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Photo – Richard Conti SagAftra
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Howie from Tina Landau’s 1969 OR HOWIE TAKES A TRIP
I remember the first day of high school and there we were and the morning was fine and there was no indication whatsoever that in a couple of hours a few people, one person in particular, Curtis Callender to be exact, would destroy my life. I mean why, I always wonder, I wasn’t dressed funny I was kinda normal I think looking in fact so why was I immediately an outsider? Curtis, the leader, just stopped me in the hall, looked at me and grabbed me here by the collar and says, “hey faggot, what are you doing in our school?” You see the funny thing about it like funny weird not funny ha-ha is that Curtis and I had, up to that point, no contact with each other whatsoever, I mean I may have seen him once in a while around town, but that was it. So that was the first time I heard the word “faggot” but I had to wait until got to the safety spot of my own house before I could look it up, there’s no place like home you know, and there it was, the truth right there in the dictionary: a bundle of twigs. I am a bundle of twigs, I am a bundle of twigs. Incomprehensible to me. Simply and irrevocably and always beyond meaning for me, I mean it was every day in the school year times four for each year of high school that I was called faggot and I mean, can you tell me please how could someone who barely knew me hate me so much? Well you know he’s the most popular guy in the school, so you see he popularized this activity, I mean that of hating me, so everyone wanted to get into the act, you know, do the cool thing. That’s how my horror began.
Darius from Naomi Iizuka’s 36 VIEWS
I’m in the no-man’s land between Thailand and Burma. Opium in every little village. Opium not even the half of it—sapphires, ivory, pigeon blood rubies—black market, all of it, and you could get a bullet in your brain trying to do business with these people. Then again, you go in there, just maybe you come away with something so beautiful, so incredibly beautiful, something you’d never find, not in a million years on the outside, and if you’re lucky, if you’re smart, you get yourself out of there in one piece. Unbelievable what I saw that night: Song dynasty temple paintings, Kushan period Buddhas almost two thousand years old. He had stuff from Angkor Wat, museum quality, objects there’s no way he should’ve had, and I’m thinking, who are you? Who are you? Because the thing was, I knew, as soon as I saw it, as soon as I touched it and held it in my hands, I knew it was real. No question in my mind, it was real, and if I had enough money, it was mine.
Jim from Kathleen Tolan’s A WEEKEND NEAR MADISON
That afternoon David and me walked down the road to Chad’s. It was this incredible day—bright and windy and it smelled like snow—in fact they were forecasting the first storm, so Chad and David and I got into this kind of frenzy to beat the snow. We were splitting and stacking and yelling and cursing and telling stories, and then the work itself—the physical labor—together with being out in that day—kind of overtook us. And we just kept going, lifting and splitting and lifting and splitting, in silence. Just our breath and the chopping and the throwing and the sounds of the woods . . . And when we’d done half of it, we hopped into the truck and drove the rest up to our place and went at it there . . . And I was panting and aching and soaked with sweat—I had no idea where the strength was coming from to lift the ax. At one point I straightened up and just stood there. The light was fading, the sky was a pale yellow, cut with a thin string of charcoal clouds. A patch of the yard was washed with a golden light from the kitchen window. I looked up, and you and Nessa were standing there, looking out at us. And I waved. And you both waved. And, I felt this fullness. . . . I’ve never felt so full . . . of life . . . as I did at that moment. (Pause.) I felt like a man.
Jay from Jerome Hairston’s A.M. SUNDAY
Dad. I lied. It’s not always silence. When the phone rings, and there’s no one there. There was once, this one time when I heard something. This breathing. So I waited. To see if anything would be said. Was about to give up, but then I heard it. A voice. This uneven voice. One I never heard before, but still, somehow I knew she had the right number. And she asked me. She asked me this one thing. (Pause.) “Is your father happy?” (Pause.) I said nothing. I stayed quiet. I stayed. So, she asks again. “Is your father happy?” And the way she said it. So desperate. Soft. Like she. Like she was in love with you. Or needed to be in love with you. Sounded in need of something. She asks again. And this time, I was about to answer, but once I got strength up to . . . she hung up. She hung up. I’ve tried to make sense of it. But it’s a mystery. A total mystery. But those sort of things happen, I guess. Mysteries go unexplained. Phones get broken. I don’t know what else to say. I don’t know.
