Tuesday, March 25, 2003

“We found the first one over here, sir.”

“Ach! God. What a waste! She was a beautiful girl.”

“Poor kid.”

“The rotten bastard!”

“Makes you sick, sir, doesn’t it?”

“What kind of a monster would do something like this, to a pretty little thing like her?”

“We’ll get him, sir.”

“You bet your ass we will, Muldoon. We’ll get him — for her. It’s the least we can do. ... I’m really sorry, sweetheart. You deserved better than this.”

“Sir? — The roommate’s over here, by the bathroom”

“Oh. Right.”

“We figure he did the blonde first, then this one must have heard the commotion and come to see what was up, so he took her out too.”

“Let’s have a look. Hmm. Whoa-ho! Yipes.”

“Sir?”

“Oh, er, sorry Muldoon. But seriously — Woof!”

“Ummm ...”

“I mean, she must’ve really hated the other one, huh?”

“Well, I — can’t really speculate ...”

“Jesus. He was practically doing her a favor.”

“Sir?”

“Well, it’s not like she had much to live for. Wowza.”

“The ummm .... M.E. says there’s no sign of sexual assault.”

“You mean on this one.”

“Well, on either of them, sir.”

“You’re kidding. On the blonde either? Really? Pfft. Well. That narrows the list of suspects a little.”

“Sorry, sir?”

“Well ... you know what I mean.”

“No, I’m afraid I don’t.”

“Well. Whoever he was, he was obviously a little ....”

“Palsied, sir?

“What?”

“Well, the way you were shaking your hand like that ... you think the perp had maybe Parkinson’s or something?”

“What? No! You know. I mean he was a little ... that way.”

“Which way, sir?”

“A HOMO, Muldoon. What, did you just take the bus in from Iowa? I mean, Jesus. Look at her!”

“She was certainly a very attractive young woman —“

“WAS?!?!"

“Well I mean, no offense. I’m sure she’s quite lovely, even in ... repose. But I don’t think that has anything to do with the case. In fact, it looks like a pretty straightforward break-in gone bad.”

“No. No, this girl wouldn’t have opened the door to just anyone. She was too smart for that. Oh, I know. A lot of people think pretty girls can't be smart, too, but she — she wasn’t like that. She wasn’t just beautiful on the outside, she was smart, too. And funny and kind and sweet...”

“Did you know this girl, sir?”

“For cryin’ out loud, Muldoon, there are some things you can tell about a girl just by looking at her. This one had lots of boyfriends, lots of them. And one of them must have gotten jealous of the others and come here to confront her. Things just got out of hand, that’s all. I mean actually, you can hardly blame the guy. And she’s the type who'd never have a suspicious thought in her head. She probably never even saw it coming. She was just a mixed-up kid who was waiting for the right guy to come along; the kind of guy who would really understand her, and love her for who she was. And now ... it’s too late.”

“Well, be that as it may. They’re gonna want to get the bodies down to the morgue — ”

“Oh. Sure, take her right on out.”

“Her?”

“Muldoon, you really are dense. I’m saying you take her fat friend down to the morgue, and I’ll hang around here a little while longer and ... investigate.”

“Sir, I’m afraid I really must object in the strongest possible terms to your entire demeanor here this evening. I must say, I find your comments inappropriate in the extreme, and if you don’t stop immediately, I’m going to have to lodge a formal complaint.”

“Right. Don’t think I don’t know your trouble, Muldoon. You’re just jealous because I always get the cute ones."

"Well, it's just that last time, you said I could —"

"Sorry, pal. Besides, she's way out of your league. Hey hey — slow down, there, Doc. No need to cover her up so fast. The night is young.”

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

And Now For Something Completely Familiar

“I miss the romance of railway travel.”
...

“No you don’t.”

“Oh, I do. I do! I miss the adventure; the allure of distant, mysterious lands. The Venice-Simplon. Paris to Constantinople. The ‘voiture lits!’ The grandeur. The opulence. The heady aroma of relentless and abject servility...”

“Clive, you’ve never been on a train in your life.”

“Still.”

“Trains give you vertigo.”

“It’s the principle.”

“If you say so.”

“It’s symbolic. An emblem of bye-gone days. Better days.”

“I’m not contradicting you, dear.”

“You were.”

“But I’ve stopped.”

“Hmph.”

