"Thoughts from a Watsekan" or "Smirnoff in One Hand, Bowling
Ball in the Other"
"Hi, my name is Roger and I'm a toaster-holic. Meaning of course, I habitually fix my thirty-nine toasters with a fork while they are still plugged in. Of course, they aren't all fixed at the same time. I only have nine fingers. (My son Bucky bit the tenth when I taught him how to fix his toaster at age 8 months. It had to be amputated.) I am the father of two, and husband of one. My wife, Shirley has been henpecking me since 1939, when I took her to the Crescent City-Beaverville Bowling Tournament for our honeymoon. Don't know why she didn't like it, I thought it was quite interesting when Harry MacAfee used some child named Randolph as a bowling ball. As children, Bucky and Becky both developed a taste for Bing Crosby LPs. They didn't care for his singing, but certainly thought those 33 1/3s tasted swell. My brother Bob also lives with us on Kubelsky Lane. Bob, is, uh, well he...Bob eats. Excessively. He also hasn't worked in three years. He always says,"Working isn't socialist," or something like that. For many years I was employed at the Hassler Paperclip Factory. I was Mr. Hassler's righthand man. I don't believe he had a first name. After I found out he was sending defective paperclips to Waukegan and Walla-Walla, I started my own toaster factory by-day/cocktail lounge by night. At Fat Jack's Bowling Alley, I am Snook's Toaster Factory Schmucks star player. For some odd reason, I seem to be a target for those city swindlers. I guess it's because I always yearned to be one myself. If I could only be like my hero, Jack Benny. Then I would have my own vault full of Russian currency, just in case the Soviets win the Cold War. Also, maybe I'd be able to keep a nickel in my palm longer than you can say "I like Ike." Oh well, we can't all be perfect. After all, Waukegan doesn't have enough room for everyone. As Paul Lynde said, 'Follow the virtues of the Constitution and not the vices of restitution.' Or something like that."
This is just the introduction to Peoria Heights High's new play. Once again David Mast and James Darnell are paired up (last year as business partners and the year before with David as James's father). It is obvious that these two play well off of each. They play the brothers, Roger and Bob Snook. Bob tries to swindle money out of Roger for him and his Commie friends, while Cousin Ben tries doing the same. Then somehow Jack Benny ends up in Watseka. To see how it ends up, come see Toasters, Commies, and Bowling Balls: OH MY!
And here is a snippet from my play. I play Roger, an intelligent but naive toaster maker. My brother Bob is trying to con me into giving him money to buy
downtown Moscow in 1956.
ROGER: Alright! I'll do it! Shirley will be proud of me, I bet. I'll open my safe, just as soon as I roll a couple bowling balls out on the driveway!
BOB: Bowling balls... on the driveway? What for?
ROGER: Why, for luck of course. I never spend any money without rolling a couple bowling balls on the driveway! Throw me my bowling bag, Bob!
(Bob picks up the bag, throws it too high, and it hits Roger...he falls to the ground)
BOB: Roger! Are you alright? Roger! Speak to me!
ROGER: Oh my head. (long pause) Where's Rochester? Oh Rochester?
BOB: Rochester? This is Watseka, IL, you booby! Rochester is in New York state!
ROGER: Not the city of course. My valet...you know who Rochester is. Who are you, anyhow? You look a little like Don Wilson...but...oh, forget it. Rochester! Oh Rochester!
BOB: Stop that! Quit talking that nonsense and get up to the safe...open it, for goodness' sake!
ROGER: My safe? (classic JB take) You said...open...my safe?
(Shirley [wife] and Becky [daughter] come rushing in from the kitchen)
SHIRLEY: Open the safe? Who said he was going to open the safe?
BECKY: Dad! You look all...goofy!
ROGER: Where did all these strange people come from? Rochester...have you left the screen door unlocked again?
(Roger exits to kitchen)
BOB: He's mad! He's gone stark raving loony!
SHIRLEY: Ahhh...he just thinks he's Jack Benny again.
BECKY: He did it one time before when I was twelve. He fell off the roof of the house and landed on his head. He thought George Burns had pushed him off.
BOB: Jack Benny? He thinks he's Jack Benny? He'll never open the safe now!
SHIRLEY: So you're the one who wants the safe open, huh? Well, I shoulda guessed. Got news for you, buddy boty. Your bags are packed and I've made a reservation for you on the next Greyhound to Oregon...
BOB: (falls to knees) No, no! I was so close! This close! Jack Benny! Done in by Jack Benny!
BECKY: Please Uncle Bob! You're crushing the carpeting!
ROGER: Rochester must have gone to the grocery. Apparently, you three are the hired help he left in charge..well don't just stand there...iron my socks so I can go to the club to play bridge!
SHIRLEY: Iron his socks? Hit him, Becky!
(she does with the bowling ball bag and he falls)
SHIRLEY: That should clear things up again.
ROGER: Darling, my love.. I was just about to roll a couple bowling balls on the driveway, and then open the safe for Bob her, so I could make that investment...
SHIRLEY: What investment?
ROGER: Why...downtown Moscow of course! We can buy several blocks of it from a couple realtors that Bob knows, and we can be millionaires, and we...
SHIRLEY: Roger! Downtown Moscow is not for sale! It's just another one of your brother's schemes to steal our money!
ROGER: It is?
BOB: Well, a man's gotta live, doesn't he?
BECKY: Come on, Dad.. let's put some ice on your head.