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The Motherhood Project: A Play in Two Acts by Kimberly C. Hutchinson

The Motherhood Project: A Play in Two Acts by Kimberly C. Hutchinson

Drama, Vol. 5.1, March 2011

 

CHARACTERS
J.D. A PhD dropout drifting through his thirties.
SKIP A burly forest ranger who could wrestle a bear but would rather get stoned with it. Thirties.
DIANE An underemployed scientist with a secret. In her thirties.
SOPHIE Early thirties. Wary of commitment, she’s treading water in DIANE’s shadow.
MIRANDA She’d be equally comfortable dining at the Ritz or mooning the crowd at a Knicks game. Thirties.
GOOSEFART SPENCER A rugged old-timer and local legend.
SOPHIE’S MOM A memory.
CLAUDIA SPINOZA DIANE’s super-scientist mother.
SKIP’S BOSS
J.D.’s MOM

SETTING
A small town in upstate New York where fourth-generation locals mix with well-heeled weekenders from the city.

TIME
It’s a typical Friday night. And the atypical month that follows it.

 

SCENES

ACT I

Scene 1 Pee-House Bar. Friday night.

Scene 2 The farmhouse. A few hours later.

Scene 3 The farmhouse. The next morning.

Scene 4 The farmhouse. Monday morning.

Scene 5 The farmhouse. Afternoon, a week later.

Scene 6 The farmhouse. Morning, a few days later.

Scene 7 The farmhouse. Evening, a few days later.

ACT II

Scene 1 The farmhouse. The morning after.

Scene 2 The farmhouse. Evening, a few days later.

Scene 3 The farmhouse. A few days later.

Scene 4 Siamese Pond. That night.

Scene 5 The farmhouse. Later the same night.

Scene 6 The farmhouse. The next morning.

 

Then little Silver-hair went up stairs into the bed-chamber in which the three Bears slept. And first she laid [sic] down upon the bed of the Great, Huge Bear; but that was too high at the head for her. And next she lay down upon the bed of the Middle Bear; and that was too high at the foot for her. And then she lay down upon the bed of the Little, Small, Wee Bear; and that was neither too high at the head nor at the foot, but just right. So she covered herself up comfortably, and lay there till she fell fast asleep.

“The Three Bears,” A Treasury of Pleasure Books for Young Children
Joseph Cundall
Grant and Griffith, London, 1850

 

ACT I

SCENE 1

(Friday night in a lonely shot-and-a-beer bar. The stage is dark, the furnishings spare. Patsy Cline plays on the tinny sound system. There’s a small bar and a table where SKIP and J.D. are playing poker.

DIANE sits alone at the bar, completely detached from her surroundings. She adjusts the crease in her designer slacks to achieve the perfect line, then stares into space with a disinterested gaze.)

SKIP

Three Queens. Beat yourself again, J.D. Who calls on a no-pair hand?

(J.D. stands up from the table. SKIP cleans up.)

J.D.

(Sarcastic.)

I had the King of Hearts. I felt lucky.

(SKIP shuffles the cards.)

SKIP

Hey, I’ll take advantage of your off-night. You’re into me for about forty bucks now. Which you probably don’t have.

J.D.

Then I’d better start winning. Soon.

(SKIP deals.)

SKIP

So what are you gonna do? Got a place to stay?

(J.D. sits, scowling, and grunts.)

SKIP

Guess not.

J.D.

How ‘bout your place?

SKIP

I’m barely allowed. My mother’s got my niece’s Brownie troop for the weekend.

J.D.

Jesus, SKIP! How long are you gonna live with your parents?

SKIP

How long you gonna work in a warehouse when you don’t have to?

(SKIP looks at his cards and bets. J.D. checks his hand.)

SKIP

But to answer your question: ‘Til I finish my forestry management degree. Or find the right girl.

J.D.

There’s no such thing as the right girl. That’s just something your squirrel buddy told you in a dope haze.

(J.D motions for two cards. SKIP hands them to him.)

SKIP

The right girl? Sure there is such a thing. And no, I didn’t hear about it from Socrates. It says so right in the New York State Forest Ranger’s Manual, page four-twenty-three.

J.D.

Socrates? You named the squirrel Socrates?

(J.D. bets. SKIP raises.)

SKIP

So how’d you figure out that Brianne was screwing around?

J.D.

Slowly. It started when I was looking for a T-shirt. Instead, I found this…collection.

SKIP

Collection? Of what?

J.D.

(Whispers)

Dildos.

SKIP

Say what?

J.D.

(Louder)

Dildos!

(DIANE glances over.)

SKIP

Whoa! What were they like?

J.D.

Every size and shape. Some even in day-glo colors. Later, I noticed that she started taking long baths every night. And I kept hearing the faint hum of electric motors. But when she came out, she was definitely not in the mood.

SKIP

Maybe you weren’t trying hard enough.

J.D.

That’s what I thought. So I did the flowers thing. I even tried taking her to a really expensive restaurant.

SKIP

Shit, you were desperate.

J.D.

Yeah. Anyway, nothing worked. I couldn’t figure out what the deal was. Until today.

SKIP

Uh oh.

J.D.

No shit.

SKIP

What happened?

J.D.

My foreman sent me home early. Brianne was supposed to be out, but I could hear somebody in the apartment.

SKIP

So you caught her. Who with?

J.D.

Look, you gotta keep this quiet. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.

SKIP

What do you mean? Who was Brianne with?

J.D.

Jenna.

SKIP

(Loudly)

What?! You mean, pierced-tongue Jenna?

(DIANE looks over disapprovingly. J.D. and SKIP stare back. She turns back to her drink.)

J.D.

Nice job, SKIP.

SKIP

Are you serious? Your girlfriend dumped you for your old girlfriend?!

J.D.

Why would I make that up?

SKIP

What a kick in the ass! I knew Brianne was pretty…open-minded. But I never would have guessed that.

J.D.

Me either. I didn’t even know they knew each other.

(J.D. drains his beer. He sets the bottle on a table and lets it roll noisily to the edge before he grabs it.)

J.D.

Another dead soldier. Where’s the cute bartender chick?

SKIP

Her name is SOPHIE.

(J.D. sets the bottle up and continues with his game while SKIP clears the table.

Sounds of a blast of cold wind. SOPHIE walks in, carrying a fresh case of beer. She sets the beer behind the bar, takes off her parka, and tries to warm her hands.)

SOPHIE

So much for the first day of spring.

DIANE

Really. Wow, is it dead here tonight, or what?

SOPHIE

It’s three degrees outside with forty mile an hour wind gusts. Only the desperate come out on a night like this.

(DIANE feels stung by the term “desperate.” Oblivious, SOPHIE checks DIANE’s drink.)

SOPHIE

You okay, Di? I guess MIRANDA’s running late.

(SOPHIE notices DIANE’s collar is askew and sends DIANE a private signal. DIANE straightens her clothing.

Sounds of the door opening and wind whistling again. GOOSEFART SPENCER shuffles in and makes his way to the bar.)

SOPHIE

Well, there’s my favorite mountain man! How’ve you been? Your rheumatism okay?

SPENCER

Can’t complain, SOPHIE. Wouldn’t do any good if I did.

(SPENCER hands SOPHIE a large jar of pickled eggs. She pours him a shot. SPENCER downs it.)

SOPHIE

Well, you sure brought these just in time. We’re almost out. I was worried there’d be a mutiny.

(SOPHIE opens the cash register and pulls out a few bills. She hands the money to SPENCER.)

SPENCER

I had a feelin’ it was about time. Thank ‘ya kindly.

SOPHIE

You take care of yourself, now.

(SPENCER farts loudly. DIANE reacts to a sudden noxious gas.)

SPENCER

Yep. They’re flyin’ low today, I tell ‘ya. Flyin’ low today.

(DIANE moves down a couple of stools. GOOSEFART wanders out, stopping by the poker table to talk to SKIP and J.D.)

DIANE

Who’s the smelly old guy?

SOPHIE

You never met GOOSEFART SPENCER? DIANE, you’ve got to get out more.

(Wind sounds. MIRANDA walks in.)

DIANE

Hey, MIRANDA! I heard your show on the way over. How did it go tonight?

MIRANDA

(Shrugs)

The show? Fine.

DIANE

What didn’t?

MIRANDA

Nothing yet. But there’s another rumor the station’s going to be sold.

(MIRANDA takes a stool. SOPHIE pours her a drink.)

SOPHIE

So? Your ratings are good.

MIRANDA

Radio’s like that. A new owner usually cleans house. That’s what happened at two out of my last three jobs.

DIANE

What happened at the third?

MIRANDA

I was banging the program director. Until he went back to his wife.

(MIRANDA lights a cigarette.)

MIRANDA

But I can’t get fired for that reason this time. Since I moved back in with you two, I’ve been a good girl for a long time. Much too long.

SOPHIE

No kidding. It’s been a year since I’ve jumped anything but my car.

DIANE

I hear you.

(They toast glumly.)

MIRANDA

(Mockingly cheerful.)

But even though we have no sex lives, let’s not be gloomy!

(To DIANE.)

And how was your day, dear?

DIANE

Let’s see. A couple of employee drug screens, a PSA test, and a stool sample. The usual.

MIRANDA

It still amazes me that you’re working at a that tiny medical lab, DIANE. I always pictured you doing something bigger.

(DIANE and SOPHIE exchange a secretive glance. J.D.’s beer bottle crashes on the floor.)

SOPHIE

Why can’t he just ask for a beer like everybody else?

(SOPHIE grabs a broom and heads to the card table.)

MIRANDA

Who’s she talking about?

(MIRANDA looks around.)

MIRANDA

That one? Hmm. Nice ass.

DIANE

Uh-uh. Slow down, girl!

MIRANDA

Why? What’s wrong with him?

DIANE

Lo-ser! He’s supposed to be some kind of math whiz, but he just up and walked on a full-ride Ph.D. Now he loads boxes or something.

MIRANDA

(Looking at J.D.)

Why is it always the good-looking ones? I wonder what he’s packing.

DIANE

Think with your head!

(MIRANDA turns back to DIANE.)

MIRANDA

(Jokes)

Well, the whiz-kid thing is interesting. Maybe we can get him to donate some sperm. We could get a turkey baster and have a couple of kids.

DIANE

(Playful)

Hmm. He certainly has the raw material. Raised properly, the offspring could be acceptable.

MIRANDA

We might be on to something here.

DIANE

A hassle-free family. What a great idea!

MIRANDA

Isn’t it? I think I’m ready to do the mom thing, but not another fucking relationship!

(DIANE acts out an imaginary conversation with an ex-boyfriend.)

DIANE

Got the sniffles, honey? Sure. I’ll take care of you. I only have double pneumonia!

MIRANDA

(Plays along)

My credit card? Take it! It’s yours! Since the last time you borrowed it, so is my credit rating!

DIANE

You’re leaving me for Susie? The nineteen-year old who snorks… (She demonstrates.)…when she giggles? And you’re taking the furniture?

MIRANDA

Too bad you can’t just go ahead and have kids by yourself. Like a jellyfish. Or a hammerhead shark in captivity.

DIANE

You’ve been watching too much Animal Planet. (Pause) Why can’t we have kids on our own?

MIRANDA

Well, there’s this little thing called conception.

DIANE

True. You can’t conceive them alone. Yet. But you can have them alone. And raise them.

MIRANDA

Yeah. But I don’t see myself doing the sperm bank thing. You could wind up with a baby axe murderer.

DIANE

Yeah. It’d be better to just make a deal with someone you knew. As long as he didn’t want to be involved.

MIRANDA

Oh sure! Just try bringing up this little proposition! Any guy would melt his Nikes running out the door. It’s ironic, isn’t it? Men are always saying that all they want is casual sex.

DIANE

But not casual children. Sex is one thing. Losing control of their precious seed is another.

MIRANDA

I see the dilemma. But what can we do about it?

DIANE

I’m not sure. But I know is that there has to be a way to have children. On our own. That’s what I want.

MIRANDA

And you always get what you want.

(At the card table, SOPHIE is sweeping up.)

SOPHIE

(To J.D.)

There are better ways to get my attention, you know.

(She bends over. Mildly intoxicated, J.D. admires her from behind.)

J.D.

You mean like this?

(He reaches forward and lightly squeezes her derrière. SOPHIE jumps up and slaps him.)

SOPHIE

What the fuck do you think you’re doing?!

J.D.

(Embarrassed)

Being an idiot. Sorry.

SOPHIE

Do you want me to throw you out? For good?

J.D.

Hey! I said I’m sorry.

SOPHIE

Tell me, why do men think they can pull any old kindergarten crap, and just say “Sorry!”? Most of you aren’t that cute.

(He turns his back on her.)

J.D.

You’re right. I’m a complete asshole. Okay?

SOPHIE

I still have half a mind to eighty-six you.

SKIP

Give him a break, SOPHIE. He’s had a bad day. His girlfriend kicked him out. And he’s broke. Tonight he’s sleeping in his Jeep.

SOPHIE

Is that true?

J.D.

Yeah.

SOPHIE

What’d you do?

J.D.

Nothing! She met somebody else. It happens.

(SOPHIE looks J.D. in the eye, thinking.)

SOPHIE

Okay. I can have some sympathy for the homeless. Just don’t make any more trouble.

J.D.

I’ll behave.

(SOPHIE goes back to sweeping up.)

SKIP

Hey, Soph. Look, I might be out of line here, but it’s cold out tonight. Um, you don’t have a couch, do you?

SOPHIE

You are out of line. I am not the Humane Society, SKIP. Besides, I’ve already got two roommates.

J.D.

Yeah? Either of them like to take in strays?

SOPHIE

I doubt it, but you can try. They’re over there. At the bar.

(J.D. and SKIP check out DIANE and MIRANDA, who are laughing together intimately.)

J.D.

Those two? Not bad.

SKIP

Holy shit! Sensational!

(DIANE and MIRANDA hug. J.D. and SKIP’s high spirits fade.)

J.D.

I don’t believe this!

SKIP

Uh, SOPHIE. You guys aren’t, um… I mean, you like men, don’t you?

SOPHIE

(Plays along)

Sure. We like ‘em. We just can’t figure out a use for ‘em.

(SOPHIE struts seductively back to the bar, taunting them.)

J.D.

It’s like a bad dream. Three incredible women. All beautiful, all single, and completely unavailable.

SKIP

How come it’s only in the movies that all the beautiful girls want to get down on Mr. Happy?

J.D.

That’s just in the burger and beer commercials. Complete fantasy.

(Back at the bar, SOPHIE shakes her head.)

SOPHIE

Sometimes, I just don’t believe the shit I get in here.

MIRANDA

What’s up with the bottle abuser? Was he a jerk?

SOPHIE

(Shrugs)

He’s a man! This one says his girlfriend kicked him out, and he’s got no place to sleep. I almost felt sorry for him.

MIRANDA

Oh, please!

SOPHIE

It gets better. Then he wanted us to take him home.

DIANE

What did you tell him?

SOPHIE

He saw you guys hugging and freaked, so I let him think we’re gay. He backed right off.

(An idea strikes DIANE.)

DIANE

I love it! It’s beautiful! Soph, you’re brilliant!

MIRANDA

What? I don’t get it.

DIANE

This is just what we were talking about, MIRANDA. It’s our chance! (To SOPHIE.) Send them a couple of beers. And shots. And when they come over to talk to us, keep the beer coming.

(SOPHIE shoots DIANE a look of concern.)

DIANE

Don’t worry!

MIRANDA

I don’t know what you’re up to, but it sounds like more fun than Nick at Nite.

(Blackout.)

 

ACT I

SCENE 2

(Outside the farmhouse. SKIP and J.D. are very drunk.)

SKIP

You know what I don’t understand? If you are all, like, together, how do you work it out? With three of you, I mean?

J.D.

SKIP! Do we need to know this?!

DIANE

Come on! Don’t tell me you’ve never seen a threesome! Don’t you get the adult channels?

SKIP

Oh, yeah. Sure. I’ve seen that.

(The men look over the three women. SKIP starts to laugh.)

MIRANDA

What’s so funny?

SKIP

I was just imagining you with a double-ended…um…vibrator!

MIRANDA

You can say “dildo” in mixed company. It’s okay.

SKIP

Okay. Dildo. And then I thought, what if the batteries ran out?!

J.D.

Dead batteries?!

(J.D. and SKIP laugh hysterically, knocking each other down on the ground. The women roll their eyes.)

SOPHIE

Okay, we brought them home. What do we do with them?

DIANE

Take them inside.

(SKIP pats J.D. on the back with drunken sympathy.)

SKIP

Poor J.D.!

SOPHIE

Yeah, yeah. We already heard the sad story about his girlfriend dumping him.

SKIP

But did ‘ya know it was for his old girlfriend?

J.D.

Goddammit!

(The women lean in together. SKIP and J.D. lean on each other.)

MIRANDA

There’s a news flash.

SOPHIE

I knew he was under-equipped in the charm department, but maybe that’s not the only place.

DIANE

It doesn’t matter. Much. Besides, his bruised ego should help us.

SKIP

(Rouses)

If it were me, I don’t know if I’d ever feel like a man again.

(DIANE steps over and puts her arm around J.D.)

DIANE

Of course he will. Don’t worry about a thing. We’ll take care of that.

J.D.

You will? That’s nice.

(DIANE leads J.D. to the steps. She gestures towards SKIP.)

DIANE

Can you guys handle him?

MIRANDA

Sure.

(J.D. stumbles. DIANE catches him. He looks up at her.)

J.D.

All the pretty girls only like girls these days. Why’s that?

DIANE

It’s a mystery.

(MIRANDA and SOPHIE each take one of SKIP’s arms and hoist him up.)

SOPHIE

Let’s go, big boy! Think you can walk?

(Looking up at the farmhouse steps.)

SKIP

Uh-uh. But maybe I can dance.

MIRANDA

Okay. Let’s give it a try.

(MIRANDA starts to sing. SOPHIE joins in, and the three dance back and forth, maneuvering SKIP towards the steps. SKIP trips and accidentally touches MIRANDA’s breast.)

MIRANDA

Hey! You weren’t invited!

SOPHIE

Don’t be messin’ with my girlfriend, now!

SKIP

Oops! Hey, don’t you guys know any Melissa Etheridge? Or k.d. lang? I thought all you chicks liked k.d. lang.

SOPHIE

Come on!

(SKIP melts to the floor. SOPHIE and MIRANDA can’t stand him up.)

MIRANDA

Give us a hand, will you DIANE?

(DIANE sits J.D. back down on the ground, and goes over to help with SKIP. J.D. passes out.)

SOPHIE

Oh great! Now how are we going to get them out of here?

DIANE

They’re out cold.

SOPHIE

And they’re dead weight.

MIRANDA

We’ll ferry them.

DIANE

What?

MIRANDA

I’ve seen this done before. I used to be an honorary member of Gamma Delta Pi.

SOPHIE

How did you get into a fraternity?

MIRANDA

I was Headmistress of Measure-Off.

SOPHIE

I know I’m gonna regret this…What is Measure-Off?

MIRANDA

An initiation ritual for plebes. It involves a little hand stimulation, a tape measure, and lots of drugs and alcohol.

SOPHIE

I knew I was gonna regret it. Now I have that picture stuck in my head!

MIRANDA

File it for later. Look, is there something with wheels around?

SOPHIE

There’s an old wheelbarrow out back.

MIRANDA

We’ll need it. And a board or something.

SOPHIE

There should be some out by the shed.

DIANE

I’ll find one.

(DIANE and SOPHIE go out the door. MIRANDA looks at the sleeping men.)

MIRANDA

Don’t worry, fellas. We’ll have you out of here in no time.

(SKIP belches.)

MIRANDA

What a charmer.

(SOPHIE returns with and old-fashioned wooden wheelbarrow.)

SOPHIE

It’s kind of rough, but I don’t think they’ll notice.

MIRANDA

Grab an arm and pull.

SOPHIE

Here we go, Sleeping Beauty!

(They pick up J.D. and haul him in. He flops face down on the wheelbarrow.)

SOPHIE

I don’t think he can breathe.

MIRANDA

We’ll have to turn him over.

(Groaning, they turn J.D. over.)

SOPHIE

(Looking at SKIP)

This won’t be easy. Next time, let’s kidnap lighter guys.

MIRANDA

Get behind him and give him a push.

(MIRANDA moves the wheelbarrow next to SKIP.)

MIRANDA

Okay Ranger Rick. Your turn.

(They tip SKIP over. He lands face down on J.D.)

J.D.

(Dreaming)

No! Stop! I’m not ready!

(MIRANDA lifts up the wheelbarrow, and J.D. and SKIP start sliding off.)

MIRANDA

I think they need a seat belt.

SOPHIE

Here.

(SOPHIE rearranges them. DIANE returns with the plank.)

MIRANDA

Lay that over the steps, Di.

(MIRANDA and SOPHIE each grab a handle of the wheelbarrow. They try lifting the wheelbarrow, but they can’t hold it up. They lower it down and bend over, panting.)

SOPHIE

Is it too late to consider steroids?!

MIRANDA

All that extra waxing. What a pain.

DIANE

C’mon. You can do it.

MIRANDA

Once we get going, we can’t stop. We’ll have to use the momentum to get up the steps. On three. One. Two. Three!

SOPHIE

Omigod! Here we go!

(With a warrior yell, SOPHIE and MIRANDA lift the wheelbarrow and run towards the steps.

Blackout.)

 

 

ACT I

SCENE 3

(J.D. and SKIP are asleep the couch. The dining room is at one end of the stage. An interior door leads to the bathroom. There’s an unused exterior door in the back wall. Bedrooms are off-stage, opposite the dining room.

The wheelbarrow is still visible, tipped over. DIANE passes a mug of hot coffee under J.D.’s nose.)

J.D.

(Rousing)

Where are we?

(SKIP rouses, opening his eyes to the sight of DIANE.)

SKIP

Heaven.

(DIANE hands him a coffee.)

J.D.

Ow! Man, is my back stiff!

SKIP

Mine too. And I think I’ve got a bruise under my chin.

(SOPHIE and MIRANDA look at each other.)

SOPHIE

That happens after you’ve been face down on the bar.

J.D.

What are we doing here?

MIRANDA

You didn’t want us to leave you there, drowning in spilt beer and sorrows, did you?

J.D.

Guess not. Thanks.

SKIP

How’d we get so drunk?

SOPHIE

The usual way. Over-exercising your elbow.

J.D.

The last thing I remember is going over to talk to these beautiful…

(J.D. looks from DIANE to MIRANDA to SOPHIE.)

J.D.

Oh. Yeah.

SKIP

What?

J.D.

These guys. Remember?

(SKIP looks at each woman. He looks back at DIANE.)

SKIP

(Depressed)

Oh. Yeah.

MIRANDA

That’s right. No one in this house compromised your virtue.

J.D.

We appreciate your hospitality. But maybe we should get back.

(SKIP checks his cell phone and jumps up.)

SKIP

Damn! I’m supposed to be at work!

(SKIP steps out on the porch to make a call.)

J.D.

Like I said, thanks for taking care of us last night, but we should be getting back.

DIANE

We’ll drop you. But first, we want to talk to you about something.

J.D.

Talk to me? About what?

DIANE

It’s a business proposition, sort of. We both have something each other needs. It could be a win-win situation.

(DIANE sits next to J.D. talking quietly. Lights lower.

Light rises on SKIP and his boss as they talk on the phone.)

SKIP’S BOSS

Three hot chicks? I don’t believe it!

SKIP

Yeah, three gorgeous women! They got us drunk and took us home! I mean, I can see them from here, and I don’t believe it either!

SKIP’S BOSS

I mean I really don’t believe it. Why would three babes pick up you two?

SKIP

I dunno. They’re talking to J.D. about something right now.

SKIP’S BOSS

You must still be drunk and watching porn. Or have you been talking to that pet squirrel again?

SKIP

No! I was playing poker with J.D. last night. And his name is Socrates.

SKIP’S BOSS

Who?

SKIP

The squirrel. It’s Socrates.

SKIP’S BOSS

Yeah, whatever. But anybody with a story this crazy must really need a day off. I guess I can mark it down as a stomach virus…although it sounds more like the Wild Turkey flu.

SKIP

Well, thanks for understanding. I appreciate the break.

(Lights rise on the stage. J.D. bolts off the couch, shouting.)

J.D.

What?! You’re insane! Let me outta here!

(Still drunk, J.D. stumbles past SKIP. SKIP grabs him and holds his shirt. J.D. continues stumbling along in place as SKIP hangs on.)

SKIP

(Hurried)

I think you’re right. I am still drunk and I should sleep it off. I’ll see you tomorrow.

(SKIP hangs up.)

J.D.

Jesus Christ! We’ve got to get out of here! Right now! Those three are…I don’t know what they are!

SKIP

Hang on! First, just chill. Okay?

(J.D. calms down. SKIP lets go.)

SKIP

Now, what happened? I was only on the phone two minutes.

J.D.

We have to blow! Now! You won’t believe what they want!

SKIP

Try me.

J.D.

They want my guys! That’s why they were buying all those drinks. And why they brought us here!

SKIP

What guys?

J.D.

My sperm! You know, genetic material! They want me to move in here for a month and get them all pregnant!

SKIP

(Impressed)

No way!

J.D.

It’s insane! I mean, who are they?! Who do they think I am?!

SKIP

That is so awesome! I’ve always wanted to be a sex object!

(J.D. stops pacing and stares at SKIP, uncertain which one of them has completely lost his mind.)

SKIP

Well, it is sort of a compliment. A weird one. I mean, they didn’t ask me. And I’d give my left nut for a shot at DIANE.

J.D.

That’s what I’m afraid of! Who knows what that woman would do! She’s trying to create some Superkid. You know, the Übermensch!

(J.D. does a drunken Nazi salute. SKIP looks back at DIANE.)

SKIP

She’s a bit of a hard-ass. But what an ass! (Sighs) I think I’m in love.

J.D.

You’re not helping me out, here!

SKIP

I’m trying. I just don’t get the problem. I mean, you like girls, don’t you?

J.D.

One on one. Here, I’m up against three of them. And it feels weird. Like I’m disposable.

SKIP

So you’re a stud horse. Why do you think horses run all those races? Extra hay?

J.D.

Funny.

SKIP

Okay. Let’s look at it seriously. It’s not so weird anymore. Helping lesbians have kids. David Crosby did it for Melissa Etheridge.

J.D.

He did?

SKIP

Yeah. And all he ever got out of it was a little porn and a cold jar. Look what you’ve got to look forward to.

(SKIP and J.D. peer at the three women.)

SKIP

And you should consider this question carefully: When’s the last time you got laid by three total babes in one month?

(J.D. tries to remember.)

SKIP

That’s what I thought. You never have. Me either.

J.D.

Yeah, but it’s three against one. And what’s in it for me?

SKIP

At the very least, they’re offering a place to come in out of the cold. For your favorite price, free. What else’ve you got goin’ anyway?

J.D.

Nothing.

SKIP

This is once in a lifetime, man.

(J.D. thinks about it.)

J.D.

(Serious)

It’s not the way I thought I’d have kids. But who am I to complain?

SKIP

What do you mean?

J.D.

I was an accident. If it weren’t for me, my parents would never have gotten married in the first place. They’d never have put any of us through all of that.

SKIP

C’mon. They tried. Even the best of us screw up at least as much as we get it right.

J.D.

Yeah. And look at me. I can just imagine what kind of parent I’d make.

SKIP

At least these kids will be wanted. And you don’t have to worry about your lack of parenting skills.

J.D.

I just don’t know what to do.

SKIP

Look, your girlfriend dumps you for another woman, and the same day, three lesbians want to take you in and make you their love slave.

J.D.

Yeah. So?

(SKIP smacks J.D.)

SKIP

This is Fate callin’! Wake up and answer the phone! How big of a sign do you need?!

J.D.

Shit. I hadn’t thought about that. (Looks at the women) Do you think they’d let me see the kids once in awhile? (Turns back to SKIP) Anyway, it is kind of a compliment…in an off-your-meds sort of way. And you’re right. Not many guys get a chance to live a Penthouse fantasy. (Pause) What the hell? I can do this. It’ll be a trip.

SKIP

You got that right.

J.D.

(Shakes his head)

Life is too weird. Sometimes I don’t get it.

(SKIP looks back at the living room.)

SKIP

But I think you’re about to. I can’t wait to tell Socrates about this one.

(J.D. and SKIP talk. In the living room, DIANE, SOPHIE and MIRANDA continue their discussion.)

DIANE

He thinks he’s helping three lesbians, so there’s no question of commitment. Don’t you see? It’s perfect!

SOPHIE

Perfect?! For whom?! A bunch of lab rats? He’s right! You’ve lost your mind!

DIANE

The only thing lost here is a little of your romantic sentimentalism.

MIRANDA

Hey you two! Slow down, DIANE. You’ve just sprung this on us. Give us a chance to catch up.

DIANE

What’s the big deal? We’ve all had one-nighters before.

SOPHIE

But we never planned to get pregnant! In fact, we were terrified of getting knocked up!

DIANE

And why were we? Would it have been so awful?

SOPHIE

This is not normal!

DIANE

Of course it is. What do you want? Marriage? That’s all about property rights. It’s just a way to control women and establish ownership of children.

SOPHIE

What about commitment? Love? This feels so unnatural.

DIANE

This way is far more natural! Women raising kids cooperatively.

MIRANDA

I think SOPHIE’s saying that having a child is something most people think of as coming from a relationship, not before it.

DIANE

That’s putting too much pressure on the child! It becomes a symbol for a fantasy.

SOPHIE

That’s not true!

DIANE

No?! What happens when the relationship fails! Has the child failed? No, the parents have! But the children usually take the blame on themselves. They think it’s their fault.

MIRANDA

She’s right about that.

(SOPHIE and DIANE turn to MIRANDA.)

MIRANDA

After the divorce, my father didn’t want anything to do with me. I thought if I was very, very good, I could bring us all back together. But I couldn’t. I failed.

(DIANE looks at SOPHIE as if to say: “See?”)

MIRANDA

Then my mother remarried. All of a sudden, I was last year’s dress-up shoes. You don’t particularly want them anymore, but you spent too much on them to send them to Goodwill.

DIANE

If we decide to become mothers on our own, our relationship with our children will be different. Nothing can break it. They’ll be ours and ours alone.

SOPHIE

But I’m not sure I want to do it this way! I still like the idea of falling in love first!

DIANE

We can’t count on that! Our chances of one, getting pregnant, and two, having healthy babies, are dropping every day!

SOPHIE

I’m not out of hope yet. I’d still like to wait for the real thing.

You want kids. Are you going wait for another jerk who cheats on you, robs you blind, and runs off?

(SOPHIE turns away.)

SOPHIE

That wasn’t necessary.

DIANE

(Softens)

None of us have had much luck with men. Nor does it look like it’s going to get any better soon. This is our chance!

MIRANDA

Maybe that’s our fault. Our luck with men, I mean.

DIANE

It’s not important. We don’t need a socially-sanctioned relationship or a breadwinner or even a house-husband to raise happy, healthy kids. Our kids.

SOPHIE

I’d love to have a child, but what if we regret this later? What if we do meet the right guy?

DIANE

How can you regret your child? If you had gotten pregnant by accident, could you love a man that couldn’t love or accept your child?

SOPHIE

No. But this is no accident.

DIANE

If there is a God, She won’t punish us.

MIRANDA

No, but other people might.

DIANE

So? What’s the problem?

MIRANDA

There’s no problem. Actually, part of what appeals to me is that we’re telling society to screw itself. People can get damned upset when you do that.

DIANE

Fuck ‘em.

MIRANDA

Too many to do one-on-one. But, here’s how the idea works for me: I get to have a baby with a genius dad, no strings, and piss off a few suburbanites as a bonus. What the hell? I’m in.

(SOPHIE throws her arms in the air.)

SOPHIE

DIANE’s doing a controlled-breeding experiment, as if we were prize pigs, and you’re off on a bohemian trip! What am I doing here? With you two?

DIANE

You’ve always wanted kids, SOPHIE. And this is a chance to do it a better way. Our way. You’re in. You’ll thank me.

(DIANE goes out to the porch.)

MIRANDA

You okay?

SOPHIE

I dunno. I never have been able to argue with her. Or say no.

MIRANDA

Who can?

SOPHIE

Her mother. Even that’s rare.

(DIANE returns with J.D. and SKIP.)

DIANE

We’re all set. Now, let’s all shake on it and seal the deal.

(J.D. and the women draw together . SKIP moves close to DIANE.)

SKIP

Does this mean I’m included? I don’t want to cause a problem or anything, but I am available.

(DIANE pushes him away with one finger.)

DIANE

I’m sure you are. And it’s not a problem for me at all.

(J.D., DIANE, MIRANDA, and SOPHIE do a group shake, as if they were a sports team. MIRANDA gives SKIP a playful punch as she heads toward the dining room.)

MIRANDA

Well, at least we owe you breakfast. For getting you stinking drunk last night.

(DIANE and SOPHIE follow MIRANDA into the dining room.)

J.D.

No big deal. He does it to himself all the time.

(SKIP checks to make sure DIANE isn’t paying attention, then scowls at J.D.

MIRANDA pulls out her phone.)

MIRANDA

Does anyone want to document this little bit of history?

J.D.

Write a poem. Makes a better picture.

MIRANDA

That’s an idea. Maybe we can talk our resident poet into writing about it.

J.D.

Who’s that?

DIANE

SOPHIE. Her book was shortlisted for a Whitson award.

J.D.

Really?

(SOPHIE brushes it off.)

SOPHIE

It was five years ago. The book only sold a hundred copies. Nobody reads poetry.

J.D.

But if I wanted to read it, where could I find a copy?

SOPHIE

I thought math was your thing.

J.D.

They’re not so different. Math’s a language. It can be creative, too.

(SOPHIE looks at J.D., charmed and a little curious.)

MIRANDA

Come on, you two! Quit mooning!

(MIRANDA sits up on the table.)

MIRANDA

Our little group needs a name. Like the Poking Post Modernists or something.

SOPHIE

More like the Gang Bang of Four.

DIANE

Human beings have interests other than sex.

MIRANDA

Au contraire, madame! None more important. We are animals. Nothing absorbs us more than the primal drives: sex and food. Getting it. Beating the bushes looking for it. Getting it again.

(MIRANDA picks up a peach. Eyeing J.D., she bites into it sensuously.)

MIRANDA

Even Plato started out as a pornographer. I just threw that in. It’s my favorite fun fact.

(J.D. clears his throat nervously.)

J.D.

So what’s it like? Being a dee-jay, I mean.

MIRANDA

On good days, it’s a party you get paid for.

(DIANE pours everyone a glass of orange juice.)

DIANE

But it’s too much moving around. That’ll have to change.

MIRANDA

Change? Why?

DIANE

Children need stability.

MIRANDA

Stability? You mean spending their formative years riding around in the back of a minivan, drugged out on cartoon videos?

DIANE

Who’s talking about videos and minivans? My baby—our babies, SOPHIE’s and mine—will have a perfect childhood. They’ll only eat healthy food.

SKIP

No fries? No Twinkies?

DIANE

You don’t miss what you don’t know. And they’ll get the best education, and participate in the right activities. Music. Tennis. Chess. And art. They need to appreciate art.

J.D.

I guess that means no TV either.

DIANE

That’s harder to control. We’ll just have to teach them not to fall for the cheap, sleazy pitch.

MIRANDA

I’ve never regretted falling for one. I like them.

SKIP

Me too. Here’s to the low life!

(SKIP raises a glass of juice.)

SOPHIE

And we’ll give them lots of love.

(DIANE doesn’t acknowledge SOPHIE’s remark. SOPHIE steps towards DIANE, demanding a response.)

SOPHIE

Love. We’ll give them lots of love. Right?

DIANE

What?… Um, of course. That goes without saying, doesn’t it?

(An awkward moment passes silently.)

MIRANDA

Hey. We need a toast to the team. C’mon SKIP. You might as well join us.

DIANE

Here’s to the second wave of the sexual revolution.

MIRANDA

Or to finding out what’s on the other side of the looking glass.

(SOPHIE hesitates, but raises her glass. J.D. steps up bravely. They toast. Blackout.)

 

 

ACT I

SCENE 4

 

(It’s before dawn. DIANE, dressed in jogging clothes, pushes a sleepy J.D. into the living room. He’s still in his underwear.)

DIANE

C’mon. Time to rise and shine.

J.D.

What are you talking about? I don’t have to be up for another hour.

DIANE

Not anymore. We’re going jogging.

J.D.

Jogging? I don’t jog.

DIANE

You do now. Healthy people make healthy babies.

(DIANE throws a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt at him.)

J.D.

You’re kidding, right?

DIANE

I never kid. I have no sense of humor.

J.D.

(Under his breath.)

No shit!

DIANE

What?

J.D.

Nothing.

DIANE

Get a move on. The girls are on their way.

(J.D. gets dressed. DIANE goes to the table and pours four glasses of an unattractive drink. DIANE and SOPHIE come down stairs.)

MIRANDA

(Looking at the glasses.)

What is that?!

DIANE

Breakfast.

SOPHIE

I don’t recognize anything in that glop. Are you sure it’s food?

DIANE

It’s a tofu smoothie with flax meal, seaweed, and blueberries. Drink up.

(SOPHIE, J.D. and MIRANDA line up to accept their glasses like condemned prisoners standing before the gallows. They drink cheerlessly.)

DIANE

I also made lunch for everyone. Quinoa salad with tempeh, avacado, and sprouts.

MIRANDA

(Sighs)

Healthy people…

J.D.

Make healthy babies.

DIANE

Okay, everybody. Let’s go.

(They jog sluggishly out the door. A crack of thunder and sound of raindrops falling.

Blackout.)

 

 

ACT I

SCENE 5

(SOPHIE sits at the table, a hamburger and a cola in front of her. J.D. walks in.)

J.D.

Hey SOPHIE!

(She jumps up, hiding her burger behind her back.)

J.D.

What’cha got there?

SOPHIE

Nothing. Just a little tofu on a bun.

J.D.

I don’t believe you. Let me see!

(He grabs for the burger.)

J.D.

That’s not tofu. I smell red meat! You got any more? Look, I’m starving. I’ve been on DIANE’s health crap for a week. I’ve gotta have some real food! Help me out here.

SOPHIE

I guess I can share. You lasted a lot longer than I did.

J.D.

Oh yeah? When did you give in?

SOPHIE

The first night.

J.D.

You’ve been eating real food all this time?

SOPHIE

No willpower. How about a double burger?

J.D.

And a soda, if you’ve got it. Please.

(SOPHIE reaches into the back of a credenza. She pulls out a burger bag and a soda. )

SOPHIE

I was saving this for later, but it’s yours.

(She puts the burger in the microwave and hands the soda to J.D.)

J.D.

You’re hiding food in there?

SOPHIE

DIANE has the fridge catalogued!

J.D.

No kidding. So tell me. DIANE’s got us all jumping through hoops. Is she always this driven?

SOPHIE

(Laughs)

Pretty much. Unless she doesn’t have a project. Then she’s miserable.

J.D.

How do you live with her?

SOPHIE

She has a good side. She’s harder on herself than anyone else. She’s under a lot of pressure.

J.D.

How so?

SOPHIE

Ever hear of CLAUDIA Spinoza?

J.D.

The bio-chemist? Sure. Hey…

(J.D. thinks, then gives a low whistle.)

J.D.

That’s her mother?

SOPHIE

Um-hmm. CLAUDIA didn’t have to set the bar. She’s it.

J.D.

Some bar.

SOPHIE

Your parents are both profs, aren’t they? Didn’t they set pretty high standards for you?

J.D.

Yeah. I finally just said fuck it. But I don’t see DIANE doing that. What happened? How did CLAUDIA Spinoza’s daughter wind up out here?

SOPHIE

(Evasive)

How did any of us? How did you?

(J.D. sees that SOPHIE doesn’t want to talk about it.)

J.D.

We lived here for a couple of years, when my dad was at the university. I used to spend my summers in the woods. I tramped all over these mountains as a kid. It’s the only place I’ve ever been that I wanted to come back to.

SOPHIE

So this is home?

J.D.

I guess. As close as I have. Moving from one college town to the next all the time felt like living in a bubble.

SOPHIE

How so?

J.D.

The only people you hang out with are academics. They only talk about the latest theories. It’s not real. Here, there are all kinds of people.

SOPHIE

It’s a cast of characters, all right. But some people like the ivory tower.

J.D.

It wasn’t for me. After awhile, nothing meant anything. I just didn’t want to live that way, chasing a career. I wanted a life. So I quit and came back here.

SOPHIE

Why here?

J.D.

It’s as close as I can get to Siamese Pond.

SOPHIE

Siamese Pond? Never heard of it.

J.D.

It’s a small glacial lake on a mountain north of town. Up there, you get a different take on things. It’s a place where nothing needs to be justified or interpreted. It just is.

SOPHIE

It sounds beautiful.

J.D.

It is. And it’s one of the best fishing spots I’ve ever found. So, it’s your turn. How did you guys get here?

SOPHIE

Pretty much the same story. This house, it used to be our weekend place when DIANE’s mom was teaching in New York. DIANE and I always loved it, so CLAUDIA kept it.

J.D.

You guys grew up together?

SOPHIE

Yeah. My parents died when I was ten. I didn’t have any other family. DIANE was my best friend. She and CLAUDIA took me in.

J.D.

What happened to your folks?

SOPHIE

They went sailing one weekend and never came back. Freak storm.

(SOPHIE looks away, busying herself tidying up.

Lights lower, except on SOPHIE. A second light rises on SOPHIE’S MOM.)

SOPHIE’S MOM

SOPHIE? Are you ready? We’re heading to the boat soon. It’s going to be a great weekend for sailing.

(SOPHIE looks up. Suddenly, she becomes a child again.)

SOPHIE

(Excited)

Mommy, could I stay here this weekend? With DIANE? She asked her mother, and it’s okay. They’re going horseback riding, and to the movies.

SOPHIE’S MOM

I see. Does that sound like more fun than sailing with your boring old parents?

SOPHIE

A little. But you’re not boring! And I like sailing, but there’s not much to do. And nothing to see. Except water.

SOPHIE’S MOM

I guess that’s true. (Pause) Look at you. You’re growing up so fast. Soon you won’t need me anymore.

SOPHIE

That’s not true! I’ll always need you, mommy.

SOPHIE’S MOM

And I’ll always love you.

SOPHIE

I love you too, mom. And I promise I’ll go sailing next weekend. But, can I stay with DIANE?

