Scene: The conference room of Simpson/Lynch Studios, at approximately 8 o'clock on the morning of Monday, February 8th.
The Skipster enters, yawning, closing the door behind him. He heads straight for the coffee machine. He carries a yellow legal pad, which he casually tosses onto the conference table. It is only then that he notices Vickie Wickie seated at the table in her usual place, which is to the Skipster's left when he sits in his assigned seat at the head of the table.
Skipster: Vickie? You're here already? Usually, the only one working this early is Carla.
Vickie: I know, she let me in. (pause) You're working this early, evidently.
Skipster (smiling): Well, that's just my way. I kind of like to get the jump on things...
Vickie: So I've noticed. (pause) I'm not really working, anyway. I just needed to get away from home, where I was... alone with my thoughts, you might say.
The Skipster nods. Without waiting for the coffee to finish brewing, he sits down at the conference table. He stares at Vickie's face briefly.
Skipster: Vickie, if you don't mind my asking... Are you okay?
Vickie (hesitantly): Oh, sure... sure...
Skipster (kindly): That wasn't very convincing. (pause) You've been crying, haven't you?
Vickie looks startled, and reaches into her handbag for a small, round mirror. She examines her reflected face briefly.
Vickie: Oh! I look terrible!
Skipster (soothingly): Nonsense. You look fine. (pointedly) Just upset.
Vickie (biting lower lip): I'll be okay, really. I just needed some time away from home, as I said.
Skipster: Do you need to be alone? It's still almost an hour before the others will be showing up. (He indicates the door behind him with a jerk of his thumb.) I could...?
Vickie (interrupting): Oh, no! Please don't leave on my account. It's just that I... (long pause) I received a phone call last night... telling me that my father had died.
Skipster: Oh! Vickie, I'm so sorry! (brief pause) You shouldn't even be here today. Take the day off. Of course, we'll understand.
Vickie: No, no, it's not like that. He died several months ago, actually.
Skipster: And they just got around to calling you now? Why?
Vickie: We weren't in touch. And he and I weren't exactly close. (pause) We weren't close at all. (pause) Ever.
Feeling slightly awkward, the Skipster rises and walks to the coffee machine. He takes two mugs from a small rack near the machine.
Vickie: Please. Black, with three sugars. (The Skipster prepares his coffee and Vickie's, and returns to the table, handing hers to her.) Thanks, Mr. Skipster. (There is a long, uncomfortable silence. Vickie sips her coffee, and reaches into her handbag for three more sugar packets, which she empties into her mug.) You know, Mr. Skipster, I shouldn't be dumping my personal problems on you. I apologize.
Skipster: No need.
Vickie: I mean, I've tried so hard to fit in around here!
Skipster: You're still learning the proverbial ropes, Vickie. And so far, you're getting into the swing of things at a fairly rapid clip. It's only been three weeks. Give it time.
Vickie: Oh, I love the job, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about fitting in with the staff. It's like one big family here, especially because of the Foxster's... I mean, Mister Foxster's... relationship with Tara, and your own relationship with your lovely fiancée. I feel like an outsider.
Skipster: I understand. But the same thing goes for that "feeling of family" that just I said about your job: It's only been three weeks. Give it time.
Vickie: I just keep messing up!
Skipster: In what ways?
Vickie: Well... didn't you hear about my unfortunate encounter with Gretchen and Tara the other day?
Vickie: We were talking about the Foxster's poor little kitty, Orson, and I made a stupid joke. It was only a joke. But Gretchen and Tara reacted like I was being absolutely heartless! (pause) I guess I just figured, Mr. Foxster is always making jokes, no matter how serious the subject, so...
Skipster (nodding): It's okay. Do you want me to speak with them, on your behalf?
Vickie: Oh, no, please don't! I mean, I can't thank you enough for even offering, but no. (The Skipster jots down a quick note on his legal pad. Vickie pretends not to notice.) And then, of course, there was that embarrassing thing with Mr. Foxster...
Skipster: What "thing?"
Vickie: He must have told you.
Skipster (slightly irritated): No, it seems there's a lot I'm not being told these days. (recovering his composure) What "thing?"
Vickie (hesitantly): Well, the other day, I was in the hot tub, and Mr. Foxster entered the rec room. I'm... rather uninhibited when it comes to nudity. I mean, I've gone to nude beaches a few times, and... well...
Skipster: Oh, boy, I think I see where this is going...
Vickie: And I didn't know the "rules," you might say, until Mr. Foxster politely set me straight. He was obviously uncomfortable, and of course, I was mortified! And he left before I could even throw on a towel, or a robe, or...
Skipster: If you don't mind my asking, Vickie, why exactly were you "mortified," if you're so comfortable with... being naked?
Vickie: It was the context of the whole thing! It's like the way a doctor leaves the room while you get undressed, even though he or she might have to look at certain... areas... during the examination itself. (pause) In fact, it's like if a woman puts on what she thinks is a swimsuit, and walks onto the beach wearing it, but then someone tells her it's really underwear, and... (Skipster laughs)
Skipster: I'm sure he doesn't think any less of you for your little faux pas, but... Would you like me to talk to him?
Vickie: Oh, no! (She briefly places her right hand atop his left, then quickly withdraws it.) But thanks again for the offer.
The Skipster makes another quick note on his pad, which again, Vickie notices without commenting. Then he abruptly gets up and heads for the door.
Skipster: Well, I have a couple of things to attend to before everyone gets here for the morning conference, Vickie. So if you'll excuse me?
Vickie: Of course. And thanks for listening. You're the first person here that I feel I can really talk to.
The Skipster hesitates by the door. He looks back at Vickie with a smile.
Skipster: Anytime. And you know, that comparison about the bathing suit and the underwear was rather clever, and creative! (brief pause) I think you're going to fit in here just fine, in no time at all! (Skipster exits, closing the door behind him.)
Vickie: "Clever and creative," Skipster? Ha! You've only encountered the tip of the iceberg, you pathetic fool!