The Burger

I’m not a big hat guy, but  some days I feel like wearing one. It’s not such an easy choice though, putting on the hat. Say in the middle of the day you’re in front of people and you get an itch maybe. You gotta take off the hat. Reveal what lies beneath. Maybe you go into church or the seventh inning stretch at a ball game. You look like an idiot. It’s a commitment. The hat commitment.

[Nico shuffles in to find Vida in the kitchen eating kids cereal. He is panting and flicks his keys on the table as if shooing away a fly. He begins to scan the countertop, his heading flipping back and forth as though he’s sitting front row at a NASCAR race.]

NICO: Where are the knives!?

VIDA: Oh, hi honey.

NICO: Knives! Where are they?

VIDA: I don’t know. What you need it for?

NICO: I’m going–to kill myself!

VIDA: What? Don’t do that.

NICO: I hate this job. I feel devalued, underestimated, disrespected, and. . .misimportant! [he shudders at his erroneous vocabulary]

VIDA: I told you! You have to get your degree.

NICO: Oh, thanks. [nodding impatiently] You’re helping a lot.

VIDA: It’s true. If you didn’t waste all that time [mimicking him] oh, I want to learn Spanish–everybody speaks Spanish! Or oh, I want to be a writer. You want us to starve?!

[Nico rummages through a drawer]

NICO: ¿Realmente, todas las personas hablan español? Creo que no.

VIDA: Sí, Papí. Más o menos todas.

NICO: Okay. I give up. I can’t find a knife. [sits down next to her] . . .It’s not so bad. I mean, I’ll get back in school when we can afford it. It’s only temporary. By the way I told them I’d work Thursday.

VIDA: What is it? When are you gonna help me with my math? It’s due Thursday! [she opens a cabinet and retrieves a large kitchen knife] What did I tell you Nico?! [she points the knife in his mortified face as he edges back into the counter]

[A noise is heard: footsteps jaunting down the stairs. Vida and Nico pause and both look towards the hallway. Mava enters.

MAVA: Hey, Nico–what’s goin’ on?

NICO: [takes the knife from Vida’s hand, inspects it] Ya know, you’re right, it is dull. [pretends to have just noticed Mava] Ah, Mava, what can we do for you?

MAVA: Well, Nico, I was wondering do you want to get that burger soon, tomorrow maybe?

[Vida raises her eyebrows at Nico]

NICO: [clears throat] Don’t you realize you’re being a bit. . . exclusive here?

MAVA: Huh? Oh, of course Vida can come too, if she wants.

NICO: Well, we just ate at Five Guys.

MAVA: So what’re you saying, you don’t want to get a burger?

NICO: Not any time soon.

MAVA: Oh. . .

NICO: We’ll let you know.

MAVA: Ok. Well, I should go, I’ve got physics to do. [Mava retreats the way she entered]

NICO: Anyway, it’s like I can’t be myself there.

VIDA: Where?

NICO: At work. It’s like I have to be some sort of robot. Smiling at the customers, refueling and flushing fluids every two hours. God forbid I talk to a coworker. I’m so bored I start talking about the contents of the little metal boxes in the women’s rooms. I found some liquor shooters in there. They actually made it smell better.

VIDA: Oh God.

NICO: See! I can’t. I get into this sub-human zombie like state. Like Rick Santorum without the charm.

VIDA: Who?

NICO: Nevermind. What I want to do is be myself.

VIDA: Well, be yourself to yourself.

NICO: I guess. But does the bitten tongue grow sharper? . . .Vida, baby? [he turns to see Vida who has gone to the other room and is sitting on the computer]

VIDA: HAha! Hahaha.

NICO: What’s so funny?

VIDA: Sshhh! I’m watching Desperate Housewives.


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