...

“Clive, dear. Do you remember the Aspreys?”

“Not especially.”

“From Number 17. He was something to do with banking in the City; she was very keen on crossword puzzles.”

“Oh, yes. The Aspreys.”

“Lovely people.”

“Salt of the earth.”

“Delightful people.”

“Charming.”

“They used to travel. Quite a bit.”

“By rail?”

“Yes.”

“Well, you take my meaning, then.”

“They traveled quite extensively by rail, if I recall.”

“Lucky things.”

“Haven’t thought of them in years, until you mentioned railway travel. Isn’t it funny, the things you remember?”

“Enchanting people. Whatever happened to them, do you know?”

“Oh -- They were cannibals, apparently.”

“Were they?”

“You can’t have forgotten, dear! There was ever such a fuss.”

“It strikes a chord ...”

“I should think so. There was an enormous scandal. It was in all the papers. Tsk. Parasites!”

“Well, you can’t blame the papers, really.”

“I suppose not.”

“I mean, cannibalism. It’s not done.”

“Never was.”

“Not in our circle.”

“Still. Lovely people.”

Lovely people ... We don’t really see people anymore, do we?”

“Well. There’s hardly anyone worth seeing.”

“You’re quite right there. There are no really good people left, are there?”

“Well. The Aspreys saw to that, I’m afraid.”

“Oh, posh. Of course, it’s all very easy to blame the cannibals. But I say, it’s all symptomatic.”

“Of what, dear?”

“Of the decline of society! There’s no real breeding anymore. Gone, all gone! Gone the way of the golden rail. Ah! God help me, I miss it so!”

...

“Do you know what I miss?”

“What’s that, dear?”

“The anal sex.”

“Really?”

“All the anal sex we used to have, do you remember, dear? I never would have thought I’d miss it, but looking back now, I really do, rather. Isn’t that curious?”

“Well. It’s a funny old thing, Life.”

“Yes ... Oh – And the Emersons, of course.”

“Who?”

“The Emersons, from Number 61. They were quite nice. I liked them. He was in advertising, as I recall, but still. Otherwise perfectly respectable.”

“Mmmmm.”

“Not quality people, you understand. But pleasant enough.”

“Perhaps we should invite them 'round some time. For a table of bridge.”

“Oh, I shouldn’t think that would do at all.”

“Whyever not?”

“They were eaten, Clive.”

“Oh, dear. By the Aspreys?”

“Oh, I’m sure it must have been.”

“Ah, well.”
...
...
...

“Smarties!”

“Beg pardon, dear?”

“It’s Smarties I miss, not the anal sex. What could I have been thinking?”

“I’m sure I don’t know.”

“Oh, I used to love them, when I was a girl. Smarties. Haven’t thought of them in ages. Can’t imagine what made me think it was the anal sex.”

...

“Toot, toot!”

“Darling. I have asked you about the engineer’s cap.”

“Sorry, dear. Ah, well. I’m off to bed.

“Good night, dear.”

“Good night.”

...

Funny me thinking it was the anal sex.”

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

"Ring"



a play in 3 acts


ACT I


(At rise: The stage is dark except for a medium spot on AMANDA, who is seated in an armchair slightly upstage left, reading a book, and a much brighter pinlight on a table far downstage right, which holds a telephone. As AMANDA reads, she looks up occasionally and glances over at the phone. Gradually she becomes more distracted, looks more frequently and directly at the telephone.)


AMANDA

(Under her breath, almost inaudibly)

Ring.

(She returns to her book; continues glancing furtively at the phone.)


AMANDA

(Without looking up from her book)

Ring.

(She reads for a moment more, then closes the book, holding it in her lap.)


AMANDA

(Loudly, firmly, looking right at the phone)

Ring!

(She returns to reading for a moment, then stands up, throws the book onto the chair and takes a step toward the phone.)


AMANDA

(Hands on hips)

Ring!!

(She crosses her arms over her chest, stares at the phone in mounting frustration, begins pacing back and forth across the stage. On her third pass, she stops directly in front of the phone, leans over it and shouts.)


AMANDA

RING!!!

(AMANDA throws her hands up in aggravation, turns abruptly, walks a few paces away from the phone, then stands with her back to it. She remains in this position for a moment, then turns only her head, looking back over her shoulder at the phone.)


