October, 2018. The kitchen of a house in some upper-middle-class cookie-cutter subdivision in a suburb just east of Atlanta, where yuppie families with young kids move so that they can tell people, “Oh, no, it's cool, I still live inside the perimeter.” DOUG, a mid-level ad exec just on the wrong side of 40, edges his way in through the back door, his arms full, a GoogleNokia Tangent 8.0 cellular phone wedged against his ear. He yaks into it obliviously as he stands in the doorway.
Just drop the Penske file on my desk tomorrow and
I'll give it a look — when's the presentation? (pause) Oh, yeah,
I'll be able to get with you on it way before then. No problem. Bye.
DOUG folds up the phone and puts down his work bags down, and for the first time notices his wife, HOLLY, at the kitchen table, feeding their infant daughter — while wearing an orange seersucker jacket. DOUG waits for his wife to notice him; she doesn't, so he sighs audibly.
So it's that time of year again, isn't it.
(not turning around)
Like you don't know. Thanks for letting me know
you'd be late, by the way.
Uh, did you not get my e-mail?
Sorry, I'm not surgically attached to the computer all day.
Why couldn't you just pick up the phone?
Because I — you know what? Forget it. Fine.
It's my fault. I don't suppose you —
DOUG happens to glance over HOLLY's shoulder into the family room, where orange Gucci-striped curtains have been hung and an orange Alcantara slipcover has been fitted onto the couch. His eyes grow wide as dinner plates for a moment, then he sighs again and shakes his head.
For Christ's fucking sake, Holly —
I made a vow not to use that word in front of the children
anymore, I don't see why you can't make the same effort.
Oh, I'm sorry, sweetheart, I just didn't know our living room
was in the middle of an Air Force bombing range, or else we
wouldn't need to mark our furniture in high-visibility blaze --
(puts spoon down)
You know what, Doug? You know what? Don't bother.
You haven't shown a lick of interest in keeping this house
looking nice, you've been rolling in from the office
at nine o'clock at night, so you've officially forfeited your right
to complain about what I do around here.
Oh, silly me, I thought earning an income and providing
you the money to go galavanting off with your
Volunteer Club buddies might get taken into account
somewhere along the line. Believe me, I won't
make the same mistake again.
Oh, and I don't make a contribution?
Right, I forgot the “freelance editing” you did on that
25th-anniversary video for Fulmer. What was it called again?
“One Of These Days, We'll Win Another SEC Title”?
That's some nerve coming from someone whose team
had to sweat out a last-second field-goal attempt
by Mississippi State the other day.
RICHT DOESN'T LIKE TO RUN UP THE SCORE!
WHY IS THAT SO HARD FOR YOU TO UNDERSTAND?!?
Oooh, look who's angry. Guess it's still a little too early
to bring the toaster oven out of hiding, huh?
(trying to compose himself)
Dr. Blyer says that that kind of sarcasm is just your way
of trying to assert the upper hand in our relationship,
but that it's only driving a wedge between —
Well, if Dr. Blyer is so brilliant, maybe you should schedule
a session for this Saturday and watch the game with her.
(to their daughter, ignoring DOUG)
C'mon, baby doll. Just one more bite. (beat) Come on, Payt . . .
What did you just call her?
Our daughter. You just called her “Payt,” didn't you?
Short for . . . ?
I don't have the faintest idea what you're talking about.
Oh, don't play dumb with me, Holly. You think I don't
hear these little references peppered all over the place?
That's not her name. She's nine months old,
and you're only confusing her --
Jesus, it's a nickname. Don't get your pantaloons in a wad.
DOUG stalks over to the kitchen table and sits next to his daughter's high chair.
Hi, baby girl. Hi, baby girl! It's Daddy! Daddy's home!
You're my little girl, you know that? And your name is
Knowshauna. Knowshauna Ann Gillett —
(shaking her head again)
I wish someone else was here to hear
how ridiculous you sound right now.
Why, just because I don't want my daughter
to be confused about her own name?
Oh, and let's talk about that name, why don't we,
because you should see the looks on the other mothers' faces
at play group when I introduce her to —
Christ, are we still not done with this? You can complain
about it all you want, but we both know I won that coin flip
in the maternity ward fair and square.
Yeah, and now we've got kids named Champ and Knowshauna
to show for it. Let me remind you, just for the record, that I
didn't even want to do the coin flip — I would've been
perfectly happy with naming her something nice and
neutral, like Erika . . .
Oh, yeah, I remember that one. “Erika Aingela”?
Real neutral, Holly. You must think I'm
some kind of complete fool —
Well, if the shoe fits.
Fine. Fine. You know what? Warp our child's mind
however you want. You just better hope there's a
fiftieth-anniversary Fulmer video to make, 'cause
that's where the money for her therapy is coming from.
That sounds great. That's exactly what I'll do, thanks.
Frustrated at his inability to get a rise out of his wife with his last comment, DOUG casts a jaundiced eye toward the refrigerator.
So do I dare ask whether there are any
leftovers in the fridge?
I got takeout. And I only got enough for me.
Of course. How silly of me.
DOUG walks over to the refrigerator and begins scavenging through the freezer. His gaze settles on a box of Lean Pockets, and his expression contorts itself into a contemptuous scowl as he excavates it from a thin layer of ice.
You sure I can't get you anything?
Maybe a nice tall glass of orange juice?
DOUG puts the box down on the kitchen counter and stares daggers at his wife.
You're sapping my will to live.
(turns back to the kitchen counter)
OK, seriously, where's the toaster?
ADDED: The touching and poignant conclusion to our saga can be found here.