Article: 288645 of talk.bizarre
From: a110@Lehigh.EDU
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: The Continuing Dialogs of Elk & Steve
Date: 1 Dec 1996 18:44:46 -0500
Lines: 521
Message-ID: <57t59e$3ght@ns3-1.CC.Lehigh.EDU>


                The Continuing Dialogs of Elk and Steve

                       A tragicomedy in two acts

ACT I


A Dive Apartment.  Two Couches.

Evening.


[Steve, sitting on the brown couch, is trying to scrape the resin out of a
 homemade PVC bong.  The chop stick breaks in half.  Cursing any number of
 prominent Christian icons, he gives up, exhausted, rests, tries again as
 before.  Enter Elk.]


Elk:  Yo money!  What the hell are you doin'?

Steve:  I'm whittling myself a contrabassoon.  Got any fukkin' brilliant ideas
on how to get this ossified coal tar offa here?

Elk:  (glib)  I can see your assiduousness is matched only by your utter lack
of guile.  Here- try my house key.

Steve:  Clever.

Elk:  Like McGuyver.

[Elk sprawls out on the couch (the plaid one).  Opens a tallboy and proceeds
 to consume it straight from the receptacle the Stegmaier company shipped it
 in.]

Elk:  You know, I was just thinking about paying my usual Thursday night visit
to the Yardarm, when it hit me.  We've been going to that place for TEN YEARS!

Steve:  They disappear all at once.

Elk:  What?

Steve:  (pondering)  Like whispers.  Leaves.

Elk:  The years.

Steve:  The hours.

Elk:  My paychecks.

Steve:  When it's all gone, what will it matter?

Elk:  Indeed.  Like the smoked ashes of some long forgotten cigar.  Worthless.

Steve:  What am I to do?

Elk:  Fucked.

Steve:  We should cast our money from the Third Street Bridge!

Elk:  So we shall!  (ponders a moment)  Of course then we won't be able to see
the Meatmen on Saturday at Nick's.

Steve:  More's the pity.  Those guys are back together?

Elk:  They need money for Rogaine.

Steve:  (wincing)  So do we.

Elk:  Ah, what then?

Steve: (looking off into the vacancies of space)  We're adrift in the universe.
Half remembering, half dying.  No auditing by philosophers or metaphysicians
will alter our desultory course.  We're bound by nature to be homeless.

Elk:  How long would you say we've been friends?  Fourteen, fifteen years?

Steve:  And yet we remain totally isolated, each a solitary satellite orbiting
a world to which we have no real connection.

Elk:  On the other hand, insignificance may be a blessing.

Steve:  ┐Como?

Elk:  I have no money, no resources, no hope.
        I am the happiest man alive.

Steve:  Henry Miller.

Elk:  I'm sorry Steve, you have to phrase that as a question.

Steve:  I'll take Booty Mack for a thousand, Pat.

Elk:  Maybe he's right.  I got two jobs.  A college degree.  A full-suspension,
cro-moly mountain bike that costs more than my '86 Corolla.  And I'm still a
fuckin' loser in the eyes of my old man.

Steve:  Hey, I've got the deluxe, Franklin Mint collector's edition set of
college degrees, BS through P-h-fuckin-D, all packaged in an exquisite carrying
case made from two acres of virgin rain forest mahogany and I'm still in this
town and I still spend my Friday and Saturday nights at Russell's furnishing
Yuenglings and chicken wings to undergraduates with Gold Cards.  Wanna
snort a ritalin?

Elk:  Wait, don't stop me- I'm on a roll.

Steve:  Sound like the Pillsbury Doughboy.

Elk:  Remember that show back in the 80's...The Paper Chase?

Steve:  You mean with that weaselly law school guy in the herring bone sport
coat?

Elk:  Yeah, with the elbow patches.  The thing is, back then I bought right
into that satin regalia and ivy-growin-up-the-damn-stone-wall bullshit.  I
thought college would be the enlightenment.  Heated philosophical arguments
over dark cups of coffee, existentialist diatribe, the pursuit of truth.

Steve:  Ah yes, unkempt gray men in lab coats shouting "Eureka!".  Serenading
beautiful girls with sonnets from Othello.  Sculling eights.

Elk:  Yeah, all that 'jawn'.  Shit, we never read Euripides or marched in a
íViva Sandinista! rally.  Just cranked through the general ed. classes, got
the standard B- average, paid the underage drinking fines.

Steve:  You expected more?

Elk:  (incensed)  Yes!  Politics, literary theory, the clash of universals!

Steve:  Wake up and smell the sidewalk.

Elk:  What has replaced ideology in our contemporary pantheon?

Steve:  Student loan payments.

Elk:  Rock The Vote.

Steve:  Ya think Tabitha Soren and Kurt Loder are doin' the funky chicken?

Elk:  Codrescu's right, the real missing children are the one's watching
television.

Steve:  What gets me is that guy on the Paper Chase became a lawyer.  He spent
the 80's driving a Volvo, playing racquetball and snorting cocaine off his
legal secretary's ass.

Elk:  Naturally.

Steve:  And here we are sitting on a nacho-stained couch on a Thursday night
watching the TV Food Network.

Elk:  Emeril's making a excellent rack of lamb tonight.  (Goes to the kitchen,
returns with two more Steg pounders.)  Want a cold beverage?

Steve:  I'm all about that shit!

(cans pop and hiss open.  they pause to bask in the miasma of moment)

Elk:  Carry on!

Steve:  I mean, why did I listen to my high school guidance counselor?
(exaggerates a nasally voice.)  Get an advanced degree in some kinda brainy
technology thing and, why gee, you write your own ticket!  All you scientists
and engineers will be paid wheelbarrows full of money to do "That Thing You
Do"!  (resumes normal voice) Who the fuck was he kidding?  Maybe it was true
back then.

Elk:  Ya had your chance to be something pernicious like a corporate lawyer or
an investment banker.  You didn't go for the cojones!

Steve: (exasperated)  Why did we listen to our teachers? Our parents?  Al Haig?

Elk:  They were subliminally broadcasting Normal Vincent Peale from our Uriah
Heep 8-tracks.

Steve:  Conspiracy!  You know what else- if you played side three of The Wall
backwards it said (adopts a mechanical voice) "Mom, Dad, The Savings Bank,
Two-Car Garage."

Elk:  (goosesteps across living room, robot-like motions and voice)  "Trickle-
Down Theory, Individually Wrapped Cheese Slices, Whitehouse Spokesman Larry
Speaks."

Steve:  (sighs) I begin to weary of this motif.

Elk:  (overly dramatic)  We languish all day in idle discourse!

Steve:  Yea and verily!  Better thee to break out with The Kind and bust a
spliff!  But I digress.  You said you were on a roll?....something about
Miller.

Elk:  Yes, about being truly free.

Steve:  (gasps)  You mean we're not truly free!?

Elk:  Well, you're free to get a ham and cheese sandito and copy of Heavenly
Hooters at the Wawa...even if it's 3:30 in the goddamn morning!  We're talking
revolutionary concepts in freedom.

Steve:  The Prague Spring all over again.

Elk:  (shouts)  Freebird!!  (continues)  Yeah, and you got a right to smoke
that Haystacks Calhoun fart dust you buy from Seamus.

Steve:  Sing it, Woody Guthrie!  (cogitates)  I don't know, I guess freedom
meant something a little different to Voltaire than it does to King Ad Rock.

Elk:  They never even got to speak to Cookie Puss.

Steve:  Bitch!

Elk:  (in a pompous tone)  Freedom...with 32-bit graphics and yellow ribbons.

Steve:  You mean to say my two shitty, service industry jobs don't liberate me
from corporate oppression?

Elk:  (shouts)  Arbeit at Hardee's Macht Frei!

Steve:  Cupertino Uber Alles!

[Steve exits to kitchen.  Elk crosses stage.  Turns over cassette tape on
portable radio.  Flipper, Blow'n Chunks.  Steve returns, eating leftovers from
container.]

Steve:  Nothing goes with a tasty brew dawg like some three-day old Indian
food.

Elk:  Panir masala? ... I luv you man!

Steve:  Yo, step off, Mr. Jones.  Anyway, you may proceed, my fine fellow, with
that science you was cold droppin'.

Elk:  (resumes pontificating)  Work.  Produce.  Consume.  That's all there is
to life in this country.

Steve:  Aah, but we're so easily duped into the believing the myth of
consumerism.

