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It’s time once again for my favorite blog post of the year, where I take advantage of the infinite space that the internet gives me and highlight the best movie dialogue that I heard in the last 12 months. Transcribing these passages gives me the chance to savor the work of such talented writers again, and I hope reading them does the same thing for you. As always, I do this without access to the shooting scripts, taking down what is said in the finished film and inserting my own stage directions. Also as always, WARNING: STRONG LANGUAGE AHEAD. Here we go…

Let’s start with a short but memorable one from Hell or High Water, in which two Texas Rangers stake out a bank branch that the robbers they’re trailing might target. Look at how many topics Taylor Sheridan covers in just a few lines: Marcus’ anxiety about his impending retirement, the limits of small-town life, and the not-unsympathetic view that a Comanche-Mexican Ranger takes of how the white people around him have fallen victim to the same forces that claimed his ancestors.

ALBERTO: This is your plan? We’re just gonna sit here and see if this is the branch they rob next?
MARCUS: What would you rather do? You want to drive eighty miles back to Olney and look for more fingerprints that we ain’t gonna find? Or you want to drive two hundred miles back to Lubbock and look at mugshots that don’t matter ‘cause nobody knows what these sons of bitches look like? Or we can just wait here for them to rob this bank. This is the one thing I’m pretty damn sure they are gonna do.
ALBERTO: I know what you’re doin’. You’re tryin’ to make this last as long as you can, because the longer it lasts, the farther you are from that front porch.
MARCUS: Got to wait for these boys to make a mistake. So far they ain’t, but they will. And they’re gonna make it here. So just relax. Enjoy this little town.
ALBERTO: You wanna live here? Got an old hardware store that charges twice what Home Depot does, one restaurant with a rattlesnake for a waitress. And how’s anybody supposed to make a livin’ here?
MARCUS; People have made a livin’ here for 150 years.
ALBERTO: Well, people lived in caves for 150,000 years, but they don’t do it no more.
MARCUS: Well, maybe your people did.
ALBERTO: Your people did, too. Long time ago, your ancestors was the Indians, until someone came along and killed ’em, broke ’em down, made you into one of them. Hundred and fifty years ago, all this was my ancestors’ land. Everything you could see. Everything you saw yesterday, until the grandparents of these folks took it. And now it’s being taken from them, except it ain’t no army doin’ it. (pointing at the bank) It’s those sons of bitches right there.

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Here’s a scene early in Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople, in which a 12-year-old hip-hop-loving boy has been transplanted to the latest in a string of foster homes, this one deep in the New Zealand countryside. After some failed attempts to run away, he goes outside and talks to his foster mother, who’s wise enough to let him be. Cutting off his haikus is probably the right move, too, though I could have listened to a few more. Oceania doesn’t have a funnier filmmaker than Waititi right now.

RICKY: Morning.
BELLA: Morning! I thought you were running away.
RICKY (sitting in the truck): I did, but I forgot something, so I came back.
BELLA: Oh, good for you, Ricky. Good to see some initiative.
RICKY: You ever been up in that jungle before?
BELLA: It’s not the jungle, it’s the bush. There’s about a billion hectares of it, buddy.
RICKY (giggling): You said “bush”!
BELLA: I’m from up there. Deep in the mountains.
RICKY: You ever go back much?
BELLA: Not for a long time. It’s a hard journey. Easy to get lost. We got a lake up there called Makutekahu. So high up it wears the cloak of the sky. It’s the first place our spirits go on their way to heaven. When my time comes, that’s where I’ll go, too.
RICKY: Man, you guys got a lot of dead stuff around here.
BELLA: Mmm.
RICKY: Saw a dead sheep the other day. With maggots in it. (thinking) “There’s heaps of maggots. / Maggots wriggling in dead sheep / Like moving rice. Yuck.” That’s my haiku about maggots It’s called “Maggots.” (getting out of the truck) This counselor lady made me do them when I got in trouble. They help me express my feelings. They’re poems …
BELLA: Yeah, I know what a haiku is.
RICKY: I got heaps of ’em. You wanna hear another one?
BELLA: Sure.
RICKY: Okay. “Kingi, you wanker! / You arsehole! I hate you heaps! / Please die soon in pain.” That was called, “Kingi, You Wanker!”
BELLA: Yeah, yeah, I gotcha. That’s enough haikus for today.

