Solving the world's problems

Another night at the Rectory


[The old-fashioned, lace-curtain, oak-paneled rectory seen in “Feast Day,” “Opus Duh,” and “A Few Drinks After Work.” The usual characters are having drinks: ROSS DOUTHAT (B&B), Attorney General BILL BARR (single malt), Supreme Court Associate Justice BOOF KAVANAUGH (the black stuff), and former Secretary of Education WILLIAM BENNETT (the Irish). They seem to have been at it a while.]

DOUTHAT: So this is the real problem with demographic decadence, you see — it betrays a kind of cultural death wish in this country. Now, you cannot separate this from religion.

BENNETT: That’s the truth.

DOUTHAT: The liberals would accept a natalist program if it were financed by the state, like WIC and TANF, but I don’t think that’s a deal we should take, because then they’d be inclined to worship the state, you see, because that’s where the money would come from, rather than our Lord Jesus Christ. Better we should guide them, in fact steer them into a natalist frame of mind with a kind of natalist psy-ops program, you see, and then when they find themselves with a house full of children and no government program, they’ll start to find their way to Jesus.

KAVANAUGH: Sure they will — “Jesus Christ, what have I done?”

[Everyone but DOUTHAT laughs.]

BARR: “How in the name of Holy Christ am I goin’ to pay the rent?”

[Everyone but DOUTHAT laughs.]

BENNETT: Aye, we shouldn’t mock young Douthat so. He’s just overthinking it. Soon we’ll erase that goddamn Roe versus Wade, and everything will fall into place. Isn’t that right, Mr. Justice Kavanaugh?

KAVANAUGH: You know it, Mr. Bennett.

BENNETT: Here, now — that lady Justice o’yours ain’t getting cold feet, is she?

KAVANAUGH: Oh, no, sir.

BENNETT: Well, I’d keep an eye on her. It’s when you give ‘em a job that it starts. Oh, cleanin’ houses and boilin’ laundry, that’s all right — just what they do all day anyhow, an’ it brings in a little somethin’ extra for the old man t’play on the horses. But some fellas, they get greedy. They get their women countin’ the till. An’ then the woman starts t’see the old man ain’t so clever with figures, or he’s too drunk to notice, so they pockets some o’that money, see. Schemin’ bitches! Think they’re smart! Then they get onto clarkin’ an’ waitressin’, retail sales, and then lawyerin’ and judgin’, and wearin’ pants an’ drinkin’ standin’ up like a man!

[BENNETT spits on the floor. He is angry, wheezing and red in the face.]

BARR: [Slyly] He’s right, Brett. Why don’t you smack her little bottom and let her know her place.

[BENNETT laughs loudly; KAVANAUGH blushes.]

Go on, Mr. Justice — you know they’ll let you get away with it.

BENNETT: [Suddenly mad again] Here, now, that’s enough o’ that, Bill Barr! You get too ironical when you’ve had a snootful.

BARR: “A snootful!” And you get too Irish! What part of the old country did ye say ye come from, then?

BENNETT: Flatbush!

KAVANAUGH: So, Ross, if these young people don’t have any money and I understand a lot of them can’t afford their own homes, how are you going to get them to have children?

DOUTHAT: Well, I’ve been thinking about it, Brett, and I believe the thin end of the wedge is romantic comedies.

[Beat.]

BARR: Come again, Ross?

BENNETT: Fill-umms, you mean like?

DOUTHAT: Yes. You see, these young people just watch “woke” comic book movies and TV shows, but if we could get our people to make romantic comedies and get the millennials and the Gen Zs to watch them, we could get them falling in love, which naturally will inspire them to consecrate their love with issue.

BARR: Oh, naturally.

BENNETT: So what sort of fill-umms are ye talkin’ about, son? The Bishop’s Wife, maybe? That was Protestants, but still a very foin pitcher!

DOUTHAT: Well, something more modern, Mr. Bennett, to keep with the times. You know, like “Knocked Up.”

BENNETT: [Grimacing] “Knocked Up”? A fill-umm called “Knocked Up”? One o’ them doorty pitchers you want to show them, loik what they used ta play on 42nd Street?

DOUTHAT: Well, we have to make some concessions — these people are almost too far gone, we have to give them something they’d enjoy.

BENNETT: Mother Mary and Joseph! This is all the fault of that fat Roncalli and his goddamn Vatican II! First meat on Friday, now ye have to show them doorty pitchers so’s to get ‘em to make babies!

[He grabs an old-fashioned handbell from a sidetable and rings.]

Mrs. Noonan! Another round, and quick!

KAVANAUGH: [Getting up and crossing to the bar] I think she’s gone to sleep, Bill, I’ll get you another.

BENNETT: Have one yourself, not that I have to tell you.

[Suddenly a door flings open and ROD DREHER, dressed like a Brooklyn hipster and coiffed like Farmer Al Falfa, rushes in carrying an ornate, steaming censer.]

BARR: Sweet Jesu, Dreher, get out of this, we’re having a discussion!

DREHER: It can’t wait, brothers in Christ! The devil is abroad in the world and I’ve come to protect you!

KAVANAUGH: [Holding his nose] Pfaww! Is that incense?

BENNETT: Dreher, I thought ye went apostate!

DREHER: Mother Mary help me, I did! I left the Church for Eastern Orthodoxy, and then for Sufism, and then I followed Deep Banana Blackout and then when the virus hit I became a Stylite, in my living room, that is, because of the wifi, but then I saw the musical Negro with his Satan shoes and I ran back to the One True Church as fast as my legs would carry me because I knew She would defend me! Now I invoke Her power! Let me bless you all!

[DREHER swings his censer; it billows clouds of scent.]

Obiurgare solere! Obiurgare solere!

[The MEN roar and throw their drinks at him. MRS. NOONAN, dressed like a charwoman, charges in with a fire hose.]

NOONAN: FIRE! FIRE! CLEAR OUT THE LOT O’YEZ!

[She unleashes a torrent of water on DREHER, knocking him into the bar, as the CURTAIN falls.]