My So-Called Life
Father Figures

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Father Figures

More tax blah. Graham, Patty, and Dad all wait morosely at Chase Place for the IRS lady. She comes to the door, and is played by a woman who starred in a brief series of Pine-Sol ads.

Time ticks by. IRS Lady checks out an ugly-ass clock. Patty -- talking too fast -- volunteers that it belonged to Graham's grandmother, and that though it's "practically worthless," it "keeps good time." Unflappable IRS Lady replies, "Well, then, it's not worthless," like, simmah, Patty, god!

Graham and Patty address IRS lady. Dad interrupts to inform IRS Lady that he's a veteran. Patty shoots daggers at him, while Graham merely looks mildly inquisitive, as though wondering how Dad may choose to top that statement. And the way Dad chooses to top that statement is thus: "I would also like to add that during the fiscal year in question, I was felled by a near-fatal heart attack, and was later found to be sick with the diabetes." Graham covers his face in his hands, though in such a way that he may be concealing the fact that he's laughing; Patty sets her jaw and busies herself with some of the papers in front of her so as not to have any reason to look Dad in the eye. IRS Lady evenly tells Dad, "Well, you look just fine now." Dad huffs, "Well, I just don't think I should be penalized for bouncing back like I did." IRS Lady asks, "Why are you telling me this, Mr. Wood?" "No reason!" chirps Dad.

A shot of the clock indicates that a considerable length of time has passed. Graham and Patty both have their feet up on the coffee table, on which rest a couple of accordion files, and much fewer piles of loose paper. Dad is still as buttoned-up as ever. IRS Lady comments that they've "covered a lot of ground," and returns Dad's "driving log" to him. Graham suddenly remembers that he forgot to talk to Angela about the concert. Patty shoots him a "you dumb fuck" look (she really does. You know she does), and as IRS Lady reminds Dad that they'll be "seeing a lot of each other," Patty and Graham continue their silent fight. Then IRS Lady traps Dad into admitting that he and his wife take a lot of motoring vacations using the very car for which he'd reconstructed the aforementioned driving log. Now the full impact of Patty's "you dumb fuck" look is directed at Dad, who realizes too late what he's done. Graham looks vindicated. Patty declares that they're going to pay all the taxes they owe. Dad tries valiantly to shut her up, but Patty and Graham are having none of it. Patty shakes IRS Lady's hand and asks whether they have an agreement. Dad snaps at Patty, "Who the hell are you to make an agreement?" Graham tries to step between them, but Dad backs off: "Do what you want. I don't give a damn." He stomps out and slams the door.

Patty lets IRS Lady out. As she's starting to apologize for the unfortunate scene IRS Lady had to witness, Angela comes tearing in from the back door, up the stairs. Graham calls her name and tries to get her to come back down, but she calls over her shoulder that she can't talk. Patty shoots him a "handle it" look, and he takes off after her. Patty finishes apologizing; IRS Lady shakes her hand again and says it's "small potatoes compared to what [she's] seen." Man, I bet that's true. Imagine the dirt you'd see if you were an auditor! Damn. ["Every time I hear that line, I always take a moment to think about that. Not that I'd want to get an accounting degree to find out, but still." -- Sars]

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My So-Called Life

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