This house could go up in smoke tomorrow

Joe Benjamin

God's Favorite

See more monologues from Neil Simon


Age Range
Time & Place
A rich mansion in Long Island, present
Time Period
Show Type

Monologue Context

Joe Benjamin has a wonderful life: he’s rich, he’s fulfilled through his religion,

Monologue Text

This house could go up in smoke tomorrow, I wouldn’t blink an eye. I’ll tell you something...There was a time in my life when the holes in my socks were so big, you could put them on from either end...I grew up in a tenement in New York. My mother, my father and eleven kids in one and a half rooms. We had two beds and a cot, you had to take a number off the wall to go to sleep...My father was five feet three, weighed a hundred and twenty seven pounds. He had a bad heart, bad lungs, bad liver and bad kidneys. He was a piano mover. He died at the age of thirty-two from an acute attack of everything...My mother had to take a job in a sweatshop working six days a week, fourteen hours a day.. At night she washed floors at Madison Square Garden, and on Sunday she sold hot potatoes on the corner of Fourteenth Street and Broadway. What she didn’t sell was dinner for the rest of the week. Sweet potatoes every night. On Thanksgiving she’d stuff the sweet potato with a little white potato...The clothes we wore were made out of rags she found in the street, or a pair of curtains somebody threw away...You know what it is for a young boy growing up in a tough neighborhood in East New York to wear curtains? Can you picture that? Fairies used to beat me up...And through all those freezing winters and hot, hungry summers, through all of the years of scrimping and scrubbing, through sickness without doctors or medicines--one winter we all had the whooping cough at the same time, eleven kids throwing up simultaneously in one and a half rooms--my mother nursed us all on roller skates...through all of the pain and heartache and suffering, she never complained or cried out against the world, because she knew it was God’s will. That was the lesson my mother taught us. “What God has given, God can take away. And for what God has given you, be thankful.”

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