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.
What am I feeling?
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.
If it weren’t for him I’d be running for Congress.
They tried to recruit me.
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.
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."