The Average Trilogy

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PART ONE: Average Man, Average Kid, Average School

 

There are two seats facing the audience at centerstage. MAN is already sitting down when the lights go up. He mimes opening a car door. KID enters, sits next to MAN, and closes the car door.

 

MAN

Good afternoon, my average son. How was your average private school?

 

KID

It was exquisitely average.

 

MAN begins driving his car.

 

KID

I received average grades on my average chemistry test. I had run-ins with an average bully.

 

MAN

Oh no. Did you report him to your average principal?

 

KID

No, I just got into an average fight.

 

MAN

That’s not an acceptable solution. Average violence won’t solve average problems.

 

KID

I know. That’s why I finished the fight with an average punch.

 

 

MAN

You did?

 

KID

Yes. I left an average bruise on his average head. My average class started and… Dad?

 

MAN

Yes, son?

 

KID

Do I have to keep saying “average”? It’s starting to sound weird in my head.

 

MAN

Son, we are an average suburban family. Some people are ashamed of being something like that. But I say we are average, and I say it’s wonderful.

 

KID

But I don’t want to be—

 

MAN

Listen here, sport. You can call yourself normal, you can call yourself commonplace, call yourself general, ordinary, regular, standard, typical… but I did not enter an average office job for an average salary made for an average wife in an average house so I can have a kid that’s unaverage! We are normal, you hear? N-O-R-M-A-L. And if I hear anything un-normal from you, I’ll get my average belt and whip your average ass. Now tell me about your normal day!

 

KID

Fine! Where was I?

 

MAN

Ordinary class.

 

KID

Right, ordinary class. I took out my standard notebook and standard pencil. My general teacher started talking. Like normal, I started to get real bored. I stared to write my average name in different ways, all ordinary. I made standard juvenile doodles. Then I started writing an ordinary story. An ordinary story about an ordinary kid who gets ordinary bullies and gets ignored by the ordinary girls, so on one unspectacular day, he gets fed up and brings his father’s average rifle to his average school and shoots up everyone and shoots the police and the army and the whole world and I realize, wait a minute! I have my dad’s ordinary rifle in my ordinary backpack! So I stand up on my regular chair and I shout “I HATE EVERYBODY!” before blowing my general teacher’s general head into general chunks!

 

MAN

Good! See, that’s what I’m talking about. A school shooting in America, I couldn’t dream of anything more typical.

 

KID

My process included walking into one classroom at a time, shooting the most average kid I could see, then leaving. One hour later, I ended up on the standard private school rooftop. The ordinary police had chased me up there. I stated sniping people from the rival high school across the street. That high school is an average high school, but they suck and we rule.

 

MAN

I’m proud of you, son. You’re a regular school shooter. I hope you had a typical reason for inciting violence.

 

KID

(stands up)

I did! Yes sir, just commonplace isolation and sexual frustration. I barricaded the entrance to the roof and shouted to the ordinary police cars below “I’m not leaving this average roof or dropping my average gun until that standard whore Cindy Jedson sucks my average cock!”

(beat. KID thinks about what he just said, then sits down)

Actually, my penis is above average.

 

MAN

Oh, of course.

 

KID

I mean I know I’m an average teenager and all, but some things about me are more-than-normal, right?

 

MAN

That’s the usual response. Wait. You said you had a gun with you in class. How did no one notice that?

 

KID

Even if it’s an average gun in an average school?

 

MAN

And why didn’t the police perform a standard arrest on you?

 

KID

Ummmm… because school shootings and bestiality are regular topics for sophomoric, “edgy” humor that reliably produces cheap laughs?

 

MAN

Being meta is not average, son.

 

KID

Well, your mom thinks I’m above average.

 

In bed!

 

Yeah!

 

MAN

…that’s your grandma.

 

KID

FUCK!

 

 

 

 

 

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PART TWO: Man, Kid, School: Average Average Average

 

There are two seats facing the audience at centerstage. MAN is already sitting down when the lights go up. He mimes opening a car door. KID enters, sits next to MAN, and closes the car door.

 

MAN

Hey, son. How was school?

 

KID doesn’t respond. He hides his face from MAN.

MAN begins driving his car.

 

MAN

(trying to get a glimpse of his son’s face)

Have you been crying?

 

KID

I’m fine.

 

MAN

You can tell your old man. Don’t worry, I won’t get mad. Why, I remember my senior year, little Loretta Lang from the cheerleading squad kept avoiding me, I got so upset that tears-

 

KID

Dad?

 

MAN

Yes?

 

KID

If I tell you what happened today, will you tell me if it’s normal?

 

MAN

Sure, little man.

 

KID

Ok. So in history class, we were talking about school shootings in America. And Dad, please don’t get upset, because I’m never going to do anything like that. I’ll never do that. I don’t even know where you keep your bullets.

 

MAN

It’s ok, Jim. It’s ok.

