SCHOOL CAFETERIA – LUNCH TIME
In a public high school, with lots of chatter glittering the air, a stalk of celery shuffles his way through the buffet. He’s the new kid. A junior who just moved to town from Ohio. Nobody likes him yet. They know him only as the new kid who has to take gym with the freshman.
Celery fills his tray with nuggets, pays the cashier in cash, and trudges into the crowded hall.
Tomato, Carrot, Egg and Cucumber are eating lunch at a half-empty table. Tomato is in the middle of telling a joke that Carrot keeps interrupting with his questions. Egg has yet to speak, and Cucumber is thumbing away on his phone. The four juniors have been friends since freshman year.
CARROT: Wait, so I don’t get it. He didn’t know you were a tomato?
TOMATO: That’s the whole joke, you goonda. This is what I’ve been trying to tell you. He said, Do you know what’d go good on that burger? And I said—
CELERY: Hey guys, can I sit with you?
(the boys stop speaking and look up. Nobody says anything for a moment. Then—)
CARROT: Sure, nobody is sitting here.
(Celery thanks Carrot with his eyes and takes the seat. He opens a napkin in his lap, concentrating on his plate and only his plate)
TOMATO (to Carrot): How do you know nobody is sitting there? Just because you aren’t expecting anyone doesn’t mean I’m not. I might have been saving those seats for somebody.
CARROT: Who are you saving the seats for?
TOMATO: I’m not saving the seats for anybody. I’m just saying I might have been, and you didn’t even ask me. You just went ahead and gave the seat away like it was some washed up patch of dirt or something.
CELERY: Hey Egg, can you pass me the salt?
(everybody stops what they’re doing to stare at Celery)
CARROT: He doesn’t respond to Egg anymore.
CARROT: He won’t respond to Egg. You have to call him Huevo. He’s been doing it all day.
TOMATO: He’s been doing it all day? Jose Christo, give the man a break. His parents are going through a divorce, his dad’s beating his wife, his brother’s cracked out. What do you want the kid to do? Just call him Huevo. Here. (slides Celery the salt) You shouldn’t be eating this stuff anyway. It’ll have you looking like Principal Prune.
CELERY: I know but it makes the chicken taste so good.
Tomato watches Celery douse the nuggets in salt. Celery then, very deliberately, slides the salt back toward the middle of the table, picks up his fork in his left hand, knife in his right, and cuts himself a chunk of chicken.
TOMATO (dumbfounded): You didn’t even try the chicken yet. The chicken could’ve been cooked perfectly. It could’ve been the best chicken you’ve ever had and you would never know it because you just plopped Salt Mount Fuji on top of it.
CARROT: Take it easy on him, would you? He’s not used to your jokes. He’s still getting used to a new school.
TOMATO: Who’s telling jokes? I’m just being honest. It’s not mean if it’s honest. Besides, you remember what happened to me freshman year.
CARROT: Bananas. I can’t believe you’re still talking about this.
TOMATO: Banana had nothing to do with it. Cucumber was there. He’ll tell you.
CUCUMBER (to Celery): Hey, aren’t you in freshman gym?
CELERY (a bit nervously): Yeah. I have to get the credit to graduate.
CUCUMBER: Do you know the Pasta Brothers’ little sister, Angel Hair? She’s a freshman.
TOMATO: Jose Christo, this guy’s always got a hard on. He’s thick, I tell you. Can you get your mind off sex for one second? I’m fighting for my honor here.
CELERY: She’s in my section, yeah.
CARROT (ignoring Tomato): Who’s your teacher?
CELERY: Mr. Potato.
CARROT (looks at Cucumber and grins): We had him for gym too.
TOMATO (to himself): Oh, here we go.
CUCUMBER: Try to get in a study group with her. Tell her I have some old exams from last year. Here, take my number.
TOMATO: Old exams for gym class? What the hell are you talking about? I thought you were dating Kale.
CUCUMBER: Her family is racist, dude.
TOMATO: No. Racist?
CUCUMBER: They won’t let her date outside of leaves.
TOMATO: Jose Christo.
CARROT: Shhh. Shhh. Hold on. Here come the Pasta Brothers.
ENTER PASTA BROTHERS
TOMATO: Why the hell would you tell us to shhh? Why would we need to shhh just because the Pasta Brothers are coming? As if they’re royalty or something. Who gives a damn about—Hey Linguini, hey Rigatoni, how y’all doing? (the Pasta Brothers stand between Tomato and Cucumber, facing Cucumber) You guys look like you got some color over spring break. Where’d you go? Cancun? Stove top?
LINGUINI: Hey, Cucumber.
RIGATONI: Hey, Cucumber.
CUCUMBER: Hey, guys.
LINGUINI: How you doing?