AMANDA

(Plaintively)

... Ring.

(Lights out; End Act I)


ACT II


(The lights come up on AMANDA, standing hunched over the phone, her hands braced on the edges of the table, eyes closed.)


AMANDA

(A low murmur, almost a mantra)

Ring. Ring. Ring, ring, ring, ring ring ring ...

(She lifts the receiver, holds it to her ear, hangs up again. Picks the phone up and shakes it.)


AMANDA

Ring!!

(She slams the phone back down on the table.)


AMANDA

(Screams:)

RING!!

(She picks up the phone and throws it on the floor. Falls to the floor, sobbing, beats the phone with her fists.


AMANDA

RING! RING! RING!!!

(She sobs, weeps, replaces the receiver in the cradle, strokes the phone, picks it up and holds it in her arms, presses it against her cheek.)


AMANDA

(Choking with tears)

Ring, ring, ring ...

Lights out; End Act II


ACT III


(Lights up on AMANDA, sitting in a lotus position on the floor, her face expressionless. The phone is on the floor in front of her. She does not look at it. Sits in silence for some time.)


(The phone rings. At the sound her face lights up; her hands fly to her face. Her expression becomes one of almost inexpressible joy. She picks up the phone, holds it to her ear.)


AMANDA

Hello?

(At the sound of the voice on the other end of the line, her face — her entire body — go wistfully soft; her face takes on a look of sublime satisfaction and relief. She raises the receiver over her head, and slams it back down into the cradle with a look of almost orgasmic fulfillment. Sighs happily. Stands up, dusts off her hands, tugs her clothing back into place, exits.)


Lights out; End of Play


Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! Isn’t it GORGEOUS!?!?!? I KNOW! I can’t believe he finally asked. I was gonna give him another three months, and after that ... well, I don’t know. Probably another three months and another three after that — hee hee!

Anyway. I’m just so relieved he finally broke down and did it. I mean, we both knew it was inevitable, right? The thing is, he’s so sweet — I think he was really just trying to protect me, you know? From all the criticism. And we all know there’s gonna be criticism, right? I can hardly believe people are so provincial, in this day and age. I mean, helloooooo!! This is your 21st century WAKE UP CALL!! And if a girl wants to marry her Dad, that’s really nobody’s business but theirs, Mr.-or-Ms.-Buttinsky. And it’s like, people don’t even think they’re being rude, you know? They’ll just get all up in your face and be all, “Oh, my God, that’s horrible! That’s so disgusting, what’s wrong with you?” And I’m like, Oh yeah? Well, your breath is pretty disgusting, but SINCE YOU DIDN’T ASK ME, I guess I’ll just keep my opinions to myself, thank you very much. Not that I would ever actually say that, because I happen to care about other people’s feelings, which is more than I can say for certain therapists I know who shall remain nameless. And who will definitely not be receiving invitations to the wedding.

It’s like people have this idea in their heads about what’s acceptable and what’s not, and it’s like their way is the only way to do things. It completely freaks me out! I can’t even imagine what it must be like to be that narrow-minded. “Oh, ew ew ew, it’s inappropriate! It’s immoral! It’s unnatural!!” Gah! We’re so CONDITIONED!!

And don’t get me wrong. I know there are going to be obstacles. And I know it’s not all going to be easy. I mean, he is older. And he’s been married before and blah blah blah. Plus his kids are totally dead set against it, which I’m sorry but if that BITCH of a daughter of his leaves one more nasty message on my machine I swear to GOD I’m gonna get a freaking restraining order. Yes, Melissa, we all know you have this fantasy about Mommy and Daddy getting back together again some day, and we know that I’m like, the only thing standing in the way of that, uh-huh. And then Missy WOKE UP! And was like, 30! Which in my not-so-humble opinion is a little too old to be believing in fairy tales. God! I wish she would just get over herself stop trying to run my life because she is so NOT the boss over me!!

