April 3, 2007

A Play A Day #354



Setting: A bar.

(lights up, Spreek is drinking at the bar, not looking too happy, Hans enters, sits two stools away from him. Hans is big, outgoing, kind, silently signals for a drink, watches Spreek for a while, begins to get concerned about his mood)

Hans: You want to talk about it?

(Spreek doesn't acknowledge this, pause)

Hans: You don't want to talk about it?

(Spreek looks up, looks around, secretly glancing toward Hans, he's confused)

Hans: You speak English?

(Spreek finally looks at Hans)

Hans: It's okay. I look scary, but I'm not.

Spreek: Oh.

(long pause)

Hans: Something bad happening in your life?

Spreek: I thought that was the bartender's job?

Hans: (little laughs) Oh, Ricky would ask you these things, but he's not fond of people. Isn't that right, Ricky?

Bartender: Not fond of most, Hans.

Hans: There. See. Like Ricky said, I'm Hans. You?

Spreek: Uhhh... Spreek.

Hans: Spreek?

Spreek: Yeah.

Hans: That a last name, like how some folks get called by their last names, or...

Spreek: No, it's my first name.

Hans: Huh... can't say as I've ever heard it before.

Spreek: My Mom always said it was Dutch, but I've never heard of any Dutch man with my name.

Hans: She make a lot of things up like that?

Spreek: My mom? Yeah. I think she did.

Hans: So what are you doing in here on a Wednesday afternoon, Spreek?

Spreek: Drinking.

Hans: Hey, yeah? Me too.

Spreek: Yep, look at that.

Hans: Course, I have to.

Spreek: Have to?

Hans: Oh yeah.

Spreek: Have to drink?

Hans: Yep.

Spreek: Are you an alcoholic?

Hans: You might call it that.

Spreek: Well, that doesn't mean you have to drink, does it? I mean, isn't it like feeling like you need to drink?

Hans: No, I really need and have to drink.

Spreek: Everyone always tells me that I don't have to drink, but I feel like I have to, you know?

Hans: Are you an alcoholic, Spreek?

Spreek: No! I... I mean, I drink, sure. Who doesn't?

Hans: I didn't.

Spreek: But you're an alcoholic too!

(pause, they let his admission sink in)

Hans: I'm not that kind of alcoholic, Spreek.

Spreek: What do you mean?

(Ricky rolls his eyes, exits)

Hans: (watching after Ricky) Ricky's heard my story a few too many times. I'm a bit of a zealot on the issue, sort of a proselytizer for the cause.

Spreek: For drinking? Sound like a friend to me.

Hans: Maybe, maybe not. Let me ask you something, Spreek: do you know what it's like to wake up and know exactly where you are and who you slept with?

Spreek: Well, sometimes...

Hans: To show up for work, on time and feeling great, every stinking Monday with total recollection of everything you did and said during the weekend?

Spreek: Well, no, I don't...

Hans: To not regret anything?

Spreek: I regret a lot of things.

Hans: You lucky, lucky bastard. See, for me Spreek, it's like this: I went through my whole life sober, rational. Every decision I made was sensible, weighted only by evidence and made after careful deliberation of all possible outcomes. I thought everything was going my way: great job, plenty of money, beautiful wife, bright kids, dream house, community leader, respected citizen, et cetera... the whole nine yards and then some more. You know what I mean, Spreek?

Spreek: Yeah. Sort of.

Hans: Then it happened. I remember it so clearly. I think everyone remembers when they hit top. It was the day after being promoted to regional president - the youngest regional president in company history, mind you - and I woke up in a warm sweat. I had been living a horrible, horrible truth! I had played the game perfectly, but I couldn't go anywhere but up, up, up. The game had its perfectly-manicured claws in me, and it wouldn't let go. I had become a systematically obedient pawn in the larger structure of society. I realized then that I had become powerless over rationality. It controlled everything I did. I needed help. (starts weeping a bit)

Spreek: (moving to stool next to Hans) Hey, hey, it's alright. What happened?

Hans: One night, on the way home from helping to kick-off a fundraiser for disabled runaway orphans, I drove past this place, (indicating surroundings) and... well, the rest has been just beautiful. Beautiful, Spreek, you know?

Spreek: Yeah. Alcohol is great, isn't it?

Hans: It's just opened up a whole new way of thinking for me, and sanctioned a vast array of liberating, irresponsible, unpredictable, IRRATIONAL behavior! I mean, I told my wife I'd be home by 6:30 tonight, but it probably will be closer to 7:00! Yes! Take that, Predictability! It just feels great!

Spreek: Wow. I usually just feel guilty and horrible about myself; because I'm drinking uncontrollably again.

Hans: Sure, but you're an alcoholic; you should feel that way, because you are guilty and horrible in many ways.

Spreek: Hey! What?! You said you...

Hans: I'm not alcoholic, Spreek. I'm A.A. (pause) Assertively Alcoholic.

Spreek: What's the difference?

Hans: Well, the plain-old alcoholic is powerless over alcohol, or so they say. I don't believe that. I believe I am alcoholic, but I am assertively choosing when and how to be alcoholic. Picking and choosing from the whole gamut of alcoholic behaviors as I see fit. I control my alcoholism in such a precise manner that society would never even label me an alcoholic. When I want to be unpredictable, I say "Hans, time to be unpredictable." When I want want to let someone down, I say "Hans, time to let someone down." And when I want to be irrational, I say, "Hans, time to be irrational!"

Spreek: But if you're telling yourself when and how to be irrational, aren't you still being rational?


Hans: Shit. That bastard! Damn you, Rationality!

Spreek: Hey, hey...

Hans: (pounding on the bar) Ricky! Ricky! More alcohol! I fell back on the wagon! Ricky!

(lights fade)


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