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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

(ACT TWO) EVERYONE WAS MOVING AWAY FROM ME AS IF I HAD A DISEASE.

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.

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