Alex gets with it
A lesson in life and love
[Family Ties intro plays. Commercial break. Open on the KEATONS’ kitchen. ELYSE is making something in a wok, and STEVE is at the kitchen table reading A People’s History of the United States. ALEX comes bounding in, pulling on his letter jacket and wearing a MAGA hat.]
ELYSE: Alex, you joining us for dinner? Mallory and Jennifer are at sleepovers.
ALEX: Aw, Mom, sorry, I can’t. Not that your Wuhan whatchamacallit doesn’t look and smell absolutely delicious — not! But I’ve got a big meeting tonight.
STEVEN: What kind of meeting, Alex?
ALEX: Big new conservative group, Dad. They’re having a meeting at our school.
STEVEN: But you’re not wearing one of your suits. Normally when you go to these things —
ALEX: Dad, this is a new kind of conservatism. We all know Reagan was the greatest but these are different times. Conservatism isn’t about dress codes anyway. You know, most of the guys who used to dress like hippies and go “peace, man” are Trump voters now. Like your college roommate Joe Grady. I saw those old pictures of you two dressed like Cheech and Chong.
STEVEN: Yeah, poor guy. He hasn’t been the same since his Back Cove 340 sank in that boat parade.
ALEX: Very funny. Well, you keep living in the past. Something tells me I’m about get a look at the future. Later, peeps!
[ALEX leaves. Pause.]
ELYSE: You take the Cialis?
STEVEN: You know it.
[Dissolve to the high school auditorium. About a dozen early-20s white men wearing fake tactical gear are doing push-ups while one, BONIFACE, who has a fash haircut and a handlebar mustache, strolls among them with his arms folded. ALEX runs in, stares.]
BONIFACE: You maggots disgust me! I bet you don’t have enough wind to say “President Trump!” Say it! President —
MEN: [Winded] Trump!
MEN: [Louder, winded] PRESIDENT TRUMP.
BONIFACE: Alright, at ease.
[The MEN stop and get up, mill around.]
That was slightly less pathetic than last time. That means you maggots are getting stronger. Soon you’ll be ready to kick groomer ass! But first — [notices ALEX] What’s this, Meat? What’s your name, Meat?
ALEX: Sorry, fellas, I’m looking for the Proud Boys.
BONIFACE: You got ‘em.
ALEX: You’re the Proud Boys?
BONIFACE: Hell yeah.
ALEX: I thought this was a conservative policy group, what’s with the calisthenics?
BONIFACE: This is conservative policy, Meat! No more fancy talk about budgets and infrastructure, that’s for losers. Know what our policy is? Kicking ass!
[The MEN all roar.]
My moniker is Boniface. That’s an eighth century English monk who went to Germany and kicked ass! All of us have taken the names of a great Catholic saint — like me [points] or Francisco Franco over there — or a hardcore Roman like [points] Pliny the Elder and his little bro Pliny the Younger. You gotta pick one and put it in your Twitter profile if you want to be in the Proud Boys.
ALEX: I —
BONIFACE: Another thing! You gotta prove yourself physically as a man. You missed the physical culture part of the session tonight, but that just means you get double next time! Meanwhile you can prove yourself by jerking off in front of us.
BONIFACE: Don’t worry, we’re not fags — we don’t want you to cum! We want you to jerk off without cumming, and when you feel close you tell us and we’ll throw ice water on you, or fart in your face.
ALEX: Alright, you know what, this is nuts! I’m for sound fiscal policy, strong national defense, gradual and sensible social change —
[The MEN chant “RINO! RINO!” ALEX leaves.]
BONIFACE: Forget about that loser! Let’s go throw bricks at the gay bar!
[Roaring, the men exit. Dissolve to the KEATONS’ kitchen, where STEVEN is sitting at the table in a robe and eating a sandwich. ALEX comes in.]
ALEX: Hey Dad, what are you doing up?
STEVEN: Hi, son. Your Mom fell asleep so I snuck down here to get a roast beef sandwich.
ALEX: That’s weird, usually you fall asleep first.
STEVEN: Huh, go figure.
ALEX: Roast beef? I thought you guys were having —
STEVEN: Don’t tell your mother but I can’t stand that veggie stuff. I eat it when she’s looking and when she’s not I put it in a plastic bag and stuff it in the garbage.
ALEX: But you and mom still believe in the same things, don’t you?
STEVEN: Well, I’m more of what you call a neoliberal anymore. Guess that’s what happened to all of us who work in public broadcasting. But your mother thinks it’s hot — I mean, she just likes it better when I talk like a real lefty.
ALEX: But Dad, isn’t that hypocritical?
STEVEN: As you get older, son, you’ll find that sometimes it’s better to lie to people than to hurt their feelings.
ALEX: Dad, I already know that, I’m a Republican.
STEVEN: Speaking of which, how was your meeting?
ALEX: Wow, Dad, the movement’s not what it used to be. I feel like I’m stateless politically.
STEVEN: I hear you talking, son. When Joe Biden canceled those student loans I felt like I did in the old days when the kooks tried to take over the dean’s office. I paid my student loans off, all of them — and it was hundreds of dollars!
[STEVEN slides a piece of paper out from under his placemat toward ALEX.]
Have a look at this but don’t tell your mother where you got it.
ALEX: A picture of Tulsi Gabbard in gym clothes?
[STEVEN yanks that back, puts it under the placemat, slides another piece of paper over to ALEX.]
STEVEN: Don’t tell her about that either. Here.
ALEX: [Reading] “Andrew Yang’s Forward Party”?
[ALEX runs his finger down the page and reads.]
It doesn’t sound like they believe in anything.
STEVEN: Exactly. That’s why we call this show The Facts of Life.
ALEX: It’s called Family Ties.
STEVEN: Potato po-tah-to.
[STEVEN gets up.]
Think it over, son. If your mother and I really believed in anything we wouldn’t be able to afford this enormous house and three cars. I mean, it’s not like it’s the 1980s anymore.
[STEVEN starts to leave, doubles back, pulls out the Tulsi Gabbard picture and takes it with him. Canned laughter, applause, end credits.]
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