Unnamed Character from Jonathan B. Foster’s ANALOGY
That is such crap, and I will tell you why: because who the hell could ever fathom – in the first place, first and foremost – who could ever hope to fathom what reality is? And then if you could, you’re sure as hell not going to accept it. With or without an analogy. Which is ridiculous because, no, listen to what you’re saying: that a drug induced analogous reality allows you to accept the real reality? “Real Reality??” There’s supposed to be some reality that isn’t real?? Wait, wait, wait, no, no, hear me out on this, and I know what you’re going to start saying, you’re going to start going off about these shamans living out in the Painted Desert somewhere that travel through various . . . Whatevers, because I am sick up to here with all these justifications about these “holy men,” about how they’ve used hallucinogens throughout the centuries to go on spiritual journeys, and so why can’t we? “To travel, to unravel the dravel, the gravel, mavel bavel blah blah blah,” you know what I’m saying? It’s bull crap. Because you are not some holy man. I am not . . . ! God I get so pissed off. I’m not a holy man. And I don’t fool myself into believing that I am, so that I can take some frickin’ drug and experience some “analogy” that will help me accept “reality.” And yes that rhymes. Yes, I know, analogy, reality, I am aware that that rhymes. But that doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean anything. Sometimes rhymes just happen. Okay? Can we live with that? This is really good pot, yunno, this is some really, really good stuff.
Daisy from Christopher Durang’s BABY WITH THE BATHWATER
When I was eleven, I came across this medical book that had pictures in it, and I realized I looked more like a boy than a girl, but my mother had always wanted a girl or a bestseller, and I didn’t want to disappoint her. But then somedays, I don’t know what gets into me, I would just feel like striking out at them. So I’d wait till she was having one of her crying fits, and I took the book to her – I was twelve now – and I said, “Have you ever seen this book? Are you totally insane? Why have you named me Daisy? Everyone else has always said I was a boy, what’s the matter with you?” And she kept crying and she said something about Judith Krantz and something about being out of Shake-n-Bake chicken, and then she said, “I want to die”; and then she said, Perhaps you’re a boy, but we don’t want to jump to any hasty conclusions, so why don’t we just wait, and we’d see if I menstruated or not. And I asked her what that word meant, and she slapped me and washed my mouth out with soap. The she apologized and hugged me, and said she was a bad mother. Then she washed hermouth out with soap. Then she tied me to the kitchen table and turned on all the gas jets, and said it would be just a little while longer for the both of us. Then my father came home and he turned off the gas jets and untied me. Then when he asked if dinner was ready, she lay on the kitchen floor and wouldn’t move, and he said, I guess not, and then he sort of crouched next to the refrigerator and tried to read a book, but I don’t think he was really reading, because he never turned any of the pages. And then eventually, since nothing else seemed to be happening, I just went to bed.
John from John Patrick Shanley’s BEGGARS IN THE HOUSE OF PLENTY
What’s the matter with you? What’s the matter with your soul? We coulda helped each other, Pop. The world is hard enough. Ain’t it? Without no haven at all? I look like the Bronx inside. I could vomit up a burning car. You seen them. These dead wrecks everywhere. They’ve been abandoned. I feel them inside! And I was the lucky one! I was the fortunate son. What have you done to me? What have you done to your boys? No. To hell with you. You know what I feel when I see a beggar on the street? I wanna kick his face! I wanna beat him ta death! Cause that’s me! Pathetically waitin’ with my frickin’ cup. But that’s over. I’ve stopped stealin’ and I’ve stopped settin’ fires and I’ve stopped breakin’ windows. And now, now I’m gonna stop waitin’ for you. To reach down to me. To touch my face. To kiss my wounds. There’s a kinda silence fallen between us like a long drop onta sharp rocks. For a long time now. It’s been my wait. I’ve been waitin’ for something. Words, I guess. Some words. Do I have the words even now? I will never think of you without being shocked by your lovelessness. I will never think of you without a gasp of wonder. I will never think of you without some pain. And despite everything, in the face of everything, though it personally shames me to say it, I still have love for you.
