NO INSTRUCTIONS NEEDED: An American Boyhood in the 1950s

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References Publications referenced by this paper. Representations of Everyday Life: L. The tale of Samuel and Jemima Celeste Hall. Patrick Dunleavy. BILL This is just in case we have guests this weekend. Bill gets out of the car. But we never have guests. The boys are chewing green bubble gum. Randy blows a big bubble and Mason pops it with his hand. He then hides the vodka bottle behind some detergent in the laundry cupboard. Bill enters the room, drink in hand. BILL You guys finish your chores?

You mean you had time to finish your little art project but you didn't have time to finish your chores? I thought we talked about that. I can finish the dusting. I have all day here. You have your own chores to do and Sam has hers to do. It's simple! Poor choice there, Sam. Hurry up. BILL yelling from the porch Mason! Your dad's here As the boys approach What'd you do, get about half done? Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey. So did you finish? BILL Is the job complete? Mason shakes his head "No". Same thing, right?

BILL Okay. MOM to Mason Bye, baby. I love you. MOM to Samantha Bye, honey. Have fun with your dad. Just a minute, Mason, to Mom The boys didn ' t finish raking the leaves. Samantha did not finish dusting. So tomorrow, when they come home, instead of swimming and all the other little stuff that they want to do, they're gonna do their chores. MOM Right! Okay, guys, you had this conversation, you understand? The boys nod.

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The girls nod. BILL Thank you. I just wanted you to back me up on that so I'm not the only one yelling at them all the time.

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MOM Okay, I back you up. You guys got that? Mason nods. Tomorrow, chores? Samantha nods. BILL Well, they don't hear it, you know. It goes in one ear and out the other. BILL It's not pointless, you just don't like to do it. BILL You do when we ask you to! And don't — Olivia, don't let her back-talk me in front of the other kids, please. Thank you. MOM Samantha, please Samantha turns to walk away from the conversation.

Bye-bye, have a wonderful weekend. Bye, guys. Love you. The other kids follow Samantha as she exits. Bill sits down at the table with Mom. You have to draw a line, you have to back it up. It's just Everything's a line. He gets out of the car to greet the kids. DAD Hey , Randy! DAD Hey , you two. How you doin '? DAD Here, let me get this bag here. You doin' okay, darlin'?

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DAD Yeah? What about you, cowboy? Dad throws the kids' bags in the trunk. Let's roll!

DAD You guys ready for the big game? DAD Sam, who are the Astros playing tonight? DAD Milwaukee Brewers. Alright, get to know 'em, get to hate 'em. How you been, huh? How was your week? What you been up to? You still hangin' with that kid Joe?

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DAD Yeah, he's still your best friend? DAD Okay. To Samantha How 'bout you? DAD You urn, you still working on that sculpture project? What's it of? Dad pulls the car over and parks. DAD Alright, no-no-no-no-no. Nope, that is not how we ' re going to talk to one another. Now, I will not be that guy. You can not put me in that category, alright? The biological father who I spend every other week with and I make polite conversation, you know, while he drives me places and buys me shit.

Talk to me. He turns to Samantha in the passenger seat. Uh, I don't know Dad, it was kind of tough. Billy and Ellen broke up, and Ellen's kind of mad at me because she saw me talking to Billy in the cafeteria. And you remember that sculpture I was working on? Well, it was a unicorn and the horn broke off. So, now it's zebra. But I still think I'm going to get an 'A'. Dad turns around to address Mason in the back seat. Well Dad, you know it was kind of tough. Joe, he's kind of a jerk, actually.

He stole some cigarettes from his mom and he wanted me to smoke 'em. But I said no, cause I knew what a hard time you had quittin ' smokin ' , Dad. How 'bout that? Is that so hard? DAD What is so hard to answer about what sculpture are you making? Okay, that's good.

