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Close-up on his face. He is thoughtful, a bit troubled, as if he has had a hard day at the office. “Ward, is that you?” June’s voice from the kitchen. “You’re home early.” Ward enters the kitchen where June, wearing beads and lipstick, is stirring the evening meal. She smiles, cocks her head expectantly for her usual what’s-for-dinner-dear kiss. Ward grabs her by the shoulders and spins her brusquely around. “What is it, honey?” asks June, “Rough day at the office?” Close-up on Ward’s face. He has the same troubled look. He rips open the front of June’s blouse, revealing two petite, shapely breasts. He grabs her by the throat before she can protest and hurls her to the floor. He is standing over her, fists clenched, when Beaver enters the room. “Hi, Dad,” he says, tossing a baseball into his catcher’s mitt. “Why is Mom on the floor? And what happened to her clothes?” Ward smiles a tired smile and puts his arm on Beaver’s shoulder. “That’s the way things go, Beaver,” he says. “Your mother couldn’t have expected it. I’m a complex man.” June, sprawled on the floor with a dazed expression on her face, blinks several times, then glances at the dinner burning on the stove. Close-up on Beaver’s face. He is perplexed. “So what’s supposed to happen now, Dad?” he says. Ward turns the fire off on the stove. “Well, that depends on you, Beaver,” he says with a fatherly tone. “Just think of it as a homework problem. You’ve solved lots of homework problems, haven’t you?” “Sure, Dad,” replies Beaver as he watches his mother nervously button her blouse. He has obviously never seen her breasts before. “But, well, I was never really very good at homework, you know.” He continues to absentmindedly toss the baseball into his mitt. Ward, his back to June, tousles Beaver’s hair good-naturedly. “Well, then, I’ll help you out, young man,” he says. “Just sit right down here at the kitchen table and we’ll work this out.” Beaver does as he is told, grabbing a couple of chocolate chip cookies from the cookie jar en route. Ward rubs his chin thoughtfully and begins. “So, how exactly would you characterize the problem, Beaver?” Beaver screws up his face in a puzzled grimace and then replies, “Lack of balance?” “Good,” says Ward, nodding his approval. “An esthetic imbalance, a lack of symmetry in the forces involved. This is not a hypothetical situation. There are real-world, real-time constraints to consider. In fact, you might consider it a problem in physics. Would that make it any easier?” Beaver squirms under his father’s penetrating gaze. “Gee, Dad, Miss Landers hasn’t gotten to physics yet in school. Besides, that’s not exactly what I meant.” “Oh?” says Ward with a raised eyebrow. June appears at the table holding a glass of milk A blue-black bruise is beginning to appear beneath her left eye. “Here, Beaver, drink up,” she says. “It’s white. It’s milk. It’s good for you. It’s the other half of cookies-and-milk. It completes the concept in a satisfying way.” She looks to Ward for approval. Close-up on Ward’s face. He is still thoughtful, serious. Beaver takes the glass of milk gratefully. “Thanks, Mom,” he says as he takes a gulp. Ward and June both watch as Beaver drains the glass. There is a pause as he wipes off the milk moustache with his sleeve and reaches for another cookie. June, her maternal instincts satisfied for the time being, smiles knowingly at Ward. “I’m going to go slip into something more...comfortable,” she says, primping her hair. Ward, jolted out of his reverie, nods with husbandly tolerance and then, folding his arms, turns his attention back to the Beaver. “Now then, Theodore,” he says. “What precisely did you mean by ‘lack of balance’? And don’t answer with your mouth full.” Beaver hurriedly swallows his last bite of cookie. “Well,
