Thursday, July 27, 2017


Shared with Walter 7-26-27

From: Barbara Malley []
Sent: Wednesday, July 26, 2017 11:54 AM
To: 'Walter Greene'
Subject: More bbm material

From: Barbara Malley []
Sent: Monday, July 24, 2017 10:49 PM
To: kathie mm (
Subject: More bbm material

February 10, 1990
     With Ed Brecher's help, I had just completed 100 pages of a sort of memoir when he committed suicide.  He had been in failing health, was losing his eyesight, and believed in the right to exit life when it was no longer bearable.  It was devastating news.
     The best therapy after such a crushing loss was to change gears and immerse myself in writing a second workbook based on Mother's poems.  But in November I picked up the threads of my other book and decided to send the five chapters to Roger Donald, Ed's former Little, Brown editor in New York.
     Weeks went by. Finally I got through by phone to Mr. Donald and learned he had never heard of me or my book but said he would track it down and get back to me.
     A few days later he called and said, "I found your book and I love it." To which I replied, as who wouldn't: "My Gawd!" He said to give him a few weeks, as he wasn't sure how to go about publishing a book with such an unusual format. A week later he called and said flatly, "I'm going to publish your book."
     At sixty-eight years of age, I hung up the phone and began leaping around my condominium like a drunkenly garrulous gazelle, crying oh wow, oh gosh, I can't believe this! I called Kathie, but she was at a meeting, so I raved some more to the pictures on the wall and executed a few more dance steps. When I finally reached Kathie at home, we rejoiced together. I thought of Mom's poem about sadness and joy.
                                                       Sorrow lives behind a wall.
                                                       Alone, the heart can bear it;
                                                       But gladness cannot live at all
                                                       Unless there's one to share it.
     Rhyme Time, based on 19 of Ernestine's poems, is slated for publication in 1991. My talented friend Grace Lawrence will again be the illustrator.

     I don't know when I'll have definite news about the Little, Brown adventure but meanwhile, what pipe dreams I'm having . . . my book made into a movie . . . an appearance on Phil Donahue's show. No, that's ridiculous. I'm too much of a scaredy cat even to imagine such a foolish dream. I get all shaky and self-conscious if I have to make a short announcement at a golf club luncheon. Maybe I'll acquire some poise by the time I'm seventy five.                                                  
March 22, 1990
     I just brought the remaining chapters to Colleen Mohyde, the editor I'll be working with at Little, Brown's Boston branch on Beacon Hill. She said she loved every word of what I had previously submitted, so I'm on tenterhooks to hear her reaction to the rest.
     I never expected the twilight of my years to be so rapturous. When doubts about the reality of it all creep into my mind, I can hear Mom's voice urging me to think positively.
     I talked to my New York agent, Don Congdon, and learned he has represented authors like "Bill" Manchester, Ray Bradbury, William Styron, Lillian Hellman, and the guy who wrote Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask.  Don told me this manuscript was first submitted under the title, Beyond the Birds and the Bees. None of the editors thought it was catchy enough. They were all sitting around a table one day when the author, Dr. David Reuben, spoke up and said, “Remember when you people asked me to describe what my book was about? I wrote back and said it was everything you ever wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask.  How would that be for a title?"
     Everyone liked it except Don. "It wouldn't fit on a movie marquee," he said, being a practical, far-sighted man. "Obviously, I couldn't have been more mistaken."     
     Don has unbelievable plans for my book; talks casually about Canadian rights and excerpts for magazines and maybe a movie. When I reported this to Aliceann during my visit to Singer Island, she said: "When they make the movie, I want to play Aliceann."
     I can't think of anyone else who could.  

Walter, Aliceann was Ed’s second wife.
March 28, 1991 Weymouth
Dear Aliceann,
     Your phone call last night meant more to me than you can imagine. It was as if you were psychic and wanted to reassure me. Kathie had discussed with me the pressure you were under during my visits of the last two years. I knew and could understand your parents' negative feelings about our friendship but hadn't realized your friends felt the same way about "that woman."
     I don’t ever again want to cause you the slightest discomfort. What with a recuperating husband and a calendar crammed with activities, you have enough stress without my piling on more. If I ever visit Singer Island again, I'll stay no longer than a weekend.                                                             
     just got your phone call.  It didn't change my mind about shortening any future visits but it was certainly comforting. Not that you ever made me feel unwelcome for a moment, bless your generous heart.
     Give my love to our favorite husband.