In my review of Moonlight, I mentioned the writing in this remarkable scene on the beach midway through the film. As socially adept Kevin stumbles upon shy, awkward Chiron, the two teens share a moment of peace and beauty before their first sexual encounter. Barry Jenkins adapts this from Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play, and while Jenkins has won praise for his visuals and use of music in the movie, this scene proves his skills as a writer, too.

KEVIN: You is waiting for me?
(Chiron turns around and sees him standing behind him.)
KEVIN (moving next to Chiron): Nice to see you, too. Whatcha doin’ out here, man?
CHIRON: Whatchoo doin’ out here?
KEVIN (sitting down): My smokeout habitat, nigga. Oh, what? You smoke out here, too?
CHIRON: Somethin’ like that.
KEVIN: Nah, you don’t smoke. Why you pretendin’? Tryna put a show on for me, Black?
CHIRON: Why you always callin’ me that?
KEVIN: What, Black?
CHIRON: Yeah, Black!
KEVIN: It’s my nickname for you. You don’t like it?
CHIRON: Nah, it’s just, what kinda dude goes around givin’ other dudes nicknames?
KEVIN (pulling a joint from over his ear): The kinda dude what just sat down and put you onto this blunt, nigga. Yeah. You like the water? I can introduce you to some fire.
(He lights up the joint and takes a puff. Then he offers it to Chiron. Chiron looks wary.)
KEVIN: Come on, nigga, it ain’t gonna bite you.
(Chiron takes the joint from Kevin, then takes a puff. He exhales. The guys both giggle.)
KEVIN: Damn, I ain’t know you smoke like that.
CHIRON: My moms keeps all types of shit around.
(Kevin takes the joint back and takes another puff.)
KEVIN: That breeze feels good as hell, man.
CHIRON: Yeah, it do.
KEVIN: Sometimes in the neighborhood where we live, you can catch that same breeze. It just comes through the hood, and it’s like everything stops for a second, ’cause everyone just want to feel it. Everything just gets quiet, y’know?
CHIRON: It’s like all you can hear is your own heartbeat, right?
KEVIN: Yeah. It’s so good, man.
CHIRON: So good.
KEVIN: Shit makes you wanna cry, it feels so good.
CHIRON: You cry?
KEVIN: Nah, but it makes me want to. Whatchoo cry about?
CHIRON: Shit, I cry so much sometimes, I feel like I’m just gonna turn to drops.
KEVIN: Just roll out into the water, right? Roll out into the water like all these other muthafuckas around here tryin’ to drown they sorrows.
CHIRON: Why you say that?
KEVIN: Just listenin’ to you, nigga. Sound like somethin’ you wanna do.
CHIRON: I wanna do a lotta things that don’t make sense.
KEVIN: I didn’t say it don’t make sense.

Two Hollywood actresses’ friendship comes undone in Lawrence Michael Levine’s psychological thriller Always Shine, but this scene comes early as Anna and Beth try to unwind at a vacation home in the hills and air their grievances over their place as women in the entertainment industry. As Anna relates a story of an altercation with her boyfriend’s manager, her violent temper and her inability to handle her friend’s career success (which mostly involves getting naked in horror movies) foreshadow what’s going to come.

