Rude Awakening

A short comedic play dedicated to Betsy DeVos.

SUMMARY A conference between the mother of a middle school student and the school guidance counselor goes down the rabbit hole.

SETTING A guidance counselor’s office in an overcrowded middle school

TIME Current

SET REQUIREMENTS A desk and two chairs set up to look like an office.

CHARACTERS

KAY TOWNSPITE … A mother of a “special ed” student. New to the area. New to middle school. Doesn’t want to ruffle feathers and tries to be helpful when she is nervous.

CANNABIS WELCH … A woman (can also be a man if preferable) school guidance counselor, overworked (she thinks so) always right and impatient. Appears distracted, inattentive and almost harebrained but uses selective hearing and misinformation as a martial arts form.

AT RISE …….. A middle school guidance office. CANNABIS WELCH, the counselor, sits behind a desk upon which numerous folders are stacked like a house of cards. KAY TOWSAND sits to the side, still in HER coat.

CANNABIS
Thank you so much for coming in Mrs. Townspite. I’m sorry if you were kept waiting. We are being observed by a group of French marine biologists and the entire staff is cleaning the gymnasium.

KAY
Marine Biologists! Are they coming to look at the science fair?

CANNABIS
Now wouldn’t that have been a good idea! Missed it. Shoot.

KAY
Oh, I’m sorry. Were you being sarcastic?

CANNABIS
Absolutely not. I don’t believe in sarcasm any more than elves. I meant of course, that I question the existence of elves, not the extent to which elves do or do not believe in sarcasm, which of course, we have no way of knowing. But no, no one thought of the science fair.

KAY
Then may I ask why they are visiting here?

CANNABIS
Absolutely. The aquarium is closed on Mondays. That’s all I know, really. So what can I do for you?

KAY
You emailed me about my son, Def. You said it was very important that come in immediately. (taking out HER smart phone, scrolling) But at the end you said there’s no rush. Confusing, you know?

CANNABIS
(glancing through folders) Absolutely. Jeff, you said?

KAY
No, Def. With a “D.” and one F. Like the abbreviation for definitely in texting. And slang for “cool” “Yo, I got da hook-up at this def new club.” Def Comedy Jam? 
(CANNABIS is looking at papers) 
Perhaps you remember Def Lepard, the band with the one-armed drummer?

CANNABIS
Of course. 7th grade team, leopards. Team leader, Steve Apple.

KAY
Def is in the 6th grade on the Panthers team, Bobby Seale, team leader.

CANNABIS
Absolutely. How is he finding school?

KAY
Well, he’s not refusing to go. But he seems discouraged. I think there’s a lot going on that he’s not telling me

CANNABIS
I meant, does he have a GPS or ride a special yellow bus?

KAY
We live around the corner.

CANNABIS
No matter (consults folder) Does he tantrum at home?

KAY
(peering over to see papers) I think maybe you are referring to tantric. Tantric yoga?

CANNABIS
Absolutely. Wise to practice a protective discipline

KAY
It’s about being open and receptive — attuned to others. Why would he even need to be protective?

CANNABIS
Well he is in school. I can’t really say beyond that. But I meant prophylactic.

KAY
He isn’t active, that way. Perhaps you are thinking of kundalini yoga?

CANNABIS
Mrs. Littlehazard. I am not thinking about yoga. I am thinking about your son.

KAY
I am thinking this is a big school and we are new. Perhaps you do not know him?

CANNABIS
I’ve actually met with Greg several times.

KAY
My son’s name is Def. Greg is my husband’s name. Were you thinking of him perhaps?

CANNABIS
Is there a reason I should be thinking of your husband?

KAY
Well, no. But you just said that you met with Greg, who is my husband, not my son.

CANNABIS
Let’s put all our cards on the table. This way we can see who’s playing with a full deck. It will likely be a rude awakening. (Leaning in for the kill) Your son has been absent 38 times.

KAY
That makes no sense. School started just this September.

CANNABIS
No ma’am. School started in August.

KAY
I must have been asleep. You’d think it begins after Labor Day like everywhere else. No wonder everyone else seemed so much further along. I thought I was being paranoid.

CANNABIS
You see what happens when you jump to conclusions before waking up? Let’s try to focus on Greg.

KAY
Def.

CANNABIS
Absolutely. In addition to truancy, Greg is having trouble following orders. He is not paying attention. He does not seem to be retaining information given in class. He is having trouble controlling his many frustrations.

KAY
That just doesn’t sound like him.

CANNABIS
(consulting dossier) He flaps his arms, makes shadow puppets with his hands, and bangs his fists on his desk and grunts, often when the teacher is speaking. Gregory is more extreme than your typical ADHD kid.