Elk:  But it's a life devoid of culture, empty of beauty, woefully bereft of
substance or meaning.

Steve:  Gradual drudgery, tinctured with sadness.

Elk:  No one reads.  No one sits alone at a cafe and thinks.  No one takes the
time to write a letter to a friend or walks to the grocery store.

Steve:  We live in an age where it is as inconceivable to walk five miles to
visit a friend as it once was to conceive of talking to that friend over an
equal distance of wire.

Elk:  Who said that?

Steve:  I don't remember.  Hegel, Emma Goldman, some neurasthenic on NPR?

Elk:  Jimmy the Greek?

Steve:  Yeah.  Hey, didn't he have an extra bone in his foot?

Elk:  We sit in a haze of electronic glare and simulated life, smoking,
drinking and worst of all, not wondering.

Steve:  So where do we turn for substance?  The East?

Elk:  Precisely.

Steve:  I don't know.  I can't seem to undo 2,500 years of western rational
thinking just by reading a couple Gary Snyder poems.  I mean, that old
Aristotelian logic is hard wired into our brains at the GM assembly plant.
(ponders a moment.)  Just can't get with that Zen dismissal of subject/object
duality.

Elk:  Haven't we tried?

Steve:  Well, we ate a lot of mushrooms.

Elk:  Read the Tao Te Ching.

Steve:  The Bhagavad Gita.

Elk:  The Way of Chuang Tzu.

Steve:  Ally Sheedy's poetry!

Elk:  Solid, man.  I've tried to empty my mind, find the true reality without
center or fringe.  I can't get at it.  I've tried everything: meditation,
herbal ecstasy, that shit techno music.

Steve:  Just say heck no to techno!

Elk:  So what I'm saying is, we just gotta go out and experience it.  Get on
the road.  Wander.  Not to arrive, but simply to travel.

Steve:  Just take off like anywhere?

Elk:  Anywhere.

Steve:  Like dharma bums!

Elk:  Like Walden!

Steve:  For the sheer Walt-Whitmanesque celebration of the road!

Elk:  Exactly!  That's it, Fink.  You have distilled my longing down to its
quintessence.  The sheer Walt-Whitmanesque celebration of the road.  (looks up,
smiles with slow satisfaction.)

Steve:  And this will palliate your existential trauma?  Give some meaning to
your fin-de-siecle yearning to find meaning in our mundane, terribly
depressing existence?

Elk:  Well, I sure as fuck hope so.  I hate to think I spent the last half hour
cooking up this flight of cockamamie transcendentalism and assorted flapdoodle
for nuthin'.

Steve:  OK, then.  Let's hitch hike.  From Bloomsburg to someplace fucked, like
Orviston.

Elk:  I'm partial to Renovo.  (peels off Chuck Taylors, tosses them at a
nonspecific insect on wall.)

Steve:  Damn, those things are kickin' like Bruce Lee!

Elk:  (sings)  A week went by and now it's July, I got stinkfoot dahhling.
(regains composure)  Naah, I'm talking like the *open road*.  Big sky, prairie
schooners, manifest destiny.

Steve:  Shiner bock?

Elk:  Yeah, all the wild west shit.

Steve:  And we quit our jobs?

Elk:  (pauses)  Yes.  Tomorrow.

Steve:  Move out of this shit hole?

Elk:  Yep.  Piss on the fire and head out of camp.

Steve:  What about all our shit?

Elk:  Homes- besides your Traci Lords underage porn vid collection and that
mistreated Gibson SG, what else do you got?

Steve:  Well, I do got that ol' skool 12" of Toddy Tee "I Need A Rolex".

Elk:  (reeling)  Whoa, we're takin' that with us!

Steve:  And a case of Yuengling half-and-half?

Elk:  Fuck that...straight up porter!

Steve:  We'll travel the world like ascetics.

Elk:  Like a couple of fellaheens.

Steve:  We leave tomorrow?

Elk:  Lookin' at ma' Gucci it's about that time!.  Yes, we'll leave tomorrow.

Steve:  (overjoyed)  What do you say we go to the Yardarm and celebrate?

Elk:  Tout de suite, mon homme!

Steve:  We're off like a prom dress.

[Silence]

Steve:  Shall we go?

Elk:  Yes, let's go.