I mean, why can’t everybody just try to understand that sometimes these things just happen? It’s not like we were looking for it. But — haven’t you ever known somebody for a really long time, and then one day you just suddenly find yourself looking at them in a totally different way? That’s what it was like for me and Daddy. We were at that big family picnic thing we do every year? They call it the family reunion even though it’s not really a reunion, but anyway we call it that. And I was standing by the clam bar and I smelled Polo, which I just love, and I turned around to see if I could figure out who was wearing it? And there he was! And ... I looked at Daddy, and he looked at me, and it was like we’d known each other all our lives! I couldn’t get over it. I mean, to me, he’d always just been, well. You know. My dad. Baggy shorts, golf hat, falling asleep in front of the TV Dad. I couldn’t believe I’d never noticed what a total BABE he was!! What can I say? I guess it’s just a sign I’ve matured! Plus, you know he’s really been working on himself since his divorce. Oh, yeah! You should see. He’s totally lost that little tummy, and the — well, you can’t even tell about the p-l-u-g-s. Hee! Sorry. I’m not supposed to tell. He says it’s just his luck, to go to all that trouble and expense and wind up dating one of the few girls in the world who knows he’s got them. And the thing is, I totally wouldn’t have cared anyway. I mean, as far as I’m concerned he’s the handsomest guy in the world anyway, right? But it’s not like it’s just a physical thing. That’s what really bothers me. People talk about it like it’s ALL about the sex, which is totally not true. We’re comfortable together, you know? We have ... history. We were just saying the other day how, with the reunion coming up again this year? That that would be the perfect time to announce our engagement. Except, you know. We’re — sort of not invited this year? Ugh! Long story. Don’t get me started.

Oh, I know. I know, you’re right. I really should be focusing on the good. And as far as I’m concerned? It’s all good. You know, he wants to start having kids right away. Which, you know. Tick tick tick! Probably not such a bad idea.

Hee! It’s so sweet! Daddy says, he hopes they’re all girls — and they all look exactly like me.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

You’d Better Sit Down, Kids

“Tim. Susie. Your Mom and I have something to tell you, and I’m afraid you’re not going to like it.”

“What’s wrong, Dad?”

Daddy tapped his newspaper on the edge of the table, the way he always did when he had something serious to say. “Well. There’s no good way to put this. We’re getting a divorce.”

“Divorce?”

As it usually did when she was frightened or sad, Susie’s voice went all small and whispery, a habit that usually set her brother’s teeth on edge. Tonight, however, he felt his own might do the same. “But – why?”

“Well, Susie, it’s not easy to say this,” Mommy said, sitting down near Daddy, much closer than together than they usually sat. “We know you’ll probably have all kinds of wild ideas about how this happened and who’s to blame, but the simple fact is ... it’s your fault.”

“Mine?”

“Well, both of you, really,” said Daddy, giving Mommy his ‘now, now’ look.

“Sure, but be fair. It’s mostly hers.”

“Oh, well, yeah. Granted.”

“Is it ... because I was bad?”

“Ha!” said Mommy, her eyes wide and slightly mocking. “Well, yeah. For starters.”

“But I can be good! I can do better in school and behave in front of company and –”

“No, Susie, you can’t. And that’s the problem.”

“All right, all right,” Daddy patted Mommy on the shoulder, and she relaxed a little. “This isn’t getting us anywhere. Of course she can’t do any better, honey, but dwelling on it isn’t going to help her, and it’s just going to upset you.”

“You’re right. I’m sorry,” Mommy held up her hands in surrender.

“ Look, kids,” said Daddy. “The Lord knows we had high hopes for both of you in the beginning, but the simple truth is, you’ve disappointed us time and time again, in every conceivable way. And ultimately, it’s taken its toll on our marriage.”

Timmy shot his sister an accusing look. “We’re ... we’re sorry, Dad.”

“If only you’d tried a little harder,” Mommy said, in a genuinely wistful tone. “If only you hadn’t made us so angry all the time, with the whining and the bickering and the constant demands. But oh, no. You had to have things your way, and now – Daddy’s leaving us.”

Susie’s voice went from small and whispery to shrill and whining. “Don’t go, Daddy! I’ll miss you. I’ll be lonely if you go.”

Timmy rolled his eyes. Trust her to start blubbering over this!

“You see? This is exactly the sort of thing we’re talking about!” said Mommy. “Everything is all about you, isn’t it? ‘I don’t want you to go, daddy! I’ll be lonely.’ Me me me! Don’t you think your father is upset about this at all? I mean, have you even considered his feelings?”

“And besides, Princess,” Daddy added: “let’s face facts. With that overbite, and those chunky thighs of yours, ‘lonely’ was a feeling you were going to have to get used to sooner or later anyway, don’t you think?”

