KYLE: A man in his twenties. Sensitive and reasonably thoughtful,
but angry. Thereís actually a decent bit of flexibility in deciding
how to play him.
AMBER: A fox! Young and content with her life. Amber can be played in a number of ways. She can be seductive, like a worldworn prostitute. She can be condescending, exhibiting a general disrespect for the human world. But the way I wrote her was to be childlike and innocent, which to me makes it funnier when she turns out to be more than she seems, and more interesting when she blows up at the end.
FLYWEEL13: Some random bastard on the internet. Either sex.
NARRATOR: A small part. Self-important, but sincere.
PROPS: Two small tables; three chairs; two laptop computers or facsimiles.
SETTING: The tables are set a few meters apart, each with a chair next to it so that the chairs are angled apart, yet angled also toward the audience. A third chair is set between the tables, some distance back.
NARRATOR begins onstage. He or she always stands to the side of one of the tables and addresses the audience directly.
NARRATOR: Ahem. It has become common, in this impudent racecar of an age, for the average powerless office jockey, after wrapping up his spreadsheets at work and throroughly cussing out his computer, to come home and flip the switch of his other computer, in search of peace and education. But let me ask you, the savvy: do we really learn anything from the Internet?
FLYWEEL13, already speaking as he enters, sits in the backmost chair.
FLYWEEL13: Well, heck yeah! I mean, what donít we learn from the internet? This last month alone, Iíve discovered so much I never knew about myself and my personality! For instance, Iíve learned that if I were a vegetable, Iíd be a zucchini, if I were a James Bond villain Iíd be Octopussy, if I were a Lord of the Rings character Iíd be Legolas, and if I were a Muppet Iíd be Ralf. And I was browsing the other day when I found this nifty new hyperware 5-D immersive audio-visually interfaced fully integrated multimediaÖ wait, what was I talking about? Sometimes I just like to say long words, you should stop me then. Ooh, but then I discovered this phreakiní Ďleet site where you can play this insane Frogger-trivia-Counterstrike-coconut-monkey-Tetris hybrid for a one in a hundred thousand chance of winning a new state-of-the-art pop-up window filter!. Thatís pretty heavy stuff, you know.
NARRATOR: I know, my friend, I know. But even so, some are given to doubt that the grandeurs of instant global communication are all they are touted to be. Letís watch a twenty-seven year old Boston marketing associate as he comes home to his empty apartment after a hard day at workÖ
KYLE enters and sits in one of the front stage chairs. He pantomimes opening an internet connection and logging on.
NARRATOR: Kylemeister is now logged on.
KYLE: Ah Friday, Friday, time for a bit of the old ultra-relaxation. What looks good tonight? Newsgroups? Nah, too many idiots. Maybe Iíll download a bootlegged movie to watch. Ah, hell, if I wanted a movie Iíd just watch one on TV. No, gotta nurse the olí computer addiction. Yeah, I guess Iíll just log onto GameWhiz and play some checkers. Thatís simple and wonít make me think too hard.
AMBER walks onstage and occupies the remaining chair during NARRATORís next line.
NARRATOR: Kyle is forgetting one thing: of all the games available on his chosen service, checkers is the one which boasts the youngest average audience. This may not seem hazardous to those of us who are fond of children, but be warnedóon the internet, those whom we love as our children cease to be children, and become fully automated aggression-fueled cyberbrats with advanced flaming capabilities. So beware, O board game aficionado, whenever you see someone in a game room post something likeÖ
FLYWEEL13: Anyone 15 or under to play quick game on 48? No quitters!
AMBER: Good player wanted at 30!
FLYWEEL13: Cute girls at table 53!
KYLE: Wait, does that mean there are cute girls there already, or that they want some?
AMBER: Hot stuff at 21. No spammers!
FLYWEEL13: You are messed up, you know that? What the hell do you know about Afghanistan? And whatís up with your stupid-ass nickname?
AMBER: Donít go to 53! The guy there is a dork!
FLYWEEL13: Free beer at table 99!
AMBER: Stop tormenting me, chiafish! I explained to you four times why your political opinions are wrong, and it obviously speaks poorly about your checker-playing ability!
FLYWEEL13: Tournament in the Tournament room! If you donít go youíre a luuser!
AMBER: You mean ďluser,Ē dumbwad. It only has one Ďuí.
FLYWEEL13: New game at 42! No baffers please!
KYLE: Baffer? What the hell is a baffer?
FLYWEEL13: If you have to ask, you probably already are one.
AMBER: Friendly game at 63!
KYLE: Friendly! Well, that sounds decent. JoiningÖ TableÖ 63. Here we go!
NARRATOR: Kylemeister has joined Table 63.
