Graduating Class of 41

ANDREW stands in the middle of a bedroom. He’s staring at his graduation cap. His gown and tie lies on the chair. He lets out a deep sigh. EVA enters.

EVA

Hello, graduate. You ready to go?

ANDREW

Not quite.

EVA

At least you’re dressed. (grabs tie) Well, mostly. We should get going.

ANDREW

I don’t want to go.

EVA

What? But you’re graduating, Andrew. It’s a big step.

ANDREW

A big step…

EVA

Of course it is. Why would you not want to go?

ANDREW

(tosses his cap toward the chair) Eva…

EVA

What’s wrong, honey?

ANDREW

I feel like a failure.

EVA

A failure? Graduating with a Bachelors in Engineering?

ANDREW

At 41 years old!

EVA

Forty-one? And here I thought you were 22.

ANDREW

Eva, I’m being serious.

EVA

So you’re 41. Why does that matter? You’ve completed a college education.

ANDREW

At what expense? Waiting years when I could’ve provided for a family before I had one? Not having enough time for my family? Forcing my wife to get a menial job so we can barely scrape by, just so I can receive a piece of paper amongst graduates 15 years younger than I am?

EVA

Probably even younger.

ANDREW

Really? I’m having an existential crisis here!

EVA

More like a mid-life crisis.

ANDREW

You’re not helping!

EVA

What do you want me to say, Andrew?

ANDREW

I don’t know, tell me I’m right. Encourage what I say.

EVA

(pause) But you’re not right.

ANDREW looks stunned and hurt. He sits on the bed (or chair) away from EVA.

EVA

Let me explain. First of all, you said you were older.

ANDREW

I am older.

EVA

And I’m not saying you aren’t. You are older than the other graduates. But age shouldn’t matter. You fulfilled your education, and that’s all that matters, right? (Andrew doesn’t answer) Right?

ANDREW

I suppose.

EVA

Second of all, you didn’t force me to get a job, even if it is menial. It was my choice, to help the household. I would do it again.

ANDREW

Well, if it was up to me, I wouldn’t have let you.

EVA

But it wasn’t up to you. If it was up to you, we wouldn’t have been able to take care of the kids while you were racking up student loan debt. (calms down) But, we don’t have to. What’s done is done. We’re okay, and you’re graduating.

ANDREW

I still don’t want to go.

EVA

Andrew–

ANDREW

(stands) You don’t know what it’s like, Eva. You didn’t graduate college.

EVA takes a step back, more hurt than angry.

ANDREW

I’m sorry. I didn’t mean–

EVA

No. I didn’t graduate.

ANDREW

Honey–

EVA

I decided that I didn’t want to continue.

ANDREW

Eva–

EVA

I was married, about to become a mother, and I couldn’t handle the stress.

ANDREW

It’s not that–

EVA

So I decided to become the best mother and wife, which was the most important to me, I didn’t need a degree.

ANDREW

You’re right! Okay? You’re right, I’m wrong, and I’m sorry! I know you didn’t graduate because you wanted to be the best mom. And you were. Our children grew up amazingly, even if I occasionally want to hurt them. I just can’t help but feel a little guilty.

EVA

About being older?

ANDREW

About everything. Waiting so long to finish, graduating even though you never did, taking time away from my family and my job in order to study.

EVA

Andrew, you’re stuck in the past.

ANDREW

Isn’t that usually where guilt lives?

EVA

Indeed it is. Problem is, you can’t live there and here at the same time. And I would much prefer having my husband living in the present with me.

ANDREW

Aw, but the past is so much fun! You can visit anytime you want; just time travel back to me every time the kids annoy you.

EVA

Har har har. You’re very funny if you think you’re escaping the present-day problems. Well how about this: you can visit the past anytime you want after graduation.

ANDREW

I was trying to distract you away from that.

EVA

I know. It’s not going to work. Now let’s get your tie on before I decide to strangle you with it, ’cause we’re running late.

ANDREW

(let’s her tie the tie) As long as you don’t mind cheering on the oldest guy on stage.

EVA

You want me to cheer on the Dean of the College?

ANDREW

Honey.

EVA

Kidding, I’m kidding. Of course I’ll cheer you on when you’re up there with all those youngsters. (finishes tie, grabs gown)

ANDREW

Eva, you really think I did the right thing.

EVA

What matters, Andrew, is that you set out for new heights and you succeeded. You didn’t fail, even if you think you have. You were too hard on yourself. You sought to make a better life for your family and you did. And I am the proudest spouse in the world. And I think that the completion of your goal is the right thing. (gives him a hug) Now grab your darn cap and let’s go!

EVA exits. ANDREW grabs his cap. He stares at it for a moment with mild disdain, then with pride before following Eva offstage. 

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