See, that ' s , I didn ' t know that. I didn ' t know you were even interested in abstract art. They make us do it. You know, what about you? You know, who do hang out with? Do you have a girlfriend? What have you been up to? DAD I see your point. Mason smiles. That's what you're sayin ' , right? That's what we'll do. Starting now. A butterfly lands on Mason's shoulder.

That would be a Magnificent Owl. Caligo Atreus. DAD What's that one? Dad opens his hands and shows them a butterfly in his palms. DAD What kind is that? DAD This one's incredible. That's the owl one, right? Magnificent Owl. DAD I think he went pee-pee on you, bud. Dad laughs. Soon they are running in circles around it. DAD Ahaa! Get away from me! Get your sister — Ahh! DAD Yo, Mase, look at me here. Make a diamond with your hands, alright?

Fingers and thumbs. Keep your hands soft. Hey, Sam. Samantha throws the football to Dad. That ' s how you want to catch it, just like that. Even when you 1 re runnin 1 , that ' s what you ' re thinkin' about, that diamond. That diamond, and soft hands. Dad throws the ball to Mason.

Mason throws the ball back to Samantha. DAD Down! Dad releases the ball down the hill and the three of them chase after it. The ball kicks up and into Samantha 's hands. They are now chasing after her. DAD Don't let her get — No no no no no! Let's go, Roger! The crowd reacts to the game. He's unhittable this year! Now just so you know, what we're watching here, is history. Now you see this guy out here? This dude is like forty-three years old and he's strikin' out guys half his age.

This guy's ERA is 1. Now if the Astros could just get a few runs maybe we ' d win a game. DAD Ha!

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Why would you ask me that? Mom wanted to know and I didn't know what the answer was. DAD Mom wanted to know. Well, you can tell mom that I just happen to have passed my second actuarial exam, alright? How's she doing? DAD She finishing school? DAD All 'A's huh? Like mother, like daughter, right?

The kids leave to get hot dogs, etc. Mason puts mustard on his. They return to the game. A clutch Astros home run and the crowd is cheering. Our guys celebrate with high fives, etc. That ' s outta here! That's out— Oh!

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Fireworks go off. The crowd stands to their feet. Fuckin' A! Mason and Jimmy fist bump. Dad enters the room.

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DAD What, I'm the only one with any arms around here? Nobody else can carry anything, huh? Help their old man out? Jimmy gestures for silence. DAD Aw, come on Jimmy, man! You knew the kids were comin' this weekend. Dad clears dirty dishes and paraphernalia from the table.

DAD Yeah, don't "muffin" me, alright? Don't put me in that position. Alright, I'm not your f uckin ' Tony Randall. DAD It was not a mess this morning. DAD Oh yeah, great. Dad stretches out beside Samantha on the couch. Turn this shit off. Come on, give me that thing. Dad takes the remote control away from Jimmy.

Lane won it with a three-run homer. It was beautiful, wasn't it? She's a huge Astros fan. DAD "Well Saturday night was a lunar eclipse, I sang 'em a song, went somethin' like this: Well go to sleep, my weary babies, Let the sounds roll on by, Tonight we're safe here in Houston, With this, your daddy's lullaby. Your mother's got a new husband now, He seems alright, I wonder if he's readin' them stories, And kissin' them goodnight? Well babysitters say they miss me, I know I shouldn't hope it's true, The teacher says my son paints pictures of a family all in blue, She says she caught him whispering to the window, Will Daddy please come home?

I know I could call him up, but what if his mother answers the phone? DAD You brush your teeth? She removes her ear buds. Did you brush your teeth? DAD You gonna fall asleep with those things in your head? DAD Yeah well, try not to, alright? DAD You want me to turn off the light? DAD Okay, goodnight Sam. DAD Hey DAD Why? DAD laughs Goodnight.

Dad is lying on the other couch, reading a book. There's no like DAD What do you mean? People just made that up. DAD Well, I don't know. I mean what makes you thinks that, that elves are any more magical than something like DAD CONT'D You know, I mean, what if I told you a story about how underneath the ocean, there was this giant sea mammal that used sonar, and sang songs, and it was so big that its heart was the size of a car? And you could crawl through the arteries? I mean, you'd think that's pretty magical, right? But like DAD No. Technically no elves.