Timmy turned on his sister in frustration and rage. “Stupid! You ruined everything!”

“Whoa, whoa there!” Daddy interjected, “Hold on a minute, young man. Let’s not forget you had a hand in this yourself. Need we remind you of your performance in Little League this past summer? To say nothing of the mediocre grades, the sullen attitude. And hey – when was the last time a girl showed up around here looking for you, huh?”

“Now, Frank,” said Mommy. “To be fair, that’s not his fault. Girls just haven’t learned to appreciate him yet, that’s all.” She reached out to stroke Timmy’s hair, in that lingering way that had so troubled him in the past. “But they will. Oh, they will.”

“Be that as it may. What it boils down to is that your mother and I have come to realize we’d have been much better off if we’d never had children in the first place.”

“I’m afraid that’s true, kids. I mean, Timmy, we never planned on you at all. Things were pretty strained between us to begin with, and once you came along, they just got worse in a hurry. Your father threatened to leave me so many times I figured I had to do something to hold on to him. And ... well, that’s pretty much where you came in, Susie.” Mommy lit a cigarette and smiled a little ruefully. “Oh, of course I realize now what crazy logic that was. We still get a little chuckle over it every once in a while ...

She and Daddy shared a half-hearted little laugh at the memory. “... but at the time ...”

“Look, the point is, your mother and I admit we’ve made a lot of mistakes. We’ve fought over you, made scapegoats of you, used you as weapons against each other.”

“While we realize now that what we should have done was just got rid of you.”

Timmy felt Susie’s hand slip into his. He was about to throw it off, but at the last second he let it stay.

“We know that sounds harsh,” said Daddy, “but frankly you’d probably have been raised in a more positive and supportive environment and really been much happier and better adjusted in the long run if we had.”

“And it’s not as if you would have wound up in institutions, or anything.”

“God, no.”

“I mean, do you have any idea? The demand for healthy, white newborns? And Timmy, you were just a beautiful baby. I mean, let’s face it,” a little tremor shimmered in her voice, “you’ve always been a very good-looking young man.” She gave him that look; the look that always lasted a few seconds too long, and made him want to look away. “And Susie, even you were pretty cute at that age.”

“Oh, forget about her,” Daddy cut in. “He was a boy! When I think of what we might have – Well, we could have bought that boat.”

“That would have been something, wouldn’t it?”

“Second honeymoon ...”

“‘Course, that’s kind of what got us in trouble in the first place.”

“Still, we’ve stayed together for your sake for the last fourteen years. We’ve thrown away our youth, lost our passion for one another, and frankly we just feel that enough is enough. We think we’re entitled to get what little we still can out of life while we’re young enough to enjoy it. And I’m sorry it had to come to this, kids, but ... you’ll get over it.”

“Everyone does,” Mommy pointed out, brightly.

“Oh, stop crying. It’s not that bad.”

“Daddy’s right, sweetheart. I mean, after all,” she placed a hand on Timmy’s shoulder. “With Daddy gone, you can have Mommy all to yourself.”

“That’s true, Timmy-boy. You’ll have to be the man of the house, now.”

Daddy’s lips twitched, and Mommy quickly bit her lip, but it was no use. A moment later they were both laughing hysterically.

“No, but seriously kids. This doesn’t have to be all painful and depressing.”

“That’s right. And it’s important you remember, your Daddy and I still care about each other very much. We’ll always be friends, and we’ll always want to see you two ... turn out all right. In the end.”

When the phone rang, Mommy took her hand from Timmy’s shoulder, and he let go a little sigh. “Can we go to our rooms now?”

Daddy had already opened the newspaper and was a little preoccupied. “What? Oh, sure, you kids go on ahead.”

But Mommy’s face, as she listened to the voice on the phone, was not a happy one. “Uh-huh. Yes, I understand.” She placed a hand over the receiver. “You two just hold it right there.” Then: “Right. I’ll tell them. Thank you for calling.”

She hung up the phone and returned to her seat, arms folded angrily across her chest. “Well,” she said. “That was grandpa. Grandma’s dead.”

There was a moment of awful silence as they awaited the inevitable.

“So. Who didn’t send a thank-you note for the nice Christmas sweaters she sent?”

Friday, February 21, 2003

“Hey! I was starting to worry about you.”

