Krapp’s Last Date

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(An early evening in the present.

Krapp, an old man, and Sophia, a woman in her early thirties, sit at a table in FYI TGI Mc Faddens, a circus/vaudevillian-themed eatery. It’s Saturday night, and the restaurant is bursting with activity. Krapp is sullen and hunched over. He wears a sleeveless black overcoat with very deep pockets and a dirty white dress shirt, unbuttoned to the waist. Sophia is brimming with energy and optimism. A pimple-faced waiter of 16 approaches the table.)

WAITER: Hello and welcome to FYI TGI McFaddens, home of the never ending tower of greasy onion rings and the bottomless bucket of coffee-flavored gin. Can I take your order?

KRAPP: Order?…Yes…Whose order though?…In what way are we to…order.

(Pause.)

WAITER: Well, it’s your order, sir, and you should place it.

SOPHIA: I’d like a side of onion rings and a margarita.

KRAPP: By the light of the equinox, my scalp is no longer dry and itchy! I’ll have a glass of your best Irish whiskey…no ice.

(The waiter leaves. Sophia looks around nervously. Krapp begins making tiny boats out of the paper napkins on the table.)

SOPHIA: So, what do you do for fun?

KRAPP: You know, it’s my birthday…today.

SOPHIA: Oh really, happy birthday —

KRAPP: I’m 95.

SOPHIA: (appalled) What? You said you were 61 in the personals ad! I mean, I like older men, but you’re —

KRAPP: Ancient. Yes. Not as ancient as, say, Mesopotamia. Or even Dick Clark, who’s really 125. Not as ancient as, say, one of Phyllis Diller’s wigs.

(Krapp pulls out an old portable tape recorder from his coat pocket and begins playing a tape.)

TAPE: Eggs…flour…sugar…milk…pick up dry cleaning.

KRAPP: I recorded this when I was 70. I sounded more alive then. (Pause.) Don’t you think?

SOPHIA: I don’t really know. I just met you.

KRAPP: So full of promise.

SOPHIA: At 70? Well.

TAPE: Call doctor for check-up. Can one get taller as he gets older?…I’m 70 today. Still eating bananas. I ate 12 today. Can’t get off the toilet.

SOPHIA: That’s disgusting.

KRAPP: That reminds me. (Krapp pulls out a banana from his coat pocket and begins eating.) My 6:00 p.m. banana. Is that a banana in your coat pocket or are you just happy to see me?

(The waiter approaches with the drinks.)

WAITER: Sir, FYI TGI McFaddens does not allow any outside fruit.

KRAPP: Yes. Right. Understandable. (The waiter deposits the drinks on the table then leaves, eyeing Krapp and his banana.) You know, a few years back I owned a restaurant where everything on the menu was made from bananas: banana steak, banana l’orange, banana surprise.

SOPHIA: What was the surprise?

KRAPP: Banana. (Krapp eats more of the banana.) Even the furniture was made from bananas. Although everything got really mushy and brown really fast. And stinky. The restaurant was called the Banana Republic. Pretty clever wouldn’t you say?

SOPHIA: You know that’s the name of a chain of clothing stores.

KRAPP: Yes. We got sued. That was the end of that dream. Match. Game. Set.

(Krapp finishes the banana and then throws the skin on the floor. A passing waiter slips on the discarded peel, dropping a tray of food.)

WAITER 2: My back! Sweet Jesus, my back!

SOPHIA: (horrified) I can’t believe you did that!

KRAPP: Farewell to eaten bananas.

TAPE:…must call that woman I dated when I was 40. What was her name again? The one with the yellow coat. Hilda? Marge? Wendy? Wendy! Yes, Wendy! No, Flora. Yes. That was it. Flora, who I met in Florida: America’s penis. These pants itch. Itchy pants! Itchy pants! Why do you itch me so! Damn you itchy pants. (sound of a banjo being strummed in the background) Itchy pants, (singing) oh itchy pants, why must you itch me so?

(Sophia, along with other patrons, is trying to hoist the waiter up from the floor.)

KRAPP: (shouting at the fallen waiter) That’s nothing. I was in Korea!

(sings) I feel pretty! Oh so pretty! I feel pretty and witty and bright…

(Another waiter emerges from the kitchen and helps the injured waiter to the employee break room. Sophia sits back down at the table. Krapp rewinds the tape.)

