EMILY

ACT I

(PRODUCTION NOTE: The titles IN CAPS are suggestions. For possible projections. For mood. For setting.)

NEW YORK AT NIGHT

(The couple at a beautifully appointed table seem taken from some modern romantic fairy tale. She is attractive, sparkly eyed, elegantly dressed without being ostentatious. He is not only incredibly handsome but is a picture of confident, manly, three piece suited success. He pours white wine into exquisite crystal wine glasses. In the candlelight, the wine glimmers like pale gold. The crystal reflects the gleam of polished tableware. The couple are obviously in love. They stare into one another’s eyes, oblivious to the rest of the world. The man, JASON, raises his glass.)

JASON

To you.

No. To you.

JASON

Hey. To us.

(thrilled)

Oh!

(They smile softly, click glasses and drink. They gaze into each other’s eyes.)

JASON

We are dangerous.

You think?

JASON

Anything flammable should be kept at a distance. Don’t you feel it?

(taking her hand)

Sssss. Hot.

(melting)

Oh, I do feel it, I do.

JASON

(a moment)

So. Talk to me. How was your day?

(modestly)

Well…

JASON

Bullish? I bet it was. The market’s always up for you. Did you make a million dollars?

Almost.

JASON

You’re a wonder, Emily.

No. A woman.

JASON

(toasting)

To money.

(They clink glasses and drink. They stare deeply into each other’s eyes.)

It’s so hard to believe we’ve only known each other a week, Jason. I feel like we’ve known each other forever.

JASON

I feel the same.

Do you? Oh, I knew that.

(A ruggedly handsome man passes up and behind the table. Emily’s eyes are drawn to him. The man smiles at Emily.)

JASON

Hello there?

(Emily pulls her attention back.)

I’m sorry.

JASON

A friend?

For a moment I thought he looked familiar but no.

(pause)

Jason, do you ever have a hard time telling people the truth? Are you concerned with their feelings?

JASON

Yes, I am.

Is it ever dificult to tell people how you really feel about them?

JASON

Yes. Yes, it is.

Jason… I shouldn’t ask but I’ve just got to…how do feel about me?

(Jason’s feelings render him speechless. He caresses Emily’s cheek.)

Yes. Yes, I thought so.

(She reaches into her jacket pocket. She pulls out a velvet jewlery box and places it on the table.)

JASON

What’s that?

Darling, I bought this today.

(She opens the box. A diamond ring twinkles in the candlelight.)

JASON

Holy shit.

Jason, I’m going to be blunt… may I be yours?

JASON

I don’t know what to say.

Say yes and make me the happiest woman in the world.

JASON

This is awfully sudden.

I know.

JASON

This is… out of the blue.

Sometimes, darling, you have to go with what you feel.

(She turns to a passing waiter.)

May we have a bottle of your finest champagne?

JASON

Emily, for chrissake, we’ve only known each other a week.

Only a week. But a very long week.

JASON

Look, I like you. I do, but…

But what?

JASON

What kind of girl wants to marry a guy after only knowing him a week?

Jason, are you saying no!?

JASON

Emily, I… I… I gotta go.

(He rises. He pulls money from his billfold.)

Jason, you can’t, I’ve made all the arrangements!

JASON

Arrangements!?

The church, the caterer. I’ve even been looking at houses in the suburbs.

JASON

Emily, if I wanted a wife and a house in the burbs, I would have stayed in Cincinnati.

(He exits.)

(calling after him)

Jason, don’t let it end like this! Jason, please, what will I tell mother!? Jason!

(Emily is paralyzed, her face a mask of shock and disapointment. She bows her head, defeated. The handsome man enters behind her.)

SEAN

Jesus, Brown, are you proposing marriage again?

(Emily breaks into a huge, happy grin.)

Hi, Sean!

SEAN

You really are crazy, you know that?

Yup.

SEAN

You oughta be seein’ a shrink.

I would, but I’m afraid a shrink would recommend internment.

SEAN

You know what your problem is, don’t you. You’re afraid of commitments.

I love you, Sean. I want you to bear my children.

SEAN

That a proposal?

God forbid.

SEAN

When they finished making you, they broke the mold.

I know. It’s wonderful to be unique.

(The waiter enters with a bottle of champange. Emily takes it and hands it to Sean.)

Champagne?

(Emily exits. Lightchange.)

vast empty rooms!

(Emily enters.)

(to the audience)

Hi. How you doing? Hello. Well, what did you think? Sneaky? Manipulative? Did I have you going? Don’t worry, it gets worse. Come on, let’s go someplace where we can be alone.

(a self amused giggle)

Really. I want to tell you all about me. I want to tell you all about my apartment. Ready? Let’s go.

(Beep-beep-beep.)

It is six thirty in the morning. I start my day trying to kill my digital alarm clock.

(CRASH. AND THEN: BEEP-BEEP-BEEP.)

It just won’t die. I roll out of bed. It’s not a long fall. See, there is nothing in my bedroom but the mattress. No bedframe, no bureau. The walls are bare. Laundered blouses are stacked against the dirty laundry. I do keep meaning to get a laundry bag. The living room! Ta-da! The living room is as barren as the bedroom. The only furniture is a chair, a sidetable, a color t.v. with VCR and cable attachment and an exercise bike that I use as a coat rack. I don’t keep much in the fridge. A carton of Tropicana, a carton of skim milk, some left over Chinese, and sometimes but not for long, a carton of Hagen-Daz! It goes very well with the Wall Street Journal. I don’t keep anything in the cupboard but instant coffee. I don’t wash dishes, I don’t clean ovens, when the milk is sour, I drink my coffee black. What else. I have 23 conservatively cut suits just like this. I can tie my ribbon tie by feel which is a good thing cause I don’t have a bedroom mirror. I have a briefcase. I have an umbrella. When I head dout in the morning, I have highheels in my bag and Nike’s on my feet. I usually run late. I work on Wall Street. Wall Street. Home of the great business lunch.

(Lightchange. (A large round table around which Fields, McCarthy, Stein, Hill, and Emily are engaged in heated conversations over lunch.)

FIELDS

So I said, look, these stocks are interest sensitive and typically move in the opposite direction of current rates. If you liked it at fifteen, you’ve got to love it at eleven.

MCCARTHY

Nah, marriage brings joint ownership. In terms of your tax picture, divorce is a great idea. If your wife loves you, she should understand that.

HILL

I can save you up to 90% on that. I am talking size. Real size.

MCCARTHY

Hey, Brown! You want size?

(he grabs his crotch)

I’ll give you size!

McCarthy?

WAITER

Everything all right, miss?

Bite the big one.

WAITER

Very good.

(to the waiter)

No, not you.

STEIN

We think the Fed will ease up on its growth targets for the coming quarter. They have to. They don’t want to be total assholes.

Yes, I agree that a world war would be wonderful for your investment portfolio but I think it’s a little unrealistic.

STEIN

What about a small skirmish?

Are we talking Central America or the Middle East…?

HILL

And so I said, who do you think you’re dealing with, Howdy Doody? Huh? Listen to me, I said! I could buy and sell you out of petty cash! Go to someone who “appreciates you”. Go on! Make my day!

MCCARTHY

Then what?

HILL

Then I told her we’d discuss it when I get home tonight. She knows I don’t like her calling me at work.

(The men talk on, buzzing like bees.)

(to the audience)

Do you believe this? All we talk is business, business, business. And if it’s not business, do you know what it is?

HILL

How bout them Mets, huh?

MCCARTHY

Screw the Mets. How about the Yankees?

STEIN

Only six months to the Superbowl.

FIELDS

Anybody have the number of a good bookie?

STEIN, MCCARTHY AND HILL

I do.

But mostly we talk about business.

FIELDS

I do not believe the month’s projected figures on mutual bonds…

MCCARTHY

Hey, Brown, how about dinner sometime? We’ll discuss “mutual bonds”.

Forget it, McCarthy. From what I hear, your bond’s too small for me.

STEIN

It won’t solve the company’s problem.

HILL

Bet on it. I’d bet on it.

STEIN

They’re almost a million in debt.

FIELDS

The new agreement gives them three months to work on restructuring.

MCCARTHY

God, you’re a mental midget, Fields.

FIELDS

I’m a graduate of the Harvard Business School.

MCCARTHY

That’s what I said.

HILL

What do you think, Brown?

(All the men immediatly pay attention.)

I think I would kill for a Hershey bar.

STEIN

A desire for sweets is a sign of sexual frustration.

Why is it I get propositioned by someone every two minutes?

ALL THE BOYS

You’re a girl.

Woman. Do me a favor and proposition each other.

STEIN

Hey, Fields, wanna fuck?

(Emily glances off left, noticing something.)

Who’s that with Montanelli?

(Everyone looks.)

STEIN

Her fiance.

MCCARTHY

He’s a bondtrader over at Morgan Stanley.

(shocked)

Montanelli’s getting married?

MCCARTHY

Incredible, huh? She’s smart, she’s fun, she puts out, she’s one of the nicest girls I know. I don’t know why she’d pull a dirty trick like marriage.

HILL

She’s in love.

ALL THE BOYS

(grimacing)

Oooh!

MCCARTHY

Brown, you heard the latest statistics? Something like eight out of ten college educated career women will not get married!

HILL

We’re talking spinsterhood, Brown.

STEIN

We’re talking about being basically unfulfilled.

MCCARTHY

We’re talking a lifetime of casual affairs.

FIELD

It’s gonna get tougher as you get older, Brown. There’s a lot of of very splendid, young competition out there.

Boys, the reason smart, educated, sensitive women are not getting married is that there are not enough smart, educated sensitive men to go around. I think it’s the nature of the beast. And besides, as an emotionally and financially self reliant individual, why do you think I would ever consider an archaic, self defeating, concrete-booted institution like marriage any kind of fulfillment whatsoever?

ALL THE BOYS

You’re a girl.

You are all absolutely and totally wrong.

(staring off stage)

Boy, does she look happy. I could kill her.

MCCARTHY

The hell with love. There’s nothing less hungry than a blissful broad.

Woman, McCarthy.

FIELDS

Men do that to girls, make’m blissful.

Women, boys! We are women!

STEIN

She’ll end up pregnant.

FIELD

Cheerful.

HILL

Barefoot and rosy cheeked.

MCCARTHY

Her work will suffer.

STEIN

Cheer up, Brown. Love is a bad career move for a business man.

(They all begin talking at once again, louder and louder. Buzzing like bees, they exit. Emily is silent. Lightchange.)

I guess I should take a moment to tell you about my boss. He’s a tyrant. He’s a maniac. He should squeeze ball bearings. Everyone is terrified of him. He harasses me constantly. He’s always calling me into his office for private conferences. He’s always asking insinuating, personal questions. It’s like he thinks he owns me.

plush, wood paneled offices

(Lights up on a throne-like office chair. The man in the chair is as straight backed and regal as a general. Emily sits, waiting.)

MAN

(into the telephone)

America? Don’t talk to me about America. I’m talking about business! The average American is more than five thousand dollars in debt and you want to talk to me about America? The average American should know that what’s good for Wall Street is good for America, and if he wants it otherwise, he should move to Bahgdad. You get me some results with those “legislators” or you can say good bye to Washington D.C. and hello to Juneau, Alaska.

(He slams down the phone. He stares sternly at Emily. She squirms in her seat. He presses a button on the chair console.)

HUGH

Hold all calls.

(pause)

You were to be in my office after lunch.

It’s after lunch.

HUGH

(rising)

It’s three hours after lunch. Stand up, please.

(Emily does so. He looks like he’s going to bite her. Suddenly he breaks into a warm smile. Hugh Brown, Emily’s father, holds out his arms.)

HUGH

Hello, punkin!

Hi, Daddy.

(They hug.)

(to audience)

O.k., so I kind of gave you the wrong impression. But he’s still guilty of harassment.

HUGH

Think fast! Generalized dollar strength.

Uh… Above 2.2 West German marks, holding solid at around 7.5 francs and, uh…

HUGH

The yen?

The yen, the yen…

HUGH

166. Of all things you should know about the yen.

Sorry, Daddy.

HUGH

One word and one word only, Emily!

Commitment.

HUGH

Exactly. To positive action. To coming out on top. To winning. A business is like a child, Emily. A child demands sacrifices. A businessman’s got to be willing to make those sacrifices.

I am, Daddy.

HUGH

Dedication plus committment equals sucess.

I know.

HUGH

Enough idle chit-chat. To work. Emily, I’ve put in a bid on a small brokerage firm.

I’ve heard.

HUGH

Annual gross in the thirty to forty million range.

Forty eight million, two hundred and sixty eight thousand, one hundred and thirty seven dollars and fifty one cents this last fiscal year. I have a complete financial breakdown of the company, department by department, on my desk. Also salaries and resumes of all their current personal. If present management sees no problem in who you put in the drivers seat, there’s no reason to believe your take over will be stalled.

HUGH

And who do you see in the driver’s seat, Emily?

Me.

HUGH

Coincidence. They do too.

(A moment. Hugh almost smiles. Emily smiles back, relieved and pleased.)

HUGH

Congratulations, Punkin, you’ve earned it.

You won’t regret this, Daddy.

HUGH

I hope not. You’re still guilty of an occasional frivalous streak. I’m counting on this new responsibility to knock that foolishness right out of you. Punkin, if you wish to consort with eagles, you must grow wings to fly.

Daddy?

HUGH

Emily?

