By Tom Zander
A new husband is worried whether he is ready for fatherhood.
JACK &endash; middle aged, sincere, and kindly
BILL &endash; early 20's, eager but full of self-doubts
DEBBIE &endash; Jack's 16-year-old daughter
STEVE &endash; Jack's 13-year-old son
Short section of something to suggest a fence between the two yards
A rake for Jack
Grass clippers for Bill to pretend to use
Car keys in Jack' pocket
Scene: Bill and Jack are in their respective back yards; Bill is pretending to work, while looking over his shoulder, as Jack enters carrying a rake and starting to use it.
JACK: Hey, Bill, how's it going?
BILL: (LOOKS UP DISTRACTEDLY) Huh? Oh, hi, Jack. O.K., I guess.
JACK: I have to tell you, neighbor, I've seen cows cut grass faster than that!
BILL: (GETS UP AND COMES TO FENCE) I'm not really cutting grass. (LOOKS TO SEE WHO IS LISTENING) I'm hiding from my wife.
JACK: (CHUCKLES AS HE REMINISCES) Ah, yes, the first year of marriage!
BILL: No, I really am hiding from her!
JACK: Uh-oh, trouble in paradise?
BILL: Not exactly . . .
JACK: Not exactly trouble, or not exactly paradise?
BILL: (LAUGHS) Both! I guess I'd call it . . . potential trouble. (JACK NODS ENCOURAGINGLY) Carol's been after me to start a family . . .
JACK: Hey, congratulations, Bill!
BILL: Whoa, Jack, not so fast! We're still at the negotiating stage.
JACK: I see. Carol's gung-ho, and you're having some doubts? (BILL NODS) Money?
BILL: No, we're O.K. on that end. Besides, my dad always said, it you wait to have kids until you can afford to, you never will!
JACK: (LAUGHS) He got that right! What is it then, if you don't mind my asking?
BILL: Well, I just can't picture myself as a Dad! I'm still a kid myself! My dad's been old as long as I've known him!
JACK: Let me ask you this: When you go to McDonalds, does the kid behind the counter say, "Do you want fries with that?" or "Do you want fries with that, Sir?"
BILL: (THINKS A MOMENT) Oh, no! It's true! They call me "sir"!
JACK: Face it, Bill, you're practically a fogey! (DEBBIE ENTERS)
DEBBIE: Hey, Dad!? Oh, hi, Mr. Ramsey, how are you doing, Sir? (BILL POINTS AND PANTOMIME LAUGHS AS BILL ROLLS HIS EYES) Dad, can I borrow the car?
JACK: Is the front yard done?
DEBBIE: Yeah. Stevie's just raking up the clippings.
JACK: (DIGGING KEYS OUT OF HIS POCKET) No babysitting tonight?
DEBBIE: Not tonight. I guess everybody's staying home, so I can go out.
BILL: Oh, do you babysit, Debbie?
DEBBIE: (SHRUGS) Sure. Lots of folks in the neighborhood have little kids.
BILL: What do you like best about it?
DEBBIE: I like the newborns best. They're so little and helpless, and they smell good; well, most of the time!
BILL: (SUDDEN PANIC) Little and helpless! Jack, why are they so small?
JACK: So you'll spend a lot of time on your knees. Believe me, you will! (TURNS TO DEBBIE AGAIN) Where're you off to tonight, the mall?
DEBBIE: Yeah, a bunch of us are going to see "Titanic".
JACK: Again? How many times is that?
DEBBIE: (AS SHE GRABS KEYS FROM HIS HAND AND EXITS) Oh, Dad!
JACK: (TAKES A COUPLE OF STEPS IN HER DIRECTION AND CALLS) Debbie, drive carefully! And no cruising; I'll check the odometer!
BILL: You see? I just can't picture myself doing that!
JACK: Doing what?
BILL: Casually handing the keys to a $20,000 car to a . . . a child!
JACK: Well, Leslie and I have been "casually " working up to that moment for about 16 years now.