[They don't move]



                                    Curtain.



ACT II

Next Day.   Same Time.

Same Place.


[Salvation army couches once again occupied.  The gilded hours having come and
gone, our protagonists remain inert.]

Steve:  Jeeziz.  My hangover rages without relent.  Did I eat pierogies last
night?

Elk:  I don't remember.

Steve:  Who was playing last night?

Elk:  I don't remember.  I think it was some Chinese rockabilly group.

Steve:  (sings) Peggy, Peggy Hsu.

Elk:  That would be funny if I were reading this.

Steve:  Did you call your boss?

Elk:  Yeah (begins to sing) I told everybody they can kiss my ass, I'm goin'
ta party town!

Steve:  Yeah Yeah!  (pauses)  Damn, you didn't either.  Did you call Uncle Ted
and tell him we're moving the fuck out?

Elk:  No.

Steve:  (despondent)  We're losing momentum again.  So many days squandered in
obscurity.  Each day a gift, unopened, unappreciated.  Face it, we're loads.

Elk:  Why do I rise each morning with ambition, only to see it dwindle in
afternoon nebulae of pot smoke and apathy?

Steve:  I blame Regis and Kathy Lee.

Elk:  (satirical)  Those motherfuckers.  (again forlorn)  Seriously though, I
could do so much each day- write a schismatic manifesto, read Pynchon,
contemplate the Buddha.  Shit, even send out a resume or forty.  But of course
the Knicks game is on or you and Charles are inhaling scotchguard and I end up
couchbound, devoid of inspiration.

Steve:  I guess we could wait a few days before bustin' out on the road, huh?

Elk:  (sullen)  We've slept through fourteen years in this town.  The sun rose,
set, stars imploded, we grew long beards, died, were reborn as banana slugs.
All in a day, a night, one flash of a spark.  Of what significance is today?
Or tomorrow.  We'll leave on Tuesday.  April.  Groundhog's day.  El dia de los
muertos.

Steve:  Six of one, a dozen of the other.

Elk:  Our revolution is in tatters.

Steve:  You know, the thought of ever becoming a nine-to-fiver whose idea of
exhilaration was a weekend in Ocean City used to mortify me.  But now it's the
unknown that I fear.  My world has become insular.  My ignorance a darkness of
infinite proportions.

Elk:  Are we merely dilettantes in flight from middle-class responsibility?

Steve:  Charlatans?

Elk:  Mountebanks?

Steve:  Doo doo punk chumps?

Elk:  Jive ass, two-tone jeans, Joey Buttafuoco, Jersey turnpike tollbooth
attendants?

Steve:  (shoots a perturbed look)  Yo, I didn't say *that*.

Elk:  I feel crushed by inertia.

Steve:  Christmas is on the fields.  Winos sing 'Danny Boy' and fall from the
eaves.  Young lovers stumble to parishes unknown.  And here we sit, in the
newspaper gray tomorrow we thought would never come.

Elk:  They two-step across the yard, bringing pastries and brandy to shut-ins
by the river.  They wait patiently by the monument for the dawn and the
sunrise, knowing they will come.  And we wait for nothing.

Steve:  Knowing it will come.

Elk:  As it did today.

Steve:  It washes over us.

Elk:  Let's end it all.

Steve:  I'm too bored to hang myself.

Elk:  How long before the gentle reader realizes that this dialog is a thinly
disguised rip-off of Waiting For Godot?

Steve:  I didn't pick up on that.

Elk:  This can't go on.  We're trapped.  Like two nightcrawlers squirmin' on
the end of a hook, wishin' we was somewheres else.

Steve:  No, we're more like a couple of steelhead trout, fighting the hook and
not knowing why.

Elk:  Well, muh man, the line has snapped.  We are free.  Truly.  Free to
follow the sun.  Free to swim downstream to Zion.

Steve:  The pain of the hook forgotten?

Elk:  A whisper.

Steve:  So we'll go?

Elk:  Yes, we'll go.

(silence)

Steve:  Tomorrow?

Elk:  Tomorrow.


(they do not move)



                                curtain.


THE END.


Michael Alaimo - USDA, ARS, ERRC
    (Custodian Emeritus, Max *Plonk* Institut)
        work email to: malaimo@arserrc.gov