Arnold from Neil Simon’s BILOXI BLUES
I was in the latrine alone. I spent four hours cleaning it, on my hands and knees. It looked better than my mother’s bathroom at home. Then these two non-coms come in, one was the cook, that three-hundred-pound guy and some other slob, with cigar butts in their mouths and reeking from beer . . . They come in to pee only instead of using the urinal, they use one of the johns, both peeing in the same one, making circles, figure-eights. Then they start to walk out and I say, “Hey, I just cleaned that. Please flush the johns.” And the big one, the cook, says to me, “Up yours, rookie,” or some other really clever remark . . . And I block the doorway and I say, “There’s a printed order on the wall signed by Captain Landon stating the regulations that all facilities must be flushed after using” . . . And I’m requesting that they follow regulations, since I was left in charge, and to please flush the facility . . . And the big one says to me, “Suppose you flush it, New York Jew Kike,” and I said my ethnic heritage notwithstanding, please flush the facility . . . They look at each other, this half a ton of brainless beef, and suddenly rush me, turn me upside down, grab my ankles and—and—and they lowered me by my feet with my head in the toilet, in their filth, their poison . . . all the way until I couldn’t breathe . . . then they pulled off my belt and tied my feet on to the ceiling pipes with my head still in their foul waste and tied my hands behind my back with dirty rags, and they left me there, hanging like a pig that was going to be slaughtered . . . I wasn’t strong enough to fight back. I couldn’t do it alone. No one came to help me . . . Then the pipe broke and I fell to the ground . . . It took me twenty minutes to get myself untied . . . Twenty minutes! . . . But it will take me the rest of my life to wash off my humiliation. I was degraded. I lost my dignity. If I stay, Gene, if they put a gun in my hands, one night, I swear to God, I’ll kill them both . . . I’m not a murderer. I don’t want to disgrace my family . . . But I have to get out of here . . . Now do you understand?
BLACK COFFEE by Brain Shaffer
I used to hate black coffee, but let’s face it, black coffee is manly. Do you think Clint Eastwood ever took “two sugars and a cream?” Of course not: Clint Eastwood was a man. And the girls love manliness. Once at a Denny’s I encountered a waitress who would change me. Jenny; such a lovely girl. I had to show off my manliness (or at least act the part). I ordered a Lumberjack Slam, extra ham, a piece of carrot cake, and of course, the clincher: black coffee. Unimpressed with this manliest of breakfasts—which would have wowed most waiting-persons, Jenny tried to break me by bringing more and more coffee. Oh, I downed the breakfast before the rest of my family finished their three pancakes, mind you . . . but that coffee. I couldn’t back down now. I’d come too far to chicken out. She brought the check and with that topped me off: my eleventh cup. I tried to manage it down, but I was on my last leg long before . . . light bulb. Once no one was looking, I dumped my coffee in my grandmother’s cup. Mock sipped it. Slammed it down and strode to the door—victorious. I take my coffee black for the same reason guys do anything: to impress women.
Randy from Janice Fronczak’s BLUE FOOD
What color is that? Ugh, no thank you. I don’t like to eat blue food. There is something amiss in this world. I come home from a hard day’s work and my wife presents me with a cake that she made with a blue teapot on top of it and expects me to be excited. I work with murderers all day and I can’t deal with edible teapots when I get home. She meets me at the door with this silly grin on her face wearing an apron from the fifties and drags me into the kitchen to show me here latest creation. I’m under a doctor’s care from her last attempt. Don’t get me wrong. I love my wife. For her birthday I got her a series of baking lessons from “Henri.” “Henri” is a little frilly man. Come to think of it, ever since those classes I have been fed a lot of pretty, feminine food. Mini-quiches, finger cucumber sandwiches? Huh? Huh?? And I can tell you right now, I don’t like it. No, sir. Don’t like it all. Look here, is it wrong for me to want manly food. I wear manly clothes, I want manly food. What? Oh, I don’t know. Steak, I guess. That really sounds macho, doesn’t it? How about homemade lasagna? Things that remind me of my mother. I miss mother. She never fed me blue food.
From Alan Ayckbourn’s COMIC PRESENCE
The look? Oh, you mean the take, the double take. It’s a well-known comic device, the double take. Or in Buster Keaton’s case, the quarter take. The demi semi miniscule take. But at the other end of the scale, you have someone like, let’s see—James Finlayson—Finlayson’s a good example. He was famous for the Laurel and Hardy movies. He would do these takes where he literally took off and left the ground. Bold massive takes. Like this. Really funny. When he did them. OK, I’ll teach you. Let’s see. Imagine you’re reading a book, yes? You hear me coming into the room. You know it’s me, so you don’t look up at once. What you don’t know is that I’m covered in mud. I have fallen in a puddle outside and I am covered in black slimy mud from head to toe. You look up casually, register my presence, but your book is so interesting you go quickly back to it. You do that . . . Now, as you look at your book again, the image of me suddenly registers on your brain. You look at me again. Quickly, sharply. Amazed. Good! Excellent! Your first double take! We’ll make a comedian of you yet. Next week, the custard pie!
Unnamed Character from Gary Garrison’s COMPLICATED LOVE
Who knew? Who? Did my father know and forget to tell me? Did my mother think I’d just figure it out? Love is just so pain-in-the-butt/heart/head/soul complicated. What happened to the days of “Meet me after class. I’ve got to kiss your cheek.” Now it’s “why do you want to kiss? And kiss now? Why now and not an hour ago? And if I kiss you now, will you expect a kiss tomorrow? And if I kiss you tomorrow, does that mean I’ll have to kiss you every day for the rest of our lives? Because I’m not ready for that kind of commitment. And I don’t think you are either. I mean, you don’t even like the color red. So what does that mean for us and Valentine’s Day? And if you say Valentine’s Day is not a holiday, I’m leaving, because it is a holiday damn it. And I know you don’t like me to curse, but I’m in touch with my anger and my chakras and my spiritual life and afterlife and past lives.” What?!… And that’s just the other person’s baggage. What happens when I add mine into the mix?
Ray from Eric Overmyer’s DARK RAPTURE
You never know what¹s out there, lurkin’ in the dark rapture. Cambodia. Used to say that in Cambodia. Seemed appropriate. You never did know. And the rapture was dark. Very dark indeed. (Pause) They used helicopters in Southeast Asia. You may have heard. And some of these pilots. Show boats. Liked to clip the tops of the trees. Fly as low as possible over the rice paddies. Churn the surf. The real macho hot shots would bomb down these dirt roads, nothin¹ more than tracks through the jungle, six or so feet off the ground, strafing everything in sight, blowing up water buffalos, having a great time. So what the V C¹d do, Khmer Rouge, Pathet Lao, whatever, they¹d string a wire across the road, or a rope, between the trees. First thing in the morning, here comes hot shot, hell bent for leather, whompa whompa whompa, twing. Hits that wire, clips his rotors, goes up in a fire ball. Whoosh. Which event I always thought was the war in a nutshell. All it took to even the playing field, bridge the gap in technology, bring down a multi-million-dollar machine, was a piece of wire strung across the road.
Trent from Arthur Kopit’s END OF THE WORLD
Now I know where we met! … It was at our place, our apartment! We were living in the city then, and some friends came by to see our child, he’d just been born; obviously, one of them brought Stone—who? doesn’t matter, Stone was there, I can see him, in a corner, listening, as I … tell. (Pause) But evil? (Long pause) Our son had just been born. We’d brought him home. He was what, five days old, I guess. (Pause) And then one day my wife went out . . . And I was left alone with him. And I was very excited. Because it was the first time I was alone with him. And I picked him up, this tiny thing, and started walking around the living room. We lived on a high floor overlooking the river, the Hudson. Light was streaming in; it was a lovely, lilting autumn day, cool, beautiful. And I looked down at this tiny creature, this tiny thing, and I realized. . . (Pause) I realized I had never had anyone completely in my power before! … And I’d never known what that meant! Never felt anything remotely like that before! And I saw I was standing near a window. And it was open. It was but a few feet away. And I thought: I could … drop him out! And I went toward the window, because I couldn’t believe this thought had come into my head—where had it come from? Not one part of me felt anything for this boy but love, not one part! My wife and I had planned, we were both in love, there was no anger, no resentment, nothing dark in me toward him at all, no one could ever have been more in love with his child than I, as much yes, but not more, not more, and I was thinking: I can throw him out of here! … and then he will be falling ten, twelve, fifteen, twenty stories down, and as he’s falling, I will be unable to get him back … And I felt a thrill! I FELT A THRILL! IT WAS THERE! … And, of course, I resisted this. It wasn’t hard to do, resisting wasn’t hard … BUT I DIDN’T STAY BY THE WINDOW!… AND I CLOSED IT! I resisted by moving away, back into the room … And I sat down with him. (Pause) Well, there’s not a chance I would have done it, not a chance! (Pause) But I couldn’t take a chance, it was very, very … seductive. (Pause. HE looks at STONE. The lights come back a bit. STONE is sipping his tea, eyes on TRENT) If doom comes… it will come in that way.
