Last Updated on May 8, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1301
Reunion takes place in the apartment of fifty-threeyear- old Bernie Cary. Carol Mindler, Bernie’s twenty- four-year-old daughter, has come to visit him. She hasn’t seen her father in twenty years, since he and her mother divorced. The play takes place in a series of fourteen short scenes, each of which represents a segment of one long conversation between father and daughter.
As the play opens, Carol has just arrived at Bernie’s apartment on a Sunday afternoon in early March. Bernie comments, ‘‘This is a very important moment.’’ He’s relieved that she calls him Bernie, rather than ‘‘Dad.’’ He explains that he has quit drinking and has been doing better lately than he had been in the past.
Carol tells Bernie his apartment looks nice, and he explains that he’s been living there two years. Carol tells him the apartment she lives in with her husband, Gerry, is very nice and comfortable, although it gets a little cramped when Gerry’s two sons (from a previous marriage) are staying there.
Carol sees a picture of Bernie with a group of Army Air Corps bombers and asks him about his military duty in World War II. He explains that he was a tail gunner in a B-17. Carol tells Bernie she wants to know more about him. He describes himself as: ‘‘Fifty-three years old. Ex-alcoholic. Exthis. Ex-that. Democrat.’’ Bernie asks Carol a little about her husband Gerry, and her marriage. Bernie explains to Carol that he had wanted to see her again after he and her mother were separated, but that her mother had initiated a court order in 1951, forbidding him from seeing his daughter. Carol tells Bernie she has been married to Gerry for two years, and that his sons are eight and twelve years old. Bernie tells Carol he almost burst into tears when Gerry showed up at the restaurant where he works to say Carol wanted to see him.
Bernie tells Carol she has a half-brother, Marty, who is three years younger than she, from his second marriage to a woman named Ruth. Bernie hasn’t heard from Marty in several years, but says that, last he heard, Marty wasn’t doing anything with his life. Carol also has a half-sister, Barbara, from her mother’s second marriage. Bernie reminisces about the last year he saw Carol, when she was four years old, and he used to take her to the zoo and to the science museum. He tells Carol, ‘‘You were a beautiful kid.’’ Bernie says he has some pictures of Carol from that time, which he looks at every day, but then he is unable to find them to show her. He mentions that he’s thinking of marrying a woman named Leslie, whom he works with at the restaurant.
Bernie says that he is happy now, that he has stopped drinking, likes his job at the restaurant, and is even starting to save some money. He explains to Carol his current attitude about life, that ‘‘You got to take your chance for happiness.’’
Bernie states that the main things on his mind at the moment are getting to know Carol and possibly getting married again. Carol tells him she used to think he was Tonto (the Native American friend of the television cowboy hero The Lone Ranger), and that she was upset when he told her he wasn’t Tonto. He says that ‘‘the only two worthwhile things I ever did in my life’’ were working for the phone company and firing a machine gun during World War II.
Bernie admits to Carol that he was scared about meeting her again. Carol tells him she works at her husband’s office, and Bernie can see that she’s not really happy with the job. She then admits to Bernie that she and her husband aren’t sleeping together any more, and that her husband is not a good lover. Bernie points out that Gerry seems like a nice guy and seems to be fond of her.
Carol points out that she is from a broken home because of her parents’ divorce and that so many people are divorced these days, it is no longer considered a big deal. However, she thinks it must have affected her in some way. Bernie explains that he did feel guilty about the divorce but that he was also angry with her mother and even angry with her. He goes on to say that he was angry with the government for how he was treated in the war and as a war veteran. Carol tells him that her husband, Gerry, fought in the Korean War, but that he never talks about it.
Bernie tells Carol a story about something that happened to him when he was working for the phone company. He had driven to a friend’s place on New Year’s Eve and gotten drunk. He had paid a young man to drive him home afterward, but the young man disappeared, so he drove himself home while still drunk. As a result, he got into an accident and crashed his car into a telephone pole. A police officer found him and drove him home without arresting him or giving him a ticket for the accident. However, as soon as he got home, the phone company called him to come out and repair a telephone pole that had been knocked down in a car accident. So, he ended up getting paid to repair the telephone pole he himself had crashed into.
Bernie explains that he was fired from the phone company, where he had worked for ten years, after he accidentally hit a police car and his driver’s license was revoked. He says his driver’s license will probably be reinstated in about a year. Carol mentions that she worked as a sixth-grade teacher for a year-and-a-half. They realize that, since they’ve both been living in Boston for years, they probably passed each other on the street, or in a restaurant or store, many times without knowing it.
Bernie recalls that he had considered calling her on her twenty-first birthday, in 1968. She states that she wants to get to know him, and he assures her that he wants to get to know her. He adds, ‘‘let’s get up, go out, do this’’ because ‘‘what’s between us isn’t going nowhere, and the rest of it doesn’t exist.’’
Bernie asks Carol why, after all these years, she decided to seek him out and see him at this point in her life. She responds that she wanted to see him because she felt lonely. She adds, ‘‘You’re my father.’’
Carol says she feels lonely, and that she feels cheated because she never had a father. She tells Bernie she doesn’t want to be his pal or his buddy, but wants him to be a father to her. She insists that she is entitled to have a father. Bernie agrees but states that the important thing is for them to be together. Carol asks if he’d like to go out to dinner with her and her husband, Gerry, that night. Bernie responds that he would like that. Carol then suggests that just the two of them could go out to dinner, without Gerry. Bernie tells her whatever she’d like to do is fine.
Bernie gives Carol a gold bracelet with the inscription ‘‘To Carol from her Father. March eighth, 1973.’’ He explains that it should say March third, but that his threes look like eights. They get ready to call Gerry and go out to dinner. Carol tells Bernie the bracelet is lovely, and he thanks her.