(Light on SOPHIE’s Mom starts to fade.)

SOPHIE’S MOM

Yes, you can stay. I want you to have fun, and DIANE and her mother both love you. But you need to remember something…

(Blackout on SOPHIE’S MOM.)

SOPHIE

(Frightened)

What, mom? Remember what? (Nearly crying) But I can’t remember! It’s been too long since you went away!

SOPHIE’s Mom

Think back…

SOPHIE

What am I supposed to remember? What am I supposed to do?

(Lights rise. SOPHIE becomes an adult again.)

J.D.

SOPHIE? Are you okay?

SOPHIE

Umm… yeah. I’m fine.

J.D.

You seemed to drift off there for a minute.

SOPHIE

I guess I did. Sorry.

J.D.

That’s okay. So, you were just catching me up on the backstory of your little love triangle. When did you and DIANE meet MIRANDA?

SOPHIE

In grad school. She was in this group of political lesbians who organized a Take Back the Night rally. She knocked on the door one day and DIANE invited her in for coffee. A couple of weeks later, she moved in.

SOPHIE

(Teases)

She says she’s our third leg. The one in the middle.

J.D.

(Coughs)

Yeah, I’ll bet she does! So that’s when the three of you hooked up?

SOPHIE

Hooked up?

J.D.

Yeah. You know. Got together. As…you know…lovers.

(SOPHIE remembers she’s posing as a lesbian.)

SOPHIE

Oh, yeah….I mean, no. DIANE and I were still, um, straight, then. MIRANDA went back to men, too. For awhile.

J.D.

She did? How come?

SOPHIE

(Smirking)

She said she liked real wood better than plastic.

(J.D. chokes on his pop. SOPHIE laughs.)

SOPHIE

Gotcha! Gonna live?

J.D.

I think so. Help me out here. When did you… umm… realize?

SOPHIE

That we were lesbians? Uh, I’m not sure. You can’t pin it down exactly. (Changes subject) So tell me about your girlfriend. Did you love her?

J.D.

I don’t know. I liked her. We’d only known each other a couple of months.

SOPHIE

Oh, a long-term relationship.

J.D.

(Chuckling)

Yeah. (Pause) You know, SKIP’s absolutely sure that there’s a right girl out there, and all he has to do is meet her and he’ll know.

SOPHIE

Could happen.

J.D.

You think? I guess you must. You’ve found her. Or them.

SOPHIE

Them?

J.D.

DIANE and MIRANDA.

SOPHIE

Oh, yeah! Sure. I have.

(A chime goes off. SOPHIE retrieves J.D.’s hamburger. SKIP walks in.)

SKIP

Hey! What’s goin’ on? Haven’t seen you around for days!

J.D.

Haven’t been around.

(SOPHIE returns with J.D.’s burger.)

SOPHIE

Hi, SKIP.

SKIP

Hi Soph. Hmmm. That looks good.

SOPHIE

Sorry. Last one. I’ll have to replenish my stash tomorrow.

SKIP

No problem. I’ll grab something on the way home. Maybe I’ll stop by the bar.

SOPHIE

Great. See you there. In fact, I’ve gotta shower and get ready now.

(SOPHIE goes into the bathroom. J.D. gazes at his hamburger with lust.)

SKIP

So, how’s it going?

J.D.

(Engrossed)

How’s what going?

SKIP

Your little p.j. party!

J.D.

Oh, that.

(J.D. takes a bite of his burger and savors it. SKIP fidgets.)

J.D.

So far, it’s just a lot of jogging and bean sprouts. By the time I have to do anything, I’ll be too hungry and tired.

SKIP

I doubt that.

(J.D. licks his fingers.)

J.D.

Hey, you don’t know how rough it’s been. I’m going to have to be inspired.

SKIP

And you don’t think you will be? (Pause) I’d give anything to be in your place.

J.D.

What? Living on a fat farm?

SKIP

No.

J.D.

What gives? Are you okay?

SKIP

No, I’m not okay. Knowing that you’re going to do DIANE is making me crazy.

J.D.

Yeah. I still feel kind of weird about the whole thing.

SKIP

(Serious)

I feel weird, too. I think I’m jealous.

(J.D. sets his burger down.)

SKIP

I’ve never felt like this. Not even when you won all those damn awards or beat the piss out of me at hoops. I’m in trouble here. (Pause) I’m in love with her.

J.D.

DIANE? SKIP, she’s gay!

SKIP

I know. I keep reminding myself. But I can’t stop thinking about her.

J.D.

There’s no way the two of you will ever get together. You’ve gotta get ahold of yourself.

SKIP

I don’t know if I can. I don’t like this. I don’t like feeling like this.

(J.D. exhales sharply and sits back. He looks SKIP in the eye.)

J.D.

What do you want me to do?

(SKIP thinks about it.)

SKIP

Nothing. I’m just being an ass. I’ll get over it. Like you said, there’s no hope anyway.

(SOPHIE returns, dressed for work. She’s carrying a soda can.)

SOPHIE

Hey, SKIP, I just found an extra soda I had stashed in the linen closet. It’s not cold, but I could put it on ice for you.

SKIP

Thanks.

(SOPHIE pours him a glass of soda over ice.)

SOPHIE

Here you go. See you guys later.

(She leaves.)

SKIP

I’ll be fine.

J.D.

Yeah. Sure. You will.

(SKIP quietly drinks his soda. J.D. half-heartedly picks at his burger.

Blackout.)

 

 

ACT I

SCENE 6

(SOPHIE’s sitting on the couch, staring at her tea, looking slightly dazed. A line of lunch bags sits on the dining room table. A pitcher of health drink sits on the credenza. J.D. walks in.)

J.D.

You okay? You look kind of tired.

SOPHIE

What a surprise. I do work in a bar. Nights.

J.D.

I know how you feel. Or I will tomorrow morning.

SOPHIE

What’s happening tomorrow?

(J.D. sits down next to SOPHIE.)

J.D.

Traded shifts with a guy so he could go to a wedding. I’m working four to twelve tonight.

SOPHIE

Ah-ha! I won’t be the only one in shock at sunrise!

J.D.

Nope. Good thing tomorrow’s Saturday. Look, since it’s a free day, I’m going up to Siamese Pond. Catch a few fish. Wanna come?

SOPHIE

Fishing? Me? I don’t know. I never looked good in waders.

J.D.

(Disappointed)

Whatever. I just thought you might like to see it. But you have other things to do.

(He picks up his iPhone and starts to surf. SOPHIE realizes that his invitation was sincere.)

SOPHIE

Then again, we are talking about Siamese Pond.

(J.D. puts the iPhone down. He’s grinning.)

SOPHIE

But you should know that I’ve never fished before. If you’re counting on me, we could starve.

J.D.

Not a problem. The back-up plan is always the Chicken Diner.

(DIANE walks in behind J.D and SOPHIE, unnoticed.)

SOPHIE

The what?

J.D.

You mean you’ve never been to the world-famous Chicken Diner?

(DIANE pours herself a glass of health drink. She tries to seem nonchalant, but she’s concerned.)

SOPHIE

I don’t think so. What makes it so famous?

J.D.

It’s a rite of passage around here. Guys drink copious amounts of beer and go ride the ten-foot cement chicken out front.

SOPHIE

(Chuckles)

Ride the chicken?!

J.D.

Yeah! Then the owner calls the cops and they give you a ticket. You’re not a manly man’s man until you have one. Everybody around here does. Except for SKIP.

SOPHIE

Why not? Didn’t he do it?

J.D.

Oh, sure he did. (Pantomimes) He was up there in the saddle having a great ‘ol time. When the cops showed up, he just waved at ‘em and yelled, Hey! I put my quarter in! You’ll have to wait your turn!

(SOPHIE laughs.)

J.D.

That’s exactly how the cops reacted. They were laughing so hard they couldn’t write the ticket.

(DIANE slams her glass down. SOPHIE looks around.)

SOPHIE

Morning, Di. Looks like you have the house to yourself tonight. MIRANDA has to work at one of the station’s nightclub parties, and J.D. traded for the afternoon shift.

(DIANE grabs a lunch bag.)

DIANE

Oh, so that’s how you could arrange a lunch date. Well, if you’re in the mood for a picnic, I already packed a lunch for everyone.

SOPHIE

Thanks, but it sounds like fun to take our chances on the pond.

DIANE

(Curt)

Suit yourselves.

(DIANE picks up her purse and walks out. SOPHIE shrugs.)

SOPHIE

So tell me more about Siamese Pond.

J.D.

I can’t. Not without saying lame things like “the majesty of towering pines” and “sparkling clarity of the deep blue lake.”

SOPHIE

You’re right. You should stick to math. Anybody live up there?

J.D.

A few people. Old-timers, mostly. GOOSEFART SPENCER used to have a place over on the other side.

SOPHIE

Oh yeah? You ever see it?

(As J.D. reminisces, lights rise on GOOSEFART SPENCER. He wanders in carrying a pot of tea.)

J.D.

Well, yeah. When I was a kid. It was right before my dad took off, and I was just trying to stay out of the house. I sort of stumbled across him one day and he invited me in for a cup of tea.

GOOSEFART

I see you, kid. Behind the tree. C’mon over. I won’t bite. Too hard. (Pause) I know what people say, but I don’t mind. I feel bad for them. They’re just too frightened or too lazy to think for themselves. Most people rely on rules to do their thinking for them. But the world is full of weirdness, you know. People and things that the rules don’t quite cover. But it’s nothing to be afraid of.

J.D.

It was a great place. Simple. He had life right down to the basics.

SOPHIE

Is that good?

J.D.

Very. He was almost completely self-sufficient. It gave him all the freedom he could ever want.

GOOSEFART

Freedom? I figure that’s something you have to make for yourself. Nobody’s gonna give it to you. You’ve got to set up a new world that’s yours, and live by your own rules. That’s why I live the way I do. It might seem eccentric to some folks, but it feels like freedom to me.

J.D.

But he finally had to move into town last year.

SOPHIE

That’s too bad. He must miss it out here.

GOOSEFART

Well, kid, I’ve been livin’ on my own terms out here most of my life. But now it feels kind of…incomplete. I guess it’s time to see if I can live around other people, and still do it my way.

J.D.

He says he doesn’t miss it. He had it for fifty years, but now he’s got neighbors to talk to and there’s a corner store.

J.D./GOOSEFART (unison)

That’s just the way it goes.

(Blackout on GOOSEFART.)

SOPHIE

Is that how you feel?

J.D.

What do you mean?

SOPHIE

Don’t you miss anything about your old life?

J.D.

I liked the work. Loved it. But I was getting too absorbed in it. Everything was too abstract.

SOPHIE

So you quit.

J.D.

Not right away. I finished my dissertation. Then I came back here.

SOPHIE

You finished your thesis, but you didn’t bother to defend it?

J.D.

(Bristles)

I wrote it because it was my project, and I needed to see how it worked out. I didn’t need to defend it. That’s something other people needed me to do.

SOPHIE

(Quietly.)

What did you need to do?

J.D.

Figure things out. Once I was free of the project, then I was free to find my way back to the world. Real life. For me, this place is where that search starts.

(He goes the window and looks out.)

SOPHIE

I guess that’s what we all need. A place to get a fresh start. Or get started at something.

(J.D. turns around.)

J.D.

What about your writing? Your book sounds like a good start to me.

SOPHIE

It doesn’t feel like mine. I wrote the poems, but DIANE edited them and CLAUDIA submitted them to her publisher. I didn’t even know about it. It just sort of happened.

J.D.

How did you feel about that?

SOPHIE

It scared me so much I’ve never tried it again.

J.D.

Scared you? Why?

SOPHIE

I don’t know. I’m not sure if I’m afraid to fail, or afraid to succeed.

J.D.

Don’t you want to know what happens? I mean, there are worse things than failing.

SOPHIE

Like succeeding? I’m kidding! You’re right. I do want to try it again someday. I’d like to see what I can do on my own. I guess I’m just not ready to commit to it. To anything, really.

(J.D. studies her.)

SOPHIE

What?

J.D.

Nothing.

SOPHIE

(Smiles)

Well, if we’re heading up to that inspiration of purple prose, Siamese Pond, we’d better get going.

J.D.

Let’s do it.

(They exit. Light fades to evening.)

There’s the sound of keys in the lock. DIANE walks in, carrying a bag of take-out, a box of gourmet cookies, and a movie.)

DIANE

(Sarcastic)

Hi Honey. I’m home.

(She sets down her things, opens the take-out and checks her food.)

DIANE

Cold. Already.

(She tosses the food into the microwave and walks over to the TV with the movie.

She picks up a photo of her and SOPHIE as children.)

DIANE

Have fun at Siamese Pond today? With J.D.? And I thought you were my best friend. That you’d always be my best friend.

(The microwave chime sounds. DIANE takes her dinner and the cookies and settles on the couch.

She starts the movie. A moment later, the phone rings. DIANE mutes the television and picks up the phone.)

DIANE

Hello?

(Light rises on CLAUDIA Spinoza. CLAUDIA wears a lab coat and carries a small animal in a cage.)

CLAUDIA

Hello, darling!

(DIANE jumps, accidentally kicking over the cookie bag. As she tries to grab it, she drops food on herself.)

DIANE

Oh hello! Mother!

CLAUDIA

Why, you’re there! I thought I’d get your voice mail. What are you doing home on a Friday night?

DIANE

Umm…relaxing! I’ve been out every night this week.

CLAUDIA

I hope you’re telling me the truth.

DIANE

Of course I’m telling you the truth.

CLAUDIA

I can never be sure. I still don’t understand why you moved up to that old weekend place. It’s beautiful, but…

DIANE

This is pretty familiar territory, isn’t it Mother?

(DIANE cradles the phone on her shoulder. As she listens, she places her hands on either side of her face and pretends to squeeze as if her head were caught in a vise.)

CLAUDIA

You’re right. It is none of my business. (Pause) Well, I just happened to have dinner with Giles…and your name came up.

(DIANE rolls her eyes and changes the subject.)

DIANE

Where were you having dinner?

CLAUDIA

What, dear?

DIANE

Where were you having dinner? Somewhere nice?

CLAUDIA

Simone Pistache. You remember. The little place on St. Denis.

DIANE

(Wistful)

Of course I remember it. It’s the one with the palm reader. It was very romantic.

CLAUDIA

It still is. But that’s not why I called.

