OLD NONSENSE: A SCRIPT

| September 15, 2014

OLD NONSENSE: A SCRIPT

Joy Achuonjei

(Admissions Office, Columbia University)

Introduction

I was inspired to write this script by this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

The idea of ‘old nonsense’ captivated me.  I saw it as a potential lens through which to consider the representations of youth culture in the media. The category of youth is not well defined and it’s unclear when a person graduates to the next phase. Youth is not (just) a biological age but also has social dimensions.

In the movies, the line between youth and young adulthood doesn’t always come into focus. The majority of movies start and end exclusively in adolescence or adulthood. This script tells the story of a young man who is caught in between two worlds,  a young man who is trying to distance himself from his “old nonsense” yet  that very nonsense propels him toward his dreams. I remember when I first graduated college it was hard for me to describe myself as an “adult.” This story is a tale of a young man trying to navigate that space with two versions of himself in his head.

The two versions of himself are literal representations of the kinds of tensions that youth may encounter when transitioning to adulthood. The end also begs the question of whether anyone actually leaves behind the “old nonsense” of youth or if everyone is just trying to fit in and get by.

FADE IN:

INT. PAUL’S BEDROOM – MORNING

Bedroom is sparse and extremely organized. On the desk sits a computer with books neatly lined up on the shelf above. Titles include ‘Work Now Party Later,’ ‘All Work All the Time,’ and ‘Get Working to Get Rich.’

The walls of the room are bare except for a calendar that has ‘9am interview’ circled in red. Other things on the calendar include ‘Water Joe’, ‘Take out trash’, ‘Apply for Celtrix job’ ‘Change resume format.’

On the dresser are the bare essential grooming tools set out with calculated space between them — shaver, brush, toothbrush, toothpaste, scissors. There is a plant on the dresser well groomed and taken care of.

On the floor is a suit perfectly laid out in human form, as if it were his first day of school as a first grader. The tie and shoes are also included. It looks as if Paul can just step into the ready-made outfit.

PAUL (21, recent college grad, in between adolescence and young adulthood) is sleeping on the bed. The calendar hangs right above him on the wall next to his head. ‘Interview 9am’ is circled in red.

NEUROTIC PAUL (21, glasses, slicked back hair, black suit) is standing by the bookshelf alphabetizing books. RELAXED PAUL (mid 21, red shirt, sweat pants, disorderly hair) is reclining on a chair doing a crossword. Both are identical clones and figments of Paul’s psyche.

Relaxed Paul

What are you doing?

Neurotic Paul

Alphabetizing by last name of the protagonist. I wouldn’t expect the likes of you to appreciate the necessity of order in the world.

Relaxed Paul

Ooohhh-kay, you do that while I kick back.

Relaxed Paul disappears from the room.

Neurotic Paul

(trying to recall the name of a book)

Fight Club,…Tyler…Tyler…

Relaxed Paul reappears

Relaxed Paul

Durden.

Relaxed Paul disappears.

Neurotic Paul runs over to sleeping Paul.

Neurotic Paul

Wake up! WAKE UP! WAKE UP!

Paul’s eyes suddenly open. Neurotic Paul has disappeared from the room.

Paul sleepily starts rummaging around on his bedside table.

INT. HOME OFFICE – MORNING

Neurotic Paul sits at a desk. Neatly stacked around him are papers and books. A plant similar to the one Paul has in his room sits in the background.

Neurotic Paul

Paul! You’re late!  Do you see what time it is?! How could you not have had more than one alarm set?! You know technology can be faulty! Mouthwash!

INT. PAUL’S BEDROOM – MORNING

Paul grabs for the mouthwash and gulps down a bunch. The clock reads 8:30 and he hops out of bed.

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul

Fix your bed. You have to fix your bed. What if a fleck of dirt lands on your sheets and you can’t see it because the comforter is ruffled? Do you want to sleep on filth?

INT. PAUL’S BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS

Paul shakes is head with his mouth still full of mouthwash and starts fixing his bed.

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul

(making a smoothing motion)

The corner.

INT. PAUL’S BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS

Paul smoothes down the edge corner–Still swishing mouthwash.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul is sleeping on a couch. In front of him is a coffee table with a hookah, and magazines.

