Harriet’s Amazing Mother

March 12, 2011
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(Ozzies. A small, cozy coffee shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn. CELIA and PETER are sitting across from each other at a marble table under a stained glass chandelier. CELIA has blonde curly hair and an impeccable taste in clothing. She is wearing dark skinny jeans, brown boots, and a grey cardigan. PETER is a handsome, slim, young man. He is wearing a plaid pagmina, a long cardigan, black skinny jeans, and brown loafers. CELIA is sipping an iced coffee and PETER is blowing on his tea in an oversized mug.)

CELIA
I have a huge favor to ask you.

PETER
No.

CELIA
Wait! Just let me ask/ you first

PETER
No.

CELIA
But you don’t even/ know what it is.

PETER
No. I am done doing favors for you. I am like Harriet’s mother.

CELIA
Who?

PETER
You know that book? With the raccoon? And she’s always getting into trouble or picked on or whatever? But then, just in the knick of time, her mother comes and fixes all her problems. I am Harriet’s mother.

CELIA
I’m not following you.


PETER
I’m always saving your a**!

CELIA
Ok, okay! Can this be the absolute last time you save my sorry a**?

PETER
Boy, if I had any sort of important plans or something, you’d be in deep s***. So, where did your sorry a** end up this time?

CELIA
I’m not gonna write you a novel here, so to make a very long and intricate story short, I should probably stop lying so much. Because sometimes people are going to catch me.

PETER
You’re kidding!

CELIA
Can you not be sarcastic for, like, a second?

PETER
I’ll try.

CELIA
I mean, usually I'm pretty good at it. Lying. Master of the white lie. But it's those lies that start out relatively small... sometimes even just an exaggeration... can snowball into this huge, complicated ball of lies. Now usually, I would just make it all go away by just denying EVERYTHING. But this isn’t quite as simple.
(beat. She paces back and forth, fanning herself)
Oh my god. This is like one of those anxiety dreams I have! Where I just say that I can do everything. Everything they ask me to do I say, ‘Yeah, I can do that.’ So before you know it, I’m dancing Swan Lake and I don’t know any of the choreography.

PETER
What did you do???

CELIA
I told a big big big big big lie.

PETER
Thank you. Now, let’s bring the Captain Obvious cape to the cleaners and you tell me, in English, what kind of mess you managed to get yourself into.

CELIA
So you know how my mom is, like, always bothering me about not having a boyfriend? She’s always like, ‘How come you don’t have a boyfriend? You’re not unattractive, you could stand to lose a few, but other than that, you’re pretty. Why don’t you have a boyfriend? It’s weird.’ Blahdee blah blah. I’m sorry, is it my fault that I’m a dancer and the only guys I meet are gay? Like, I can’t even wear a loose sweater without her being like, ‘You know, I think that’s called the boyfriend sweater. I don’t know why you like it so much. You don’t have a boyfriend, so you just look silly wearing it.’

PETER
She did not! I’ve never met the woman, but I feel like I’ve known her forever.

CELIA
Wait. Just let me finish. Here’s where you come in to pull my a** out of a ditch. Last month, I just got fed up with her s***. I mean, she kept asking me if I was a lesbian. So I just said, ‘Actually, Mom, I’ve taken myself a new beau.’

PETER
You did not.

CELIA
Oh yes I did. Well, her jaw dropped into her quinoa. It just felt so good to prove her wrong. I guess I sorta got carried away. Once I started to talk about him, there was no stopping me. I piled lie upon lie upon lie upon lie upon lie upon lie/ upon lie upon

PETER
Ok, ok I see your plight.

CELIA
I told her that I met this perfectly marvelous guy in this perfectly wonderful place/ and we’re

PETER
Dear God. Please tell me you did not quote directly from Cabaret.

CELIA
I might have. For inspiration.

PETER
And you wonder why you don’t know too many straight males.

CELIA
Oh no, I am perfectly aware of this.

PETER
What else did you tell your mother, Sally Bowles?

CELIA
Just how amazingly sweet he is, how considerate, how funny, how caring, how attractive he is. Also, we just can’t seem keep our hands off of each other.

PETER
Oy.

CELIA
Oy is right. Last night, she just dropped this bomb on me; she wants to meet my dream hunk. I mean, I guess I should have seen this coming, but it felt like a sumo wrestler had just sat on my chest. I panicked. I said she could meet him today!

PETER
What were you thinking???

CELIA
I wasn’t! I panicked. What was I to do? Tell her the truth?

PETER
No, no of course not. You haven’t had enough practice.

