Water by the Spoonful


Quiara Alegría Hughes

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Chutes&Ladders / Clayton Wilkie Character Analysis

Chutes&Ladders is a member of the crack recovery forum that Haikumom, Fountainhead, and Orangutan also frequent. He is a 56-year-old IRS worker living in San Diego. Chutes&Ladders appears to have had the longest battle with crack out of any of the forum members, and thus is the most hesitant about disrupting the calm and predictability of his life which he uses to maintain his sobriety. Although Chutes&Ladders has a son and several grandchildren, his son rejected him because of the prior harm he’d done and will not even acknowledge Chutes&Ladders’s existence to his own grandchildren. This experience has left Chutes&Ladders particularly fearful of physical human interactions and he relies on the safety and anonymity of digital relationships to feel safe. When Orangutan asks him to come see her, Chutes&Ladders is terrified that he will disappoint her or that she will somehow spurn him. However, once he realizes that he can be hurt in an online relationship just the same as in an in-person relationship, Chutes&Ladders bravely faces his fears and goes to Japan to see Orangutan, causing himself a severe anxiety attack in the process. When Chutes&Ladders finally meets Orangutan in person, they embrace, and the play ends with the potential of their new relationship and the life they may find in it hanging in the air.

Chutes&Ladders / Clayton Wilkie Quotes in Water by the Spoonful

The Water by the Spoonful quotes below are all either spoken by Chutes&Ladders / Clayton Wilkie or refer to Chutes&Ladders / Clayton Wilkie . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Theatre Communications Group edition of Water by the Spoonful published in 2017.
Scene Two Quotes

ORANGUTAN: The ocean reminds me of Maine. Cold water, very quiet, fisherman, boats, the breeze. I wouldn’t try swimming. I was never one to actually have an experience.

Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Four Quotes

HAIKUMOM: So unless someone gets that desperate they don’t deserve our noble company? “Suffer like me, or you ain’t legit?”

ORANGUTAN: Haikumom’s growing claws.

HAIKUMOM: Just don’t act entitled because you got so low.

Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Six Quotes

ORANGUTAN: Everything in this country makes sense but me. The noodles in the soup makes sense. The woodpecker outside my window every evening? Completely logical. The girls getting out of school in their miniskirts and shy smiles? Perfectly natural. I’m floating. I’m a cloud. My existence is one sustained out-of-body experience. It doesn’t matter if I change my shoes, there’s not a pair I’ve ever been able to fill. I’m a baby in a basket on an endless river. Wherever I go I don’t make sense there.

Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

ORANGUTAN: Maybe we could hang out and have a relationship that has very little to do with crack or addiction or history. We could watch DVDs and microwave popcorn and take walks on the waterfront while we gossip about celebrities. It could be the land of the living.

CHUTES&LADDERS: Stay in the box. Keep things in their place. It’s a simple, effective recipe for ten clean years.

ORANGUTAN: Forget simple. I want a goddamn challenge.

Related Characters: Orangutan / Madeleine Mays (speaker), Chutes&Ladders / Clayton Wilkie (speaker)
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

CHUTES&LADDERS: Fine, when your son has a tummy-ache in the middle of the night and walks in on you tweaking and geeking just tell him, “Don’t worry, Junior, Daddy’s sucking on a glass dick […] but Daddy makes 300k and this is all a part of Daddy’s plan!”

FOUNTAINHEAD: I’M A FUCKING CRACKHEAD. […] Are you happy, Chutes&Ladders?

CHUTES&LADDERS: Absolutely not, my friend. I’m a crackhead, too, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

Related Characters: Fountainhead / John (speaker), Chutes&Ladders / Clayton Wilkie (speaker)
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Nine Quotes

CHUTES&LADDERS: Live in the past, follow your ass.

ORANGUTAN: Don’t you have the slightest ambition?

CHUTES&LADDERS: Yes, and I achieve it every day: Don’t use and don’t hurt anyone. Two things I used to do on a daily basis. I don’t do them anymore. Done. Dream realized. No more dreaming.

Related Characters: Orangutan / Madeleine Mays (speaker), Chutes&Ladders / Clayton Wilkie (speaker)
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

ORANGUTAN: You mean, gasp, I’ll actually FEEL something?

CHUTES&LADDERS: What are you going to do if the address is wrong? What if the building’s been bulldozed? What if some other tenant lives there? What if the woman who gave you birth then gave you away answers the door?

ORANGUTAN: I DON’T KNOW! A concept you clearly avoid at all costs. Learn how to live, that’s all I’m goddamn trying to do!

Related Characters: Orangutan / Madeleine Mays (speaker), Chutes&Ladders / Clayton Wilkie (speaker)
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Thirteen Quotes

CHUTES&LADDERS: Why are you there? Were you using with her?


CHUTES&LADDERS: Did you sell her the stuff?

FOUNTAINHEAD: No, Jesus, of course not. She gave them my number. I’m her emergency contact. Why, I have no idea, we’re practically strangers.

Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Fifteen Quotes

CHUTES&LADDERS: I got sick on the flight. Totally embarrassing. I had a panic attack as the plane landed and I started tossing into the doggy bag right next to this nice old lady. I’ve been sitting on the bathroom floor emptying my stomach. Then I had to find a toothbrush and toothpaste and mouthwash because I didn’t want to greet you with bad breath and all.

Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chutes&Ladders / Clayton Wilkie Character Timeline in Water by the Spoonful

The timeline below shows where the character Chutes&Ladders / Clayton Wilkie appears in Water by the Spoonful. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.