Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bradley Smiles

TIP: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! Tip Blinkton here with another exciting of episode of WHO HAS IT THE WORST? -- the show where you, at home, decide which of our panelists has it the worst of all. The prize? Understanding of the human condition.

Let's meet our first panelist. Johnny?

Well, Tip, Ellen is a 65-year-old housewife with three grown kids. She's from Idaho. She's a retired dental hygienist and her interests are soap operas and shows about soap operas. Ellen! [Audience joins in] WHAT'S-YOUR-PROBLEM?

ELLEN: Well, Tip, I have just been diagnosed with lung cancer. I could die in six months and I would leave behind three sons and a cat. My husband just died of cancer, as well. It has been my worst fear all of my life and now it comes to this. I can barely get out of bed in the morning for the depression.

TIP: Well, Ellen, that really sucks. [Audience applauds, moans . . .] Who's next, Johnny?

Tip, our next panelist, Bob, is a husband, forty-seven years of age. He is an avid Browns fan with a ten year old daughter and a wife. Bob! [Audience joins in: ] WHAT'S-YOUR-PROBLEM?

BOB: Uh, I can't get work. My unemployment runs out soon and there are no openings for guys in my field. My wife is unable to work and I need to feed my daughter. I am terrified about the future. What will I do if I can't feed my family?

TIP: Thanks, Bob. Yeah -- you are in a pretty crappy situation. Better you than me! [Audience laughs.] Joking, Bob. I'm joking. Who else do we have with us, Johnny?

Tip, Linda is a thirty year-old married woman who works as a secretary during the day. She and her husband have a little daughter. Her husband is a car salesman. Linda! [Audience joins in . . . ] WHAT'S-YOUR-PROBLEM?

LINDA: My husband is not who I thought he would be. He's boring. I'm just tired of him. He seemed so interesting when we got engaged, but, he is just a bore. I can't even look at him anymore. I need a guy like a guy in the movies -- like Leo DiCaprio in Titanic. Someone who knows how to live. I mean, I know Jack, in the movie, died and stuff, but you know what I mean . . .  I would push my husband over the edge if that was us. He's worthless.

TIP: Wow, Linda, you got screwed. The bastard really turned the tables on you, huh? You should have married a game show host -- we are always interesting. Know what I'm sayin'? Maybe I will get your number after the show. KIDDING!!  Hahahaha. Johnny, get me out of this . . . [Audience laughs.]

Cole is a twenty-five-year-old college graduate who is working as a waiter as he contemplates his next move. He thinks he might go to graduate school, but he hates school. Cole: [Audience joins in]WHAT'S-YOUR -PROBLEM?

COLE: I just don't know who I am. I mean, I need to decide where the rest of my life is going, like, now. I mean, is that a small question? "Who am I?" That's a huge question. I just don't know what to do. I don't want to be trapped in a cubicle, you know? I want to live. Work outside with my shirt off or something. I don't want to be just another dude paying the bills. I want to live, Tip.

TIP: Thanks, Cole. Sucks to be you. Good luck with that pipe dream. [Audience laughs.] I'm kidding Cole -- kidding. Johnny, who's next?

Well, Tipperooskie, Aileen -- called "Leenie" by her friends in high school -- is a student who works at the mall on the weekends. Leenie! [Audience joins in  . . .] WHAT'S-YOUR -PROBLEM?

AILEEN: [crying]: Well, my boyfriend, Tony, took me to the prom and stuff and we went down the shore and we had a great time on the beach and partying and all of that stuff and he kept telling me he loved me and I even, you know, went all the way with him and he promised we would get married some day and then right before he left for college, he broke up with me. [Cries some more.] FML. I can't take this anymore. [Runs off of the stage.]

TIP: Whoof. Tony, Tony, Tony . . .  [winks] Okay, Johnny. Last one!

Last and least, at least in size, Tip, is little David. David is three and he really wanted a truck in the toystore, but he hit his baby sister and his mom said he couldn't have the truck anymore. Davy! [Audience joins in . . . ] WHAT'S-YOUR -PROBLEM?

DAVY: [Cries, bellowing loudly] Mommy said I could have the truck! Then she said no! [Tears spill for his eyes and he cries until he can't cry anymore, then he sits still, hiccuping small sobs into his chest]

TIP: Well, there you have it folks. There's a handfull of folks with problems. Now, it's your turn. WHO HAS IT THE WORST!? Text your votes at the conclusion of the show . . . and good luck.

The winner will be announced on the next show. Until then, for Johnny Vocce, I'm Tip Blinkton saying: "Better you than me!"


The big flatscreen TV goes dark. The woman drops the remote, looks out the window at her estate's grounds, watches her husband playing tennis with his business partner. She walks through numerous rooms hung with expensive art, smiles and nods at members of the staff who say, "Good morning, Mrs. Penceworth." She walks up the massive staircase and past the numerous doors on the second floor. She stops at a closed door, and knocks gently.

"Brad, it's Mommy." She opens the door. Bradley, bald from chemotherapy treatments, smiles broadly at her. He hold up a picture, IV tubes swinging from his arm. His nurse smiles, tight-lipped, up from her book.

"Mom! I drew a new superhero. He can fly, but only when it is daytime, because he needs the sunlight. But when the sun is out, he's strong and he fights enemies with his super-strength. He flies with his fists closed, like this and . . ."

Bradley goes on and on. His mother listens, tears in her eyes, knowing . . .

Bradley smiles and tilts his head. "Don't cry, mom." (Mom laughs through her tears.) "You're silly," Bradley says, and goes back to his drawing.

She picks up her phone and texts: NONE OF THEM. She thinks for a moment about Ellen and Bob and Cole and Davey and Leenie and Linda. She deletes the text. She changes it: ALL OF THEM.

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