Chorus from Mark Ravenhill’s FAUST IS DEAD
See, a few years ago, I couldn’t sleep. I’d go to bed and then I got thinking about all this stuff in the world — about the riots and the fighting and all the angry people and all — and I just couldn’t sleep. And sometimes I’d cry — partly because I really wanted to sleep and I was mad that I couldn’t sleep but partly because of all those bad things going on. And my mom would come into my room and be just like so totally freaked that I was crying night after night. “What’s wrong, poops? You have to tell me what’s wrong. Is it the teachers at the school? Is one of the teachers at the school doing bad things to you?’ Until eventually I’m like: ‘No, Mom, it’s not the teachers at the school. I’m crying for the world, because the world is such a bad place.’ And Momma is like: ‘I know, poops. It’s bad now but it’s getting better. It’s gonna get a whole lot better. We’re going to live in a better world.’ ‘I know, Momma.’ And so I pretended to sleep and my mom went off to bed. And after that I taught myself to cry in a special way that meant she wouldn’t hear me ever again. Looking back, now I’m an adult, I think I used to cry at night not because the world was such a bad place. Well, okay, not just because the world is such a bad place. But also because I wanted the world to come to an end. Like Armageddon or Hellfire or Total Meltdown or some such was gonna happen any day and it would be all my fault for wanting it so much. But the world hasn’t ended. It’s going on and on. And I keep looking for signs that it’s getting better like Momma told me. But I can’t see them. So, it hasn’t ended and it’s not getting better. It’s just going on, on and on and on. And I wonder if I should feel something about that. But — you want the truth? — I don’t feel a thing. See, I’m the kind of person who can stand in the middle of an earthquake and I’m just like ‘whoa, neat earthquake’. And I wonder what made me that way.
Robbie from Michael Weller’s FISHING
It felt so amazing in the fog. A hundred miles an hour. I could’ve had an accident before I had a chance to off myself. I was sort of scared but the scared went into just perfect peace. Perfect control. And I thought, O.K., do it. Just like that. All I need is a set of headlights. I went around this curve. Nothing. Still deserted. Then I started to feel kind of weird. Self-conscious. I mean, who was watching? Who was I doing this for? Who am I doing everything I’m doing for. I mean, are they watching? Who the hell is this crowd that doesn’t want me around? I mean this is pathetic. I’m going through this incredible performance and no one’s watching. I was pissed off. And then I thought, Wait a minute, I’m talking to myself. I’m out in the fog on a motorcycle traveling one hundred miles an hour with the intention of committing suicide and I’m talking to myself. And then suddenly it all stopped; the voices, the intention, the trip, the day, everything, and I saw something amazing inside of me that was so clear you could almost touch it with your finger . . . life: Stay alive. I wanted like crazy to stay alive. Which means that, in balance, there must be something in it. Under all that crap, one simple thing. Keep on. Stay alive.