TAPE: Itchy Shirt! Itchy shirt! Going to grocery store…need a list.

SOPHIA: I’m not sure if this is working out. And it’s not just the age thing.

KRAPP: Is it my erectile dysfunction? Because I’m taking pills, I’ll have you know. The doctor says I could be up in no time…no time like the present. Which is where we are. In the present. I bet you wouldn’t have a problem if Florida had erectile dysfunction!

SOPHIA: No, it’s not your erectile dysfunction, which I didn’t know you had. It’s your total self-absorption. You’re not aware of anyone else around you. I mean, you could have seriously injured that waiter! (Sophia drops a fork.) Crap!

KRAPP: Yes?

SOPHIA: What? No, I wasn’t — I just dropped something on the floor. Look, maybe this was a bad idea. These things don’t always work out. Everyone has their own quirks, their own eccentricities. Like my last boyfriend’s habit of referring to himself in the third person. And my boyfriend before that; he had this obsession with shaving the hair on his chest and stuffing pillows with it. Anyway, it was…well. Right. Have a nice…er, remainder of your life.

(Sophia grabs her purse and leaves the table.)

KRAPP: Call me! (Krapp mimes a telephone with his right hand. With his left hand he pulls a banana from his pocket and holds it to his left ear, like a telephone. Pause. He lowers both telephones.) Never knew such silence. I wouldn’t want her back. No. (Pause.) The aspirations!

(Krapp takes the tape out of the recorder, turns it over, then puts it back in, fast-forwarding briefly before hitting play.)

TAPE: –OK, where did I put the banana hat that I made the other day?…In the fridge. Yes, of course.

(Long pause.)

Ah, that’s what I did with those boxer shorts with the gooseberry print on them. In the freezer. Frozen stiff and flat as a pancake. Pancakes! That’s what I needed the flour, eggs and milk for.

(Krapp motions to a waiter for another glass of Irish whiskey, then retrieves a banana wedged in his grimy white dress sock and begins peeling it.)

CURTAIN

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Muzak Of The Spheres
(With No Apologies To Woody Allen)

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(An excerpt from Volume 56 in the Collected Works of the iconoclastic philosopher Allan Stewart Konigsberg.)

Let me say at the outset of my treatise that I am interested only in the ultimate questions: Is there a God? Did He create the universe, or did He buy it ready-made from one of the better mail-order houses? How do we know what we know, and if we don’t know, how can we fake it? What is morality, and why do all the girls I meet seem to have it? What is man? What is woman? And why don’t they ever sign their real names on the register?

These are not idle questions, but a matter of life and death. I’m locking the door right now, and if one of us doesn’t come up with the answers within the next ten minutes then both of us will die. Since I am a fictional character, I assure you this will be much harder on you than on me.

Philosophy begins with metaphysics, and as Kant was fond of saying to his mirror, “I never metaphysics I didn’t like.” This cryptic comment becomes much clearer when we consider that Kant was a boob — what’s more, a boob with a speech impediment. He would say “categorical imperative” when what he really wanted was a hamburger and fries. Nor was Spinoza any closer to the truth when he defined the will as a thing-in-itself. The thing-in-itself was his wife, who divorced him for demonstrating the principle of Universal Love by giving a rubdown to a rabbi. It was Spinoza, however, who, in a brilliant paper on optics, proved that a magnifying glass could be used to commit arson.

Throughout the ages, great thinkers have gone beyond the conventional wisdom to seek the inner meaning of life. Nietzsche went Beyond Good and Evil; B. F. Skinner went Beyond Freedom and Dignity; Russ Meyer went Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. These three profoundly different geniuses have one thing in common: they will never become championship bowlers. Yet their ideas will live forever, or at least until they are made into Broadway musicals.

“What is truth?” asked jesting Pilate, and would not stay for an answer (though he did watch it later on DVD). I define truth as that which should never be uttered before a subcommittee or a microphone. Further, true Being is distinguishable from being in Gary, Indiana — especially if you try to breathe.

If God exists then human life makes sense (with the exception of Gene Simmons); if God does not exist then everything is meaningless, and there’s no point making good on those gambling debts.

Some radical theologians claim that God is dead, while others insist He’s just “resting His eyes.” Either way, He’s not taking any calls. The Bible tells us He is an angry God and a jealous God — character traits the BBC might keep in mind the next time they’re casting Othello.