BETH (eating ice cream): You hit him?
ANNA: No, I mean, I didn’t hit him. I, like, shoved him.
BETH: But, like, hard?
ANNA: Uh, well, kind of. (pause) Okay, we were standing at the bar and Josh was saying something that I, like, really didn’t agree with, so I chimed in. But obviously it was a bar, so I started speaking loudly, you know what I mean? And when I started …
BETH (gesturing at her wine glass): Oh, I’m good. (indicating her ice cream) Um, do you want some of this, ’cause it’s really good.
ANNA (pouring wine): No. Are you really not gonna have any?
BETH: Yeah. I mean, I’d like to, but I’ve been feeling so much better since I stopped.
ANNA: I know, but it’s not like you have to get up for an audition tomorrow.
(She starts pouring.)
BETH: A little.
(She keeps pouring.)
BETH: A little bit!
ANNA: These are very small glasses.
BETH: That is not a little bit. Um, was Henry there?
ANNA: Where? What, at the bar? No, he was the one who encouraged me to participate in the conversation in the first place!
(They move outside onto the porch.)
ANNA: And so I was doing that. I was joining in, and Josh was like, “First of all, could you calm down?”
BETH (gasps): That’s so annoying!
ANNA: I know, right? Jesus, if I was a boy, no one would be telling me to calm down.
BETH: True.
ANNA (sarcastically): Oh, come on, Beth. Has anyone ever told you to calm down in your life? (pause) Anyways, um, like, so I could feel myself getting really upset, but I stopped myself, because I was like, “No, no, this is your boyfriend’s manager. You can’t, like …” So I walked away because I was about to cry, and (laughs bitterly) then he comes after me.
BETH: Josh did?
ANNA: Yes! And I’m like, “Josh, listen, I have a really bad temper, and I need you to give me some space, okay?” And he was like, “Yeah, yeah, okay, fine, but you don’t have to walk away like a prima donna.”
BETH (gasps again): Oh my God!
ANNA: Wait, what? He just kept saying that, like “prima donna, prima donna, prima donna.”
BETH: That is awful.
ANNA: Yeah, of course, so I started hysterically crying, and I was so upset that, yes, I pushed him. (pause) What, what would you do? (longer pause) You wouldn’t get involved. (pause) I feel so out of control.
BETH: No, no! That’s really frustrating, what happened to you.
ANNA (worried): Now Henry’s shooting a commercial in Singapore and is letting me stay at the house until he gets back. But after that, I think … (trails off, shaking her head) No, you know what? I don’t know. Henry’s thinking is like, “Career’s important, but if you’re in a relationship, you have to put that first,” right? Well, like, I always knew I wasn’t gonna be happy unless I accomplished certain things first. Like, if you’re gonna be an actress, you have to establish yourself before you’re thirty or you’re fucked. Plus I really need to focus on finding good representation. Especially now, before pilot season. God, you’re so lucky to get paid to do what you love.
BETH: Yeah, I mean, the stuff that I do isn’t exactly Ibsen, y’know?
ANNA: Yeah, but I mean, it beats waiting tables. I spent so much money on headshots and stupid fucking invisible braces. (pause, sees Beth’s look of concern) Stop, I’m fine! Seriously, I feel good!

It’s good to have Kenneth Lonergan make this list. In this exchange from Manchester by the Sea, Lee and Patrick are exiting a funeral home as they try to dispose of the body of Lee’s brother, who’s also Patrick’s father. I mentioned this scene in my review of the film as an example of how Lonergan mixes the heavy subject of death and the contentious relationship between uncle and nephew with lighter stuff about winter clothes. This is how it’s done.