Shared with Walter Greene on 7/26/27
May 15, 1991
From letter to my brother, Dick
      I was happy to hear that you liked Take My Ex.  Publishing a book has added a lot of excitement to my life.  I've autographed copies in two bookstores and appeared on a local cable TV program called "Pierson to Person."    
     At first the idea of even giving a newspaper interview was alarming‑‑how could I express myself properly without my computer and Roget's Thesaurus?  But gradually I've begun to relax and enjoy the interviews.  "Pierson to Person" was great fun because the host arranged for Ed and Aliceann to call in halfway through the program, with the Florida Malleys answering questions and making comments from their two telephones.  Both were articulate and funny.  
     Aliceann told the host and his viewers that she calls me from time to time to ask my advice on how to cope with that husband of ours.  It gets her goat when they are out boating and Ed tells her to bring the boat into the wind.
     "I say I don't know where the wind is or how to bring the boat into it."  Then Ed says, `Barbara used to do it,' and I say, `But I'm not Barbara!'"
    "Atta girl," I said into the mike.  "You tell 'im!" 
    Wig has been generous about mentioning my book on his program.  A friend told me she happened to tune into "Pierson to Person" just as Wig was announcing that my book had sold four thousand copies.    Actually that figure represents the number of copies Little, Brown has distributed to bookstores all over the country.  They printed a total of seven thousand, and of course I'm hoping there will be a second printing.  And yes, dear brother, it would be very exciting if a movie producer became interested in my book. . . .  


Reply to Newton High School classmate Aura Kruger
June 22, 2010
Dear Aura,
      No, I didn’t really keep a diary, except for our boat’s Log, in which I recorded adventures as they happened.  Some of them wound up as articles in Yachting and Motor Boating.  Letters, first to my mother, then to grown-up Kathie, were the basis of articles about our flying hobby, published in flying magazines.  They also appeared, greatly condensed, in my memoir, Take My Ex-Husband, Please—But Not Too Far, published by Little, Brown in 1991.  Without the blessing of your photographic memory, I relied on letters to keep track of events in my life.  Always kept a rough draft or a carbon copy in the early days.  Now a computer makes a journalist’s hobby a lot simpler.

       Your daughter Jo kindly told me how to contact Michael Mitchell, your dramaturgist.  Kathie and I wrote a play called The Tempestuous Triangle, which received a couple of encouraging responses from play publishers.*  The lover (Michael corrected me for referring to him as my sweetheart, saying I should call a lover a lover) whom I met at Parents Without Partners during the throes of separation and divorce, was named Rob in the play.  The first few weeks after we started dating, I jotted down his droll remarks, recalling them as best I could.  I remarked to Kathie that it was too bad I didn’t have a far-away family member I could write to about this funny man.  She said she had a spare tape-recorder, and from then on, the machine was an eavesdropper in my kitchen
Excerpt from synopsis of play:
      Not only were their billings and cooings and constant laughter audible on the tapes, but also their arguments about sex, the double standard, feminism, homosexuality, transvestistm, the new morality, and politics.  Rob was a hawk, she was a dove.  Her biases were Darwin yes, God maybe, Nixon no.  His were the opposite.  He was adamant about one thing:  he wanted to keep seeing Julie no matter how misguided her thinking.
      I spent two years in my early 80s transcribing the 84 tapes, then reducing the thousand pages to 400.  Kathie condensed the 400 to around 150 pages of dialogue, still too long for a play.  I received a complimentary rejection from the editor of a play publisher,* who gave me the names of four other publishers, but to no avail. This is where dramaturgist Michael comes in.  He has already made some excellent suggestions, which I will start incorporating as soon as I finish this letter.  (We just had a power outage that lasted for two hours.  Fortunately I had saved the first half of my response to you.   This is one way that writing on paper has an advantage over e-mails—you don’t lose the letter when there’s a blackout)
      Your bi-weekly outing to participate in a book discussion group sounds like the one I belonged to when I took an Oriental Brush course.  We students and our teacher used to get together for lunch and gift-giving whenever one of us had a birthday.  Nowadays my outings are for duplicate bridge.  My partner and I came in first yesterday, ahead of a bridge teacher and his expert partner.  Activities like this are good exercise for aging brains, Aura, and you outdo me in that department. 
      Your letter came in an envelope so fortified with invisible tape that I spent a very long time trying to get at the contents, turning it over and over, searching for a vulnerable spot.  Finally found a tiny opening and pried my way into Kruger’s Fort Knox.  It was well worth the effort, dear friend, but next time, please make the envelope a little easier to open.  Which reminds me: one of my children used to call Milk of Magnesia "Milk’ll Make It Easier."  With much love. . . . 
February 11, 2011
Dear Aura,
       I carry the manuscript of your book around with me in my car.  If I get stuck in traffic, I can turn to any page and find something agreeably readable.  And of course I always bring a book to doctors’ appointments.  I can imagine how great it makes you feel to hear that professionals like your  MD's are interested in your writings.
       Right now I’m reading a biography of P. G. Wodehouse, called Simply Wodehouse.  I’ve read every other biographer’s take on one of my favorite authors and have read all of Pelham Grenville’s (Wodehouse's real name) books at least twice over the years.  The prologue to Rescuing the Old Buzzard features Jeeves, Jr., my subliminal assistant, inherited from Mother’s Jeeves.
       In short, life is good at almost 90.  You have often reminded me that you’re a year younger than I, despite our being in the same class at Newton High.  Now I’ll remind you that I’m the first to become a nonagenarian.  Never thought I’d enjoy it so much. . . .                     