If I consort with eagles will I start wanting worms for breakfast?

HUGH

Now, Emily –

And let’s say, for example, I ran with rats. Would I get rabies, Daddy?

HUGH

(red in the face and sputtering.)

Stop, I –

If I swim with sharks, Daddy, will I grow gills?

HUGH

BLAST!!!

(Lightchange. Lights on a giggling Emily)

(to audience)

O.k., I guess I kind of drive him crazy too.

(A voice cries out of the dark. Emily winces)

HUGH

You’re just like your mother, never taking a goddam thing seriously!

But it’s not my fault. Really, it’s not. I just get… sidetracked.

(lightchange)

central park

It’s a beautiful evening and I’m walking up Central Park West. The park is filled with men. Walking home from work. Jogging. Riding bikes. Shirts off. Nylon shorts soaked with sweat. Sometimes I almost walk right off curbs and blunder into traffic.

(Horns beep. A man runs by.)

I mean…

(Another good looking guy jogs across the stage.)

What’s a girl…

(And others.)

To do?

(Three good looking guys hustle by heading for the softball field. Emily almost collides with them.)

I usually go watch my friend Hallie work out.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

(Lightchange.)

working out at the gym!

(Emily sits on an exercise bike. She isn’t pedaling. Hallie, Emily’s best friend, is in shapeless, baggy grey sweats. Hallie, big, buxom and redfaced, is struggling to do a Jane Fonda-like exercise. She grunts with effort but can’t quite make it. She collapses. Hallie is a New Yorker by way of Texas.)

God, I love weights. I love nautilaus equipment. Look around this place. Look at all these girls, Hallie, in their spandex and lycra and leg warmers and headbands. Look at them. Sweating. Straining. Lifting. Stretching. Killing themselves. Beating their beautiful bodies into shape.

HALLIE

Sluts. Let me get this straight. You break off the relationship but you want the man to think it’s his idea.

Yup.

HALLIE

And so you ask them to marry you, hopin’ they’ll say no.

Knowing they will. It saves their feelings, Hallie. This way they think they’re hurting my feelings. And they’re not. Nobody’s feelings are hurt. Everybody is happy.

HALLIE

I think it’s weird. Ugh. Business lunches are turnin’ me into a Pillsbury dough girl. I order salad and end up eating a pound of blue cheese dressing.

(looking around)

I loathe every women here. Hold my legs while I do some sit ups.

I’ve never been in love, Hallie. Maybe it’s because I don’t trust love. Love doesn’t last. What is love. Love is biology. Love is enzymes. Love is crazy chemicals in the bloodstream. Love is secretions. Is an intelligent woman supposed to trust secretions? No.

HALLIE

How many’s that?

Three. Let’s go take a sauna, I’m exhausted.

HALLIE

Emily! I’ve got to do at least ten!

Men are so fragile. I hesitate to get close to a man because I’m afraid I’ll hurt him.

HALLIE

Or maybe he’ll hurt you.

Hallie, please. A woman’s heart is as tough as nails.

HALLIE

Right. I can’t make it.

A woman is as tough as nails.

HALLIE

How many’s that?

Five, let’s go take a shower.

HALLIE

Two more.

Hearts break. There are harsh words. Tears. Men don’t like to cry and so they end up hating you.

HALLIE

Emily, if the right guy came along, you’d kill for him.

That’s ridiculous.

HALLIE

You wouldn’t be able to help yourself.

Hallie, a woman can always help herself.

HALLIE

One more. Jesus. Why am I killing myself like this? The only thing that’s losing weight is my boobs.

Space. A woman needs space.

HALLIE

My stomach wasn’t made to sit!

A woman needs room to move.

HALLIE

Help me, give me your hand!

(Emily doesn’t. Hallie collapses.)

A man should give you room.

HALLIE

Men have always given me a lot of room.

(rising)

I gotta run.

I thought we were having dinner.

HALLIE

Can’t. I! Have got a date.

He any good?

HALLIE

He walks, he talks, he breathes. He doesn’t make as much money as I do but he’s flesh and blood.

Is he straight?

HALLIE

(exiting)

Oh, God… please! Talk to you!

(calling after her)

Stay in charge!

(Lightchange. Behind Emily, some outdoor cafe tables are being set up)

O.k., it’s a balmy summer evening and you’re alone. Single. Solo. No plans for the evening. What do you do? You can hit the salad bar at the Korean vegetable market, pick up a movie for the VCR and go home. Or you can stop, sit at a table on the sidewalk and have a drink. Anything can happen.

columbus avenue cafe!

(Lights up as Emily sits at a table. Other young, urban professionals have come on to sit at the other tables. Anything, of course, immediatly does happen. A drunken Fields, a glass in his hand, enters.)

FIELDS

Brown! What a coincidence!

Fields, what a suprise. I thought I left you at work.

FIELDS

Alone, huh? Guess I better join you.

Fields –

FIELDS

You had dinner?

Fields –

No problem. You can watch me eat.

(The waiter, John Stone, comes to the table. Emily, not seeing him, half-rises.)

Fields, I was just leaving.

JOHN

Hi, can I help you?

(And she looks at him. She stares a moment. She falls back into her chair with a thud.)

White wine, please.

JOHN

Very good. Something for you, sir?

FIELDS

Vodka martini. On the rocks. A double.

(John turns and walks away. Emily comes to her feet to watch him go. She looks stunned.)

FIELDS

Brown, can I give you some personal advice? Not as man to woman but as co-workers. Two people in the same boat. Ready? The way you live your life is crazy. Shall I go on?

Please, Fields, you’re making my day.

FIELDS

You are preoccupied with the wrong things. You are preoccupied with the opposite sex. It’s understandable. You’re a female. It’s genetic. The opposite sex is not important – I’m talkin to you like I would to a guy. Money is what’s important. Put money in thy purse. William Shakespeare said that. Fill thy purse with money. You have some time?

Years.

FIELDS

Let’s talk.

(John enters and puts a martini down in front of Fields.)

FIELDS

Sex!

(to John)

Bring me another right away.

(to Emily)

Sex, sex, sex!

(Emily wants to fall through the floor as John exits.)

FIELDS

Once upon a time it was all I thought about. I was a mad passionate animal. Believe me, Brown, I was.

What changed you, Fields?

FIELDS

I got married. Nothing turns you off on the opposite sex faster than marriage. Brown… everything I am today I owe to my ex-wife. One word, Brown. Money. Money is stable. Money is giving. You can’t count on women at all. No offense but I know. I’ve gone through enough of’m. But you know where you stand with money.

(Fields suddenly reaches and puts his hand on Emily’s hand. Emily is taken back. Mostly because Fields hasn’t grabbed her hand but grabbed her wine glass.)

FIELDS

Brown?

Fields.

FIELDS

I am a happy person.

Fields?

FIELDS

Brown?

Let go of my wine.

FIELDS

Oh.

(John enters and puts the martini down in front of fields.)

FIELDS

Nother vodka martini. Double.

JOHN

Don’t you think you ought to slow down, sir?

FIELDS

Do you know how much money I make a year.

JOHN

Enough to buy the house a drink?

FIELDS

Hah. In a second.

JOHN

Drinks for the house!

(Fields almost spits out his martini.)

JOHN

Another for you, miss?

I’m fine, really. Thank you.

(John exits. Emily calls after him)

Thank you very much, really. Thank you!

FIELDS

I guess I told him who’s boss.

I’ve got to go, Fields.

(Fields grabs Emily’s briefcase. He gestures desperatly for her to wait.)

FIELDS

Brown.

Fields.

FIELDS

Men… are afraid of women like you. Yes. We are. Don’t take it personally. This is equality. Men are afraid of each other. It is a jungle out there. We fight, we envy, we lie. And well we should. Our lives are at stake. All a man can do is try and survive. You, an attractive woman, have chosen to join the battle. You compete with us for bread. When you compete with people, you fear people. We fear each other, Brown. We’re terrified of each other. But should we give in to that fear? No. Should we run from it? No. What should we do, Brown? I’ll tell you what we should do. We should face the danger head on. We should be brave. Brown? We should sleep together.

You’re drunk.

FIELDS

Men and women need each other.

You just said –

FIELDS

Forget what I said! Men and women need each other. They need the tax deductions.

Fields –

FIELDS

O.k., don’t sleep with me. Marry me! We’ll live like real human beings for chrissake!

Fields, don’t make me crush your already numbed feelings into chalkdust.

(John enters and puts the drink down in front of Fields.)

FIELDS

You’re not a lesbian, are ya?

(Stunned silence. Everyone stares at Emily. Emily picks up Field’s fresh drink and dumps it over his head. She exits. Fields calls after her.)

FIELDS

Brown! I’ll call! We’ll talk!

(Lightchange.)

According to Ann Landers, what women really want is a hug.

(pause)

It should be so simple. Sometimes I think my problem is I’ve never known what I really want to do with my life. I think about it all the time. Well, not all the time. Most of the time. Actually, not even most of the time. Every now and then. Actually, to be specific, if it’s summer and I’m on the Seventh Avenue Express wedged between a bag lady and a ghetto blaster, that’s when I wonder what I’m doing with my life. What does this wondering have to do with anything? Despair and futility make you aggressive. I went back to the restaurant where the most beautiful guy I’d ever seen was waiting tables. I figured, what do I got to lose?

(Lights up on the tables. Emily moves to the one she was at before. She doesn’t see John Stone. She is approached by a hostess.)

HOSTESS

Just one?

May I sit here?

HOSTESS

Someone will be with you in a moment.

(Emily sits. She looks around. She doesn’t like the seat. She stands and sits in the other. No, the first one had a better view. She stands and immediatly bumps into someone behind her. Crash! She turns, startled and immediatly blushes red. It is John. He holds a pitcher of water in one hand and a bowl of soup in the other. Emily has just knocked the bowl of soup down his front. He stands there, frozen in disbelief.)

Oh! I’m so sorry!

JOHN

(trying to control his temper)

It’s o.k. It was… my fault.

(Shewipes at his shirt and vest and apron with her napkin.)

I wasn’t looking and I – oh, I…

JOHN

Really, just –

Let me –

JOHN

Really, I’ll just go to the back and –

I feel horrible, I…

(Emily is still trying to clean him. His chest, his stomach, his pants… She seems quite unaware that she is now wiping at his crotch.)

JOHN

You don’t-have-to-do-that.

(mortified)

Oh!

JOHN

Will your friend be joining you?

Oh, you mean the other – He’s not my friend. He’s… no one. I’m alone. I’m single. Just me.

(John pours water from his pitcher.)

JOHN

Our specials this evening are –

Aren’t you supposed to say your name is such and such and you’ll be my waiter for the evening?

JOHN

My name is John and I –

John what?

JOHN

My name is John Stone and I’ll be your waiter for the evening.

My name is Emily Brown and I’ll be your patron for the evening.

JOHN

Our specials this evening, Miss, are –

Emily.

JOHN

Emily… what would you like?

Company.

(mesmerized)

Will you have dinner with me?

JOHN

I can’t.

Why not?

JOHN

I’m working.

(She snaps out of her trance.)

Of course you’re working, you’re…

(again mezmerized)

You’re beautiful.

(Embarassed silence. Confused, Emily can think of nothing better to do than drain her glass of ice water. John refills it.)

JOHN

I’ll get you a menu.

(Emily watches him go.)

(to the audience)

He seemed magical to me. Like a chivalrous knight of old. With soup on his chest.

(Emily dumps her water into the plant that is conveniently next to her table. She holds up the glass.)

John Stone!?

(Emily holds up her empty water glass. She smiles. John comes over and refills it.)

Thank you!

(He moves away.)

He seemed surrounded by light. He didn’t seem to touch the ground when he walked.

(Emily dumps the water into the plant.)

John Stone!?

(Emily holds up her empty water glass. She smiles. John comes to refill it.)

Thank you very much!

(He moves away.)

It’s like I could hear voices singing all through dinner.

(The sound of voices – they must be angels – singing. Emily dumps her water into the plant.)

John Sto – !

(John places the check in front of her.)

JOHN

Yes. Check?

(quickly)

Could you tell me all about the specials again?

JOHN

Miss…

Emily.

JOHN

Emily, what have you got against me? The only way I make any tips is to turn over my tables. You have had a dinner salad, 14 glasses of water, one glass of white wine, 5 cups of coffee, you’ve managed to spread it out over three hours, and in that three hours I’ve told you our specials twelve times. And! This is what really impresses me. You haven’t gone to the bathroom once. Miss…

Emily.

JOHN

Emily, what’s the story.

I’ve really got to run.

(Emily hands him the bill and a twenty.)

Keep the change.

JOHN

Even though I deserve it, a twelve dollar tip is too much. Don’t go away.

(He strides off. Emily stands, thinking. She takes her briefcase and shoves it under the table. The hostess, leading a party to another table, comes by.)

Miss? What time do you stop serving?

(Lightchange.)

O.k., sneaky. They stopped serving dinner at 12:30. It was now 9:30. I had just enough time to shower, shampoo, condition and set my hair, do my eyes and figure out what I was going to wear. It is not easy to look perfect, smart, desirable, together, successful and casual all at the same time.

(She glances at her watch and gives a little scream of dismay.)

Time goes by quickly when you’re having fits of despair.

(She starts off. She comes back.)

