Al Bundy - Young Al Insults Fat Librarian
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Tags: Al Bundy Young Al Insults Fat Librarian
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"Married ... With Children" (He Thought He Could)
In the third season opener, Al learns that he has had a copy of "The Little Engine That Could" since 1957 and when he goes to return it, he finds the same fat Librarian that was there in 1957.
Married ... With Children (Season 3, Episode 1)
"He Thought He Could"
First aired: 11/6/1988
[Steve finds a book in the box and takes it out.]
STEVE: Hey, look at this. The book that inspired my whole life.
AL: "Wanda the Preppy Hippo"?
STEVE: "The Little Engine That Could". Is this my book, Al?
AL: No, it's not, and I can prove it. Look here. [Al looks inside the book's cover and shows it to Peg] There, "Property of the Oakwood Library."
PEGGY: Uh, gee Al, it's a little overdue. 1957 is passed, isn't it?
BUD: Can you believe that, Kel? Dad was alive in 1957.
KELLY: I didn't even think it was a real year.
STEVE: Oh Al, what memories this brings back.
[Al takes the book and tosses it carelessly in the bin. Steve fishes it out.]
STEVE: You can't throw this away.
PEGGY: Steve, it's a book, he certainly can't read it.
[Al sits on the couch. Marcy follows him.]
MARCY: Al, this is literature! Don't you understand? You have to bring this book back. Libraries all over the country are suffering from a shortage of books. And a book is fuel for a hungry mind.
KELLY: Yeah, books are for idiots. I mean, you can learn everything you need from a movie or a date.
BUD: Well, the world needs bimbos too.
STEVE: Al, just take the book back.
AL: Eh, I've got bad memories of that library.
PEGGY: Oh honey, is that because all the other kids were reading?
AL: No. Because of the librarian. Miss DeGroot. God, she was fat and old and... fat. I remember she had this cup of coffee on her desk and she'd always be spooning mounds of sugar into it from a jar. When she'd stir it it would make these clinking sounds like chains on a ghost. A fat ghost. God, she hated me.
[The school library. Miss DeGroot, the fat, red-haired librarian is seated at her desk. She is stirring her coffee and the spoon is making the chains-on-a-ghost sound. She puts three spoons of sugar into her cup, pauses and thinks, then adds a fourth spoonful. Al (at nine years of age) approaches Miss DeGroot with an armful of books. He puts them on her desk. She looks at him.]
DGROOT: Well, young Mr. Bundy. The devil boy. You'd like to check these out, would you? Well, I'm afraid you can't. You know why?
AL: Because I didn't bring you french fries like the other boys do?
DGROOT: You're a bad seed, Bundy. You can't have these books because you are consistently overdue, you never have the money to pay... and looking at you now, I doubt you ever will.
AL: I'll bring them back, I promise.
DGROOT: You always promise, but you don't follow through. And that, in a nutshell, is your problem. Make a promise, keep a promise.
AL: Yeah, yeah, "Bake a pie, eat a pie." Can I have the books now? I've got a book report due tomorrow.
DGROOT: You may take just one book.
AL: Hey, be fair! Can you eat just one pig?
[DeGroot stands up.]
DGROOT: You're a horrible little boy. You'll never amount to a hill of beans. And I wish that on you, Bundy, to be the failure you deserve. And take that hand out of your pants, it's a filthy little habit.
[Al takes his hand out of his pants.]
DGROOT: Now, I'm going to let you have "The Little Engine That Could" on the basis that you might learn something. Though we both know you won't. You think anyone can teach you anything?
AL: Well, you've just taught me that even the slightest movement can make a fat person sweat.
DGROOT: Three days! [giving Al the book] You have 3 days to bring this back. You promise you'll bring it back on time?
AL: I promise.
DGROOT: Ehh, that's means almost nothing. [Al takes the book] But if you don't, remember - I'll be waiting.
[DeGroot goes back to her desk. Al approaches his friend, Lenny.]
LENNY: Boy, she hates you, Al.
AL: I swear, one day I'm gonna take that bowl of sugar and pour that whole thing down her gas tank. [he puts his hand in his pants again] My life's gotta get better than this.
[Al and his friend leave.]
[Back to the present. Al shudders.]
AL: That's when I first learned that redheads can kill ya.
STEVE: Come on, Al, that was thirty years ago. The woman's dead. No one can eat that much sugar and live. [Marcy offers the book to Al] Take it back. Face your fears, Al. Be a man and return "The Little Engine That Could".
