The Bologna Sandwich
A Three Minute Play
Ted Wilson, age 63, an ex-building contractor and self-published author
Nancy Wilson, age 61, Ted’s wife, an advertising account executive
Jerry Wilson, age 27, Ted and Nancy’s visiting son
An upper middleclass home in a nice neighborhood in the suburbs. It is noon on a fine summer Saturday, and the sun is high in the sky. Ted and Nancy are in their kitchen, and Nancy is preparing sandwiches for lunch. Jerry is visiting his parents, but he is not yet in the kitchen.
Ted: Well, that’s another one down.
Nancy: You’re done?
Ted: It’s ready to be edited.
Nancy: So, what’s this one about?
Ted: It’s about a fifty-year-old man who commits suicide by locking himself in his garage with his car running. Actually, it’s about his life prior to the suicide.
Nancy: Oh, dear.
Ted: Are you sure you don’t want to read it?
Nancy: I’m positive. You know I don’t like fiction. And I certainly don’t want to read a book about a man who kills himself.
Ted: It’s a good book.
Nancy: It sounds depressing. Do you want white bread or rye?
Ted: White, and it isn’t depressing. It’s quite uplifting.
Nancy: Sorry, but suicide is not uplifting.
Ted: I guess it depends on how you see it. Really, you should read the book. It’s a very inspiring story. Maybe you’ll learn something.
Nancy: Why don’t you write about something people want to read? You know, like a book about a dog? I’ve always said you should write a fun and heartwarming book about a dog. People love dogs.
Ted: I don’t want to write about dogs.
Nancy: Who do you think is going to buy your books? People who like suicide stories? You want mayonnaise?
Ted: Just a little. Not too much. And some mustard. Not that gourmet crap, but just the plain yellow ballpark stuff.
Nancy: I hear mysteries are popular these days. And thrillers. And criminal law stories.
Ted: I don’t want to write mysteries, thrillers, or criminal law stories. I’ve told you that before. Why are you always trying to fix my writing?
Nancy: Judy Marconi asked me a few days ago if you were still trying to be an author and what kind of books you were writing. I told her you’d written eleven novels, and she asked what genre they were. What genre are your books? I didn’t know how to answer her. I never know what to tell people.
Ted: Just tell them I write fiction.
Nancy: That’s a genre?
Ted: I don’t know about genres. My books are just stories. I write stories. And I think they’re good stories.
Nancy: You’re never going to sell them. You want pickles?
Ted: Yes, just a couple.
Nancy: Honestly, I liked it better when you were a building contractor. At least when people asked what you did, I had a solid answer for them. I could tell them you constructed buildings. It was the sort of work that people understood. But now what do I say? That my husband writes stories? What kind of stories? Oh, he doesn’t really know. I have to tell them, just stories. It sounds like you don’t know what you’re doing.
Ted: I’m not a genre writer.
Nancy: Then you’ll never sell your books.
Ted: Maybe I won’t.
Nancy: Then what’s the point? You spend twelve hours a day at your keyboard, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes and typing your golden years away. You spend thousands of dollars from our retirement nest egg in order to self-publish what you write. It’s a big investment. There has to be a point to it all. Tell me, what’s the point? And tell me, do you want lettuce?
Ted: Yes, a little lettuce.
(Enter Jerry. He immediately goes to the refrigerator to grab a Coke. He opens the Coke and then kisses Nancy on the cheek.)
Jerry: Lunch almost ready?
Jerry: What were you two talking about?
Nancy: Your dad just finished another book.
Jerry: (laughing) Another one? Already? How many does that make, now? Fifty? A hundred? What’s this one about?
Nancy: A man who kills himself.
Jerry: That sounds depressing.
Nancy: That’s what I said.
Ted: (now holding his sandwich) This is way too much lettuce. You know I don’t like that much lettuce on my sandwiches. I said just a little.
Nancy: Sorry. Here, I’ll fix it for you.
Ted: (handing Nancy the sandwich) Yes, please do.
Nancy: Funny, isn’t it? We’re really not so different after all.
Ted: (pensively) No, I suppose not. But it changes nothing. I’m still not writing a novel about a dog. No way. Not for all the cigars in Cuba.