From here on, KYLE and AMBER type while delivering their lines, or pretend to type if hitting the keyboard proves too noisy or distracting. During the game, they occasionally pretend to move checkers on the screen.
AMBER: Hi! Iím Amber.
KYLE: Iím Kyle. Glad to meet you, Amber. Do you want red or black?
AMBER: Iíll play red, itís only fitting. Where are you from, Kyle?
KYLE: Boston. Iím a marketing associate!
AMBER: Really? So you associate marketers with each other?
KYLE: No, Ió
AMBER: Or do you associate with marketers? I donít really understand business.
KYLE: Heh. Well, neither do I, to tell the truth. Itís just a living, you know? But itís a lot harder than it sounds like.
AMBER: If you say so. Your move.
KYLE: SoÖ a/s/l?
AMBER (confused): a/s/l?
KYLE: Age/sex/location? Well, I guess I already know your sex, but as for the othersÖ?
AMBER: Oh, I get it! Well, Iím six years oldÖ
KYLE: What? Thatís ridiculous. I mean, I know you donít have to be very old to play checkers, but stillÖ
AMBER: You think Iím too young?
KYLE: I think maybe you like jerking people around. You canít play internet games when youíre only six!
AMBER: Why not? Iíve been playing checkers since I was two months old.
KYLE (scratching head): Is this a time zone thing? Do they use different units of time where you come from, or something?
AMBER: No, everyone learns to play checkers young where I come from.
KYLE: And where is that exactly?
KYLE: France. What part of France?
AMBER: Oh, I donít know. Somewhere in there.
KYLE: Riiiiight. You speak English pretty well for a French girl who says sheís only six years old.
AMBER: Oh, Iím not a girl. Didnít I tell you?
KYLE: Huh? Youíre a boy?
AMBER: No, of course not! Did you ever see a boy with a name like Amber?
KYLE: Iím confused. So you are female.
KYLE: But youíre not a girl?
AMBER: No, Iím a fox.
KYLE: Youíre what??
AMBER: Iím a fox! I live somewhere in France, but I donít know where exactly because we foxes donít use the human names for places much.
KYLE: Youíre shitting me.
AMBER: Oh, give me a break! Why are you so suspicious, Kyle? Seriously, I thought I advertised for a friendly game. Ever since we started talking youíve been acting like Iím lying to you. Whoa, hey, I got a triple jump!
AMBER: Hey, I wish youíd stop using bad language like that. This is supposed to be a clean game room.
KYLE: Sorry. Well but fuck! Youíre telling me that youíre a fox? Are you one of those anthro-furry freaks?
AMBER: What does that mean? AnthroÖ?
KYLE: You know, from the Greek anthropos. Human-likeÖ
AMBER: Human-like? Ooh, that would be freaky, wouldnít it? No, Iím just an ordinary red fox. You know, Vulpes vulpes?
KYLE: But foxes canít play checkers!
AMBER: If thatís so, why am I winning? No offense, Kyle, but your arguments are paper thin!
KYLE: Where would a fox learn to play checkers?
AMBER: We all play checkers where I come from. Itís part of our genetic makeup.
KYLE: So youíre born knowing how to play a killer game of checkers.
AMBER: Well, no. We have to learn the rules and everything. But you know how most female fox cubs engage in play fighting during their first few months of life in order to determine their hierarchy of feeding order and overall dominance?
KYLE (faking): I think I might have heard about that somewhereÖ
AMBER: Well, my community decided that was too brutal. So we play checkers instead.
KYLE: You play checkers to determine your dominance hierarchy.
AMBER: Yeah, we have a big tournament for each group of litters when they turn six months old. All the female cubs and their sisters and cousins. Itís all ceremonious and tense and everything. Then whatever happens, we have to abide by it for our whole lives, or until we find go off and find territory of our own. Itís instinctive, really.
KYLE: Whatever. So how did you do in your own tournament?
NARRATOR: Flyweel13 is joining the table as a kibitzer.
AMBER: Well itís an interesting story. It didnít look like I was going to do so well for a while. I was the runt of the litter, and runts donít usually play so well. I was pretty depressed about it, so Iíd use to go for long walks around our territory and forage for eggs and stuff.
KYLE: And that would helpÖ how?
AMBER: I didnít know if it would helpÖ but sometimes you just have to try something, and see if it changes things. And it did! I met a wonderful dog-fox called Clemence, who knew all about checkers. And he was so romantic! So I went out to see him now and then and he taught me all I needed to know about the game.
KYLE: So you won the tournament?
AMBER: I came in second! Better, if you ask me. I wouldnít have wanted to be the alpha, anyway. Too much pressure. King me.
KYLE: So, did you and Clemence become mates?
