Anticipa…

(scene opens in cluttered kitchen, conversation in progress)

Me: I’m really sorry they’re moving. I wanted to hang out with him more and make fun of each other.

Beta: (attempting to be witty) You’re bald! (crickets) And I’m out! (turns to leave)

Husband: Beta, come here.

Beta: (nervously edges toward the door room) No!

Husband: I said come here. (crosses room)

Beta: (whimpers)

(Husband embraces Beta gently, pats him on the back)

Husband: Sorry I missed your concert tonight. I heard you did a great job.

Beta: (confused, whimpers again) What just happened?

Husband: (lets him go, picks up tea mug, smiles)

Me: Good night, Beta.

Beta: (edges out of the room, slightly panicky) I don’t know what’s going on.

Me: (sotto voce) There is nothing he can do to you that is worse than your own imagination.

Husband: (smug humming)

Please hold, your call is important to us.

(scene opens in cluttered dining room Beta sitting next to Carrot at the table)

Me: The reason you’re failing is that you’re not turning in your work. That’s it. You’re passing all your tests. Just turn in the goddamn work.

(Husband approaches the table)

Husband: (in calm receptionist voice) Thank you for calling Parent Phone. Press 1 if you want to be yelled at by Dad. Press 2 if you want to be yelled at by mom. Press 3 if you want a vague sense of parental disappointment.

(pause)

Beta: What does four….

Husband: (yelling) I TOLD YOU IF YOU WANTED TO BE YELLED AT BY DAD YOU PRESS 1! DO YOU EVEN LISTEN?

Carrot: (puts head down and laughs)

Beta: What’s wrong with you?

Carrot: (crying) I’m blogging that and you can’t stop me.

Joke Grenade

(scene opens in cluttered dinning room)

Beta: Mom, I’m a failure.

Me: (caught typing, pauses) What?

Beta: I’m a failure. Remember the whole step-joke?

Me: Yeah?

Beta: I just figured out why it’s called a step-ladder. It’s a ladder. With steps.

Me: (covers face with hands) Oh god. Oh god, you’re kidding me.

Beta: Yeah. Sorry. Are you disappointed in me?

Me: (laughs in unbelievable are you serious) Maybe a little.

Poker Face

(scene opens in cluttered dining room)

Beta: (describing the gear needed for Welding class)

Me: (looks up from computer at Husband) So…now we’re buying him boots?

Husband: Something like Timberlands. Heavy duty work boots.

Me: (turns to Beta) Are you going to wear them all day?

Beta: No, they’ll stay in my locker.

Me: Finally using your locker? Glad someone knows what a locker is.

Beta: I have a locker in my welding classroom. I don’t use my real locker.

Husband: Only use your step-locker?

Me: (absentmindedly) What are you doing, step-locker?

Husband: (whips around to stare at Carrot)

Beta: (points at Carrot, yelling) NO!

Husband: (whips around to stare at Beta)

Me: Ha-ha. Outted you.

Beta: (flames bright red)

Husband: You’d better go to bed.

(Beta flees, stage left)

Husband: (to Carrot now laughing helplessly) I think this makes you the bad parent.

Carrot: (wipes tears) I’m okay with that.

Well, you asked.

(scene opens in mini-van)

Beta: I think Dad jokes aren’t funny. I bet mom jokes are funny. Mom, tell us a joke.

Me: (wearily) I’m well rested.

Husband: (uproariously laughter behind the wheel)

Me: (takes cue) My children are well behaved.

Husband: (increased laughing) Oh my god! That’s hilarious! I’m laughing so hard I’m crying!

Me: I never have to yell at them to do homework.

Husband: (booming fake stage laughter) It’s too much! Stop! I’m going to have to pull over if you keep going!

Me: My house is clean.

Husband: (pulls over to side of the road, puts head down on steering wheel, hysterical fake laughter)

(cut scene to four kids and a dog staring flatly at the front seat)

Beta: I’m sorry I said anything.

Husband: (to Carrot) Dear, that was wonderful. You should do stand-up.

Funny Because True

(scene opens in rainy dining room)

Beta: (shuffles up groggy) Did you get your other cards?

Me: (sips coffee) Yes.

Beta: (hands over pink envelope) I went to the store, looked at cards for ten seconds and decided this was the one.

Me: Oh boy.

Husband: (from kitchen) Thanks for getting me in trouble, Beta!

Me: He’s not wrong!

Here’s the wind up…

(scene opens in dim kitchen)

Gamma: Look at that chonky squirrel! I want a squirrel as a pet!

Husband: (looks out window) Eh, you can’t really have a squirrel for a pet. They’re not domesticated animals.

Gamma: Can I domesticate it?

Husband: You could tame one, but that’s different than domesticating.

