10

Some Semantics Antics

Written by Lucas Froese

Cast: A, B, C, and D. All are men. B wears a hat.
Setting: A bench.

(B is sitting on a bench; C is off to the side)

(A enters)

A: A good day to you, stranger.

B: And an equally good day to you.

(A sits down on the bench next to B)

(C crosses to them)

C: A good day to you, stranger.

B: And an equally good day to you.

A: A good day, to be sure.

(C sits down)

(pause)

(suddenly)

A: I must leave.

B: Why?

C: I also must leave.

B: Why?

A: He is leaving because I was about to leave.

C: No!

B: What?

A: The only reason he must leave is because I must leave.

C: This is untrue for I honestly must leave.

A: Nobody is questioning your honesty. We realize you must leave, but you must leave because I must leave.

C: I leave because I must!

B: Why must you?

A: Because I was about to leave.

C: No!

B: (to A) And why must you leave?

A: It is inevitable.

B: Oh.

C: Oh.

A: Indeed.

(long pause)

(B hesitates slightly, and almost says something, then stops, then almost says it again, but then stops, then says his next line far too loudly)

B: SO.

(all are startled, and B is startled by the startling)

B: So, you (gestures to A) must leave because it is inevitable. And you (gestures to C) must leave because he (gestures to A) must leave because it is inevitable.

C: So I must leave because it is inevitable.

B: Oh.

A: Hm.

C: Indeed.

(pause)

B: Inevitability is not what it used to be.

A: Truly.

C: Truly.

(pause)

A: A joke?

B: Not me.

C: I've got one.

A: Do tell it.

B: Yes, do.

C: There are these two strawberries…

A: Heard it!

B: I haven't.

C: There are these two strawberries walking through a field-

A: It's a garden path! A garden path, and not a field!

C: Oh you're right I am sorry…

B: What?

A: (sighs)

C: There are these two strawberries walking down a garden path, and the first strawberry says to the second, "I'll race you to the gate!" And then…and then…uh, the second strawberry says, uh, he says to him he says, uh

B: Yes?

C: No that's not it.

A: Well…?

C: Um

A: He can't remember it.

B: He's forgotten?

C: I haven't! Give me a moment and I'll have thought of it.

(pause)

B: How long is a moment?

C: What?

A: A moment?

B: That is how long we have to give him, I am interested in how long I must stay here.

A: Ah.

C: A moment, eh?

B: Yes, that is what I said.

A: Yes, tell us what a moment is, for I must be leaving.

B: As does he.

C: (pauses pensively) Well, in my experience, moments have been usually small fragments of time, which are distinguished from one another by what is done within them.

A: I see.

B: I do not; would you please explain it more simply?

C: Well, certainly. A moment is one group of time. The way that you can tell one moment is different from another moment, is because one moment you are doing one thing, or one group of similar things. The next moment does not start until you start doing something different.

B: Ah.

A: Wait, I disagree.

B: Eh?

C: Do you?

A: I have just said that I did; please do not make me repeat myself.

C: Sorry.

B: That's all right.

C: Not you.

B: Ah.

A: Quiet! I disagree with your definition of a moment.

C: Please explain.

B: Yes, do.

A: I will. The way you define a moment, moments cannot feasibly exist.

B: (under his breath and confusedly as he does not know the word) Feasibly?

C: Go on.

A: If a moment is categorized by being the time in which a set of related activities are being completed, then all moments must be immeasurably short. Either this, or that the way in which one defines related activities is excessively broad.

C: I do not follow.

B: (under his breath and still confused but slightly more loudly) Feasibly?

A: Fine, an example then. Is this here, this 'discussion,' is this confined to a single moment?

C: I would think that it is, yes.

A: Because a set of related activities are spanning it, are they not?

C: Yes, that is why I would think that it is.

A: That is where you err.

B: (under his breath, still confused, but even louder than previously) Feasibly?

A: You see, elsewhere in the world, I am sure that some persons are performing an entirely unrelated activity.

B: (in a normal voice, testing the sound of the word aloud) Feasibly…

C: Yes, but we may group their activity as a separate part of the global activity. All current activities are thereby part of the same moment.

B: (trying to use it in context) Feasibly.

A: Touché.

(C looks proud of himself)

A: However…

(C's prideful look vanishes)

A: …when an activity of some other person in the world changes, it thereby alters the entire global net of activity at the same time, thereby causing a new moment.