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul

The pillows!

INT. PAUL’s BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS

Paul fluffs his pillows. Now his mouth is on fire.

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINOUS

Neurotic Paul

The most important part!

INT. PAUL’S BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS

Paul folds up the far corner of the comforter which he measures out with his fingers.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul is changing positions while still sleeping.

INT. PAUL’S BEDROOM

He runs to the bathroom and vigorously brushes his teeth.

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul

Now listen. You’re getting a late start. You cannot, however, compromise on cleanliness and presentation. Comb.

INT. PAUL’S BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS

Paul grabs a comb and starts styling his hair. He keeps fussing with one hair that will not stay in place.

Neurotic Paul

You’re going to leave your hair like that?! Gel that sucker down! Staple it if you have to!

After many rounds of gel, he finally manages to get it where he wants it.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul groggily wakes up.

Relaxed Paul

What’s all the commotion?

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul

Go back to bed. We’ve got this under control. Dab of Cologne

INT. PAUL’S BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS

Paul gently dabs cologne onto his neck.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul looks over at the time on the on the wall.

Relaxed Paul

Uhhhh, I don’t get it. Aren’t you late? This doesn’t read to me like someone who’s late…

INT. PAUL’S BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS

Paul runs over to his suit on the ground and puts on piece by piece in front of a mirror. He puts on everything very methodically. He tucks his shirt in gently and slides on his pants.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul

Ayeeee, last I remember this isn’t New York Fashion Week. You need to grab your shit and leave NOW. Think about the rent man!

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul

(frightened rambling)

If he doesn’t get this right we’re going to live on the streets! I can’t live on the streets! I need my beauty sleep! You think I can fold a cardboard box every morning? Not to mention the lack of grooming among those populations…

INT. PAUL’S BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS

Paul, almost dressed, grabs his untied tie.

INT. HOME OFFICE –CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul

(dictating)

Right over left. Loop then in between…

INT. PAUL’S BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS

Paul puts the right flap over the left flap of his tie and struggles to find the “inbetween” to loop the bottom through.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul

Please. This is not the time to be all Hollywood. Grab the clip on tie in your drawer. This is what they’re made for, whoever created them was genius…

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul

(arrogantly)

A clip on tie? We’re not going to a Bat Mitzvah here, will you grow up? This is a job interview you bum! The glasses, Paul!

INT. PAUL’S BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS

Paul goes to his desk and puts on glasses and looks into the mirror.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul

What? You don’t wear glasses…why are you putting glasses on?

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul

Research shows people who wear glasses are considered smarter than those who don’t. We’re covering all our bases here.

INT. PAUL’S BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS

Paul sits on the chair to put on his socks which he adjusts multiple times for the right height on his ankle. He puts his shoes on and ties them to make sure he has the perfect bow. He grabs his toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, and trench coat from the dresser and runs to the door.

As he opens the door he almost falls as his NEIGHBOR is sprawled out in front of his room passed out from a party the night before. The outside hallway is littered with red cups and party miscellania. His neighbor has no shirt and “Party that way” is written on his chest.

INT. HOME OFFICE BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul

AHH! How are you going to get out of the room? There’s no way you’re touching that guy. Why does he have to be in front of YOUR door?

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul

(talking slowly)

Paul, lift one foot over the body and then the next one. Simple. Keep it moving!

INT. PAUL’S BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS

Paul is paralyzed trying to make a decision. He disgustedly tries to move his neighbor out of his path with his leg. In the end he concedes and awkwardly steps over making sure that absolutely no part of his body touches the passed out neighbor.

Paul exits down the hallway, tripping over empty bottles and party memorabilia.

EXT. STREET – MORNING

Paul runs out to the street and walks toward the subway.

INT. HOMEOFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul paces and rehearses for the upcoming interview.

Neurotic Paul

My past internships have prepared me very well for this role. I am hard working, dedicated, and pay extreme attention to detail. Watch out, woman approaching on the left with coffee!

EXT. STREET – CONTINUOUS

Paul narrowly misses running into a woman holding coffee and texting.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul doing yoga — upward dog and sun salutations. Relaxing sounds of running water in the background.