Jesse from Steven Dietz’s FOOLIN’ AROUND WITH INIFITY
Eight of us are crammed into a 1961 Rambler. We are coming home from a concert. My ninth roommate, Henry, has stayed at home. My friend Connie is driving. Three in front. Five in back. We have done a lot of mushrooms and smoked a lot of dope. The Moody Blues spew pop philosophy through the tiny in-dash radio. We are eight bodies in a metal box moving seventy miles an hour. And, as always at this point in the evening, the conversation consists of talking about just how stoned we are. We are laughing riotously at our lack of motor skills. And upon experiencing any new visual sensation—a billboard, a bumper sticker, windshield wiper—we scream in joy at the top of our lungs. It was at this moment that Connie—with both hands still propped upon the wheel—very softly said: “God, this is good stuff. I’m so glad I’m not driving.” The rest of us froze. Connie, with both hands still propped up on the wheel, was wearing a beatific smile and navigating us down the highway. We heard only soft asphalt and loud Moody Blues: “Breathe deep the gathering gloom. Watch lights fade from every room . . . ” The rest of us are absolutely silent. Staring at Connie, staring at the wheel, staring at the road. And each of us is terrified to tell her that she is driving—for fear she’ll panic, lose control and kill us all. “Cold hearted orb that rules the night. Removes the colors from our sight. Red is gray and yellow white . . .” I am in the seat next to Connie. Frozen. Uncertain whether to grab the wheel. “But we decide which one is right. And which is an illusion.” The miles went by in silence as we barreled through the twilight. And there we sat. Seven panicked faces in a metal box moving seventy miles an hour. And Connie, happy and serene, holding the wheel. Secure in the knowledge that someone else is driving.
Mort from Glenn Alterman’s GOIN’ ROUND ON ROCK SOLID GROUND
Who told me? I’ll tell you who told me – your friends. Your douche-bag friends, that’s who! Gotta call last night. Some detective at the eighty-sixth precinct. Seems ya friends got busted, small stuff. Well my name and this address was on this piece a paper. They called me, so I went. Couldn’t believe it. They told me everything. I kept sayin’, “No, not him. Not Harry, he’s my best friend! He wouldn’t…!” Well we all had a nice talk, little pow-wow. Ya friends, the cops and me. They laid it all out. The whole thing. How you were plannin’ to screw me. Me, your best friend. Just one thing you didn’t know. You got greedy friends. Very greedy. Harry, you know that? Seems they were takin’ you for a ride. Never gonna cut you in. You, who you said they held with such high respect, remember? Shoulda seen how they laughed. Called you a chump, a sap, a scumbag! Imagine? Imagine that?! Same guys that you said held you on a “gold throne.” So you see nobody’s comin’, Harry. S’just you and me. You, and me. But I must admit s’been very entertaining. You put on a real good floor show tonight; very nice. But all you been doin’ is pullin’ your own chain, pal, ’cause no one’s comin’. No one, Harry, no one.
Man from Christopher Durang’s LAUGHING WILD
The other night I dreamt my father was inside a baked potato. Isn’t that strange? I was very startled to see him there, and I started to be afraid other people would see where my father was, and how small he was, so I kept trying to close the baked potato, but I guess the potato was hot, cause he’d start to cry when I’d shut the baked potato, so then I didn’t know what to do. I thought of sending the whole plate back to the kitchen—tell the cook there’s a person in my baked potato—but then I felt such guilt at deserting my father that I just sat there at the table and cried. He cried too. Then the waiter brought dessert, which was devil’s food cake with mocha icing, and I ate that. Then I woke up, very hungry. I told my therapist about the dream, and he said that the baked potato represented either the womb or where I tried to put my father during the Oedipal conflict—”What Oedipal conflict?” I always say to him, “I won, hands down.” And then my therapist said my father cried because he was unhappy, and that I dreamt about the cake because I was hungry. I think my therapist is an idiot. Maybe I should just have gurus. Or find a nutritionist. But what I’m doing now isn’t working.
Man from Christopher Durang’s LAUGHING WILD
I used to be a very negative person. But then I took this personality workshop that totally turned my life around. Now when something bad or negative happens, I can see the positive. Now when I have a really bad day or when someone I thought was a really good friend betrays me, or maybe when I’ve been hit by one of those damn people riding bicycles the opposite way on a one-way street, so, of course, one hadn’t looked in that direction and there they are bearing down on you, about to kill or maim you—anyway, I look at any of these things and I say to myself: this glass is not half full, it’s half empty.
No—I said it backwards, force of habit. This glass is not half empty, it is half full.