God or no, all rational beings, and even Unitarians, must eventually confront the problem of good and evil. Those sufficiently enlightened choose the good, but many elect to go into real estate instead. What dark mystery of the soul causes one person to abandon wickedness for a life of sainthood, and another to become a Top 40 radio programmer?

For that matter, how can we tell that we actually exist, that we are not mere phantoms? Of course I am — as I said, I’m only a mythical mouthpiece for a sick mind — but what about you? Are you too, perhaps, an invented character with fictitious needs and desires and cold sores created by a demented writer? If I stopped talking to you would you simply disappear? And if so, could the same method be applied to a Jehovah’s Witness?

Conversely, if you stopped reading this would I vanish? Most important, would the author still get his check?

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Irma Bimbo

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Did you ever notice how spring makes some people nuttier than a jar of Planter’s Party Mix, whereas some go goofy in fall, and others act silly in summer, and still others get weird in winter?

I must confess I’m in the latter group. When winter comes I hibernate like a grizzly bear, and brother, don’t try to wake me up — grrr! But when spring finally arrives I return to normal and leave my cave to go salmon fishing on the banks of a nearby stream. I stun the fish with a swipe from my huge furry paw, then gut them with my razor-sharp claws and pop them still dripping into my mouth. If only I could get rid of that yucky “fishy” taste!

But I digress. I was going to tell you about my wacky teenagers — or should I say sex machines? Every year they get spring fever so bad you’d think it was a terminal illness instead of nature’s way of saying “Beer drinkers make better lovers.” It gives this middle-aged mom the strangest feeling to watch them go through their elaborate adolescent courting rituals, rubbing their hollow legs together to produce a shrill song, or performing complicated dances to display the fire-engine-red bony crests on top of their heads, or building immense love bowers deep in tropical rainforests out of twigs, moss and brightly colored stones. Kids sure are different these days.

Remember how it was when we were young, back in the late Pleistocene? Before we girls could even contemplate a date, our parents had to meet our prospective beau and ask him everything but which side he dressed on (Dad would always check that manually). Then while the poor boy blinked away tears of frustration, they’d inflict a paralyzing bite and use their posterior silk glands to spin him inside a gossamer cocoon where they could store him against the hungry days ahead. Have things really changed so much, or am I just being old-fashioned?

And what about those kooky metrics? My too-bright-for-their-britches teens find them a cinch with their ten fingers to count by, but unless I cut two of mine off I’ll be using the base twelve system the rest of my life. Besides, I just can’t imagine anyone saying, “Give her 2.54 centimeters and she’ll take 1.61 kilometers.” How zany can you get? If we’re not careful, pretty soon we’ll be measuring feline toiletries in “kitty liters”!

I guess I haven’t really said what I started out to say about spring, but it’s hard to think warm, loony thoughts when your anything-for-kicks offspring have turned your kitchen into a recombinant-DNA lab and made you the subject of the experiment. What won’t they think of next?

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Tips For The Novice Boxer

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Boxing is the competitive sport that champions sparring excellence and satisfies the mysterious craving to place maximal punching force on the other guy’s chin. But there are some pitfalls that must be avoided. I have developed the following essential tips over time by garnering information from numerous sources, such as tabloids found in the supermarket checkout line, late-night sports talk-radio programs, and old movies.

Applying these tips will steel your confidence as you travel the rocky road of boxing, and will help you achieve two important goals in your quest for success:

1. Minimize embarrassment.

2. Leave the ring with dignity.

Punching Bags


The big heavy bag will help you develop hard-hitting combination blows to your opponent’s torso. This bag is to be hit firmly and, if possible, without grimacing. The speed bag, on the other hand, requires finesse and critical timing. After intense practice, you should be able to make the speed bag take on its hypnotically rhythmic sound. Caution is advised, however, as it is recently rumored that Knuckles deSchmitt became so caught up in the experience that his head began bouncing like the speed bag through sympathetic vibration. Just a word to the wise.

Running


Going ten rounds or more in the ring can be grueling, if not downright unpleasant and dull. How often have you seen a boxing match where both boxers were leaning on each other in a waltzing manner after only the second round? Blows delivered in that state of exhaustion carry the force of a ladybug landing on one’s head, only less. Regular running exercises will prevent this faux pas.

When you first start running, you may do a lot of wheezing and holding your aching sides. But over time that will diminish. Build your endurance by running difficult routes, such as up and down numerous marble steps in front of city hall or maybe the federal courthouse, along harbor docks with the city skyline in the distance, back and forth on lonely stretches of two-lane highways at four o’clock in the morning, over the river and through the woods … well, you get the idea.