PATRICK: Dude, what is with that guy and the big serious and somber act?
LEE: I dunno.
PATRICK: No, but seriously, does he not realize that people know that he does this every single day?
LEE: I dunno.
PATRICK: Why can’t we bury him?
LEE: The cold. The ground is too hard. They’ll bury him in the spring.
PATRICK: So what do they do with him until then?
LEE: Put him in a freezer.
PATRICK: Are you serious?
LEE: Yes.
PATRICK: That really freaks me out.
LEE: Doesn’t matter. (stops) Wait a minute. I parked the car the other way. Sorry.
(They turn around and walk in the other direction.)
PATRICK: What about one of those mini steam shovels?
LEE: What?
PATRICK: I once saw one of those mini steam shovels one time in a big garden in New Haven. Dug a perfect little hole in about two seconds.
LEE: I don’t know how you get a hold of one. Don’t know how much it costs.
PATRICK: Why can’t we just look into it?
LEE: Because you can’t use heavy equipment in historic Rosedale Cemetery.
PATRICK: Why not?
LEE: ’Cause there are very important people buried there and their relatives don’t want steam shovels vibrating over their dead bodies.
PATRICK: Why can’t we just bury him someplace else?
LEE: Because that’s the plot that Joe bought. Don’t ask me why. If you want to make some other arrangements, you want to find some place else to bury him, you want to talk to the mortician, you want to call Sacred Heart, talk to Father Martin and find out how much that’s gonna cost and make all those arrangements, be my guest. Otherwise, let’s just leave it, okay?
PATRICK: I just don’t like him being in a freezer.
LEE: Yeah. I don’t like it either. But it isn’t him, ’cause he’s gone. It’s just his body.
PATRICK: I’m just sayin’ it kinda freaks me out.
LEE: Oh goddammit, where did I park the car?
PATRICK (rubbing his hands): Yeah, I dunno, but I wish you’d figure it out, ’cause I’m freezin’ my ass off.
LEE: You have a normal winter coat? Huh?
PATRICK: Yeah! Yeah, I do!
LEE: Why don’t you wear gloves with real fingers on ’em? God, fuck. Oh, fuck, where’d I park this motherfucking car?

Superhero movies would be very boring if all they did was discuss foreign policy and the ethics of power, but film can go deeper into these issues than comic books can. Case in point: Captain America: Civil War, which Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely adapted from Mark Millar’s dated comic book. The various members of the Avengers all air their own points of view on a proposal to subject them to U.N. oversight, and this list gets an item with multiple characters instead of just two bantering back and forth.

RHODES (to Wilson): Secretary Ross has a Congressional Medal of Honor, which is one more than you have.
WILSON: So let’s say we agree to this thing. How long is it gonna be before they Lo-Jack us like a bunch of common criminals?
RHODES: A hundred and seventeen countries want us to sign this, Sam. A hundred and seventeen! And you’re just like, “Naw, that’s cool.”
WILSON: How long are you gonna play both sides?
VISION: I have an equation.
WILSON (ironically): Oh, this’ll clear it up.
VISION: In the eight years since Mr. Stark announced himself as Iron Man, the number of enhanced persons has grown exponentially. And during the same period, the number of potentially world-ending events has risen at a commensurate rate.
ROGERS: You saying this is our fault?
VISION: I’m saying there may be a causality. (pause) Our very strength invites challenge. Challenge incites conflict. Conflict breeds catastrophe. Oversight? Oversight is not an idea that can be dismissed out of hand.
RHODES (to Wilson): Boom!
ROMANOFF: Tony, you’re being uncharacteristically non-hyperverbal.
ROGERS: That’s because he’s already made up his mind.
STARK (to Rogers): Boy, you know me so well. (gets up and walks into the kitchen) Actually, I’m nursing an electromagnetic headache. That’s what’s going on, Cap. It’s just pain. It’s discomfort. Who’s putting coffee grounds in the disposal? Am I running a bed-and-breakfast for a biker gang?
(He plugs in his phone and projects a photograph of a young man.)
STARK: Oh, that’s Charles Spencer, by the way. He’s a great kid. Computer engineering degree. Three point six GPA. Had a floor-level gig at Intel planned for the fall. But first he wanted to put a few miles on his soul before he parked it behind a desk. See the world, maybe be of service. Charlie didn’t want to go to Vegas or Fort Lauderdale, which is what I would do. He didn’t go to Paris or Amsterdam, which sounds fun. He decided to spend his summer building sustainable housing for the poor. Guess where? Sokovia! He wanted to make a difference, I suppose. I mean, we won’t know, because we dropped a building on him while we were kicking ass. (pause) There’s no decision-making process here. We need to be put in check. Whatever form that takes, I’m game. If we can’t accept limitations, if we’re boundaryless, we’re no better than the bad guys.
ROGERS: Tony, someone dies on your watch, you don’t give up.
STARK: Who said we’re giving up?
ROGERS: We are if we’re not taking responsibility for our actions. This document just shifts the blame.
RHODES: Sorry, Steve, that is dangerously arrogant. This is the United Nations we’re talking about. This is not the World Security Council. It’s not SHIELD. It’s not HYDRA.
ROGERS: No, but it’s run by people with agendas, and agendas change.
STARK: That’s good! That’s why I’m here. When I realized what my weapons were capable of in the wrong hands, I shut it down and stopped manufacturing.
ROGERS: Tony, you chose to do that. If we sign this, we surrender our right to choose. What if this panel sends us somewhere we don’t think we should go? What if there’s somewhere we need to go and they don’t let us? We may not be perfect, but the safest hands are still our own.
STARK: If we don’t do this now, it’ll be done to us later. That’s a fact. It won’t be pretty.
MAXIMOFF: You’re saying they’ll come for me?
VISION (to Maximoff): We would protect you.
ROMANOFF: Maybe Tony’s right. If we have one hand on the wheel, we can still steer.
WILSON (to Romanoff): Aren’t you the same woman who told the government to kiss her ass a few years ago?
ROMANOFF: I’m just reading the terrain. We’ve made some very public mistakes. We need to win their trust back.
STARK (to Romanoff): Focus up. Sorry, did I mishear you or did you agree with me?
ROMANOFF: Oh, I want to take it back now.

