A Conversation I Recently Overheard, in Which I Did Not Speak, But Still Played a Part, However Minor; Such Conversation Which Is Perhaps a Symptom of the Kind of Domestic Unrest Scenario That Has Been Best Dramatized by, Say, Ann Beattie in the 80's and Rick Moody in the 90's (I'm Thinking of "The Ice Storm" Here, Which I Am Aware Is Set In The 70's, but Was Most Definitely Written , Or at the Very Least Published, in the 90's), Done As A Short Play

By John Warner


Coach: Middle aged, thin in the hocks, but rather large around the middle. Wears a two piece, matching, shiny warm-up suit with "Coach" stitched in italics just above an embroidered soccer ball on the left breast of the jacket half of the warm-up suit. The sort of person who must frequently re-hoist his pants so as not to be unseemly, except that frequent pant re-hoisting, especially the way I imagine this guy does it, can be unseemly in and of itself.

Asst. Coach: Also middle aged, but somewhat younger and more evenly shaped, fit even. Wears the same warm-up suit as COACH with the exception of "Asst. Coach" stitched on the left breast.

Coach's Daughter: Perhaps ten years old, twelve at most, also clad in matching team sweats. Pony-tailed hair is still wet from an (apparently) recent shower.

Me: Me.

Friends: My friends. Youfd like them, or in some cases, you might be them.


Interior of Rose's Lounge at the Holiday Inn, Urbana, Illinois. Evening. The lounge is not crowded. COACH and ASST. COACH sit at a small table that could accommodate perhaps one more person. There are cherries in COACH'S scotch colored drink. ASST. COACH drinks a beer. ME sits with FRIENDS at a table next to COACH and ASST. COACH.

COACH: (Sipping drink) You have one good looking wife there.

ASST. COACH: (Sipping beer, smiling slightly) Thanks.

COACH: (Leaning forward, sipping drink) Ifm not blowing smoke. Shefs very sexy.

ASST. COACH: (Looking over COACH'S shoulder, accidentally catching MEfs eye) Yeah...thanks. Shefs great.

ME gives a mostly noncommittal shrug and eye roll in soft, but not overzealous support of ASST. COACH and his present situation. ME looks to FRIENDS who pretend that canft hear any of this (or really can't hear any of it) and keep talking about something else not nearly as horrifying. COACH'S DAUGHTER approaches. Her ponytail swishes behind her as she walks.

COACH'S DAUGHTER (Palm held outstretched in front of COACH): I need more quarters.

COACH: For what?

COACHfS DAUGHTER: (Exasperated, throwing out a hip): Foosball.

COACH (Sitting back, reaching into pocket for wallet, continuing conversation with ASST. COACH): So she works out...

ASST. COACH (Pretending not to hear in a valiant (but futile) effort to forestall the conversation at least while COACHfS DAUGHTER is present.): Excuse me...?

COACH (Undeterred, completely): Your wife. She works out. I can tell.

(Now all but refusing to look at COACH. Really, looking at anything except COACH, such as the electronic darts game, or the television or the rafters (faux/decorative) that are designed to give Rose's Lounge the appearance of a tavern (or lounge) even though Rose's Lounge is part of a Holiday Inn that was assembled elsewhere and, in all likelihood, airlifted in whole, dangling from a couple hundred Huey helicopters flying in impossibly precise ways to be plunked down at the intersection of Prospect Avenue and Interstate 72 in Urbana, Illinois.)
Umm...yeah...she plays tennis.

COACH (Smiling, satisfied, rolling ice cubes from now empty drink around in his very wet looking mouth and handing wadded five dollar bill to COACH'S DAUGHTER.): TO ASST. COACH: I could tell. Great ass.

TO COACH'S DAUGHTER: Go get quarters from the bar.

COACH'S DAUGHTER snatches the wadded bill from COACH and sashays towards the bar, scratching the back of her head with her extended middle finger surreptitiously directed toward COACH.


This essay originally appeared on the website dezmin.com.