Making Plans

“Weekend” Plans

It’s Friday, so here is a dialog for you to practice:
Background: Melvin Udall is the fun character people love to secretly like–though he is the type of person we are thought to hate; he is a crank of a character from the hit movie “As Good As It Gets.” He is played by the celebrated actor, Jack Nicholson, who pulls off Udall’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder soft and fiery sides with great skill. Alice is his no-nonsense but pretty waitress at a local bistro, with whom he has fallen in love. She’s played by the dynamic Helen Hunt. I made up this very short exchange between the characters. If you have questions, let me know.
Melvin (looking old but handsome, charming, but nosey–and with an expression that says, ‘have I got a surprise for you.’):
 “Ya got plans this weekend? Do ya, waitress girl?”
Alice (looking slightly annoyed, but relieved that Melvin isn’t embarrassing anyone in the restaurant):
 “Yes, Melvin; yes, I do. ‘Sorry.”
(A long pause ensues as Helen clears Melvin’s breakfast plates and dishes from his corner table–the one with the open-door view of 6th Avenue; she doesn’t look at him….)
Melvin: (in his usual cutting sarcasm–but with a head-bob and a smirk that seems to say, ‘I still got this.’):
     “Are we working for the CIA, now?”
(Helen freezes, stares into Melvin’s empty coffee cup, but doesn’t look up.)
Melvin (realizing he is screwing up):
     “Is it a secret?”
Alice: (Stops clearing, looks a bit annoyed, then feigns a smile–realizing if she doesn’t answer, Melvin could say something that would ruin her day):
      “I’m going to take Spence to the doctor.”
(Another long pause as Helen finishes cleaning the table and Melvin actually takes the time to think before speaking.)
Melvin (looking like his frontal lobes have been removed):
     “Would it kill ya ta ask me?”
Helen (Perfunctorily and without looking, again):
     “How about you? What will Mr. Charming do, this weekend? Hmm?”
(Helen stops, wipes her hands on her apron at the hips, and looks at Melvin dead on, waiting for his special brand of a boy-ish answer. A group of hairs, comes undone from the rubber-band holding the rest of it in a pony tail, falls in front of her tired face. She ignores it.)
Melvin (looking personally injured, looks up at Helen over the tops of his thick black glasses and wrinkles his forehead and nose):
     “Not any more I don’t.”
So, we see Melvin asking:
  • “Ya got plans?”

This is because we don’t say, ‘Do you have a plan?’ when talking about the weekend, the holiday, vacation or other times of recreation. Having ‘a plan’ is having a solution to a problem; it sounds tactical, strategic, military, martial.
Apologies and Appreciation to Tristar Pictures and Sony Pictures
Photo © Carl Atteniese 2018
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