Creative Control

Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist

Life ain’t easy for a boy named.

If you missed my appearance on The Partly Dave Show this past weekend, I here present to you the short play I wrote and performed, based in part on content from this 2008 entry, and dovetailing into the evening’s theme of “Fairy Tales.” I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank John Pierson and Rachel Claff for their assistance and instinctively spot-on performances.

blonde

***

Grew Up Quick and Grew Up Mean
A Play

(BARTENDER stands behind bar. RUMMY sits on a barstool nearby. BARTENDER speaks to audience. As he speaks, BLONDIE enters.)

BARTENDER
I’ve just poured his third glass of Beam when the blonde walks in. It’s rare for her to be here this early on a Saturday. Her eyes flash pinball bumpers when she sees him, her spine stiffens to support the rest of her body on prowl. She walks up to him on the tightrope of his blind spot. She doesn’t want him to see her yet. She just wants to make sure everybody else in the room understands; she is a leopard with a fresh kill, she is not to be interrupted.

BLONDIEHi.

BARTENDER
She says to him.

RUMMYHi.

BARTENDER
He replies.

BLONDIE
I’ve never seen you here before.

RUMMY
Oh? Well. First time for everything.

BARTENDER
He shifts, slightly, away from her, hunches over, tries to obscure his face. I never get why people do that. It just makes the person you want to hide from look harder. I start to ask her, what are you drinking, but the recognition finds a handhold, I’m too late to save him.

BLONDIE
Wait. Are you…?

RUMMY
No.

BLONDIE
No, you are! You’re…

RUMMY
I think you’re mistaken.

BLONDIE
Don’t be like that. You’re him, aren’t you?

RUMMY(hesitates, takes a drink, accepts his fate)
Yeah.

BLONDIE
Truly?

RUMMY
Yeah.

BLONDIE
Tell me your name.

RUMMY
Why?

BLONDIE
Why? What do you mean, why? Tell me your name.

RUMMY
You already know my name.

BLONDIE
I know. But I want to hear you say it.

BARTENDER
He looks to me permission that he knows I won’t grant him. He is a dangerous little fucker if I allow him off-leash and I’m not going through that bullshit with the police again; he knows the rules. Every time this little melodrama finds him he can either suffer through it or settle his tab. (Beat. He speaks to an audience member directly.) He could have had your name. You, there. You. Yes. You. What’s your name? _______? That’s a nice name. That’s a nice name and it suits you, you look like a ________. Let me ask you: did you have a lot of problems with _______? Kids making fun of you for ______? Yes, no, maybe? Here and there? No. No you did not. You did not really have problems with _______. (Beat.) Let me put it to you this way. You know that joke about how the Canadians named their country, right? How the first Canadians were sitting around a campfire trying to figure out what to name their country, tossing back a case of Labatt Blue, and they say, hey, let’s throw some letters out at random? Right, you know this joke? “C, eh? N, eh? D, eh?” Well, not that I was in the room when they named the kid, but you have to think it was something like that to end up deciding you’re going to name your first child—

RUMMY
—Rumplestiltzkin.

Pause.

BARTENDER
Ohhhh. Oh and she gets that look. She gets that superior aha look, that look you get when you run into the disgraced Richard Nixons of your social strata, the people it’s okay to kick over and over again with your thousand-dollar steel-toed Manolos. It pops out of her on a half-suppressed giggle—

BLONDIE
Bitter much?

BARTENDER
Bitter much. Because that’s who he is. The guy who lost a bet once and threw such a nasty tantrum about it that the earth cracked open and swallowed him whole. Bitter much. No, honey, I stop myself saying, black coffee is bitter. Quinine is bitter. You don’t know what you’re talking about, what you think is so funny.

BLONDIE
Do you still do that trick? That trick you do?

(RUMMY looks at BARTENDER. BARTENDER hands RUMMY a piece of straw plucked from a broom. RUMMY stuffs the straw into his fist. He opens his fist and a gold chain spills out.)

BARTENDER
Let me be clear. She’s impressed. She is, in fact, hot for him. He has bad boy vibe, no, he’s got villain vibe. He’s infamous. He is the most notorious child-stealing gnome in the history of child-stealing gnomes and if you don’t wonder at least once what it might be like to get that in bed then you lack imagination. (Beat.) Bitter much. I feel for him. I do. You ever really read that story, his story, the story bearing his name? You ever really read it? Four main characters, including him. You have a father so selfish and insecure that he tells everybody within earshot that his daughter can spin straw into gold. You have a daughter who is either so spineless or dishonest that she doesn’t contradict him. You have a noble prince who is a tyrannical psychopath. “Oh? Your daughter spins straw into gold? I’d like to marry her, if that’s true. I’m going to lock her in this dungeon with a wheel, and if she can’t do it three nights in a row I’ll have her executed.” Hell. I can’t fathom why he was still single. (Beat.) And our fella here; I’m not saying he’s a saint. You have to be a bit of a cold bastard to say you’ll only help out if you can get the first-born child in return. But that said: she agreed, they shook on it, a deal is a deal, and two things. One: If you don’t want to pay up on a deal like this, then you practice birth control. Two: Selfish grandfather, dishonest mother, psycho father. I think he would have been doing the kid a favor. But no, still, he comes to collect, she gets all weepy and he caves in. He gives her an out on a transaction that she is failing to honor. He didn’t have to bet that she couldn’t guess his name. He didn’t owe her that. So when he loses. You know what? Maybe after a lifetime of always being the ugly, weird-named dwarf in the room, after a lifetime of always being that loner loser, maybe you’re entitled to a seismic display of disappointment when your boat capsizes yet again, and somehow, after all of that, you end up the bad guy. Bitter much? Yeah. So would you be. Don’t think you wouldn’t. Way of the world. If you’re not around to tell your story somebody else tells it for you, and the first one you hear will always be the one that sticks. (Beat.) The blonde gets friendlier.

BLONDIE
So, Rummy. Can I call you Rummy?

BARTENDER
She says.

RUMMY
Sure. Why not?

BLONDIE
I’m Goldilocks.

RUMMY
Really? Goldilocks as in the Three Bears Goldilocks?

BLONDIE
Oh! You’ve heard of me?

RUMMY
Heard of you? Yeah, I’ve heard of you.

BLONDIE
So—

RUMMY
—so maybe you should leave me alone, you thieving bitch.


(A long awkward pause. She looks at BARTENDER for emotional support. He offers her a noncommittal shrug. She walks away from RUMMY.)

BARTENDER
Like I said.

End of Play

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This entry was posted on May 20, 2009 by in Neo-Futurists, Performance, Plays, Society, Writing.
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