I ended up wearing out, exactly what I’d worn in.

columbus avenue at night

(Lights up on the sidewalk cafe, the tables empty, waiters are cleaning up, taking the tables inside. Emily comes running on. She composes herself, and approaches.

John Stone!

(A waiter turns. It’s not John Stone.)

Oh. Sorry. Hi, excuse me, is John still here?

WAITER

He left.

Oh. Did someone turn in a briefcase?

WAITER

Nope.

I left it right – uh… I think I left it right here.

WAITER

No one turned it in.

(He exits.)

(sighing)

Thanks.

dark city streets!

(The tables are cleared. Emily is alone. She stands a moment, discouraged.)

You’re probably worried about me walking home alone. You’re sweet. Don’t worry, I’m perfectly safe. Okay, it is late. I am a strikingly attractive woman. Unescorted. Unprotected. This is New York City. Dark alleyways. Iron bars on apartment windows. Central Park is filled with muggers, rapists and white slavers. But really, I’ve lived here my whole life. I can take care of myself.

(She doesn’t see John enter behind her. He is in running shoes, nylon shorts, t-shirt.)

JOHN

Hey.

(She shrieks in fright and turns.)

JOHN

What?

You startled me.

JOHN

(He holds out her briefcase.)

Sorry. You forgot this. I didn’t want to leave it around the bar, things get lost. I was going to run by your place.

You don’t know my address.

JOHN

I went through your little black book. I figured your kind of address has a doorman.

(pause)

You want this or not? I mean, I’ll keep it.

(taking it)

No! Thank you… How come you’re, you know… going to a track meet?

JOHN

I run at night after work. I’m training for the marathon.

Oh, well, what a coincidence.

JOHN

You run?

Oh, yes, I do about several hundred miles a week. I mean, not all at once. And I don’t do them fast. Slow and steady wins the race, that’s my motto.

JOHN

You’re not a runner, are you.

No. But maybe after you run we could get a drink or something. A milkshake, ten or twelve beers, a blood transfusion.

JOHN

New York women sure are forward.

No, we’re not. Do you have a girlfriend? I mean, are you involved? Married?

JOHN

Do you always blurt out personal questions at people you hardly know?

Yes, but give me time and you’ll find I compensate for it by constantly blurting out personal information. Okay, what are you, an actor, musician or writer.

JOHN

Why would I be any of those things?

You’re a waiter. And every waiter in this town is an –

JOHN AND TOGETHER

– actor, musician or writer.

JOHN

Yah. Actor. Aspiring. So when do I learn something about you?

I’m a stockbroker. But I see a lot of Broadway shows.

JOHN

I haven’t seen one. Can’t afford it. Well… gotta go. I have eight miles to do.

(Pause. He smiles. She smiles.)

What?

JOHN

You want to get together some time?

I hardly know you. When?

JOHN

I’ll call you.

(He walks past her and heads off. Emily turns.)

Let me give you my card!

JOHN

I don’t need your card. I went through your book.

All my friends say I’m a nice person!

JOHN

(exiting)

No kidding?

Hey! Are we really gonna get together? I mean, don’t do me any favors! If you think playing hard to get is going work with this kid you’re…

(to the audience)

Absolutely right.

JOHN

(off)

Emily? I’ll call!

(Lightchange. Lights to Emily.)

Well… he didn’t. At least not right away. Men don’t. And another thing about men. When they do call, they call at the worst possible times. Like during a red alert.

wall street!

(Desks slide on behind Emily. Lights up on Fields, Hall, McCarthy, and Stein. They are all talking at once, buzzing into phones, hanging up phones and answering phones. Emily hurries to her desk where she sits and stares into space.)

FIELDS

The dow is falling! The dow is falling!

HILL

Churning the acount? This man would trample his grandmother for an eight!

MCCARTHY

Call 911! I’ve got a jumper on my hands!

STEIN

Trust me! I have got paper on my desk beyond your wildest dreams!

FIELDS

If this is true, Kimosabe, we’re talking blood in he streets!

(Hugh Brown has entered and he starts towards Emily who is still doing nothing.)

STEIN

Battle stations, Emily, battle stations. This is not a drill, repeat, this is –

HUGH

Carry on, Mr. Stein.

(sarcastic)

Carry on, Emily. Pretend I’m not here. Perhaps you’d like a pad and some charcoal pencils. You could do some doodling.

(Emily’s phone rings. She grabs for it, grateful for something to do.)

Emily Brown.

(John’s voice is amplified through speakers)

JOHN

Hi, this is John Stone.

Who? – Hi!

(catching herself, turning businesslike)

Hello, yes, how are things in Tokyo?

JOHN

What? Oh. Can’t talk, huh?

That’s affirmative.

JOHN

Sorry I didn’t call right away. I’ve been busy. I’ve been taking some extra shifts.

Yes, we feel that’s a good investment with fine potential.

JOHN

Still want to grab that milkshake?

I think a face-to-face would be rewarding.

JOHN

I have a class. After that?

Fine. I’ll look forward to it.

(She hangs up. She smiles innocently at her father.)

HUGH

Got a live one, huh?

Mmm-hmm.

HUGH

I like your style. A little distant. A little hard to get. A good broker should always make them come to him.

(All the eavesdropping brokers slam down their phones as one.)

HUGH

Keep up the good work, Emily.

I’ll try.

(Hugh exits. The phones ring. The brokers leap to answer them. Emily’s phone rings. Emily answers.)

Emily Brown.

JOHN

(again, overspeakers.)

I thought you might like a time and a place.

Love it.

(Lightchange. Desks slide off.)

riverside park!

(to audience)

The thing I love about being with someone you hardly know is you can ask them anything cause you don’t know the answer.

(John enters. He carries two cans of soda. He hands one to Emily.)

JOHN

There we go. One cold can of pop.

So how long have you been in New York?

JOHN

How do you know I’m not a New Yorker?

Because no real New Yorker would be caught dead calling diet soda, pop.

JOHN

How do you know that?

I know. I grew up here. Private girl’s school. Barnard College.

JOHN

I’ve been here about two months.

Any more like you on the farm? Any brothers? I have friends who’d be interested.

JOHN

No brothers. Five sisters.

I’m sure you’re totally screwed up because of it.

JOHN

(a small smile)

Maybe only a little bit.

Where you from?

JOHN

Minnesota.

Isn’t that near the arctic circle? Don’t Eskimos and Swedes and strange ethnic types like Mary Tyler Moore live there?

JOHN

Yup.

Where’d you go to school?

JOHN

You preppies always want to know where somebody went to school.

I’m not a –

JOHN

(smiling)

Minnesota. University of. The Golden Gophers.

God. You’re normal. Being with you is like eating health food. Your parents can’t be divorced.

JOHN

My parents are crazy about each other.

That’s very unusual.

JOHN

Maybe here.

(sadly)

My parents were divorced when I was three years old.

(brightening)

There. Personal information blurted out.

JOHN

Why do I get the feeling it’s a little well rehearsed?

What a mean thing to say!

JOHN

What do you want me to say?

Most men say something sympathetic and sweet.

JOHN

So it is well rehearsed.

Well, yeah, but just because something’s well practiced, doesn’t make it less true. How about I take you out to dinner?

JOHN

What about that milkshake?

It’s after seven o’clock. It’s illegal to drink a milkshake in this town after seven o’clock. Not to mention what it does to your reputation.

(pause)

Come on. I’ll take you to my favorite place. Come on.

(Lightchange.)

You might have the feeling I was getting off on the wrong foot by stepping all over his. Well, don’t worry, it gets worse. My favorite restaurant is dark, romantic, elegant and filled with candlelight. John, looking gorgeous in polo-shirt and jeans, is slightly underdressed. This, I assume, is what seems to have him on edge.

tavern on the green!

(Lights up on a table. Emily moves to join John. A waiter approaches with menus.)

WAITER

Bonsoir!

Bonsoir, Jean Claude.

WAITER

For mademoiselle.

Merci.

WAITER

(with awesome disdain)

For monsieur.

(He hands John a clip-on tie as well as a menu. He exits.)

Isn’t this nice?

(John opens the menu. He closes their menu.)

Know what you want already?

JOHN

I cannot afford this place. The entre’s are more than my rent.

Don’t worry, it’s on me.

JOHN

It is not… on you.

Of course it’s not. It’s on my expense account. Don’t you know you’re a potential client.

JOHN

I am not a potential client.

Are you interested in stocks and bonds? Yes, Emily, I’m interested in stocks and bonds. Shall we discuss it over dinner? I’d love to, Emily. You’re a potential client.

JOHN

You pull this scam often?

Scam.

(pause, trying to control her temper)

If you must know, my company expects me to do this.

JOHN

Really.

Yes, really. They need the tax write-offs.

JOHN

If people who could afford to pay their taxes, did, then people who can’t afford to, wouldn’t have to.

I pay taxes, buster, believe me, I do. You know what my taxes subsidize? The National Endowment for the Arts! What’s the matter with you, huh? Why do you have to be such a… a male!

JOHN

Why are you trying to take total control of the evening?

I don’t do that! I never do that!

(to the audience)

I always do that.

(to John)

When somebody wants to do something nice for you, why can’t you accept it gracefully?

JOHN

Maybe I could accept it gracefully if you could offer it gracefully.

I am reknown for my social grace.

JOHN

Or your lack of it.

Drop dead!

(He stares at her. He rises. He drops the clip on tie in front of her. He leaves. Silence.)

Well, I guess I told him. What the heck, right? Men are so fragile. I hesitate to get close to a man because I’m afraid I’ll hurt him. I hate it when feelings get hurt.

(fighting tears)

I just hate it.

(John re-enters. She doesn’t see him at first. She starts to rise. She looks up. They stare at one another.)

JOHN

I apologize.

No, I do.

JOHN

You’re were right.

No, you were.

(John sits.)

JOHN

What do you say we compromise?

I’m very good at compromise. If we do what I want, I’ll shut up.

(John takes one of the table’s flowers. He softly kisses it and offers it to her. She takes it.)

JOHN

We could do simple things.

In New York City?

JOHN

You still hungry?

Always.

JOHN

Come on.

(Lightchange.)

Hot dog explosion! Strictly gourmet dogs!

(A hot dog vendor has entered.)

JOHN

How many pups?

Pups?

JOHN

Hot dogs, baby!

They’re probably loaded with carcinogens and nitrates and, I dunno, rats feet.

JOHN

How many?

Three.

(she giggles, amused)

Pups.

JOHN

(to the vendor)

Six pups with everything. And – what the heck, you only live once, we’ll splurge – two large papayas.

(to the audience)

I felt like I fell asleep and woke up on the good ship lollipop. Three pups and a large papaya seemed so G-rated.

VENDOR

Four seventy.

I got it.

(John puts his arms around her to stop her.)

Oh, come on. You wait tables. I make more than I know what to do with.

(He just holds her tighter.)

Oh, really.

JOHN

Maybe I’m old fashion but –

You’re medieval.

JOHN

But when I ask a girl out, I like to pay her way.

You’re medieval but nice.

VENDOR

Somebody gonna pay for this a what?

JOHN

Four seventy.

I got the tip.

(She winces at the look he gives her. Lights dim. The vendor exits. Lights on Emily)

(to the audience)

I had this feeling someone was going to throw me off Wall Street for failure to contribute conspicuously to the economy. We ate pups. We walked. We talked. You know what? Well, you’ll see…

central park west at night

(Lights on Emily and John.)

JOHN

So anyway, after grad school I spent six years at the Guthrie as part of the company. Finally I decided it was time to take a shot. So here I am. Waiting tables.

Here I am. Home.

JOHN

Anyway. I guess I’m a little sensitive about it. This living hand to mouth seems like such a cliche. And what I’m trying to say is… I appreciate you wanting to buy me dinner.

And next time you’ll let me.

JOHN

Maybe.

(pause)

I had a good time.

JOHN

I did too.

(pause)

You’re nice.

JOHN

So are you.

(pause)

Boy, I hate this moment. Waiting for a guy to kiss you for the first time.

JOHN

Better get it over with.

(They start to kiss. Closer… almost… and then:)

JOHN

I feel like a jerk.

No, your instincts are great, really.

JOHN

You ever wonder what we’re doing?

Kissing?

JOHN

Dating.

Oh, is that we’re doing?

JOHN

I always thought that when I was this age, I’d of fallen in love by now. I’d have children. A home.

(nervous)

I guess it all depends on what you want.

JOHN

Those are things I want. Lately, everywhere I go, I notice couples. A woman holding a man’s arm as they walk. Him sort of resting his fingers on the back of her neck as they stare in store windows. Them talking. Or sometimes not but the silence doesn’t beg to be filled.

(Emily is silent. John grins.)

JOHN

Pay no attention to me. I meet somebody I like, I have a tendency to make up a story and assign them a part, all in the first two seconds.

What if they can’t play it.

JOHN

I get disappointed.

(And suddenly, without warning, he kisses her. A long, lovely kiss. Emily suddenly breaks it off.)

I could have sworn I felt the earth move.

JOHN

I’ll walk you up.

(quickly)

That’s okay. Will you call me? Better yet, why don’t I call you.

JOHN

I don’t have a phone.

What? How are you going to get obscene phone calls if you don’t have a phone.

JOHN

Got a pen? A piece of paper?

Yeah.

(looking in her bag)

I have a pen.

(John writes on her hand.)

JOHN

I share this place with three other guys. We figured if we didn’t get a phone, nobody would get stuck for the bill.

What’s this?

