The stage is dark except for the green glow of a copier button in the far corner. As the lights slowly fade up, we see file cabinets on the opposite wall, and a small Formica table with four chairs in the center of the room. In walks JERRY, with fly-away, slightly graying hair. He is wearing a tweed jacket, crumpled white shirt with a thin tie, blue jeans, and brown shoes. He is carrying 37 file folders of various thicknesses, which he dumps onto the table. He groans as he sits down.
Next comes ELAINE, who is tall with long gray hair, wearing a white muslin blouse, long skirt (such as those recycled from a Salvation Army shop), and sandals. She is carrying take-out food in a large bag on which is printed, "EAT 'N' GO." She nods to JERRY and sits down.
ELAINE: Hey, you want a bite of one of these burgers?
JERRY: No, I had a late lunch. But I will take a swig of that drink!
ELAINE (handing him a huge tub of a soft drink): Sure.
JERRY takes a sip on the straw and hands back the drink. In walks GEORGE, in a nicely tailored suit. He sits down with a sense of purpose. He pulls a file off the top of the pile and opens it. ELAINE also takes a file and looks at the name on the tab.
GEORGE: Jerry, I gotta leave by 5:15 to pick up my wife.
JERRY: Don't worry, we're gonna be outta here by 5 sharp.
ELAINE: If Coz ever gets here.
JERRY: We'll give him five minutes.
GEORGE: I knew we shouldn't have had junior faculty on this committee.
ELAINE: Yeah, but you know none of the other senior faculty serve on committees any more.
GEORGE: How about Sarah? She said she'd do it.
JERRY: But Risk Management said it wouldn't be a good idea. With her parole and lawsuits and all.
GEORGE (absently, losing interest): Oh, right.
Finally, COZ comes in, looking at his watch. He is blond, baby-faced but vacant-faced, in casual but nicely tailored clothes. He sits, leans back, folds his hands, remains motionless. The room is now fully lit to reveal an institutional, cluttered room that obviously serves many purposes. A calendar shows that it's Friday; a clock reads 4:05. The window on the far wall looks out on a drizzly, dreary, early spring day. A portrait of Freud hangs on the wall next to the window; his expression is dour, as if he's looking out on a drizzly, dreary, early spring day.
COZ: Sorry I'm late.
ELAINE (offering the huge cup): Anybody else want a sip?
GEORGE: Not right now.
COZ (looking at the cup as if it might contain power steering fluid): Uh . . . no.
JERRY: OK, let's see if we can get through these and make our final cuts for the clinical program. Thanks for reading all these and for meeting so late on a Friday.
COZ: Is today Friday?
GEORGE: I make a motion that we just rank order these by Verbal GRE and get out of here at a decent hour.
JERRY: Remember, George? We did that last year and the faculty didn't like the results.
COZ (absently touching the tabs of the files, as if looking for one in particular): Didn't you just accept all the blonds last year?
ELAINE: No, Terry suggested that--but that's why he's not on the committee this year.
GEORGE: Well, this crop looks terrible. The applicants get worse and worse every year!
JERRY: I know--none of them have GPAs as high as mine was.
COZ (taking one folder from the middle of the pile): This applicant looks really good. She's very motivated, she says, and she really wants to help people.
JERRY: Coz, I want to thank you especially for volunteering to serve on this committee. It's a very heavy commitment for a junior faculty member. But . . . how many folders have you read?
COZ (absently, as if not really hearing the question): Uh . . . oh . . . just this one (holds up the file in an incredibly weak version of "triumph" with a pained smile on his baby face).
JERRY: Thought so. Coz, they ALL say that.
ELAINE: Have some pop. (Hands the pop to Coz, who is sitting next to her. He takes a sip like a little kid would.)
GEORGE: Look, why don't we just start going through them one by one and see how we feel--up or down.
ELAINE: Should we go alphabetically?
JERRY: No, that seems unfair to those at the end.