DIANE

All right. You can make your pitch now. Hit me.

(As CLAUDIA speaks, DIANE points her finger to her temple and pretends to shoot herself. She falls on the sofa, playing dead.)

CLAUDIA

One of Giles’ colleagues at the Sorbonne is looking for a new research assistant. The project is very high-profile and well-funded, and the position has a lot of potential.

DIANE

The Sorbonne? I’m not sure.

CLAUDIA

Why not?

(DIANE sits up.)

DIANE

Paris is a rotten place to be single.

CLAUDIA

Exactly! You can’t stay single in Paris. Not for long.

(DIANE grabs a plastic knife and pretends to stab herself.)

CLAUDIA

Naturally, Giles has already told them all about you, and they’re very interested. He wants you to call him when he gets back to his office in three weeks. He’s away at a conference.

DIANE

I’ll think about it.

CLAUDIA

I hope you’ll think about it seriously, DIANE. You’re so talented. I know it was traumatic for you when Richard walked out…

DIANE

I take everything you say seriously. And thank you, I’m pleased you think I’m talented. But please, don’t bring up Richard again.

(DIANE punches a pillow and gets up.)

CLAUDIA

Darling, I just worry that you’re running away from life, hiding out up there.

DIANE

No, I am not running away from life up here! I’m living my life!

CLAUDIA

I guess. But theres so little…opportunity…there. And, I know I shouldn’t ask again, but I am your mother…

DIANE

No, you probably shouldn’t. (Covers the phone) But you’re going to.

(DIANE walks across the room, silently mimicking her mother.)

CLAUDIA

When am I going to have grandchildren?

DIANE

I’m working on that one.

(She opens a bottle of whiskey and takes a swig. Wiping her mouth on her sleeve, she sets the bottle back in the bar.)

CLAUDIA

What, dear? I didn’t hear you. Someone’s trying to call me.

DIANE

Nothing. Look, thank Giles for thinking of me, and I will think about it.

CLAUDIA

Seriously?

DIANE

Seriously. I promise.

CLAUDIA

I just want you to be happy.

DIANE

Yes. I know that. I want you to be happy, too.

CLAUDIA

I’m always happy, darling.

DIANE

(Winces)

Of course. That’s true.

CLAUDIA

I have to go now, but I’ll call you next week.

DIANE

I’ll talk to you next week, then. ‘Bye.

CLAUDIA

‘Bye, darling.

(DIANE hangs up. Blackout on CLAUDIA.)

DIANE

Have a perfect evening, Mother.

(Blackout.)

 

ACT I

SCENE 7

(The four roommates have just finished dinner. MIRANDA, J.D., and SOPHIE appear to be in shock. DIANE is annoyingly upbeat. SKIP comes in.)

SKIP

Hey, guys. Great night, isn’t it?

(No answer. SKIP quickly checks for offending odors.)

SKIP

What’s up? Did I get drunk and start making obscene phone calls again?

J.D.

Nothing’s up. We all worked late last night.

SKIP

But you’re off tonight, right? Butch just gave me tickets for the game over in Lake George. Right behind the bench. We’ve still got lots of time to make it.

DIANE

J.D. has plans.

SKIP

Oh yeah? What’cha got goin?

(J.D. looks at the floor.)

SKIP

Oh. I see. So tonight’s it. Well, I don’t know what to say. Good luck, I guess.

(SKIP bolts for the door.)

J.D.

SKIP!

SKIP ( Off-stage )

No big deal! I’ll call Brad. He’s always free. It’s just a game!

(Sound of a truck door slamming and the truck starting and speeding away. DIANE turns to J.D. )

DIANE

Five minutes, okay?

J.D.

Sure.

(DIANE walks out. J.D. heads into the living room, where he listlessly zaps channels on TV. MIRANDA and SOPHIE sit alone at the table, anxious.)

MIRANDA

Five minutes. I wonder if that’s all he gets. You know, efficiency and all.

SOPHIE

Ha. Ha.

MIRANDA

It was a little lame. So, I guess you’re my date tonight. What’s your pleasure, Pralines and Cream, or Rocky Road?

SOPHIE

Rocky Road. It’s definitely a Rocky Road night.

MIRANDA

Okay. I’ll be right back.

(MIRANDA grabs her keys and heads out. SOPHIE finishes cleaning up.

In the living room, J.D. sits on the edge of the sofa, giving himself a pep talk.)

J.D.

Just settle down. Relax. It’s no big deal. You’ve had sex before. It’s going to be fine.

(He pauses and takes a few gulps of air.)

J.D.

She’s a beautiful woman. Even if she is gay. You might even enjoy it. She won’t bite. I don’t think.

(He looks at the clock. He quickly checks his teeth and hair in a mirror on the wall before heading off-stage.

SOPHIE finishes cleaning, comes into the living room and turns off the TV. She starts to read, but she’s interrupted by the sound of bed springs creaking. She looks around.)

SOPHIE

Oh. My. God!

(SOPHIE turns the TV on again, but it doesn’t hide the sound. Exasperated, she pulls a pillow over her head. The creaking speeds up. SOPHIE gives up and throws the pillow across the room.)

SOPHIE

I don’t believe this!

(SOPHIE sits up and frantically searches the drawer of the coffee table. She finds a cigarette and lights it. The creaking stops. She looks up.)

Finally!

(She falls back into the sofa. The creaking resumes.

SOPHIE bolts upright and stubs out her cigarette. She gets up and paces around the room. Her eyes fall on the stereo.

She turns it on, cranking the volume on a scorching blues intro to “Love Me Like a Man.” It transforms SOPHIE into red-hot torch singer. She gets lost in performing the song, wrapping herself in a sofa throw as sensuously as if it were silver fox stole.

The song draws to a close. MIRANDA enters, sees SOPHIE, and sneaks over to the stereo.

As SOPHIE reaches the last chorus, MIRANDA cuts the music.)

SOPHIE

(A cappella)

You’ve got to love me like a man!

(SOPHIE turns around and sees MIRANDA. They both laugh. Off-stage, there’s a loud thud. A door slams. J.D. runs in, wrapped in a woman’s bathrobe.)

J.D.

(To DIANE—Off-stage.)

What the hell?! What’d you do that for?

DIANE (Off-stage )

You didn’t think you were going to sleep here, did you?

J.D.

I didn’t think you’d kick me out of bed!

DIANE (Off-stage )

You have your own room.

(J.D. stomps off-stage again. MIRANDA and SOPHIE look at each other, then start to laugh.

Blackout.)

 

ACT II

SCENE 1

(J.D. stares at a glass of orange juice, looking pale. SOPHIE walks in. She stops and surveys J.D. before she approaches him.)

SOPHIE

‘Morning.

(J.D. grunts.)

SOPHIE

How ‘ya doing?

J.D.

Fine.

(SOPHIE sits down.)

SOPHIE

You don’t look fine. I know that look. In fact, I’m pretty sure I know exactly how you feel.

J.D.

You can’t know.

SOPHIE

No? Maybe I can figure it out. Let me see…

(Jokingly, she touches his forehead, as if she’s trying to diagnose the flu in a child. He melts at her touch. She draws back and turns away. )

SOPHIE

(Teases)

Yep. I’d say you woke up this morning thinking about last night, and you were in a little bit of shock. Then, regret started welling up inside you, until it just took over your entire body.

(J.D. tilts his head, surprised that she’s right.)

SOPHIE

Then you looked at yourself in the mirror, and weren’t quite sure who was looking back. Did you know him? Worse yet, what did you think of him?

(J.D. grimaces.)

SOPHIE

When you realized that you weren’t sure, you couldn’t stand looking in the mirror any more, and you started to feel nauseous. You know, sort of like you had a nasty stomach flu coming on.

(J.D. slumps over in his chair. SOPHIE leans in.)

SOPHIE

Finally, there’s stage four, which I’m guessing is about where you are right now. You’re convinced that you’re a worthless piece of crap, unloved and totally unlovable, now and forever.

(J.D. falls face-down on the table. SOPHIE pats him on the back.)

SOPHIE

Don’t worry. You’re just having your first bout of morning-after sickness. It’s a very common disease. Among women, anyway. But there is good news.

J.D.

(To table)

What?

SOPHIE

It’s only a 24-hour bug.

J.D.

(To table)

Great. A whole day. Like this.

SOPHIE

C’mon. You’re a tough guy! You can handle it!

(SOPHIE pulls J.D. upright again)

SOPHIE

Know what I do? Go treat myself to some really sinful, disgusting, deep-fried junk food. It’s a great cure for the heartbreak of post-coital regret.

J.D.

I’m so confused, I’ll try anything.

SOPHIE

That’s the first step on the road back. Let me help cheer you up. I’ll buy lunch at the Chicken Diner today.

(MIRANDA and DIANE walk in, both dressed for jogging.)

MIRANDA

Di, are you sure you should go?

DIANE

Why not? I’m perfectly healthy. I’m just trying to have a baby. In some cultures, women work in the fields until they go into labor.

SOPHIE

Well, yes, but they’re better at this than we are. They start younger, and have more practice.

DIANE

I know what I’m doing.

MIRANDA

Just thinking of you.

(J.D. jumps up, suddenly petulant.)

J.D.

Yes, let’s all think about DIANE. And DIANE can think about DIANE! Then, we can all think about DIANE together! Won’t that be a blast!

(He stomps off. )

MIRANDA

What’s with him? You’d think he had PMS.

DIANE

I don’t know. I think he enjoyed himself last night. I mean, as far as I could tell.

SOPHIE

Let’s go. He’ll get over it. Just take it easy on him today, okay?

(MIRANDA leaves. DIANE stops SOPHIE.)

DIANE

(Suspicious)

So, did I hear that you guys have a lunch date?

SOPHIE

Yeah. Wanna come?

DIANE

Why would I want to do that?

SOPHIE

You could give him half a chance!

(DIANE straightens her jacket.)

DIANE

Just remember. He’ll be gone in a couple of weeks.

(DIANE walks out.

J.D. storms back in with his jacket, still angry.)

J.D.

I don’t believe that woman!

SOPHIE

Frankly, neither do I. I’m starting to understand the whole bitch-on-wheels expression in a brand new way.

J.D.

No shit! She’s about the biggest…

SOPHIE

(Cutting him off)

Hey! She’s the closest thing to a sister I’ve got. That means that I can say that word, but you can’t!

J.D.

I was just agreeing with you.

SOPHIE

Now that we understand each other, let’s just calm down and think about something pleasant. Like lunch. Lunch is good. I’m thinking that it’s been a really tough morning, and we deserve something especially sinful. I recommend the old classic, shrimp-in-a-basket. It’s a great pick-me-up.

J.D.

(Calmer)

That’s what I like about the Diner. They haven’t changed the menu since the ‘fifties.

SOPHIE

It’s a selling point. Thanks for introducing me to it. Today, though, I think I’ll go for serious comfort food. Kid food. Maybe chicken fingers. And a real coffee. With fries, of course.

J.D.

Meatloaf and mashed for me. With extra gravy.

SOPHIE

O-oh! Now you’re talking! Mom food! That’s an excellent choice for a Prozac-on-a-plate special.

J.D.

More like TV-mom food, you mean. My mother never cooked like that. She liked Asian food. Stir fries, Pad Thai, and dim sum on Sundays.

SOPHIE

My mom, either. She was into gourmet magazines. A lot of pâté and roast duck. I used to beg for Kraft Dinner when I was little. And CLAUDIA’s Italian, so we ate pasta, polenta, risotto, stuff like that.

J.D.

Yeah, weird stuff. You were afraid to ask anybody home for dinner. And you had to hide to eat your lunch at school.

SOPHIE

Pretty much. I guess none of us grew up in a re-run of Happy Days.

J.D.

Why did we have to be so different from everybody else? Was a little normalcy too much to expect?

SOPHIE

Normal? What’s that? Have you ever seen it? I mean, in real life.

J.D.

Yeah. Listen to me, pining for a TV childhood because it seemed more normal.

SOPHIE

It’s like a holy trinity, way up there, too far away to actually achieve: Perfect house, perfect parents, perfect kids.

J.D.

You know, I never understood what the whole three-in-one thing adds up to. Can’t figure out the equation.

SOPHIE

They’re supposed to add up to a perfect life, but they never seem to. Instead, families seem to be all about pressure. At least from what I’ve seen.

J.D.

You mean DIANE and her mom? Not being able to live up to the great CLAUDIA Spinoza, that’s what makes her such a…

SOPHIE

You’ve been warned!

(J.D. steps back.)

SOPHIE

You and DIANE are so much alike! I don’t know why either of you can’t see that!

J.D.

There’s a lot I don’t get about you guys. But there’s something funny going on here. Every time DIANE’s past comes up, you two act like you’re covering up a Washington scandal.

SOPHIE

It’s no big mystery. She did research out west.

J.D.

Why did she come back?

SOPHIE

She just…quit. You did.

J.D.

I don’t believe it. DIANE doesn’t just quit anything. What did she do? Falsify results? Divert research funds? Torture test monkeys?

SOPHIE

Of course not!

(SOPHIE fiddles with her hair, stalling.)

SOPHIE

Look, she’d never forgive me if she knew I told you. I’m not really sure why I’m telling you this. But no one else knows, not even her mother. CLAUDIA doesn’t believe in mixing science and ethics.

J.D.

Ethics? I don’t understand.

SOPHIE

No, you don’t! (Pause) Maybe you should. I mean, you are kind of involved in her life now.

J.D.

No kidding. And I’m not sure what I’ve gotten into. Help me out, here.

(SOPHIE studies J.D., deciding.)

SOPHIE

It happened like this. When she was a researcher, DIANE’s team created a new life form designed to eat some form of pollution or something. The chemical company that funded the project applied for a patent, which should have taken a long time. But someone bought somebody off, and the patent slipped right through.

J.D.

Happens all the time.

SOPHIE

Yeah, but they didn’t have a chance to test it. No one knew what the thing would do when it was released. It could’ve been a disaster. Everyone in the lab wanted to wait, but the company wouldn’t listen.

J.D.

What did she do?

SOPHIE

Before it could be released, DIANE went in and literally pulled the plug on the whole project.

J.D.

How did she do that? How could she?

SOPHIE

The life form had to be kept cold, and the company kept the only sample it had in this old fridge in a corner of the lab. She pulled the plug on the fridge, walked out, and never went back.