RIGATONI: You doing alright?
CUCUMBER: I guess so.
LINGUINI: Turnip’s having a party tonight.
RIGATONI: Giant house party.
LINGUINI: It’s gonna be awesome.
RIGATONI: You wanna come?
RIGATONI: Do you know where Turnip lives?
CUCUMBER: In the roots?
RIGATONI: Party starts at 10.
LINGUINI: Don’t be late.
RIGATONI: There’s a password to get in.
TOMATO (to Carrot, who is ignoring him): Let me guess. Awesome.
RIGATONI: It’s turnip turnip turnip.
CUCUMBER: Turnip turnip turnip.
LINGUINI: Want me to write it down for you?
CUCUMBER: I think I can remember.
LINGUINI & RIGATONI: Awesome.
RIGATONI: We have to go get the vinegar from our brother.
LINGUINI: We’re going to try to convince him to invite some college girls.
RIGATONI: We’ll let you know how it goes.
LINGUINI: Bye Cucumber.
RIGATONI: Bye Cucumber.
EXIT PASTA BROTHERS
CARROT (leaning into the table and whispering): Whoa, Turnip’s having a party tonight? Do you think his parents are out of town?
TOMATO (noticeably louder than he was speaking earlier): Awesome. Awesome. Can you believe that? I hate those guys.
CARROT (still whispering): Do you think we’re invited?
TOMATO (back to his regular voice): No.
CUCUMBER: Of course you’re invited. Y’all are coming with me.
CARROT: Are you going to go, Tomato?
CUCUMBER: Of course he’ll go.
TOMATO: Hell no I won’t. A Pasta Brothers party is the last place I want to be on a Friday night. It’s probably going to be dry as hell.
CELERY: I’ve heard a lot of people talking about it. Sounds like everyone at school is going.
TOMATO: Jose Christo. Who did you hear talking about it? You don’t even have friends.
TOMATO: What? He doesn’t have friends. Why do you think he’s eating with us? I’ve never even had a conversation with this guy before.
CUCUMBER: I’m his friend.
CARROT: Yeah, me too.
TOMATO: Oh, the sod has spoken. Okay. He’s our friend. Fine. Who’s talking about this party, then, friend? Huh? What’s the gossip?
CELERY (blushing): It wasn’t anything major. I just heard Eggplant and her friends talking about it in line.
CUCUMBER (jostling Tomato): Oh, Eggplant’s going! You know what that means.
CELERY: What’s that mean?
CUCUMBER (still to Tomato): You might have to put the bow tie on tonight.
TOMATO: I’m not putting the bow tie on.
CELERY: What’s going on?
CARROT: Tomato has a thing for Eggplant.
TOMATO: I don’t have a thing for Eggplant.
CUCUMBER: He’s had a thing for her since freshman year.
TOMATO: I have not had a thing for her since freshman year.
EGG: He wants to lick sus tetas.
TOMATO: Okay, that’s enough. There’s no licking going on here, there, or anywhere. I’m in a very happy, monogamous, long-distance relationship with Bok Choy.
CUCUMBER: Dude, she’s in China.
TOMATO: We Skype.
CUCUMBER: Dude. Forget about Bok Choy. It’s over. Come to the party tonight, drink some vinegar, get loose, tell some of those jokes that only you think are funny, and I’ll introduce you to Eggplant. Anyway, she told me she thinks you’re cute.
TOMATO: No, she didn’t.
CARROT: You think I have a chance with Artichoke?
TOMATO: Carrot, you don’t have a chance with Rabbit. (to Cucumber) Did she really say I was cute?
CUCUMBER: That’s what she told me. But she said you never talk to her.
TOMATO: No, she didn’t. She never talks to me.
CUCUMBER: She might talk to you tonight.
TOMATO: Okay, I’ll come. Egg you have to come with us though. As soon as the Pasta Brothers get a little bit of vinegar in them they get rowdy, and I don’t want a repeat of last time.
CELERY: What happened last time?
CUCUMBER: They almost squashed him.
TOMATO: How would you know? You were off in some back room getting stringed by Broccoli or somebody.
CUCUMBER (reminiscing fondly): Cauliflower.
TOMATO: The Pasta Brothers are cruel. Stay away from them. Unless you’re popular, hot, or stringing them out, they’ll mess with you. They do it because they know they’ll get away with it.
CARROT: Their dad’s some hotshot lawyer in New York City.
TOMATO: Fettuccine Alfredo. The nastiest prosecutor in Manhattan. He’ll string you out just to boil you later. He loves to cook, and his children are the exact same way. Mark my words. Something terrible is going to happen at that party tonight. (to Cucumber) You should stay away from that Angel Hair. She’s probably twisted.
CUCUMBER: I wouldn’t mind if she twisted me.