B: Feasibly.

A: Thereby negating any chance of gauging a moment as you have defined it.

C: I see your point.

A: Good.

(B hears this and quickly pretends to have been paying attention)

B: (as if struck by the insight of the exchange) Ah.

C: Well then how would you define a moment?

B: Well, I…

C: Not you.

A: Me?

C: Yes.

B: Ah.

A: Well, I would use the dictionary's definition.

C: Which is what, exactly?

B: Do you have a dictionary?

C: I don't.

A: Neither do I.

B: Well then, it is impossible to say what definition you would use.

C: True.

(B beams with pride at his logical point)

A: Actually…

(B ceases beaming)

A: …I have committed the entire dictionary to memory.

C: (in disbelief) No!

B: (also in disbelief) No!

A: Yes.

B: Go on, then!

A: Moment: noun, a brief, indefinite interval of time. Also, a specific point in time, especially the present time, example: He is not here at the moment. Also, a particular period of importance, influence, or significance in a series of events or developments. Also, Outstanding significance or value; importance, example: a discovery of great moment. Also, A brief period of time that is characterized by a quality, such as excellence, suitability, or distinction, example: a lackluster performance that nevertheless had its moments. All of the other definitions have to do with science or philosophy, and are not relevant at all for the current situation.

(C is staring, agape)

B: Well done! That was remarkable!

A: (in fasle modesty) Yes, well it's nothing.

C: (regaining his composure) So why did you ask me to define a moment, if you had committed five dictionary definitions to memory?

A: (is suddenly nervous and squirming) Well, uh, I, you see, that is to say, um, (suddenly blurts) you would have done the same thing in my position!

C: No chance! (is struck by an epiphany, and slowly enunciates) You'd steal my laundry.

B: (puzzled) What?

A: Come again?

C: Oh, that, it was the last line of the joke.

B: What joke?

C: The joke that I had started only a moment ago.

B: The joke you had started a brief, and indefinite interval of time ago?

C: The same!

B: Well start over then, I should like to hear it in its entirety.

C: Two strawberries are walking through a field-

A: Garden path!

C: -a garden path. One strawberry looks to the other and says, "I'll race you to the gate!" And then the second strawberry responds "No chance! You'd steal my laundry!"

(B and A stare at C with looks of disbelief)

B: I do not understand.

A: That is not how the joke ends.

C: I am certain that it is.

A: And I am certain that it is not.

B: I am going to side with him (gestures to A) as he has memorized the dictionary, so a joke would be hardly a problem.

A: Thank you.

B: Don't mention it.

C: Fine. How does the joke go then?

A: I have never been much of a joke teller.

C: I wouldn't have guessed.

B: Oh, please tell it anyhow.

A: I would be so uncomfortable, though.

C: Oh fine, then tell it to him (gestures to B) and he will tell it to me.

A: Fine.

(A and B go down stage and A whispers something to B, B nods several times during the whispered exchange)

A: Have you got that?

B: Yes, yes I think so.

(A and B return to the bench)

C: Ready?

B: Yes.

C: Go on.

B: (clears throat) Two strawberries were walking down a garden path. One strawberry said to the other, "I'll race you to the gate!" The second strawberry replied, "Of course!" The two strawberries then completed their race. The first strawberry, who had lost, said "I submit my laundry to the winner."

C: That cannot be right.

A: But it is.

C: How can we be sure?

B: As I have said previously, this gentleman (gestures to A) has a remarkable ability to memorize things, and is probably not wrong when it comes to matters of memory.

A: Thank you.

B: Don't mention it.

C: I suppose, but you (to B) must admit, my joke was significantly funnier.

B: I must agree.

A: Backstabber!

B: So sorry.

A: It's all right.

C: (a little too loudly to regain the attention of the other two) Regardless, (realizes his overloud manner and speaks normally) it has been agreed upon that my rendition of the joke is funnier. Were you to use your ability to recall dictionary definitions, you would learn that the purpose of a joke is in fact to be funny.
A: True.

B: Even I knew that.

C: Therefore, my joke is superior.

A: But you are still wrong about the fact that I recalled the joke incorrectly.

C: I guess so, but that is irrelevant, I have come up with a brand new joke that is much funnier.

B: We know.

A: The joke is hardly new; it has merely been recycled.

