Driveway Theater had its world premiere in the Midwestern suburbs on May 21, 2013 under the direction of absolutely no one. Soundtrack by Sheryl Crow, for no particular reason except that no one bothered to change the music and it happened to be playing.
Morning. A driveway somewhere in the Midwestern suburbs where a woman and two teenagers, a boy of about 18 years and a girl, who is 15, are approaching a small black sedan, which is parked slightly askew. The woman's hair and clothes are also slightly askew and she has the air of someone who is trying to remember something. It is the very last time the three of them will ever be in the car together on the way to school. But she doesn't realize this until later. In fact, until just this second, as she is typing this sentence.
Girl: Can I drive?
Boy: No. You'd just have to switch drivers a mile away. It makes no sense
Girl: How come you let him make all the decisions?
Woman:(starts to speak)
Boy: Who parks like this? When are you going to learn to park?
Woman:(starts to answer)
Boy: Why are we leaving so early? School doesn't even start for 40 minutes. Why do you always let her decide when to leave?
ACT I, Scene Two
Interior of car. Woman behind the wheel. Boy in the passenger seat. Girl in back.
Woman:(addresses boy) So what would you like to eat at your graduation party?
Boy: I don't know. Food.
Girl: Spell his name out in pancakes.
Woman: Oh. Remember when I did that? Do you want me to spell your name out in pancakes?
Boy: You did that for her. That wasn't for me.
Girl: You never spelled my name out in pancakes. How come you never spelled my name out in pancakes?
Driveway of suburban high school, five minutes later. The girl has just exited the car, but the boy is still seated in the passenger seat, flipping through a copy of Wired magazine and making no move to get out. It is the last day of his senior year.
Boy: Why are we here so early? The doors aren't even open yet.
Woman: Someone just went in.
Boy:(looks up briefly before returning to his magazine.) They were buzzed in.
Woman:(reading over his shoulder from the driver's seat) Zombies are getting faster. I knew it.
Boy: I hate when they do stories like that. It's just silly.
Woman: I read that magazine for stories like that. (Pulls her wallet from her purse and pauses to choose from between denominations of currency.) Is $10 enough?
Boy: Maybe. (He takes the money but still does not get out of the car.)
Woman: Don't forget to pick up your graduation tickets.
Woman:(sighs.) Here. At the school. They sent out an e-mail, which I printed and taped to the refrigerator door three days ago.
Boy: Can you just text it to me?
Woman: Why would I text it to you? You are already here. At the school. Where the tickets actually are. Why don't you just ask someone inside? You know, where the tickets are.
Boy:(looks at her as if she has just suggested something ridiculous.) Where are you going right now? Just go home, read the note on the refrigerator and then text it to me.
Woman:(Opens mouth to speak, but then changes her mind. Boy exits.)
Later that same morning, same suburban driveway, same car, same woman behind the wheel. A man dressed for work and carrying a briefcase gets into the passenger seat with the air of someone who is trying to remember something. No one speaks. The woman fumbles briefly with the iPod connected to the car's speakers, trying to figure out what song was playing earlier during the conversation about pancakes, zombies and graduation tickets. Some song she hasn't heard in forever. Not that you could call it a conversation. She backs out of the driveway, listening, which she knows is a mistake. A half mile away, the man exits. He does not notice she is crying, or maybe she just has something in her eye?
She returns to the house, walks into the kitchen and pulls a note from the refrigerator door. Picks up her phone and begins to text:
"Seniors will pick up caps, gowns, honor tassels and commencement ceremony tickets in the Commons at Door A."
I've had to work for it before, but I never thought I'd see the day when I had to compete with a bag of shredded tree bark. That's like one step above dirt.
Men in the Midwestern suburbs can't get enough of it.
But how to work it into your repertoire without all the mess and the splinters? Is it enough to just smell like a freshly opened bag of cedar chips? Does anyone even make a push-up gardening bra? These are the kinds of questions nobody at Home Depot seems to have considered.
Let's look at the options:
1. Yard work-themed dirty talk
Drawbacks: Not as easy as it sounds. Is that an invasive species or are you just happy to see me?
2. Offer to let him try out his landscaping skills on you.
Drawbacks: Not as sexy as it sounds. Potential for nicks, cuts, aesthetic differences.
3. Sex on the lawn
Drawbacks: Kind of a cliché. Also, frowned upon by some neighborhood associations, so you have to begin by reading the bylaws. Kind of a mood killer.
4. Offer to weed in exchange for sexual favors.
Drawbacks: You'll feel like a hoe. (Insert groan here.)
5. Threaten to begin off-site landscaping
Drawbacks: Please. Like you're going to have any better luck in the neighbor's yard.
Photo: Mulch Ado about Nothing, by Victoria's Secret
Call me a crank, but I'm skeptical when people tell me I'm going to miss stuff like this when the boy goes off to college in the fall.
It would be like getting sentimental about diaper changes or melted crayons in the back seat of the car or that time when he bit you because you wouldn't let go of his hand in the store or how he used to insist on carrying around that giant stuffed panda he could barely get his arms around and then he'd expect you to carry him and the panda and you would of course, because it was kind of adorable even though you could barely see where you were going over the top of that stupid smelly bear, which he called "pamba" in that little voice and oh god, I wonder what became of that bear?