Dad,” he says, “I was kinda talking about Wally. He sticks out. You know, like a sore thumb or somethin’. Or like the back of my hair when I sleep on it funny. Like that.” Close-up on Ward’s face. He is receptive, concerned. The touch of gray hair above his ears makes him look sensible and stable. “Go on, Beaver,” he says. “Well,” continues Beaver, his voice adopting a tentative, whining character, “I sorta think of him like a growth. A tumor sorta. He’s so big and clunky lookin’. I know he’s my big brother and everything, but, well, you know. Me, you, and Mom, we’re a triangle. Wally makes it a quadrilateral. Everybody notices it, Dad, honest. It’s real goofy.” Ward unfolds his arms and leans forward in his chair. His brow is furrowed with annoyance. “And ‘goofy’ isn’t satisfying, eh, Beaver? ‘Goofy’ is chaos and disorder, ‘goofy’ is the tug of entropy, and that gives you the ‘creeps’, I suppose?” Beaver hangs his head a little, suddenly ashamed of his childish outburst. Ward continues. “Well, maybe it’s time you grew up, young man. The world is filled with quadrilaterals and not all of them are as ‘goofy’ as you seem to think. That baseball diamond you play on down at Metzger’s field, for instance. That’s a quadrilateral. But I don’t hear you complaining about how ‘goofy’ baseball is.” Beaver fidgets in his chair and lowers his eyes, his lip in a pout. “Aw, gee, Dad,” he says, “I was just kinda making an analogy, you know. I didn’t mean to say Wally was a real tumor or anything.” Ward leans back, his demeanor a bit more relaxed. He straightens his already-straight tie and clears his throat. “Okay, Beaver, you seem to like analogies, let’s extend this one a bit, shall we? Let’s have it your way, Wally is a cancerous growth. So who, in that case, is analogous to the carcinogenic substance which gave rise to that cancer?” Beaver stares at the ceiling for a moment and shrugs. “I dunno, Dad, who?” Ward smiles condescendingly. “Why, it would be your mother and me, son. We’re the carcinogens. After all, we’re the ones who brought Wally into the world.” A smile lights up Beaver’s face, revealing his oversized front teeth, the source of his colorful nickname. “Gee, Dad,” he says, “you’re pretty good at this analogy stuff.” Close-up on Ward’s face. There is a hint of bashful pride there. “Well, when you get to be my age, Beaver, all this will seem like child’s play. Life will sing. Life will dance. Life will whisper its secrets in your ear, follow you around like a puppy, scrub behind your ears. Life will yodel, pitch a tent, ride a pony, join the Seabees. You’ll see, when you’re my age.” Close-up on Beaver’s face. It is filled with wonder and unabashed filial admiration. “Wow, Dad, you make being a grown-up sound great.” There is a pause as theme music fades in almost imperceptibly. Beaver speaks hesitantly. “Dad...” “I know, Beaver,” Ward interrupts gently, “You think maybe we owe you an apology for Wally. And maybe we do. But, Beaver...” he shifts in his seat, crosses his legs “Beaver, Wally was conceived in a kind of hazy mist, like the snow on the TV screen when the channel goes off the air. I don’t remember how it happened, but I personally don’t think DNA was involved. He was twelve years old before we even noticed he existed. He’s a concept, just like you, but not geometric. You’re still the apex or our little triangle, son. Wally is mushy, not pure and Platonic like you are.” Beaver’s freckled face is grinning uncontrollably. Close-up on the baseball, spinning on the kitchen table like a planet. Close-up on a faded copy of Boy’s Life magazine in the windowsill. BUILD YOUR OWN LOG CABIN reads the cover. Ward again tousles Beaver’s hair, shattering the poignancy of the moment. “C’mon,” says Ward in his chummiest voice, “All that talk of DNA has make me hungry. Let’s go see what that bitch-goddess of a mother of yours has made for supper.” As father and son stand up there is a muffled cough from somewhere in the kitchen. The camera pans downward to reveal Wally on his hands and knees beneath the kitchen table. “Gee, Wally,” says Beaver, “whatcha hidin’ down there for?”