Me: (looks up from making coffee) I don’t know how many generations it takes to domesticate something. Gamma, what you really want is to make some Crow Friends.

Gamma: How do you do that?

Me: Well, you need to feed them, but there are so many squirrels here, you’d need to call them to the yard first and then feed them.

Gamma: (skeptical) How do we do that?

Me: You can get a Crow Call on the internet.

Gamma: (skepticism deepens) A Crow Call?

Husband: Yeah! A Crow Call. Watch. (cups hands, leans towards window) HEY CROW! COME HERE CROW!

Gamma: (stares)

Me: (closes eyes) Seriously.

Husband: (laughs himself silly) I’m helpy!

We Brought it on Ourselves

(scene opens in cluttered dinning room)

Husband: (enters from kitchen) Hey, did you hear what Niece K wants to be when she grows up? (opens up laptop)

Me: (typing, doesn’t look up) I already made the reference and he didn’t get it.

(Husband plays Dentist Song from Little Shop of Horrors)

(Boys watch in WTF)

Alpha: What the hell was that?

Husband: A song from a movie.

Beta: What kind of movie has a song about a dentist hurting people?!

Husband: A movie about a plant. A talking plant. That eats people.

Beta: (pauses) It is not. You’re lying.

Me: He’s not. It was a play called Little Shop of Horror, they turned it into a movie. The the plant talks and is called Audrey Two.

Beta: (stares) You are both totally lying to me.

Me: (starts laughing) It does sound like something we’d lie about.

Husband: I wouldn’t believe me either.

Old joke is old

(Scene opens in dim cluttered dinning room)

Me: (typing furiously on laptop)

Beta: (bounces into the room) Mom! I have a joke for you!

Me: (internal sigh) Shoot.

Beta: You have to look at me!

Me: (sags a little, looks up) Shoot.

Beta: (smugly, holds up fingers in a V) I’m a Roman and I’m ordering five beers!

Me: (raises eyebrows, hold up fingers in shape of an L) Fifty bucks? Really?

Beta: (confused) No, see I was…wait…what?

Me: The letter “V” stands for five but the letter “L” stands for fifty.

Beta: (pouts and tries not to smile) No fair, mom.

Me: I might have heard that one before.

As long as we’re laughing

(scene opens in tossed parlor)

Me: (holding hair tie between gritted teeth) Gamma, stop moving or brushing your hair will be more painful.
Gamma: (ridiculous suffering)
Beta: (stomping down the stairs, snuffling loudly)
Me: Beta, go upstairs and brush your teeth.
Beta: (sighs in busted, turns around to go back up, snuffling loudly)
Me: (calls after him) And blow your nose!
Husband: (looking around for his gear) And do a little dance.
Me: And make a little love!
Husband: Hey Beta! Get down tonight!
Beta: (off screen) I’m not talking to you guys!
Gamma: You guys make no sense.

In Jokes Make Everything Better

(cut scene-flashback, opens in foyer of Universal Studios hotel, two people having a conversation)

Me: (quietly) Beta, you’ve been talking about food all day.
Beta: I’m hungry all day.
Me: (epiphany moment) Beta, do you eat your feelings?
Beta: (serious face) Yeah. (dork face) Its because they’re so delicious.
Me: (letting it go, talks for other times) Well, its because you put cheese on them.

(flash forward, six people in parked van, most red eyed from crying)

Everyone: (collectively mired in personal misery and sorrow)
Husband: (reaches out, touches wife’s arm gently to get attention, mimes eating)
Me: (nods, collects self, sits up straighter, calls over shoulder) Beta? Do you want to go put cheese on our feelings?
Beta: That’d be great.
Me: (waves to husband to work the car machine)
Gamma: Why are we putting cheese on our feelings?
Husband: I think we’re getting something to eat.

Not a Rickroll

(scene opens at dinner table)

Beta: My music teacher told me that I needed to watch 4:33.
Me: (processing) What?
Beta: 4:33. Both he and the orchestra teacher were laughing about it. It’s a music video.
Me: Oh! Yes. (starts laughing) Of course we can watch it. (calls up the orchestral version of John Cage’s 4’33)

(minute goes by)

Gamma: When are they going to start playing?
Beta: For real. They’re just sitting there.

(second minute goes by)

Beta: I don’t get it. Why is this funny?
Gamma: They’re not playing.

(third minute goes by)

Gamma: This is boring! Where’s the music?!
Beta: (extreme suffering) I don’t get it! Tell me why this is so funny!
Me: (calls up the sheet music for 4’33)
Beta: (incredulous) Rests. The whole thing is rests. Why the hell would anyone write a piece of just rests!? And why wouldn’t anyone think that’s funny?
Me: (starts giggling)