The Bald Squirrel

By [Tim] Chevalier, April 2000

Apologies to Eugene Ionesco

Written for English 127 (Modern and Contemporary Drama) with Larry Rosenwald

[The scene: A typical Wellesley computer lab. 10 Wellesley students , all in a row, type away at their Wellesley keyboards, reading aloud as they type each Wellesley word into Wellesley messages and post them on a Wellesley electronic conferencing system. All the Wellesley computers are connected to a Wellesley Ethernet hub, which is in turn connected to the Wellesley network jack in the wall. A 11th Wellesley student sits outside, typing on a Wellesley laptop balanced across her Wellesley knees.]

jlee57: It is twelve-twenty in the morning. I've written almost all of my bio-chem lab report. I just stepped outside the Science Center to smoke a cigarette. Smoking cigarettes isn't allowed in the Science Center, because of all the flammable chemicals in the Science Center. I neglected to prop the door open. Doors swing shut if they aren't propped. The Science Center is locked between twelve midnight and eight o'clock in the morning. I need someone to let me back into the Science Center, otherwise I won't be able to finish my bio-chem lab report, which I can only do in the Science Center.

cwilliams: Did anyone tape "Dawson McBeal" last night?

jlee57: Smoking cigarettes is enjoyable, and so is drinking coffee. The vending machine in the Science Center dispenses coffee. You have to put in sixty-five cents, no, eighty-five cents. If I could get back into the Science Center I could purchase a cup of coffee and finish writing my bio-chem lab report.

ptaylor: My computer isn't working. Can anyone tell me why?

jlee57: Usually there are many students inside the Science Center at twelve-twenty in the morning. It is twelve-twenty in the morning now, and so there must be many students inside the Science Center. But none of them are coming to the door to let me in, so there must not be any students inside the Science Center. Why is no one reading my posts? Can you explain why no one is reading my posts? Tomorrow I shall buy a large carton of cigarettes at CVS.

rmiller: Does anyone know the phone number for 411?

[From far away, the bleating of a goat is heard.]

jlee57: Smoking is a most useful activity. It helps keep one awake, and also is good for curing insomnia. It is said that a variety of emperors, farmers, and epistemologies have smoked cigarettes.

bjohnson: You go, girl! Smokers rock my world!

kputnam: Have you seen the National News web site? It says that an undergraduate student at another local college died yesterday from smoking too much.

ptaylor: The poor student! Where did he go to school? Or did he already graduate from school and go to work?

kputnam: Yes, she graduated two years ago and went to work at an investment banking firm. It's a shame that she had to die so suddenly from a caffeine overdose.

rmiller: Are you trying to say that investment banking is responsible for all the evils of the world? 'Cause that's, like, so not true. Investment bankers are good, wholesome women and men who love America, apple pie, and child pornography.

bjohnson: Yay, child pornography! Woo-hoo!

bharris: This shows what society is coming to nowadays. A man can die from an overdose of some bizarre drug, and not be able to continue his graduate work in chemical engineering! We must abolish mandatory jury duty, otherwise tragedies like this will continue to occur.

[The goat gets closer, and bleats three times]

ptaylor: Does anyone know why my computer isn't working? I need to write a paper on Greek tragedy. I can't write a paper if my computer doesn't work.

eanderson: Hi, my name is Emily. I'm a first-year. How do I post messages on this system? Where can I pick up mail that people send to me? What's the best math class to take? Why do I have to do jury duty?

mknight: You can get your mail by using your mailbox combination to open your mailbox. A good math class is combinatorics, in which you study permutations and combinations. You have to do jury duty for a combination of different reasons.

eanderson: Thank you for your kind help, mknight. It's very reassuring to know that in this crazy world where people don't smoke enough and die of insomnia, upperclassmen are still willing to educate little first-years like me about the essentials of living. But how do I post messages on this system?

mknight: I don't know everything. I can't answer all your idiotic questions!

bharris: eanderson, don't listen to mknight. She hates first-years because she was victimized by a rabid squirrel when she was a sophomore.

rmiller: They ought to do something about this squirrel overpopulation problem before someone gets really hurt! Doesn't the Senior Assistant Dean of Residential and Spiritual Student Resources have a responsibility to take care of the squirrel problem? What's her name, anyway?

mknight: Vienna?

