Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How Dale Jr. Got the Bird: A One-Act Play

Thanksgiving with the Hendricks
How Dale Jr. Got the Bird

Opening scene: It’s Thanksgiving day at the home of Rick Hendrick. There are two tables set for dinner. The adult table has places for Rick Hendrick, Jimmie Johnson, his wife Chandra, Jeff Gordon, his wife Ingrid, Mark Martin and his wife Arlene. The kids tables has three seats, one for Matt, Mark’s son, Ella, Jeff’s daughter, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Everyone is seated except for Dale Jr. who hasn’t arrived yet.

Rick: Everything looks great. What did everyone bring?

Jeff: I wanted to put together this great cranberry relish recipe I found, but it looked a little too fattening to Ingrid. You have to add so much sugar to cranberries to make them taste good.

Rick: No cranberries, then?

Jeff: Nope. We were looking for something healthy and easy to make. I can’t believe NASCAR has us racing until the middle of November. We’re not machines. It doesn’t give us any time to put together something nice for Thanksgiving.

Rick: So what did you make?

Jeff: Celery sticks. And carrot sticks.

Rick: Oh! Well, that’s nice. Definitely easy.

Jeff: And nutritious. You know, you actually burn more calories chewing celery than the actual calories in the celery. At least that’s what Ingrid told me.

Rick: That’s good to know. How about you, Mark? What did you bring?

Mark: Pies. Lots of pies.

Rick: Ooooh! I love pumpkin pie.

Mark: I didn’t bring pumpkin. I brought a custard pie.

Rick: Custard? That’s nice.

Mark: I also brought an apple pie, a cherry pie and a sweet potato pie.

Rick: But no pumpkin?

Mark: Everyone loves pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. But you know what? Custard is good too. It might be the second favorite pie for Thanksgiving, but it doesn’t mean it’s not good. Just because it’s second-best doesn’t mean people hate it.

Rick: If anything, custard pie is the second-best Thanksgiving pie.

Mark: That’s right. Nothing wrong with being No. 2. For some people, custard pie is No. 1. I like custard pie. I like it better than pumpkin pie. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Rick: Yes, Mark, you’re probably not the only one.

(Ding-dong! The doorbell rings. Rick gets up from the table to answer the door.)

Rick: Hi Dale. Glad you could join us.

Dale: Sorry for being late. I got held up shooting an Amp Energy drink commercial.

Jimmie: You’d think by now you’d get tired of coming in last.

Dale: I was never last.

Jimmie: Oh, that’s right. You were 25th. It went one (pointing at himself), two (pointing at Mark), three (pointing to Jeff), 25 (pointing to Dale). How was the view from there?

Rick: That’s enough. Did you bring anything for dinner, Dale?

Dale: I was supposed to bring something? Nobody told me.

Rick: Don’t worry about it, Dale. There’s plenty for everyone. Besides, it’s not the first time you haven’t brought anything to the table.

Dale: Where do I sit?

Rick: At the kids table.

Dale: The kids table? I’m not sitting there.

Rick: At this point, you’re lucky to have a seat in my house. Maybe next year we can find a better place for you.

(Dale Jr. reluctantly takes his seat at the kids table. Rick returns to his seat at the adult table.)

Rick: So what about you Jimmie? What did you bring?

Jimmie: Mashed potatoes.

Rick: Spicy mashed potatoes? With little jalapenos in them? I love peppers. I hear that’s how they make them down where you grew up.

Jimmie: No. No jalapenos.

Rick: Garlic mashed potatoes? With little pieces of the peel left in? Those are good too.

Jimmie: No. No garlic. Just mashed potatoes.

Rick: How ‘bout gravy? Did you make some gravy? Turkey gravy? Or maybe mushroom gravy? I love gravy.

Jimmie: No gravy. Just mashed potatoes. Plain, white mashed potatoes.

Rick: Well, ummmm, that’s nice.

Jimmie: And look, they’re in the biggest bowl on the table.

Rick: Yes, that’s a lot of mashed potatoes. A lot of flavorless, boring mashed potatoes.

Jimmie: What?

Rick: Nothing. They look great. Everything looks great. Let’s cut the turkey. Dale, would you please come here and do the honors? Everyone, we had a great year. Jimmie’s fourth Cup championship in a row was awesome. We finished 1-2-3, the first team to ever do that in the history of NASCAR. Next year, we’ll have Dale Jr. in the mix. Until then, let’s enjoy Thanksgiving and our time together. Dale, it’s a shame you weren’t in the Chase this year. That shouldn’t happen. We can make you better. It’s going to be better next year. For now, Dale, the best I can do for you is let you have first crack at the turkey. This bird’s for you.

(The scene closes with Dale Jr. cutting the turkey and Rick handing out plates to everyone at the table. Jeff makes a plate for Ella and Matt walks over to stand next to Dale Jr. as he cuts the turkey. Everyone is happy, except for Dale Jr., who sheepishly grins while cutting slice after slice of turkey.)

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