The Here & Now Project

Hat Trick

Every Friday this summer, The Here & Now Project will post a new short play, written by one of four playwrights selected from across the US. These plays focus on dramatizing where these playwrights are and what’s happening there now. This play is by Tiffany Antone of Prescott, Arizona.

HAT TRICK

A festive portion of Whiskey Row, decorated in anticipation of the Annual Fourth of July Parade. 

Mike, a grumpy looking thirty-something sits in a beat up lawn chair next to a nicer looking, but currently empty, camp chair. 

Mike is typing furiously on his iphone.  A neglected cowboy hat sits next to him.

After a while, JP joins him - wearing his cowboy hat... and Levi's... and boots - you get the picture. 

Looking his son up and down, JP purses his lips and takes a moment to sit down before he speaks.

JP
Why aren’t you wearing your hat?

MIKE
It’s stupid.

JP
It’s part of the atmosphere.

Mike snorts.

JP
Your sister went through a lot of trouble, putting all this together.  Just think we ought to support her-

MIKE
It’s hot, and I’m sweating, and I’m not a cowboy.

JP
I know that - that’s not the point.  Don’t have to be a cowboy to wear the hat, it’s just part of the thing -

Mike snatches the hat and yanks it over his head.

JP sighs and looks out at the parade as it passes before them.

JP
It IS hot.  Thought it might be cooler, starting early like this, but that sun is mean.  Monsoons will be here soon though.  It’s always hottest just before -

Beat.

He looks at Mike, who is still typing on his phone. 

JP
You ever put that thing down?

MIKE
Dad -

JP
Day and night, on that thing.  Put it away, watch the people.

MIKE
It’s the same people as always-

JP
What are you talking about?  You haven’t been home for the 4th of July in years!  This place has changed a lot since you were a kid-

MIKE
Dad, it’s the same people that are always here-  they’re just dressed in stupid outfits.

JP
Put it away.

MIKE
I’m not- this isn’t just a text-

JP
You can call them later, you want to talk to them -

MIKE
I’m not, I told you I’m not texting anyone.  I’m responding to that asshat -

JP
Nice talk!

MIKE
- who wrote to The Courier about charging a fee to use the library.

JP
They’re going to charge a fee?

MIKE
No - I don’t know.  Maybe.  They’re discussing it.

JP
Who’s discussing it?

MIKE
The City Council.

JP
So you’re writing a letter?

MIKE
No, someone wrote a letter in support of it, and I’m battling them and all the other idiots who think that the answer to the “Economic Crisis” is to start charging everyone to use the goddamned PUBLIC library!

JP
Huh.

Beat.  Mike keeps typing.

JP
Well, can’t you do it later?

MIKE
Dad, I’m here, alright.  I came along.  Can I just - please, can you leave me alone about it?

JP
Alright.  But put it down, at least, when your sister’s float comes by.

MIKE (gritting his teeth) Fine.  I can do that.

JP
Five seconds - it’s only gonna take you five seconds to look up and wave -

MIKE
I said “Fine!”

JP
Jeez Louise - if you were gonna’ have such a rotten attitude about the whole thing, why’d you come along in the first place?

MIKE
Because you turned the TV on at FULL VOLUME this morning and pulled open my blinds at daybreak.  I didn’t really have a choice.

JP
I thought you’d like to support your sister-

MIKE
It’s not her float!  She’s a substitute. The real teacher broke her hip, and she’s acting like they’re going to hire her because she helps glue some tissue paper on a trailer?  They’re not going to hire her - they don’t have any money to hire new teachers.  This is an audition for a job that doesn’t exist and I don’t see why we have to come down here  at the ass-crack of dawn to secure a spot in this ridiculous heat just so we can applaud an exercise in futility. 

Beat.

Beat.

JP looks at the parade cruising by, Mike sinks further into his phone.

JP
You’re going to get a job, son.

MIKE
I know.

JP
You’re both, both of you, are going to get something permanent.

MIKE
Alright.

JP
Just cuz Jamie’s got this substitute thing... yeah, maybe it’s not permanent, but it’s making her feel good.  And those kids love her.  And she’s doing something, at least.  The problem is you’re not doing anything-

MIKE
There’s nothing for me to do-

JP
That’s not true.  That’s not true.  You can’t just bury yourself in that thing- (gesturing to the phone) -while you wait for it to happen.

MIKE
I’m part of the discussion dad-

JP
With who? What are you discussing?  You want to talk to the City Council, go to the City Council.  Don’t sit here typing on that tiny screen - who’s reading that stuff?  Other unemployed angry people-

MIKE
Sometimes they comment, Council people, they sift through this-

JP
And what?  That’s your interview?  You think you’re going to write something so poetic and moving, it’s going to get you hired?  Are you using your real name on there?