rmiller: Right, Vienna! I love living on a campus with so many beautiful squirrels, and the only problem is that there aren't enough of them. Vienna should do something about this right now!

ptaylor: Vienna sucks! I pay $200 a year to go to this school and my computer still doesn't work! What does she do all day, anyway?

cwilliams: Well, a friend of mine who's on Senate told me that this semester Vienna wrote a new job description for the Head Custodian position.

rmiller: That explains it! There were darling little squirrels everywhere last semester, wagging their cute hairless tails behind them, and now there are hardly any. Clearly, writing a new job description for the Head Custodian position must have the effect of driving away all the squirrels.

mknight: Why would that be true?

ptaylor: How dare you question rmiller's right to express herself however she chooses, mknight! You ought to be fined for asking such unhelpful questions. By the way, does anyone know how to fix my computer?

cwilliams: Yeah, ass-face, you might be smart but you could sure use a few lessons in politeness. Butt-head.

bharris: ptaylor, my boyfriend used to work for Apple Computer and he says that hitting a computer very hard with a zucchini usually fixes it.

cwilliams: Tee-hee Barbi, that boy-toy of yours sure knows how to use his zucchini!

bharris: Speak for yourself Chrissi...I know all about you and that Dining Services guy! At least I obtain my produce from an educated salesman!

bjohnson: Go, volleyball team!

ptaylor: Thanks, I'll try that! It's good to know that someone in the world is still willing to share their knowledge without acting like it's a burden for them to explain everything I need to do to fix my problem.

[The goat bleats a long bleat. By now, the scent of the goat can also be detected. At the same time, a tall, bearded figure enters the room and sits down at a computer.]

System: Good day, ladies. I am the System Administrator, a computer expert. I have come on orders to make sure that everyone has a good experience with PMS--whoops, VMS, don't know how to backspace on telnet. You guys wouldn't want to flame each other if you could just listen to stories instead.

fburns: Stories? STORIES? I pay $2000 a year to go to this school...I expect something more than just stories! You need to give me narratives, vignettes, and anecdotes if I'm going to get a good job at the feed store after graduation.

rmiller: Did Vienna send you?

bharris: Quiet, girls! System is just trying to help you mend your sick and twisted ways, and you ought to be more accepting. Tell them a story, System.

System: A woman woke up in the back of her car in a gas station and she noticed that the car was filled with ice and someone had written in lipstick on the dashboard mirror, "Call 411 or you will die." When she called 411, the operator explained that local gangsters had been cutting out women's kidneys as an initiation ritual.

cwilliams: Fascinating! I have another story for you. My friend got an e-mail with the subject line "How To Give a Cat A Colonic", and when she opened it, her computer went back to the year 1900. She decided to microwave herself a nice cup of hot water to calm herself, and when she took it out of the oven the water splashed out and she suffered serious burns!

bjohnson: I know another good story. A certain individual decided to transgress from the usual social norms, possibly in a way that made use of a new and confusing technology, and he or she suffered negative consequences! This person was then mistreated by someone of a different race, class or gender from him or herself. Just goes to show you, huh?

mknight: bjohnson, isn't that story just a little bit racist, sexist, and/or classist? I don't know...I might be wrong, of course. In fact, I might even be a fictional character in somebody else's writing assignment, for all I know. So you don't have to agree with me--in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if you disagreed.

fburns: Shame on you, mknight! Who gave you the right to decide what kinds of stories we can and can't tell? Has this campus become so P.C. and intolerant that we can't even express our contempt for people different from ourselves anymore? Besides, it doesn't matter whether these stories are true, or even whether they make any sense--what matters is the *message*.

[The goat approaches the computers and bleats loudly, then begins sniffing at the cables.]

mknight: And what is the message?

cwilliams: The importance of buying fresh produce.

rmiller: Investment bankers are cool.

bharris: Squirrels don't poop.

kputnam: Squirrel poop! Investment banking! I pay $200,000 a year to go to this school, I deserve corkscrews who can put together better frobniks than this.

cwilliams: Anyone know where to buy a corkscrew? I need to wallpaper my room.

ykerr: Free pickled pigs' feet!

[The goat utters one final bleat, then bites through the cable connecting the hub to the wall. All the screens go dark.]

(all together): My computer isn't working! My computer isn't working! My computer isn't working!

fburns: It must be Vienna's fault! [Silence]

bjohnson: So, anyone else out there from Lane County? Woo-hoo!

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