Of course, if they hit you with the stupid bicycle your glass will not be half full or half empty, it will be shattered to pieces, and you’ll be dead in the hospital.
But really I’m trying to be positive, that’s what I’m doing with my life these days.
(Reads from a note card.)
I was tired of not being joyful and happy, I was sick of my personality, and I had to change it
(Off the card; back to speaking extemporaneously.)
Half full, not half empty. I had to say to myself: you do not have cancer—at least not today. You are not blind. You are not one of the starving children in India or China or in Africa. Look at the sunset, look at the sunrise, why don’t you enjoy them, for God’s sake? And now I do. (Almost as a sidetrack to himself.) Except if it’s cloudy, of course, and you can’t see the sun. Or if it’s cold. Or if it’s too hot.
(Hearing his negativity above.)
I probably need to take a few more personality workshops to complete the process. It’s still not quite within my grasp, this being positive business.
(Reads from the cards again.)
But I’m making great strides.
George from Constance Congdon’s LOSING FATHER’S BODY
Well, Scott. Kimberly. Fact is, we’ve hit kind of a snag. It’s no big thing, really big thing, anyway I mean, everything is legally going forward. It’s a personal, more of a personal—(Blows out some breath, starts over.) Basically, it’s this: your Uncle Cecil feels very strongly that the chartered plane costs too much and has decided to drive your father back in the station wagon. Himself. From Canada. He’s stored him—your father—under the canoe, on the roof, carefully wrapped, and has been advised by some Mountie up there— some guy who knows what he’s talking about—that game is transported at this time of year with no problems in—ah—you know, preservation. So. Now, I know this may seem a little bit—I mean—ah—a little, ah, a bit uncomfortable. But Canadian law on the transport of, you know, remains is incredible. Incredible. I mean, the red tape— (More than George can express.) Now, I know what you may be—what’s running through—what you may be thinking—I mean, it’s, it’s NOT by any stretch of the imagination, ideal. I realize that, and so does your Uncle Cecil. But he is—you know how he is. He and your father built this company from a very modest—well, you know the story, of course. All of this from these principles of frugality and practicality, which I admire so much—have always admired in them both, and in you, and in Pauline, And determination. It’s incredible, really, Cecil’s determination is incredible, really. I wish you could hear him on this subject, I mean, the immediate subject at hand … that we’re discussing here. So, what do you think? Before you say anything, though, here are some things to consider. It’s not a long drive, and he is driving straight through, so our basic timetable would be the same. The other thing is, well, this is really the thing, he’s on the road, you see, already.
Dave from Sky Vogel’s SHOES
Let me ask you something. Do you ever wonder how it is that people get together? This day and age? Y’know? I mean…Look, just meeting people, anyone is hard enough. Meeting women—someone of the opposite sex is going to be harder then, right? Now, add to that the meeting of someone of the opposite sex who you find attractive. Meeting someone of the opposite sex who you find attractive who finds you attractive. Meeting someone of the opposite sex, the attraction thing, and who’s single! And then there’s political affiliation, religion, which way you like the toilet paper to roll…So with all of this, I want to know how it is that anyone anywhere anytime is actually a couple! How is that? What are the odds?
But you know what? It happened to me. Yeah. I won the lottery. Amazing. Don’t ask me how. I don’t remember any good deeds or signing my soul away. I just woke up one day and I…I felt—I feel—Am I making sense? It’s like you’re designed for each other. And like—my God, life is…Without even touching your chest you can actually feel your heart beating. And you’re flying high. You’re enjoying everything. Everything! Waiting for the subway. The godawful price for a candy bar. You’re singing along with TV commercials and saying hi to the hotdog vendors. And it’s the greatest feeling. The greatest…feeling.
I’m sorry. I really shouldn’t…It’s just a woman I like doesn’t like me.