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul

What are my weaknesses (imitating interviewer)? I would have to say that I’m a perfectionist. I don’t sleep until the job is done—every I is dotted and every T crossed. Watch out, puddle!

EXT. STREET – CONTINUOUS

Paul jumps over a puddle.

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul

DOG POOP!

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul is meditating on the floor with his legs crossed and eyes closed. He does breathing exercises.

EXT. STREET – CONTINUOUS

Paul is almost to the subway when a car splashes him with dirt and grime.

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul lets out a girly high pitched scream.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul opens one eye, still in mediation position.

EXT. STREET – CONTINUOUS

Paul is stunned and can’t move for a few seconds. He looks down at himself and unbuttons the coat he has on top of his suit jacket. His pants are completely covered with filth but his suit jacket is clean due to the fact that his winter coat protected his top half.

INT. HOMEOFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul

Abort! Abort mission!

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul gets up from meditation position and sits on the couch.

Relaxed Paul

Listen to me Paul. We can do this. This is your dream job.  Stick with me here, I have a plan.

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul using asthma inhaler—can’t breath.

Neurotic Paul

(gasping)

Paul, you look like a bum on the street. You can’t be seen like this. Turn back! We’ll think of another dream, another job!

EXT. STREET – MORNING

In shock Paul turns round and starts to make his way back to the apartment. He looks down at his watch, which says 8:50. He suddenly changes his mind, turning round again, and sprints back toward the train.

EXT. STREET – MORNING

Train arrives at Paul’s stop and he runs all the way to the building.

INT. SECRETARY’S DESK – MORNING

Paul arrives out of breath to the SECRETARY’S (woman, thick glasses, bored) desk creating a trail of mud and dirt. She is filing her nails when he walks in so she doesn’t notice that he’s soiled.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul

Repeat after me: Hi

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul still hyperventilating and massaging his temples.

Neurotic Paul

I can’t watch this.

INT. SECRETARY’S DESK – CONTINUOUS

Secretary

(attitude)

Hi, can I help you?

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul

I’m here to interview with Mr. Mighty? Man, who are the stiffs? (points to the waiting room and the other interviewees)

INT. SECRETARY’S DESK – CONTINUOUS

SECRETARY

(looks up, cracks a little smile)

You’re telling me! Everyone of them has strolled up here like their shit doesn’t stink.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul

I feel you. You’re fighting the good fight though. You must have the patience of a nun.

INT. SECRETARY’S DESK – MORNING

SECRETARY

(full smile)

Take a seat and fill out the first page, the second half of the back page, and the other side of the third page.

She hands him a clipboard.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul

Where is the bathroom?

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul is still breathing heavily.

INT. SECRETARY’S DESK – CONTINUOUS

Secretary

Down the hall and to the left sweetie.

INT. WAITING ROOM – MORNING

Paul sits down very slowly into the nearest seat he can find. Everyone in the waiting room stares at him and one candidate starts coughing. He looks around apologetically. Paul pops up and goes to the bathroom.

INT. BATHROOM – MORNING

He is the only one in the bathroom and stands in front of the mirror.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul

Now take your pants off and wash them (turns to address Neurotic Paul). Do you realize you’re the only guy in that Lamaze class with no pregnant wife? This is your specialty isn’t it?

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul lying on the floor doing Lamaze exercises, he gets up reluctantly and starts dictating…

Neurotic Paul

2 squirts soap

INT. BATHROOM – CONTINOUS

Paul squirts soap into his hand and rubs them on his pants.

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINOUS

Neurotic Paul

Three parts water. Message Gently. GENTLY!

INT. BATHROOM – MORNING

Paul follows the instructions of Neurotic Paul. He tries to carefully wash off the stains but then when he puts the pants back on they are completely soaked. He attaches the pants to the hand dryer to dry.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul

I need to take a leak.

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul

No! We need to finish this! This is a very delicate process.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul

Come’on man. You know I get nervous before things like this.

INT. BATHROOM – MORNING

Paul walks into a stall.