                       THE TEMPESTUOUS TRIANGLE 
                                              by                                                                                     Barbara Beyer Malley
                         Dr. Kathleen Malley-Morrison
Reminiscing Julie (rising from chair she will occupy stage left throughout the play) 
Welcome, everyone.  I’d like to give you a preview of this play, which takes place in the 90s and involves 4 characters. 
Charles Griffeth is a male chauvinist 56-year-old high liver, unfaithful to his wife for years, sees no reason why he shouldn’t have his cake and eat it too.  He’s the dynamic owner of vacation homes, boats, and planes.
Rob Brennan is a boyish 53-year-old widower whom Julie met at Parents Without Partners.  As a bank teller, he barely makes ends meet for himself and his two daughters.  Conservative, inhibited, finicky, funny, he adores Julie no matter how misguided her thinking.
Julie Griffeth, at 51, is well-preserved  (Charles’s term) and recently separated.  She keeps herself busy taking various courses and volunteers every Saturday at The Samaritans. Unconventional, intensely liberal, Julie adores Rob, despite his flawed views, most of which are the opposite of hers. Then there's me, a decade later, your guide in this tangled web. As Reminiscing Julie, I'll be commentating on what happened in the past, introducing new scenes, and filling in the blanks when the characters can't speak for themselves.