[Al looks over at the table where Peg and Bud are there, nodding at him. Al reluctantly takes the book and leaves.]
[The library looks the same as it did 31 years ago. Al walks in and looks around. He spots something on the desk and his eyes widen. The bowl of sugar is still there. DeGroot, still fat but now gray-haired, grabs Al's shoulder and he turns around.]
AL: You're alive!
DGROOT: And you owe us $2,163.
[Still in the library.]
AL: Wait a second. You're charging me $2000 for an overdue library book???
DGROOT: Perhaps if you didn't ignore the overdue notices we sent you for the first ten years, you wouldn't be in this pickle.
[DeGroot offers a child's chair for Al to sit on, as she sits as her desk.]
DGROOT: Sit down.
[Al sits with a bit of effort.]
DGROOT: You made me a promise and you didn't keep it. So now you must pay the piper. For you see, even the road to ruin has its tollgate. Now, will you be paying cash or food stamps?
AL: Can't we make a little deal here? Now, I'll tell you what. Suppose I tape a, a doughnut to my driver's licence and slip it to ya, you give it back and the doughnut just mysteriously "disappears".
DGROOT: Could it be that you don't have the $2000? Could it be that I was correct when I made an educated guess that you would fail in life?
AL: Could it be that the nails that hold your chair together are from the planet Krypton?
[DeGroot checks her watch.]
DGROOT: Oh, look! It's after twelve. That's another 20 cents you owe us.
AL: Well, it just so happens that I returned that book years ago.
DGROOT [standing] I'd remember if you did.
AL: You weren't here.
DGROOT: I'm always here.
AL: Not that day... I believe that was the day of the big cake heist. You were rounded up for questioning.
DGROOT: Perhaps a policeman's rubber hose can get to the truth.
[DeGroot reaches for the phone, but Al stands.]
AL: Wait! I'll just go to the shelves and get that book and prove it you.
DGROOT: [following him] We'll both go. So, Mr. Bundy, what do you do for a living? Presuming you're not still in high school.
AL: Librarian hit man.
DGROOT: I thought so.
[Al has his hand inside his jacket. He begins to search the shelves. DeGroot walks around to the shelves behind him.]
AL: Let's see, I... I know I put it here somewhere, uhh... [looking for a distraction, then pointing away from the shelves] Is that a duck!?
DGROOT: The book, Bundy, the book.
[DeGroot puts one foot up on the shelf ladder.]
AL: Yeah, maybe... it could be... uhm...
[Al pushes the ladder so Miss DeGroot turns away and almost falls. Al quickly grabs the book out from his jacket and puts it on the shelf. He sees Miss DeGroot looking back at him and grabs the book again to show it to her.]
AL: Oh, here it is! "The Little Engine That Could". Boy, this brings back a lot of memories.
DGROOT: You planted that in there.
AL: Prove it, DeGroot. [he chuckles] A loser? I think not.
[Al hands the book to Miss DeGroot and walks proudly out. Miss DeGroot watches him.]
[The Bundy living room. Al is telling Peg, Kelly and Bud about his experience.]
AL: So, I paid a little fine, I apologized, that was it!
PEGGY: Aw, see, Al? You were worried over nothing.
AL: Yep, you're right.
[Al puts his arms around Bud and Kelly.]
AL: Kids, let this be a lesson. You can't do wrong doing right.
[Al laughs and tousles the kids' hair. Then he picks up the remote and turns on the TV. A news report comes on.]
TV: On the darker side of the news, surveillance cameras in the Oakwood Library caught the man with the most overdue book in the school's history, as he sneaks "The Little Engine That Could" back on the shelf to avoid paying the fine.
[We see the surveillance camera view of Al fooling Miss DeGroot as he places the book back on the shelf.]
TV: Watch carefully in slow motion as he distracts - and almost kills - the librarian, then puts the book back on the shelf. [A close-up shot of Al's face is magnified for the viewers to see] So take a good look at this man, he's been identified as Chicago's own Al Bundy. In this reporter's opinion, a true piece of human garbage.
[The Bundys are watching in shame and disbelief. Al turns off the TV with disgust. The phone rings, and Peggy answers it.]
BUD: Dad, let me try something out on you. How does this sound: Bud... Smith.
PEGGY: [on the phone] Yeah, Mom, we were watching. Didn't he look good?
