For reference, see character thumbnails.
[Nell’s childhood bedroom; NELL is sitting on the bed reading; WILL knocks and enters without waiting for a response]
WILL: Fancy meeting you here. Watchya readin’? “The Study of American Folklore.” Well, that sounds interesting.
NELL: It’s about how to categorize folklife, from the material to the verbal, and how to distinguish the characteristics of elite, normative, and folk culture.
WILL: That sounds…admittedly less interesting. At least for light reading in your freetime.
NELL: I have a vested interest in understanding more about normative culture.
WILL: I know.
[knock at the door]
WILL: Come in!
[ELIZA enters, agitated, then stops as she notices WILL]
ELIZA: Sorry, I didn’t realize you had company.
WILL: Don’t mind me! What can we do for ya?
ELIZA: Well, I guess you could weigh in too, since you’re a Harvard man.
WILL: Don’t remind me.
ELIZA: Excuse me?
WILL: Nevermind. What’s up?
ELIZA: My mom wants me to go to college.
WILL: Well, that is serious.
ELIZA: Look, I’m not sure I want to go. Did college actually do anything for you?
[WILL gestures for NELL to take the lead]
NELL: Well, I personally found college to be rather refreshing after high school.
ELIZA: But I’m not like you, Aunt Nell. I like high school. I’d stay if I could.
WILL: [aside] Well, there’s a dangerous idea.
NELL: It’s true, I didn’t like high school that much, but even so, college was when I got to be independent and find my niche in the world. I got to settle into academia like putting on a warm coat…
ELIZA: Uhm, okay… [to WILL} What about you?
WILL: Well, a lot of it was football for me. But I landed a really good job after I graduated, so I can’t complain.
NELL: Of course you can. Nothing’s stopping you.
WILL: It’s an expression.
ELIZA: Why are you working here then if you landed a good job after college?
WILL: I got tired of the rat race.
ELIZA: Why though?
WILL: I don’t know.
NELL: Will? You can tell me.
WILL: I–I guess I just finally figured out that banking wasn’t for me. It was too stuffy. The neckties were too tight. I felt like my father more and more everyday. And that wasn’t a source of pride, it was scary. I just needed a break, okay?
ELIZA: Yeah, I get that. I don’t want to be like my mom either. And neither does Nell.
NELL: No, I don’t. But Eliza, your mother is trying very hard to make sure you have a bright future. Just because you don’t agree with her plans, doesn’t mean you need to spite her every chance you get.
ELIZA: [rising] What do you know? You don’t understand how to talk to people! Not even your own family! [she exits]
NELL: [sighing] I know. But I’m right anyway. [turning to WILL] So what do you want to do now that you’ve “quit the rat race.”
WILL: I’m doing it.
NELL: No, you’re not. I know you, Will, and you are wasting yourself here.
WILL: I can waste myself if I want to. I–I mean, it’s not a waste.
NELL: It is. I’m not saying you should go back to D.C. Or even that you should work at the Wells Fargo across from Mrs. Dover’s hair salon. But I do think that you should find something better than being my mother’s gardener. Waste yourself on something you love.
WILL: What about someone?
NELL: I couldn’t say. I don’t know about people, remember?
WILL: [he rises and opens the door to leave] I think you know more than you give yourself credit for. [he exits]
NELL: Maybe you’re right.
[lights go down]