Mr. Chatterbox

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Scene: a TV studio. Mr. Chatterbox sits on Oprah’s couch, looking as if he might cry. OPRAH: I feel duped. I feel you lied to me, Mr. Chatterbox. Your new book, A Million Little Parties, comes out, and it turns out to be completely made up. MR. C.: (blubbering) I’m sorry. OPRAH: You made yourself […]


Scene: a TV studio. Mr. Chatterbox sits on Oprah’s couch, looking as if he might cry.

OPRAH: I feel duped. I feel you lied to me, Mr. Chatterbox. Your new book, A Million Little Parties, comes out, and it turns out to be completely made up.

MR. C.: (blubbering) I’m sorry.

OPRAH: You made yourself out to be this tough guy who knows everybody important, who goes to everything, who has his finger on the pulse of Sarasota. You wrote, and I quote:

I wake up.

I lift my hand to feel my face.

My front four teeth are gone.

I have a hole in my cheek.

I look down.

I am covered in vomit.

Another party at the Greenbaums’ house.

That’s not quite the truth, is it?

MR. C.: No.

OPRAH: Would you care to confess? It’s good for the soul. Not that you have one.

MR. C.: All right, all right. I didn’t go to that party, OK? I didn’t go to that party because I wasn’t invited. I never get invited anywhere.

OPRAH: And the hole in your cheek? I see that you actually do have a hole in your cheek. How, pray tell, did that happen?

MR. C.: Never antagonize Annette Scherman while she’s knitting.

OPRAH: And how about this passage?

I ask for my free press ticket.

No.

What am I feeling?

I’m angry.

I pick up the volunteer and toss her across the atrium.

That’s not quite the way things happened, is it?

MR. C.: No.

OPRAH: When you found out there was no ticket for you, didn’t you put your tail between your legs and head for Winn-Dixie, where you bought some Häagen-Dazs Butter Pecan ice cream, and go home to watch Skating with Celebrities?

MR. C.: No!

OPRAH: The truth, Mr. Chatterbox.

MR. C.: It wasn’t Butter Pecan. It was Cookies N’ Cream.

OPRAH: Oh, please. You’re pretty low, aren’t you?

MR. C.: Yes. I mean, no. I mean, I’m just trying to make a living.

OPRAH: By lying? Here’s another one:

There he was, leaning against a Ford.

Vern Buchanan.

If it weren’t for him I’d be running for Congress.

They tried to recruit me.

The Republicans.

They said my he-man image was just what they wanted.

Do you expect us to believe that the Republicans would recruit you?

MR. C.: They did! To run as a Democrat!

OPRAH: And what about the biggest lie of all, the one that caused such a sensation? You say you sat through seven hours of tribute videos at the awards dinner of the Sarasota County Cosmetic Dental Association without Novocain, without anesthetic, without even booze. I don’t believe it! Nobody could. Listen to what you say:

The 21st video came on.

I felt the stab of white-hot pain.

"Dr. Vernon Grossbeck and his friendly staff are waiting to turn your mouth into a work of art."

I felt the convulsions starting.

Well, I told my own dentist about it, and he said it was a physical impossibility. Nobody could have done that.

MR. C.: I was napping under the table.

OPRAH: What makes you such a liar?

MR. C.: It’s not my fault! It’s my childhood-it was too normal, too happy. No wonder I’m not like anyone else! I was never abused. My parents weren’t psychos. And worst of all.

OPRAH: What? Say it! Tell the truth for a change!

MR. C.: The priest told me he already had plenty of altar boys.

OPRAH: And now you’re making gratuitous attacks on organized religion. You know, I’ve always defended you in the past. I thought that you helped people. By being as awful as you are, people could feel superior to you. And now I find out that you’re a big fraud. You don’t go to all those parties. You live across the street from a trailer park. You are not a close personal friend of Mark Famiglio. Marjorie North has you on her "Do Not Resuscitate" list. Isn’t that true, Mr. Chatterbox?

MR. C.: Well, sort of.

OPRAH: Don’t you think you owe this town a big apology?

MR. C.: I’m sorry.

OPRAH: Down on your knees.

MR. C.: I’m sorry.

OPRAH: Again!

MR. C.: I’m sorry!

Oprah reaches behind the couch.

MR. C.: Not the whip! Not the whip!

Mr. Chatterbox leaves the set. His back is covered with bloody welts. He pulls a flask from his pocket and takes a swig of vodka. "Whew," he says. "What a relief. For a moment there I thought she was going to get rough."