KELLY: Well, Daddy, this may be the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to this family. I mean, we've been training for something like this all our lives, but... you're never really ready.
[The doorbell rings.]
AL: Gee, let me get that. That's probably either somebody telling me I'm Time Magazine's Man Of The Year, or it's Steve and Marcy.
[Al opens the door to Steve and Marcy, both of whom look stern and disappointed.]
AL: Hi, Steve and Marcy, what's new?
STEVE: Weren't my property values low enough?
MARCY: I'm glad you got caught, Al.
AL: Oh, I think we all are, Marce.
MARCY: You serve as an example for all our young readers. Showing them they must be book smart, not book cheats. That the hand of justice will triumph. Even if it must reach down to the very bowels of the Earth...
[Al cuts her off by shutting the door on her and Steve.]
AL: It was Steve and Marcy, Peg.
PEGGY: Gee, Al, do you think this means you'll be on America's Most Wanted?
KELLY: Daddy, why couldn't you have gotten caught robbing a bank like Cindy's father? I mean, at least she can walk around with her head held high.
BUD: Yeah, Dad. As the lone carrier of the Bundy seed, I foresee some lonely, seedless nights.
AL: Family, first of all, it was entrapment. So, legally, I feel vindicated. And second - so what?? Look, I know things look dark right now, but this is gonna blow over. Who's up for a game of Yahtzee?
[The other Bundys react by getting up and leaving.]
[The library. There is a poster on the wall with Al's surveillance picture with the words: CAUGHT! BRING BACK YOUR BOOKS written on it. DeGroot is sitting at her desk, stirring her coffee. Al walks in.]
DGROOT: [without looking up] Hello Mr. Bundy, I've been expecting you.
[Two young boys are also in the library. One grabs a book and hides it in his jacket. His friend stops him.]
BKBOY: Hey man, don't Bundy that book!
[The boy, looking at Al, puts the book back.]
DGROOT: You're quite famous, you know. This week we've had 34 overdue books returned by mail. With cheques. The children are terrified and treat each book like fine china. Mr. Bundy, you've become the Freddie Krueger of the library system.
AL: Miss DeGroot, does the word "suey" mean anything to ya?
DGROOT: [to the children in the room] Oh, children, quiet down or you'll end up like this man.
[DeGroot starts packing up some things.]
DGROOT: You know, Mr. Bundy, I've worked at this library for 44 years. I was eligible for retirement 3 years ago. Do you know why I stayed?
AL: You learned to eat books?
DGROOT: You're a horrible little boy. I kept this job for one reason. I knew I'd nail you and I did. Pat Garret got Billy the Kid and I finally got you. My job is over. Today is my last day. You know, it's funny. I could've given you amnesty on the book. I would have for anybody else. But I always hated you. Is it wrong to hate a nine year old boy? No. Not when that boy is you. It's the joy of my life to see you grow up like I always knew you would -- a total and complete loser. Today, when I get in my car and leave this place for the last time, I will be whole. Your shame is my gold watch.
[Al snaps his chequebook shut and puts it away.]
AL: So you think I'm a loser? Just because I have a stinkin' job that I hate? A family that doesn't respect me? A whole city that curses the day I was born? Well, that may mean "loser" to you, but let me tell you something. Every morning when I wake up I know it's not going to be any better until I go back to sleep again. So I get up, have my watered down Tang and still-frozen pop tart, get in my car with no upholstery, no gas and six more payments, to fight traffic just for the privilege of putting cheap shoes on the cloven hooves of people like you. I'll never play football like I thought I would. I'll never know the touch of a beautiful woman. And I'll never again know the joy of driving without a bag on my head. But I'm not a loser. 'Cause despite it all, me and every other guy who will never be what he wanted to be, are still out there being what we don't wanna be, forty hours a week for life. And the fact that I haven't put a gun in my mouth, you pudding of a woman... makes me a winner!
DGROOT: No, Mr. Bundy, that's what makes you a loser. You see, you could have made something of your life, I suppose. But you never followed through. That's always been your problem. Like I always told you, "make a promise, keep a promise." And maybe if you did that just once, you'd be a winner.
[DeGroot turns away from Al and starts sorting through her drawers.]
AL: Thank you, Miss DeGroot. As a matter of fact I'm going to start keeping promises right now.
DGROOT: You won't.
AL: Yes I will.
[Without DeGroot looking, Al picks up the bowl of sugar from her desk, puts his hand in his pants and walks out.]