Kroeger from Galanty Miller’s THE DREADED WORD
I was watching some protest in Iraq or one of those countries. They were burning American flags. Don’t these people have anything else to do? God I hate other countries. There are like, only three things people in other countries do. They either stand around protesting, they stand around shooting each other, or they stand around starving to death. Don’t any of these people have’ jobs? At least I occupy myself. I have a schedule. I watch TV. Nobody in these other places ever has anything to do. Is there one person in Iran who says, “You know what? I can’t go out and burn U.S. flags today because I gotta go to the office.” Does Iran even have offices? Or what about Africa? Does anybody ever say, “You know what, I can’t stand around and pose for the UNICEF cameras today because I’m a dentist and I have appointments today.” You would think one person in one of those countries would come up with the brilliant idea of buying a building and opening a store.
Charlie from Eric Berlin’s THE LINE THAT PICKED UP 1000 BABES (AND HOW IT CAN WORK FOR YOU)
It’s a very small world. Very small. I ran into some girl before, she comes up to me like we’re the oldest of friends. Her name’s Joan, Jane, John, something like that. You know who she turns out to be? She’s my . . . wait, wait, I want to get this straight. She’s my ex-girlfriend’s sister’s friend’s older brother’s ex-girlfriend. Is that stretching it or what? And here I am talking to her like I may have at one time saved her life. “Hi, how you doing, been a long time, yeah.” I can’t believe I recognized her. What, did I see her once, maybe twice. Maybe said five words to her. And two of them were “Gesundheit.” And the damn thing is, it happens all the time. Makes me feel like I’m losing my mind sometime. I pass people out on the street, they say hello to me, say hello to them, I walk away saying, who the hell was that? It gets to the point that I say hello to every person I make eye contact with. I mean, I don’t know why I babble when I get drunk, it’s just something I do, I babble. My friends say “You babble when you get drunk,” and they’re right, it’s something I do, I babble. Because I don’t care too much when it’s a guy says hello to me and I don’t know who he is. I mean, it bothers me a little, but I’m not going to spend the day agonizing over it. But the girls, I get these pretty girls who are just so happy to see me, and I’m happy to see them too, and I’d be even happier if I knew who they actually were! But, you know, you can’t ask, right? You can’t tell some girl you don’t know who she is, she’ll be insulted. Right? Right? See, I’ll prove it, who the heck are you?
IS THERE LIFE AFTER HIGH SCHOOL, by Jeffrey Kindley. Jim Wanamaker.
I had a dream last night where someone found out I never took these courses that were necessary for graduation, and I had to go back to school to make up the work. I sat down at a desk which was way too small for me, but nobody else in the classroom seemed to notice that I was any different from them. Then Mrs. Delaney – my American Problems teacher – hands out these test booklets, and I look at the cover and someone has drawn obscene pictures all over it. I don’t know what to do. Should I tell Mrs. Delaney, and call attention to myself, or should I just ignore the pictures? – in which case she’ll probably think I drew them. The pictures are in pencil, see, so I start to erase them. All of these stick people doing horrible things to each other. But as soon as I get one part erased, I notice another one – and another. Finally the bell rings and Mrs. Delaney starts collecting the booklets, and I realize I never even opened mine. I don’t even know what the test was about. And what’s worse, all the pictures are still there. I start tearing up the booklet like crazy and sticking pieces of it in my mouth, trying to chew it all up and swallow it before she gets to me. Then she’s standing over me and she says, “Where’s your booklet, James? What have you done with it?” That’s as far as it went. I woke up in a cold sweat. I wanted to say, “I ate it, you witch! I ate it!” – but I never talked back to Mrs. Delaney in my life.
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, by August Wilson. Toledo.
Now, I’m gonna show you how this goes . . . where you just a leftover from history. Everybody come from different places in Africa, right? Come from different tribes and things. Soonawhile they began to make one big stew. You had the carrots, the peas, the potatoes, and whatnot over here. And over there you had the meat, the nuts, the okra, the corn . . . and then you mix it up and let it cook right through to get the flavors flowing together . . . then you got one thing. You got a stew.
Now you take and eat the stew. You take and make your history with stew. All right. Now it’s over. Your history’s over and you done ate the stew. But you look around and see some carrots over here, some potatoes over there. That stew’s still there. You done made your history and it’s still there. You can’t eat it all. You got some leftovers. That’s what it is. You got leftovers and you can’t do nothing with it. You already making you another history . . . cooking you another meal, and you don’t need them leftovers no more. What to do?
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