(INT. Meeting Room – Five seats are arranged in an arch with Emma, James, Fred, Sandra and Walter sitting in their respective seats. A banner on the back has FGA printed in bold letters and the following slogan below it: You may not be the next Einstein, but at least you can shoot for slightly above average! )
Fred: Hello and welcome to FGA, Former Geniuses Anonymous, a place for all those in university who came in with As and Bs and are now struggling to get a D. I’m Fred, as some of you may know. I understand that we have a few new faces here. (looks at Emma) Would you care to introduce yourself?
Emma: I don’t need to be here, I’m just doing this because I punched my professor for failing me on my mid-term.
Fred: I’ve dealt with cases like yours and it’s perfectly fine to react that way. Believe me, I used to be in your shoes.
Emma: Bite me, you C+ average troglodyte.
Fred: (looks at Walter) How about you? Would you like to introduce yourself?
(Walter shakes his head ferverently back and forth)
Fred: Okay, well, why don’t we let some of our older members speak. Sandra, would you care to go first?
Sandra: (chirpy) Sure! Hello everyone.
All: Hello Sandra.
Sandra: As you already know, my name is Sandra. I joined FGA when I was four weeks into my first term of my first year. (sigh) It all seemed to go well, the classes were interesting, the profs were cool and I thought I’d rock this! But then I got my first few marks and whoops! I guess it wasn’t gonna be that easy after all (small chuckle)...
(Emma stares menacing into Sandra’s eyes as James looks bored out of his mind and Walter is anxious to leave)
Sandra: ...thankfully the FGA helped me get back on my feet and made me realize that I can still do some great things. They just won’t change the world is all. (chuckles again) I’m happy to say that I’m now more comfortable with my levels of intelligence now being in fourth year.
Fred: That’s wonderful, Sandra, great to see you making more progress.
Emma: Yeah, I could certainly see how far you fell from grace. Kind of like jumping from the second floor to the first.
Fred: Who wants to share next?
(Walter puts his hand up)
Fred: Alright, go ahead.
Walter: Good evening. My name is Walter.
All: Hello Walter.
Walter: I’m going into a double major of Quantum Physics and Rocket Science with a minor in Complex Mathematical Structures In Correlation To Medieval Feminist Literature and I haven’t been able to get the grades I want.
Sandra: Well, how are you trying to manage such a workload?
Walter: To put it simply, (freaked out) I can’t! I’ve tried studying in my room, studying in Robarts, going to a prison and studying in solitary confinement and I’m still slipping! If only these days weren’t so short! 24 hours just isn’t enough! Where’s my Red Bull and coffee?! (frantically searches for it)
Sandra: (weirded out but still maintains her composure) I suggest you change your major to something more accessible.
Emma: Yeah. I’m sure you’d make a wonderful substitute teacher at a public school, Walter. Your parents may disown you, but at least you’ll get a steady job.
Fred: Now let’s not be rude, I think it’s important that you know your limit and you stay within it. Thank you for sharing with us, Walter. (turns to James) Would you care to share next?
James: (dazed) What, me?
Emma: Who else is he talking to, Mr. MENSA?
James: Alright, whatever. Hey guys, I’m James.
All: Hello James
James: I joined the FGA when I was in like my second year or something. My grades were okay in first year...mostly ‘cuz I copied off my roommate, but then in second year, like everything just didn’t make any sense to me. I mean when I really want to, I can do just fine, but I’m now doing some other stuff, and I just can’t put in the effort in I used to before, man. But like I’m doing totally great now.
Emma: Oh now come on! (looks at Fred) You’re joking, right. This was a former genius? This guy probably smokes a pound of weed he got from a bum down at Yonge Street every school day.
James: So what if I do? I was top of my class before I got here.
Emma: Where, in Vancouver?
James: Hey, I only took the stuff when I got here, and I just needed it to not stress anymore. I’m smart, man.
Emma: If you’re smart, then I’d hate to see what dumb is.
James: Look, I could explain Fermat’s last theorem to you if I wanted to.
Emma: (extremely sarcastic) Then do it, pointdexter.
James: We don’t have enough time for that.
Emma: Yeah, sure...
Walter: Actually, he’s right, Fermat’s last theorem is very complicated...
Emma: Zip it, Walter. You’re not fooling me with your big words.
Sandra: Guys, we don’t need to fight! (chuckles) We’re all in this together!
Emma: Sorry, but I don’t want to be working at two different coffee shops in my 30s, I’d rather own them and have you begging for more vacation days.
(Sandra chuckles nervously)
Fred: You don’t need to act like this, it’s okay to be here.
Emma: Why? I’m here with (points to Sandra) a complacent shill, (points to Walter) an overcompensating workaholic, and (points to James) a piece of hippie trash.
Sandra: (nervous chuckle) Alright, you’re going over the line now.
Emma: At least I exceed expectations.
Sandra: (more nervous chuckle, gritting teeth) You better stop.
Emma: Hey, I can get on your level. You just can’t get on mine.
(Sandra proceeds to get up from her chair and swing at Emma, who is taunting her further. Sandra is being held back by James and Fred and Walter is rocking back in forth, trying to calm down)
Sandra: You think I’m some sort of imbecile you can just slap around psychologically? I got a 2400 on my SAT, you third-rate, omega-ranking bitch!
Fred: Sandra, remember our training.
Sandra: Not until I dissect her to study for my human anatomy class.
Walter: (shouting) Why is this happening?! I thought this was supposed to help me!
James: What’s your problem?
Emma: (in disdain; annoyed) My problem is that I’m spending my night here instead of doing something that actually is important.
James: You failed a mid-term. It’s not a big deal.
Emma: It is, dummy. The prof is a buffoon and he just wants to punish me for my greatness by putting me here.
(Sandra has finally calmed down and returns to her seat, along with James and Fred. Walter has stopped rocking)
Fred: Now that’s not true...you punched him.
Emma: You’d punch him too if you knew he was manipulating you!
James: Shit, I probably could’ve aced that mid-term.
Emma: Yeah, sure you could’ve...
James: Wait...wait a minute...I think I know you!
Walter, Fred, Samantha: (beat) You do?
James: Yeah...you’re in my literature class. My god, how could I forget a story like “chick punched literary professor in the face”? I really got to quit this stuff. (beat) You’re Emma, right?
Emma: (slightly defensive, still smug as ever) L-lucky guess.
James: Yeah, you were complaining to my buddy about how you kept getting terrible marks in the assignments. Man, I knew some people who slipped, but you were like on ice.
Emma: (more defensive, less smug) Shut up, I never said that.
Sandra: Well! I guess I wasn’t at your level after all! (chuckles)
James: Oh yeah, and I guess he was lying about you having to switch your major because you had to drop out of a course.
Emma: (even more defensive) Yeah he did!
Walter: (as if he’s come across the greatest epiphany) This explains so much. The attitude, the superiority complex, all the ad hominems! You’re trying to compensate for your failures!
Emma: (full blown defense mode) I am not a failure!
Fred: It’s okay, Emma. We’ve all been there. Feeling like our grand aspirations are now unattainable and that we can no longer look down at others because we peaked and are now slowly crawling down to the same level as them. Having to do our best because our parents expected so much from us and we can’t let them down, and trying to accept a reality with far less importance and excitement. (hopeful) But we can still shoot for slightly above average!
Emma: No! I refuse to believe this! I refuse to believe this! (crying) I refuse to believe this! (bawls excessively and melodramatically) Why did this happen to me? Why did I win all these writing awards if my writing isn’t good for academia? (cries some more)
(Everyone hugs together as she continues to cry)
Fred: It’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay.