“How about we blow up the car?” – the dangers of broadening the debate

BOB, MANDY, REBECCA, and FRANKIE gather for a family meeting to make an IMPORTANT DECISION.

MANDY: Right, shall we get started? As you all know, we’ve decided it’s time we get ourselves a second family car. The question is what car do we get? I’m sure we all have some strong opinions. This is why we thought it would be right to have a broad, open and honest debate on the subject. Frankie and Rebecca, you said you would bring together all the options under consideration. Are you ready to tell us?

FRANKIE: Um. I think so. Should I just, like, read them all out?

MANDY: That’d be perfect.

FRANKIE: Ok. Well, Dad suggested option one should be a brand new Vauxhall Ampera–

BOB: A great car. A hybrid, modern, stylish–

MANDY: Hold on, Bob. Allow Frankie to tell us all the options first. Frankie?

FRANKIE: Thanks. Yeah. Uh, the second option, suggested by Mum, is a, um, second-hand 2005 Kia Sedona–

MANDY: Yes, very sensible. Does what we need it to and it won’t cost the earth. When approaching this decision, I think it’s important to–

FRANKIE: Um. Sorry. But I haven’t said all the options yet.

MANDY: Of course, pardon me. Please continue.

FRANKIE: Uh, for the third option, we, me and Rebecca, thought we could, like, blow up the car?

BOB: What?

MANDY: Come again?

FRANKIE: Uh, blow up the car.

MANDY: The car we have?

FRANKIE: Yeah.

BOB: Why on earth would we do that!?

REBECCA: We’re not saying we’d do it! You said you wanted a proper debate! But the choice was, basically, between getting car A or car B – that’s not much of a choice!

BOB: Rebecca, that’s because we want another car. Blowing up the car we actually have is not going to help!

REBECCA: You said you wanted a proper debate! A proper debate needs a proper range of options. You can’t just say choose between this thing I want or something a bit like the thing I want! What’s the point!?

FRANKIE: You did say you wanted a proper debate, Dad.

MANDY: Ok, ok. Calm down everyone. Let’s keep blowing up the car as an “option”, yes? We don’t have to pick it, we just know it’s there. Let’s move on, shall we? Ok? Ok. Option one. Who wants to talk about the hybrid. Bob?

BOB: Hm. Fine. I think the Vauxhall is the best option. Sure it’ll cost a bit more up front–

MANDY: More than a bit, don’t you think?

BOB: It’ll cost more up front, but the money we save over time on petrol and tax will more than offset that. Eventually. Plus, we can finally get the nice, modern family car with all the latest features and comforts. We always wanted that, yes? And you know it’ll last a lot longer too. Not to mention how environmentally-friendly it is. That’s a big thing, nowadays. Being green. Isn’t that right?

FRANKIE: Yeah, sounds good.

REBECCA: Uh. I can see the benefits.

MANDY: That sounds lovely. But, honey, we do have to be realistic. That car will require us to take out a big loan. We’ll be paying it off for a long time. We could go to the second-hand lot tomorrow and pick up a very reliable, almost-new car. Yes, the Kia won’t be as fancy, but it’d do the job. We want something the kids could learn to drive in without worrying about bumps and scrapes. Right? Not the mention that the money saved could be spent on holidays, or improving the house. There’s a lot more to life than a posh car and I don’t want us to lose sight of that.

FRANKIE: Um. Good point.

REBECCA: Yeah.

BOB: Well, honey, I really think you’re overstating the cost–

FRANKIE: Wait. Uh. We still haven’t discussed the third option.

BOB: What? Do we need to? I thought we decided–

REBECCA: You said–

BOB: But it’s completely stu–

MANDY: Bob. Fine. We did say we’d do this properly. Rebecca, do you want to make the case for blowing up the car?

REBECCA: Well, I’m not saying we should definitely do it. But, you know, it would be the most cost-effective option. I mean, it wouldn’t cost a thing really. And we’d save a lot more money in the long run. Also, having no car at all is better for the environment than having one or two, isn’t it? Yes, there’ll be a bit of pollution as we burn it to a crisp, but that’s nothing compared to running a car every day…

FRANKIE: Plus, I think it’d be cool to see a car get blown up.

REBECCA: We could also do it immediately. Like, right now.

MANDY: Ok. Well. Case well made, Rebecca. Let’s talk a bit more about the Kia–

REBECCA: Isn’t anybody going to make a counter argument to blowing up the car?

BOB: No!

REBECCA: Why not!?

BOB: Because it’s the stupidest bloody idea I’ve ever heard! End of.

REBECCA: There you go again trying to shut down the debate! This isn’t fair. You’re not even taking this seriously!

BOB: Of course I’m not taking this seriously! Blowing up the car!? Are you mad!?

REBECCA: I’ve already made the arguments in favour of blowing up the car! You’re the one who hasn’t been able to come up with a single reason why we shouldn’t!

BOB: Why would I waste of time arguing against something so preposterous!? It isn’t even worth thinking about!

REBECCA: That is so typical of you–

MANDY: Rebecca! Enough. Bob, you can surely spend half a minute explaining why blowing up the car is not a good option.

BOB: Really? You really want to indulge this nonsense?