Wally crawls out from underneath the table and dusts off his somewhat baggy khaki trousers. “I wasn’t hidin’, ya little goof. I was just lookin’ for somethin’, that’s all.” Ward is standing with his arms folded, a skeptical look on his face. “And just what might that be, Wally?” he asks. “My coordinates,” replies Wally. “I’ve located the keys to the car somewhere along the xaxis, and my prom night trajectory is pretty clearly plotted. But I’m still pretty mixed up when it comes to where I am now, here, and why. Gosh, there’s so much a fellow has to keep track of these days.” Wally shakes his head sadly. Ward puts his hands in his pockets and chuckles. Beaver wrinkles up his nose and says, “I sure am glad I don’t have to worry about all that junk yet.” Wally gives Beaver a boy-are-you-gonna-get-it-later look which goes unnoticed by Ward. Beaver sniffs defiantly and puts another cookie in his mouth. “Wally,” continues Ward, “were you listening in on our little conversation just now?” “Snoop, snoop,” whispers Beaver almost inaudibly. “Heck no, Dad,” says Wally, his feelings slightly hurt. “I was in another place. I was clear on the other side of the matrix. I couldn’t even hear the laugh track, honest.” Ward nods, but it is clear from his demeanor that he is not totally convinced. Meanwhile Beaver has gone to the stove to check on the progress of the evening meal. “Oh-oh,” he says, sticking his index finger into the pot, “What now, Dad? The food’s cold.” “Yes, Beaver,” says Ward reassuringly, “but our bodies are warm. Our souls are on fire. Our minds burn with an urgent, American intensity. The thermal properties are only now being understood.” At that moment June reappears in the kitchen, dressed exactly as before, beads and all. The bruise below her eye is now fully developed and quite large. “Ward is right, boys,” she says, “but I always say, if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.” Wally and Beaver look at each other in amazement. “Gee, Mom,” says Wally, “you must know every famous saying there is.” June smiles a perky smile. “Oh, it’s nothing, Wally,” she says. “When you get to be my age, you’ll see how easy it is. Life hums, life whistles. Life does cartwheels, bakes cakes, removes ugly stains. Life brushes your teeth, puts on bandaids. Life---” “What your mother is trying to say,” interrupts Ward, “is that you can’t wait till just before bedtime to do your genetics homework. It just doesn’t work that way.” June smiles demurely. Close-up on a copy of Better Homes and Gardens lying on the kitchen table. MAKE YOUR OWN CARDIGAN SWEATER reads a caption on the front. Close-up on Ward’s face. The muscles of his jaw are tensed, beads of sweat are on his forehead. With one swift motion he rips open the front of June’s blouse, revealing three petite, shapely breasts. Close-up on Wally’s face, his eyes open wide. “Gee, Mom,” he says, “I didn’t know you had three of those things.” June raises her penciled-in eyebrows in mock surprise. “Why certainly, Wally,” she says. “Three is the perfect number. Three is the number of meals we consume each day. Three is the number of wishes the genie grants. Three is the number of vertices in a triangle. All good things come in threes, Wally.” Wally scratches his head. “Well, heck, Mom,” he says, “then how come there are four of us?” There is an uncomfortable moment. Beaver lowers his eyes. June looks to Ward for guidance. Ward breaks the awkward silence. “Uh, say, boys,” he says, “Which country do you think is the most similar in shape to that big bruise under your mother’s eye? Beaver?” Beaver looks up, startled. “Gee, Dad, I never was too good at geography.” Ward turns to Wally expectantly. Wally clears his throat and makes a sheepish guess. “Well, I guess it looks a little like Africa.” Smiling proudly, Ward slaps Wally on the back. “Good, Wally,” he says. “Yes, that’s exactly what it looks like, Africa. Africa, the cradle of civilization, the dark continent, vast and mysterious, just like the soul of Woman. Just like the soul of your mother here. She’s a woman.
Have I told you boys yet about women? About how their trajectories are different from ours? About how they act like mirrors for all the bliss and pain and confused desire that--” “What your father is trying to say,” interrupts June, “is that calcium is essential for the development of strong bones and teeth. Here,” she places two glasses of cold milk on the table in front of the boys, “drink this. It’s milk. It’s white, just like all your silly little friends. Just like the fluffy clouds in a blue sky on a sunny day when absolutely nothing can go wrong. Absolutely nothing.” The boys gulp their milk down, glancing at each other nervously. Close-up on June’s face. It is radiant, ethereally beautiful, marred only by the Africa-shaped bruise under her left eye. Ward is silent, lost in thought. The two boys are seated at the table looking somewhat uncomfortable. June, arms folded in her lap, turns her rapturous gaze to the Beaver. “Theodore,” she says in a dreamy voice. “How apt a name, ‘Theodore’, ‘gift from God’, that’s what you are. And how lucky I am to have been chosen to be your mother. How blessed I am that you should be the fruit of my womb. And how your eyes shine with the innocence and goodwill of a spotless lamb. How you wear your little baseball cap as if it were the crown of Heaven itself. And how you eat your cookie and drink your milk as if they were your very own body and