Okay, let’s get started.  Only two years before Charles and I separated, we had a jesting conversation about divorce, inspired by a magazine article titled “Should You Remarry a Man You’ve Divorced?” Dan Chadwick, Charles’s lawyer and best friend, always maintained that once a couple divorces, they don’t want any part of each other.  Charles, intrigued, envisioned a different scenario. I clearly recall our banter over dinner at the Esquire Grill.
(Reminiscing Julie sighs, sits down. Charles and Young Julie enter from stage right.)
Charles (thoughtfully):  What I would do is come to see you a couple of times a week.  No evil intentions, you understand—this would be just a friendly, platonic visit.
Julie:  You’d better call first.  I might be out. 
Charles:  I’d bring you a little present of some kind:  flowers, perfume, candy—”
Julie:  Just say money and I’ll make a point of staying home.
Charles:  I’d probably bring a clean shirt and socks so I could shower and change . . .
Julie:  Not in my bathroom, you don’t.  That sounds entirely too domestic to me.
Charles:  All right, I’d go to my apartment and freshen up there—but you understand we’d lose a lot of time.
Julie:  You should’ve thought of that before the divorce, dum-dum.
Charles:  Okay, so you open the door and there I am.  Let’s see, what do you do?  We’re civilized people, you’d probably lean over and give me a little kiss on the cheek.
Julie:  Not me! 
Charles:  Well, what would you do—shake hands?
Julie:  I’d take the present, and say, “You know I don’t eat candy!”
Charles (undaunted)):  Then we’d sit down and have a friendly little vodka martini . . .
Julie:  I hope you brought your own.  I’ve turned the bar into a Health Nook.
Charles:  I’d ask how the kids were—
Julie:  You should know.  You’ve got `em!
Charles:  --and how your mother was doing.
Julie:  She’s making good money painting.  We certainly can’t get along on your alimony.
Charles (still undaunted):  Then I’d say, `Where would you like to go to dinner—The Red Coach?   Fox and Hounds?  The Cabin?
Julie (sounding bored):  Oh, these decisions!
Charles (hanging in there): All right, I’d sweep you off your feet and order a candlelit table for two at Joanne’s Kitchen—
Julie (softening):  You’re reaching me—
Charles:  Mildred would say,  “Mr. and Mrs. Griffeth, we haven’t seen you in a long time!
Julie:  You’d pull out my chair and help with my coat—
Charles:  I’d play `our song’ on the jukebox—
Julie (dreamily):  “Too Young.”
Charles (perking up and singing the first line):  “They tried to tell us we’re too young.”
Julie (taking Charles’s hand and gazing into his eyes):  And then I’d say, “Let’s go home and pretend we’re married again.”
(Julie and Charles exit briefly stage right.)
Reminiscing Julie: Although I had loved Charles ever since we met when I was seventeen, his heavy weekend drinking was a trial during our 30 years of marriage. I always consoled myself with the thought that at least he wasn’t cheating like so many men in our town.  Then, like countless other wives, I found a letter.  I had been as na├»ve as any other last-to-know wife.  Stunned by my husband’s betrayal, I was haunted by questions:  Who?  Where? When?  How long?
     I asked for a trial separation, then discovered that being single again wasn’t all bad.  I was free to explore new worlds, including the world evolving inside my head.  I signed up for a seminar for recently divorced men and women and contacted Parents Without Partners.  I learned they excluded people whose children were over eighteen—female people, that is.  Males, with or without children, were welcome as long as they weren’t comatose.  I argued and persisted until finally I was steered toward a branch that accepted me despite the advanced ages of my progeny.  Could I help it if I'd been a child bride?
     The first social event I attended was a cookout at some woman's house.  We strangers milled around in her rumpus room, smiling brightly at each other, having nothing in common except our unhappiness.  After awhile I noticed we’d been joined by a tall man with gray hair and glasses. "Well, here's another one," I thought, glancing at him casually.  
(Rob moves from stage right to stand next to Reminiscing Julie.)
Rob (to audience):  She looked at me.
Reminiscing Julie:  We had hardly exchanged names and a word or two when a debonair individual with dark, slicked‑back hair asked me to dance.  "Let's get away from this crowd," he murmured in my ear, tangoing me out the door. He drew together a couple of patio chairs, and began explaining why I was so fortunate to have met him.  I grew restless immediately. I had the weird but insistent feeling that I was being unfaithful to Rob.  I stood up, told my smooth‑talking companion that I was going back to the party, and left. 
Rob (to audience):  Of course I was worrying. How did I know she’d ever come back?
Reminiscing Julie:  Rob was waiting for me.  He appeared far from prepossessing, but that was because I didn't know him yet.  When you're not in love, you can be quite blind.  As weeks went by and my vision cleared, Rob began to look more and more like Paul Newman.  Paul Newman with a sense of humor was irresistible.  
Rob  (to audience): The night I met her, I talked to myself out loud all the way home.  I had to talk to someone. “She should be with me,” I’m saying.  “Why am I not driving her home?  I was sure I’d be driving her home.”  
(Rob returns to stage right, picks up a portable phone.  Julie enters from stage left, sits down on desk chair near Reminiscing Julie.)
Rob (to audience): The minute I got home, I couldn’t wait to call her, although I wasn’t sure what I would say.  (He lifts phone and dials, says “Ring, ring.”)  
(Julie picks up her phone.)
Younger Julie:  Hello?  (Pause.) Hello?  (Pause.) Hello? Anybody there?
Rob: (tentatively) Hello?
Younger Julie: Is that you, Rob? Why didn't you speak up? I thought—
Rob: I figured you wouldn't be home yet and started to hang up.  Then I decided to wait for one more ring.
Younger Julie: I’m glad you did.  I thought you were a sex maniac."
Rob: I'll do my best.
Reminiscing Julie: Affable, easy-going, Rob was anything but a sex maniac. We did a lot of passionate kissing, but not a word was said about B E D. At last he uttered that beautiful three-letter word, but I didn’t want to seem too easy. I murmured, “We probably should wait until we know each other better.” 
(Looks at audience) What a mistake that was!  Reminiscing Julie sits. Younger Julie stands and moves to stage right, beside Rob.
Rob (to audience):  I thought she’d give me some kind of signal when she decided we knew each other well enough.  Finally, one night I was at the door, kissing her goodnight, and radiating enough heat to melt an igloo, when she said the magic words.  “Have you got five minutes?” It was the easiest question she’d ever asked me.
Julie:  It felt so right for us to be together. I’m not religious, but it really seemed like fate that I managed to get to that particular party at that particular time. Doesn’t it seem like fate to you?
Rob:  Actually, I don't believe in things like predestination.  Of course I could be wrong, and when the time comes, if I find myself in Heaven, I'll just come right out and admit it.  (Looks at audience .)
I'll say, “You sure had me fooled, Your Bigness."
(Rob exits, stage right.  Charles enters from stage right and begins pacing up and down.) 
Charles: Julie, we need to have a serious talk about this trial separation. It isn’t working out.
Julie:  Okay, but not for long.  I’m expecting Rob in half an hour. 
Charles:  That guy you met at Parents Without Partners?  I hear he’s a bank teller.  What are you doing with an effing marshmallow like that?
Julie (Fires up immediately):  The same thing you were doing on your effing business trips!  Your secret double life!   How do you think it made me feel when you’d walk into the house with that smirk on your face, that effing guilty smile of yours?
Charles (sitting down beside Julie, and trying to take her hand):  I’m truly sorry I hurt you, Julie.  I want you back in my life.  Can’t you find it in your heart to forgive and forget like other wives? 
Julie (snatches her hand away, jumps up, and starts pacing)Screw the other wives! I need to know exactly what the hell I’m supposed to be forgiving! You clammed up and never answered a single one of my questions.  Tell me the truth for once in your life!  How long did this affair go on?  Were there others I don't know about?
Charles: Only a few. (Julie stops pacing and gasps loudly with a sharp intake of breath.) None of them meant a damn to me, Julie, honest to God.   The affair . . .was a long time.
Julie (Staring accusingly at Charles while she paces):  How many years is a long time?  How many years was I trying to have a good marriage, while you were getting drunk as a skunk every weekend and being arrogant and hostile and not remembering the next day how the evening ended.  Not remembering whether I’d been kind and patient, which I tried to be because I knew you weren’t yourself.  Always assuming we’d probably had a fight, and being cold to me for hours because you didn’t know how things stood.  Week after week, month after month.  And was your girlfriend seeing any of that?  No.  Did she see you so drunk at 3 a.m. that you fell into bed unconscious, your snoring rattling the rafters and making sleep impossible for me?  NoWhile she was getting the debonair, charming Charles, the wining, dining, romancing and the I-love-yous, I was getting all the SHIT.
Charles:  I swear I’ve always loved you, Julie.  You’re the only one I’ve ever loved or ever will love.
Julie (still pacing, voice rising to a shrewish pitch):  Did you tell her that?  Or did you tell her your wife was a shrew and a nag, she was no good in bed, she was a slob, or she got fat?  What excuses did you invent for justifying your cheating?  Married men always come up with excuses like that!
Charles:  For what it’s worth, I’m finally able to understand what you went through.  I never was able to feel your unhappiness before. 
Julie:  “I felt worse because I didn’t deserve it.  I had no one!. You had your business, your squash, your trips, your golf, your girlfriends, you had all those things, but my whole life was you.
Charles:  You’re right. You got a raw deal.   Somehow I’m going to make it up to you.  We have a lot of good years ahead of us. (Wistfully) Come on, Julie, let’s grow old together.
 (Phone rings.  Julie picks it up, says, “Hi, Rob. Uh huh, me too.” Bursts out laughing at something Rob says, “Okay, see you shortly if not sooner,” and hangs up, smiling at Charles, her anger dissipated.)
Julie: You’d better go now.  (She walks with him to the door.)  Charles, I hope you’ll find someone else to love.  I really do.
Charles:  You might as well ask me to amputate one of my arms. 
(Charles exits stage right)    .
Reminiscing Julie:  So, I had a quandary. I found myself feeling sorry for Charles and wanting him to be happy but not with me as his wife.  I loved Rob and his offbeat sense of humor, but I quickly learned that my notion of fun was his notion of folly. Persuading him to share a bowl of pot-laced pudding was like asking him to eat caterpillarsReminiscing Julie sits.

