Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Monologue Mania Day # 1449 Making the Grade by Janet S. Tiger (c) Feb. 1, 2018

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Monologue Mania Day # 1449 Making the Grade by Janet S. Tiger (c) Feb. 1, 2018  

                                             Making the Grade                                         (originally Day Job)
                                            By Janet S. Tiger
                                    © Jan. 31, 2018 all rights reserved

Characters –

       PROFESSOR LEVINSON – male,  60s, Medium European accent

       BRETT – his student-  male, late teens – early 20s, very drunk

Setting –

      Professor Levinson’s college office, night

          (Late night, an American college.  Professor Levinson’s office, messy.  He
is grading papers, it's late, his cell phone rings)

LEVINSON -  (Thick accent) Yes, dear, I’m almost through.  No, dear, I prefer
grading here, as always, it’s quiet, no distractions.  I’ll be home when I’ve finished them all….(a little sad)….no, I won’t stay to work on the novel……

         (Brett appears at the door, slightly bombed, with a bottle.  Levinson
looks up, not surprised)

LEVINSON – I have to go dear….. lots to do…….I’ll call when I’m done.

BRETT-  (Midwest accent)  So, have you graded my test yet?

LEVINSON -  I'm not sure.....what's your name?

BRETT - I knew don't know who I am!

LEVINSON -  I have four classes, with 100 students in each at the beginning....

BRETT -  Yeah, but there's only twenty left at the end!

LEVINSON – (Ignores the insult)  Still, 400 to start, then 80 to remember, a lot of
names to a lot of faces....I gave up the name game long ago.....

       (Brett snorts and Levinson looks at him)

LEVINSON -  But I do know who you're the young man in my 2pm who sits
in the back and is watching his phone throughout the class...

BRETT -  Not true!  I give you five minutes, then I give up!  History is mind-numbing

LEVINSON -  Don’t look now, but you are part of history.  Tonight is part of history. If
my grandparents hadn’t escaped from the Nazis, we wouldn’t be having this little
chat.  Don’t you see….history from the past is the foundation of us now.  Do you look at the bottom of your house and say, I don't like the sand, the dirt, it's boring?  Do you say that?  Do you think that?

BRETT -  I don't think about anything at all!

LEVINSON -  I won't argue.

BRETT -  The foundation!  What a crock!  Who cares what anyone did a million years

LEVINSON -  I do.  Just as I care about the foundation of my home, whether my
house will stand  strong through storms and other trials, I care whether the foundation of my community, my country soul, has those same strengths, whether or not we will survive the trials of this era, which are always many....You didn’t live through times like World War II, so you have no idea how bad things can get……history DOES repeat itself…

BRETT -  You just love to talk, don't you?

LEVINSON -  Actually, I do love to talk, have since I was a boy, that’s one reason I
became a professor……they wanted me to be a rabbi, but because I loved to talk too much, there was some objection…..from the other rabbis!……but I also NEED to grade these papers, for the few attending who care what they get on their test, on their report cards, on their lives......

BRETT-  Well, I don't care.....because, this is my last test.

         (He takes out a gun, the LEVINSON looks and puts down the pen)

LEVINSON -  If you plan on killing me, I can assure you, that will not improve your

BRETT -  Amazing!  All you can think about is you!  I'm not gonna kill YOU.......

          (He holds the gun to his head)

LEVINSON -  Well, that is one way of avoiding the finals.

          (The BRETT puts down the gun and laughs)

BRETT -  Always with the stupid jokes.....

LEVINSON -  That wasn't a joke.....I was agreeing with your plan to have this as your
last test, although I would prefer you go elsewhere, as having to clean up the mess will involve delaying  the test grading......

BRETT-  Do you understand what is happening here?  Do you have any clue?

LEVINSON – Of course I do.  You’re here to annoy me and I’m not going to let you do it.

BRETT -  God!  It’s like you …you can’t deviate from the path! 

 LEVINSON -  Each life has a path….this is mine.  You have to choose yours.

BRETT-  Yeah - to be born, to be bored, to die!

LEVINSON -  Each to his own.

BRETT -  So what am I supposed to do?  Live what you want from me?

LEVINSON -  And what is it exactly that you want from me?  Sympathy?  A tear or
two?  The begging for you not to kill yourself?  How would that help me or my life?  Do you think that I.. …me....the professor you hate the most in the class you hate the most...that I could in some way influence not kill yourself in a drunken stupor?  And that this convincing would have any positive outcome on the rest of your life?  
How foolish!  How unthinking!  How …..meshugah!