J.D.

Didn’t anyone come after her?

SOPHIE

No. They figured the cleaning crew had accidentally knocked out the plug.

J.D.

I don’t get it. Didn’t they just make it again?

SOPHIE

They couldn’t. They’d made it by accident in the first place.

J.D.

That’s amazing! She got away with it! But why didn’t she just go to another project?

SOPHIE

She never wanted to be in that position again. The whole thing sort of broke her.

J.D.

Isn’t it kind of weird that she killed an entire life form, and now she wants to create three new lives?

SOPHIE

I think the point of killing off the artificial life form was to protect real lives.

J.D.

I get it. But it’s just strange somehow. She’s got a real thing for out-there experiments. And that’s some secret she’s keeping.

SOPHIE

We all have them.

J.D.

Oh yeah? What’s yours?

(SOPHIE looks away.)

J.D.

So, no big secrets, huh? Me either. No vampire tendencies or fantastic sacrifices that saved the world.

SOPHIE

There go your claims to world fame.

J.D.

Fine by me. I’m just a simple guy who happens to be living with three lesbians, and one of them turns out to be a damned heroine, in a mad-scientist kind of way.

SOPHIE

Whatever kills your fear makes your heart stronger. My inner strength-training program includes junk food, tequila, and the occasional cigarette.

J.D.

That’s my kind of woman! An emotional daredevil with low impulse control!

SOPHIE

I’ll take that as a compliment.

J.D.

I meant it that way.

(They share a look.)

SOPHIE

Well, I’ve…umm… got some stuff to do this morning. I should probably get at it.

J.D.

Yeah. Me too.

(SOPHIE heads off. She stops halfway.)

SOPHIE

See you in a couple of hours.

J.D.

Yeah. See you then.

(SOPHIE exits. SKIP walks in.)

J.D.

Hey! How’s it goin’?

SKIP

It’s goin’.

J.D.

So, who won the game?

SKIP

What game?

J.D.

In Lake George. Last night.

SKIP

Oh, yeah. I didn’t go.

J.D.

Why not?

SKIP

Didn’t feel like it after all. I gave the tickets to Brad.

J.D.

Oh. That’s too bad. What’s up?

SKIP

Got any coffee?

J.D.

Just decaf. You’re welcome to it.

(SKIP pours himself a cup.)

SKIP

How was your night?

J.D.

Jesus! What do you want me to say?

SKIP

Whatever you want. (Pause.) The truth.

J.D.

It seems kinda personal.

SKIP

Fuck you.

J.D.

What do you want? Locker-room talk about the gay woman you think you’re in love with?

SKIP

No! I don’t want that! And I don’t think I’m in love with her. I know it. All day, I’ve been thinking about the two of you. Together.

J.D.

C’mon, SKIP.

SKIP

What a kick in the ass. I’m not even good enough for the lezzies who just want to borrow the plumbing.

J.D.

Great. I’m a fucking plumber! Or a disposable life form. Who knows? This is my life, and even I don’t believe it!

(Suddenly, J.D. can’t stop himself from laughing. The tension breaks, and SKIP joins in. They stop laughing. SKIP picks up his coffee and stares into it.)

SKIP

It’s over, right? Between you and her? There’s nothing else?

J.D.

It’s over.

SKIP

Okay.

(Blackout.)

 

ACT II

SCENE 2

(J.D.’s watching the news. SOPHIE and MIRANDA are in the dining room. DIANE bursts in the door, ecstatic.)

DIANE

It’s positive! Isn’t that great?

MIRANDA

What’s positive!

DIANE

The test! It’s official! I’m pregnant!

(DIANE hugs and kisses SOPHIE and MIRANDA. J.D. looks on from the sofa, feeling alone and uncomfortable.)

MIRANDA

I’m so happy for you!

SOPHIE

Can you be sure? It’s only been a few days. I thought those tests took more time.

DIANE

Oh, I’m sure. I do know a little about tests.

SOPHIE

I don’t know, DIANE. You might be reading too much into it.

DIANE

(Laughs)

No, I’m sure. I’m pregnant! Can you believe it? I’m going to have a baby!

(She pats her abdomen.)

DIANE

(To J.D.)

Hey, lover boy! You may have actually found your calling!

(J.D. is stunned.)

SOPHIE

DIANE!

DIANE

Lighten up! Think about it! Two more like this, and we can do Facebook ads for him. Want a baby? Have it your way with Studley Do-Right.

J.D.

I don’t have to take this!

(J.D. jumps up and throws his cup on the floor. It shatters.)

J.D.

It’s my baby, too.

DIANE

(Panics)

Look, it was a lousy joke. Just forget it. Okay?

J.D.

You’re too much. Yeah, here she is, the great heroine who saved the fucking planet. Too bad you can’t be bothered to give a shit about the people right in front of you.

(J.D. walks out onto the front porch and sits on the steps, fuming. Shocked, DIANE turns to SOPHIE.)

DIANE

You told him?

(SOPHIE squirms.)

MIRANDA

I’m outta here.

(MIRANDA follows J.D. out to the porch. They hide out there, peeking in occasionally on DIANE and SOPHIE.)

DIANE

I can’t believe it!

SOPHIE

Well, yes. I did.

DIANE

At one of your cozy lunches?!

SOPHIE

He knew we were hiding something. So I gave him something. That way, he wouldn’t guess that we were lying to him about being lesbians.

DIANE

So you betrayed me!

SOPHIE

I thought it was better to explain than to have him imagine the worst. I was just trying to help him understand you a little better.

DIANE

I don’t want to be understood! I don’t want anyone to know that much about me!

SOPHIE

I know! But maybe you should! You act so tough all the time that you frighten people! I guess I just wanted him to see your human side! To see what I see.

(SOPHIE waits. DIANE gathers her self-control.)

DIANE

Well, I suppose I should thank you for looking out for me. But I don’t think I can just now.

SOPHIE

Please listen to me, DIANE. For your sake.

DIANE

I don’t know if I should. I thought you were my best friend, but I must’ve been wrong. Excuse me.

(DIANE walks stiffly off-stage. Sound of a door slamming off-stage.)

SOPHIE

(To DIANE—Off-stage.)

DIANE, I have to take a shower and get ready for work. Can we talk about this later?

(There’s no answer. SOPHIE sighs and exits.

MIRANDA walks back in from the porch. She looks around, and motions to J.D.)

MIRANDA

It’s clear. You can come in now.

(J.D. comes back in, still angry. MIRANDA rummages around in the freezer.)

MIRANDA

I hid one in here, in case of emergency. There you are, my lovely!

(MIRANDA pulls out a joint and lights it. She takes a toke and hands it to J.D.)

MIRANDA

This should calm you down. In a few minutes, you’ll forget all about it.

J.D.

I doubt it. What a…

(MIRANDA reaches for the joint.)

J.D.

Hang on!

(J.D. takes a toke and hands the joint back. She takes another toke and passes it back.)

MIRANDA

I imagine we’ll all stumble over each other’s feelings before this is finished. Unless it’s over now.

(J.D. takes another toke and offers it back to MIRANDA. She turns it down.)

J.D.

Right now, I don’t know anything.

(He smokes again, then puts out the joint.)

MIRANDA

Well, you probably don’t want to hear this, but I think we’re supposed to have a date tonight.

J.D.

Oh no!

MIRANDA

I thought you might feel that way. (Pause) I won’t try to talk you into anything you don’t want to do. But, can I tell you what I think?

J.D.

Sure.

MIRANDA

This was DIANE’s idea, and I certainly would like to try to have a child. Love to. But that’s not the only reason I decided to…participate.

J.D.

It wasn’t?

MIRANDA

No. I thought from the very first that you and I could be, um, friends. And this is sort of a remote place. It’s hard to find people with whom you can communicate. Physically.

(J.D. smiles, flattered. Slowly, his smile fades into a look of bewilderment.)

J.D.

But, you’re a lesbian. Aren’t you?

MIRANDA

(Laughs warmly)

Yes. And no. Let’s say I’ve always been open-minded. My sexual identity can be sort of fluid. My friends are often surprised at my choices. But that’s a good thing. Keeps ‘em on their toes.

J.D.

I see. The third leg.

MIRANDA

SOPHIE’s been a chatty little bird, has she? Well, I don’t mind.

(J.D. looks at her with appreciation.)

J.D.

You’re okay, you know?

MIRANDA

Why thank you. I like you, too. And, I certainly would like to go through with this. I’ve been thinking about it a lot the last couple of days. Would you like me to tell you what I’ve been imagining?

J.D.

Go ahead.

(MIRANDA leans over and whispers in his ear. J.D.’s eyes widen. He coughs nervously. His voice cracks.)

J.D.

What… What time?

MIRANDA

Whenever you’re ready. I’ll just go change.

(J.D. nods. MIRANDA goes off-stage. He grabs his keys and runs out the door.

DIANE enters and washes lettuce, leaving it in the strainer for later. SOPHIE enters, her hair wet, gathering her things for work. They repeatedly bump into each other, ignoring one another.

(J.D. comes back in, hiding something behind his back.)

J.D.

Hi! ‘Bye!

(J.D. runs across the stage and off.)

SOPHIE

What’s going on? Why’s he in such a hurry?

DIANE

He has a date. With MIRANDA.

SOPHIE

Oh-h!

(SOPHIE is drawn into the living room. She stops at the sofa, looking off in the direction of the bedrooms. Slowly, she turns away. She picks up her purse and exits.

DIANE takes a coffee out to the front porch, and exits.

MIRANDA enters, wearing a dress and carrying a bottle of champagne. She turns down the lights, turns on the music, then uncorks the bottle. J.D., also dressed up, enters, carrying a box with a hastily-tied ribbon.)

MIRANDA

Welcome to the Starlight Ballroom!

(MIRANDA pours two glasses of champagne and offers him one.)

MIRANDA

I like to make things a party whenever I can, don’t you?

(J.D. accepts.)

J.D.

Thanks.

(He hands her the box.)

For you.

(She opens it.)

MIRANDA

They’re lovely! Thank you!

(She pulls out a flower and puts it in her hair.)

J.D.

I hope you don’t mind fresh-picked flowers, rather than freshly purchased.

MIRANDA

It’s almost like we’re going to the prom, isn’t it?

J.D.

I guess so. I never went.

MIRANDA

Nor did I. Now’s our chance to make up for it.

(She opens her arms, an invitation to dance.)

MIRANDA

Shall we?

J.D.

Of course.

(They begin to dance. Lights rise on J.D.’s mother as she spins in.)

J.D.’s MOM

Step, slide, step, step. Step, slide, step, step. Remember, hold her close, but don’t crush her!

MIRANDA

You’re a very good dancer!

J.D.

My mother taught me. She loves to dance. After my dad left, I was her only dance partner.

J.D.’S MOM

Sweetie, I can’t tell you how to be a man, but I can help you understand women. So let me just say this straight out: A man who can dance can get all the pussy he wants, whenever he wants. Trust me.

J.D.

Of course, she only did it to help me develop a sensitive side.

MIRANDA

Well, you’ll have to thank her for me. She taught you well.

J.D.

She tried.

(They continue dancing. J.D. shoots his mother a look of appreciation over MIRANDA’s shoulder.

J.D.’s mother waves, then continues coaching him.)

J.D.’S MOM

That’s good. Give her a little spin. That’s it. Keep going. You’re doing just fine!

(Still dancing, they laugh, then draw closer. MIRANDA lays her head on J.D.’s shoulder.)

J.D.’S MOM

You’re in now, sweetie! Go for it!

(J.D. spins MIRANDA around and dips her. Blackout on J.D.’s mother.)

MIRANDA

She did a good job, your mother.

(J.D. tries to kiss her. MIRANDA gracefully spins away. The music ends.)

MIRANDA

Not so fast!

J.D.

But, I thought it was prom night!

MIRANDA

It is. But where’s the fun if it’s too easy?

(She steps back and leads a chase around the sofa, laughing.)

MIRANDA

Catch me if you can!

(J.D., also laughing, chases her off-stage

DIANE walks back in and finds the flowers and champagne glasses. As she’s putting the flowers in water, she hears J.D. and MIRANDA upstairs.)

MIRANDA (Off-stage )

Toro! Toro! Come and get me!

(A bed crashes. DIANE looks up.)

MIRANDA (Off-stage )

Oh, Toro!

(Laughter continues off-stage. DIANE turns up the TV and muffles her own laughter with a pillow. She turns out the light and settles in, leaving the TV on.

The TV sound changes from a movie to a late-night infomercial. J.D. and MIRANDA enter, dressed in bathrobes. MIRANDA turns off the TV. J.D. bangs into the coffee table.)

MIRANDA

Shh! DIANE’s asleep. Don’t wake her up.

J.D.

Not me!

(They bring a box of cereal and a carton of milk to the table and pour some into bowls. MIRANDA stealthily fires a piece of cereal at J.D. He picks up the offending cereal bullet. He examines first the cereal, then MIRANDA.

Suddenly, he returns fire.

Seconds later, they’re shrieking and laughing their way through a full-fledged food fight. DIANE wakes up.)

MIRANDA

Take that! And that! And that!

J.D.

Here! You take that! And that!

(SOPHIE walks in from work. The war stops. J.D. and MIRANDA are covered in cereal.)

DIANE

(Laughs)

You guys! Look at you!

(Without a word, SOPHIE walks past them to the living room, stricken. Stunned, J.D. drops his last handful of cereal.)

DIANE

(To MIRANDA and J.D.)

I’ll talk to her.

(J.D. and MIRANDA slink off-stage. SOPHIE stares out the window, fighting back tears. DIANE comes up behind her.)

DIANE

SOPHIE?

SOPHIE

Go away! I’m fine!

DIANE

That’s what you always say. Usually, it means that you’re definitely not fine. Can I talk to you?

(SOPHIE says nothing.)

DIANE

Okay. You didn’t say No.

SOPHIE

Would it do any good?

DIANE

Please! Don’t tell me that you still believe in Prince Charming and the white horse and all that princess stuff!

SOPHIE

This doesn’t feel like a fairy tale. It feels real.

DIANE

Oh, SOPHIE! If you simply can’t live without a man, you’re better off to be Barbie. Get a Ken, someone without a penis to lead him off to greener pastures. Men can’t help themselves. They are genetically programmed to cheat and leave.

SOPHIE

That’s not always true! My father loved my mother. He never cheated.

