[“Father Knows Best was the classic 1950’s wholesome family situation comedy. It was set in the typical Midwestern community of Springfield, where Jim Anderson was an agent for the General Insurance Company. Every evening he would come home from work, take off his sport jacket, put on his comfortable sweater, and deal with the everyday problems of a growing family… The Andersons were truly an idealized family, the sort that viewers could relate to and wish to emulate. The children went through the normal problems of growing up, included those concerning school, friends, and members of the opposite sex….” TV.Com]
Jim: (Enters kitchen from back door. Removes his sports jacket) Hi Margaret! I’m home! Boy, am I bushed. What a trip that was. What’s for dinner? Mmmm. Something smells good.
Margaret: (Microwaving pizza bagels) I thought we’d go out to Hamburger Heaven. I’m too tired to make dinner. While you were in Hawaii enjoying your last conference, I lost the project I’ve been working on for two weeks at the office. A bug was going around that caused everything to crash.
Jim: A crash? Thank heavens you weren’t hurt. Say, maybe we can get Bud’s friend Lenny to work on the car. (Puts on his cardigan sweater.) I missed being home, Margaret. Sure the food was good, the scenery beautiful, but where can I get the best meals? (Goes to give her a hug.)
Margaret: I don’t remember. I haven’t cooked in twenty years. There’s a Healthy Choice peanut chicken in the freezer if you don’t want to go out.
Jim: Oh, all right.
(Kathy enters. She is African-American.)
Kathy: Daddy! (Throws her arms around him.) I sure missed you. (Looks at Margaret) Did you tell him yet?
Jim: Tell me what?
Kathy: (Audible gulp) Never mind…..(Races out of the kitchen.)
Jim: What’s going on? Why am I the last to know?
Margaret: Well, you’re never here. Business conferences. Seminars. Mandatory cocktail parties. In the meantime, the kids have been growing up.
Jim: What’s wrong with Kathy?
Margaret: She’s going to a movie with Steve Billings. He finally asked her out.
Jim: A date? Princess is going on a date?
Margaret: Get used to it, Jim. While you’ve been gone, the children have had issues.
Jim: But Kathy is ll years old. And she’s going out?
Margaret: She’s going to The Hunger Games. If she can get her paper finished for English class. It’s a term paper. Two pages.
Jim: Well, at least she won’t get writer’s cramp.
Margaret: Of course not. She types. I’m not sure they still teach handwriting at school. She prints well, though.
Jim: What’s this Hunger Games? That’s a movie title?
Margaret: It’s very popular. About a girl who tries to stay alive using a bow and arrow to get food and kill other children.
Jim: What kind of western is THAT? Bow and arrow? Is she an Indian?
(Bud enters, flipping an apple. He is Asian.)
Bud: That’s “Native American,” Dad. And she’s white.
Jim: Well, I’m a Native American. Born right here in the USA and I’m white.
Bud: Never mind. How was your trip?
Jim: Just fine. Glad to see you’re eating apples instead of your usual candy bars.
Bud: (Laughs) Yeah, eating apples.
(Betty enters, heads for the refrigerator. She is Hispanic.)
Betty: More like smoking apples. Check it for holes, Father.
Bud: I’m outta here. (Grins)
Margaret: You’re not out of here until you clean up your room.
Bud: I did clean it.
Betty: Not since you moved back two years ago.
Jim: Bud moved out?
Margaret: Jim, while you’ve been coming and going, the economy tanked. Bud as well as Betty moved back in.
Jim: Betty moved out?
Margaret: Betty, how was school today?
Jim: I thought Betty graduated. Why is she back in school?
Margaret: Betty TEACHES, Jim. But as a substitute teacher—-the only job she could find—-she barely makes any money. She doesn’t get healthcare, either. So I agreed she could move back in. With Jerry.
Jim: JERRY lives HERE?
Betty: He does his own laundry and cleans up after himself. Makes our bed.
Bud: (Popping his head in) Oh, say, sis. How about loaning me a couple of twenties?
Jim: LOANING? TWENTIES? What about your paper route? And mowing the neighbor’s yard?
Bud: Dad, I was 14 when I was doing that. And I AM making money. It just takes awhile to get paid.
Jim: Paid for what?
Bud: I sell different herbs.
Betty: The kind that’s smoked.
Bud: You seem to like it.
Jim: Wait a minute. You’re selling cigarettes? What about that little talk we had not long ago? The dangers of smoking?
Bud: That was when I was seven, Dad. And I don’t smoke cigarettes.
Jim: Well, that’s a relief.
Betty: Bud, will you leave me a handful of herbs before you go out?
Bud: Sure. I can be generous.
Jim: Finally, I hear my children sharing and being generous.
Kathy: (Racing into the kitchen.) Steve is here!
Margaret: What time will you be back?
Kathy: Probably after 2:00.
Jim: 2:00? But it’s already after 8 pm
Margaret: At least she tells me when she’ll be home so I don’t worry.
Betty: Well, I’d like to stay and talk but….OMG…..I’m late! Penny and Doug will be so p.o.ed.
Jim: (Uncertainly.) I’m glad you’re seeing your old school friends. How are they?
Betty: Penny’s pregnant. Doug’s working at Starbuck’s and Target.
Jim: Penny’s pregnant? I didn’t know she was married.
Betty: She’s not.
Margaret: Betty, can Doug really handle two jobs?
Betty: He’d better. He just quit the third one. Said his boss hates gay people.
Jim: What’s wrong with being cheerful?
Kathy: Daddy, I don’t have a lot of time.
Jim: Kitten, if you can get back earlier, like 10:00, maybe we can read together.
Kathy: (Intently fingering her Ipad) Oh, sure, Daddy.
Margaret: Don’t be silly, Jim. Kids don’t read. (To Kathy) Did you finish your paper?
Jim: I thought she had to finish it before she went on her date.
Margaret: Well, it’s for her AP P.E class. She can probably finish it in the morning. It’s more important she goes out for some stress relief. She’s been having a problem in one of her classes.
Jim: What problem, Kitten?
Kathy: Kaylen calls me names.
Jim: Did she call you “colored girl” again? You remember what I always told you. “Sticks and stones may break—“
Kathy: She calls me a douchebag and a big vagina.
Betty: (Kisses him) Don’t worry about us, Father.
Jim: I…I…. What’s that on your arm?
Betty: It’s my tribal tattoo. I’m glad you like it. Bye!
Bud: (Very, very relaxed) Mother, what happened to the Snickers bars we had around here?
Margaret: Betty took a bunch. Ask her. (Impatient) Jim, are you ready to go out?
Jim: I….I’m not sure……
Margaret: (Smiling, taking his arm) But Jim, you always know best.