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Another Word for Acceptance

by rebecca


This is something I wrote for a one act contest and I just found out it made the finals so I have two weeks to make revisions. Thanks for reading.

BETH and PATRICK sit in PATRICK's

bedroom filling out college applications. They're high school seniors, best friends who know each other better than they know themselves. It should be obvious that they are close but equally obvious that they're not dating. Both have various textbooks applications and papers. BETH has a bottle (maybe more) of Diet Coke and a cheap bottle of vodka. PATRICK has a McDonald's Extra Value Meal. PATRICK is extremely talented at some sort of team sport, it doesn't matter which. BETH is an aspiring art student.

-BETH-

(Groans) Maybe I should just be a flight attendant. They get to wear cute uniforms. I’ve always wanted to be one of those buttoned up sex symbols. I think nurses and hot librarians have to go to college. I don't want to go to college if I have to write this tripe to get in.

-PATRICK-

Yeah, this sucks. I'd bite off my arm if it meant I didn't have to write anymore.

-BETH-

If you bit off your arm you couldn't write anymore.

-PATRICK-

I’d bite the arm I don’t write with, I’m not a total idiot. But that's totally beside the point.

-BETH-

What is the point?

-PATRICK-

There was a point?

-BETH-

That's what I thought.

-PATRICK-

We talk about "the point" a lot. Usually, something's beside it.

-BETH-

This is true; maybe we should try getting to this proverbial point...at some point

2

-PATRICK-

No, why break the tradition now, it doesn't sound like fun (pause) By the way, that was a horrible pun.

-BETH-

I knew you weren't going to let me get away with that

-PATRICK-

What are you writing?

-BETH-

I'm extolling my virtues to the North Carolina School of Design (beat) Gah! I hate this. Nobody's good at writing about themselves and if they are, I don't want to meet them, they're an egocentric jerk.

-PATRICK-

You'll do fine. You are an ego-whatever jerk,

-BETH-

Yeah well so are you and for the record if I weren't me I wouldn't want to meet me. (she pauses and begins to read her essay half-out-loud) …that is why I am an excellent candidate for admis- no…acceptance? I need another word for acceptance. (pause) I am sick of this. I'm going to do our English homework.

-PATRICK-

Good call, Emily Dickinson will be sure to put you in a sunshiny mood.

-BETH-

You'd be surprised at what a mood enhancer the Belle of Amherst can be. Think about it, she never left the house, she pined her entire life for ministers or imaginary Ken dolls and her stuff isn't even that great. The only reason we're still reading her is because she's hyphen happy and the first American chick to do much of anything. There’s some sort of literary Affirmative Action going on. No matter how much your life seems to suck at least you're not her.

And, did you know you can sing any Emily Dickinson poem to the tune of Amazing Grace? Which of course means you can sing it to the Gilligan's Island song-

-PATRICK-

No way, Do it

-BETH-

No, you know I don't sing in front of people. You're just going to have to trust me

-PATRICK-

So in other words you're making it up

3

-BETH-

I'm not, I swear to God

-PATRICK-

You don't believe in God.

-BETH-

That's entirely beside the point (pause) Have you ever seen Gilligan's Island?

-PATRICK-

No, have you?

-BETH-

No. Then how come we know the theme song?

-PATRICK-

Probably government brainwashing. TVLand is definitely an evil homeland security satellite.

-BETH-

Wow Patrick, I am blinded by your dazzling grasp on reality

-PATRICK-

Don't mock me. Didn't you read Clockwork Orange?

-BETH-

What does that have to do with anything?

-PATRICK-

Shut up. It made sense in my head

-BETH-

That's what Sparknotes'll do for you. Now go sell your soul to the admissions process Adrienne Rich.

They work semi-diligently until PATRICK yells "broccoli"

-BETH-

What was that for?

4

-PATRICK-

...remember that indie film you dragged me to right before school started? The when where that girl did these really random things just so she didn't have to feel ordinary? I guess I was kind of going for that.

-BETH-

That's hilarious; do you have any idea how ironic that is? You're trying to be original by being derivative and you're deriving from Natalie Portman

-PATRICK-

Hey! Don't use your big words with me, it pisses me off

-BETH-

Don't pretend you don't know what my big words mean, it pisses me off

-PATRICK-

You're right, I know what derivative means and I'm pretty sure you used it the wrong way

-BETH-

Pretty sure I didn't

-PATRICK-

Whatever... I guess it just felt good to know that for one moment I was the only guy on the planet who was scratching his nose and shouting "broccoli" while writing his college essay. Think about it, this is the most personal part of the whole "application process" and it's so generic. How do you tell a person anything about who you are by "describing your work ethic and accomplishments that demonstrate it"? There are tens of thousands of kids writing this same essay and they're all going to write the exact same thing. Do they honestly think some kid is going to come out and say, "I am a super lazy person?"