And here’s a much funnier excerpt from another superhero movie, Deadpool. In this scene, Wade Wilson has been wheeled into a shady facility to be cured of his cancer and turned into a superhero by Ajax and Angel Dust, though that won’t come without a price. Also with a price tag attached is Wade deflation of Ajax’s big, showy speech, though it is gratifyingly snarky. The script is by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, though some of the jokes here undoubtedly come from Ryan Reynolds.

WADE (sarcastic): This place seems sanitary.
(The handlers lift him off the gurney onto a table.)
WADE: My first request is warmer hands. Oh, and Jesus, a warmer table.
(They strap him to the table with leather restraints.)
WADE: We should really come up with a safe word, fellas. I’m thinking “pork and beans.”
(Angel Dust rudely pushes his head against the table to secure his neck.)
WADE: Easy! Aren’t you a little strong for a lady? I’m calling wang. (notices her with a matchstick in her mouth) What’s up with the matches? Oral fixation or just a big Stallone fan?
(She puts her hand over his mouth.)
AJAX: Patience, Angel, all in good time.
(She takes her hand off.)
WADE (to Ajax): Are you here for the turndown service, or what?
AJAX (to Angel): We have another talker.
WADE: I’m just excited about my first day at superhero camp.
ANGEL (to Wade): Shut the fuck up.
(She gags him while Ajax shines a light into his eyes.)
AJAX: Mister Wilson, my name’s Ajax. I manage this workshop. Ah, my welcome speech used to be full of euphemisms like “this may hurt a little,” “this may cause you some discomfort.” But I’ve grown blunt. This workshop is not a government-led program. It’s a private institution that turns reclamation projects like yourself into men of extraordinary abilities. But if you think superhuman powers are acquired painlessly, wrong. I’m injecting you with a serum that activates any mutant genes lurking in your DNA. For it to work, we need to subject you to extreme stress. (turns on the injection machine) You’ve heard that whole “make an omelet, break some eggs” bit, right? I’m about to hurt you, Wade. I was a patient here once myself, you know. The treatment affects everyone differently. It made Angel inhumanly strong. In my case, it enhanced my reflexes. Also scorched my nerve endings so I no longer feel pain. And in fact, I no longer feel anything.
(Ajax starts to walk away, but Wade frantically tries to say something through the gag. Ajax nods at Angel, who removes the gag.)
WADE (to Angel): Thanks! Thank you. Thank you. (to Ajax) You have something in your teeth. Right in the middle there. Just, I don’t, a little nugget of romaine lettuce or something. It’s been bothering me for a long time.
(Ajax checks his reflection in a metal cabinet.)
WADE (laughing): I made you look. Hey, is Ajax your actual name? Because it sounds suspiciously made up. What is it really? Kevin? Bruce? Scott? Mitch? The Rickster? (imitating his English accent) Is it Basil Fawlty?
AJAX: Oh, joke away. One thing that never survives this place is a sense of humor.
WADE: We’ll see about that.
AJAX; I suppose we will. (to Angel) He’s all yours.
WADE: Oh, come on! You’re gonna leave me all alone here with less-angry Rosie O’Donnell?
(She punches him in the face.)

