Posted by: donaldgallinger | April 13, 2008

The Joad Family-2055

(Exterior: Long Shot: Pan across a vast sea of rusted mobile homes stretching all the way to the horizon. As the camera moves in for a closer view, we see a ragged band of dirty children playing hop scotch in the dusk. We hear a shot fired in the distance. The children stop playing and listen attentively as more shots are fired. Soon, we see rockets flaring up in the sky, sparkling and twisting into fantastic shapes and colors of red, white, and blue.)

CHILD ONE: Oooh, pretty!

CHILD TWO: Pretty lights! Pretty lights!

(The children dance in a circle, delighted by the noise and fanfare. The camera cuts to the door of a mobile home. A grizzled, gray haired man and woman step outside to admire the fireworks. They are dressed in cheap cotton pants and shirts. Across the front of their shirts are stitched the same words: “Coca Cola is Motherfucking Good! Drink the Goddamn Coke, Yo!”)

GRANDPA JOAD: Yep, the fourth of JU-ly. Mighty good to see the country celebrating.

GRANDMA JOAD: Reckon the gov’mint will give us our three gallons, Pa?

GRANDPA JOAD: Hope so. They promised us three gallons a gas at Christmas. Wouldn’t do to lie on Jesus birthday, now would it?

Medium Shot: Two children run toward GRANDPA and GRANDMA JOAD: They are carrying something in a bag; they are very excited.

PANASONIC JOAD (he is a boy of about fourteen): Look what we found, Grandpa! (he dumps the bag upside down and several corroded cell phones and Ipods fall on the ground). Ain’t these the talking machines, Gramps?

GRANDPA JOAD: (he picks up the devices; then breaks into a broad, toothless grin.) Panny, you know what you got there?

PANASONIC: I dunno. If they ain’t the talkin’ machines, maybe they be—what do you call ‘em—digitalis watches?

GRANDMA JOAD: (She cackles in glee): No, they ain’t no watches, Panasonic Samsung Joad! Them’s phones! And them other ones is for music.

SNAPPLE JOAD: (she is a dirty faced little urchin of six or seven. In a pleading voice): Tell us about the rap music, Grandpa! Tell us about the S.U.V.s and the fast food and the bling!

GRANDPA JOAD: (chuckling): Don’t you youngins never get tired of hearing them stories?

PANASONIC AND SNAPPLE: Please, Grandpa! Please tell us the stories! Please!

GRANDPA JOAD: (grudgingly, but with obvious affection): Well, all right. Seein as it’s the fourth of JU-ly.

GRANDMA JOAD: How would you youngins like some sugar water?

PANASONIC AND SNAPPLE: Sugar water? Mm-mm! Yes, please, Grandma!

GRANDMA JOAD: All right. You stay out here while I get us all a nice cool jar of sugar and rain water. (She goes inside)

GRANDPA JOAD: (he sits down on an old piece of cardboard; PANASONIC and SNAPPLE sit beside him): I reckon it was in two thousand, ought six—or no, maybe ought seven—when I first caught sight of your grandma. She was a fine bitch in them days.

SNAPPLE JOAD: How fine was she, Grandpa?

GRANDPA JOAD: Well, let’s just say I never seen a better or prettier tongue piercin’. And your grandma, she do know how to make those studs sing.

PANASONIC: What about the skank, grandpa? Tell about the skank.

(GRANDMA JOAD returns with a tray of jelly jars.)

GRANDMA JOAD: Sugar water! Who wants sugar water!

(The kids reach eagerly for the jars.)

GRANDMA JOAD: You want to hear about the skank? All right. But I’ll tell you the real story, not the one your grandpa likes to tell.

GRANDPA JOAD: Aw, Ma, now don’t you go fussin’ over things that happened a long time ago….

(GRANDPA and GRANDMA laugh affectionately, lost for a moment in their fond memories.)

GRANDMA: Well, your grandpa was a player in them days. He wore his pants down around his a**, just like all the cool boys. Now, he was seein’ a ho named Amber, and she was known around the school as a real “cannon.” That means she liked to do the wild thing—a lot….

(The camera draws back as the happy Joad family talks and laughs. From the rapt expressions on PANASONIC’S and SNAPPLE’S faces, we know that they will never tire of hearing their grandparents talk about the good old days of two thousand ought seven and eight. We can also guess that we may be visiting the Joads again, as they reminisce while sitting on their comfortable old piece of cardboard….)

Donald Gallinger is author of the novel The Master Planets.

View Donald Gallinger’s official website blog:



  1. Dammit, do NOT do that! My coffee kept coming out my nose. I had to put the cup down till I finished reading.

  2. This is hilarious! Sad, but hilarious. I wonder if this is what our society is heading for: Poverty, rationing, children named for consumer goods, nostalgia for bad behavior, children raised by grandparents. Wait, we have that NOW, don’t we?

  3. I’d love to Don read this to us after dinner one night, sitting around the table with a final glass of wine….

  4. Is this what America is coming to? Gas rationing? Food shortages? Children named for consumer goods and raised by grandparents? People reveling in loathesome behavior? Oh, wait. That’s where we are now.

  5. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  6. Hello !!!! 😉
    I am Piter Kokoniz. oOnly want to tell, that I like your blog very much!
    And want to ask you: what was the reasson for you to start this blog?
    Sorry for my bad english:)
    Thank you:)
    Your Piter

  7. Hi, Piter

    Where are you from?

    My primary reason for starting this blog was to use humor to address some very serious issues in our country. As a public school teacher in America for 24 years, I’ve seen very disturbing signs in my students–in our entire culture, for that matter–suggesting that as a society we are now in a shocking decline. I’m particularly worried that our young people will not be able to take care of themselves–financially or otherwise–because they have never been taught to respect education, patience, kindness, and the rights of others. America is a beautiful and interesting country–but it won’t be for very much longer if the people living there don’t learn to grow up as responsible adults. Often, humor, or shock, or both, is the only way to get people to pay attention to serious problems.

    I hope this answers your question, Piter. And thank you for your kind comments. I appreciate them.

    All the best,

    Donald Gallinger

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