 

KID

(takes a deep breath)

Our history teacher had us do a roundtable discussion so we can talk about our feelings. And this one girl talks about how she doesn’t understand why anyone could do something so evil. She’s a religious girl, so she doesn’t spend her time thinking about shooting kids and then killing yourself. She sees the good in everyone.

 

I think that’s the answer. I didn’t speak up in class, but here’s what I thought. If you’re willing to kill yourself, one of the things stopping you is your inner dignity. Knowing that you’re a good person, that fact keeps you from horrible things. So if you do something horrible— like bring a gun to school and lock the windows and wait until the middle of 10th period. You do something like that, and you’re no longer good. You finally got rid of the last excuse holding you back. You kill a good person, and there’s no goodness inside to keep you alive.

 

Am I making sense?

 

MAN

Of course.

 

KID

Is it normal to think that?

 

MAN

It’s totally average for someone your age.

(soft, forced laugh)

Puberty’s a hell of a drug.

 

The two drive in silence for a while.

 

KID

Why is that normal?

 

MAN

Why is what normal?

 

KID

Having thoughts like that. We talked about something else in history class too. If you live in a country in Africa, or you live in India, and you have schizophrenia, the voices in your head are more benign. The voices are not like that in America. They’re not like that at all. Why did we accept that as average here? I thought I wanted to be average, but now I’m starting to doubt that.

(beat)

I mean, schizophrenics don’t shoot up schools or anything. That’s just a myth. They’ll never do that.

 

MAN parks his car.

 

MAN

Jim… I’m not much of a spend-time-inside-my-head type of guy. Never was. So if I said that I know what you’re going through, I’d be lying.

(holds son’s hand)

But I do know that you’re a good person, and I love you. Now say it with me: I am a good person.

 

KID

I am a good person.

 

MAN

I am a good person.

 

KID

I am a good person.

 

MAN

I am a good person.

 

KID

I am a good person… just like everyone else.

 

FADE TO BLACK

 

 

 

 

 

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PART THREE: A Man, Ver Kid, Age School

 

There are two seats facing the audience at centerstage. MAN is already sitting down when the lights go up. He mimes opening a car door. KID enters.

MAN gives off a low, monotonous hum as the kid approaches the car.

 

KID

(as he approaches the car door, increasing his volume)

Running, running, not running, running, running, not running, running, running, run-running –ing –ing –ing –run –run –run.

 

KID sits down, closes door.

There is a silence for 10 seconds as MAN and KID stare at the audience.

 

MAN

Nearly 50 percent of U.S. adults will develop at least one mental illness during their lifetime.

 

During the pause, MAN starts driving the car.

 

MAN

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for ages 10-24.

 

KID

How does that make you feel?

 

MAN

More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease combined.

 

KID

Can we dialogue about this?

 

MAN

Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 5,240 attempts by young people grades 7-12.

 

KID

Let’s get in touch with your inner child.

 

MAN

Four out of five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs.

 

KID

/ ˈæv·rɪdʒ: noun. 1. A number expressing the central or typical value in a set of data, in particular the mode, median, or (most commonly) the mean, which is calculated by dividing the sum of the values in the set by their numbers.

 

MAN

If you’re having trouble, take a deep breath and count from 10.

 

KID

  1. The apportionment of financial liability resulting from loss of or damage to a ship or its cargo.

 

MAN

You made your mother worried sick. You know that?

 

KID

Adjective. 3.

 

MAN

You’ll laugh about all of this when you’re looking back at age 8. Sorry, I meant 80.

 

KID

Constituting the result obtained by adding together several quantities and then dividing this total by the number of quantities. Quan-ti-ties.

 

MAN

7.

 

KID

Qua-ntities. Q-uanti-es. Antique STI. U tiniest QA. Quan-tities. Quan-tities. Titties!

 

MAN slaps KID.

There is a pause.

 

KID

Quantities.

 

MAN

6.

(beat)

6.

(beat. He is waiting for KID to respond)

6.

(beat)

6.

 

KID

4.

 

Pause. MAN waits for KID to say something. Finally, MAN says something. (NOTE: the conversation keeps getting faster until KID’s final line)

 

MAN

5.5

 

KID

4.

 

MAN

5.25

 

KID

4.

 

MAN

5.125

 

KID

For years, I said that I want to be average. That I don’t want to have all these problems in my head.

 

MAN

5.0625

 

KID

But everyone’s going through these problems. Which means that there’s a conventional way of dealing with it now. A conventional way of dealing with the most fucked-up part for growing up.

 

MAN

5.003125!

 

KID

Averageness is just a state of mind. The show’s over when the lights go down, but when your life ends, it’s not the screen going black, it’s the theater imploding with you inside. I won’t become a statistic. It’s not going to end when the lights go down!

 

MAN

5.0000000001!!!

 

KID

I’m not counting higher!

 

One more count, and I’ll be dead.

 

(beat)

 

One more count, and I’ll be dead.

 

Pause.

 

MAN

Running. Running. Running. Run. Run. Run.

 

FADE TO BLACK. MAN repeats the word “run” until the lights have all gone out.

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