It takes a bold writer to add his own dialogue onto Jane Austen’s, and a vastly talented one to make his words sound like they might have come from Austen’s pen. Whit Stillman pulls off both tricks brilliantly in Love & Friendship. Here, impoverished aristocratic widow Lady Susan Vernon is trying to broker a marriage between her timid teenage daughter and a rich idiot, so she visits her daughter in her bedroom and counsels her in her inimitable, baldly cynical, and highly amusing style.

LADY SUSAN: Oh, there you are. Are you asleep?
(pause)
FREDERICA: No, Mama.
LADY SUSAN: What, then? You were hiding from me. Please explain.
FREDERICA: No.
LADY SUSAN (sitting next to the bed): What a strange girl. What were you up to back there?
FREDERICA: What?
LADY SUSAN: Rushing out before Sir James entered the room.
FREDERICA: I couldn’t bear to see him.
LADY SUSAN: Couldn’t bear! Ungenerous manner of speech! Dear Frederica, Sir James Martin is a kind-hearted young man whose only offense seems to be wanting to provide you with a life of comfort. (pause) Have you nothing to say? (pause) Dear, our present comfortable state is of the most precarious sort. We don’t live, we visit. We’re entirely at the mercy of our friends and relations, as we discovered so painfully at Langford. Here, you seem to have won your aunt’s affections. I think I served you well there, for I believe she’d do anything to spite me, but such a dynamic cannot continue forever.
FREDERICA (sitting up): But Mama…
LADY SUSAN: But Mama! I shall not always be here for you to contradict me. If a life of comfort such as Sir James has to offer is not to your taste, what will you do? How will you live?
FREDERICA: I, I could teach.
LADY SUSAN: Teach! Had you been more in school you would not consider such a thing. Answer this: When Our Lord wrote His commandments, which did He consider so important that He put it in the fourth position?
FREDERICA: The fourth position?
LADY SUSAN: Yes, the fourth commandment.
FREDERICA: I know the commandments, but not their order.
LADY SUSAN: See, this is what comes of an irregular education. Yes, the fourth commandment.
FREDERICA (uncertainly): “Thou shalt not …”
LADY SUSAN: No, it’s not a shalt not. It’s a shalt.
FREDERICA (surprised): A shalt?
LADY SUSAN: If I myself had not been present, I should wonder whether I were even your mother. “Honor thy father and thy mother.”
FREDERICA: I’m sorry, have I done anything that has dishonored you or Father?
LADY SUSAN: To honor means, among other things, to listen with respect to your parents’ sincere counsel.
FREDERICA: I do listen with respect, Mama. It’s just that…
LADY SUSAN (cutting her off): If you will not pay attention to me, perhaps you will pay attention to a larger imperative: the Law of the Universe. An offer as splendid as Sir James’ is not likely to come around again. He has offered you the one thing of value he has to give: his income. I fear and reproach myself for having shielded you for far too long. Had I let you starve a little bit more, you would resist much less.
FREDERICA: Mama, I was often hungry at school.
LADY SUSAN: Evidently not hungry enough. In any case, the starvation of the schoolhouse is nothing like the starvation of the destitute. Is that what you want?
FREDERICA: No. (pause) I can see Sir James is a kind man, and if it weren’t a matter of marriage, I’m sure I could like him. But marriage is for one’s whole life.
LADY SUSAN: Not in my experience. Meanwhile, I must ask you not to speak to your aunt and uncle about this matter, or seek their interference in any way. I insist. Promise? Remember the commandment.
FREDERICA: Yes.