C: Recycled?

A: Recycled; transitive verb; to use again, especially to reprocess; example: recycled aluminum cans; recycled old jokes, etc.

B: That's brilliant!

C: (becoming defensive) In any case, MY version is STILL better than YOUR version.

(A chuckles)

C: (distraught) What's so funny?

B: Is it another joke?

C: (repeating, even more worried) What's so funny?

A: You are, I make one comment on your joke and you've become quite enraged about it.

B: That's isn't a joke at all.

C: (enraged) I am NOT enraged!

B: Well then you are doing a terrible job of not being enraged, aren't you?

C: (standing up) I am NOT enraged! You are WRONG!

A: I am never wrong.

(C is enraged, stomps his foot, turns on his heel, and marches off to exit in a huff)

B: Oh my, he left.

A: I realize.

B: You don't think you might have been a little bit harsh on him?

A: What does it matter? If he cannot handle casual discussion, I really would rather not speak to him until he becomes slightly more proficient at it.

(long pause)

B: Wait!

A: I have been.

B: No, I mean he has left, has he not?

A: Yes.

B: How do you know?

A: As I said before, I am never wrong.

B: But didn't you say previously that you must leave?

A: I did, and I must.

B: And didn't you also say that he must leave?

A: I did, and he must.

B: And didn't you also say that he must leave due to the fact that you must leave?

A: (realizing where this is going) Uh, um, yes, I might have said something vaguely akin to that.

B: Yet he has left before you have, therefore you were wrong.

A: But-

B: (cutting him off) And in being wrong you were also wrong about never being wrong. You have been wrong twice!

A: Now wait just one second! (thinks hurriedly) Uh, how do you define 'wrong'?

B: (slowly, wary of a trap) I define it as the opposite of 'correct.'

A: I define it differently.

B: Eh?

A: Having memorized the dictionary, I can provide irrefutable evidence that that is not the definition of wrong.

B: Something is wrong with my wrong?

A: By your definitions, yes.

B: Well then, please, define 'wrong.'

A: Wrong; adjective; (thinks nervously, then blurts) to be a woman, or have the female gender; example: my wife is wrong.

B: I don't believe it!

A: Believe it! You have quoted my abilities in the past, why would they fail me now?

B: (flabbergasted) I- I don't know-

A: (cutting him off) Exactly, they would not. My definition stands as true.

B: I- I suppose you're right.

A: Of course I'm right.

B: You're never wrong, either.

A: True, no man is ever wrong, women on the other hand are wrong almost all the time.

B: (laughs embarrassedly) It's funny, I could have sworn that wrong meant incorrect.

A: (gives a fake laugh, and then looks about nervously) Ah, well, I must leave.

(A bolts up and leaves)

(B hardly notices, and then he suddenly realizes that he has been abandoned)

B: Well, goodbye then

(B sits around idly)

(Enter D, D walks behind the bench and offstage on the opposite side)

(Enter D again, walking backwards until he is directly behind B)

D: (speaking too loudly and enunciating very well) Prithee sir, I notice the hat that is thine, and fancy it enough to make it mine. (D sits down next to B)

B: What?

D: I say, my good man, wouldst thou the kindness extend to me, to put your headpiece on my brow to lend to me?

B: (completely bewildered) Is that a song? It's lovely.

D: A song speaketh thee? Nay, no song. Merely for thine hat I verily doth long!

B: No song, eh? I would really love to help you, but I'm not entirely sure that you're making any sense.

D: The fate of our exchange is bleak, I now see, but one last time doth I pray thee, give thine hat to me!

B: (understanding) Ohhhh, you want my hat! Well, I'm afraid that it's not for sale. I like my hat right where it is.

D: I too, enjoy your hat where it is now, even though, it seemest of thou wrong to torture me so.

B: You think this hat looks wrong on me?

D: Because thou asketh, so I must answer, a mite uneasily, that whilst wearing that, one might deem it wrong rather feasibly.

B: Feasibly?! Well if it could feasibly look wrong on me, then by all means, take it!

D: I thank thee immeasurably, my greatest of friends, for thine generosity knoweth no ends!

(D takes the hat and puts it on, he then walks off stage happily)

(B watches him leave)

(B pauses in thought for a second then laughs to himself)

B: (to audience) He stole my laundry!

(B ups and exits)

END

10