I Like You, by Steven Simoncic
I watched my daughter circling the ice rink—wobbly and wide-eyed—slow and unsteady—slightly out of sync with the sounds of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” on the tinny speakers hovering above the scarred, snowy ice surface. From behind the glass I could see the a parade of ice-rink burnouts and townies blowing by her, feeling smug and superior that they could skate faster than an eight-year-old girl who had never done it before.
This was Romulus, Michigan—a town named after a character in Rome’s foundation myth representing the grace and glory of the new world. But in reality, Romulus was a town the economy forgot—a place near the airport full of pit bulls and lottery tickets where bangs are still possible and hockey jerseys are acceptable wedding attire. I know. That’s where I’m from.
In the eighties I was one of the acid washed masses shooting the duck at this very ice rink, hanging out back where the Zamboni guys used to sell weed. But I had moved on. Got out some fifteen years ago. And now I was back visiting my family. My wife and I, and our two children, had only driven five hours down I-94, but we were a million miles away from our quixotic blue-state-urban-enclave in Chicago where the children learn conflict resolution at Wiggle Worms and the gift bags at the Montessori parties are compostable or at least biodegradable. We were now back in Romulus—where every radio station seems to be in the middle of a Van Halen A-Z marathon and bowling shoes aren’t an ironic hipster statement . . . they’re just shoes you wear for bowling.
I caught my daughter looking longingly at a slutty sixteen-year-old girl who I am pretty sure was on a post-sex skate with her boyfriend . . . and I decided it was time to go—enough of daddy’s hometown for one day—so I gathered up my daughter, my wife, and my parents, and we walked out of the rink into the lobby where I saw my five-year-old son wielding a sawed off shotgun. He held it all hillbilly-gangster-style, cocking and reloading with one arm—looking oddly comfortable—like he knew how to handle it—like a sheriff in a seventies action movie or a Republican. He was channeling some sort of ancient alpha male archetype he’d never actually seen in our left-of-center lives of politically correct Pixar movies and NPR. But still . . . somehow . . . the urge to shoot things pulsed primal and pure behind his eyes.
As I got closer, I could hear him yelling across the arcade—at me—for quarters. He wanted money so he could shoot the space zombies on the video game his plastic blue sawed-off shotgun was attached to. After each appeal for quarters, he would point his gun at some other unsuspecting passerby and pretend to blow his head off—pausing only to make that little boy—I just blowed your head off—sound and . . . of course . . . reload.
Suffice it to say, we are not gun people. My wife and I watch PBS news. And we like it. We do hot yoga and eat Greek yogurt. She is a humanist, feminist, environmentalist, and I write plays. We have committed to a life of no guns—no toy guns, no squirt guns, no glue guns—we don’t do guns. We’ve ruined Christmas over guns . . . had full-on family drama in the toy department of Target over guns. Yet there we were. Trying to . . .disarm my son . . . in an ice rink in Romulus, Michigan.
About the Author
Steven Simoncic’s plays have received productions, readings and, workshops at The Goodman, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, The Second City, Pegasus Players, The Baruch Center for the Performing Arts, Stageplays Theatre, and The Soho Theatre in London. Steven’s play, Once Upon a Time in Detroit, was selected as a semi-finalist for the 2013 Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference, and Heat Wave was recently selected for Steppenwolf Theatre’s 2015 Garage Rep season. At the time of the publication of "I Like You," Steven completed critically acclaimed productions of Broken Fences with Ballybeg in New York and 16th Street in Chicago, which was featured in The Chicago Tribune’s “Best of 2013.