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ADVICE   7'6m?f Drug addiction, Breaking old habits

(scene: two widely spaced chairs facing audience)

JUDGEMENTAL -- (enters, crosses, attempts to sit in nearest
chair)

MAN -- (follows, crosses, resists) I'm sorry, you can't sit
there.

JUDGEMENTAL -- Excuse me?

MAN -- You can't sit there.

JUDGEMENTAL -- Why not?

MAN -- That's where I sit. You can sit over there. (points)

JUDGEMENTAL -- What's the difference?

MAN -- It's a habit. I HAVE to sit here.

JUDGEMENTAL -- A habit?

MAN -- Yes. I've been sitting in this chair for years. So, if
you'll please move, I'll just....

JUDGEMENTAL -- These chairs are identical. What difference does
it make which one you sit in?

MAN -- I told you. It's a habit.

JUDGEMENTAL -- Just because it's a habit doesn't mean you HAVE
to do it again, does it?

MAN -- Yes, it does. Could you please get out of my way?

JUDGEMENTAL -- You're really addicted to sitting here, aren't
you?

MAN -- No, I'm not.

JUDGEMENTAL -- If you're not addicted, you can sit anywhere
you want with no harmful effects. Sit over there, then.

MAN -- (pause, agitated) -- Alright! I'll admit it! This isn't
just a habit! I'm addicted to sitting here. Now are you happy?!

JUDGEMENTAL -- (backing toward other chair) You don't have to
get upset! I was just asking!

MAN -- (sits, cries out in pain)

JUDGEMENTAL -- What's the matter?! Is something wrong?

MAN -- (cries out) Yes. I just sat on a tack. (cries out)

JUDGEMENTAL -- See? That's what addictions will do to you. I
can't see how people in their right minds can allow themselves
to become addicted and put themselves through all that pain.

MAN -- (cries out) Don't just stand there! Do something! It
hurts! It hurts real bad!

JUDGEMENTAL -- I'd love to help. But I've already done a great
deal for you by helping you see your problem. (exiting) You'll
have to work out the solution for yourself.

MAN -- (cries out) Help! Somebody help me!

DRUGS -- (enters) Hey, pal, you need help?

MAN -- (cries out) Yes. I sat on a tack. The pain is
excruciating! Please help me!

DRUGS -- (looks both ways) Listen, pal, you just happened to
catch me at a good time. I just happen to have an ample supply
of uppers and downers (holds up two plastic bags containing
pills) in my possession, or you may prefer the more conventional
method of alleviating pain. I've got vodka, Gin, Bourbon,
Scotch, Rye, and then, of course, I have a complete selection of
wines: I got your rose', your chablis, your cabernet...

MAN -- ...anything! I'll take anything! This pain is
overwhelming. How much?

DRUGS -- Oh, that's the good news, my friend. Your first hit is
free. But, after while, I'll take everything you own. (dangles
bag)

MAN -- (grabs bag) Good! (opening bag) I just need relief!

DRUGS -- (exiting) I'll be back tomorrow to renew your
prescription, pal. Bring your money.

MAN -- (takes pill) Yeah, sure, anything you say.

SCIENCE -- (enters wearing white lab coat) Oh, no. Please don't
do that!

MAN -- (takes pill) Do what? I'm just getting a little relief
from my pain.

SCIENCE -- Drugs are just a temporary solution to a permanent
problem. What you need is a PERMANENT solution.

MAN -- Listen, the pain is just unbearable. (takes pill) What
did you have in mind?

SCIENCE -- If you're in pain, we could do surgery to sever the
nerves from the painful area. You could be pain free for life.

MAN -- (takes pill) That sounds serious. Aren't their any
harmful effects from such radical surgery?

SCIENCE -- Well, of course! First of all, you wouldn't have any
feelings at all in the affected area. Some people who have had
such surgery have accidentally burned and cut themselves
seriously without even knowing about it. And then, of course,
there's always a slim chance that the surgery itself could kill
you.

MAN -- (takes pill) That IS serious. I'm not sure that surgery
is for me.

