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The Johnsons Have Gone Gatsby

First published on McSweeney’s Internet Tendencies, this is a skit likening bored suburban neighbors throwing Gatsby theme parties to zombies. It made sense in my head at the time.

Gatsby

FADE IN

INT. UPPER CLASS HOME LIVING ROOM – NIGHT

A man, BEN, wearing pajama pants and a tee shirt, is reading his newspaper. His wife, BARBRA, wears a flowered robe and is curled on the sofa, reading a book.

BEN

Do you hear that?

Ben drops his paper and tilts his head. We hear the faint sound of music coming from outside the home.

BARBRA

What?

BEN

Sounds like… music.

The music is getting louder. The song is ‘Toot Toot Toosie Goodbye’  by Al Jolson

BARBRA
(shrugging, unconcerned)

I guess someone is having a party.

The doorbell rings.

BEN

Who could that be at this hour?

The man gets up from his chair and walks to the window by the front door. He peeks outside.

BEN (CONT’D)

It’s the Johnsons!

The man moves to open door. As his hand touches the doorknob, his wife leaps from the sofa.

BARBRA

Wait, Ben! Don’t open the door!

BEN

What? Why?

BARBRA

The Johnsons. What are they wearing?

BEN
(peeks out the window again)

She’s in a dress and he’s in a suit.

BARBRA

Old-timey outfits?

BEN

Old-timey? Well, now that you mention it, they’re both wearing hats…

BARBRA

I knew it! Whatever you do, don’t open that door!

BEN

Barbra, what is it?

BARBRA

The Johnsons… They’ve gone Gatsby!

BEN
(his face is awash with horror)

Turn off all the lights!

Ben and Barbra scurry to turn off the lights on the first floor. They meet back in the foyer, holding their breath as they stare nervously at their front door. The doorbell rings again and they jump.

MRS. JOHNSON
(calling from outside in a sing-song voice)

We know you’re in there, sillies…

MR. JOHNSON

Yes, come on, old sport! Open the door!

Barbra covers her mouth, trying not to scream.

BEN

Do you think it’s the whole community?

BARBRA

I don’t know! This happened to my sister’s neighborhood, but I never thought it would happen here!

There is knocking at the door and the doorbell rings again.

MRS. JOHNSON

Do come out and have a glass of giggle water with us!

There is rapping on the window at the side of the house. Ben and Barbra whirl towards the noise. We can see a woman in flapper dress waving at the window, the large yellow feather in her headband bobbing.

BEN

They’re coming to get you, Barbra, there’s one of them now!

FLAPPER
(calling through the closed window)

Barbra! You simply must join us! It’s the bee’s knees!

BARBRA
(turning to Ben, her face ashen.)

We’ll have to board up the windows.

There is shuffling on the front porch.  A crowd is gathering. Gay laughter erupts.  The tune ‘My Blue Heaven’ fills the night air.

BEN

My god, the movie’s just come out. This could go on for weeks! Hell, it’s DiCaprio! It could be months! Remember ‘Titanic?’

BARBRA

This will be worse than ‘Mad Men.’ The theme parties, the costumes…

Barbara touches her head, a glazed, faraway look in her eyes.

BARBRA (CON’T)

I don’t even own cloche hat…

BEN
(grabbing Barbra by the shoulders)

Barbra! Snap out of it! Don’t be a dumb dora!

Ben slaps his hand to his mouth, horrified. 

BEN (CON’T)

It’s happening. Barbra, we’re doomed.

Ben turns and steps to the window. With a final glance back at Barbra, he throws back the curtains. On the porch there is a party in full swing. Men in homburg hats and women holding cocktail glasses grin and toast to them through the window. 

MR. JOHNSON

Join us, old sport! There’s plenty of hooch for everyone!

MRS. JOHNSON

Everything is jake!

BARBRA
(her attention captured by something beyond the crowd)

My god… Ben, look! Look out at the bay!

BEN

What?

BARBRA

Remember when you asked Sampson to replace the dock light bulb?

BEN

Yes?

BARBRA

Look!

We see the light on the end of Ben and Barbra’s dock, glowing in the darkness. It shines with an eerie green hue.

BEN

 That fool!

BARBRA
(monotone, all hope lost)

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ swells, mixing with the sound of the people chattering and glasses clicking outside.

FADE TO BLACK

Amy Vansant

Voted Funniest Non-Mommy Blog by a Bunch of Moms I Got Really Drunk.Amy has been finding creative ways to make no money since high school.

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12 Responses

  1. cj

    Amy, your blog is a mofo. I love it. Lit and humor? Be still, my beating heart! Oh, sorry. Anyhow, so cool someone read and understood it well enough to compose such a post. You got the green light, the old sport, and perhaps several others that I’ve forgotten. Marvy post, man.
    cj recently posted..Addicted to Candy Crush

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  2. SarcasticNinja

    To be fair, I would rather my neighborhood be taken over by Gatsby-philes than by most other literature-based zombies. For example, Grapes of Wrath parties would be way less fun. Wrath grapes don’t make very good wine.
    SarcasticNinja recently posted..Trouble in Paradise

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  3. Tammy R

    Wow, Amy. CJ and I did this as a book club of two over a year ago and loved it. Of course, we just blabbed about it and came up with nothing so creative as this! What a delightful read…F.Scott would be honored.
    Tammy R recently posted..Addicted to Candy Crush

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