blood.” She suddenly notices his glass is empty. “I see you’ve finished your milk, Beaver. What a good son you are. Would you like some more?” “No thanks, Mom,” blurts Beaver. “Let this cup pass from me.” Ward comes to life, startled by Beaver’s words. Wally looks to his brother with astonished embarrassment. June, too, seems suddenly disturbed by what Beaver has said. There is a forced and uncomfortable smattering of chuckles on the laugh track, then silence. At that moment Eddie Haskell saunters in through the back door nonchalantly biting into an apple. “Hiya Wally, Beaver,” he nods to each with an irreverent smirk. “Hello Mr. Cleaver, Mrs. Cleaver. My, what an attractive bruise under your left eye, Mrs. Cleaver. Did Mr. Cleaver give it to you?” Close-up on Ward. He has a kindly but somewhat suspicious look on his face. “As a matter of fact, I did, Eddie,” he says with a guarded tone. “It’s an experiment in symbolic facial topology. I intend to monitor its progress with more than casual concern. But now tell us, Eddie, what brings you here on this bright sunny day when absolutely nothing can go wrong?” “Oh, it’s not anything terribly important, Mr. Cleaver,” says Eddie, adopting an excruciatingly polite manner. “I was just wondering if Wallace and Theodore here would like to accompany me to Metzger’s field where we could engage in ostentatious displays of our nascent masculinity and participate in competitive rite-of-passage activities whilst young females in the throbbing incipit of their preciously finite reproductive careers look on with that peculiarly adolescent mixture of demure appreciation and shrewdly evaluative sang-froid . But how rude of me.” He turns to June with a gentlemanly bow. “I’ve forgotten my manners. Would Mrs. Cleaver perhaps like a bite of my apple?” Ward and June exchange knowing looks of grown-up exasperation and condescension in the face of wily teenage manipulative tactics. They are not fooled for a second by Eddie’s syrupy facade. “No thank you, Eddie,” says June with parental reserve, “and as for Metzger’s field, it’s alright with me as long as it’s alright with Ward. And as long as you aren’t gone too long. And as long as wheels go around and bees buzz. And as long as clouds are white and hearts flutter and triangles have three sides and love conquers all, it’s alright with me.” She looks once again to Ward for approval. He nods a gracious paternal nod in the direction of the three boys. “Why, sure,” he says enthusiastically. “It’s best to get a head start if you’re ever going to learn to swim in the old gene pool. Go on, have a good time. Find your trajectories. Put your fingerprints on the Holy Grail. Wax and wane and wear yourselves down to a sliver of meat, and all for a pathetic
little spasm that’s gone almost as quick as it happens. That’s what boys do, I know. I used to be a boy myself. Why, I remember---” “What Dad is trying to say,” interrupts Wally, “is that white teeth and clean-smelling underarms are essential strategic considerations. So why don’t we go get plenty of both and then, armed with our little shields against entropy, we can relax and succumb to that ever-present, everurgent teleological tug, stalking our prey in complex ways our smaller-brained animal cousins could never imagine. Whaddya say, Eddie?” “You said it, sport,” says Eddie, slapping Wally on the back. Ward and June exchange wry, aren’t-our-boys-growing-up-fast looks. Close-up on the kitchen faucet dripping indifferently into the spotless sink. Close-up on a well-thumbed July 1959 issue of Popular Science on the kitchen cabinet. BUILD YOUR OWN BOMB SHELTER, reads the cover. Close-up on Wally. He is grinning his embarassed aw-shucks grin, his pug nose wrinking slightly. “You boys better hurry along,” warns June. “It’ll be dark soon. All the white light will disappear.” “You’re absolutely right, as usual, Mrs. Cleaver,” says Eddie, tossing his apple core into the trash can under the sink with a neatly-executed hook shot. Wally and Eddie hold hands and head for the back door. Eddie pauses for a moment, noticing the Beaver still seated quietly at the kitchen table. “Whatsamatter, squirt?” he taunts, “aren’t you coming with us?” “Naw,” says Beaver, “I’ll come along later. I sorta got some stuff to do here first.” Eddie snorts scornfully and then he and Wally exit through the back door, letting it slam shut. Ward shakes his head sadly. “I’ve told that boy a thousand times not to slam the door when he goes out, but he never listens. He’s clear on the other side of the matrix. My words are just a distant insect-buzz in his untrained ear.” Ward turns to Beaver, folding his arms across his chest. “Now then, Beaver, what was all this about some ‘stuff’ you have to do here?” Close-up on Beaver’s face. He has a look of intense concentration. Beads of sweat are forming on his forehead. With one quick motion he reaches up and rips open the front of June’s blouse, revealing two large, cold glasses of white milk. June, somewhat taken aback, quickly rebuttons her blouse. She is blushing slightly, the bruise under her left eye shimmering with spectacular rainbow colors. “Well, Beaver,” she says, “you’re getting more and more like your father every day.” Beaver grins. Ward chuckles and tousles Beaver’s hair good-naturedly. “Just the three of us,” he says, putting his arms around June and Beaver and smiling into the camera. “Just one big happy family.”
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