RANT: The One Where I Get Angry & Try To Quit Smoking
by Ryan Tracy,
www.RyanTracy.com
in collaboration with Michael Hart
2010
 

The actor stands in the center of the stage, addressing audience. Familiar, like all these people are his friends. Maximum room for direction and interpretation. But the main thing is, the character is passionate, and, while somewhat at a loss, is not ready to give up. 

Actor: 

There’s no space! 

There is no room to grow in here. 

Does anyone have a cigarette? (If anyone offers, just stare them in the face, say nothing, and do not take the cigarette.) 

Fuck, man.
Time goes by.
We know this.
Life…
Goes on. It does!
But what kind of life? Hmm?
Waking up every morning with that feeling?
You know?
That feeling of empty.
Of the same empty cube you step into
as your feet hit the floor getting out of bed.
Like no matter how much you do, or have done,
you will never fill that cube.
It will be there tomorrow,
again,
waiting for your feet. Your clammy feet.
It just feels really gross you know? 

And, of course, it feels like your fault. Like you’re responsible. Like there are things you could be doing during the day that would fill this space in a way that, when you wake up tomorrow morning, as you most certainly will—I mean, like who the fuck is going to die tonight? Right?—so that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, they will land on top of something… and not just within more space. That you could fill it so that you never have to fill it again. So that you can move on from this, and feel like your life is exactly as you want it. That you’re accomplishing all the things you want to accomplish, and that you have access and resources to realize your dreams, and that people will support you in the making of it, and attend you in the doing of it, and commission you in the making of more of it. Isn’t that it? Wouldn’t that just be a gas? 

Gas is not space. Gas is substance. 

My chief concern about information is that it is inherently without substance. Information is all packaging. All little packages aimed at your face. Information has a way of feeling empty too. Like you can step on it and have it crush under the weight of you. And you can pile more information on top of that, and crush that down, and you can do this more and more, forever, really, and the pile of crushed information packaging below your feet will never get any higher. It’s just letters. And letters are just lines. And we get so much of our information from letters. And we just get so much information. And…it just isn’t filling. 

But I’m starving. I’ve been starving myself since October. I just woke up one day, one of those same empty waking days, and realized that I was addicted to food, and that, rather than keep on like this—you know, eating my way through life—I would try to exercise some self-discipline, alter my fucking eating habits, and just starve until I could actually see and feel all of my body. Maybe that would fill things. You know? By losing something, maybe I could fill that emptiness. I mean, it kind of worked. But now I’m just hungry a lot. 

But I suppose that’s constructive. 

Does anyone have a cigarette? I mean, anyone(Direction the same.) 

It just doesn’t make sense. 

You try. And then you have an idea. And then you go for it. But you call for back up, you know, you ask a few people to look at what you’re doing, or what you’re about to do, because you don’t want to do too much without them telling you how good it is. 

And you try. And you try and you try and you try. 

All this trying…it’s just so…  (heavy eye roll) trying

(Sigh) 

And everyone’s so desperate. They are! 

I mean, come on. We’re like hyenas here. All chomping at the same few scraps of what appears to be sustenance, but what is really the very last drops of blood from the longest trickle ever. How long does it take to make its way from the very top to our very mouths? Down here? And it feels good, doesn’t it? Tastes good. Wet. Warm. Salty. Like you’ve deserved it all along. Like you’ve earned it. Hey. Maybe you did. Or maybe you fought for it. There’s nothing wrong with fighting. Well, except for the being cruel to other human beings part. But…why get moral about it? 

(Pointing upward) I mean, you can fucking see that animal! It’s up there, flayed, torn at the joints. Gruesome. It’s already slain, and it isn’t like you did it. Some other asshole killed that son of a bitch. And why not hope and pray that one of those crimson, pearly droplets makes its way down through the channels of privilege and hate and power to the tip of your tongue, where you will take it…and swallow it…and speak it, and tell people how excited you are that you’re finally being acknowledged. 

Our standards are so low. 

So low that when we claw and scratch our way to the tiniest reward possible—imaginable—we can sit back, and roll a joint, and feel that things are balanced.  

Our sense of equilibrium is like, way off. Your success isn’t balance, it’s collateral damage to a totally oppressive order. 

God dammit. 

I hate it when these assholes get up there and pit Americans against each other, like they’re nasty, ignorant assholes who don’t like people that are different than they are, and don’t know the difference between being lied to and being given reasonable arguments about important issues. American’s aren’t like that. They love each other, and they’ll fight for each other. They do. I see it every day. It isn’t that we hate each other, although, yeah, I mean, sometimes it looks that way.

But America’s problem is… 

Dun, dun, dun!!! 

Are you ready? Cuz I’m going there. 

America’s problem is: Zero self worth.
Zero. I mean, like, American’s don’t think they’re worth anything. Right?
Don’t we all deserve to die?
Don’t we all deserve to be poor?
Don’t we all deserve to lack education?
To be fat?
To be alone and defenseless?
To be cut out of the process?
To be shunned and told who we are?
To be overthrown by power?
To be treated cruelly?
To be disregarded?

I really wish to be American didn’t feel this way. But it does.

God, I feel like this is just one more box of information that will end up at the bottom of a pile. I mean how many odes to America to we have to fucking write?!
(Irate; to everyone) It’s never enough for you!!!
(Same) Why won’t you be satisfied?!!
I’m trying! I’m trying to give you what you want. To degrade you, and neglect you, and overthrow you, and shun you, and cut you out, and leave you alone, and defenseless, and fat, and dumb, and poor, and dead!
Isn’t that what you want?
Don’t you just want to die?! And be dead?! And get this fucking shit over with?
The problem isn’t that we know we’re all going to die some day. The problem is that we want to die. And we don’t like feeling that way, because FUCK!, we’re supposed to love being alive! And love our bodies and treat them like a temple, and clean them and take care of them and protect them. And we’re supposed to want to do things! I mean, really do things in the time that we’re given on this planet. You know? Really stretch it out. Really get our money’s worth and do everything we can to keep it up. To keep it here and be normal, and by that, I mean, to try to be happy. But we don’t! We don’t want to be happy, because we just want the fucking clock to run out. We just want the big hand to meet the little hand at the top of the clock and, Oops! Midnight! Guess it’s time to turn back into a pumpkin! Game over! No prince for you little girl! And all that effort and all that time and all that trying, and all those few little drops you finally got after all that screaming and crying about how important you are and how much you deserve: And you got NOTHING! Nothing to show for it! (Deliberate) And you DIDN’T…CARE! 

You’re a fucking asshole, America! 

You are the end of every good thing there ever was.
And you just want to be dead.
To be let off the hook. 

(Looks around for a little bit) 

So… 

So I have this friend…
Ok. It’s me. 

So I… 

I’m trying to quit smoking.
I’m not doing it for anyone. You know. You’re not supposed to do that.
I don’t know. Maybe that’s where all this rage is coming from.
Repression.
Resisting impulse.
This really might complicate my starvation diet. People get fat when they try to stop smoking.
I suppose there’s always some kind of trade off. 

Anyway. 

You don’t have to tell anyone I said all this.
All that stuff about emptiness and information…
And trickle down…
And that stuff about wanting to be dead. I mean, what was that about? 

No.  

You don’t have to tell anyone. 

Just sit here with me. 

Yes? 

Be here with me? Right now? 

And don’t let go. 

END