHARLIE: I only threw the ball with you because that’s what I thought I had to do. You and mom always talked about it. Actually, I think it’s the only sport you talked about. If you ever mentioned another sport, it was just as a joke, or it was in bad spirit.
CHARLES: Well that’s because all of the other ones are a waste of time. You… you have to think about the scholarships that you could get. Those benefits are better than anything you’ll get from another sport.
CHARLIE: But you never thought about what makes the most sense. Like. Like the thing about soccer. I’ll have more playtime and less chance of injury.
CHARLES: But what about your knees.
CHARLIE: But what about my head? Dad. Brain damage is so common in the NFL that Will Smith was in a movie about how they try to sweep it under the rug.
CHARLES: I don’t want to talk about this right now.
CHARLIE: But dad.
CHARLES: That’s enough. Now go talk to your mother. (Charlie leaves in a sad mood.)
LUCAS: So Charles, do you have anything you want to say to Tony?
BECKY: You’re not helping
TONY: No, no, no. He’s helping plenty. (Alex enters.)
ALEX: While you all were over here, I was checking my phone and guess what.
TONY: What is it?
ALEX: The adoption company emailed us and guess what.
TONY: You’re not saying what I think you’re saying.
ALEX: Yes, I am… We are going to have a lovely baby boy!
BECKY: Oh my goodness, I’m so happy for you two! You’ll both make great dads.
CHARLES: Quietly as Becky congratulates Yeah. Congrats. Whatever
ALEX: Thank you so much! I’m so excited, but you know what I’m most excited about?
CHARLES: Let me guess…
ALEX: I can’t wait to play football with him!
TONY: Oh, I love it when you speak French
ALEX: French? I’m talking about American football.
BECKY: Here we go…
TONY: But babe, we have been playing soccer since before we met. You told me how you grew up kicking a ball with the neighbor kids. Setting up goals between two trees, one goal always being bigger than the other, it was such a lovely story.
ALEX: Yeah, but I’ve been thinking. Yes, soccer is fun and all, but think about the energy at a football game. People just screaming and yelling as they watch grown men slam into each other. It’s chaos, yet it is still civilized. When the game is over, it is over. Yes, people talk about it for years about how the season would’ve been so different if they just put in Jimmy, but it’s over when the game is over. Honey, we know of multiple people who were killed over letting one goal go in during a regular-season game. Let alone the ones murdered over a grand final penalty shot. I think there is too much violence backed behind that game.
TONY: I can’t believe it. We move here, and you just easily convert to one of them?
ALEX: It’s not what someone told me to do, it’s something I wanted to do on my own.
TONY: I think I need to sit down Moves the boom box out of the chair and put it on the ground.
ALEX: I’ll be back when you want to talk. (Alex exits.)
CHARLES: Oh oh oh… I guess Alex is on the right team. Or should I say… right sport.
TONY: Hey, you keep quiet. Your son knows what game to play. Why don’t you?
CHARLES: He will realize it’s a waste of time, much like how your husband feels.
LUCAS: Oh snap.
TONY: I’ve had it up to here with you.
CHARLES: You’re sitting in a chair. That’s not too high.
TONY: Stands to confront him Why I ought to-
BECKY: Gets between them You two. Stop it right now.
CHARLES: Well, he started it!
TONY: No, he started it!
BECKY: Well, you’re both continuing it, so stop! Lucas, go get Alex and Charlie. (Lucas nods and exits.)
BECKY: And for you two. You need to learn to grow up and accept others for who they are. Even if they don’t play the same sport as you.
BECKY: No buts.
TONY: What about-
BECKY: No, what about either. When they get here, you are going to be different people from when you were when they were here. (Lucas enters with Charlie and Alex.)
BECKY: Okay, you two. What are you going to say?
CHARLES AND TONY: (Under their breath.) Sorry…
BECKY: Not good enough. Charles. You go first
CHARLES: Okay okay (To Charlie) If you want to play soccer, that is fine with me. I know I was harsh on you earlier. Looking back, I should have shown you every sport and let you choose what you wanted to play. We all have different beliefs and wants, so it makes sense if you want to play soccer. I like football, but that doesn’t mean you want to play it. I love you for you. And I hope you forgive me.
CHARLIE: Will you drive me to practice?
CHARLES: Of course, son. As long as you’re happy.
BECKY: Now you, Tony
TONY: Alex. You are the one for me. And to be completely honest, it shocked me that you didn’t want to play soccer. This, however, does not change the fact that I want to spend the rest of my life with you. We might play different sports, but we will always come back to the same home—a home full of love for each other, and our boy. My only wish is that we let him choose what he wants to play. Do you agree?
ALEX: I love you so much. Of course, I agree.
BECKY: Now. Can we all please enjoy this barbecue?
LUCAS: How can we do that? Charles hasn’t flipped the burgers since we started talking.
CHARLES: Oh dang it!
CHARLIE: Oh dad. (They all chuckle.)
CHARLES: Well sorry I ruined the barbecue.
TONY: That’s fine. At least we will all see each other at church on Sunday.
CHARLES: Oh I’m Jewish.
BECKY: Islamic (Muslim).
TONY: Well that’s fine. I think we can all still get along.
Timothy Henderson Jr. is working towards earning a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre. He has been writing for a while but has been telling stories since he could speak. He hopes to start conversations or lend laughs to the ones who do not smile as much as he wished they would.