While he is in the stall a CUSTODIAN comes in. He assumes that the pants are trash and puts them on his cart and exits the bathroom. Blowdryer is loud so Paul doesn’t notice someone has come in.

Paul walks out of the stall and looks around for his pants. He runs and looks out the door but the custodian is gone.

INT. HOMEOFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul

NOW SEE WHAT YOU’VE DONE?! AS IF THINGS COULDN’T GET ANY WORSE!

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul is smoking hookah.

Relaxed Paul

Hey, there has to be a lost ‘n found around here somewhere right? Go see what you can scrounge up.

INT. BATHROOM – CONTINUOUS

He stands and stares at himself in the mirror for a while, thinking about his options.

He sees a sign that says ‘Lost and Found’ and walks down the hall toward it.

INT. LOST AND FOUND – MORNING

Paul searches through the box and pulls out items one by one: bra, computer, scarf, a shirt.

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul

Well, digging through garbage will be a useful skill when WE’RE ON THE STREETS.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul

The shirt?

INT. LOST AND FOUND – CONTINUOUS

Paul tries on a shirt upside down as pants–doesn’t work.

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINOUS

Neurotic Paul

(melodramatic)

If only your mother could see you now!

INT. LOST AND FOUND – CONTINUOUS

Paul puts on his trench coat. It covers his legs just past his boxers.

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul

Sooooo… you think they’re just going to think you’re wearing a skirt or something? Even worse!

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul

Weeell, just go in casually—and if they say anything about it—SUE THEM for sexual discrimination.

INT. OFFICE HALLWAY – MORNING

Paul walks back to the waiting room in boxers and without pants.

INT. HOME OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic Paul

Don’t do it! This will be the end of you!

INT. WAITING ROOM – MORNING

Paul walks back into the waiting room and tries to sit down discreetly.

The INTERVIEWER peaks out from behind a distant door, calls Paul back to the interviewing room, then goes back into the room. Paul approaches hesitantly.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul

Relax maaan. You got this!

INT. INTERVIEW ROOM – MORNING

Paul walks into the room and the interviewer is typing on the computer. Paul hurries to sit down and takes off his coat while sitting in the seat. The interviewer motions to the coat rack for Paul to hang his coat. Paul quickly throws his coat in the direction of the coat rack.

INT. HOMEOFFICE – CONTINUOUS

Neurotic  Paul (on the phone)

Yes, hello? I’d like to order a coffin? Yes, and you can pick up my body out side of 2345 W. Broadway. Uhum, that’s where I used to live.

INT. INTERVIEWER OFFICE – CONTINUOUS

The interview starts and it seems to be going well. The interviewer’s clipboard has key features that they’re looking for in the candidates. Next to each feature is a check box that the interviewer checks when the candidate demonstrates the qualification. The list contains “Knowledgeable”, “Communicates well”, “Experience”, “Ability” and the last box to check is “Will fit in with company culture.” The interviewer is smiling and checks everything off until he comes to the last box.

The interview ends and Paul is so wrapped up in how great the interview went that he stands up to shake the interviewer’s hand.

His pantlessness is revealed. The interviewer’s face is

hard to interpret. Gradually though he breaks a smile and stands up himself. He is also wearing just underwear! The calendar on the wall reads: “Thursdays at the company is ‘business on top, party on the bottom’.”

INTERVIEWER

Welcome to the company! I like the way you think, son.

Paul shakes the interviewer’s hand and takes the job. The interviewer finally checks the last box.

EXT. STREET – AFTERNOON

Paul is carefree as he walks back to his apartment with no pants.

INT. APARTMENT HALLWAY – AFTERNOON

Paul’s neighbor is still passed out in front of his door. He grabs the neighbor by the legs and drags him out of this way. The neighbor leaves behind a beer right in front of Paul’s door. Paul grabs the beer and salutes the neighbor.

INT. PAUL’S BEDROOM – AFTERNOON

Paul gets back to his room He changes into the same red shirt that relaxed Paul wears and hops onto his bed. He messes up the sheets and smiles. He pops the beer open raises it and takes a drink.

INT. LIVING ROOM – CONTINUOUS

Relaxed Paul also raises beer and takes a swig.

FADE OUT.