GEORGE: Thank you very much, Dr. Young.
JERRY: You're welcome, Dr. Baxter.
ELAINE: Let's do the thicker ones first. (They all reach for a file or two from the pile.) How about this one--Eldridge. What did y'all think?
COZ: Is he a Psi Chi member?
ELAINE (looking through the file and chucking pages over her shoulder): Uh . . . here it is . . . yeah.
GEORGE: Then let's take him.
JERRY: Just a minute. I remember this guy. He was the one who said he could be a therapist right now because he was a bank teller one summer.
GEORGE: I remember . . . he said there's no difference between bank telling and therapy, right?
JERRY: Yeah. He said financial problems are pretty much like mental health problems, and he had to be a good listener to open accounts.
ELAINE (picking up one of the pages from the floor around her): Wait a minute . . . it says here that he was VICE-PRESIDENT of Psi Chi.
JERRY: Oh!! OK, he's in. Next!!
GEORGE (with a sharp motion grabbing another thick file): Here's one! Gillespie. Not bad. GPA 3.85. Couple publications.
ELAINE: But her other credentials weren't that strong. If it were 3.86, I'd accept her, but not 3.85.
JERRY: But look at her vita!
ELAINE: What's so good about it?
JERRY: It's on cream-colored paper!
ELAINE: How did I miss that? Accept.
GEORGE (another sharp grab of a folder): Next is Brown. What's it to be?
JERRY: I forget what her personal statement was like.
GEORGE (looking through the file and finding the statement): It was pretty good--some volunteer experience, an RA for a sem--
JERRY: No, I mean what's the font?
GEORGE: Oh. Looks to be Bookman Old Style.
JERRY: Hmm. I'd prefer Times New Roman.
ELAINE: Hey, as least it's not Comic Sans Serif.
JERRY: OK. Accept.
GEORGE: Man, we're going to take forever at this rate. Elaine, pass the pop, would ya? (He reaches out to get the pop, which is just out of his reach past COZ.)
COZ (lifting his arm to grab the pop and give it to GEORGE): Here, let me . . .
COZ's and GEORGE's hands collide, and the pop goes flying, spraying all over the table.
GEORGE (angrily, as if a pop had just gone flying, spraying all over the table): What do you . . . ?
JERRY: Oh. Oh!
ELAINE: Well. It seems our newest committee member just made his first contribution!
JERRY: Get some towels. Let's see what the damage is.
ELAINE: I'll tell you what the damage is gonna be if Dr. Junior Faculty pulls this again. Cripes, we're never going to get out of here now. (Commotion as all tend to the files.)
GEORGE (almost leaping out of his chair with his hands raised as if in benediction): Wait! I have a motion. I move we accept all the dry applicants!
ELAINE: Fine with me! I'm outta here. (In one motion, she stands up, picks up her purse, and bolts out of the room.)
GEORGE: Bingo! I'll take the rejects,
Jerry. You take the accepts. (They start picking up files as COZ looks on in utter confusion.)
JERRY: Ah! My favorite task of all--congratulating the new students on their impeccable applications! Coz, clean up before you leave, OK? (Stands, grabs the dry folders, and leaves the room, followed closely by GEORGE.)
GEORGE (as he's leaving): I'm sure we'll have another good class.
Coz (Standing as the others leave, ambling over to the window): Huh? Oh ... yeah ... sure.
The lights start to fade as COZ watches the rain through the window. As if startled out of a reverie, he quickly glances around and seems surprised that nobody is there.
COZ (ruminating, as if speaking to the window shade, the file cabinets, and the copy machine): I must remember to wipe the crumbs off my tenure file. . . .
Softly, as if from down the hall, we can hear a theme from Brahms's "Academic Festival Overture." Fade to black.
Spring 2002 issue of Eye on Psi Chi (Vol. 6, No. 3, pp. 60-61), published by Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology (Chattanooga, TN). Copyright, 2002, Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology. All rights reserved.