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Musings & Observations / Barry Halpin

Published 2:43 pm, Monday, June 30, 2014
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Summer is a time for taking it easy, working on your tan, barbecues, hanging with friends and family, vacations and Kodak moments -- some of them selfies.

However, coming soon to some communities is the cautionary tale, "Under the Influence." It is based on the fact that alcohol is the No. 1 drug of choice for America's young people; each day 7,000 kids under the age of 16 take their first drink. Annually, more than 6,500 people under the age of 21 die from alcohol-related accidents.

The following is a sneak-peek of the screenplay.

We open on a typical house in a typical sprawling suburban community. Mom and Dad are throwing a dinner party for their friends, serving a sumptuous feast that includes cocktails and some very fine Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons. Mom and Dad are successful, believe they're in control of their lives and have high expectations for their son and daughter. Theyw love their children, know how competitive it is out there and want to provide them with the best opportunities for success.

Son, age 17, and Daughter, age 16, are in the family room texting friends and fighting for control of the channel changer. They have experienced emotional peaks and valleys, changes in body and perspective and like to go to keg parties on the weekend. Right now they're sharing an enormous bag of chips; we hear loud munching and "Stop hogging the bag."

Click! Some blazing babes are having the time of their lives drinking beer and would love it if you would join them. Click! An incredibly gorgeous, rugged, mega-hottie hunk wearing tight jeans and lizard cowboy boots enters your world and he, too, wants to drink beer with you. Click! An idyllic tropical paradise and what better thing to do than drink beer with some fabulously sexy, young castaways.

Images of attractive people having fun are dancing on the brains of Son and Daughter. No one in these ads is even a tad stressed out. It's one big nonstop party and Son and Daughter are fantasizing about hanging out with these incredibly attractive people.

In the dining room, they hear loud voices and laughter as their parents unwind. Dad, in a very loud voice, is telling that wacky vacation story for the umpteenth time and Daughter is hoping she doesn't get asked into the dining room to give her version.

Son peeks in and sees Mom and Dad looking relaxed and having a great time socializing with their friends.

Have you noticed that nowhere in this screenplay have we seen: people hugging toilet seats and swearing to anyone who will listen that they'll never drink this much again; people thinking they are in deep, pointed conversations discussing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness when in truth they are babbling incoherently and drooling; people blacking out and ending up in a chapel in Las Vegas where an Elvis impersonator is officiating as they marry a complete stranger; or people becoming real belligerent because they think that someone is staring at them?

People looking ugly and people out of control! I'm sorry, but those are not the images of success and we can't have them in our movie.

Cut to local park, the next evening.

Son, Daughter and their friends are drinking vodka and lamenting that suburbia is beyond boring; there's nothing to do but get drunk on the weekends.

Cut to dinner party, another part of town, the same evening.

Mom and Dad and their good friends are drinking champagne and discussing "Mad Men," the stock market, assorted stresses of daily living, vacations and children. Talk soon turns to the old days when there were no cares, no worries, no kids and no mortgage. Everyone shares some of the crazy things they once tried, but now they can't believe they ever did.

Cut to parents' house, the same evening.

The TV is on and the stereo is blasting "The Red Hot Chili Peppers Greatest Hits."

Son and Daughter have returned with their friends and are raiding the liquor cabinet. Son complains of not feeling too good, stands up to go to the bathroom and immediately keels over, smashing his head against the coffee table. Everyone begins to panic and some of Son and Daughter's friends jet out the door.

Daughter calls 911 and Son is rushed off to the hospital.

Cut to dinner party.

(Sound of phone ringing) The hostess hands mom the phone; she listens as a nurse tells her that her son is in the hospital having his stomach pumped. She is told how lucky he is and she starts to cry.

Cut to car speeding through the streets.

Dad runs a red light and barely avoids smashing into a Hummer.

Mom and Dad rush into the emergency room. Daughter, frazzled and teary eyed, hugs them and tells them the doctor said her brother is going to be OK. The silence weighs heavy as they become acutely aware that they all smell of alcohol. This is not a Kodak moment.

Fade out.

Fade in -- parent's home, days later.

The TV is on. Son and Daughter are seated on the couch texting their friends.

Dad enters. "Hey guys, we really need to talk."

Fade out.

Barry Halpin can be reached at barryhalpin@aol.com.