JOHN

My service.

(He kisses her, again taking her by surprise. The kiss leaves her dizzy and just about reeling.)

JOHN

Bye.

(He turns and walks. Emily seems paralyzed.)

John! I had such a nice time.

(He smiles. He turns and exits. Lightchange.)

(to audience)

Well… enough about all of you, let’s talk about me for awhile. Picture this if you will. A luxury apartment building on the upper east side. I jump out of a taxi cab – I’m late as usual. I’m bearing gifts. One gift to be precise, wrapped in tinker bell ribbons and ducky paper. The apartment is large and luxurious. It is filled with women. Just women. All women. The guest of honor is opening packages. A birthday party you say? No. I am at the bizzaro world version of a bachelor party.

Babies!

(Hallie and Dierdre and the rest of the company enter. The company, men and women alike, suddenly put on large, Sunday hats. There is the sudden sound of women laughing and chatting.)

HALLIE

I just love baby showers.

DIERDRE

Please.

Hi, everybody!

THE COMPANY/WOMEN

(in high pitched voices)

Hi!

DIERDRE

Well, look who’s finally here.

(to Hallie and Dierdre)

Sorry I’m late.

DIERDRE

Lucky you’re late.

(Emily kisses Dierdre’s cheek.)

Hello, Mother.

HALLIE

Emily, you almost missed everything. I didn’t think you were going to make it.

DIERDRE

I thought you were smarter than this.

HALLIE

Pregnancy is so beautiful.

DIERDRE

Thank god it isn’t contagious.

(The company/women break into a high pitched gush – Awwww!)

DIERDRE

Dear god, what has she just opened?

HALLIE

Booties!

DIERDRE

Emily, I think you’re going to need a bloody to survive this.

HALLIE

They’re so cutie-bootie-whootie!

DIERDRE

I know I am.

Mother.

(The company/women break into another high pitched gush – Awwww!)

DIERDRE

How’s the bastard, dear?

He’s buying a company.

DIERDRE

He’s in ecstasy then. Flexing his wallet always brings out the savage in him.

They want me to run it.

DIERDRE

Do it, darling. Run it right into the ground for me.

I wish you and Daddy could be civil to one another.

DIERDRE

I adore your father, dear. I really do. I’ve just found that the best way to get his attention is to make his life as miserable as possible.

It isn’t that way at all and you know it.

HALLIE

Still seeing the new guy?

DIERDRE

What’s this?

HALLIE

Emily has a new guy.

DIERDRE

You do? And you haven’t said a word about him to me?

HALLIE

They went out. He walked her home. He asked if he could come up.

Hallie, if I want my mother to know all about my personal life, I can tell her myself.

DIERDRE

So tell me, darling. Details, I want details.

HALLIE

She doesn’t have any yet. She said no.

DIERDRE

Why did you say no, darling? Was he an undesirable boogeyman?

HALLIE

She wanted him so much she was weak in the knees.

Hallie!

DIERDRE

Why didn’t you invite him up then?

Mother!

HALLIE

She was scared.

Wrong.

HALLIE

She was nervous.

I was not!

DIERDRE

What were you, darling?

I… I don’t know what I was. Mother, I’ve never had a man in my apartment for the night.

DIERDRE

Oh, how dreary.

HALLIE

She always wants the option of being able to leave quickly in the morning.

Let’s put it this way. If your home is a reflection of you, than me is a mess.

(The company/women all gush on cue – Awwww!)

HALLIE

She’s opening mine! That’s mine! That’s from me!

(The company/women all gush again!)

HALLIE

A cuddly bear!

(Hallie is so joyful, she’s on the verge of tears.)

HALLIE

I liked it so much, I bought one for me.

(sadly)

My biological clock feels like it’s ticking away on a musty old shelf in the attic.

DIERDRE

If I hear one more speech about a woman’s fleeting child bearing years, I’ll be sick.

HALLIE

I want children. What’s wrong with children?

DIERDRE

For one thing you can’t take them to restaurants, boutiques or onto airplanes without them screaming.

Mother, you had children. If I’m not mistaken, you had me.

DIERDRE

Your father insisted. I was never meant to be a mother and I knew it. I’m much better as a dificult but very dear friend, don’t you think?

Oh, much.

HALLIE

I want perspective in my life. I want to make something other than money. I do want to be a mother.

DIERDRE

Than be one, darling.

HALLIE

It takes two to tango, Dierdre.

DIERDRE

And you never get asked to dance?

HALLIE

Not permanent.

DIERDRE

Darlings, listen to me because I am wise and I know these things. You want something that does not exist. You want to be Blondie to some Dagwood with the house and the neighbors and the son and the daughter and the dog named Daisy under the kitchen table and if you have that, you’ll be happy. You won’t. You want fulfillment? Go shopping.

HALLIE

Dierdre, who do you turn to when you’re old?

(Dierdre is silent.)

Reality rears it’s ugly head.

DIERDRE

This man you’re so terrified of, darling, are you seeing him again?

Yes. We’re doing cheap, simple, inexpensive things.

THE COMPANY, HALLIE AND DIERDRE

(aghast)

In New York?

(Lightchange)

They’re there if you look for them.

(to the audience)

I’d call his service. He’d call me at work and miss me. I’d call his service again. He’d call me at home and miss me.

(to the exiting company)

No wonder actors are unemployed! You can never find one when you need one!

(John enters behind her.)

Anyway, contact was finally made. We made plans. We decided to go… everywhere!

(The sound of a subway train.)

On the subway. We went to the Metropolitan Museum.

nude male sculptures

(John takes Emily in his arms and they kiss passionately.)

(to the audience)

We looked at the art.

(Subway sounds.)

We went on the Circle Line Ferry.

the george washington bridge

(John kisses her again.)

It’s a very nice view of the George Washington Bridge.

(Subway sounds.)

We went and had a very nice picnic in the Cloisters.

the cloisters

(John kisses her.)

(breathless)

It was a religous experience.

(subway sounds.)

We even went to the Bronx Zoo

(And he kisses her again.)

And looked at the monkeys.

(They kiss passionatly. Lightchange.)

central park west

JOHN

Invite me up.

Let’s go over to your place.

JOHN

I have three roommates, one bedroom.

We’ll lock ourselves in the bathroom.

JOHN

Emily, why won’t you invite me up?

My… the place is a mess.

JOHN

I’m not coming up for a tour of your apartment.

John, you can’t, really, you just – I’m invited to a party tomorrow night. You want to come?

(to audience)

I’d been telling all my friends about him. They were just dying to meet him.

party people!

(Lightchange. Music. Well dressed people enter and surround Emily and John. They hand them drinks. They mill about, drinking and chatting. Emily, Hallie, John, Dierdre, McCarthy, Fields, Hill and Stein are all standing in a buzzing group.)

DIERDRE

So!

Oh. Did I mention mother would be there?

DIERDRE

Emily says you wait tables. How incredibly demeaning.

MCCARTHY

You’re an actor, huh? I think that’s just great. I mean, I’ve always wondered what kind of weird, screwed up angst it is that makes a man want to – what – drop trou in public.

STEIN

Art! I love it!

FIELDS

Let’s have a drink!

HILL

I waited tables once. Summer between my junior and senior year in college. On Nantucket. What a time. Immense amounts of brewski and the drugs were righteous.

(to the audience)

Everything was going quite well. Really.

FIELDS

Freshen that for you?

MCCARTHY

Afraid I missed the last elections. I was tarpon fishing in the keys.

STEIN

We like this little girl. Let me tell you something. Not only is she built, she’s smart.

I could tell John was having a wonderful time.

DIERDRE

Where’d you go to school, John?

JOHN

(looking at Emily)

Minnesota.

FIELDS

(raising his hand)

Harvard!

(All cheer.)

MACCARTHY

(raising his hand)

Yale!

(All cheer.)

HILL

Dartmouth!

(All cheer.)

STEIN

Amherst.

(All are silent.)

DIERDRE

Well, I suppose that’s little Ivy.

I was very pleased that John fit in so well with my friends.

STEIN

Art is such a gossamer thing. Sort of like the dollar.

MCCARTHY

I’m into ocean sailboat racing myself. Five day babies. The real thing. Choices. Like do we tack today or do we do it under the full moon at 5:30 tomorrow.

FIELDS

Come on! Let’s roll back the furniture, get naked and boogie!

ALL

Fields.

HALLIE

How do you feel about single motherhood? Don’t you think there comes a time when a women should just take her fate into her own hands?

Everyone went out of their way to be nice to him.

HALLIE

(drunkenly)

Do you think Emily would mind if we slept together? There’d be no comitments. I’m just interested in your essence.

FIELDS

Who needs a refill?

John was very interested in what we all did for a living.

HILL

Have you ever considered the idea that U.S. foreign policy is dedicated to nothing more than preserving big business’s gluttonous consumption of the earth’s natural resources. Think about it.

JOHN

I have. Have you ever considered that people like you are screwing the world completely?

HILL

Yeah. It’s great!

And I guess the wonderful thing is that we all had more in common then we knew.

ALL

Art!

HILL

Eraser Head!

STEIN

I saw it on a double bill with Pink Flamingos.

MCCARTHY

Ooh, ooh, Cafe Flesh! Have you seen that one?

HALLIE

How about Repo Man!?

STEIN

The Roadwarrior!

DIERDRE

Clint Eastwood makes me twitch.

FIELDS

Hey, hey! You know who I really love? Richard Pryor!

HILL

Especially when he does his impression of white guys!

MACCARTHY

O.k., back off, peckerhead!

HALLIE

I die!

FIELDS

Hey! Hey! Let’s all go out for some sushi!

(Everyone exits, talking excitedly. There is a last blast of raucous laughter and then silence. John and Emily stand there.)

Walking home after, it seemed to me that John, all in all, had had a wonderful time.

(lightchange.)

central park west at night

It was terrible, wasn’t it.

JOHN

No.

You were uncomfortable, I could tell.

JOHN

No.

My friends are dorks.

JOHN

Why?

All they talk about are their jobs, the money they make at their jobs and how they’re going to spend their money on vacations away from their jobs.

JOHN

My friends are no different from yours, you know. Except we don’t talk about jobs, we talk about parts. The parts we didn’t get, the parts we hope we’ll get and the parts somebody else always seems to get. We don’t talk about money because none of us makes any.

John, I think it’s wonderful what you’re trying to do.

JOHN

I think I’m kidding myself. What you are in this city might as well be your name. Hi, how are ya? I’m waiter. What am I doing, Emily? Why do I live like this? What do I have?

You have me.

(aghast)

I don’t believe I just said something that incredibly stupid.

(John sadly stares at her.)

What.

JOHN

When they made you, they broke the mold, Emily.

So I’ve heard.

JOHN

Thanks for the party, okay?

(he starts to leave)

John?

(he stops)

Aren’t you going to ask if you can come up?

JOHN

See you, Emily.

(he walks away)

John?

(he stops)

Do you want to come up?

(silence)

I want you to.

(silence)

Come up.

empty rooms

(The sound of a door opening and closing. Lightchange. John looks around sudden suprised. Emily stands, there embarassed.)

I… I haven’t quite gotten around to fixing it up yet.

JOHN

How long you been here?

About four.

JOHN

Weeks? Months?

Years.

(Silence.)

I could open a bottle of wine?

JOHN

I’m fine.

(pause)

Well, it’s…roomy.

(And “roomy” seems to echo through the empty space.)

It’s a big empty joke.

(She turns and walks away. She feels like she wants to cry.)

JOHN

Is this why you didn’t want to invite me up?

Don’t laugh. I feel so dumb.

JOHN

You’re not dumb.

(He kisses her.)

JOHN

You’re great. Have any candles?

(Lightchange.)

candles

O.k., look, so I’ve slept with a lot of guys. What’s a lot? Things just happen. I mean, you’re at a party and you meet somebody and they’re cute and kind of nice and I mean, he’s head to toe Paul Stuart and a lawyer or something and he says he has every tape put out by Windham Hill, and so I mean, really, you feel like you can trust him. I know, people are supposed to get to know each other better. But most of the people I know, myself included, have spent all this time cultivating great first impressions and once we get to know each other better, we just don’t like each other half as much. So there he is, right then and now, paying attention. And when they clear the furniture and the Stones come on, he’s not a bad dancer. What can I say? All of a sudden you’re sharing a cab uptown and he invites you up for some Stoli and triscuits and so, okay, sure, and you’re sitting on the couch and he kisses you and it’s nice and it’s kind of late to go on home now and by coming up you’ve sort of said yes already, right? And so you do cause, I mean, things just happen. And it’s not that it’s bad. And god knows you’re careful. these days you have to be. It’s just that… sometimes you feel like you’ve done something wrong. You feel like it’s supposed to mean more. Well, you get over that. Or used to it. Sort of. I mean, I’m always getting all mindless about sex, especially during the dry spells when I’m convinced that I’m never going to sleep with anyone ever again. But then I do. And what I don’t understand is that right in the middle of it, I sometimes find myself thinking – ooh, this is more fun to be obsessed with at a distance. It’s much nicer fantasizing about, right? Yeah, well, let me tell you something. When you’re just crazy about somebody and you feel it in your bones that they’re crazy about you, making love is… it’s more than it’s cracked up to be. It’s every cliche you’ve ever heard of. Time does stop. And that’s what that night was like. He was romantic and tender and strong. And he shared equal time on the bottom. And he made the neatest little sounds deep in his throat. You didn’t want it to end. It scared me shitless. Too much of it and you’d be turned off on meaningless sex for good. When I woke up the next morning, John wasn’t there. He’d gone out.