KAY
That’s a bit like comparing apples to oranges. What do his interpreters say?

CANNABIS
Let’s steer away from foreign policy and produce. His words are garbled and slow and his voice is atonal. He needs speech pathology intervention and possibly maxillofacial surgery. He sounds like a retard.

KAY
I can’t believe you just said that. Someone pinch me. 
(CANNABIS pinches HER arm visibly hard) 
Owww!!!

CANNABIS
I warned you, rude awakening. He aggressively pushes past other students to sit up front, even though he’s the tallest in the class.

KAY
Everywhere else, he’s been assigned to a seat front row and center.

CANNABIS
Well, Ma’am Van Winkle, here he is too disruptive and disturbing. Is he on any anti-psychotic meds?

KAY
Are you?

CANNABIS
Absolutely. You might want to look into that yourself. Along with a mood stabilizer. Bipolarism goes hand in hand with ADHD.

KAY
I see what’s wrong here. There’s been a mix-up. Def is not ADHD.

CANNABIS
We are not our disabilities and you may dislike the label and the stigma that goes with it. However-

KAY
(interrupting, loudly) Def is deaf and the arm flapping and hand puppets, as I recall your putting it, is sign language. The fist pounding, I can only imagine is understandable frustration and maybe even despair.

CANNABIS
How long has he been in bereavement?

KAY
I’m not sure what you’re getting out.

CANNABIS
For his dad.

KAY

Whose dad?

CANNABIS
I see where he gets his denial. Gregory’s dead father.

KAY
Greg’s dad, my father in law, is not dead. There has been a terrible mistake. Perhaps because we did not start school on time. My son, Def, his name an ironic coincidence, cannot hear.

CANNABIS
Symbolically, perhaps. Metaphorically speaking.

KAY
Speaking anything, he can’t hear it. He sits up front to read the teacher’s lips.

CANNABIS
That’s disgusting

KAY
Oh my god. You’re crazy.

CANNABIS
(sniffs and wipes at eyes with a hankie) Just because you are a widow doesn’t give you license to be unkind. I am not the problem here.

KAY
(snatching the report) Gimme that IEP. Here’s the problem. It says ADHD. It should say deaf. (using manual alphabet) D-E-A-F.

CANNABIS
I hear you. I am changing it as we speak. Deaf. Let’s scratch that pesky ADHD.

KAY
He’s probably scarred for life. I should go to the principal and complain.

CANNABIS
Talk about falling on deaf ears. I will personally make sure that Greg gets a hearing-aid implant. I need a drink. Is it 5 pm yet?

KAY
10:30 AM and Def doesn’t wear a hearing aid.

CANNABIS
Be that way. Well then, wheel chair.

KAY
He can walk perfectly well.

CANNABIS
Bless his healed heart. How about a Stephen Hawking voice simulator and glasses?

KAY
The glasses, we could use. That could save us something like $1700.

CANNABIS
We have our own labs.

KAY
Are they as good as Costco’s?

CANNABIS
Absolutely. Our labs are better than any guide dogs, period. They can sniff out drugs, weapons, lying, pre-cancerous growths, homosexuality and deliver brandy faster than a Saint Bernard.

KAY
We don’t need a Catholic Seeing Eye doc. We have a cat.

CANNABIS
Absolutely. How about a glass of wine?

KAY
And a lawyer.

CANNABIS
An IEP with provisions that he receives free therapy services from any provider of your choice and he will be the school valedictorian.

KAY
Front row seating every class and assembly. And I want his record wiped clean.

CANNABIS
I am shredding it as we speak.

KAY
And an admission of culpability with a heartfelt apology.

CANNABIS
Absolutely. (SHE shreds and hums.)

KAY
I’m waiting. 
(CANNABIS’S phone rings.)

CANNABIS
Hello? Yes, I am familiar with her. She is correct. She is not supposed to be on the yellow bus. I don’t care what her friends said. That’s not Tourette’s. She is supposed to be jumping when she practices her cheers. Yes, I’m sure. Because she’s my daughter. Still there? Listen, I have a brilliant idea. Send everyone to the science fair until lunch. I’m finishing up with a parent who has an absolutely brilliant son, he’ll be valedictorian in a couple of years, mark my words. Absolutely. Glad you checked. It is a lot of responsibility for a student teacher. Bye.
(to KAY)
 Sorry to keep you waiting, again. With so many students with so many special needs, I’m sorry to tell you that you are not alone in feeling — misappropriated. You look rattled. That’s typical at first, getting acclimated after a nap. How about we seal our new deal with a mimosa, Ms. Van Winkle?

KAY, still standing, deliberates as the lights fade to black.

BLACK OUT