BILL: So like, potty training has a lot to do with driving ability?
JACK: (LAUGHS) That's a little oversimplified, but yes. You know, they have to crawl before they can walk before they can run . . .
BILL: . . . before they can drive! I get it. (HE SEES STEVE APPROACHING) Hi, Steve, how's it going?
STEVE: Hi, Mr. Ramsey. Dad, the front yard is all raked. Can I have my allowance now?
JACK: Well, let me go inspect the job first. (STEVE ROLLS HIS EYES) Excuse me, Bill, I'll be right back. (EXITS)
BILL: (AFTER AN AWKWARD PAUSE) So, Steve, how's school going?
STEVE: (SHRUGS) O.K., I guess. It's school.
BILL: What are you, ninth grade now?
BILL: You're pretty big for your age, Steve. Pretty soon you'll be able to take on the old man, huh?
STEVE: You mean my dad? (NERVOUS LAUGH) I don't think so.
BILL: C'mon, I'll bet you could. He's getting pretty old.
STEVE: (RISING TO THE BAIT) Naw, he's pretty strong.
BILL: (GOADING) I don't think he's that tough.
STEVE: Yeah, he is! I bet my dad could beat up your dad!
BILL: I bet he couldn't! (JACK IS SEEN RETURNING, AND WITNESSES THE EXCHANGE)
STEVE: Bet he could!
BILL: Could not!
JACK: (AS HE ENTERS) Who "could not" what? (BILL AND STEVE BOTH BACK DOWN, EMBARRASSED)
BILL: Uh, . . . nothing. We were just talking.
JACK: Here's your allowance, Steve. You did a nice job on the front yard. It looks great.
STEVE: Thanks. (PULLS DAD ASIDE) Dad, Mr. Ramsey's acting kind of weird; is he O.K.?
JACK: It's all right, Steve, I think he has a lot on his mind. (GUIDES STEVE TOWARD HOUSE) I'll talk to you later.
BILL: (UPSET BY HIS REGRESSION) Uh, . . . nice kid you have there, Jack. Boy, he sure thinks a lot of you.
JACK: Oh? I'm glad. Everything all right, Bill?
BILL: Yeah, . . . yeah. I was just thinking about my dad. Man, he was a tough old bird.
JACK: Yeah, mine too. (GENTLE TEASE) Although I doubt he could beat up your dad.
BILL: (CAUGHT!) Oh, I was just . . . um, teasing . . . I guess I got carried away for a minute there. Sorry. (PAUSE AND SMILE) You know, I can remember only one time that I ever saw my dad stay home sick from work. I wasn't in school yet, and he was up in bed all day, coughing and hacking with some wicked cold.
JACK: Only one time?
BILL: Hey, I said he was tough! Anyway, I was so surprised he actually got sick, I spent all morning looking under beds and in closets. I was sure there had to be some Kryptonite in the house somewhere!
JACK: (CHUCKLES) I guess every kid thinks his dad is some kind of Superman . . .
BILL: (EARNESTLY) Jack, I don't know if I can be Superman!
JACK: (GENTLY) You know what, Bill? Even Superman wasn't Superman all the time. Sometimes he had to be Clark Kent.
JACK: Yeah, really. And you're not going to be in this alone. Don't forget, you have Lois Lane on your side.
BILL: Oh, yeah, Carol. So, you think I really can be a dad?
JACK: You bet! In fact, I'm encouraged that you're even worried about it. It shows that you take this whole thing seriously. I bet you'll make a great dad!
BILL: (PLEASED AND RELIEVED) Man, I sure hope so! (A PAUSE)
JACK: Bill, if you don't get back inside and re-open negotiations, you'll never find out.
BILL: Huh? Oh, yeah! I guess I should . . . Thanks, Jack. Thanks a lot.
JACK: (RESUMES YARD WORK) Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Look, up in the sky (BLACKOUT) . . . it's a bird, it's a plane, . . . it's Superdad!
© Tom Zander 1999
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