(Emily yawns. Lightchange. John enters, a bag of groceries in his arms.)

JOHN

Hey, you’re up. I went out to get some stuff for breakfast.

What’d you get?

JOHN

Not much. Some juice-milk-eggs-bacon-bread-jelly-butter-napkins. Some real coffee. I cleaned up your kitchen. Jesus, Emily, you had stuff growing in your refrigerator.

(they kiss)

You know what we ought to do with all this money you make? Buy you some furniture. This will shock you but some people actually own things. Tables, couches, rugs, chairs. Plants.

(exiting)

You like your eggs scrambled?

(to audience)

I don’t know why, but suddenly I felt nervous.

JOHN

(coming back)

Some people own more than one towel too!

Very – nervous.

(Lightchange.)

Nerves quickly gave way to confusion, confusion soon led to anxiety, anxiety then threw me up into the toilet bowl of emotional turmoil. Confused, anxiety ridden, and emotionally torn, I did what any red blooded all-American girl would do.

(in a little girl voice)

I went to my Daddy.

(normally)

I forgot one thing. Daddy was not Ward Cleaver or Robert Young. Daddy was Goldfinger.

wall street offices

(Light up on Hugh Brown in his chair. Hugh is going through papers; Emily paces.)

What am I afraid of, Daddy?!

HUGH

Not now, Emily.

What’s the matter with me?

HUGH

I can answer that. You not taking this meeting seriously. Really, Emily, is this the time to talk about it?

Daddy, for once in your life be warm and wonderful.

HUGH

Good god, Emily, I’m a businessman!

Half of me feels like Hallie but half of me feel like Mother.

HUGH

Don’t bring up your mother. I’m in a good mood.

Daddy, give me some advice! Daddy? He has me buying things.

HUGH

Good god! Are you involved with some gigolo?

Not for him! For me! In the past two weeks I’ve been buying things for me!

HUGH

What the hell’s wrong with that?

(His intercom buzzes.)

HUGH

Yes.

SECRETARY

Mr. William Robinson is here.

HUGH

Send him right in. First impressions, Emily! Look sharp!

Daddy, I bought a carpet Sunday. I now have a carpet.

HUGH

Mean to tell me you didn’t have one before? Bout time then. Now Emily I can’t stress enough the importance of this first meeting.

This carpet goes beautifully with the new couch and the new coffee table and the plants.

HUGH

(frowning with distaste)

Plants?

There are green things growing in my living room, Daddy! Green things begging to be watered!

HUGH

Never much liked plants. They die and rot. But other than plants, I don’t understand what the hell’s wrong with having a few nice things in your apartment.

Wrong? Wrong!? I’ll tell you what’s wrong! I feel obligated to them. I feel responsible for them.

(A distinguished looking man enters.)

They demand a maturity I don’t think I possess because, Daddy, I don’t like feeling obligated to or responsible for anything!

(The distinguished looking man turns on his heel and exits.)

HUGH

(calling after him)

She’s going to get over that by the time she takes charge of your little firm, Will!

(cooly, to Emily)

Emily, if this young man is a problem, dump him. Find another one. There are too many fish in the sea.

(Hugh exits. lightchange.)

men

He’s right. There are so many men in the world. They’re everywhere. I dream sometimes that I know each and every one of them personally. They all smile at me and wave at me. I can see them as they all go down on one knee in front of me and offer me their hearts. In my dreams, I modestly accepts their accolades. Businessmen, farmers, construction workers, cowboys on horses, sword bearing musketeers, matadors in suits of lights, knights of the round table. They all blow kisses. They all throw flowers. They follow me as I walk through Central Park, pleading, beseeching, begging for my favor. They surround me. They lift me up high, cheering. I beam, radiant beyond measure. But then, in my dreams, I see… one man, one special man, by himself, beckoning for me. He beckons again. Surrounded by men, I don’t know what to do. The one man sadly turns and walks away. I watch him go. And suddenly in my dream, I’m alone. No men. No man. Me. And I feel… RELIEVED! Yes. When you’re alone, there is no one who can hurt you. Or disappoint you. Or expect anything of you. Especially that. Expect anything of you.

(She holds up the velvet jewlery box. She opens it and the diamond ring catches the light.)

columbus Ave cafes.

(Lightchange to tables in a row, all of them crowded. John is waiting tables as Emily approaches.)

John…?

JOHN

Emily! Hey!

(he kisses her quickly)

We’re running a little crazy here. Can you grab a drink at the bar and I’ll –

John, I have to talk to you. I have to ask you something.

TABLE 1

Waiter, we’re ready to order.

JOHN

Can you do it quick?

John.

JOHN

Yeah.

TABLE 2

Waiter!

John.

TABLE 1

Is the fish fresh?

JOHN

Just a minute. Jesus, Emily, I have tables.

John, is it ever difficult for you to tell people how you feel about them?

JOHN

Huh? I guess. Sometimes.

TABLE 3

Waiter, we’ve been waiting forever.

JOHN

I’ll be right there.

And… how do you feel about me?

JOHN

Is that the something important you wanted to ask me?

No.

TABLE 1

Waiter, we have to make an 8:00 curtain.

John, what I wanted to say is… I bought something today.

TABLE 2

Check, please. Check!

JOHN

What?

TABLE 3

Waiter, my stomach thinks my throat is cut.

(John and Emily collide.)

JOHN

(exasperated)

Emily, I have tables, what?

Oh, please. This!

(She holds up the velvet case. It’s open. John stares at it.)

JOHN

Are you asking me to marry you?

No! No, I’m not. I know what you’re thinking. It’s so sudden and, and… we’ve only known each other a little while and, and….

(pause)

What’s the use, I’m hopeless.

(signing the death warrant)

John, will you marry me?

JOHN

Yes.

What?

(He takes the ring out of the velvet box. He holds it out to her.)

JOHN

Emily, will you marry me?

You’re kidding. He’s kidding. Are you kidding? You’re not kidding.

He slips the ring on her finger and kisses her. The patrons at the table rise and applaud. Lights to black. The last thing seen is Emily’s shocked, stunned face as she turns her head towards the audience.)

ACT II

abstract paintings

(An art gallery; a veiwing bench center. Lights up as Emily comes rushing on. She stops and calls/whispers off-stage.)

Pssst. Pssst!

(Hallie enters, calling back behind her)

HALLIE

Isn’t the gross energy in that one terrifying, Mr. Edelstein?

Hallie!

HALLIE

Doesn’t it have a wonderful African primitivism?

Hallie!!!

(Emily grabs Hallie’s arm and drags her off to the side)

HALLIE

(calling back)

Browse, Mr. Edelstein, browse! Emily! Do you know what a commission on –

I asked John to marry me.

HALLIE

Oh, I’m so sorry…

(Emily holds out her left hand. The ring sparkles.)

He asked me to marry him back.

(A moment. Hallie laughs. And laughs.)

HALLIE

Contemplate the colors, Mr. Edelstein!

Hallie! Stop it! I can’t get married! I have a job, a career! My father is buying me a company to run into the ground for him.

HALLIE

I thought you hated working on Wall Street.

I do, I do. But it’s my work. It’s what I am. It’s me.

HALLIE

Some people actually get married and continue to work, Emily.

Some people. Men people. All I can think of is that song we used to chant when we were kids – Emily and John, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Emily pushing a baby carriage.

HALLIE

You’re worried about babies?

Yes, I’m worried about babies. Babies hate me.

HALLIE

Babies don’t hate anyone.

Look, I’m good at what I do. Even if my father wasn’t head of the whole shebang, I’d make partner someday. How can I give that up to carry on intelligent conversations about diapers, rubber ducks and mashed banana.

HALLIE

Emily, why do you think you’ll have to give anything up? You don’t retire, you take a maternity leave.

Hallie, once you’re out of the rotation, you never make it back into the starting lineup. John wants children.

HALLIE

He said so?

He implied it. One of us will have to have them. I’ll be elected because somehow I don’t think John’s plumbing is up to it.

HALLIE

Emily, I’m busy.

Hallie, help me!

(pause)

HALLIE

Modern women. The two of us. It’s enough to make you laugh how miserable we are.

Why I feel better already.

HALLIE

I mean, I love men like crazy but I’ve always thought that they were such dopes with their stupid egos and their competitiveness and the way they never want to express the way they feel about anything. Know something, Emily? Sometimes I think women have joined them.

Look, Hallie, I defend my right to be as much of an idiot as any man, okay?

HALLIE

It doesn’t work that way. You’re a woman. You can’t fight nature, Emily. You can’t fight the nesting instinct.

Oh, great. First I’m a woman, now I’m a duck.

HALLIE

Me, me, me. It’s all we seem to think about. We all have to have the best marks, go to the best school, do the best work, get the most blue ribbons. We’re all so damn busy proving how wonderful we are, we don’t leave ourselves time to think.

You have to prove yourself if you want to have any kind of career.

HALLIE

Emily? Don’t get mad but… Careers?

(she gives a bronx cheer)

Know what a career is? It’s some dumb fancy name for having to work for a living. And where this idea that working for a living is fun came from, I’ll never know. Know what I say to it?

(another bronx cheer)

Want to do something that means something, Emily?

Oh, god. What?

HALLIE

Marry John. Get pregnant. Have the most perfect baby. It won’t be easy. Know why? They’re all perfect. Babies. Work? Work waits. It’s like death and taxes. You can count on it.

I can’t marry John, Hallie.

HALLIE

Why not.

I’m in love with him.

HALLIE

I don’t understand.

Hallie… loving someone means that sooner or later they’re going to leave you.

HALLIE

Oh, Emily.

He’ll leave me.

HALLIE

No.

Yes! I’ll be alone. Really alone. And I’d know he was out there. Somewhere. And that he didn’t want me. And all the things I’ve worked for, they wouldn’t matter. I’d be left with nothing. And I’d want to die.

(Hallie puts her arms around Emily and holds her. A moment. And then:)

(to the audience)

Okay, everybody lighten up.

(Lightchange.)

Let’s try to put this mess into perspective and see if it makes any sense. Here’s how it works. John and I have this relationship. The commitments inherent in the relationship frighten me. I want out of the commitments but I don’t want out of the relationship and so I make a proposal for a relationship that demands even greater commitment, thinking that greater commitment will make him want the relative security of noncommitment but not necessarily the relative emotional desert of a nonrelationship. He tricks me. He opts for commitment and relationship and somehow gets me to accept the reproposal of the proposal that I proposed to him. It makes perfect sense to me. All set? Ready to go? Okay. I seek the wise and sage council of the boys at work.

(lightchange)

There is a place where philosophies are shaped, advice is given and decisions made. Happy hour!

(Stein, Hill and McCarthy stand drinking at a bar.

wood paneled tap rooms

HILL

Mental illness.

Too close to home.

STEIN

Marry the poor guy. Get it over with.

(All glare at him)

Sorry. Lost my head.

MCCARTHY

Brown? One word. Frigid.

(All the men shudder.)

MCCARTHY

Men hate a frigid woman.

HILL

A frigid woman makes you blame yourself.

STEIN

A frigid woman makes you impotent.

(they all stare at him)

So I’ve heard.

MCCARTHY

No man wants a frigid woman. Be frigid.

(unconvinced)

It might work.

HILL

It works for my wife and me.

MCCARTHY

O.k., John and you are in bed together.

STEIN

John is reading. Get his attention.

(Stein clears his throat and attempts to look provocative. He clears his throat again.)

HILL

John, being a very intelligent man, gets the picture.

He puts his arms around you and begins kissing your neck.

(Hill chastely does so. Emily squirms and giggles.)

MCCARTHY

He wouldn’t do it like that, Hill. Let me show you how’d he’d do it.

(McCarthy chastely kisses Emily’s neck. Emily squirms and giggles.)

HILL

Brown, you’re responding.

Guys, you’re tickling.

(Pause. They ponder.)

MCCARTHY

You are thinking of dead puppy dogs.

(Emily gives a sympathetic little moan. McCarthy kisses her neck. Emily giggles.)

MCCARTHY

You’re hopeless, Brown.

HILL

Wait! Me again! Of nuns.

(Hill kisses her neck. Emily giggles.)

HILL

Obviously Brown’s not Catholic.

STEIN

Wait, wait, wait, wait. Let me show you how to kiss Brown’s neck.

HILL

I haven’t finished.

MCCARTHY

I want seconds.

STEIN

I haven’t had firsts.

Guys, you’re not helping.

MACCARTHY

Brown, you’re not concentrating!

HILL

We can only do so much, Brown.

STEIN

After all, this is a public place.

I’ll concentrate.

HILL

You are thinking of falling off a razorblade rusty ship in the middle of a raging, cold ocean and drowning.

(The boys murmur in approval. Hill kisses Emily’s neck. Emily squinches her face, trying not to giggle.)

MCCARTHY

Brown. You are screaming for air, water stinging your eyes.

(A kiss. Emily trembles.)

HILL

Way to go, Brown.

STEIN

Waves. Waves buffeting you, waves dragging you down.

(A kiss. Emily perseveres.)

STEIN

Very nice.

HILL

Okay, Brown, here comes an all out offensive.

MCCARTHY

Waves are rolling you over.

HILL

Good, Brown!