“Sorry I’m late. It was a madhouse down at the store.”

“You look beat.”

“I feel beat.”

“Well, here. Sit down. I made you a nice hot cup of tea, and I want you to tell me all about your day.”

“You are just the sweetest thing. But there’s really nothing to tell. It was just tedious, boring work, that’s all.”

“Don’t be silly. You had a long, hard day and I want to hear all about it. All about it. Everything. Don’t leave out a single word.”

“Well. Okay, if you insist. So, you know we’re having that big sale tomorrow — the one I told you about? ”

“Which one is that now?”

“You know, half-off on all panties — ”

“Huhhhhghhhhhhhhhhhh ...”

“What?”

“Nothing. Sorry.”

“So, we had to do this huge inventory today; I swear, I must have had to count about 11,000 pairs of panties — ”

“Huhhhhghhhhhhhhhhhh ...”

“Honey, are you okay?”

“Me? I’m fine. Why?”

“Oh. No reason, I guess. Anyway, then we had to do all the mark-down tags, and of course they can’t just do an across-the-board thing, ‘all panties six dollars’ — "

“Huhhhhghhhhhhggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ...”

“— or something. No, it’s gotta be fifty percent off the original price, so we have to go through every single price tag on every single pair of panties in the store —”

“Haaaahhhhghhhhhhhhhhhh ...”

“And then at the last minute the manager calls and says, ‘Oh, hey, let’s mark down the toe socks, too, so now it’s toe socks and panties — ”

“Huhhhhghhhhhhnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnhhhhhh ...”

“Sweetie, are you sure you’re feeling all right?”

“Sure. I’m okay. I’m great. I just wanna hear all about your day.”

“Awwwww. Shweetie! Well, that was pretty much it, really. Just a long, long, monotonous day. I swear, if I never see another pair of panties in this lifetime — ”

“Ha-ahhhhhhhhhhhggggghhhh."

“— it’ll be too soon okay, look, what is wrong with you?”

“Nothing! What’s wrong with you?”

“Me? There’s not a thing wrong with me. But you’re acting just plain weird. I haven’t seen you like this since — well, actually, since the last time the store had a big sale on panties.”

“Ha-aaahAAHHHHhh.”

“Okay, that’s it. I’m not saying another word until you tell me what this is about.”

“About? Why does everything have to be ‘about’ something with you? Jesus, a man expresses a healthy, supportive interest in his girlfriend’s career, and he gets his head bitten off.”

“My career? I work part-time at the Victoria’s Secret in the mall. It’s hardly a career.”

“Okay, but still. It’s a big part of your life right now. And I’m interested in it because I’m interested in you. Is that such a terrible thing?”

“Well. No. I guess. Oh, I’m sorry. You’re right. I’m just all stressed out from that damn inventory, and now I know I have another long day ahead of me tomorrow.”

“With the sale.”

“Yeah.”

“The ... sale.”

“Yes, the sale.”

“The big ... half-off ...”

“Yes! The big half-off sale on the panties. ”

“Oooohhhhhhhhh.”

“Eric I swear to God if you don’t tell me what –- Waaaaait a minute. You’re not interested in how my day went at all.”

“That’s completely untrue.”

“It’s totally true. You don’t care the least little bit about my day. You just like hearing me say ‘panties!’”

“Hhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!”

“Oh my GOD! It’s true!”

“You’re being ridiculous.”

“You sick fuck! That’s why you kept pushing me to take this job.”

“I never pushed you to do anything. I simply supported you in your decision to work over the summer.”

“I could have taken that internship at the art museum.”

“Now, you know you would have hated that commute.”

“But because you’re some kind of twisted pervert, instead I’m spending 12 hours a day doing simple fractions in my head at in impractical underwear store in the Galleria!”

“Now, that was the inventory of the toe socks?”

“No! Of the pant — Oh! Freak!!”

“You’re being completely irrational about this.”

“I’m leaving you, Eric.”

“Oh, honey, please. Be reasonable. Don’t go. I love you. You’re not going to let something this silly come between us, are you?”

“Well ...”

“Come on. Sit down. Drink your tea. Calm down. You just had a rough day, that’s all. That’s why you’re taking this so seriously. Cause you know, it’s not serious at all. It’s just silly. Just a silly meaningless little misunderstanding.”

