Dustin Hoffman (left) and Justin Henry in a scene from <i>Kramer vs. Kramer</i>
Associated Press (file)
Dustin Hoffman (left) and Justin Henry in a scene from Kramer vs. Kramer

Kramer vs. Kramer revisited

Foreign Policy

What follows is dialogue excerpted from the 1979 movie Kramer vs. Kramer between a divorced father (Dustin Hoffman) and his 7-year-old son (Justin Henry) at dinner. I will cut to the chase, after a moribund discussion of the Salisbury steak set before Billy:

Dad: “You’re not gonna throw up. It’s not yucky, Billy. Eat it.”

Billy (with sudden meekness): “Did you remember to bring the chocolate chip ice cream home?”

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Dad: “Yes, I did remember to bring the chocolate chip ice cream home. And you’re not gonna have any of it till you eat all your dinner, and you eat your meat and your corn—where are you going?

(Billy gets off his stool)

Dad: “Get back here right now. Do you hear me?”

(Billy pushes his stool across the kitchen floor in the direction of the refrigerator.)

Dad: “You’d better not do that. … You’d better stop right there, fella. … I’m warning you. …”

(Billy has clambered up the stool to the height of the freezer and is opening the door.)

Dad: “Hey, did you hear me?”

(Billy is taking the ice cream carton out of the freezer and beginning his descent.)

Dad: “Now you listen to me. … Don’t be smart now.”

(Billy is back at the table, removing the cover of the ice cream carton.)

Dad: “You go right back and put that back until you finish your dinner. … I’m warning you.”

(Billy has grabbed a large spoon, and with sideways glances at his father to ascertain his degree of resolve, proceeds to plant the spoon into the ice cream.)

Dad: “You take one bite out of that and you’re in big trouble. … Hey! Don’t you dare. … Don’t you dare do that. … Did you hear me?  Hey! Stop. … Hold it right there. … You put that ice cream in your mouth and you are in very, very, very big trouble.”

(Billy has the ice cream at his lips.)

Dad: “Don’t go anywhere beyond that … put it down right now. I am not going to say it again. … I am not going to say it again.”

In 1994, Ukraine, possessing the third largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, agreed to surrender it all in exchange for promises by Russia, Great Britain, and the United States of security and independence. The present Jell-O-like threats of the Obama administration against Russia somehow brought to mind the chocolate chip ice cream of spoiled Billy and his spineless father.

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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