STEIN

Caressing your ears.

HILL

You can do it.

MCCARTHY

Your neck.

HILL

Your shoulders.

STEIN

Your arms.

(Emily breaks into hysterical laughter.)

STEIN

Frigidity doesn’t work.

HILL

Not when you’re ticklish.

MCCARTHY

Ticklish women are responsive women.

(A moment. They all look at Emily with new respect.)

I’m not saying a word.

HILL

Let’s go to the other extreme.

STEIN

Good idea.

What?

MCCARTHY

Perversion?

HILL

Yes!

STEIN

Of course.

HILL

Perversion.

(They all exit excitedly.)

(puzzled)

Perversion?

Times Square!

(Lightchange. The men re-enter. They are excited, wide eyed and rubber necking. Stein now wears a cowboy hat, Hill, sunglasses and McCarthy, a trenchcoat.)

MCCARTHY

(like a conductor)

Fortysecond Street, Triple X Time Square!

Guys –

HILL

Girls, girls, girls!

Guys –

STEIN

Porno-madness!

Guys! Where are you taking me?

MCCARTHY

To an adult bookstore. Zip!

HILL

Zoom!

STEIN

Zowie!

(They men exit, leaving Emily. The men all hurry back.)

MCCARTHY

Brown, come on!

HILL

What’s the matter?

STEIN

What’s the problem?

HILL

Brown, this is not a neighborhood to stand on the corner in.

Look, I don’t know about you guys but I get embarassed even being with a man while he’s buying Playboy magazine.

STEIN

Why?

It makes me feel like I’m wearing a sign that says in big letters – yes, this is where my mind’s at.

MCCARTHY

Isn’t it?

HILL

You mean it’s not?

MCCARTHY

I’m disappointed, Brown.

Look, maybe it is but somehow I feel that other people aren’t supposed to know that.

STEIN

Brown is having second thoughts.

HILL

Brown needs a disguise.

STEIN

Brown needs a cowboy hat.

(He takes off his hat and puts it on her head)

HILL

Brown needs some shades.

(He takes off his sunglasses and puts them on her.)

MCCARTHY

Brown needs a trenchcoat.

(He takes off his trenchcoat and puts it on Emily)

STEIN

Beautiful. Pull the collar up. Hunch over. Now shuffle when you walk.

Am I recognizable?

HILL

Not as any woman I know. Let’s go.

STEIN

Now, Brown, be prepared. We’re talking dirt in this place.

MCCARTHY

We’re talking smut and guilt.

HILL

We’re talking marital aids, Brown!

(The boys hurry off.)

I just had the most awful feeling that someone was going to recognize me.

(Hugh Brown enters. He stops, shocked.)

HUGH BROWN

Emily! What in christ’s name are you doing here!?

(Mortified, he shields his face and quickly exits.)

Someone did.

(Lightchange.)

Okay, I bought a magazine. I took it home.

a bedroom looking out on the park

(Lights up on a large double bed.)

I called John at work and suggested he come over and spend the night.

(The sound of off-stage gargling.)

Pretend for a moment, I’m wearing a nightgown. Covered with bunnies. I like bunnies.

(Emily hurries to her briefcase. She opens it and takes out a magazine in a brown paper bag. Holding it extended like a dead skunk, Emily hurries back to the bed. She puts the magazine beneath John’s pillow. She leaps onto the bed.)

Sometimes I get such a kick out of myself.

(She rolls over and closes her eyes, feigning sleep. John enters. He pulls back the covers on his side of the bed. He fluffs his pillow and finds…)

JOHN

What’s this?

Mmm? Oh, no! Give me that! I thought I hid that!

(John pulls the magazine out of the bag.)

John, don’t! You don’t want to look!

JOHN

Women who crave men?

(John leafs cooly through the magazine.)

I’m so embarassed, I… you must think I’m a …

(taking a quick glance)

Oh! Look at what they’re –

(taking a close look)

Jesus, what are they doing?

(They huddle together, heads bent over the magazine.)

JOHN

She’s pretty limber.

She sure is. And he must be strong.

JOHN

It’s not strength, it’s balance.

(Silence.)

JOHN

Wanna try?

(Emily nods a wide eyed yes. Lightchange.)

We did. It was awesome. My life… was a mess! It was time to face facts. It was time to take action. It was time to be cool, analytic and logical. It was time to throw myself off the Staten Island Ferry.

battery park

(The sound of a ferry horn. Enter Hill, Stein, McCarthy and Fields not to mention a parkbench.)

HILL

Brown, don’t do it!

MCCARTHY

We are talking divine intervention!

HILL

We are talking deus ex machina!

STEIN

Fields has thought of something!

MCCARTHY

Fields has!

HILL

Sit, Brown, sit!

FIELDS

You should have come to me immediately. You want info? Go to the expert. I know these things. When you’re irresistable to the opposite sex, you’ve got to know these things.

MCCARTHY

Listen to this, Brown.

HILL

Fields is brilliant.

STEIN

Fields went to Harvard.

FIELDS

Infidelity. Set it up so it looks like you’re having an affair, Brown. John will jump to conclusions. He’ll be unreasonable. You can then be unreasonable back. He doesn’t love you. He doesn’t trust you. You hate it that he doesn’t trust you.

MCCARTHY

(with new respect)

How do you know all this, Fields?

FIELDS

Because I’ve never trusted women and they’ve always hated it! Marriage? No way! You’re happy. He’s happy. We’re talking Pepsi generation.

HILL

Tell her, Fields.

FIELDS

We get together, you, me and John. I’ll pay attention to you, Brown. A lot of attention. By the time I’m finished he’ll have no choice but to believe you’re having an affair with me.

MCCARTHY

It’s perfect! Who would ever believe that Brown is having an affair with Fields?

It’s the stupidest idea I ever heard.

STEIN

Desperation calls for desperate measures.

Am I that desperate?

THE BOYS

Yes.

(Lightchange. A pub table. Fields sits, drinking beer and munching pretzels.)

chelsea bar

I took Fields with me to see scenes in John’s acting workshop. John was doing a scene from A Streetcar Named Desire. John was playing –

FIELDS

(as Marlon Brando)

Stella!

(he giggles happily)

(annoyed)

John was playing Stanley. Some… girl was playing Stella.

FIELDS

What a set of gunboats.

Afterward everyone went to the local pub.

(Lightchange. A disgruntled Emily joins Fields at the table.)

FIELDS

Know what the scene was, Brown? It was organic. I know. I have organic tendencies. You could hardly tell they were acting.

(John enters and crosses to the table)

JOHN

Be right with you. I’m just going over some notes with Bonnie.

With who?

FIELDS

With Stella. Bark-bark-bark!

Take your time.

(to herself, as he exits)

Take all day.

FIELDS

They’re gonna showcase it. I heard someone say. I bet the rehearsals will be very steamy stuff! Method acting, Brown! Sensitivity exercises! Torn t-shirts and everyone hating their mothers! Art is so great.

(staring)

She is all over him, Fields. She is entwined around him like a boa constrictor.

FIELDS

Homina-homina-homina.

Jesus, doesn’t she realize they’re in a public place?

(waving; smiling cheerily)

Hi! Yes, I’m still here and I’m having a wonderful time. I wish I had a gun.

FIELDS

(draining his beer)

Well… all set? Ready to be swept off your feet?

(grabbing him by the ear)

I’m going to kill you, Fields.

FIELDS

Brown, no, you don’t understand, we’re supposed to be romantically involved! Oh, I get it. S and M! Kinky, Brown, very kinky!

(Emily pulls on his ears, twisting.)

FIELDS

Hah! Ah! Brown, please! We’re supposed to be playing around behind his back!

Not in a million billion years!

FIELDS

What?

I don’t want to give him ideas, you idiot!

(Emily releases Fields and sadly stares.)

FIELDS

Jesus, Brown, you really are screwed up.

I used to be a happy woman, Fields. Now I’m miserable. I hate love.

FIELDS

Tell him the truth, Brown.

I’ll lose him if I tell him the truth.

FIELDS

Marry him.

I’ll lose him if I marry him.

FIELDS

Tell him the truth. You’ll lose him sooner that way.

(Lightchange.)

The problem is we never know when we’re well off, do we. The problem is that we always know when we’re not. The problem is that we never know what we have until we don’t have it anymore. Or is it that when we don’t have it anymore, we make it better in our minds than it was to begin with. And so we wonder. And so we live our lives. We tell ourselves that we like being alone while in the same breath we admit that we hate being lonely. We fool ourselves by saying that when we meet the right person, we’ll know it. And sometimes when we finally recognize the enemy, we realize the enemy is us. Lucky in life, unlucky in love. Laugh and get on with it. Isn’t that how the story goes?

(a moment)

And outside it looks like rain.

(The sound of thunder rumbling. Lightchange.)

rainy city streets

(It’s night. Emily sits on a front stoop. John enters. He stops in surprise.)

JOHN

Well, hey, what are you doing here. Been waiting long?

Yeah.

JOHN

Sweetheart. You should have called.

Called what, your service? Why don’t you get a real phone?

(pause)

I want to talk. Can we sit?

JOHN

Let’s go up stairs.

Your roommates are there, right?

JOHN

Maybe.

I can’t deal with roomates.

JOHN

Okay, what’s the matter.

Please… can we just sit.

JOHN

Okay. Talk to me.

John… Why do you want to marry me?

JOHN

I love you.

Tell me what that is. I bet you can’t. I bet.

JOHN

Well, let’s see.

(pause)

My eyes, they… they can’t look at you enough. Sometimes it seems that the only thing my ears want to hear is the sound of you. Even if it’s just walking across a room. I don’t know, when my ears can hear you making any sound at all, I know you’re close by and that’s… it’s like I’m comforted by that. The touch of you. I’m always wanting to touch you, Emily. Sometimes when I pull you into bed and we’re making love it has nothing to do with passion. Sometimes it’s like I just want to get as close as I can to you. Closer than I can. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been waiting for you my whole life. Everything I’ve ever done and thought and felt, it was all just preparation for the moment when I met you.

(moved almost to tears)

Oh, John, that was beautiful.

(forcing herself to snap out it)

But is that any reason to want to go and marry someone?

JOHN

Yes.

(without conviction)

You see, I am often of the opinion that love is not such a big deal. I mean, I bet I could stick you outside on a hot summer day when Columbus Avenue is an ocean of bouncing boobs in thin cotton tops and I bet you’d fall in love ten times in one block. Couldn’t I do that? Uh-huh. I bet I could. So see, it’s not a big deal.

JOHN

You’re not talking about love.

What am I talking about then?

JOHN

I don’t know. You tell me.

I’m talking about… I’m talking about… Oh! What I’m talking about is the fact that I can’t marry you. Okay, go on, hate me, hit me, get it over with. I deserve it. I do nothing but mess people up and make people unhappy and –

JOHN

You know you don’t do that.

I do. I should go live in a leper colony. I should –

JOHN

Hey. Stop playing for my sympathy and tell me what’s going on.

What a mean, truthful thing to say. You always say such –

JOHN

Emily! Why can’t you marry me?

(Silence. The rumble of thunder. The pitter-pat of rain, quickly growing into a rush.)

I wasn’t serious. When I asked you, I thought you’d say no. I never thought you’d ask me to marry you back. Why did you have to go and do such a dumb thing? Oh… it wasn’t a dumb thing. It was a wonderful thing. I’m a dumb thing. I… I don’t want to be married.

JOHN

I thought you… (cared about me).

I do. Oh, John, I do. I do…

(a moment)

We’re going to catch pneumonia.

(Silence.)

JOHN

You thought I’d say no.

You hate me now.

JOHN

I’m just trying to understand.

See, I thought I needed… room.

JOHN

Room.

To move.

JOHN

Where were you going to move, Emily?

I don’t know.

JOHN

Give me the ring, Emily.

It’s my ring.

JOHN

Give me the fucking ring.

(She takes it off and hands it to him. He looks at it a moment. He puts it into her hand and closes her hand around it.)

JOHN

There. You save it for the next guy.

(He rises and exits without a word. Long pause.)

The rain pours down.

(Lightchange.)

(as if on the phone)

Brown. Emily Brown. Yes, the Emily Brown who called yesterday and called the day before. Are you sure he got the message? Would you tell him to call me, please. He has the number. Tell him it’s very important. Tell him it’s urgent. Tell him it’s life and death. Tell him I made a tragic mistake. Did you write all that down? Please do so.

(She stands in silence.)

Somehow I got the feeling he was avoiding me.

(Lights up on Hallie and Emily at a table, drinking. They have been for awhile.)

(toasting)

To burnt bridges!

HALLIE

Burnt bridges!

It’s been three weeks now and he has not returned my calls. He won’t do anything.

HALLIE

To independence from macho males!

AND HALLIE

Inde-fucking-pendence!

Look a this.

HALLIE

What is it.

A flyer. It was taped in the window of the restaurant.

HALLIE

A Streetcar Named Desire.

It’s a showcase production. John’s in it. With Bonnie.

HALLIE

Who’s Bonnie?

(Emily cups her hands in front of her breasts)

Homina-homina-homina.

HALLIE

Oh. Tonight. You goin’?

Nope. Know why? Cause I don’t want him back.

HALLIE

You don’t want him back?

I don’t want him back.

HALLIE

You sure you don’t want him back?

I want him back.

HALLIE

Well, you’ve got to get his attention.

You’re right. How?

