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Goldberg shoots his shart

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[A glass-walled office at the New York Times’ headquarters. Opinion editor KATHLEEN KINGSBURY, in a dark-purple light-wool suit and matching pumps, leans her butt on the arm of a sofa and plays with her phone. An assistant in a white blouse, light-grey jacket, dark-grey skirt and flats, SHEILA, walks over and half-opens the door to the office; following slightly behind her, looking down with his palms pressed together and appearing to talk to himself, is JONAH GOLDBERG, formerly of National Review and other conservative equities; he wears a formless and very dark blue suit with a light grey shirt with a Nehru collar and black Ferragamos; his dyed hair is of moderate length and unsuccessfully slicked back. All are masked, though GOLDBERG’s mask is upside down.]

SHEILA: Mr. Goldberg is here.

[KINGSBURY stands up; SHEILA holds the door and GOLDBERG comes in, extends his hand, which KINGSBURY shakes.]

KINGSBURY: Jonah, how are you.

GOLDBERG: Great, great! So we’re not doing the elbow thing, I guess?

KINGSBURY: Elbow — oh, I’m sorry, I hope you didn’t feel pressured.

GOLDBERG: No, no.

KINGSBURY: There’s a bottle of Purell on the coffee table.

GOLDBERG: Oh, great.

KINGSBURY: And please have a seat. Would you like something to drink —

[GOLDBERG plops down on the sofa, to KINGSBURY’s apparent surprise, and starts pumping Purell into his hands.]

— some coffee or tea or water?

GOLDBERG: No thanks. I tanked up on caffeine at a deli on the way over here.

KINGSBURY: [to SHEILA] Thanks, Sheila.

[SHEILA leaves.]

GOLDBERG: So many delis! I forgot how busy New York is! DC is so dull.

 [GOLDBERG pulls napkins out of his jacket pockets and dries off his hands.]

I’m in kind of a hurry to get out of there, to tell you the truth.

KINGSBURY: Are you?

GOLDBERG: Oh, yeah. [Notices KINGSBURY is still standing.] So, you want to join me?

KINGSBURY: Of course.

[KINGSBURY takes a seat opposite GOLDBERG.]

GOLDBERG: Because I’m full of ideas. Like that handshake thing. So weird, right, because we’re wearing masks like good little citizens in some dystopian novel by Orwell or Zamyatin, who not many people know about, yet we eat and drink and shake hands, in fact you clearly expected me to shake hands and you offered me a drink. It’s really a form of virtue signaling when you think about it.

[GOLDBERG has been fumbling uncomfortably with his mask.]

KINGSBURY: Jonah, you don’t have to pitch me, this is just a meet and greet.

GOLDBERG: Can’t help it, I’m chock full of ideas! Plus I’m an unexpected thinker, which I understand you’re looking for. You know I’m friends with David Brooks, right?

KINGSBURY: Speaking of masks, Jonah, did you know your mask was on upside down?

GOLDBERG: No it’s not. [Beat] Is it?

[GOLDBERG fumbles with his mask.]

How about that! I was wondering — hold on —

[GOLDBERG stands up, bangs his shin on the coffee table.]

OW! Sorry, just want to get over here —

[GOLDBERG steps away, turns around, fumbles with his mask trying to fit it on properly.]

— so I don’t, I don’t breathe on you while I get this thing fixed — though I don’t know how much good it really does, that’s another thing — OW! OW!

[GOLDBERG has snapped one of the straps of the face mask into his eye. He staggers backwards holding his eye. KINGSBURY stands.]

KINGSBURY: Are you alright?

GOLDBERG: Fine! OW! I’m fine! I just snapped my mask, but it’s okay, I have another in my pocket here, just a sec — almost got it now —

[With his free hand GOLDBERG fumbles in his jacket pocket, finally pulls out a mask, but also accidentally extracts several Cheetos which fall on the carpet, which KINGSBURY notices but GOLDBERG does not. GOLDBERG puts the new mask on properly.]

Whew! Boy, when things go wrong. Got it now.

[GOLDBERG returns to the couch, treading the Cheetos into the carpet, which KINGSBURY notices but GOLDBERG does not.]

That’s another thing, too, sometimes things go really wrong, like it makes a big mess, and you know it’s totally not your fault but it looks really bad, which is kind of a metaphor for the conservative movement these days.

[GOLDBERG slathers on the Purell again, pulls out napkins, expelling more Cheetos, and dries his hands.]

That’s a subject close to my heart because, you know, I had to quit Fox because of principles and I don’t say it makes me a hero, exactly, but there was serious money involved, I mean —

[GOLDBERG notices KINGSBURY is still standing.]

Oh, should I be standing too?

KINGSBURY: No, it’s okay, I was just worried you might need help because —

GOLDBERG: No, no, no, ha ha, if the lady can stand then certainly I can stand up, see —

[GOLDBERG stands, and again barks his shin and yells, but also falls backward over the sofa. KINGSBURY runs to the door and opens it.]

KINGSBURY: Sheila! Get Tom and Dylan! Quick!

GOLDBERG: I’m alright! I’m alright!

[GOLDBERG clambers back up on his feet, gestures wildly, mask hanging from one ear as KINGSBURY gapes.]

In fact I’d say this makes the metaphor perfect. More perfect! Now “perfect” is an absolute term, I realize, but that’s what makes “more perfect” so American — because the Founders said, “a more perfect union.” They were intellectuals but they had the common touch. They were farmers, they tilled the land, well they didn’t till it themselves, they had slaves —

[A peculiar noise has been rising, irregularly, like a distant motorboat, only slower.]

— which okay that wasn’t optimal, but here’s the thing, and this is what the critical race theory people don’t get, is you can’t let the more perfect be the enemy of the less good —

[A sound like thick fabric being suddenly, violently torn. KINGSBURY winces.]

Which is why conservatism, and your readers need to understand this, sometimes can’t be understood with words and logic, but has to be experienced viscerally.

[SHEILA and two young office guys run in and immediately turn their faces to one side and fall back; one office guy grabs KINGSBURY’s arm and pulls her out of the office.]

OFFICE GUY: Get out, Kathleen, it’s a biohazard!

[All except GOLDBERG run away. Pause.]

GOLDBERG: Thank God they left.

[Closing his eyes, GOLDBERG unleashes a four-second Sensurround fart. Pause. His eyes open — and he calls out to the void:]

HE WHO SMELT IT DEALT IT!

[GOLDBERG pulls Cheetos out of his pocket, stuffs them in his mouth. CURTAIN.]