“You’re right. I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing to apologize for. This was absolutely not your fault. If anything, I blame your manager down at the store. She’s been working you way too hard lately.”

“Huh. That’s true.”

“And if you really don’t like the job, you should quit. Maybe there are still some openings at that museum.”

“No. You were right. I would have hated the commute. This is much easier for now. And I really don’t hate the job. It’s only like this when there’s a big sale coming up.”

“Oh? There’s a sale coming up? Really?”

“Eric, I just told you for the second time — ”

“So, what kind of a sale is it going to be?”

“Good-bye, Eric.”

“No, wait. Honey, come back. Honey?”

...

“Victoria’s Secret, this is Angie speaking. How can I help you?”

“I’d like to place an order please. Page 17, Item Number 4117H?”

“Certainly, sir. And that would be the Valencia Lace Panties, is that correct?”

“Hhhhnnnnngggggggggghhhhhhh.”

“And would you like those in the plum, the silver, or the dusty rose? Sir?”

“Sorry?”

“What color would you prefer, sir? For the panties? Sir. Sir?”

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

“John. Did you forget to pay the light bill?”

“No.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course I'm sure.”

“Because we appear to be standing here in the dark, and ...”

“Are you calling me a liar?”

“Of course I'm not calling you a liar.”

“You asked me to pay the bill, and I paid it. I definitely paid it. I absolutely, positively had every intention of paying the bill.”

“Intention?”

“Well. It's not as if I wantonly, calculatedly contrived not to pay it.”

“But in fact you didn't.”

“It was on my list.”

“Your list.”

“My list of very important things that I specifically made it a point to sit down and make a list of ... This was almost two weeks ago, Camille.”

“What?”

“I was being proactive.”

“I see. Well. Two whole weeks. That is impressive. So, just out of curiosity, what else was on this list of yours?”

“Oh ... post office. Hair cut. Pick up your blue blazer from the cleaners —”

“You never picked up my blue blazer.”

“I most certainly did.”

“You most assuredly did not.”

“Camille, did you or did you not expressly ask me to pick up your blue blazer from the cleaners ...”

“... Yes ...”

“... because you had a very important meeting that day ...”

“Yes, I did. But you didn't actually do it.”

“I'm pretty sure I did.”

“And I'm positive you didn't.”

“Oh, yes I did.”

“Oh, no you didn't.”

“Oh, yes I did.”

“No, you didn’t.”

“Yes I did.”

“No you didn't.”

“Yes I did.”

“No you didn't.”

“Yes I did.”

“No you didn't.”

“Yes I did.”

“No you didn't.”

“Well, no. I didn't, but I meant to. Huh. You don't have a smart answer to that, do you?”

...

“Hello? Yes, my power has been cut off, and I need to get it turned back on. Yes, I can hold. Thank you.”

“You never take me at my word on anything.”

“That's not true — Hello? Yes — oh. Well, I can’t actually get my account number at the moment. ... Because I’m speaking to you from within a void of utter blackness.”

“It betrays a stunning lack of trust on your part, Camille. It's not attractive.”

“The address? Is 457 West 23rd. Apartment 7B. “

“It's like that time with the car.”

“My payment never made it to your office, but I'm on my way down right now. With cash. Yes, I'll hold ... What time with the car?”

“That time when the front fender on your car was dented, and you blamed me.”

“I never blamed you. I just asked if you knew anything about it, and you said no. You said someone must have dinged me pulling out of the space in front.”

“See, there you go again.”

“Go again with what? ... John, did you dent my fender?”

“I can't believe you're throwing that up at me again!”

“I'm not throwing it up at you, I – hello? Oh, could you? I'd really appreciate it. I'll be there in twenty minutes. Yes, thanks ... He says he’s going to turn it back on for me.”

“Well, at least you can count on him.”

“Yes, I can hold again — John, seriously. Did you dent my car?”

“How many times do I have to answer that question?”

“Once would be sufficiently enlightening.”

“Fine. I did not dent your car. I most definitely, emphatically did not, under any circumstances dent your car. Are you happy now?”

“O ... kay.”

“You don't believe me!”

“I didn't say I don't believe you. “

“I looked you straight in the — in the ... general direction your voice seemed to be coming from at the time — and told you I didn't dent your car and you don't believe me. What do I have to do to convince you? Should I take a polygraph? Swear on my mother's life?”