(DIANE realizes she’s touched a nerve. She softens.)

DIANE

I know there aren’t many guys worth a second glance out here in the middle of nowhere. So, here in our intelligent-conversation-starved, de-sexed isolation, J.D. might start to look like a the real thing. He is good looking. And he can be charming…in a spoiled, frat boy sort of way.

SOPHIE

He knows what’s real. He doesn’t get confused.

DIANE

Here. It’s easy to see clearly from a mountaintop. But take him out of here and plunk him anywhere else, and you’ll see that he’s just another loser who can’t commit to anything, not even a career. Where’s that going to leave you in a few years?

(SOPHIE starts to cry.)

DIANE

I’m sorry, Soph. I’m trying to be logical, and it’s your heart that’s hurting.

(DIANE holds SOPHIE against her shoulder while SOPHIE sobs.)

DIANE

He’s not The One, SOPHIE. That’s just your loneliness talking. There’s no such thing as Mr. Right. It’s just a nice story.

(DIANE forces SOPHIE to look up at her.)

DIANE

But I do know this. We can create love right here. We can plant it and nurture it and watch it grow. You and I and MIRANDA and our kids. Our children. Our family. We’ll have them someday. Somehow.

SOPHIE

Is that a family? I’m not so sure.

DIANE

A family is people who take care of each other. That’s you and me. I will always love you. Always.

SOPHIE

I know that.

DIANE

It’s okay. Everything’s going to be beautiful. Our lives will be full. We’ll be so happy! You might not believe me now, but just wait. You’ll see.

(DIANE kisses SOPHIE on top of the head.

Suddenly, DIANE feels a cramp. She races into the bathroom. A few moments later, there’s a scream.)

SOPHIE

Di? You okay?

(SOPHIE runs over and starts pounding on the door.)

SOPHIE

DIANE? What’s wrong?! Talk to me! Tell me what’s happening!

DIANE (Off-stage)

(In shock)

I lost the baby!

(MIRANDA and J.D. run back in.)

J.D.

Wait a minute. How do you know that?

DIANE (Off-stage)

I’m menstruating, you asshole!.

(J.D. is stunned. MIRANDA rushes to join SOPHIE.)

MIRANDA

DIANE!

SOPHIE (Off-stage )

Open the door! Let me in!

(DIANE breaks into hysterical sobs off-stage.)

MIRANDA ( Off-stage )

DIANE! Open up! Don’t try to do this alone.

SOPHIE ( Off-stage )

Let us help you, DIANE! Please!

(DIANE continues to sob and wail off-stage. SOPHIE and MIRANDA reappear.)

J.D.

What’s going on? Why is she so upset?

SOPHIE

You don’t have to worry about your baby anymore.

(J.D. reacts as if he’s been slapped. DIANE’s cry of anguish is heard.)

MIRANDA

Just let her cry.

(SOPHIE and MIRANDA walk off, arms around each other. J.D. slides slowly down the wall. He sits on the floor, listening to DIANE’s sobs. Blackout.)

 

ACT II

SCENE 3

(DIANE sits next to SOPHIE on the couch, taking SOPHIE’s temperature. SOPHIE tries to pull away.)

DIANE

Come on, SOPHIE! You’ve got to. It’s any time now.

(DIANE checks the thermometer.)

DIANE

That’s it! Today’s the day!

(DIANE starts to get up. SOPHIE grabs her arm.)

SOPHIE

DIANE, wait a minute! I don’t think I can go through with it!

DIANE

Of course you can. We’ve gone over this. You don’t still think you love him, do you?

SOPHIE

(Defensive)

No. I’m not in love with anyone.

DIANE

What’s wrong then? Who are we hurting? J.D.? I don’t think so.

SOPHIE

No? You should have seen him the day you lost the baby.

DIANE

Why?

SOPHIE

He was devastated.

DIANE

I admit, I’m surprised. I didn’t expect that at all.

SOPHIE

You don’t expect good things of most people.

DIANE

No, I guess you’re right. I’ve always found it safer to expect the worst.

SOPHIE

What future is there in that?

DIANE

The future is about imagination. I can imagine the best life for us. We can still do that. We can make ourselves happy.

SOPHIE

How can you be sure?

DIANE

I just know it. Do you trust me? I’ve always taken good care of you, haven’t I?

SOPHIE

Always.

DIANE

I couldn’t do it. You still can. You have to. For both of us. Will you do it for me? For us?

(SOPHIE thinks about it.)

SOPHIE

All right.

(DIANE gives her a hug.)

DIANE

Good. Listen, why don’t you sleep in this morning? Go back to bed. I’ll wake you up in a couple of hours.

(SOPHIE leaves. Sound of a door closing. J.D. enters.)

DIANE

Good morning! How are you today?

J.D.

(Surprised)

Fine. (Pause) You?

DIANE

Great. Actually, I have good news.

J.D.

Let me guess. Oz called. The Wizard found you a heart.

DIANE

Good guess, but nope. Even better.

J.D.

What could be?

DIANE

Tonight’s the night.

J.D.

What night?

DIANE

SOPHIE’s night.

(Panicked, J.D. races off-stage. Sound of drawers banging shut and doors slamming. He reappears in the doorway, carrying hastily packed bags.

DIANE is still on the couch, sipping coffee and eating cereal from the box. J.D. sneaks behind her, toward the old door in the back wall.

J.D. sets down his luggage and tries to open the door. DIANE is watching TV while tossing cereal into the air and catching the pieces in her mouth.

The door handle turns, but the door won’t open. He rattles the handle slightly. The door doesn’t budge. He tries harder, rattling the door handle louder and louder.)

DIANE

(Nonchalant)

That door hasn’t been opened in decades. The lock’s rusted, and it’s probably been painted shut a dozen times.

(J.D. lets go of the door handle.)

DIANE

(Turning to J.D.)

Moving so soon? You’ve still got a few days. What’s the rush? You wouldn’t be thinking about walking out on our arrangement, would you?

J.D.

I just can’t… Why am I explaining? I won’t go through with it.

DIANE

Why not?

(J.D. picks up his bags.)

DIANE

It’s a fair question.

J.D.

Personal reasons.

DIANE

What kind of personal reasons? Did you have a sudden religious conversion? A vision?

J.D.

I don’t owe anybody anything. I’m going to keep it that way.

(DIANE gets up to confront him.)

DIANE

Just time to move on, is it? I don’t think so. What’s changed?

J.D.

Me. For you, this has been some kind of weird social experiment. And for MIRANDA, well, she sees sex as a contact sport where everybody wins. Fine. But SOPHIE’s not like either of you. I can’t do this to her.

DIANE

Oh, I see. You like her a little too much. You don’t want to get too close. It scares you. Or maybe you just don’t have the guts to care for anybody but yourself.

J.D.

Or I might want to try to do what’s best for her.

(DIANE burst out laughing.)

DIANE

Omigod! Look at you! The big hero, out to protect mom, country and lonely hearts! Sorry, but you can’t sell that line here. You’re no hero. You’re just a coward. An average, garden-variety, craven little coward. I’m glad you’re leaving.

(J.D. freezes, using every ounce of strength to hold himself back.

Finally, he turns away from DIANE and kicks open the door. He storms out. Sound of a Jeep door slamming and the Jeep driving away.)

DIANE

(Confident)

But you’ll be back. No doubt about it. You’ll be back by tonight.

(Blackout.)

ACT II

SCENE 4

(It’s dark. Sound of waves slapping against the shore. J.D. is drunk, sitting alone and brooding by a small campfire. A flashlight appears at the edge of the stage.)

J.D.

Who’s that?

SKIP

Who else would be dumb enough to follow you up here in the middle of the night?

J.D.

SKIP? What’re you doing here?

(SKIP walks into the firelight.)

SKIP

Looking for you.

J.D.

For me? How come?

SKIP

A friend of yours called and said that if you were still in town, you might need to talk to somebody.

J.D.

Was it SOPHIE?

SKIP

Nope. DIANE.

J.D.

DIANE?! I thought you said a friend called.

SKIP

I know. It surprised me too. What’s goin’ on?

J.D.

Tonight’s SOPHIE’s night.

SKIP

Oh, yeah. Okay. Umm, so?

J.D.

So I care about her! I fell in love with her! And she’s gay!

(SKIP sits down.)

SKIP

I know about that one, too. Sucks, doesn’t it?

J.D.

I tried to leave. I got to the Vermont border and turned around.

SKIP

What brought you back?

J.D.

I don’t know. What happened to finding the right girl? I thought it was written somewhere.

SKIP

Forest Ranger’s manual. Page four-twenty-three. Problem is, there are only four hundred and twenty-two pages in the book.

(J.D. stares at SKIP in utter disbelief.)

J.D.

Great! The book with all the answers would be a page short. Just my luck.

SKIP

Yeah, but when you get that far, the book says you will find the right girl, but you might not be right for her. No guarantees.

J.D.

I don’t need philosophy. I need more beer.

SKIP

So tell me, how does SOPHIE feel about you?

J.D.

It’s strange, but I do know. When we’re together, there’s this connection. It’s real. Not like this damned social experiment of DIANE’s that we’re stuck in!

(J.D. pokes at the fire with a stick.)

SKIP

What are you going to do? I mean, this does feel like kind of a now-or-never moment.

J.D.

I dunno. I’m cornered. If I go back, SOPHIE may be trapped in this thing the rest of her life. If I walk away… I just don’t know.

SKIP

What about SOPHIE? You don’t even know what she wants. What’s better? That DIANE decides her life for her? Or that you do? What’s the difference?

J.D.

I guess neither of us is giving SOPHIE much of a vote.

SKIP

Nope. So what’s stopping you from doing that? You know, talking to her?

J.D.

DIANE called me a coward. Maybe she’s right.

SKIP

Maybe, maybe not. But you do fuck up more opportunities in a week than most people get in a lifetime.

J.D.

Fuck you. Where’d you get that, your squirrel buddy?

SKIP

Fuck you, too. Socrates makes more sense than a lot of people, even if he doesn’t say anything.

J.D.

If he doesn’t say anything, why do you talk to him?

SKIP

For one thing, he can keep a secret. So I can get stoned and tell him anything. He just nibbles on his hickory nut and looks at me like I’m an idiot. Then—bam!—I seem to be able to figure stuff out. You know, see my choices. And speaking of choices, here’s one staring you right in the face. Right now, tonight. You can win this one, or at least walk away with your dignity.

J.D.

How the hell can I do that?

SKIP

Get over the situation. Yeah, it’s pretty weird, but hey, what the fuck? You know something happened between you and SOPHIE. You know it in here.

(He gestures to his heart.)

J.D.

Yeah? So?

SKIP

So do something about it. Go back and talk to her. Tell her.

(J.D. stares at SKIP, then nods.)

J.D.

I thought I was supposed to be the smart one around here.

(J.D. stands a little unsteadily. SKIP starts putting out the fire.)

SKIP

That’s ‘cause I let you think so. I could always piss farther across the creek than you could, too. C’mon. Let’s get going.

(Blackout.)

 

 

ACT II

SCENE 5

(It’s night. DIANE is sleeping on the couch. SOPHIE’staring out the window. A light rises, revealing SOPHIE’s mother.)

SOPHIE’S MOM

SOPHIE.

SOPHIE

Mom? Is that you? I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve missed you so much! And everything’s so messed up right now! I don’t know what to do.

SOPHIE’S MOM

Of course you do, dear. You always know what to do.

SOPHIE

I do?

SOPHIE’S MOM

Yes. Remember what I told you? When you asked if you could stay with DIANE that weekend, instead of go sailing with us?

SOPHIE

You said to have fun.

SOPHIE’S MOM

I did. What else?

SOPHIE

I…I remember you said that DIANE loved me.

SOPHIE’S MOM

Yes. She does love you. But sometimes really strong-minded people like DIANE, well, they mean well, but they can get confused. They can convince themselves that something is right for you, when it’s really right for them.

SOPHIE

Yes, I remember now. It’s been such a long time. You told me to always listen to my inner voice, the voice of my heart. Then I’d always know what to do.

SOPHIE’S MOM

Always follow your own heart, SOPHIE. Always.

(Blackout on SOPHIE’S MOM.)

SOPHIE

I will, mom. From now on. I won’t forget again. I promise. (Pause) I miss you.

(SOPHIE turns back to the window. J.D. comes in)

J.D. ( Off-stage )

SOPHIE? It’s me.

SOPHIE

(Whispers)

I thought I’d never see you again!

J.D.

(Whispers)

Or, I’m sorry I didn’t come earlier. I’ve been drinking…I mean thinking! All night. Why are we whispering?

(SOPHIE points to the couch. He looks over to see DIANE.)

SOPHIE

I’m glad you came back. There’s something I’ve got to tell you. Something important.

(SOPHIE leads him to the dining room and motions for him to sit down.)

SOPHIE

Sit down. You’ll need to.

(J.D. sits, still a bit drunk.)

SOPHIE

When this whole thing started, we sort of let you assume something that’s not true.

J.D.

I don’t remember assuming anything.

SOPHIE

Yeah, you did. Later, I wanted to tell you the truth. But I was afraid you’d be angry because, well, we lied to you.

J.D.

A little fib? Or a big lie?

SOPHIE

A big lie. What makes it even worse is that we took advantage of your situation, and your feelings about your old girlfriend.

J.D.

What are you saying? Does this have something to do with you being gay?

SOPHIE

Um, yes. That’s what I’m trying to tell you. I’m not gay. Never was. It was all a front.

J.D.

(Jumps up)

Fuck!

(SOPHIE signals to keep his voice down.)

J.D.

(Lower)

No wonder you guys never seemed to screw each other! Or even kiss! I feel like such an idiot.

SOPHIE

I’m sorry, J.D.! I feel terrible about this. I don’t know if I can ever forgive myself.

J.D.

(Sarcastic)

That’s great. You feel my pain. That makes everything all right. (Angry) Do you think you can explain it to me? Like, why you did it?

SOPHIE

I don’t know! This thing seemed to take on a life of its own! The real world’s too messy for DIANE. She thinks she can only be happy in some ordered, perfect world. And MIRANDA, she just loves to push the envelope.

J.D.

I don’t care about them. What about you? Why did you go along with it?

SOPHIE

I guess I’ve never learned how to trust my own instincts. Or stand up for myself.

(SOPHIE sits down, exhausted.)