(Rob enters from stage right. He and younger Julie pull up their chairs to the table, which is set up with a couple of small dishes and spoons. They sit on either side of the table but still primarily facing the audience.)
Julie:  Rob, why aren’t you eating your pudding?
Rob:  Because it doesn’t look edible. What's this little wormy thing?  (Rob squeamishly picks something out of the pudding and holds it up. 
Julie:  It's probably something good, Rob. 
Rob:  Eugh!  What’s in here? 
Julie:  Just pudding, peanuts, and pot.  (She eats some of her pudding.) By quarter of ten we should be in outer space.
(Rob hums a few bars of "It's quarter to ten.")
Julie:  Do you want some cream on your pudding?
Rob:  I don't even want the pudding.  How much pot is in here? 
Julie:  About a cigarette and a half.
Rob:  How much did this stuff cost? 
Julie:  Twenty dollars an ounce, forty altogether.
Rob:  (Aghast.)  You paid forty dollars for these twigs?  Holy shit!
Julie:  So don’t waste your pudding, it's valuable. Where’s your sense of adventure?
Rob:  I try to leave it at home when I come here. (beat)  Is this a recipe for pot or for pudding?  Why are the nuts in there?
Julie:  This was supposed to be Butterscotch Banana Delight, but I didn't have any bananas, so I put in the peanuts.  Then you're supposed to fold in whipped cream, but I didn't have any whipped cream. (Rob stands up and walks toward stage right. Julie raises voice several decibels.) ROB, WHERE ARE YOU GOING?
Rob:  What are you hollerin' for!  I wasn't going far.  There's a movie I want to see on TV.
Julie:  Eat your pudding and then you can see it.
Rob:  Gee.  Fifty‑three years old and I gotta eat my pudding before I can watch television.   (Cautiously samples a tiny bit of pudding.)  I'm glad I’ve never been able to throw up.  This is something I wouldn't want to taste a second time.
(To be continued)


To: kathieMM []
Sent: Friday, February 21, 2014 4:20 PM
Subject: OUR PLAY
From: kathieMM [] 
Sent: Friday, February 21, 2014 5:36 PM
To: 'Barbara Malley
Subject: RE: OUR PLAY

From: Barbara Malley (mom) [] 
Sent: Friday, February 21, 2014 9:41 PM
Subject: RE: OUR PLAY

 Note to visitors:  If any of you can refer us to a play publisher, Kathie and I would be grateful. bbm


Attention visitors:  I have lost the place where I need to scroll down to Act Three.  I'll shut down this computer and start over. bbm