Hitting Techniques


Remember that hitting the other person harder and more frequently will enable you to prevail. Half-hearted hitting simply will not do, and politeness is definitely out (“Okay, now it’s your turn to hit me!”). You must exhibit controlled rage, going after your opponent as though you hate the very depths of his soul, but being principled in doing so. Windmilling, wind-ups, and comin’-’round-the-mountain punches are ineffective because your opponent, if he is any good, can get in five or six well-connected star-studded punches before your punch comes anywhere close. Don’t rely on them. Besides, they look a little silly and go contrary to goal number one.

Training For The Rainmaker


There is only so much you can do to prepare physically for the dreaded stealth punch some adroit opponent might slip past you. Otherwise, you may want to implement some modern technological advances to minimize the impact. For example, you may wish to wear an MP3 player recently adapted for the ring, which, upon sensing a horizontal position, automatically plays stirring marches to help restore sentient behavior.

Leaving Boxing


There will come a time when you should leave boxing. You will most likely know when that time comes. You may even feel it. This is when you want to make your last exit from the ring a shining moment in your boxing career.

But as you consider your exit, guard against overconfidence, because at a critical moment fate can deal a cruel blow. This may be attested by a recent rumor about Ballpein Slapenhitzle, who became terribly confused while attempting to exit the ring for his last time. He didn’t know it was his last time. In trying to make a running leap out of the ring, he stumbled over his own feet and managed to spin himself around the ropes into a tight little wad, making himself look as though he had three arms and four legs.

Conclusion


Follow these tips and you will surely achieve the boxing renown you deserve. And when the time comes to hang up your gloves, you will know deep down inside that you did your part for the sport, and, in some abstract way, possibly became an inspiration to others, or, perhaps, helped someone with a personal matter regarding aluminum siding. Maybe people will cheer, or maybe they’ll shed a tear. Yes, some may laugh. But no matter, for they will all have to say in their hearts, “There goes a dignified boxer…with a face mangled beyond all recognition.”

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Inventor’s Help Line Feedback

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Double-Decker Minivan

As you pointed out, this may be a sure sell in England, but we’re afraid the resulting lawsuits would drain away any potential profits. Regular (single-decker) minivans already have a high tipping potential. The double-decker would be a top-heavy death machine, liable to blow over at the smallest gust. We’d see them rolling like tumbleweed down our highways and byways.

Sausage-Link Fence

Any purpose the fence aims to serve would be undermined by the fact that it is made of sausage links. For instance, your dog would no doubt eat his way to
freedom and neighboring dogs would eat their way in. Also, in the summer months, the aroma of sausage baking in the hot sun would likely attract buzzards. One solution would be to shellac each individual link, which would preserve the sausage and make it inedible. Another solution would be to ditch the idea altogether, which is what we recommend.

Edwardian Beachwear Line

The sunglasses versions of the monocle and pince-nez are well-designed updates on old accessories, and the flip-flop spats seem functional enough, but we
suspect that even the most discriminating individuals abandon such formalities when it comes to a day at the beach. The appeal of such a line is simply too narrow, even for a specialty catalog item, as you suggest.

Cigar-Store Cowboy

You’re being overly optimistic in thinking that any tobacconist with a wooden Indian in their shop would automatically want a wooden cowboy as a companion piece. In fact, you’re mistaken. Native Americans introduced tobacco to
Europeans, which explains the Indian’s inherent connection to cigar stores. The cowboy, on the other hand, is connected to the Indian via gunplay and bow-and-arrow battles. The presence of both a cowboy and an Indian in the same store would create a friction that would be bad for business.

Small Yellow Gift Boxes, Wrapped With A Red Ribbon, That Explode When Opened

It’s true that kids who grew up enjoying the shenanigans of Jokey Smurf would very likely be interested in this toy. But we’ve got to think of the victims rendered limbless by the young pranksters using your invention. Just because it’s funny in a cartoon doesn’t necessarily mean that it would be funny in real life. We know that you have a lot riding on this idea and that you expect to see yourself “laughing all the way to the bank” once it hits the market. But, as an aspiring inventor, it is well to remember not to put all of your eggs in one basket (or one yellow gift box), because you never know when it’s all going to blow up in your face.

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