MIKE
Of course not!

JP
Well, then , what’s the point?

MIKE
I don’t use my real name because it’s not popular to be labeled a “Left-Wing Nut-Job” around here, and the moment you dissent on anything, that’s what they label you.  If I weren’t afraid of people burning down the house, I’d sign my name.

JP
What kind of stuff are you writing that would make someone want to burn down the house?

MIKE
Nothing.  I’m just, I’m venting, alright?  Nobody cares what I have to say anyway, so - you know what, never mind.

JP
No.  I mind.  I’m worried about you, you and Jamie both... but you especially. 

MIKE
Well, you don’t need to. 

JP
Mike, you sit in that room of yours all day, gettign irate about the news-

MIKE
Do you want me to move out?

JP
That’s exactly what I’m talking about - so extreme about everything and moody as all get out.  Of course I don’t want you to move out.  But you’re acting like you did when you were 16 -

MIKE
Thanks.

JP
You are welcome to stay with us at the house as long as you need to.  I just want you to stop hiding there. 

MIKE
But that’s just it - it’s not my house, so you get to have a say in how I spend time there.  You get to wake me up at 6 o’clock in the morning and haul me to parades I don’t care about.  I’m 30 years old, but you’re sitting here minding my manners like I’m a 16 year old, and you wonder why I’m acting like one.

JP
Come on-

MIKE
And meanwhile, Jamie - awesome Jamie - at least has a substitute float in the parade and I’m the lame-o who has nothing to do all day but argue with idiots on discussion boards and mail out resumes that nobody’s looking at-

JP
Mike-

MIKE
Yeah, yeah, I know - stop feeling sorry for myself, suck it up, everyone’s out of work, so I shouldn’t feel so bad - but I do, dad!  I do.  I feel like a loser.  And here are all these happy-looking people who want to celebrate our country like it’s the happiest place on earth, and it makes me sick.  Because I’m stuck, I’m not moving - hell, these floats are moving faster than I am and I DON’T feel like cheering them on, okay?  It’s NOT a happy place for me right now!

JP
But it’s the 4th of July - it’s the best holiday next to Christmas! 

MIKE
Oh my GOD!

He goes back to his phone.

JP
Look, Mike, you’re not a loser.

MIKE
Alright.

JP
I’m proud of you.  You stand up for what you believe in and you’re not giving up.  Something’s going to come along.  I know it will - even if you don’t feel like celebrating this country - one thing it’s proven time and again is that it has bounce!

Mike snorts.

JP
I’m serious!  It’s made of rubber.  It flattens out when it hits bottom, but then the people here, we rise up and push back, and the ball goes right back up again.

MIKE
Dad, I’m never going to believe in cheesy, sentimental crap like that!  We’re not number one anymore.  We’re just messed up people making a bigger mess out of things; crapping in other people’s yards and sending them the bill for it.

JP
What are you talking about?

MIKE
What am I - the world is boiling! 

JP
You spend too much time on the internet!  All these people here?  They’ve got their own heavy burdens to carry, but they come out and eat fry bread and have a good time anyway.  You can’t just stare at that little screen all day and let the affairs of the world become your whole world.

MIKE
Fine.

JP
Mike-

MIKE
What?  I listened, alright?  What else do you want from me?  I’ve got over sixty thousand in student loans I can’t pay back and I’m stuck sharing a room with mom’s new sewing obsession, so I’m just fried, alright?

JP
No, son - look UP.

JP smiles big and waves at a passing float. 

Mike looks up.

MIKE
Oh.

JP
Nice float, huh?

MIKE
Yeah.

JP
Look at those kids!

Mike manages a small wave, then takes a photo with his iPhone.

JP
What was that?

MIKE
I took a picture.

JP
That thing’s a camera too?

MIKE
Yeah.

JP
I didn’t know you could do that on there.  Let me see.

Mike shows him the photo.

JP
Hey, that’s pretty good. 

MIKE
It records video too.

JP
No kidding!  Cool.  Hey, take one of me in my hat!

Mike holds the camera up.

MIKE
Okay.

JP smiles, pauses...

JP
Did it work?

MIKE
I’m recording you.

JP
What?  You’re making a movie?

MIKE
That’s what you said.

JP
But I’m not doing anything.

Mike laughs.

JP
Film the parade or something...

MIKE
I don’t know, you’re pretty entertaining.

JP waves his son towards the parade. 