Julie:  Rob, do you remember meeting Eliza Davis at the Chadwicks?  I got a phone call from her this morning. She invited me to her cookout next Sunday. And I don’t want to go without you.
Rob:  Well, if you want to go, and you don’t want to go without me, it looks like I’m going.  If I know you.
Julie:  Now, just a minute, Rob. 
Rob:  Now, just a minute, Rob.  If I know me, I’m a cinch. 
Julie:  That’s better.  Don’t give me that ball-and-chain routine.  I had that for thirty years.
Rob:  If you want to go with me to the cookout, that’s it.  We’ll go. (pause.) What will I wear?
Julie:  Charles says he's going to wear slacks and a shirt.
Rob:  That's what I'll wear then.  If it’s good enough for Charles . . . (double take.) What the hell has Charles got to do with it?
Julie:  He’ll be there. He says he’ll shake hands with you, of course.  But he’ll have a poisoned pin in his.
Rob:  (looking at audience) I’ll wear gloves. (pause)  Hey, you look really nice sitting beside that window.  Your skin shines . . . Julie.  Julie.  I’d like to get married to that skin.
Julie:  That’s a scary idea. (Quotes imaginary headline to audience.) “Man marries skin, dumps woman.”
Rob exits stage right. Charles enters from stage right, joins Julie, and starts pacing.
Charles: I’m so sick of this dating business.  Marsha calls and says, “Come on over and have a nice dinner,” sounding so innocent.  So I go over and there’s wine and candlelight and it’s all very pleasant.  Then she mentions the tennis club opening this weekend, and it’s clear the whole thing is a setup.
Julie:  Marsha is the one you saw for a while before you met Claire?
Charles:  Yeah, I still see her occasionally.  I feel sorry for her.  So I say, “All right, let’s go to the party.”  Then I see Claire and she says, “Of course we’re going to the tennis opening,” and I don’t know what to do.  I can’t lie because she’ll hear about it later.  I feel like going to Antarctica so I won't have to face these problems. 
Julie:  Claire is currently your favorite, right?  I’m betting she’s a blonde. 
Charles:  Right.  She’s a well-preserved blonde with a great-looking pair of false eyelashes.  They have a way of falling off in all the excitement.  We spend a lot of time crawling around in bed, frantically looking for them.
Julie:  Well, as long as they don’t go crawling around looking for you.  When Claire isn’t available, why don’t you try your luck at one of those singles cocktail lounges?  Somewhere there must be a lady who can keep her eyelashes on no matter how excited she gets.
Charles:  No way.  For every woman there, there’s at least twenty males vying for her attention.  How can a man in his fifties cope with all that competition? 
Julie:  Maybe you should try a regular bar.
Charles:  I tried that a few nights ago in Quincy. I ordered a drink, looked around, and saw everyone moving away from me as if I had a disease.  Then I noticed they were all male.  It was a gay bar.  See what I mean?  I’m a walking disaster without you. The only real solution is for you to come back to me.
Julie:  The trouble is, you’re too dependent on Claire.  She’s dating other guys.  You should be dating other women, instead of turning to me every time you’re lonely.
Charles:  I can’t find any other women I like.
Julie:  You found that Sheila you met in Pelican Shores.
Charles (still pacing):  I was never serious about her. 
Julie:  Then how come you invited her to stay with you for a trial engagement?
Charles:  She thought she wanted to get married.  I just wanted her to find out for herself what a mistake she’d be making if she married me.
Julie:  Charles, I never realized how truly noble and self-sacrificing you are.
Charles (Stops pacing for a minute and crows):  I’m a marvelous person!   (pause) Can I ask you a question?  How often is it with you and Rob? (Startled, Julie gapes at audience.)
Julie (hesitantly):  Well, it’s—uh—regularly. Rob is a very affectionate person.  I would like the closeness and affection even if all we did was cuddle.  You always used to say, “You know what cuddling leads to.”
Charles:  That hurts.
Julie:  You shouldn’t have asked the question.  Did you think I had fallen for a eunuch?
Charles:  I hoped so.
Julie:  Cuddling would have been enough for me when we were together, only you stopped giving me even that much attention.  In fact, when we passed each other in the hall, you would shrink away from me as if you couldn’t stand to be that close. That bewildered me.  I felt like a leper.
Charles:  It bewilders me.  If I did that, it had to be a case of temporary insanity.  You should have had me committed.  (Sits down beside Julie.)  Julie, I have a proposition for you.  If you’ll come back to me, you can do anything you like.  We’ll travel, the way you always wanted to.  Don’t answer right away.  Think about it. 
Julie:  I’m sorry, Charles, I’m not interested in any propositions.  I’m loving my independence.  I’m already planning to take a trip next fall.
Charles:  With Rob?
Julie:  No, with Eliza Davis.  When she heard I’d never been to Disney Land, she said let’s go. 
Charles: Cancel Eliza and I’ll fly you there tomorrow.
Julie: Sorry, Charles. I just can’t do that.
Charles:  All right, how about flying over to the Island with me some day next week?
Julie:  Okay, that would be fun.
Charles:  Will you please think about what I’ve been saying?  Think about the happy times?
Julie (Gives Charles a hug, as he exits stage right.):  Yes, dear, we did have a lot of happy times. 

Reminiscing Julie:  There had indeed been many happy times with Charles when we weren’t caught up in the wild parties he loved and I loathed, but now my happiest times were definitely with Rob. For the first time in years I had a chance to relax on weekends and enjoy my freedom and realize how little interest I had in being a wife again.