I end this post with an exchange from Kelly Fremon Craig’s The Edge of Seventeen, in which high-school student Nadine chooses lunch hour to unburden herself to her history teacher, who looks like he couldn’t be bothered. This is funny and also close to the bone, because I’m pretty sure I was more or less like Nadine in high school: clever but not as smart as she thinks, affecting superiority to the crowd to compensate for an inability to fit in. I found this scene the most difficult to transcribe because Hailee Steinfeld was delivering her lines so fast.

NADINE (entering the classroom): Hey, um, I gotta talk to you about some homework.
(She sits down at a desk in the front row, unpacks her lunch, and starts eating it.)
NADINE: I didn’t need to talk to you about homework. I lied.
(Mr. Bruner turns back to reading his legal pad.)
NADINE: You enjoying my company?
MR. BRUNER (not looking up): You’re a barrel of monkeys.
(pause)
NADINE: You never told me if you have a wife.
(no answer)
NADINE (getting an idea): You should date my mother! Her last boyfriend turned out to be an Internet perv! She’s very, very fragile and very “Oh, save me!” Men like that, right, though? Because at the end of the day, they all want to, want to be a hero. Everyone just wants to feel important in life. Thing is, no matter how important they are, there’s always gonna be someone more important. People get so uptight about that. “Oh, no, they’re better than me!”
(Mr. Bruner runs a pencil through an electric sharpener to muffle her conversation.)
NADINE (talking over it): It’s like, God, they don’t realize importance doesn’t matter as much as confidence. The most confident person in the room wins every single time. (getting up) It doesn’t matter if it’s real. It doesn’t matter if they’re pulling it straight out of their ass. People are dumb. They don’t know the difference.
(She sits in a chair beside him and stretches out her leg to straighten the inbox on his desk.)
NADINE: Know what? I’m gonna go ahead and I’m gonna tell you the real reason I’m having lunch with you today. (pause) You see, I don’t, I don’t really have any friends at the moment, and to be completely honest with you, I’m not interested at the moment. At all. My entire generation is a bunch of mouth-breathers. They literally have a seizure if you take their phone away for a second. They can’t communicate without emojis, and they actually think that the world wants to know that they are (miming typing on a phone) “eating a taco! Exclamation point! Smiley face! Smiley face!” Smiley like we give a fuck! (sighs) I am an old soul. I like old music and old movies and even old people. Bottom line is, I have nothing in common with the people out there, and they have nothing in common with me.
(long pause)
MR. BRUNER: Nadine?
NADINE: Max?
MR. BRUNER: Maybe nobody likes you.
(pause)
NADINE (furious now): You’re a dick! (getting up) Maybe nobody likes you, huh? Y’know, you’re always, you’re always in a shit mood. You’re a really shitty teacher. You put zero effort into everything you do here, and there’s no way you’re proud of that. Look at you! Like, you do nothing! Look at your hair. You don’t do your hair because you don’t have any hair! You’re bald! And you know what? You know why you’re not married? Because bald men are gross and they’re disgusting and especially the ones that make forty five thousand dollars a year!
(She goes back to the desk and starts packing up her lunch. Mr. Bruner puts down his legal pad and opens the plastic bowl containing his lunch. He chuckles.)
NADINE: What?
MR. BRUNER: I’ve been doing this twenty-three years. You’re the first person ever to underestimate my salary. That made me feel good, that part.
(He gets up, picks up a plastic-wrapped cookie, and tosses it in the air as he walks around the desk to her.)
NADINE: What are you doing?
MR. BRUNER (unwrapping it): Giving you half my cookie.
NADINE: Why?
MR. BRUNER: Make you feel better. Jesus!
(He holds out half to her.)
MR. BRUNER: Guess what? You’re my favorite student. That help?
(She takes the cookie. He walks back around to his side of the desk.)
NADINE: Am I really your favorite student?
MR. BRUNER (eating his half): Felt like the right thing to say.

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