MIKE
Alright.

Mike pans over the parade and then turns it off.

JP
Did you get my hat?

MIKE
Yeah, dad, I got your hat.  I got the crazy lady wearing the star spangled banner swimsuit too.

JP
What?  Where? 

Mike points.

JP
See, now we woulda’ both missed that if you didn’t tune in.  Hey, I know, let’s take a picture of the both of us.  We can show it to your mother -

Mike holds the phone up to take a picture...

JP
 - She bet me $5 you wouldn’t wear the hat. 

FIN.

Playwright's Note:
The 4th of July is huge in Prescott. Not only do we lay claim to “The World’s Oldest Rodeo”, but we go crazy with fireworks and parades and our Historic Prescott Courthouse gets decked out in vendor booths selling Americana crafts, fresh lemonade and the best frybread ever. (If you’ve never had frybread, it is a Native American deep fried dough, covered in your choice of honey, powdered sugar, cinnamon, or you can get it “taco” style with meat and beans and cheese and... oh my GOD, I can’t wait for the frybread!). I grew up loving this time of year in Prescott! Then I grew up, moved away for a spell, and the economy went berserk...

I had to move home.

And Prescott was all new – it had changed so much in the 11 years I had been gone – but the festive spirit was still there… more so in fact.  The in-flux state of things had swept a political fervor over the city that acted like “Miracle Grow” on Prescott’s patriots and the 4th of July sees them in full bloom.

Meanwhile, the letters to the Editor and comment section of our daily paper got more intense - I admittedly spend too much time reading (although I never comment on) those dredges of our paper and it alternately fascinates and depresses me.

So, when it came time to put pen to paper, I thought all of this might make for an interesting play.  It was certainly fun exploring what the holiday might mean to a few of the many different generations calling Prescott home.

Bookmark this page

Log in to add a bookmark
Thoughts from the curator

A call to to playwrights from across the United States to bring to light stories representing the whole conversation happening in this country.

Here & Now Series

Interested in following this conversation in real time? Receive email alerting you to new threads and the continuation of current threads.

subscribe

Comments

15
Add Comment
Newest First

Hi Mis Cartier,I had to read the whole damn thing because I promised your mom, but I have to admit, I was interested from the start. You captured the essence of the reality many if not most families are living through right now. The anger, the frustration, the hopelessness and the hope. It was neat how you wove this tale into the fabric of Prescott at its most Prescottness. It was a delight to read and I could hear the words coming from your mouth as I read it. Thanks for the treat. Michael JamesP.S. I haven't eaten fry bread with any of the above ingredents in many years, but now after reading your delicious description, I must have some. Hugs.

LA craziness and meltdowns kept me from getting to this until today... ah, fireworks in all shapes and sizes, huh, Tiffany? Good work! (And keep after 'em...)

Hey Daniel, This is exciting stuff. Good for you bringing it off!Tiffany, Nice work! (I'm one of the three other playwrights in grad school with Daniel) I work by day as a tour guide and I meet people from all over the country and the world. Talk about voices! You captured two voices that I hear most everyday. Sometimes, I think our job as playwrights, is to speak to those that feel alone in their feelings. People and their opposing views enthrall me, scare me, excite me - make me understand who I am. Captured in your little play are these voices that I hear on my tours. And, one or even both of them could be my voice too. Good job. -Rob

Great piece capturing the spirit of the 4th and the tough times our younger workers are facing. The year we moved to Prescott (1973), my orthopedic doctor husband was told 'there wouldn't be enough broken bones in Prescott to support his new practice and he would have to do general medicine.' He said no to that, and that he would give it a go. His first official day of practice was the 4th of July. During the parade, a firecracker spooked a horse, throwing the rider off and fracturing his pelvis. Later in the day the rodeo clown sustained a broken bone, as did one of the bareback riders. On his first day of work, my husband made it home about 2:00 A.M., commenting that he 'guessed there was enough work in Prescott to keep an orthopedist occupied.' And so it was to be that Prescott's first orthopedist stayed through 1990, always being especially busy during crazy rodeo days.

Tiiffany-You managed to capture so much in such a short play. It is not only relevant, but amazingly insightful. You have such a gift...Thanks for sending this out to me! Cool title, as well..Virginia

So moving, Tiffany. An artist takes the very specific and makes it representative of us all. You are a great artist, and I am so honored to get to share your work.

I love this piece! You have managed to beautifully capture the complexity of parent/child relationships! Thank you!!!

Tiffany - really appreciated this as we approach the 4th of July and think about what it means to participate in making our democracy meaningful.