HALLIE

Feminine wiles.

To feminine wiles! What do I do once I’ve gotten his attention witn my feminine wiles?

HALLIE

You do what women have done since the beginning of time. Break into hysterical tears and cry till he begs you to stop.

(They laugh. And then suddenly, they begin to cry. They sob, their hearts broken. Suddenly they laugh again.)

What a ya think?

HALLIE

S’wonderful.

(A waiter approaches.)

M’having man trouble.

WAITER

(very straight)

Join the club, sweets. Another round?

HALLIE AND TOGETHER

Absolutely.

HALLIE

To feminine wiles?

(They toast.)

HALLIE AND

To feminine wiles!

(Lightchange. Lights to Hallie)

HALLIE

Hi. Suprise. It’s me, Hallie. Well, we got so drunk that night. And what happened is not Emily’s fault. I encouraged her. We decided she should go see John in his play. It would be a nice gesture. And then, she could go back stage after, and wouldn’t he be happy to see her? Of course he would! Okay, maybe not at first. But at least he’d take her out for a burger and a beer or two. Or three. Or four or five. And then – boom! – home to bed! Everthing would be fine. At least until the next morning when he might be angry again. But Emily could at least make him feel guilty cause he’d slept with her. This is feminine wiles! This did not work. What happened was… well, you’ll see. I just love Streetcar Named Desire.

A streetcar named desire!

(Emily, out in the audience, enters. She is quite drunk but is trying not to show it. She is followed by a helpless house manager. Lights up on stage. The play is going, full bore, yet it is disjointed as if seen through the eyes of a drunken Emily.)

USHER

Stop. Miss! You can’t go in. There’s a performance in progress. Miss! There’s a performance!

That is why… I’m here.

USHER

You can’t go in now.

I am the critic for the Times.

ACTRESS/STELLA

Drunk, drunk, animal thing, you!

What!?

USHER

(raising a finger to her mouth)

Ssssshhhhhh!

(also raising her finger)

Ssssshhhhhh!

ACTRESS/BLANCHE

My sister is going to have a baby!

A baby!?

MITCH/ACTOR

This is terrible.

This’s terrible.

USHER

Miss!

Ssssshhhhh!

(Emily moves across a row, almost falling into people’s laps. The usher follows.)

Sssshhhh!

GIRL

Sit down.

Don’t tell me to sit down. I’m from the Times.

GIRL

Ssssssshhhh!

Sssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

ACTRESS/BLANCHE

Lunacy, absolute lunacy.

This’s… absolute lunacy.

ACTOR/MITCH

Will you shut up!

(Emily giggles.)

GIRL

Miss, there’s a seat there.

Thank you.

GIRL

You’re on his foot!

I’m terribly sorry

GIRL

Get off of him.

I’m terribly sorry.

ACTOR/PABLO

I think coffee would do him a world of good.

GIRL

Really!

It’s all right. Really. I’m from the Times.

(Emily sits in the isle.)

ACTOR/PABLO

Let’s get out of here.

ACTOR/MITCH

Poker should not be played in a house with women!

GIRL

Now control yourself.

Thank you.

(she waves back down the row)

I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers!

(A moment. Suddenly she giggles like that’s the funniest thing she’s ever heard.)

JOHN/STANLEY

My baby doll’s left me.

Oh!

JOHN/STANLEY

Eunice? I want my baby!!

I’m your baby!

JOHN/STANLEY

Eunice! I’ll keep ringing till I talk to my baby! Stella! Stella, sweetheart!

Oh! I’m your sweetheart!

JOHN/STANLEY

Stella!

(Emily calls towards the stage.)

Jonnnn!

JOHN/STANLEY

Stella! I want my baby down here!

I want my baby down here!

JOHN

Stella!

(Emily leaps to her feet and unleashes a skyshattering bellow.)

Jonnnnnnnnnnnn!

(John gets off his knees, walks to the edge of the stage and stares at Emily.)

JOHN

What! Is your problem, Emily?

I… I want you to come with me.

(John stares at her a long moment. And then he turns and walks off stage. Silence. Lightchange as Emily walks out of the audience and up on to the stage.)

Pretty bad, huh? Pretty horrible thing to do? Unforgivable? You better believe it. There are mornings in your life when consciousness sneaks up on you like a gang tackle. The waves of guilt are so overpowering you want your whole life to just go away. But it won’t. Love! Is never having to say you’re sorry?

(she gives a bronx cheer)

Sometimes sorry is all you get.

(Emily listens as first the sound of dialing and then a voice echos throughout the theatre.)

VOICE

Columbus Central.

Is John Stone working?

VOICE

He quit.

When?

VOICE

This afternoon.

Did he leave a number?

VOICE

No. He has a service.

He’s terminated service. Did he leave an address?

VOICE

Yeah. Minnesota.

Are you sure?

VOICE

Honey, he didn’t even hang around to work happy hour. Sorry.

(Emily just stands. Lightchange.)

music, chips ands salsa

(Majarachi music! The sounds of a crowded bar, of milling, noisy people. Fields, Hill, McCarthy and Stein enter. They each hold a glass and a pitcher of margaritas. McCarthy carries an extra glass.)

THE BOYS

(doing Speedy Gonzales)

Yee-haa! Yee-haa! Viva! Ondele’! Ondele’!

STEIN

There she is!

HILL

Bout time!

MCCARTHY

Join us for a margarita, Brown!

HILL

They’re running a special.

FIELDS

Drink up! We all will!

STEIN

We were just talking about you!

MCCARTHY

Damn right!

FIELDS

We love ya, Brown, we love ya.

HILL

Query. What ever happened to happy ever after?

STEIN

What ever happened to death do us part?

MCCARTHY

Where has love gone, Brown?

FIELDS

Onto the trashheap.

HILL

Into the toilet.

STEIN

Down the drain.

MCCARTHY

You want to know who we blame?

THE BOYS

You!

Would someone please order me a large glass of grain alchohol?

MCCARTHY

Not just you, Brown. Women in general. You don’t take a good man for granted.

FIELDS

Romeo, Romeo, where for art thou, Romeo?

HILL

Working!

HILL

Scared of dying.

MCCARTHY

Where the hell are you?

I’m really not in the mood for this.

STEIN

Brown, it is our feeling you owe John an apology.

(Emily stifles a groan.)

HILL

Apologizing is a wonderful institution.

MACCARTHY

If your apology is accepted, you’re off the hook.

STEIN

And if it’s not, your guilt is transferred to the dolt who doesn’t have the compassion and good sense to understand that even the most perfect of us make mistakes.

FIELDS

Apologize, Brown. Bottoms up. Lemme refill your glass.

Attention, boys, attention! You can’t apologize if there’s no one to apologize to.

MCCARTHY

What do you mean?

John moved back to Minnesota.

(pause)

HILL

Sorry, Brown.

STEIN

Too bad, kid.

FIELDS

Have some chips and salsa.

MCCARTHY

Damn. We had such a good apology worked out for you too.

HILL

Yeah. It’s not fair.

STEIN

You would have been proud, Brown, it really was a well composed combination of logic and groveling.

BROWN

I think I’m going to cry.

STEIN

John! We have got to talk!

HILL

Good start, huh?

I don’t know if I’m coming or going.

HILL

You’re right, that’s a better start.

I made a mistake.

HILL

You did, Brown.

I know.

FIELDS

But Brown, you’re allowed to make mistakes.

STEIN

You’re allowed to overreact and go off the deep end.

HILL

Brown? We all are.

MCCARTHY

Brown just wants another chance, that’s all. Is a chance too much to ask for?

FIELDS

Brown has a lot of good qualities if you can overlook her insecurity, her immaturity and her deceitfulness for which there is a good if not all together believable explanation.

STEIN

If she can overlook me, I can overlook her.

HILL

I can overlook somebody built like Brown anything.

MCCARTHY

I’ll drink to that.

FIELDS

We all will!

Oh, God! I want to start over. I want to pretend that what happened, never happened. It’s time to get it in gear!

It’s time for things to return to normal! You know what I’m going to do, guys, you know what I’m going to do? I’m going home and I’m pushing every damn stick of furniture and every stupid plant he made me buy out into the hallway! Guys!? Give me that margarita!

FIELDS

Let’s all have one!

(cheers)

HILL

Brown? Let me tell you something. He didn’t take you back because he’s an egotistical child who’s pride was hurt.

STEIN

So what he didn’t? Not to worry. Boys like you, Brown.

MCCARTHY

Brown? Never beg.

FIELDS

Unless you have no other choice.

THE BOYS

Exactly.

Guys?

THE BOYS

Brown?

Dinner’s on me!

(And now the boys begin to exit at once)

MCCARTHY

Whoa! Love to but I got a date.

HILL

I got a train to catch.

FIELDS

Share a cab up town?

STEIN

Brown, we’ll say this and then we’ll shut up.

FIELDS

Make this the last time you put out for any bozo who waits tables.

THE BOYS

Exactly.

MCCARTHY

Not a word. We’re always glad to help.

(And then they’re gone. Emily sits there. Alone. She looks sadly at her margarita. In one long pull, she drains it. Lightchange.)

Days followed days. Work. Oh, sweet work. No time to be alone. No time to think. Eighteen hour days. Anything to keep from hearing a certain voice in my head. Cocktail parties. People. Laughter and sophisticated conversation.

Sweating it all out at the health club. After working out, descend on the finest and newest restaurants like packs of finely attired wolves, ravenous for good times. And then dancing. Skipping the light fantastic. Heartbreak. Kamikaze. Area. The Palladium. Fifteen dollar admission charge. Why save money when you could all go in the big blow at any time? Champagne. Cocaine. Music. What’s love got to do with it. What is love but a second hand emotion. God help me, Hallie’s right. We don’t leave ourselves time to think or doubt. But sometimes you have to.

(Lightchange. Dierdre is in a hospital bed, looking pale and tired against the pillows. Her eyes are closed.)

(softly)

Momma?

(Dierdre looks at Emily. She smiles softly, sighs with weariness.)

Momma, are you alright? The doctor said this was the closest time yet. I told her that you knew I was coming by to take you to dinner. You just didn’t know I’d be running late.

(Emily takes her mother’s hand.)

Why, Momma. Why do you do this to yourself? You’ve been doing so well.

DIERDRE

(softly)

My poor baby. My poor, poor baby. The things I put you through. The things we do to the people we love. You shouldn’t let me hurt you. You should know better by now. You’re too much like your father. Too romantic.

Daddy?

DIERDRE

Your father always said he fell in love with me at first sight. Of course, I never believed him. When you don’t like yourself very much it’s so hard to believe anyone else can. He tried so hard to please me. I wouldn’t let him. Emily?

What, Momma.

DIERDRE

Don’t be like me. Terrified of getting close. Don’t be like your poor father. He’s so afraid of being hurt, he no longer feels for anything but his business. Take chances, my baby. Take chances.

You should rest, Momma.

(a moment)

I love you.

DIERDRE

Thank you, darling, but I don’t deserve it.

(Lightchange)

Some days it’s just tough to get out of bed if you know what I mean.

the new york stock exchange

(Lights to Hugh, the Boys and Emily)

HUGH

I think we’re ready. That’s all, gentlemen. Have a nice Thanksgiving and I’ll see you Monday.

(The boys and emily exit)

MCCARTHY

(to Emily)

Good work, kid.

STEIN

Really outstanding.

HILL

Way to go.

FRIELDS

Have a good holiday, Brown, you deserve it.

HUGH

Emily? A moment.

(Emily stops. The others exit.)

HUGH

Emily…

Daddy?

HUGH

(gruffly)

I won’t mince words. The meeting on Monday is going to be an inspection. You are exhibit A. And you know what I think?

(breaking into a smile)

I think you’re goding to blow their boats out of the water. I’m very proud of you.

Thank you, Daddy.

(She quietly turns for the door.)

HUGH

Emily. Ah… any plans for tomorrow? Someone cooking up a bird?

I’m sure someone is.

HUGH

That young man you were so worked up about, you’re not getting together with him?

We’re not seeing each other any more.

HUGH

Oh. Blew it, did he?

(without self pity)

No, Daddy, I did. It’s something I have a tendancy to do.

HUGH

I see. One can love or one can work, one cannot do both, eh?

Have a nice weekend, Daddy.

HUGH

And you.

(She starts for the door. Something hits her. She stops.)

Daddy, did you love mother?

(pause)

Please answer me, Daddy, just this once.

(pause)

She said you fell in love with her at first sight.

HUGH

Did she say that?

Did you?

HUGH

She never believed me. When you don’t like yourself very much it’s hard to believe anyone else can.

Do you regret it? Meeting her? Marrying her?

HUGH

Far from it, everything I am today I owe to her unhappiness.

Daddy, please.

HUGH

Emily… if I hadn’t had her, I wouldn’t have had you.

(a moment)

The only things I regret in my life are the things I wish I’d done differently and will never have the chance to do over.

(a moment)

What about you?

(A very small smile begins to form on Emily’s lips.)

I feel the same.

HUGH

I’m driving to the country tomorrow. Join me?

Thank you, Daddy. I have plans.

HUGH

Oh? Thought you said you didn’t.

Did I say that? No, I definatly have plans, Daddy.

HUGH

Where you going?

Minnesota!

(She exits. Lightchange/

HUGH

Good god, Emily, if I hadn’t had her, I wouldn’t have you and I…

(snapping out of it)

May we do some work, please? One can love or one can work. One cannot do both.

