Absolutely, Mr Gallagher?

by Steve Munson


Shelly is a typical teenage girl, questioning the validity of her mother's morality. Her mother, having grown up a generation earlier and now a parent, still clings to some of the "old ways", although she is not fully able to tell why. Challenging the idea that there is even such a thing as a moral absolute, Shelly - while out shopping with her mother - suddenly finds herself the victim of a purse-snatcher.


Jeremiah 6:16; Joshua 1:7-8; Psalm 25:4-15


Mom-a mother, mid 40s.
Gordie-her son, wisecracking, 13
Shelly-- her daughter, 16
Young Man-a mugger, in his 20s.


Shopping bags; a skimpy dress made of shiny material; a small plastic bag filled with water and something that looks like a fish.


(Scene: At the Mall. Mom and Gordie stand loaded down with shopping bags impatiently waiting for someone. Mom looks at her watch, mixing anger and concern. Gordie looks positively bored. Enter Shelly with more bags.)

Shelly: (rushes onstage excited). Mom! Mom!

Mom: (angry) Shelly, where have you been? Your brother and I have been waiting for half an hour--

Shelly: (cuts her off in her excitement) Wait till you see this dress. It's totally hot. Wait a minute. (digs though her packages) Wait'll you see this. You're gonna die. You're just gonna die. (she holds up a skimpy dress made of some shiny material like Mylar. Mom looks wide-eyed and speechless. There is a pause.)

Gordie : (seeing his mom's reaction. To Shelly) Well, you were right about that.

Mom: That's… a dress?

Gordie: (squinting & shielding his eyes) Does it come with a reflector shield?

Shelly: (disapppointed. To Mom) Why are you looking at me like that? I've seen those pictures of you and Dad when you met.

Mom: That was different.

Shelly: What do you mean "different"?

Mom: Well… that was the 70s.

Shelly: So? This is 2001.

Gordie: (holding up part of the dress) A Space Odyssey.

Shelly: (she snatches the dress away from him. Angry and pouting, to her Mom) Why do you always put down everything I do?

Mom: I don't always put down everything-

Shelly: Yes, you do! Like you were some Miss Perfect. Queen of the Moral Code.

Mom: I never said that. I just don't want my daughter dressing like… like….

Gordie: (striking a heroic pose) Xena, Warrior Princess!

Mom: (sternly) Gordie! Go look at the fish.

Gordie: What fish?

Mom: In the pet store.

Gordie: What pet store?

Mom: (points & pushes him) Over there.

Gordie: I hate fish.

Mom: No, you don't.

Gordie: How come every time you two fight, I have to go look at the fish?

Mom: Just do it.

Gordie: (seizing the opportunity) Can I buy a piranha?

Mom: (quickly, trying to get rid of him) Maybe, just go (shoves him offstage. He exits).

Shelly: Your values are so Paleozoic.

Mom: "Paleo-" what?

Shelly: You think because your mother, a billion years ago, said, "Don't kiss like that, you'll get a disease," the rest of us have to live our lives under a rock. Rise and shine, Mom. Like there are any absolutes any more. Well, I'm not going to suffer under your medieval morality while my whole life passes by.

(Enter Young Man, dressed in black leather jacket and dark glasses. He stands with his back to them, as though looking in pet store window. He's really watching their reflection in the glass.)

Mom: "Medieval"?

Shelly: Why do you keep repeating everything I say?

Mom: (exasperated) I can't believe we're having this conversation.

Shelly: Just forget it!

Mom: Honey, listen.

Shelly: (turns away, pouting) I don't want to discuss it. (Pause. Wheels back around.) And you know what else? You think because something was good for you 30 years ago, it's good for everyone else on the whole freaking planet!

Mom: (Sighs, exasperated, but too tired to argue in public, she tries a conciliatory tone) Look, Shelly, honey, I know I'm far from perfect and I don't claim to know everything. In a lot of ways you're light years ahead of where I was at your age. It's just… I've lived longer and I've learned that there are some…basic things in life that are true. I'm concerned about you, that's all, because I love you. I don't want you to get hurt.

Shelly: "Basic things"? Like what basic things? Let's get basic, Mom. Who makes up these rules? You? Grandma?

Mom: Of course not.

(Young man turns suddenly, runs and plows into Shelly, grabbing her purse and knocking her down. Her mother is pushed away and falls down. He runs off stage. It's over in a heartbeat, leaving the two women stunned and speechless.)

Mom: (frightened. Returns to her daughter, kneels beside her). Honey, are you all right?

Shelly: (pause. Dazed). Yeah… I think so. (Looks around at all the people) Why is everyone just standing around?

Mom: Are you hurt? (hugs her) Oh, my baby.

Shelly: Why doesn't somebody do something?

Mom: I don't know, dear. Are you sure you're not hurt?

Shelly: (looking around for her purse. Groans) Mom, all my money. I worked for that.

Mom: I know dear.

Shelly: (growing angry) It's so unfair. Mom, all those people; they just stood there.

Mom: (looks accusingly at other shoppers) I know.

Shelly: But it's so wrong. (yelling to imaginary people around her) Like mugging is a spectator sport!

Mom: Shhhh.

Shelly: Well, I'm angry. What gives that guy the right to take my money?

Mom: Well, like you said, I guess there are no absolutes anymore.

Shelly: But that's not what I meant. No one has the right to hurt anyone.

Mom: (hugging her) I know, honey.

Shelly: (sees her dress lying on the ground, trampled and dirty. Gasps.) My dress! My dress!

Mom: Never mind, dear. Can you walk?

Shelly: Yes. (Mom helps her to her feet. Shelly sees the heel of one shoe is broken) Oh, my heel. It's broken! (removes shoe and throws it down, disgusted)

Gordie: (strolling back, carrying a little plastic bag with a fish floating in it. Bag says "DANGER: PIRANHA." He comments on the spectacle, which he has seen from the check-out line at the pet store. Grinning, he thinks the whole thing is cool.) Wow, did you see that?!

Shelly: (this final indignity is the last straw. Livid, she is about to explode). Where's the police station? WHERE'S THE POLICE STATION?!!

Mom: (she begins gathering up the shopping bags). Shelly, honey-

Shelly: That guy's gonna FRY! (with only one shoe, she hobbles offstage with dignified rage.)

Mom: Honey, wait! (turning to Gordie, she sees the horrible object in the plastic bag which he is intending to bring into her house. She gasps with horror. Then sighs, disgusted and completely exasperated at her children, as if to say she can't believe this is happening to her in one day. She exits.)

Gordie: (following after her) You said I could. (exits)


Copyright 2001 Steven J Munson, all rights reserved.

This script may be performed without payment, provided no charge is made for entrance to the performance. In return, the author would like to be told of any performance. He may be contacted at P.O. Box 315, Rockville Centre, NY , 11571-0315, or email: stevevcf@optonline.net