BRETT -  What?

LEVINSON -  Meshugah means crazy….maybe you’re not crazy, just stupid.

BRETT - (Furious)  Are you calling me crazy AND stupid?

LEVINSON -  If you listened, which I know you can if you wanted, but you always
choose not to.....if you listened, I said what you are doing is stupid ……

(Brett holds the gun to his head, Levinson goes to the table and sits)

BRETT -  But I'm going to do it!  For real!  

LEVINSON-  In that case, I'm going to try and grade one more paper.....if you do
shoot, please go over there so the blood won't spatter on these papers.  I doubt the other students would like that)

(As the LEVINSON proceeds grade the next paper, Brett tries to figure out what to do)

LEVINSON -  (Looking up)  Oh, please, what is your name?

BRETT -  Hastings.....Brett......

           (Levinson makes a note)

LEVINSON -  Thank you......if you go through with it, then I won’t have to grade your paper....

BRETT -  Unfucking believable!

LEVINSON -  I would appreciate if you would refrain from language like that.....

BRETT – Amazing! (Imitates the accent)  ‘Refrain from language like that’ - you care
more about the damned language than about what happens to another human being!

LEVINSON -  (Quiet)  And why should I care about you when you don't care about yourself?

             (Brett sits heavily, the arm holding the gun drops it, and he begins to cry)

BRETT - (In anguish)   I do care!  Too much! I wanna quit this place and never come

LEVINSON -  Then leave.

BRETT -  It's not so easy!

LEVINSON -  Oh, but it usually is.......

BRETT-  But I don't wanna quit!  I wanna finish this, but I just can't stand it!

               (The LEVINSON stands now and takes off his coat)

LEVINSON -  That reminds me of something from when I was a boy, back in New
York, there was a song my parents taught me that my friends and I performed for the school one talent night....

              (He dances throughout this next song)

LEVINSON -  (Like Jimmy Durante) Did ya ever get the feeling that you wanted to
go.....and then you got the feeling that you wanted to stay.....

              (He almost falls, stops as Brett laughs)

LEVINSON - We weren't very good then either. I suppose time has not improved my
stage abilities.....

BRETT -  All I wanna do is my music….that’s all….but my parents, they just want me to get some
dumb degree so I ca……TEACH music!  My dad said I need a …a day job! They think I’m a slacker…..but I’m not!  I play every day, practice for hours!  And all they want is……

LEVINSON  - (Cuts him off)  Excuse me, but I tried to make it clear, that I do not care
what YOU want, so, by inference, I hope you realize I care even less about your parents and     what they think……

BRETT-  How do you do that?  Not care!

LEVINSON -  It’s easy.  I make a choice WHAT to care about….my family, my synagogue, my
friends, my daughter… grandchildren……You, and all your nameless compatriots mean nothing to me because you choose to mean nothing to yourselves…I cannot fix you and I will not even attempt to try!  You need to do this work yourself… get help if you want….

BRETT -  Help from who?  That’s why I came to you!

LEVINSON -  (Laughs)  You came to me for help?  You didn’t come in to any of my
open door sessions on any week….you didn’t tell me that you were having trouble…..why should I help you if you can’t help yourself!  And don’t ask me where….there’s a counselor on campus, and there is a hospital not two miles from here……I don’t recommend driving as you are very inebriated…..

BRETT -  Will you take me?

LEVINSON -  Of course not!  I have work to do…..

BRETT -  Amazing!  You’re like a super-hero of ‘I don’t give a shit…!’

LEVINSON -  Come now, with your phone, you can call one of those Uber things and
you’re all set…..

            (Brett sits heavily, takes out his phone, looks at it, does nothing)

LEVINSON -  It’s your life, it’s your choice……I have work to do…..

             (Levinson sits and begins grading another paper, Brett stares at
him, then walks for a moment, picks up the gun, looks at it, looks at Levinson, who ignores him.  Brett puts down the gun and takes his phone, punches in some directions)

BRETT -  There’s someone nearby, I can be picked up in a coupla minutes…….

               (Levinson shrugs, continues to grade)

BRETT -  Amazing!

(He punches the buttons, puts the phone in his pocket, Levinson looks up)

LEVINSON -  If you’re going….for help I presume…..there is one thing…

BRETT-  You’re gonna wish me good luck?