AMBER: Well, for one year, sure. But you know how it is with dog-foxesÖ you just canít make them stay at home. Iíve had three mates and eight kids now. Iíve had a good life so far.
KYLE: Iím more than four times your ageódo you realize that?
AMBER: Have you had a good life so far?
KYLE: I donít know. I feel like I would be having a good life, except I havenít had my breaks yet. Know what I mean? Iím thinking of switching careers. I donít know quite what to, though. Maybe I could be some kind of investor.
AMBER: Itís easier just to roam!
KYLE: Well, hell, I guess it must be. You foxes have a pretty sweet deal, you know?
AMBER: What do you mean? Thereís nothing really we foxes can do that you humans canít do too.
KYLE: Not true. Thereís no way I could make a living just roaming through the woods of Western Europe. We humans have to have jobs and work for our perks.
AMBER: How come? It doesnít sound like you like it.
KYLE: Well for one thing, weíre so successful that weíre overpopulating the world. The land is all claimed. We have to regulate who gets to live where.
AMBER: Oh. Well, you can come live with me. I havenít got any cubs at the moment so I have some extra space in my burrow.
KYLE: It doesnít work that way! I have to fit into the structure of society.
AMBER: Thatís silly! Are humans so jealous they wonít let each other be happy?
KYLE: Itís more like, we donít trust each other not to destroy the environment.
AMBER: You seem to trust us foxes.
KYLE: I donít know if we do, AmberÖ but we canít really hold you to our expectations, thatís the thing. You knowÖ ever since I was born human everyoneís had all these high expectations of me. Itís weird. Itís like theyíre punishing me for my merits.
AMBER: Or at least your supposed merits.
KYLE: Well, yeah. Just because of my species, Iím under this curse of people expecting me to join society and be productive. Why doesnít anyone make you do that, Amber? You play a great game of checkers but youíre not under any pressure. Itís not fucking fair.
FLYWEEL13: Man, you two are insane! Iíve seen some weirdos, but youíre way farther gone than anything I ever ran into. Kylemeister, you actually believe Amber is a fox?? And Amber, you actually have nothing better to do than waste his time with this crap?
KYLE: What? When did a kibitzer join the game?
AMBER (angry): I donít know. How long have you been eavesdropping, Flyweel?
FLYWEEL13: For like, five minutes. Enough to know youíre both seriously fucked up.
KYLE: Yeah, well fuck you!
AMBER: No! Thatís enough! Iím sick of hearing people talking about fucking each other as if it were some kind of insult. For foxes, the copulation act is very sacred.
FLYWEEL13: Go dig a ditch and drown in it.
AMBER: You know what? Iím sick of you humans and your whole stupid internet. All I read about online is pages of bad poetry or lists of what movies sucked more than the books or where to find the best tentacle-rape pornography or whatís wrong with the technology sector or how much you all hate each other or any number of other ridiculous things you should have grown out of before you were weaned! Is the internet some sort of throwback playbox for you? Is it the only place left where you can let yourselves go, because your whole world is over-controlled?
KYLE: Itís not like that, Amber! Seriously, thereís a lot of real value to be found online.
FLYWEEL13: Oh yeah, and itís in a crappy service playing a crappy boardgame you could play anyway with your family if you werenít such losers you donít have families or gameboards or anything. Go suck your own dicks, loooooosers!
AMBER: Okay, thatís it! Bye, Kyle! From now on, I stick to the life of a fox!
KYLE: No Amber, wait!
AMBER gets up and runs offstage as NARRATOR speaks.
NARRATOR: Amber has left Table 63 and disconnected from GameWhiz.
KYLE: Damn! Now look what youíve done, you bastard! Youíve robbed the human world of the chance to really learn something from the rest of the planet. And I was just getting to know her!
FLYWEEL13: You were losing the game anyway, you loser.
KYLE: Oh yeah, like I really care. I was half tempted to actually take her up on her offer, and go live with her in her den. It wouldíve been more interesting than associating with stupid marketers all day! I bet youíre a marketer too, arenít you? My God, youíre all marketers! All of you!
FLYWEEL13: You are so completely mind-dead. If Amber really was a fox, how do you think she earned enough money to buy a computer in the first place?
KYLE: I donít knowÖ maybe she digs for truffles in her spare time?
FLYWEEL13 gets up and walks offstage as KYLE speaks.
KYLE: Well screw you too, Flyweel!! ManÖ thatís the last time I play checkers to relax myself. What have I done? Come back, Amber! Please come back!
KYLE runs offstage after AMBER as NARRATOR speaks.
NARRATOR: But the fox has slipped the trap. Kylemeister has logged off.
See the original Chelsea 11:17 version!