 (Rob enters stage right and starts pacing in the ditch Charles left in Julie’s carpet.)
Rob:  Julie, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about us.  I keep thinking I'd like to know, just for myself, that we were actually married. Then I’d have something nobody can take away from me . . like that darn plumber you used to date.
Julie: The plumber?  I called it off with the plumber after the night I met you.  Let’s sit down and talk about this. (They sit.)  I like the idea of marriage, Rob.  I love the idea of it.  But getting married seems to change people in ways that aren't good.  We'd both feel different. We'd feel more like telling each other what to do, trying to control each other.  Once you sign that piece of paper . . .
Rob:  I wouldn't sign anything.  No, no, I'd have the ceremony unsigned.   I wouldn't insist that you sign anything.
Julie:  But someday you might meet somebody you liked more than me. You'd go off with a broad half your age and leave me sitting in my rocking chair, reminiscing about my Rob and his kisses. (pause)   Did I tell you that the first time Eliza Davis met you, she came over to me and said you had a very sensuous mouth?
Rob.  She did not.  I do not.
Julie:  I said, does he everbecause that’s exactly what you have, Rob.  And after she said that, she leaned over and kissed me.  I wasn’t surprised.  I’ve thought for a long time that she might be bi-sexual.
Rob:  Kissed you on the mouth?  That’s pretty weird. 
Julie:  Eliza asked me how I could stand the way Charles paces up and down, jingling his keys.
Rob:   How did she know that?
Julie:  She knows that because I suggested he date her after her divorce.  They had dinner a couple of times, but they didn’t hit it off. 
Rob:  He must have jingled his keys once too often.
(Rob exits stage right, Julie exits stage left.)

