The Competition

Buddy blames herself when a fellow student commits suicide after losing to her in a history competition; Annie stumbles upon a novel cookie-selling strategy.

Written by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman; produced by Nigel McKeand; directed by Richard Kinon. Nancy Malone: Marsha Kalisher. Mare Winningham: Merilee Kalisher. Richard McKenzie: Mr. McKinley. Louise Foley: Audrey Pfeiffer. Laurie Jefferson: Miss Higgins. Brad English: Mr. Bremmer. Melinda Cordell: Woman #1. Connie Sawyer: Woman #2. Kay Cummings: Woman #3. Eddie Frescas: Tony Sanchez.

Audrey: OK, the Townshend Acts.
Buddy: 17...67.
Audrey: Boston Massacre.
Buddy: 1770.
Audrey: Intolerable Acts.
Buddy: 17...75?
Audrey: Close, 4.
Buddy: OK, let's do it again.
Audrey: Buddy, this is intolerable! It's Saturday, when most kids are out goofing around. Let's go get an ice cream, OK?
Buddy: I can't, Audrey. The finals are tomorrow and I have to study, and you know that.
Audrey: Yeah. What's so important about an American history competition, anyway?
Buddy: It is important. You don't understand, it's an honor to win and I wanna win! I want to. And you're supposed to be my friend -- where's your support?
Audrey: OK. You have my support.
Buddy: Thank you.
Audrey: ... Uh, but my money's on Merilee.
Mrs. Kalisher: You did very well today, Buddy. Your family must be proud of you.
Buddy: Thanks.
Kate: Oh, you did a grand job, Merilee.
Willie: You were wonderful.
Merilee: Thank you.
Mrs. Kalisher: Not as good as Buddy, though.
Willie: We missed you at breakfast.
Buddy: I wasn't hungry.
Willie: Heh. Never seems to be a problem with me. Say, if you wanna give yourself a treat -- you know, you really oughta go and catch Annie selling cookies. It's a riot. Do you remember when you were a Posie, and I helped you deliver all those cookies in your little red flyer wagon?
Buddy: Yeah. And then you left it in the driveway, and Dad backed over it.
Willie: Did I do that?
Buddy: We spent a week trying to get the cream wafers out of the treads.
Willie: Oh, you're right, ha ha ha. Sorry about that.
Buddy: You're forgiven.
Willie: You getting ready for the city-wides?
Buddy: I was.
Willie: Well, my job is making up dumb questions -- you want me to ask you a few?
Buddy: No, I don't feel like it.
Willie: Say, Buddy, listen --
Buddy: Willie, if you're gonna try to cheer me up, don't. I'm not five years old. The least you could do is let me feel rotten.
Buddy: Why is it that people always have to compete against each other? Where one wins at the other's expense?
Doug: Unfortunately, that's the nature of competition.
Buddy: Well, then I don't want anything to do with it.
Doug: Buddy... I could very easily con you into thinking you're never gonna have to face the consequences of competition. But if you have ambitions, if you want things badly enough, you're gonna have to compete for them, and against other people.
Buddy: And hurt other people.
Doug: Other people have nothing to do with it, you have to remember that. When you compete, you have to compete for yourself, for something in yourself. To do your best, to be the best possible Buddy Lawrence. And to have fun.
Buddy: How can you talk about fun when Merilee's --
Doug: Merilee wasn't trying to win high school honors, or a trip to Washington.
Buddy: Then what?
Doug: That poor girl had probably been living in a pressure cooker, most of her life. This history contest was just one in an endless series of contests she felt she had to win, every day. People don't usually kill themselves for one failure, but because of a prevailing sense of failure on every front. Particularly, a failure to win love.
Buddy: Whose love?
Doug: Her parents'... Her mother's. Which is one thing you will never have to contend for.