Sunday, December 8, 2013

Tiny Revelations

Inspired by the events loosely described herein, I decided to take a run at a playlet, or a skit, or a one-scene play. It is a brainstorm exercise and as thus has not been read through or edited in almost any significant way. As such, it likely won't make sense in places, but I'm trying to get past a particularly nasty fit of rewrite-oholism which has prevented me from posting for the past week


Characters: (NOTE: all characters are works of 80% fiction)

  • Bob, Billy and Jeff - Three men of dashing attractiveness in their 30s. They are educators, wearing slacks with button-down shirt and tie. 
  • Waitress - a waitress. Or server. Or whatever you choose to call her. Or him.
Setting: A Chinese restaurant, present-day.

Scene One

At rise: Bob, Billy and Jeff sit at a table just left of center stage. One sits in the middle directly facing the audience, and the other two sit facing one another in profile.

BOB: I really prefer booths. Food just tastes better in a booth.

JEFF: Jerry always sat in booths. (Beat, while BOB and BILLY look quizzical.) Seinfeld. On the show. Almost always. Wait. Let me think... A few times he had to sit at a table, but never in Tom's.

BOB: Did you know Sam refuses to sit at a table? If he and his wife or family go into a restaurant (interruption) and there's no booths --

BILLY: Sam the math teacher?

BOB: Yeah. If he goes into a restaurant and there's no booth available, he'll just walk out.

JEFF: Under all circumstances?

BOB: Pretty much, yeah. One time Rebs and I met Sam and Tammy for dinner at that gourmet burger place downtown, and the place was pretty packed --

BILLY: Vortex?

BOB: No no, it was --

BILLY: Bama's Best Burgers?

BOB: No.

BILLY: The Angus? (Beat. BOB and JEFF look at BILLY.) Sorry. I guess you could just tell us.

BOB: At the Broad Street Tavern downtown.

BILLY: But it went out of business.

BOB: Yes. Yes we're all aware. This was a few years back. So. (Beat. Looks at BILLY as if expecting an interruption.) So, we got there, and there’s only a handful of booths in the place, right? And they’re full, but there’s some tables open, and the waitress says follow her, and Sam wigs out.

JEFF: Exactly how doth he wig?

BOB: Well first he’s all red-faced and fidgety and says, “Ma’am, this isn’t a booth. I definitely asked for a booth.” And she’s like, because she doesn’t quite get it yet, “Well sir, as you can see, all our booths are taken.” And Sam says, “Well then, ma’am, we’ll just sit and wait for a booth to open up. Since that’s specifically what I requested in the first fucking place.”

JEFF: He cussed? At the waitress?

BOB: Yeah. Right? Weird, since he’s not a frequenter of the foul mouth.

BILLY: A few meals with us would cure him of that. Of not cussing, I mean.

B OB: Totally out of nowhere. Zero to 60 flare-up of anger. We all walk back to the front and wait 20 minutes for one of the booths to open up. And Sam’s trying not to stay pissed in front of me and Reb, but Tammy has seen this before, so she’s all embarrassed and everything's awkward and nobody is talking. I swear all of those booth people must have sat down right before we got there or something, because it was the longest half-hour wait of our lives. Reb hadn’t eaten lunch that day, so she kept looking at the empty tables with this longing, like a nomad staring at a desert oasis just beyond reach.

BILLY: Y’all go out with Sam and Tammy a lot?

BOB: Not so much, nope. Definitely not after that. Rebecca said she’d be damned if she ever let herself get stuck in a moment like that again. Life’s too short to wait on people's inexplicable psychological hangups. Sheila in the business office dropped a hint a while back that Sam had to be put on some kind of anti-depressant. Or to combat OCD. Something like that. Who knows. We have no idea what’s happening to most of us in the privacy of our personal lives.

JEFF: The tip and the iceberg.

BOB: Exactly.

BILLY: Sam’s doing the drama thing.

JEFF: The drama thing?

BILLY: Yeah, you know, the thing that new drama teacher is doing?

JEFF: Did I miss that email?

BOB: Probably. Students have written these short plays in his drama class, and he thought it might be cool to invite the teachers to act in them. Sort of reverse the roles.

JEFF: And teachers volunteered?

BILLY: I totally did.

JEFF: Of course you did.

BILLY: There’s like nine of us, dude. I think it’s gonna be fun.

JEFF: Of course you do.

BOB: So is Sam any good?

BILLY: He’s OK, yeah. Drama has always appealed to the mentally unstable, right? Explains why I jumped at it…. But… That’s been the coolest part of the whole thing. I knew the plays would be hit and miss, because it’s a bunch of teens writing their first shots at plays, and the plays couldn’t be more than five minutes long… Is there a name for that? Short story versions of plays?

BOB: One acts. Or sometimes playlets.

JEFF: Like Playtex.

BILLY: That’s something I’d say.

JEFF: Ooh. God. You’re right.

BILLY: Anyway, I was late getting there, so everyone else was already sitting down, and I looked around at the people and was like, “This is gonna be a nuclear disaster.”

BOB: John told me the names. Pretty random group.

BILLY: Totally random. Like, I would never have predicted half the people in there. Maybe more than half.

JEFF: So are you gonna regret this?

BILLY: No no, not at all. I mean, the plays are rough. Or playlets, or skits, or whatever. But being in there was… special. There’s this room with a bunch of random teachers, doing dry reads of student scripts, and… you can sense the talent potential in some of them. Like, people you’d never ever predict.

JEFF: Were there any awful ones?

BOB: Of course there were awful ones. I would be awful.

JEFF: No you wouldn’t. You just need the right part. You’d make a wicked Don Henley.

BOB: Ouch. That’s low. I think I could do Bowie.

JEFF: I’d like to see you do Nugent.

BOB: Sweaty Teddy? I’d love to rip out some “Cat Scratch Fever.” But I’d want to play it in a way that complimented the song but also told Nugent he’s an asshat douchebag.

BILLY: I walked out of that room reminded of how much potential and talent we all leave on the table when we choose a career. We're young, and we have all this potential, and who knows all of the things we could be really amazing at. Or maybe not amazing but just good. And we have to just choose one. Or life chooses it for us. And I wondered how many other people walking around here could do just as good a job but didn’t volunteer. I wondered how many of us could have packed our bags and honed this craft and made a career of it. Maybe none. Maybe one. Maybe who knows. But we're at a school. That's our career path.

BOB: I could play a kickass Nugent. In the riveting Damn Yankees biopic.

JEFF: Is it a biopic if it’s a musical on Broadway? Or does it have to be a movie to be a biopic.

BILLY: Is “Rock of Ages” a biopic?

BOB: No it’s just crap.

JEFF: So it was fun? The rehearsal?

BILLY: You really could do a good Steve Perry, Jeff. But yeah. It was surprisingly fun. It’s just refreshing. You get so used to seeing people in a certain light, you know? Working with them as they do this same kind of job and fulfill the same kind of expectations every day, every week, every year. And here they were, brave enough to stretch themselves in front of their coworkers. I’m really excited about it. Even if we suck. Which, I mean, let’s be honest, maybe we will.

BOB: It’ll be great. Everyone eats stuff like this up.

JEFF: If that’s true, why don’t we do it more often?

(as lights begin to dim, WAITRESS begins to walk over with plates of food)

WAITRESS: Your food’s ready, guys. Does everything look right?

Fade to black. End scene.


troutking said...

Nice! For some reason I never think of a scene in a play being able to have an agenda like a blog post, probably because I don't usually know the playwright or what he's referring to. The only accuracy complaint I have is my character doesn't mention Springsteen in the whole scene...

Daisy said...

More please.