Reminiscing Julie:  Meanwhile, after years of baffling detachment, Charles was turning my life into an implausible movie script.  Among his enticements were constant offers to fly me to exotic destinations—the Bahamas, Hilton Head, Jamaica. He seemed simultaneously so depressed and so endearing that I decided it wouldn’t hurt to spend an occasional platonic evening with him.
(Reminiscing Julie sits.)
(Charles enters from stage right, puts some dirty plates on the table and sits.)
(Julie enters from stage left with an empty tray, and starts picking up the dirty dishes.)
Charles:  Can I do anything for you? 
Julie:  No, thank you.
Charles:  Want me to rinse those and put them in the dishwasher while you freshen up? 
Julie:  Nope. 
Charles:  I’d be glad to. 
Julie:  Thank you.  (Pause.) I talked to Rob about your suggestion that I spend every other weekend with you.
Charles:  I’ve changed my mind.  I shouldn’t have asked.  I’m sure he’s already unhappy about how much time you’ve been spending with me.
Julie:  Actually he said it was up to me, he wasn’t going to—
Charles (interrupting):  Honey, let’s not . . . really, just forget it.  I could tell you weren’t happy about the idea, and of course he’s unhappy about it.  Forget it.
Julie:  But don’t
Charles:  Honey, let’s not talk about it.  Let’s not spoil a nice evening by talking about Rob.
Julie:  But
Charles:  (Raising voice.)  HONEY, LET’S NOT TALK ABOUT IT!  I understand how you feel, and I’m not going to press you.  I can settle for coming over once or twice a week and enjoying your company and having dinner and a nice sleep in the guest room.  That will be fine.  I’ll read my Time magazine, and I’ll go to bed.  Do your dishes, do your dishes, do your dishes.  Don’t worry about me. (Charles exits stage left, toward bedroom area.)
(Julie looks at the dishes, shakes her head, goes to desk and starts to write. A minute goes by as she concentrates on her writing, scratches something out, looks off into space.  Charles enters from stage left, but Julie is so engrossed, she doesn’t see him.)
Charles:  What are you doing, dear? 
Julie (Screams AARRGGHH, then collapses on desk, arms spread):  What does it look like I’m doing?
Charles:  Having a stroke.
Julie:  It’s more like a heart attack.  My heart is still thumping.  I’m writing to Eliza about our upcoming trip to Disney Land. 
Charles:  Just don’t try to fix me up with her again. She couldn’t have been clearer about her complete lack of interest in me. (pause) I’m glad you’re letting me stay over. It gives me hope.
Julie:  Please don’t hope too much, dear.  Remember how you used to say you wished I could be your sister?  That’s what I’d like to be now.
Charles:  I must have been deranged when I said that, but as you can see, I’m being very well behaved.  (pause) Goodnight, Sis.
Julie:  Now you’ve got the idea.  Goodnight, Bro.
(Charles exits, stage left. Julie goes back to writing her letter for a moment, then covers a yawn with her hand and puts her head down on the desk.
Reminiscing Julie speaks: (Younger Julie sits up and listens).  Charles was indeed well-behaved for his sleepover, but the courting continued.  Reminiscing Julie sits.
(Rob enters stage right, carrying a parcel, and joins Julie.  He puts the parcel on the table and gives her a hug.)
Julie: Charles was gone when I got up this morning, but he left a note with another of his sales pitches. He said he was thinking of renting a cottage on Donna’s Island, and if he did, he’d let you and me have it for two or three days. He’d even fly us there.  What do you think of that? 
Rob:  Need you ask what I think of that?
Julie:   I thought it was kind of him to make the offer.
Rob:   Jesus, he doesn’t believe I would ever go for a thing like that, does he?  He may believe you would.
Julie:  I wondered if maybe this would be his way of solving everything.   Head east until we run out of gas.  He’s talked about this solution before.
Rob:  Beautiful!  Oh, beautiful!
Julie:  Then I thought I could do the flying.  I’m getting better at keeping it straight and level. You could watch him, and if he started to do anything suspicious—
Rob:  You’d have me in the same plane???   You’re mad!
Julie:  This was his idea, that he’d fly us over.
Rob:  Yeah, but then you thought you’d do the flying, and I’d watch him?    Are you daft? 
Julie:  You mean you’d be watching me if I were doing the flying?
Rob:  (Emphatically.) I wouldn’t be there!  There’s no way I’d be there! 
Julie:  You don’t trust my flying? 
Rob:  I don’t trust your plane.  (Looks at audience) I’m going soon enough without looking for opportunities. (pause.)  When are you going to open the anniversary present I brung you?
Julie:  Ohmigosh, I noticed you were carrying something and then forgot all about it.
Rob:  (Feigning hurt feelings.) Right, right.  I’ll remember that the next time you give me one.  If you knew what I went through and how long I’ve been waiting for this moment to happen, Julie baby.
Julie:  (Unwrapping gift.) Oh, a pewter plate! (Reads engraving) “A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou—” I love it, Rob!  It’s beautiful!  I’ve gotta do something special with it.  Like hide it.  
Rob:  (Bark of laughter.) That’s the special thing you’re going to do?
Julie:  In case I’m not here and Charles drops in.  I don’t want to make him feel worse than he already does.  He called again today to ask if he could see me next Thursday, and I said not really, because I’m going away to a workshop next weekend, and I’ll want to see Rob the night before I go.  He said, that’s not static on the phone, it’s my heart breaking.
Rob:  You’re going away for what workshop? 
Julie:  Remember Lee Doyle?  She’s coming back to run another workshop.  Eliza Davis and I both signed up for it. 
Rob:  Is this another photography course?
Julie:  No, this isn’t photography, this is sex.  Lee Doyle is the woman who was the first trainee for Masters and Johnson.
Rob:  (Puzzled.) What is there about sex that you don’t know, Julie?
Julie:   Well, if there is anything, I’m gonna find out, and it’s gonna cost us $300 apiece.
Rob:  (To audience.): Holy mackerel.  That's like fish paying $300 for swimming lessons.  (Looks sentimentally back at Julie.) But I love you, Julie.  I’d do anything in the world for you.  
Julie:  Would you fix my bird feeder, even?
Rob:  I knew you’d go too far.   
Julie:  (Laughing, gives him a push.) Wise guy.  (pause.)  Rob, you know that lounge chair you set up for me in the yard?  We were all supposed to bring chairs to the final Mind Control session.  When I sat down on it, it collapsed with my arm caught on one side and my leg on the other, so that I could not move. It took two guys, one grabbing each of my arms—
Rob:  Are you trying to make me happy?
Julie:   You should be glad they were there to rescue me, or I’d still be there. 
Rob:  Who were they, Julie? 
Julie:  One had something to do with electronics.  I was telling him about you.
Rob:  Good. We’re getting back to me.
Julie:  I told him I’d tried to work things out with my husband, but I was miserable.  We had a trial separation, and my whole life has changed.  I met someone I’m in love with, and I’ve never been happier.   
Rob:  Keep talking. I like the part about your being miserable with your husband. If I were at any of the sessions you’ve been going to, I wouldn’t let you out of my sight for one minute. 
Julie:  Unless you were mad at me again.
Rob:    When you get mad, I always think of the time you said, “And you’re not it!”  Jeez, I thought I was it.  
Julie:   When we house-sat for your sister?   I had a good reason for being mad, Rob.  You went out to get the paper, and it started to rain, so you ducked into a pizza parlor and had a beer and a pizza.
Rob:  I remember that.  I brought back a slice for you.  A pizza offering, you might say. (Rob grins at the audience.)
Julie (not amused):  You were gone for a solid hour while I was trying not to overcook our dinner.  That made me so angry, that’s when I said, “I thought I’d found the perfect man, but you’re not it!
Rob:  At first I thought you were kidding.   Then I’m realizing, she’s not kidding.  She’s really mad.  (Looks at audience.)  All of a sudden to be told you’re not it, wow.  I said to myself, maybe I’ll be it tomorrow.
Julie:  It’s a wonder two people so different have gotten through a year.
Rob:  We’ll get through a lot of years, Julie, if you’ll just behave yourself.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


                   Mishap While Painting a Dahlia on Rice Paper

                    “Out, out, damned spot. I like you not,” I said.

                               I added legs and then a dot.

                                     A sort of head,

                                     A set of wings.

                             I studied the result (a bug)

                          And uttered my opinion (ugh).

                          “This bee is not to be,” I said.

                          “I’ll make a butterfly instead.”

                       The more I drew, the more it grew

                      And grew until the spot was worse

                     And drew from me a muttered curse.

                        “Out, out, yon butterfly,” I said,

                      Crisply chopping off its head and

                        Cropping quite a bit of dahlia.

                        Shit! My effort was a failyah.

                "The hour is late; I’m going to bed," I said.

                           I put my sumi brush away

                      And vowed I’d try again one day.