Commentary

This Sporting Life: Waiting 4, Godot 0

Updated: May 11, 2009, 1:06 PM ET
By Jeff MacGregor | Page 2

(With Apologies to Samuel Beckett)

Rosenfels, a quarterback
Jackson, a quarterback
A water boy

A country road. A tree.
Evening.

ROSENFELS: (Sarcastically.) Charming spot. (Looks around.) Inspiring prospects. (Crestfallen.) Let's go.

JACKSON: We can't.

ROSENFELS: Why not?

JACKSON: We're waiting.

ROSENFELS: For him?

JACKSON: For whom?

ROSENFELS: For whomever it is that we're waiting.

JACKSON: Favre?

ROSENFELS: Favre. (Despairingly.) Still? (Pause.) You're sure it was here?

JACKSON: What?

ROSENFELS: That we were to wait.

JACKSON: He said by the tree. (They look at the tree.) Do you see any others?

ROSENFELS: What is it?

JACKSON: I don't know. A willow.

ROSENFELS: Where are the leaves?

JACKSON: Or maybe it's a blocking sled.

ROSENFELS: Too big. And yet small for a tree.

JACKSON: Perhaps it's not the season.

ROSENFELS: It's always the season. In fact it's always this season. Looks to me more like a bush.

JACKSON: A shrub.

ROSENFELS: A bush.

JACKSON: Reggie Bush? Different fellow entirely. What are you insinuating? That we've come to the wrong place?

ROSENFELS: He should be here.

JACKSON: He didn't say for sure he'd come. He's waiting for the X-rays. And to be asked.

ROSENFELS: And if he doesn't come?

JACKSON: We'll come back tomorrow.

ROSENFELS: And then the day after tomorrow.

JACKSON: Very likely.

ROSENFELS: And so on.

JACKSON: The point is ...

ROSENFELS: Until he comes. With the X-rays. Having been asked.

JACKSON: You're merciless.

ROSENFELS: We came here yesterday.

JACKSON: Ah no, there you're mistaken.

ROSENFELS: What did we do yesterday?

JACKSON: What did we do yesterday?

ROSENFELS: Yes.

JACKSON: Nothing.

ROSENFELS: In my opinion, we were here.

JACKSON: (Looking around.) You recognize the place?

ROSENFELS: I didn't say that.

JACKSON: Did we study our playbooks?

ROSENFELS: I studied mine. I can't speak for you.

JACKSON: Did we practice?

ROSENFELS: Yes.

JACKSON: Was I good?

ROSENFELS: Everyone agreed they'd never seen anything quite like it. But that makes no difference.

JACKSON: All the same ... that tree ... that blocking sled ... that hashmark ... How long have we been here?

ROSENFELS: For a moment. Forever. You're sure it was this evening?

JACKSON: What?

ROSENFELS: That we were to wait.

JACKSON: If he was asked and if he was X-rayed, he said Saturday. (Pause.) I think.

ROSENFELS: You think.

JACKSON: I must have made a note of it. (He pats at his uniform pants.) These pants have no pockets. Useless.

ROSENFELS: (Insidious.) But what Saturday? Was he asked, was he X-rayed, was it Saturday? Is it not rather Sunday? (Pause.) Or Monday? (Pause.) Or Friday? (Pause.) Or game day?

JACKSON: (Looking wildly about him, as though panicked by the prospect of 60,000 fans rising suddenly from the ground.) Not game day! It's not possible!

ROSENFELS: Or just Thursday?

JACKSON: What'll we do?

ROSENFELS: If he came yesterday and we weren't here you may be sure he won't come again today.

JACKSON: But you say we were here yesterday.

ROSENFELS: I may be mistaken. (Pause.) I may not. (Pause.) Let's stop talking for a minute, do you mind?

JACKSON: (Feebly.) All right.

(ROSENFELS sits down and pulls a large three-ring playbook from his uniform pants. He studies. JACKSON stares, then paces agitatedly to and fro, pump-faking and checking down and throwing to the outlet, always to the outlet. He has no football. This does not stop him. Pump, check, outlet. Pump, check, outlet. After each imaginary 2-yard completion, he whispers low crowd noises to himself: haaaaaaaa, haaaaaaaa. And so forth: haaaaaaaa. He raises his arms in triumph. Using his playbook as a pillow, ROSENFELS has fallen asleep. JACKSON halts before him.) Sage! ... Sage! ... SAGE!

ROSENFELS wakes with a start.

ROSENFELS: (Restored to the horror of his situation.) I was asleep! (Despairingly.) Why will you never let me sleep?

JACKSON: I felt lonely. It was fourth-and-4. Again.

ROSENFELS: I had a dream.

JACKSON: Don't tell me!

ROSENFELS: I dreamt that ...

JACKSON: DON'T TELL ME!

ROSENFELS: I dreamt that he was never asked and there were never any X-rays and we were never made to wait. That it was just us. That we weren't here. Waiting. (Silence.) It was nice.

JACKSON: But reports say that maybe he was asked and maybe he wasn't and maybe there are X-rays and maybe there aren't and here we are. Waiting. Indefinitely. Definitely. (Pause.) Maybe.

ROSENFELS: Reports say.

JACKSON: Maybe ...

ROSENFELS: Don't weaken ...

JACKSON: Perhaps ...

ROSENFELS: We must remain strong ...

JACKSON: Possibly ...

ROSENFELS: If only for the sake of appearance ...

JACKSON: Stop it!

ROSENFELS: I-Stack Rifle, Power Drag Right Zip-2.

JACKSON: STOP IT!

ROSENFELS: On three! (More gently.) T-2 Bench-Split Left, Flair Zig 87-Hoist. On two.

JACKSON: (Without turning.) Don't try to sweet-talk me. I've nothing to say to you.

ROSENFELS: Nor I to you.

(They stand silent, back to back, fuming.)

(A water boy enters. He carries two giant galvanized buckets filled with sand).

WATER BOY: He sent me to tell you ...

JACKSON: Who?

ROSENFELS: Which?

JACKSON: What?

ROSENFELS: When?

WATER BOY: ... that he won't come tonight. He promises to come tomorrow. If asked. And X-rayed. (The water boy exits.)

JACKSON: Well, there it is then.

ROSENFELS: A promise ...

JACKSON: ... if ...

ROSENFELS: ... if ... if certain ifs are ...

JACKSON: ... uniffed.

ROSENFELS: Precisely.

JACKSON: Unless ...

ROSENFELS: Exactly.

(They embrace with joy, then step apart with uncertainty.)

JACKSON: And so ...

ROSENFELS: And so on unto eternity.

JACKSON: What if he never comes?

ROSENFELS: Then we shall go on as before.

JACKSON: As before.

ROSENFELS: Fourth-and-4.

JACKSON: Fourth-and-4, again.

(They high five.)

ROSENFELS: Ad infinitum.

JACKSON: Ad absurdum.

ROSENFELS: Ad nauseam.

JACKSON: Ad gloriam.

ROSENFELS: Forever and ever.

JACKSON: Amen.

ROSENFELS: Let's go.

JACKSON: Yes, let's go.

They do not move.

Curtain.

Jeff MacGregor is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. You can e-mail him at jeff_macgregor@hotmail.com.