You call the play?? I'm reading CHATTERY TEETH by Stephen King, where a man named Hogan picked up a hitchhiker. He got furious when the boy threatened him with a knife to pull the van over in nowhere, so he stepped down on the gas-pedal and shouted at the boy. "After all, I'm pretty sure I'll walk away and the van's insured. You call the play, asshole. What about that?" I don't get what 'You call the play' means here. Please help me!
Sep 3, 2018 3:40 PM
Answers · 6
"You call the play" is an idiom similar to "You call the shots" or "The ball is in your court".

The idea is they are in a scenerio (which is metephorically the "play" like in theatre) where the boy has full control, because he is the one "calling the play/next scenerio".

Hogan is probably confident when be says "After all, Im pretty sure I'll walk away", so he's letting the boy do whatever play/next scenerio he wants to do because he most likely wont succeed upon getting the van.

So in a sense, Hogan is mocking the boy that he could do whatever he wants next and Hogan will not be affected no matter what - "So here little boy, take full control of the scenerio because I"ll still walk away."

Hope I helped.

September 3, 2018
Hogan is basically saying that if the boy chooses to fight, Hogan would win the fight and leave, and that the vehicle being stolen from him after he leaves is not a concern, because it is insured. "You call the play" means that Hogan is telling the boy that he gets to make the decision between fighting and losing or not. However, it is in more of a mocking manner, as Hogan is the one with the real control, and the boy is in the position of not being able to do anything.
September 3, 2018
Neither of the answers so far seems to have captured either the literal meaning of the words or their specific meaning in context. Literally 'calling the/a play' is a term from American football, not the theatre. It means to decide the strategy for the next move (play) of the game; there will be a limited range of choices, calling involvés choosing one. Generally, inviting somebody to call the play means inviting them to decide what happens next, above all in a tense situation like this, where the boy is being forced into making a quick decision. This is not a friendly invitation: the decision is not one the boy will want to take, as neither of the implied options on offer is good for him. One would be to put the knife down and be a good boy, the other is for the driver to crash the vehicle, perhaps killing the boy: this is why the driver is accelerating.
September 3, 2018
"You call the play" in this case can be translated into: "The decision is yours."
September 3, 2018
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