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An Excerpt from “Nihilistmas”

An excerpt from Nihilistmas, by Alec Petsche, a play about Christmas, family, hatred, and all the horrible problems that mixing them can cause.

MARY:
So, Thomas, how’s Matt?

MOM:
Mary! I forgot that we still need to hang up stockings!

THOMAS:
He’s fine. He’s doing Christmas with his family in Mexico. He says hi.

MOM reaches into a stray box and pulls out several oversized stockings with names stitched on them.

MOM:
Come on everybody! Time to hang up our stockings!

UNCLE CLOVIS:
Who’s Matt?

MOM:
Really, it’s no trouble.

THOMAS:
My boyfriend.

UNCLE CLOVIS:
Right, I forgot all that drama when you told us you were a fruit-cake.

THOMAS:
A what?

UNCLE CLOVIS:
Relax kid, you know I don’t give a shit.

THOMAS:
I’d really prefer it if you used a different word.

UNCLE CLOVIS:
Hey, be cool fruity, it’s funny, I’m just kidding.

THOMAS:
Then stop kidding.

UNCLE CLOVIS:
I was just fooling, it’s not a big deal.

THOMAS:
You don’t get to decide that.

MOM:
Let’s not talk about politics on Christmas.

THOMAS:
Politics?

MOM:
You know what I mean.

THOMAS:
Yes, I do.

MOM tensely begins hanging up the stockings.

UNCLE CLOVIS:
Come on Tommy; you know I don’t mean anything by it.

THOMAS:
Well if you don’t mean anything by it, then you won’t mind using a different word.

UNCLE CLOVIS:
Come on, don’t make a whole thing out of this. It’s not a big deal, and we’re all friends here.

THOMAS:
Are we though?

MOM:
Clovis, why don’t you help me with…why don’t we go to the kitchen?

UNCLE CLOVIS:
I don’t see what the big deal is-

MOM:
Clovis, come on.

UNCLE CLOVIS stands and follows her to the kitchen. POP-POP turns to THOMAS.

POP-POP:
You know, a queer saved my life in the war.

In the kitchen, MOM slaps UNCLE CLOVIS as the lights go down in the living room.

UNCLE CLOVIS:
Shit! It’s not like I called him a faggot or anything. Anyway he’s not even really a queer, he still likes girls.

MOM:
Shut up Clovis.

UNCLE CLOVIS:
What did I even do? I was having a reasonable debate about language.

MOM:
I don’t know and I don’t care; you made him uncomfortable and you’re going to apologize to him.

UNCLE CLOVIS:
For “fruit cake?” You sobbed when he came out of the closet. You even called me! That’s a sign of desperation.

MOM:
I didn’t say I approved. I said you’re going to apologize. Do you know how many times I’ve seen him in the last two years? Three. I’ve seen my son three times in the twenty-four months since he came out.

UNCLE CLOVIS:
Are you trying to tell me you visited Mom and Dad more than that at his age?

MOM:
Are you trying to claim that we had a good relationship with our parents?

UNCLE CLOVIS:
Ummm…no?

MOM:
Exactly! I invited you here to prove that I could make it work. That I could do the one thing Mom never could. A real family Christmas with all of us here, even you.

UNCLE CLOVIS:
That’s messed up Margie.

MOM:
Of course it’s messed up! We’re messed up! We were raised by an idiot and a lunatic! But I did a slightly better job with my kids, and you’re ruining that by bringing up all of this bullshit with his little experiment with other boys into the light.

UNCLE CLOVIS:
You really need to learn to let this shit go, Margie.

MOM slaps UNCLE CLOVIS again and yanks him close to her face by his collar.

MOM:
Shut! Up! I need my kids in my life. And I don’t approve of his lifestyle, but I keep that to my god damn self, and I’m not going to let your need to be a disruptive jackass ruin my Christmas. I don’t know why saying “fruit-cake” hurt his feelings so much, but I don’t give a shit if he says you have to talk in the third person. If he does, then you’ll go out there and say “Clovis is very sorry.” Got it?

UNCLE CLOVIS nods, turns around, and grabs a liquor bottle as he enters the living room. CAROL listens intently to POP-POP; THOMAS and MARY are trying not to listen to him out of discomfort.

POP-POP:
-so all I’m saying is, I know that the bonds between two men can be-

UNCLE CLOVIS clears his throat. THOMAS, MARY, CAROL, and POP-POP all look at him.

UNCLE CLOVIS:
I’m sorry. I was out of line. It’s been a rough year, and it’s been hard for me to think straight.

No one is impressed.

THOMAS:
Hey, it’s fine. After all, I never think straight.

It’s not fine, but UNCLE CLOVIS laughs and sits down.

UNCLE CLOVIS:
Oh, so it’s okay for you to make jokes but not me?

THOMAS:
Yes.

UNCLE CLOVIS:
There we go man; just when I was starting to think I was the only one in this family with any wit.

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