"All the time I'm not writing I feel like a criminal." -Fran Lebowitz

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


AMERICA unlocks the front door and enters the house with HUSBAND. They are in mid-conversation.
AMERICA: ...just don't understand why they feel they need to re-make Spiderman every year...
She enters the living room. SOMEONE turns on the lights. A room full of EVERYONE wearing party hats, drinking champagne. EVERYONE CHEERS.
EVERYONE: (shouting) Surprise!!
Everyone CHEERS and BLOWS their HORN before launching into "Happy Birthday". When the song is finished:
SOMEONE: Speech! Speech!
AMERICA: Uh, no, that's okay. Thanks. Thanks very much. No. Just enjoy yourselves.
SOMEONE: Are you surprised?
AMERICA: Am I surprised?
No. No, I'm not surprised. I mean, it's the same thing every year. I know this is coming when kids starting shooting off stray bottle rockets the weekend before and all the patio furniture goes on sale. "Am I surprised?" (sniffs) Please.
An uncomfortable pause. SOMEONE brings out a cake. The cake is in the shape of the United States of America, states’ boundaries and all, with 236 candles melting on top. AMERICA stares at it.
AMERICA: (counting) 236. You got 'em all. That's real funny.
SOMEONE: Make a wi-!
AMERICA: (interrupting) I know how it works.
AMERICA thinks, then blows out the candles on the first try. EVERYONE CHEERS.
AMERICA: (mock waving fists) Yeah. Yay. Ya-ayy!
SOMEONE: What'd you wish for?
SOMEONE ELSE: Don't say it; it won't come true!
Some scattered laughter/random chatter.
AMERICA: (muttering) ...It isn't coming true anyway. You wanna know what I want for my birthday?
AMERICA: Nuance.
EVERYONE: Ya-ayy-what?
SOMEONE: New onyx?
AMERICA: Nuance.
SOMEONE: Does that come in large?
Some CHUCKLE until America stares them silent.
AMERICA: No, it doesn't come in large. That's the point. Everything around here has to be large. Everything has to be big. Everything has to be one way or the other. Black or white. All or nothing. "America's the best country in the world." To us, maybe. The thing is, that's fine - it doesn't have to be the best to everyone..."America's the worst. America’s evil..." Compared to what? You been to a Spanish League soccer match lately? Ever been to Bangladesh? You realize how stupid saying that is?
Long pause. SOMEONE starts singing "The Star-Spangled Banner".
AMERICA: (cuts him off) Stop it. Don't try to distract me. You know though, that dude, Francis Scott Key, that dude's cousin once said, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." You guys ever hear of that?
Long pause. SOMEONE starts singing "The Star-Spangled Banner".
AMERICA: Shut. Up. "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time..." Well, think of that the next time you think that I don't work anymore, that I'm not what I used to be, that I’m always wrong, that I'm going straight to hell in a handcart. Because around here now, anyone holds two opposing ideas in their mind at once, they're considered insane. They're considered a "socialist" or a "RINO" or a “pinko” or a "wingnut" or whatever. That's backwards.
Two ideas at once. Two. At once. It isn't rocket science. Like, there can be freedom for all while also taking care of one other. Like, we can all try to make money while at the same time being held to account if we're dishonest about it. Like, I don't like what you're saying but I still like you. Like, you having to stay out of my face means I also have to stay out of your face. Like, nobody in their right mind lives their life based on a frickin' novel, whether that novel was written two thousand years ago or fifty years ago. Like, the guys who started me were great but they didn't know every goddamn thing.
By the way, those guys - stop speaking for them. You don’t know them. They were white dudes in 1776. If they showed up today, you’d knock them straight on their ass if you dialed up Nicki Minaj on YouTube. And chances are, after they got up, they wouldn’t have hung out with any of you. You think they wouldn't have been able to adapt to things today? That's the whole point of this thing to begin with. I think John Adams would’ve been appalled at the prospect of people going bankrupt because they had a ruptured appendix. I’d be willing to bet that Roger Williams would’ve recognized that in 2012, open borders aren’t sustainable. I think Thomas Jefferson would’ve shrugged his shoulders at Anderson Cooper and Neil Patrick Harris getting married. They were smart guys. Who knew nuance. That’s what the goddamn document they signed fucking screams for. Nuance.
So that's what I want this year. For my birthday, this year. Some goddamned nuance.
And, some peace and quiet. 'Cause the next four months...
My God. I can't take it. I'm serious. You need to check yourselves. Blowing your horns - yeah, that's right. Knock it off. You shout that you love me? You pound your chest and scream I'm the best? Show me the 364 days you're not shoving a hot dog in your face. You think I'm terrible? You think I do nothing right? Those are fucking words. Fix it the 364 days you're not whining about what's wrong. You guys, it’s like you’re middle linebackers before you’re football players.
I didn't ask for a day. I didn't ask for a party. I ask that you keep it down and you keep it clean around here. Okay?
EVERYONE: (uncertain) Okay.
AMERICA: Okay. Now who wants some cake? Is this coconut?

Happy Fourth, everyone.