LEVINSON -  Oh no!  Not that!
BRETT -  Why am I not surprised…

LEVINSON -  You came here with a gun….. In spite of all the guns in this country….
some in the administration might find that to be ….unpleasant.   And I…I do not want attention for this ….attention of any kind….so if I do not mention your firearm…..I would appreciate your not mentioning it…..or that you brought it here……just skip this whole evening and I will, too….

BRETT -  (Surprised but relieved)  You’d do that for me?

LEVINSON – Do not flatter yourself….this is not for you…..I do not want attention for
this….attention of any kind….are we in agreement? 

BRETT -  And if I tell?

LEVINSON -  Then you will be in jail…..possibly expelled, as there is a no-gun rule
on this campus.  Again, your choice.

BRETT-  (Thinking)  Maybe….maybe you’re right…

LEVINSON-  Of course I’m right…..but that doesn’t mean others are wrong… is
very    strange that way…… I wanted to be a writer, write a great novel……that’s why I have a ...what you call a ‘day job’ which has enabled me to raise a family…..own an automobile and a house……

BRETT -  What about your novel?

            (The professor pulls a briefcase up from behind the desk)

LEVINSON -  I have been working on it ….longhand of course….for 35 years
42 different drafts…..(sighs heavily)……293  rejection letters..

BRETT -  (Under his breath)  And I bet they all said it was boring…..

            (The professor ignores him, drops the briefcase behind the desk)

LEVINSON -  But tonight, your interruption will probably make it impossible to write anything!

BRETT -  (Sheepish)  I’m sorry, this was probably a little upsetting….

LEVINSON -  Do I look upset?  Your intrusion cost me my precious writing time!  You
have no idea how valuable time is!  And you were going to take all your time – and some of mine           with it!  I am not upset!  I am ANNOYED!  But I’ll get over it……and so will you…..

            (A beeping comes from the phone)
BRETT -  They’re here……

LEVINSON -  Not a minute too soon…..

             (Brett shakes his head, turns to leave, stops, looks back)

BRETT -  Aren’t you gonna give me a hug or something?

               (The professor looks horrified, Brett laughs)

LEVINSON  -  I will give you this…..

               (He takes a test from the desk and hands it to the BRETT)

BRETT -  But I thought you said you weren’t going to grade this……it would be a waste
of time if I killed myself….

LEVINSON -  But you didn’t and I did …..grade it……. You got a B minus…..with just
a little work, it would have been an A.

              (Brett takes the test, he is touched, the professor holds out his hand to shake)

LEVINSON -  Good luck.

BRETT -  Thank you.

          (The phone beeps, and Brett takes the gun and puts it in his pocket, turns to leave)

LEVINSON – Oh, one last thing….

BRETT – Yes…sir.

LEVINSON-  Don’t ever do this again!  And if you do, please choose another professor!

             (Brett shakes his head and leaves and the professor works for a moment, then goes to the
door, locks it, and takes a deep breath, holds his head in his hands, shaking, he looks up)

LEVINSON -  (Heartfelt)  Thank you, God!  I got to save one life – so I guess, I got to save the
whole world tonight!

(He then goes to where Brett left the bottle and takes a big swig.  His cell phone rings)

LEVINSON -  (Getting hold of himself)  No, my dear…..I’m just about finished for the     night……what?  My voice sounds funny?  I just had a little drink that’s
all……Nothing exciting……nothing exciting ever happens when grading papers, does it?  ……I’ll be home soon…..yes, dear, I love you, too….

           (He puts the phone into his pocket, goes to the desk, is about to leave, when
he takes the last drink from the bottle.  He lifts the briefcase with the novel, hugs it to himself, starts to leave, then stops suddenly, sits down.  He looks at the door, then the bottle, smiles, and opens the briefcase, takes out paper.   Lights dim as he starts to write.)

LEVINSON -  (Writing)  New title – The day I saved the world……The professor was grading
papers when the young man entered the classroom……

(He leans back his head and smiles, looks at the paper and now continues to write furiously.    Blackout. The end)


Note: A few words about 'free' -  all these monologues are protected under copyright law and are free to read, free to perform and video as long as no money is charged. Once you charge admission or a donation, or include my work in an anthology, you need to contact me for royalty 

Janet S. Tiger    858-736-6315      
Member Dramatists Guild since 1983

Swedenborg Hall 2006-8

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