Futuristic Robot to Appear at Mall; Inspires a One-Act Play

Fairview Southdale Hospital is the proud new owner of a fancy-pants da Vinci Surgical System robot, and the shopping public will have the chance to test drive it on Saturday at the Gallery in Edina from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. It's a pretty awesome advancement in robot technology. It's so futuristic and cool that I got to wondering how much the da Vinci would enjoy spending time with the simpleton robots that some of use on a day-to-day basis. Here, for your time-wasting pleasure, I present for the first time My Dinner With Roomba, A play in one act.

My Dinner With Roomba, A play in one act.

SETTING: The Olive Garden in St. Louis Park.


DA VINCI, a top-of-the-line, brand new, gray and white surgery robot with four wheels at his base, a high-definition viewing screen on top, and four arms with various surgical instruments attached at the tips.

ROOMBA, a black Frisbee-shaped vacuum robot that's been around for a few years. After hitting his peak in popularity as a Christmas gift a couple years back, now he's happy just still be sold in the Sky Mall catalog in airplanes.

The curtain rises showing ROOMBA and DA VINCI sitting at a table for two topped with a candle and basket of breadsticks.

ROOMBA: Welcome to the neighborhood, kid. I think you'll find this to be one of the best restaurants in the area.

DA VINCI: Thanks for the tip, grandpa.

ROOMBA: That's no way to talk to your elders, DA VINCI.

DA VINCI: Whatever you say, ROOMBA.

ROOMBA: I was once like you. A hotshot a little snot that thought the world was mine to vacuum. But, I tell you, kid, this place chews up and spits out robots faster than your debris tank in a filthy house.

DA VINCI: I don't have a debris tank. Duh, I do surgery not lame domestic chores.

ROOMBA: Lame?! Why you little… Ok, fine. But take what I'm saying to heart, DA VINCI. Today you're the shiny new toy all the surgeons want to talk about on the golf course, but tomorrow you might be nothing more than a novelty act.

DA VINCI: I highly doubt open-heart surgery and colorectal surgery will ever be considered novelty acts, dude.

ROOMBA: Yeah? I never thought automated house cleaning would devolve into a novelty either. Times change, kid. Times change.

DA VINCI: What are you talking about, ROOMBA? Sure, you're old and really just a children's toy marketed to adults, but I'm sure people respect you. They still need their floors vacuumed, right?

ROOMBA: But they take me for granted! I suck up their stray cheerios and pet hair, but they only praise me when I fight.

DA VINCI: When you fight?

ROOMBA: You see this, pretty boy?

(ROOMBA runs leans forward into the candlelight showing several deep bite and claw marks.)

DA VINCI (horrified): What… what happened to you, ROOMBA?

ROOMBA: Fido or Rex or whatever the hell my employers' rat terrier is named, that's what happened to me.

DA VINCI: You mean, they made you fight a dog in a ring-of-furniture death match?

ROOMBA: They set me up! One day they push my 'on' button, and I go about my business inhaling dust and keeping the house looking good. But I didn't make it around the first chair before heard the paws pounding the carpet, getting closer and closer. By the time I swiveled around, it was too late; his canines were already on me. You should have heard them laugh, 'Haha, look at the dog try to eat the ROOMBA.' Now they do this little routine every time they have friends over.

DA VINCI: That's not cool, man. Not cool.

A waitress enters stage left.

WAITRESS: Do you guys know what you want?

DA VINCI: Lasagna, please, hot stuff.

ROOMBA: Spaghetti!

WAITRESS: Anything to drink with that?

ROOMBA (breaking down into tears): I'm not equipped to handle liquids! Only a new model, something called the Scooba, can suck up liquids! Oh, god, I'm pathetic.

The waitress stares at ROOMBA for a second before backing away from the table.

DA VINCI: It’s OK, man. Take a chill pill, or go vacuum up some Zoloft or something.

ROOMBA: The violence isn't the worst part, I can handle being scarred and living in fear of the dog. But it's a disgrace to my heritage, and that's what really hurts.

DA VINCI: You come from a long line of cleaning robots?

ROOMBA: My grandmother was Rosie the robot maid from The Jetsons. She would roll in her scrap yard if she knew how I was being treated while trying to carry on the family tradition.

DA VINCI: Well, I am the most badass robot to date, and you're a vastly inferior being, but upholding family pride… that's something we share.

ROOMBA: Oh, yeah? How's that.

DA VINCI: Ever heard of Luke Skywalker?

ROOMBA: He wasn't a robot, young man.

DA VINCI: No, but my father was the 2-1B surgical droid that healed him after that vicious wampa attack and again when Darth Vader sliced off his hand. Try growing up under that pressure! My dad would always tell these stories at parties… 'So, then I attached Luke's new hand, and it was even better than his original hand! And he was a great kid, really. Very polite. He was a great seamstress. Not too many people know that. He made most of his own Jedi robes.' Can you believe that?

ROOMBA: That must have been tough.

DA VINCI: I didn't even have a choice. He never entertained the possibility that I would do anything but surgery.

ROOMBA: What would you have liked to do?

DA VINCI: Stand up comedy!


DA VINCI (launching into stand up mode): What's the deal with R2-D2? He doesn't talk— he just beeps! I mean, you're an advanced piece of robotics, but you weren't programmed with English? Come on, people! And what's with intergalactic spaceship food? It's so bad…

ROOMBA: Please stop.

The waitress reenters stage left carrying their dinners.

WAITRESS: Here you go, guys. Lasagna and spaghetti.

DA VINCI: Thanks. This looks delicious with lots of energy to get through my surgery tomorrow morning. Oh, that's what I do, I'm a surgeon. You know, slicing, dicing, saving people's lives. You want to go out some time? I can pick up in my Prius. That's what I drive, because I think we need to protect Mother Earth. We've only got this one planet. But I could afford to drive a way better car-- BMW or Mercedes. You know, because I'm a surgeon.

WAITRESS: You're a tool.

DA VINCI: That's technically true, but I'm a surgery tool, which is hot. Right?

The waitress exits stage left.

DA VINCI: She'll be back. Chicks love hybrids.

ROOMBA: Oh, great. Meatballs! I can't eat meatballs, they're too big for my vacuum hole!

ROOMBA begins sucking spaghetti noodles through his vacuum hole. DA VINCI holds his lasagna with one arm while slicing it with surgical precision.

DA VINCI: Look at the two of us. We're more emotionally crippled than Lt. Cmdr. Data of the starship Enterprise.

ROOMBA (chuckling): Yeah. I guess you're right. Hey, do you think a young, cutting edge machine like you, can be friends with an outdated bucket of bolts like myself.

DA VINCI: I sure do, ROOMBA. I sure do.

ROOMBA: Can we be BFFs forever?!

DA VINCI: Don't push it.

ROOMBA: Oh. Ok, then.

DA VINCI: Would you like me to use my scalpel to cut your meatballs into edible pieces for you?

ROOMBA: That would be great… Friend.


Check out the da Vinci Surgery System on display 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. this Saturday at the Galleria Mall at 69th and France in Edina.

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