I. No, this isn't where my story begins. I haven't even been born yet, much less conceived. By the time I am -- born, that is -- and I've had a few years to collect my thoughts on the subject -- this is how I might depict myself: As a character in a television series based on the story of my life, my life as a performance are piece . . . II.Interior of Eric's car, heading for home in a quiet suburban neighborhood.
Eric's Voice: I first learned what life was about on the day of the state finals.
I remember pulling up in the driveway next to my mom's car, wondering why she wasn't at the gallery where she practically lived day and night. I soon found out what she was up to. Looking back, I should have seen it coming.
Eric enters house quietly: Mom?
Eric goes to the hall closet and searches the pockets of his clothes.
Sound of woman's voice down the hall, moaning and grunting: Oh! Ohhhhh, arrgghh!
Eric pushes open the door to his mother's bedroom: Mom? What in the --
Kathy is sprawled out on the bed, shuffling through tons of papers and receipts:
Eric: I came home to see if I left the extra ticket for Dad in my other jacket. What's all this mess?
Kathy gathers up the documents nervously, but spills a huge stack onto the floor:
Eric walks over to help pick them up: Why is my name all over these forms?
Eric flips through another set, starts to panic: And this is an itemized list of all my sports equipment from last year! Is this a tax audit?
Kathy gives him a guilty look: No, darling.
Eric: Tell me the truth, Mom. Are you in trouble with the I.R.S.? What's "Project Pinocchio"?!!
Kathy tries to grab papers from him, cornering him at the door:
Eric: No, I need to know now! Did you lie on your tax return?
Kathy: Eric, you have a lifetime grant that pays your tuition! I just have to renew it once a year through --
Eric, skim-reading paperwork: Through the NEA? Which one?
Kathy chases Eric down the hall to the living room:
Kathy stops Eric from tossing the stack into the fireplace. They sit at the edge.
Kathy glances at the family photos above the fireplace: When your father and I got married, we knew it wouldn't be forever. But I wanted to have a baby anyway. Well, he didn't want to face years of alimony and child support, and I would never qualify for welfare. So we conceived you as a performance art piece to get private funding. I only asked for enough to cover a few basic costs, but the art donations kept pouring in!
Eric, stunned: So you're telling me I'M "Project Pinocchio"? A little puppet you created with the help of a deadbeat dad who didn't want strings attached? Mom, I don't believe it! How could you do this to me!
Kathy: Just because you're a work of art doesn't mean you're not my son! I love you, Eric, no matter what you become or decide to do with your life. You're a free person, not a puppet on anybody's strings!
Eric knocks row of photos to the floor: You're lying! I've never been real to you, have I?!
Eric throws open the cabinet and starts ransacking the tape collection:
Kathy picks up old sports portrait in the pile: If I were out to spy on you, to record every second of your life, I'd use Dad's ticket to sit at the game just to catch my son the big shot on 8mm! That's not the point!
Eric: What is it, then? What does my life mean to you -- anything? (Kathy looks up, her arms full of tapes and frames) What's the purpose of your little art project now? (Eric weeps angry tears, slams empty cabinet)
Kathy drops everything, and runs over to give him a hug:
Kathy (holds Eric and starts to cry): Eric, there are some things
in life beyond anyone's control.
Eric, coldly: So in the meantime God keeps sending you more money to subsidize
my life! For what?
Kathy: No one darling! I even turned down offers from churches and schools who saw this as an important divinity study. Believe me, dear, I pray to God every day for some miracle, some coincidence to happen in your life for me to document as undeniable proof of the divine -- (she wipes his tears) Oh, honey! I never meant for you to find out like this! I planned to tell you as soon as I figured out how this was going to end!
Eric, bravely: It's all going to end right now. I want you to cancel those grants and
refund that money, or I'll go -- lock myself in the bathroom and end my life! (Kathy stares)
My life as a performance art piece!
Kathy clings to Eric's jacket, which comes off in her hands: No, baby, don't! I'm sorry! Forgive me!
Eric runs down the hall to the bathroom: No, take it! Take it all back! Send that to your sponsors along with all my soccer trophies. They never meant a thing to you anyway! (Papers scatter to the floor)
Eric slams the door onKathy, who drops to her knees: That's not true! Eric! Oh, God, don't do this to me!
Eric from inside, tearing through the medicine chest: You should have thought before you did this! What good is praying to God if you don't take responsibility for you actions! Did you ever stop to think how I would feel? Or Patty? How is she going to feel once the whole school finds out she's been dating a real-life Pinocchio?
Kathy grabs papers, runs for the phone: Oh, Patty! I better call her! She'll know what to say to that boy! (Kathy pushes speed-dial buttons) Patty! Sorry, wrong number! (Kathy tries again) Hello, Mr. Sanchez? Yes, is Patricia there -- we've got a slight emergency! (pause) Oh, so you found the extra ticket, great! No, this is something else, it's very urgent! (pause) Why, what's wrong? Why can't she talk? I need to speak with her right away, it's about Eric, he's --
Patty, in tears, grabs the telephone: Eric? Is Eric there? I've got to talk with him! Now!
Kathy runs down the hall, unwinding the extension cord: Patty, sweetheart, it's Kathy! What's wrong dear?
Eric barges out, grabs the phone: What did you tell her? Is this line bugged? Is this part of your art, too?
Patty holds the telephone in one hand and a letter in the other, trembling:
Eric suddenly stops crying: You're kidding!
Patty: No, I'm not! And what's worse is I wasn't supposed to find out until after they matched my brain and voice patterns with some dead girl on file! They didn't want me to bias Dad's research! The state was secretly using genetics to prove a bunch of spiritual nonsense! And all this time I thought my dad loved me for who I am! All my dance recitals and music lessons were paid for with -- with government waste!
(Shot of papers floating around in the toilet) Eric laughs out loud:
That's wonderful news!
Patty still in tears: What?! Do you think this is funny?
Eric: I think it's great! (Eric hoots and hollers ecstatically; Patty is speechless)
Kathy: Perfect match! (into the phone) Oh, Mr. Sanchez! Yes, everything's fine now. Yes, she did -- I (picking up the pills) I understand, I do similar research based on Eric's life as -- (looks in toilet) No, he just found out, that's why he was so upset! (laughs nervously) Yes, it is quite a coincidence, isn't it? (fishes out the wet forms) Project Pygmalia? Really? I call mine Project Pinocchio! (pause) Yes, we have to talk! Are you busy now? (checks her watch) We only have till midnight to get all this typed up and postmarked! (strolls back into living room) Great! I'll meet you at the copy place in half an hour. Yes, I'm sure there is! Thanks, Mr. Sanchez. See you soon! Goodbye. (Kathy hangs up, stares at the mess, bursts out laughing, tossing the phone up in the air) YES !!
The telephone sails through the air in slow-motion as the crowd cheers, watching it fly through the hoop and land on top of the pile of videotapes, old sports photos, and other memorabilia. The crowd goes wild. Eric turns to see them storm the court to hoist him up onto their shoulders, where he sits, smiling proudly.
Eric's Voice: And that's how I found out that God not only existed, but had perfect timing and an incredible sense of humour . . . (Fade to snapshot of young mother proudly holding her son, sitting on the potty, smiling) . . . and a very special purpose for my life.
III. Now, don't get me wrong, folks. I love my mother dearly. But I don't see how she expects to get anywhere in life with her radical views of God and "divine purpose" and the role of the media. Maybe someday, the rest of the world will finally catch up with my future mom. Until then, I guess she's stuck. And I may never be born. Or worse, I will cease to exist.
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