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Berns, Berns & Honey (Career)

By:                 Susan J. Allen

Place:             Nizhny Novgorod, Russia

Date:              June 4, 2002

Topic:            Career Decisions: Creative Solutions

Message:        One can follow one’s heart in making career decisions, and still be practical.  Creative solutions can be found for most problems through consultation.

Characters:   Father, mother, son Bret and daughter Honey

Setting:          Kitchen, at kitchen table

Bret and his mother are sitting at the kitchen table, when the father walks in the kitchen door from work, gives his wife a kiss, and gives his son an affectionate tap on the shoulder with his newspaper.  He hangs his jacket on a chair and sits down with them.  All through the first part of this dialogue, the mother is sitting back and observing with almost amused patience.

Father:     Well Bret, I was just discussing you this afternoon with our office manager, Bill, and he’s been lining up a list of duties for your summer job at the law firm.  He’s been giving a lot of thought to how to give you as much practical experience as possible—and some real responsibility.

Bret looks at his mom significantly and then looks down at the table, clearly getting up the courage to say something.

Father:       (Looking from Mother to Bret questioningly) Okay, something’s up.  What’s with you two?

Bret:           (Clenching his fist and then hitting the table in an action of decision) Look Dad, how many times do I have to say it?  Do I have to shout, do I have to scream, write you an official letter?  I’ll say it clearly, one last time.  Dad, I don’t WANT to be a lawyer!

Father:       (Sincerely bewildered) Come on, Bret.  I knew you were going through a passing stage, feeling your oats, learning to think for yourself, finding your independence and all that, and I was patient with it…  But I thought you’d grown out of that piddling around—the time has come to settle down in your thoughts and face your responsibilities and your future squarely.

Bret:           Can’t you see that this is what I’ve been trying to do?  I’ve  BEEN trying to find myself, and I’ve tried to find that lawyer within me that you are so sure is there—and it just isn’t—it just  ISN’T.  I want to go to art school, and I’ve found just the right one.

Father:       Art?  You’ve got to be joking, Bret!  I know that the image of the great starving artist is very romantic, but how are you going to support a family with art?  So you like to paint pictures—fine!  Do it in your free time—but it’s just not a serious profession!

Bret:           And if your dad had told you to learn law in your free time, in your tired hours, tell me, how proficient would you have become at law?  It takes professional training, work, years of effort to become an artist—do you think all the grand masterpieces of the world were created in someone’s spare time?  Tell me, have YOU ever thought about this seriously?

Father:       All I know is that for three generations our family has always had a son to carry on the tradition and take over the law firm that your great-grandfather, your grandfather and your own father have built up with so much effort—have you thought seriously yourself what this means?  You’re the only son—you have a responsibility to carry on the Berns’ name with some kind of pride!

Bret:           Yes, that’s it—all you care about—your precious name, Berns, Berns and Berns, Incorporated—my happiness, my fulfillment as a human being doesn’t even come into the picture!  All this has nothing to do with me—go find other ways to feed your ego and glorify your name!  I’ll study art even if I have to work and pay for my own education!

Father:       I won’t allow this, Bret!  Out of the question!

Bret:           (Rising to leave) Then just try stopping me!  (Goes angrily to the door)




Father:       I won’t allow this, Bret!  Out of the question!

Bret:           (Rising to leave) Then just try stopping me!  (Goes angrily to the door)

Mother:      (Calmly but distinctly and firm) And I suppose no one’s interested in what I think…?

Bret turns back slowly from the door and waits.

Mother:      Bret, I agree that your life is your own and that you deserve a chance at happiness, and that we should support you in your decisions.  BUT, don’t you think you could be more sensitive to your father’s feelings… he’s spent his life building up the firm—it is definitely more than a name, not just to him but to all of us who care about him and granddad.

Bret:           (Looking suddenly anguished) Oh Mom….  (Walks to the chair and sits down in frustration)  You know, you both know that it’s not that I don’t care…  (Turns to his dad)  You know I care, Dad… I know how hard you’ve worked.

Mother:      So, why don’t we stop thinking in rigid straight lines, and start looking for some creative solutions to this problem… if we care enough then there are always solutions to be found that can meet everyone’s needs.

Both look at her expectantly, not really knowing what to expect.

Father:       Okay, go on…

Mother:      No, both of YOU go on.  Think…!  (To her husband)  John, you yourself know that you can’t place all your personal hopes and desires on Bret’s shoulders…  So, why do you think he is the only one in the family who can carry on the business?

Father:       So, how many sons do I have anyway?

Bret:           (His eyes brightening) Well, yes Dad, you’ve got any number of nephews right here in town… are we sure none of them are interested in law?

Father:       Well, uh, I just never thought about it…

Mother:      And Bret, have you not thought to tell your dad what you told me about your plans for the future?

Bret:           He never LETS me explain!

Mother:      (To father) Are you letting him explain?

Father:       Oh good grief… explain!

Bret:           Well, Dad, it’s not just painting that I’m interested in… what I’d really like to be in addition to this, is an art curator… you know, in a museum.  It was Mom, actually who gave me the idea… I can combine the two professions…

Father looks at mother in surprise and no little admiration.

Mother:      (Shrugging her shoulders in amused innocence) I was just trying to do some creative thinking…  I don’t know any art curators whose families are starving… romantically or otherwise…

Father:       Hmmm…

Mother:      And I don’t think we’ve exhausted all the ideas for solutions about who will carry on the family business…

The kitchen door bangs open, and Honey, the 13 year old daughter comes in noisily.

Honey:       Hi, everyone!  (Looks from face to face)  Gosh, why’s everyone looking so serious?  (To mother)  Hey Mom, did you tell Dad about my decision?  (To father)  WELL…., I’VE decided to become a lawyer! 

Father:       (Astonished—to mother) MORE creative thinking…?

Mother:      I had nothing to do with this one…

Honey:       No, seriously, Dad, I saw the neatest film the other day—all about this lawyer lady (her eyes glaze over dreamily) it was SO romantic…  I want to be just like her… I’ll defend all the poor people in the city—and most of the time I won’t even charge them.  (Thoughtfully)  I mean, I’ll probably have a husband to support me and all…

Father:       (Thoughtfully and with an ironic smile) Yes… maybe he’ll be as rich as an art curator…?  



—The End—