Daddy, I don’t think I’m the right person for this job.

HUGH

Nonsense.

I think you should consider someone else.

HUGH

Perhaps you’d like to consider not working at all.

I just considered.

HUGH

(surprised)

What?

I quit.

HUGH

What!? Emily, you’re being hasty. You’re letting yourself make an emotional decision and you’re not thinking clearly. Emily! Where the hell are you going?

Minnesota.

HUGH

Emily, goddammit, what about my company!? Emily! Emily!!

(Lightchange.)

a home in the pine trees

Minnesota. Home of the Golden Gophers. Nordic types in flannel shirts and down vests. The Minnesota Vikings. It was November and so to be safe I rented a Ford Bronco with four wheel drive, studded tires and a snowmobile in the back. I headed north. Through woods. Past lakes that glittered in the sunshine. When you live in Manhattan you forget that the sky is so big. John’s family had a beautiful house. I knew they’d all be happy that I’d come. It was the day before Thanksgiving and I arrived bearing gifts. I brought cold cuts from Zabars.

(Lightchange. John is sitting on a couch, concentrating on a televised football game. Emily joins him.)

So you’re back for good.

JOHN

Actually I’m thinking of giving L.A. a shot. I thought I’d get some sunglasses and gold chains, drive a sportscar, find some nineteen year old hardbody to play with.

Are you implying my body’s not hard?

JOHN

Your body’s fine.

Then would you please make love to me right here and now on this couch?

JOHN

Emily, my parents sit on this couch.

It would do a lot to convince me that you don’t hate me.

JOHN

I don’t know how I feel about you.

A mixed up girl hurts your feelings and you decide to drive sportscars.

JOHN

Jesus, Emily. Look, I’m not going to Los Angeles. And no, I’m not back here for good. I never planned to be. I’m home for the holidays.

You didn’t come home because of me?

JOHN

No.

I told people I’d driven you away.

JOHN

I’m sure.

They were very impressed.

JOHN

After New Years, I’m back in New York.

Couldn’t you at least wait until Easter?

JOHN

There are several influential people who saw my work and when they were allowed to sit through it… actually enjoyed it. You haven’t driven me out of New York.

I’m glad.

JOHN

Don’t always give yourself so much credit.

Don’t be so mean.

JOHN

I’ll be anything I want.

(Emily moves closer and closer to John.)

JOHN

I don’t know why I just don’t throw you out of here on your ass. I’m too nice. It’s always been my problem. I have some white knight complex. I read too many fairy tales when I was a kid. Someone needs saving and I fall, hook, line and sinker. It hurts.

(She kisses him on the cheek.)

JOHN

What are you doing?

Just trying to make the hurt better.

(She kisses him softly again on the cheek, a little closer to the mouth. He doesn’t move. She puts her arms around him and kisses him on the mouth. Pause.)

JOHN

Ah, shit.

(They embrace.)

JOHN

Okay, you can stay for Thanksgiving.

(They embrace again. They don’t immediatly see Dr. Stone who enters carrying a shotgun. And then John does. He quickly rises, almost knocking Emily to the floor.)

JOHN

Uh, hi, Dad. Emily, this is my father, Dr. Bill Stone. Dad, this is –

DR. STONE

(sitting)

You’re Emily, huh?

Hi.

DR. STONE

John’s mother and I think you should be ashamed of yourself.

(Dr. Stone cleans his shotgun.)

I am, thank you.

(pause)

You have a beautiful home.

(The sound of a dog barking.)

You have a very large dog. I think he’s attracted to my Ford Bronco.

(pause)

John said you’re a doctor? A surgeon? How’s business? That must be very interesting. Cutting people up.

(John looks away, trying to hide his grin.)

DR. STONE

She’s staying for Thanksgiving, huh?

JOHN

I guess so, Dad.

DR. STONE

No wonder your mother’s not feeling well.

My, what big guns you have.

DR. STONE

Better to shoot things with. You hunt, a liberated female like you?

You mean, like, uh… Bambi?

DR. STONE

Deer. Bear. Birds. A man is a hunter, young lady. A man’s job is to put food on the table. A man’s job is to know his prey. He knows its habits, its secrets, its innermost thoughts. What the hell do you think of that?

I don’t think I could ever eat anything I was so intimately involved with. What’s a woman’s job? Cooking what the caveman brings home? Well, I don’t cook.

DR. STONE

How do you eat?

Out.

DR. STONE

There’s a Thanksgiving tradition in this house. For family and guests alike. Some of us cook up the feast. Some of us play football in the backyard. Who are you with?

(asserting herself)

I’m with the men.

(Lightchange.)

turkeys

Picture it. Six feet of golden tanned skin and blonde hair takes a lateral out of mid air and sweeps right, running with grace and abandon. Now into your field of vision run two other awesomely athletic types. You are picturing what is referred to as a perfect Green Bay Sweep. Defenders run to intercept. Bodies collide and tumble. The runner is dragged to the ground. The girls all slap high fives. And me? I’m in the kitchen with the men putting together goddam Thanksgiving dinner.

(Dr. Stone comes up behind Emily and ties an apron around her waist.

DR. STONE

Come on, Emily, let’s go! Times a wastin.

(They move to a large butcher block table.)

What do I do?

(Dr. Stone hands Emily a large turnip and a knife.)

DR. STONE

Cut that up.

What is it, an armadillo?

DR. STONE

A turnip. Cube it.

(He exits)

(to the audience)

Outside in the backyard, the beautiful norse goddesses were throwing each other long perfect touchdown passes. Inside the men cooked and chopped and simmered and basted and powdered with flour and seasoned and set the table. Pies and cookies came out of the oven. The turkey turned brown. The stupid ass ham got glazed. Through all this, I attack the turnip with my knife. It won’t cooperate. It rolls off the cutting board. It won’t cut no matter how hard I hack and heave. When I get the knife into it, I can’t get it out. I am perspiring. I am pissed off.

(whispering at the turnip)

Gimme a break. Let me look good just once. I’ll make this as painless as possible, promise. Ready? All set? O.k.

(She heaves and bares down. The turnip rolls off the board onto the floor. Emily despairs. She looks around and then, sure that no one is looking, she tosses the turnip off-stage.)

I’m all done! What now? I’m very good at licking the frosting bowl.

(Dr. Stone enters, puts down three more huge turnips and exits. Emily sags. She straightens, sets her teeth, grabs a turnip, raises the knife.

You’re history.

(The knife comes down. Lights to black. The sound of Emily crying out in pain.)

Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh….. is there a doctor in the house?

(Silence. Lights up on Dr. Stone putting the finishing touches on a beautifully set dining room table. Emily, with a huge bandage on her thumb, glumly enters.)

Have I ruined everyone’s appetite?

DR. STONE

I don’t think so.

The knife just… slipped.

DR. STONE

I guess it did.

I may never professionally cook again.

(pause)

It’s a big table.

DR. STONE

It’s a big family.

(There is the sound of shouted greetings and laughter from off-stage. Dr. Stone grimaces.)

DR. STONE

I’m surrounded. Everybody introducing themselves?

Everybody is being wonderful.

DR. STONE

I hate holidays. Everyone comes home.

(helping him with the table now)

I’m not real big on holidays either.

DR. STONE

No? Why the hell not?

I visit friends. We go out for drinks. Maybe I join someone for dinner. It’s just another day off really. Sometimes I just stay in bed.

DR. STONE

Wish I could. Everyplace I turn, there’s someone there. My children, their children. I’m getting old. I can’t bear having all these damn people to turn to.

Dr. Stone? John says you and your wife are crazy about each other.

DR. STONE

He said that? Hell. We get along. I live for “cutting people up” and she lives for me and we’ve always got on just fine.

Is that how it works? Someone lives for the other person?

DR. STONE

Damn. I didn’t put that right. Emily… I don’t mind telling you I’m a selfish son of a bitch. Early on in our marriage my wife made the decision that if someone had to give a little more in order for things to work, it was going to be her. She’s stubborn. Damn. Like John. She never quit. Even when she had due cause. I admire and respect her for it, I… Damn, I’m doing it again, saying it wrong. I don’t know if she’s crazy about me but yes… I sure as hell am crazy about her. And don’t you dare tell her I said so.

Promise.

(They share another smile.)

DR. STONE

Well… damn, I have to do everything my self.

(bellowing)

JOHN!!!!

(Dr. Stone exits. Lightchange.)

thanksgiving

Imagine if you will, people sitting around this Thanksgiving table. Imagine it laden with splendid looking food. Imagine tableware glimmering in candlelight. Heads are bowed in a moment of silent grace. All have joined hands; grown-ups, the children. Imagine if you can what it’s like to be suddenly overwelmed by a sense of family. John and I are across from each other. Here and here. We look up, catch the other’s eyes. He seems to kiss me without touching. And suddenly… I realize that tears are running down my cheeks. Stupid. I wipe them away. Stupid. I bow my head. I search deep in my heart of hearts for something I can sincerely give thanks for. I find nothing.

(wiping at her eyes, furious)

Damn. Damn, damn. This is stupid. What am I doing here. This is not me. What in god’s name am I doing here.

(Lightchange. Emily walks to the side of the stage and picks up up a suitcase. She moves back center as John enters.)

minnesota sky

JOHN

Emily. You’re leaving?

Thought I would.

JOHN

You weren’t going to tell me?

(Silence.)

JOHN

Why do you always quit? Today when we were in that kitchen and you were wrestling with that turnip, you didn’t quit once. I was so proud of you.

You should be with someone else –

JOHN

Don’t tempt me –

Not a woman like me.

JOHN

I never asked someone else to marry me.

Maybe someone else should have asked you first. Sorry. Bad joke.

JOHN

Why did you come here? Did you think you were going to be different? You don’t know who you are. You don’t know what you want. You don’t want to take the time to find out. You like the idea of loving someone but you don’t know what to do when it happens. You just want to run for the hills. I feel sorry for you. You’re so afraid.

Don’t!

JOHN

You don’t think other people have doubts? People always have doubts. You said to me once that falling in love was no big deal. I happen to think it is. But lets say it’s not. You know what is the big deal? Making a choice. When a man asks a women to marry him and she says yes, they’re not saying they’re going to love each other the rest of their lives. What they’re saying is that they choose to try. Two big words there. Choose. You make a choice. Try. Meaning just that. You try. And maybe you fail. The way things are these days, probably you fail. But that’s okay. Because what else is there? Tell me. I’d want to know what else there is.

I…

JOHN

What.

I just… I don’t know..

JOHN

Spit it out!

I mean, I’m going along and I’m – you know – but then I can’t help it, I…

JOHN

You’re so quick and cute and you’re glib and you never say anything that means the fuck of anything! Will you talk!?

I want to be alone! I don’t choose to try. I like being alone! Feeling like this doesn’t happen when I’m alone!!

JOHN

Feeling like this doesn’t happen when you’re dead either. You tear me up. You stupid, stupid…

I hate it when feelings get hurt.

JOHN

Who’s? Mine or yours?

I just, see, I can’t, I’m not a… Just everything.

JOHN

That about sums it up. Get out of here.

John, I want you to know I’ll… I’ll always root for golden gophers.

JOHN

Just get out of here.

(pause)

Emily. Travel safe.

(He exits. Lightchange.)

america according to the new yorker’s saul steinberg

I did. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. There’s a poem that starts that way. Like traditional wedding vows, it’s out of date and needs to be rewritten. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee like a beautiful place but you should know that I’m restless and I’ve never had a home. I love thee like the morning and the evening and the time between but you should know I’m afraid of growing old and the passing days drive me crazy. I love thee like in the movies but tell me what do we do when happy ever after fades to day after day and suddenly the credits roll? I am afraid I’ll be hurt. I am afraid I’ll hurt you. I am afraid to take chances. And so I love you enough to leave you now. I would love you more but I have never learned to love me. Life is pleasant enough without commitments. I wish I could have told you that. So. Let me tell you about me these days. I wake up in the morning. I wake up when I wake up, not before. I like to lie in bed and stare at the prints on the bedroom wall. Yeah. The stuff I’d pushed into the hallway I moved back in. I have one of those maps of the United States that shows all the avenues, the Hudson River and then Los Angeles. I stuck a little gold star in where Minnesota would be.

(The company enters.)

The phone will ring. It’s Daddy and he wants to know when I’m coming back to work. I don’t know if I want to, I’ll tell him. I don’t know when I’ll know. The phone will ring and it’s Hallie. She wants to know when I’m going to start dating again. She thinks it’s unhealthy to spend so much time alone. I tell her I’m tired of trying to like people. The phone will ring and it’s Dierdre. She’s decided she wants to be a grandmother. All her friends are and she wants to be too. Give me time, Mom. The phone will ring and it’s… a wrong number.

the new york skyline

I go running. I’m up to four miles a day. This time of year, the grounds of the park are covered with snow but the drive is cleared and I run on the pavement. I run easily. My stride is long and steady and my breath turns to steam in the cold air. Sometimes I stop and stare at the tops of the buildings that surround the park. They look like kings and queens and bishops and knights on a chess board. I don’t have to tell you who the pawns are.

(The company exits.)

Sometimes I stop and stare at… nothing. I wonder if I made a mistake. I wonder if I’ve run out of second chances. I wonder if ever again a man will ask me out for something as innocent as a milkshake.

(Lights fade to black on Emily.)

END OF PLAY