SCIENCE -- Well, if severing the nerve is untenable, you might
want to opt for a frontal lobotomy or shock treatments to remove
the stress cause by the pain.

MAN -- (takes pill) Shock treatments?! Isn't that more painful
than sitting on a tack?

SCIENCE -- How about bio-feedback or electrode implants?

MAN -- (takes pill) Implants?! Isn't that surgery?

SCIENCE -- (exiting) Well, of course. No pain, no gain.

MAN -- (puts pill to mouth, drops it back in bag)Oh, no! I think
I'm getting addicted to these pills. (cries out in pain) Help
me! Somebody!

PSYCH1 -- (enters wearing white lab coat) I understand you're in
pain.

MAN -- Yes, I am.

PSYCH2 -- (enters wearing white lab coat) Where does it hurt?

MAN -- I sat on a tack.

PSYCH1 -- I suspect masochistic tendencies.

MAN -- What are you babbling about?!

PSYCH2 -- Did it ever occur to you that you sat on the tack
DELIBERATELY?!

MAN -- You're crazy!

PSYCH1 -- Look at the denial. Obviously repressing something.

PSYCH2 -- Obviously a self-inflicted wound.

PSYCH1 -- Obviously associated with guilt of some kind.

PSYCH2 -- Obviously some SEXUAL overtones here.

PSYCH1 -- Obviously compensating for residual guilt.

MAN -- Guilt?! What guilt?! I sat on a tack.

PSYCH2 -- Definitely suffering from residual guilt.

PSYCH1 -- Tell us who you victimized.

MAN -- Victimized? I didn't victimize anyone!

PSYCH1 -- What did I tell you about denial?

MAN -- I'm not denying anything. Well, I am. But I'm not denying
anything that's true.

PSYCH2 -- It's denial, alright. How was your relationship with
your mother?

MAN -- What does my mother have to do with sitting on a tack?

PSYCH2 -- Oh, this pathology is very deeply rooted.

PSYCH1 -- Very deeply. I think we should prescribe years of
psychoanalysis.

PSYCH2 -- Years.

MAN -- Oh, you're no help at all!

PSYCH1 -- (exiting) What did I tell you?

PSYCH2 -- (exiting) You were right. Deeply rooted denial.

JESUS -- (enters) I heard you were in pain.

MAN -- I sat on a tack. But there's nothing you can do. There's
nothing anybody can do.

JESUS -- Have you tried moving to the chair without the
tack?

MAN -- Oh, I couldn't do that!

JESUS -- Why not?

MAN -- I've been sitting in this chair for years. It's an old
habit. I keep SAYING I'll move to another chair some day. But I
always come back here.

JESUS -- You DO have a choice, you know.

MAN -- I do?

JESUS -- Yes. You do.

MAN -- No. There's no way I could change now, not after all
these years.

JESUS -- Well, you can't do it by yourself. You need someone
to help you develop new habits.

MAN -- (nervous, takes pill) No. I could NEVER develop new
habits. Never. I've tried it. I'm just incapable...

JESUS -- ...That's because you've never relied on someone to
help you develop new habits.

MAN -- There's nobody who could do that for me. Everybody wants
to give me advice and sell me things, but noone wants to HELP me
change.

JESUS -- I do.

MAN -- You do?

JESUS -- Sure. Come on. (extends hand) Try it. Just once.

MAN -- Well, okay, (takes hand, stands) but... Oh!... Oh!

JESUS -- What's the matter?

MAN -- The pain is gone!

JESUS -- Good. (guides Man to other chair) Come. Let's try
another habit.

MAN -- Oh, okay. I guess it's worth a try. (sits)

JESUS -- How does it feel?

MAN -- Seems strange.

JESUS -- What do you mean?

MAN -- I really do have a choice! This is going to take some
getting used to! I was getting pretty comfortable in my
hopelessness.

JESUS -- There's a whole new world that opens up to you
after you discover that you have a choice. (offers hand) Want to
try some more possibilities?

MAN -- (takes hand, exiting) Sure, as long as you're there to
help me. I don't do so well on my own.
2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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