-BETH-

I see, shouting the names of green vegetables is the only way to retain your sanity and sense of self (she thinks, then laughs) You know what you should write to demonstrate your work ethic? ..."I don't feel like it"

-PATRICK-

Very funny, some friend you are

-BETH-

Oh stop whining, you're a scholarship athlete, they'll be impressed with your essay if you spell 30% of the words right.

5

-PATRICK-

I know but I like to at least pretend I tried.

-BETH-

I guess I can sort of see your point though. Like- at what other point in life will we be reduced so thoroughly to a compilation of numbers? We're just this series of numbers with corresponding acronyms, SAT, GPA, ACT, SSN and then they tack on the same trite essay section every other school in America does. You know they don't even read the essay; it's just there so they can feel selective.

-PATRICK-

Yeah, but what do you care about that for? You want to be an art major; in addition to a trite essay you can send disturbing paintings

-BETH-

My paintings are stupid and sophomoric

-PATRICK-

Shut up, you're like the best artist in the school

-BETH-

Yeah? Well being "like" the best in a school of less than 1000 isn't really impressive.

-PATRICK-

Seriously. Shut up. You know you're good.

-BETH-

(she grins) Yeah, false modesty does not become me. (pause) But really, the schools I'm applying to are in the real world and what if once I get out there I suck. (She pauses) I know this sounds pathetic but sometimes...sometimes I just want to go to a school with a crappy art department just so I can be the best and keep living this big fish/little pond thing for four more years.

-PATRICK-

It's not pathetic...It's just not what I would have expected from you, it sounds more like me. Why do you think I'm looking at all these tiny liberal arts schools? It's not because I want some four star education, believe me, the last thing I want is more education. Their teams suck and I don't know if I'm ready to not be the star. Look at this face- would I get babes with this face if I weren't the best?

-BETH-

It's a nice face but... I don't see any "babes" and who's said "babe" since Saved by the Bell went off the air.

6

-PATRICK-

That's beside the point. The point is, I think it's normal to like having people think you're "special" and it's normal to not want that to end.

-BETH-

I don't even think that's it. Maybe I don't even like being "special". When you live in a town like this and you're one of the few people everyone expects to do something more than become a soccer mom (pause) people have nothing but faith in you. That's a lot of pressure; if you change your mind or don't succeed you've let down a lot of people. And then the minute you get out there to try and do something with your dreams (beat) the world expects the exact opposite. You're supposed to fail. Small town stars are a dime a dozen and alternately starting and burning out by the second.

-PATRICK-

You're such a cynic. What did you put for the Dickinson homework?

-BETH-

I don't know, that she's a manic-depressive nut-job of a hermit who never had a chance with the minister because clergymen from Massachusetts only date little boys?

-PATRICK-

You know you're going to hell, right?

-BETH-

Yeah, but that doesn't bother me...do you really think I'm being a cynic? Because I'm just trying to be practical. Patrick, look at me. If in 20 years I'm at some high school just like ours and I'm the art teacher that wears funny clothes and everyone always wonders if she's high? If in twenty years I'm cleaning up after indifferent punks (and I'll probably call them punks because I'll be old) who took my class just for an easy A? Wouldn't you be disappointed in me?

-PATRICK-

(Aware that he sounds like an after school special) No, I'd only be disappointed if you were disappointed

-BETH-

Well I would be disappointed.

-PATRICK-

Then I don't even want to hear what you think of my probable future self. He's morbidly obese, lives in my brother's basement and works at the 7-11 selling beer to minors.

-BETH-

Sexy (she forces a laugh, then shakes her head) I just can't believe you don't get it.

7

-PATRICK-

Beth, give me more credit than that. I get it. I get it. How could I not? I am it. I've just dealt with it, or maybe not dealt with it but accepted it as a part of who I am. Hello, my name is Patrick and I'm a people pleaser.

-BETH-

(Aware that she's picking a fight) Is that why you play?

-PATRICK-

What?

-BETH-

Is that the reason you play? I know it doesn't make you happy. After you win a game you always have this goofy smile plastered across your face- totally frozen there. It's a good act Patrick, fools a lot of people. But it doesn't fool me. It's the same stupid smile in your school pictures. The same one you wear when you let me pick the movie and you want me to believe you enjoyed it. But it makes other people genuinely happy when you win; Coach, your dad, a plethora of cheerleaders. So maybe on some level it does make you happy. You know what I think Patrick? I think that at some point growing up, we lost the ability to distinguish the difference between our own happiness and the happiness of the people around us.

