by Marinka on September 20, 2013

Yesterday I lost a $100 bet to my son.

The details are fuzzy. It’s like a play in three acts, where you basically live for the intermission so that you can either sneak out or get a cocktail to anesthetize yourself against what’s coming.

In Act One, which takes place in NYC in late August, you see Marinka sleeping peacefully, in a way that those who devote themselves to bettering humanity do, when all of a sudden and without any reason, her 12 year old son, appears by her bed. It’s 3 am. “Mom,” he says, and Marinka is jolted awake. The only thing that would make him standing there more terrifying would be if he were holding a bloody meat cleaver in one hand and a classmate’s head in another.

“What?” Marinka sits up.

“I have the worst rash I’ve ever had in my life and everything itches!” he says.

The rest of the Act includes Marinka’s son saying things like “my throat feels funny” and Marinka telling her husband that he has to go to the all night pharmacy to get some Benadryl and her husband saying things like “zzzz” and Marinka having to tap him on the shoulder and asking him to remove his earplugs so that she could tell him that he has to go to an all-night pharmacy to get some Benadryl and Marinka’s husband saying things like “now?” and Marinka saying things like “yes, because he said his throat feels funny and if it’s an allergic reaction and his throat is closing up, that’s a bad sign, although I fully appreciate and respect that as a Christian, you believe in the Resurrection, but I am a Jewish, and I believe in medicine.” All these are things that do not enhance The Marital Relationship, in case you were wondering.

The Act ends with the consumption of Benadryl and peaceful sleep.

Act Two opens the next afternoon, when our young hero is enjoying a fine video game when all of a sudden, the hives reappear. They reappear on his arms, legs, torso and just to drive the point home, underneath his eye. There is a visit to the doctor and a diagnosis of “hives” is confirmed. Benadryl is administered but it does nothing, so there is a cameo by a dose of Zyrtec. At this point in the play some uppity audience members wonder if the arts are now sponsored by pharmaceutical companies while others wonder if calling this dreck “the arts” is a bit much. Various characters appear on stage to wonder about what could be causing the hives? What could the young lad be allergic to, what? There is a musical interlude during which Mama takes the stage for her Grammy-nominated solo of “It Must Be All The Dust That Marinka Doesn’t Clean Either That Or The Hormone-Filled Steak From Costco That She Feeds My Poor Grandchildren.” The audience is moved to tears and/or suicide.

The curtain falls on the Second Act, to thunderous applause, generated mostly because the audience doesn’t realize that there’s a Third Act.

And what a Third Act it is! The curtain opens (after having fallen) to an allergist’s office. Marinka and her son are in the doctor’s office; three weeks later. The hives are long gone, but Marinka is determined to find the cause. Faint cries of “dust!” and “Costco beef!” are heard throughout the scene.

“He doesn’t have any allergies that we know of,” Marinka says. The audience is delighted. It is the first time they’ve seen Angelina Jolie on the stage. Well, except for the first two Acts, obviously, but it’s good to see her again. Everyone understands why Brad Pitt left Jennifer Aniston for her, and although Jen bounced back ok, people still feel bad that she lost out on the coveted Marinka role to Angelina. But seeing Angelina now as Marinka, there really was no choice. No. Jennifer is Rachel and Angelina is Marinka.
“And yet he developed the hives,” the doctor nods.

“And yet he developed hives,” Marinkangelina confirms.

“They were so bad,” the kid pipes in, “that my brother said that I looked like a red tomato.”

The youngster is now referring to his older half-brother who had lived with the family for several years in New York, before returning to the University in Europe (this was explored in a flashback dream-sequence scene in the Second Act; sorry I forgot to mention it!). He did come back to NYC for a brief visit in the summer and now Marinkangelina is concerned that her young son is confused.

“He was not here during your hives outbreak,” she gently tells her son.

“He was!” he says.

“No,” Marinkangelina says. “He was not.”

The doctor is administering the skin prick allergy test on the kid’s arm while this banter is taking place. He apologizes for not having a “Costco meat” test.

“Wanna bet?” the kid says. And Marinkangelina purses her lips.

“Sure,” she says. “Prepare to lose.”

“I bet you $100,” her son says and Marinkangelina extends her slender arm to shake his hand. The wager is on.

As soon as the shaking stops, Marinkangelina realizes that oh, wait. Her stepson WAS there during the whole hives incident. She rushes to her daily planner, which is projected overhead for the audience’s enjoyment, and confirms the worst. She just lost a $100 bet to her son.