“All right, look, forget I ever mentioned it.”

“No, I'm sorry, but it's not as simple as that. You hurt me, Camille. You doubted me and mistrusted me. You as good as stood there and accused me of deliberately denting your car, when there was absolutely nothing deliberate about it.”

“All right! I said I was sorr — Wait a minute.”

“I mean, what kind of person do you take me for? Do you think I just recklessly took a rubber mallet to the front end of your brand new car? It was an accident, for God's sake. I'm only human, you know.”

“So you did dent my car?”

“Oh. My. GOD! Are you EVER going to let me live it down? Or am I just going to have to hear about this over and over and over and over again, for the rest of my life until I die?”

...

“I — Oh, thank God. That’s better. I – John?”

“Yes?”

“Were you just making out with my sister?”

What?!?”

“John. When the lights came on, not ten seconds ago, I saw you, locked in a torrid embrace with my sister Florence.”

“What are you talking about? Do you see your sister here? Anywhere?”

“No. Because she ran out the door as soon as the lights came back on.”

“You know, I've had just about all I can take of these wild accusations for one day.”

“Well, you know, I think I’ve had about all of this I can take, period.”

“Oh, yeah? Well, fuck you, you bitch!”

...

“Did you just call me a bitch?”

“No.”

“I – Yes? What? Hello! Yes, I’m still here. Yes, they are back on. Thank you. Hmmm? Yes as a matter of fact, there is one more thing. Your mother sucks donkey dicks ... I said, your mother sucks donkey dicks. Big, stinky donkey dicks. Yes, that’s right. Well, same to you. Bye-bye.”

“Hey ...”

“Good bye, John.”

“They went out again.”

“No they didn’t.”

“Ow.”
“Are you happy?”

“Hmmmm?”

“I said, ‘are you happy?’

“Oh, yeah. Sure.”

“No, I mean, are you happy?”

“Yeah. I mean, sure. I'm happy.”

“Nooo. I mean, you know. Are you reeaaalllly happy?”

“Yes! I mean. Yeah. I'm really ... quite happy.”

“Quite?”

“Well, you know. I mean, yes. I'm really ... very happy. Really. Happy.”

“Oh.”

“No, really!”

“Really?”

“Yes. Really.”

“Because, I'm really happy. I mean, like, really very happy, and if you're not — ”

“But I am!”

“It's just – you sounded a little ... non-committal.”

“Not at all. I'm committal. I'm very committal.”

“Are you sure?”

“Positive.”

“Because it's okay if you're not. I just think I should know, if you're not.”

“Honestly. I really am very happy. As a matter of fact, this is the happiest I can remember being in a long time ... Actually, a very long time. Longer than I realized, in fact ... Come to think of it, these past few weeks have been some of the happiest of my life.”

“Really?”

“Yeah. In fact, I think I can honestly say I've never been as happy as I am right now. I know I've never been any happier.”

“Well ... good. Then — ”

“Wow. That's something to think about, isn't it?”

“Well, you don't want to dwell on it.”

“In my entire life, this is probably the happiest I've ever been ... I mean. That just doesn't seem right, somehow, does it?”

“Perhaps it’s best not to examine it too closely.”

“I mean, it just seems to me that if this is the happiest I've ever been, maybe it's because I'm not capable of being any happier. I mean, maybe this is the extent of my capacity for happiness, which, if it is, means that this is quite possibly the happiest I’ll ever be.”

“Well, that's good then —”

“Ever again. I may never be this happy, ever.”

“You know, I think we've made some real progress in our relationship today, and I'd like to say, I feel a lot closer to you because of it.”

“I mean, this is it. This is as good as it gets This ... Oh, sweet Jesus!”

“But I think it can be dangerous to delve too deep too quickly, if you know what I mean.”

“In my entire life, no matter what I do, no matter what happens, I may very well never know any greater happiness than this. I'm twenty-eight years old, and this is IT for me. For all I know, this is the absolute pinnacle of fulfillment and joy. This is the summit, the apex, the closest I will ever come to pure, existential bliss in my life on earth. Forever, until I die. My life will never be any better than it is today, and I will never be any happier than I am right here, right now — With you.”

...

“So ... Are you hungry?”

“Yes.”

"Good! Then we should eat. Waiter?”