MANDY: In the interest of simply moving on, yes I think you should.

BOB: Fine! Blowing up the car is a foolish bloody idea because we need a car. In fact, the point of this whole silly debate is that we need two cars. Not one car. Not zero cars. Two. Blowing up the car will not give us the result we want. It will – suffice to say – give us nothing except the burnt out wreck of a car. It is madness. And anyone who is not a complete idiot would clearly agree with me!

MANDY: Bob!

REBECCA: And there you go again! Trying to shut down the debate with your… your derision and your, um, ad hominem attacks! It’s impossible to have a real discussion when you’ve already made up your mind and don’t listen to a single word I say!

MANDY: Rebecca, please calm down. I think we’re just both having a hard time understanding why you want to blow up the car.

REBECCA: I’m not saying I do want to blow up the car! Only that if we want to have a proper debate we need to consider blowing up the car as one of the options!

FRANKIE: I would quite like to blow up the car.

BOB: Frankie!

FRANKIE: What? I haven’t heard a good reason why we shouldn’t. I don’t need a car.

BOB: But we do! And how would you get to see your friends and go places if we don’t drive you in a car.

MANDY: This is getting a bit heated. Bob, maybe you could calmly and clearly make the case for why, when it comes down to it, we need a car?

BOB: Are you joking? We’re no closer to deciding what second car to get and you want me to waste more time on this subject?

REBECCA: Hah! So like you…

MANDY: Quickly. Please.

BOB: We need a car because people need cars!

REBECCA: Circular logic. Typical…

BOB: Very well. We need a car because we sometimes – often – have to go places that are too far to walk and we might also need to take things with us that are too large or too heavy to carry by hand–

FRANKIE: You can get carts that you can attach to bikes for carrying things.

REBECCA: That’s true. And I know lots of people who don’t have their own cars and get around fine.

BOB: For crying out loud, kids. No. No more. This is nonsense.

REBECCA: Are you denying the existence of carts you can attach to bikes?

BOB: What? No–

REBECCA: Are you calling me a liar?

BOB: No! I’ve just had enough arguing about this!

REBECCA: You wanted a debate–

BOB: Jesus Christ! Mandy, can we just make a decision. Vauxhall or Kia. I don’t even care which anymore…

MANDY: Bob, we did promise we’d include everyone in the decision. And.. um…

BOB: What?

MANDY: Well, all this talk has made me wonder whether we do need two cars after all. I mean, we definitely want one car. Don’t get me wrong. I really don’t think we should blow it up (but, of course, I am glad we heard everyone’s opinion and discussed the possibility of doing so). After all, maybe we can get one of those carts for the bike and you can use that instead of a second car?

BOB: You’re as crazy as the kids. We all agreed we wanted a new car. That wasn’t even supposed to be part of the debate!

MANDY: I do not appreciate that tone, thank you very much. When the facts change, I change my mind. You should try to be more open-minded, Bob.

BOB: What facts have changed!? This is absurd!

MANDY: The fact that I no longer want a new car. I’m perfectly happy with the current one we have.

BOB: But–

REBECCA: Shall we make our votes?

FRANKIE: I vote to blow it up.

BOB: You–

MANDY: I vote to keep the current car and not waste any of my money on a new one that I won’t even drive.

BOB: That isn’t even an option!

REBECCA: Dad’s right, mum. You have to pick one of the options on offer.

MANDY: Very well. In that case I vote to blow up the car.

BOB: Have you lost your mind!?

MANDY: It’s exactly that attitude, Bob, which is why people are voting against you.

BOB: I–

REBECCA: I’m going to vote for–

BOB: Rebecca, please. I’m begging you. Don’t vote to blow up the car. I’m sorry I was rude. Really really sorry. I know you’re clever and sensible. Please make the right choice. Please.

REBECCA: I’m voting for the Kia.

BOB: Yes! Good good. Me too! That’s what I’m voting for! The Kia Sedona. A decent, solid car.

REBECCA: For the record, that’s what I was always going to vote for. I only wanted to make sure we had a proper debate. That’s all.

MANDY: That’s two for the Kia and two for blowing the current car up.

MR & MRS JONES: Ahem. We also vote to blow your car up.

BOB: What are our neighbours doing here?

REBECCA: You said you wanted a proper open debate. I invited them to take part so we could get a broader range of voices involved.

BOB: They don’t even like us!

REBECCA: That’s not the point!

BOB: No, no, no, no, no. We can’t have just anyone waltzing in here deciding to blow up our bloody car!

REBECCA: You’re just upset because you lost the vote!

BOB: It doesn’t even affect them!

MR JONES: Well, I do have to say, it does affect us as we all park on the same street and one less car will mean more space for us. So, certainly, yes. Two more votes for blowing your car up, if you please.

BOB: I can’t believe this.

MANDY: That means four votes for blowing the car up against two for getting the Kia. I’m sorry, love.

FRANKIE: Yes! This is going to be amazing!

BOB: What the hell just happened?

MANDY: Don’t worry, darling. I don’t think they’ll really blow up the car. It just represents a definitive vote against getting the second car, that’s all. Everything will be fine. You’ll see.

FRANKIE: I’ve got matches!

THE END