He laughs with glee, even as the doctor pronounces that he has a severe allergy to dust mites.

Marinkangelina pales. $100! How will she be able to pay off this wager and afford more Costco meat? HOW?

The curtain falls again. The audience leaps to its feet, hungry for more. Perhaps this will be one of those trilogy plays, like Angels in America but about hives instead of AIDS. Tony Kushner didn’t say that it would be, of course, but perhaps he’s being coy?

Stay tuned!

One year ago ...

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

September 20, 2013 at 8:02 am

You lost the bet AND Mama was right about the dust? Bad, bad day.


Marinka September 21, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Thank you for your sympathy. I’m registered at Tiffany’s if you’d like to express your sympathy in a gem-appriate way.


September 20, 2013 at 8:28 am

A) This is a brilliant play, and I foresee it winning all kinds of Major Awards (including, but not limited to, embarrassing lamps).

B) I am severely allergic to dust mites, and the best money I ever spent was in sorting out the bed: dust-mite-impenetrable covers for the pillow and mattress, and a new comforter (I had to get rid of the beloved down, which they apparently adore as much as I do) that can be machine washed (apparently, dust mites can’t swim). In one afternoon, I went from itchy, sore throat, crazy eyeball allergies to peaceful sleeping.

C) You know those Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons never expire, despite their printed expiration date, don’t you? And that you can use five of them per trip?


September 20, 2013 at 8:37 am

Dust-mite allergies? My greatest fear. Seeing as I don’t want to clean.

Stiff him! That’s what I always do when I bet my husband. But Marinka, I never lose bets with my children. ; D


September 20, 2013 at 9:16 am

Tony-award-winning material, for sure!
But let’s think – your son breaks into hives twice within 24 hours, and then he is fine. He might have an allergy to dust, but I’m thinking something else caused the hives.


September 20, 2013 at 9:17 am

Oh, and I’m very sorry about the $100. That hurts. I mean, having to admit a 12-year-old is right really hurts.


Suebob September 20, 2013 at 9:18 am

Where are you going to send him to live?


lceel September 20, 2013 at 10:43 am

VERY witty treatment of what was an unfortunate incident in your family. Well done you.

Let me know when you publish the sequel.


Susan Weinstein September 20, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Love this! Make it a trilogy, since these things do continue…cut to age 15, son last night dramatically staggering, saying his muscles ache and he’s got a fever–also appearing by bed, startling me awake…a cold? Aspirin really is a wonder drug….


September 20, 2013 at 1:16 pm

So so so funny.


Alina Adams September 20, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Will you be releasing a CD of the songs, because I think my Mama would like to learn your Mama’s part and put it on infinite reprise.


Deb September 20, 2013 at 5:30 pm



Deborah J September 20, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Umm, so Mama was right?
*Ducks for cover…
Sorry, don’t know what I was thinking.


Selfish Mom
September 20, 2013 at 9:00 pm

WOW. Now you have to get a lawyer and find a loophole.


Alexandra September 21, 2013 at 1:36 am

Ha! love what SueBob says, also, in answer to SueBob, ” certainly not here. You thought you saw hives? One day here and I’ll show you hives, Marinkangelina. Or, your son will, rather.

Anyway, my house is waaaay worse. Why my kids dose up on the inhaler before they hit the sack.



Christie September 21, 2013 at 8:54 am

Welcome to the motherhood sent me here. I think I love you. Hilarious.


dusty earth mother September 21, 2013 at 11:32 am

I think you just won a Tony for Original Play.


Darcy Perdu September 21, 2013 at 11:45 am

that’s the most hilarious hive story I’ve ever heard!


September 21, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I’m going to have to call you Tony, because best new play.


Carrie September 21, 2013 at 8:33 pm

When you hand him the $100 bill, saying of course, “sorry, i don’t have anything smaller” don’t forget to mention as you rub your chin to your shoulder “seeing as you took my last hundred I am going to have to charge you for all meals and board for say, the next month”

—>hilarious and can’t wait for Act 4!


anymommy September 22, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I knew this story was going to be good. I must know who played Mama?


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes September 23, 2013 at 8:01 am

Brilliant, but a bummer about the lost bet.


tracy@sellabitmum September 24, 2013 at 7:22 am

I hope this hits Broadway soon! Hilarious!


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