They sit in Mom's driveway, saying their goodbyes. DAD Love you guys. Be well. Have a great week. Sam, I'll see you next weekend? Oh yeah, that's right. DAD What? DAD A sleepover? I'll talk to your mom about it. DAD Don't worry about it, okay? They appear to be looking at something illicit. How do you guys not know how to do this?

I'll make you some bookmarks. Just a second. Shit, guys. A knock on the door interrupts them. They close the laptop immediately and turn around, trying not to look guilty. The boys stand to exit. Mason is clearly distressed as the barber glides an electric razor over his head. BILL This is gonna look so much better. You ' re gonna look like a man instead of like a little girl. You're takin' the eyebrows off next, right, Byron? Bill nudges Randy, and laughs. Mason does not find it funny. Mindy is the last to leave the room, shaking her head in disbelief. Mom is getting ready to go.

MOM Bye , guys. KIDS Bye , mom. MOM Where is Mason? I don't think he's going to school. MOM Bye. MOM Mason, what's goin' on? MOM Yeah? Well your head feels fine. So get your ass out of bed. He just cut it. I mean, it's my hair! MOM Well, no wonder you were angry. I'd be angry too. MOM Honey, you know what? I'm gonna talk to him about it later, okay? MOM I'm so sorry. I've been so busy with school She touches his hair, lovingly. Now I can see your pretty eyes and your foxy face.

He ' s such a jerk. MOM Well, Bill has his good qualities. You know, nobody's perfect. And now we have a family. With this, Mason turns and exits the car. Students snicker at Mason's new haircut. Please join me in the Texas pledge. You may be seated. The students continue laughing at Mason.

Alright class, as you know, we ' ve been working on our mythology projects. And we're going to be writing papers about gods and goddesses. We've listed those gods and goddesses here on the board. We added a couple of monsters , for some of you who might be interested in that. And you ' re going to write your essay about your god or goddess, and to make sure that you cover everything, let's make sure that we do all of these things right here Mason is handed a note from across the room.

The note reads: Mason, I think your hair looks kewl! Neighborhood Boy skates off in a different direction. Mom can be seen laying on the floor of the garage, crying. MOM No — Go in the house! Go in the house! BILL Your mother had a little accident. Now she ' s being dramatic. Mom is still crying as the boys exit. Bill enters the garage with a drink in his hand. Mom continues to cry. He loudly bangs things on the table, and pours himself a drink.

BILL I'm having a drink with my dinner. Anybody else have a problem with that? The family is seated at the dinner table, practically frozen. He drinks the entire glass, and slowly zeros in on Mason. That's okay, I don't like me either. Think that's funny, huh? You think that's fuckin' funny?

Bill throws his empty glass at Mason's plate, shattering it. MOM Oh! Bill throws the empty whiskey bottle past Randy. It shatters on the floor. BILL Clean it up, goddamnit! Clean it up! MOM Bill! I hate squash! Bill walks away, leaving the shocked family at the table. The other kids lounge about the room, listening to the audio. A moment passes as Mason watches his video. BILL Give me your cell phones. So nobody talked to her, huh? The girls shake their heads no.


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Bill is checking their phone call histories. BILL Mindy? BILL I'll believe you Bill holds her phone screen out, as if to prove her wrong. She left a message. BILL What'd she say? BILL What did she say? BILL And that's all? I'll be back later. I'll be back later, stay in your rooms. And that's all? BILL Where is she? BILL Alright, everybody get in the car. Hurry up! Get in the car! She walks over to Bill's car window. BILL Ohh, bullshit. She took it all. Brief Lives by John Aubrey, edited by Andrew Clark Truly ahead of his time, the 17th-century historian and gossip John Aubrey is rightly credited as the man who invented biography.

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