SOPHIE

This afternoon, I decided not to go through with it. It’d just be a lie on top of another lie. What I feel for you is honest. It’s love. I don’t know how I know that, I just do. I thought we might have a chance. And I don’t want to lose that chance by keeping up this pretense, if I haven’t lost it already.

J.D.

(To himself)

I almost did it again, didn’t I?

SOPHIE

What?

J.D.

SKIP’s right. I am a lucky son of a bitch! Here I was, about to declare my love to a woman who was a lesbian. But then it turns out that she’s not a lesbian after all.

(J.D. turns to SOPHIE, smiling.)

J.D.

Even better, she loves me.

(SOPHIE leaps on J.D., laughing and kissing him all over. He brushes her hair from her face. They kiss again. As the kiss becomes more passionate, J.D. pulls back.)

J.D.

Wait a minute. Should we? Is this the right time?

SOPHIE

Shh. Everything’s all right now.

(They kiss again. SOPHIE quietly leads J.D. past DIANE and off-stage.

SKIP enters, carrying J.D.’s bags. He sets the bags down, then sees DIANE sleeping on the couch. He carefully covers her with a quilt. He sits in a nearby chair, watching her sleep, then turns out the light.

Blackout.)

 

 

ACT II

SCENE 6

(DIANE wakes up on the couch. She notices the quilt covering her, then SKIP, who’s fallen asleep in the chair. She gets up and covers him with the quilt. SKIP snores. DIANE shakes her head and goes off-stage.

J.D. enters. He notices SKIP and walks to the window, where he stands looking out. A moment later, SOPHIE enters.)

J.D.

Hi you.

SOPHIE

Hi. I missed you. Already.

(He pulls her close. They kiss. She lays her head on his shoulder, still sleepy.)

SOPHIE

Umm. What a beautiful morning. Been awake long?

J.D.

Awhile.

SOPHIE

Why didn’t you wake me up?

J.D.

I wanted to let you sleep a little longer. And I was just enjoying the view.

(She looks out the window.)

SOPHIE

That’s nice. What do you see?

J.D.

You have to look very carefully, but over on that ridge there’s a little cabin, with great views out every window. Inspiring views. A place where a poet might live.

SOPHIE

Oh yeah? Does she live alone?

J.D.

Uh-uh. She lives with someone. Someone who’s crazy about her. In fact, with two people that are crazy about her. A big one, and a very, very little one.

SOPHIE

I think I like this place.

J.D.

Me too. Just a little cabin for three. Overlooking a valley.

SOPHIE

Sounds wonderful. Like a fantasy.

J.D.

But it’s not. I know exactly where it is. Down by Lake George. I know the guy who owns it. It’s a little rustic, but we could fix it up. It just needs people who need a home.

SOPHIE

We don’t need a home. We already have one. Right here.

J.D.

Here? In this house?

SOPHIE

No! Home’s not a place. We could go to the cabin, or anywhere. We are our home. We have to start from there. Otherwise, we’ll just trade DIANE’s utopia for another one.

J.D.

But what if…?

(He looks down at her abdomen.)

SOPHIE

I’ve heard babies are pretty flexible. They don’t care where they live. As long as they’re loved.

(He looks at her, stroking her hair.)

SOPHIE

Trust me. Trust us.

(They kiss. SKIP starts to rouse.)

SOPHIE

I’ll see you in a minute.

(She leaves.)

SKIP

Good morning.

J.D.

Yeah. It is.

(J.D. pours SKIP a juice and sits down.)

SKIP

Well? How’d everything go?

J.D.

Much better than expected. SOPHIE and I talked, and we worked things out. In fact, everything’s much different this morning.

SKIP

Like what?

J.D.

For one thing, SOPHIE’s not gay.

SKIP

(Frowns)

I don’t understand.

J.D.

I don’t completely, either. She never was. Neither was DIANE.

SKIP

What?!

J.D.

That’s right. DIANE’s not gay.

(SKIP stares at J.D., then breaks into laughter.)

SKIP

Well, fuck a duck!

J.D.

That’s more your thing, squirrel man.

SKIP

Then, what the hell was all this about?

J.D.

It was a scheme DIANE cooked up when we mistook them for lesbians at the bar.

SKIP

Well, that’s original. Makes you wonder how that woman’s mind works.

J.D.

Don’t know. Don’t care. You can figure that one out. Right now, I’ve got to finish packing.

SKIP

Packing? Where are you going?

J.D.

Not sure yet. But wherever it is, it’s with SOPHIE. We’ll figure it out.

SKIP

I’m happy for you guys. Hey! The best!

(He toasts J.D. with his juice.)

J.D.

Thanks. C’mon. You can give me a hand.

(They head off-stage. A moment later, SOPHIE comes in with a box and starts sorting through a bookshelf. DIANE bursts in.)

DIANE

SOPHIE! He came back!

(She sees that SOPHIE is packing.)

DIANE

What’s going on? Is something wrong?

SOPHIE

No. Everything’s just great.

DIANE

(Worried)

But what are you doing? Why are you packing your books?

SOPHIE

I’m going away, DIANE. With J.D. We’re in love.

DIANE

(Cold)

I see. I’m very happy for you.

SOPHIE

You don’t sound like it.

DIANE

I’m just not certain you’ve thought this through. What if it doesn’t work out? What’ll you do when he turns out to be a loser and breaks your heart? Run home again?

SOPHIE

I don’t think that will happen, but I’m ready to take the risk. And no, I won’t come running back. I’ve never taken responsibility for my own life or my own decisions. It’s about time I did.

DIANE

Fine. If you won’t think about yourself, what about the baby?

SOPHIE

If there’s a baby, then we’ll have it. J.D. and I.

DIANE

What a dreamer you are! He doesn’t love you! Not like I always have.

SOPHIE

(Calm)

Exactly what is it about me that you’ve always loved, DIANE? My scintillating mind? My sparkling sense of humor? Or is it just that you’ve always been able to control me?

(DIANE stares at SOPHIE, then rushes out to the front porch. She sits on a step, staring into space.)

SOPHIE

DIANE!

(SOPHIE follows DIANE.)

SOPHIE

I’m sorry. Really. I don’t want to fight with you.

(DIANE stares straight ahead, rocking slightly.)

SOPHIE

So now you won’t talk to me. DIANE, I love you. You’re the only sister I have. I don’t want to hurt you, but I have to do this. I have to try to live my own life. I hope you’ll forgive me.

(She watches DIANE for a moment. When there’s no response, she walks over to the shelf, grabs a few books and puts them in the box. She heads off-stage.

J.D. and SKIP come back in, carrying packing boxes. MIRANDA follows, carrying a suitcase.)

SKIP

Looks like the gang is breaking up.

MIRANDA

Yeah, I guess. It’s a little sad in a way.

J.D.

What brought this on? Your leaving, I mean.

MIRANDA

A six-hour phone conversation last night. (To SKIP) Is it all right if I talk to J.D. for a minute?

SKIP

No problem. I’ll be outside.

(He leaves.)

J.D.

Where are you headed? Another new job?

MIRANDA

No. I’m heading to a new life in San Francisco.

(She hands J.D. a card.)

MIRANDA

Here, let me give you this. I didn’t want to go without giving you two a new number and email address. That’s my friend’s house. That’s where I’ll be. For a very long time, I hope.

(J.D. looks at the card.)

J.D.

Thanks. We’ll call you when we get settled somewhere.

MIRANDA

Please do. I want to stay in touch with you both.

(MIRANDA fidgets.)

J.D.

But there’s something else.

MIRANDA

Yes.

J.D.

Like a baby?

(MIRANDA shakes her head.)

MIRANDA

No. No baby. But I didn’t expect it, anyway.

J.D.

You didn’t? Why?

MIRANDA

Chlamydia.

J.D.

S’cuse me?

MIRANDA

Don’t worry! I’m cured and you’re fine!

J.D.

That’s nice to know. But what does that have with a baby?

MIRANDA

The doctors tell me that I can’t have kids. I guess I didn’t want to believe them. What do those stethoscope-wielding old bastards know about it? Miracles happen.

J.D.

They do. SOPHIE and I just had one. Maybe there’s a miracle out there with your name on it.

MIRANDA

Maybe. Probably not. But I think I’m ready to figure out how to live without this particular miracle. I guess I just had to settle the question in my own mind.

J.D.

It seems this experiment hasn’t been very successful.

MIRANDA

Most experiments are abject failures. We only stumble blindly across a real discovery once in a very great while.

J.D.

That’s true. I guess we’re not as smart as we like to think we are.

MIRANDA

It keeps us humble. But in all the craziness around here, I’m afraid I’ve done something I regret.

J.D.

I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to say. I thought it was your idea.

MIRANDA

No, no! It’s not what you’re thinking at all. I enjoyed our evening together. What I regret is that I used you to find out whether or not I was capable of being a mother. I’m not very proud of that.

J.D.

I don’t feel used. I feel kind of honored.

MIRANDA

You are one of the good guys. SOPHIE’s a very lucky girl.

J.D.

We’re both lucky.

(MIRANDA picks up her bag.)

J.D.

Look, I don’t mean to pry, but your friend in San Francisco…is a woman? Then you are…?

MIRANDA

You know, I’ve never liked labels much. As far as I’m concerned, I am a woman who loves and is loved.

J.D.

By a lot of people.

(MIRANDA kisses him on the cheek.)

MIRANDA

Well, I’ve got to go. You’ll call, won’t you?

J.D.

Count on it.

(MIRANDA turns to leave.)

J.D.

Hey. Good luck.

MIRANDA

You too.

(MIRANDA waves and heads out the door. J.D. looks at the card again, and puts it in his shirt pocket. He picks up a box and heads off-stage.

SOPHIE enters balancing a box and a suitcase. SKIP comes back in and takes the box from her.)

SKIP

Here. Let me get that.

SOPHIE

No, that’s okay. I can carry this stuff out to the car. But I do need your help with something else.

SKIP

Sure. Name it.

(SOPHIE gestures towards DIANE, still sitting on the porch.)

SOPHIE

She won’t talk to me. Not yet, anyway. But she might be ready to talk to you.

SKIP

Me?! Are you sure?

SOPHIE

Don’t let her fool you. She’s just scared.

SKIP

So am I.

SOPHIE

We all are. (Nudges SKIP) Go ahead. Give it a try.

(SOPHIE takes back her box and heads outside.

SKIP looks at DIANE. He takes a deep breath and walks out to her, talking to her back.)

SKIP

Hey DIANE.

(DIANE ignores him. He swallows hard and continues.)

SKIP

I won’t pretend to understand all of this. But I do know that when I heard the whole story this morning, especially the part that you weren’t really a lesbian, I was pretty happy. At least now there’s a possibility.

(He watches for a reaction. DIANE doesn’t move.)

SKIP

Look, I know I’m not anybody’s fantasy guy. In fact, I’m pretty average. But I think about you, and dream about you, and just want to make you happy all the time. That’s got to count for something.

(DIANE turns her head a little, listening. SKIP talks faster.)

SKIP

I don’t know if you’ll ever feel the same, or feel anything for me. But if we start slow, go to dinner or something, talk, maybe we’ll find something in common.

DIANE

You’re wasting your time. I don’t know how to love anybody. (Pause) That’s why I lost the baby.

(SKIP sits down next to her.)

SKIP

I don’t believe that. That you don’t know how to love. Maybe some of us don’t do it very well at first.

DIANE

(Softening)

How can you learn to be better at it?

SKIP

Maybe it’s something you can’t learn on your own. (Takes her hand) Maybe you have to work at it, you know, with somebody. But I know that first, you’ve gotta take the leap. You’ve got to be willing to try.

(DIANE pulls away and freezes again. SKIP waits. Finally, he gives up and stands.)

SKIP

Okay, DIANE. It’s your life. It’s up to you.

(SKIP turns away. DIANE looks up.)

DIANE

When would you like to go?

SKIP

What?

(SKIP turns back, surprised. DIANE looks straight at him.)

DIANE

Out to dinner? When?

SKIP

I dunno. How about tonight? Is that too soon?

DIANE

Tonight’s perfect.

(DIANE gets up.)

DIANE

Pick me up at seven.

SKIP

Really?

DIANE

Yes. Really.

SKIP

Holy shit! I mean…great! I’ll be here at seven.

DIANE

And no Taco Time. Make it Koi. I’m in the mood for sushi.

SKIP

(Excited)

Seven…raw fish… Check!

(SKIP turns and walks out, trying to remain cool, but trips. DIANE stifles a laugh and shakes her head. She walks off-stage.

J.D. and SOPHIE return. SOPHIE has a bunch of wildflowers. She looks for a vase in the cupboard.)

SOPHIE

I just want to leave these for her. She loves spring flowers.

(She places the flowers in the vase, then looks around the room.)

J.D.

You’re leaving the nest. Going to miss it?

SOPHIE

No. I’ll always remember it as a place where I felt safe. And loved. But it’s time to go. (She turns to J.D.) I know now that I stayed too long.

J.D.

I’m glad you waited for me.

SOPHIE

I am too. But all this has helped me see some things. DIANE and I…somewhere along the way, we stopped being good for each other.

J.D.

DIANE still loves you.

SOPHIE

I know. In a way, she pushed me out. It had to happen. But in the process, I found out I was stronger than I realized. And that made me able to love you.

J.D.

We all need a push sometimes. You have DIANE. I’ve got SKIP.

(J.D. takes her in his arms.)

J.D.

Whatever it took, I’m glad we got to this point. To us.

SOPHIE

Me too. And that’s all I need to know. It makes everything so clear, doesn’t it?

J.D.

It’s very clear to me.

(They kiss. SOPHIE takes one last look around. J.D. puts his arm around her. She looks up at him. Arms around each other, they walk off-stage.

The door closes. DIANE returns. She sees the flowers and wipes a tear from her eye. Then she picks up the flowers, rearranges them to her liking, and moves them to a spot closer to the window.

Sound of Jeep doors closing and an engine starting. DIANE looks out the window and raises her hand in a tentative wave.)

DIANE

(Lovingly)

‘Bye SOPHIE. ‘Bye J.D. Have a perfect life.

(Blackout.)

My Leading Man by David Wanczyk

Writer Round-Up: Matt Bell, Paula Bomer, Steve Himmer, Lee Papa, Ethel Rohan, D. Harlan Wilson, & Joseph Young

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