-PATRICK-

You're psychotic

-BETH-

(Shrugs) At least I'm not an unfulfilled people pleaser

-PATRICK-

Bethany! Give me a fricking break! Your happiness is more dependent on other people than anyone I have ever met. You have this weird need for people to be afraid of you. You've so carefully crafted this image as crazy artist girl who does shots of turpentine and has it all figured out when you're just as scared and eager and self-conscious as the rest of us. Maybe even more. Why are you so afraid? Because you've been hurt? Well you've hurt me too, every time you introduce me to another one of your screwed up, "intellectual", "artistic" boyfriends. The fact that no one understands you does not make you an artist! Being a melodramatic drug dealer and treating your girlfriend like crap isn't art, it isn't genius, its cowardice. You are so smart. Half the time I feel like I need to get a dictionary to have a conversation with you but when it comes to real life you're a moron. (Pauses, gives a half laugh) Beth... those guys...they're not good enough for you and I'm sick of you picking them over someone who could actually care about you just because you're afraid of giving something up-

8

-BETH-

Stop it.

-PATRICK-

No, don't interrupt me; I don't interrupt you when you constantly pass judgment on me. Someday you're going to have to learn Beth, you're going to have to give, you're going to have to lose and you're going to have to work for something. You're so extraordinary, everything comes so easily to you and it's made you afraid to screw up. Well some day you will. You're going to fall off your pedestal and then you'll have to come down and live with the rest of us. Maybe you'll actually be better off, maybe then you'll be able to really be happy, and maybe then you won't be afraid. I'm your best friend Beth and I can't wait for you to make a mistake- a big one, because perfection is destroying you.

-BETH-

(Very softly) Do you really think I'm not aware of that? Of all of it? I know the guys I date are morons. I know I'm terrified and I know my little "quest for perfection" is my biggest imperfection but I have it and it's real. So often my entire world feels fake and numb. I can't paint, I can't sleep, I can't act, I can't move. I can't care. And so often the only thing that keeps me from offing myself is inertia and the fear of admitting defeat. At least if I'm trying to be the best-at least if I'm needing to be the best, I have something real to hold onto. I don't care if it means I make myself cry or bleed (pause) or vomit. I need it just to keep myself from going more nuts than I already am. (Looks away, pretending to go back to her essay) I'm sorry I've hurt you Patrick but do you really want that responsibility? Do you want to provide my reality fix for me? Maybe it appeals to your hero complex but I'm just too big of a mess for you.

-PATRICK-

For someone who's always telling me I underestimate myself you sure underestimate me.

-BETH-

It's not about me underestimating you. (She laughs miserably at the cliché she's about to say) It's not you its me. It’s about me liking and respecting you too much to inflict myself upon you. It's about me admitting that this anal, self-destructive jerk is who I am, at least for the foreseeable future. And you know it and you see how ugly I am and you can still stand me. I love you for that, I do, but right now I'm a disgusting person and, the way I live right now, I can't be with someone that I'm not comfortable hurting.

-PATRICK-

You're being ridiculous. Do you think you're protecting me or something? Because I don't appreciate it. There's no reason you--(he pauses, then sighs) I can't even talk to you right now.

There is a considerable amount of silence. BETH pours quite a bit of Vodka into her Diet Coke

9

-PATRICK-

You shouldn't do that, it’ll kill you

-BETH-

(Points to his cheeseburger) You shouldn't do that it’ll kill you

-PATRICK-

True, and you'll die young and leave a pretty corpse while I still have 40 years of quadruple bypass ahead of me.

-BETH-

Yeah, but you can eat cheese

-PATRICK-

(like a verbal eye roll) You are perfectly capable of eating cheese, I have faith in you

She pauses, looks at him for a long time, walks over, sits down on the bed and leans against him

-BETH-

I know you do


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Mon Aug 04, 2014 1:40 am
erilea wrote a review...



Rebecca, hello! Wisegirl22 here with a new avvie, writing a fabulous review for your script, one that took me 3 hours to read. :)

In your little beginning note, was your contest official or just on this site? It would be cool if it was official. :D I would follow you immediately. So, in the dialogue, I realize that the lack of punctuation is very clear, I think you should go through this script and add in periods, question marks, etc.

"I knew you weren't going to let me get away with that"

This is also a common mistake, but don't capitalize things after commas.

"No way, Do it"

And this is also a cliche.

"It's not you its me."

"Its" is "it's".

This was beautifully written, though, and I think you might be a movie director one day. Your scripts are amazing? You could be like Shakespeare, writing plays and books and poetry. I have faith in you and your friendship with me!

-wisegirl22 ;)




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683 Reviews


Points: 890
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Mon Feb 14, 2005 11:04 am
Emma says...



Its quite good. It took me a long time to read it though! :P





But even the worst decisions we make don't necessarily remove us from the circle of humanity.
— Wes Moore, The Other Wes Moore