CELIA
Once I took a few anti-histamines and calmed down a bit, I came up with a good solution. Now, this is where you come in. I called you here today/ because

PETER
Remind me never to answer the phone when you call.

CELIA
Peter, be serious! I am in a major pickle here! I have a bit of a, how shall I put this, I have a bit of an acting job for you.

PETER
As tempting as that sounds/ I’m gonna have to

CELIA
Peter! Are you really going to refuse me in my hour of need?

PETER
Hmmmm… yes.

CELIA
No! Come on! Be serious.

PETER
I am. Stone cold dead serious.

CELIA
Wait, but just listen, you don’t know what I’m going to ask. Now, my mother has never met you before. I just need you to be my perfect boyfriend for the afternoon. Do you think you can do that?

PETER
I mean, I did play Prince Charming in Into the Woods… but I don’t know Celia. I don’t feel comfortable lying to/ your mother.

CELIA
/S***. Sh*tsh**sh**s*** S***.
(She puts a mass of curly hair in front of her face and tries to disappear)
She’s here

(They sip coffee nervously. LYDIA enters. She is wearing a slim black turtleneck, slim black pants, tall black boots, and sunglasses. Everything about her is slim. She spots them and walks over. CELIA gives PETER a long pleading glance)

LYDIA
Hey guys!

CELIA
Hey! This is… Henry!

PETER
Right. Henry! Yes, I am Henry. Pleasure to meet you.
(CELIA breathes a sigh of relief as smiles at him as if to say ‘thank you.’)

LYDIA
So nice to finally meet you. Celia speaks very highly of you.

PETER
Does she now?

CELIA
I do, honey!
(they kiss awkwardly on the lips, like when you mash two toy dolls together)

LYDIA
This is precious. I should really take a picture and show it to Laura Winters. You know, just this morning, I ran into her in Fairway and she went on and on about how her daughter Jane has the ‘best boyfriend’ and that she ‘just absolutely adores him.’ I usually try to avoid shopping at Fairway on Saturdays for this very reason. But next time, she can listen to me brag about my child for once.

CELIA
Mom…..

LYDIA
(her phone buzzes)
Sorry, I just have to respond to this.

(PETER and CELIA sip their drinks nervously)

LYDIA
(puts the phone away)
So, tell me, how long have you guys been together again?

CELIA


PETER
2 months

About a month
(They look at each other)
CELIA


PETER
A month

2 months
(They look at each other)

CELIA
Time flies when we’re together. It’s just so hard to keep track of how long it’s actually been!
(smacks PETER’s knee really hard. He winces)

LYDIA
Right, of course.
(silence except for the loud slurping of drinks)
So, Celia never told me how you guys met exactly.

PETER
Hahaha, really? Celia, honey, do you want to tell the story?

CELIA
Do I… Umm yes. How do I even begin?
(kicks PETER under the table)
At school. We both joined umm, what was it called? Henry?

PETER
The charity club.

CELIA
The charity club. We do, sort of, like, charity work, you know? We just sorta connected.

PETER
On so many levels.

CELIA
We both like charity.

PETER
Helping others.

CELIA
Things like that.

LYDIA
Wow. What a mench!

PETER
What?

LYDIA
A mench! A gentleman! You seem to have a really good influence on my daughter.

PETER
Oh, wow, thanks. That means a lot, Ms. Jones.

LYDIA
You can call me Lydia.

PETER
Ok, thanks, uh, Lydia!

LYDIA
Besides how sweet and handsome you are, I feel like I don’t know that much about you. Tell me, Henry, what do you like to do?

PETER
(clears his throat)
Well, uh, I like to… play sports. Yep.

LYDIA
Hmmm! Any in particular?

PETER
…. A lot of them.

CELIA
Yeah, Henry’s quite the athlete. A tri-athlete. And he plays lacrosse.

LYDIA
Wow! I’m a runner myself, we should all run together sometime!

CELIA
No. No no no no. (nervous laugh) No.

PETER
Yeah, I like to run in complete solitude. To, uh, be alone with my thoughts.

CELIA
Henry has a lot of thoughts.

PETER
So many.

LYDIA
Well, I have a good idea! We should do dinner one night!

PETER
Sounds great /to me.

CELIA
Uhhm no. I mean, I think we should just play things by ear.

PETER
Yeah, well, I mean it’s just dinner.

CELIA
Pete-uh Henry, I think we should just wait and see.

LYDIA
Whenever you love birds decide is fine. I’ll whip up some farro and vegetables or something.
(Her blackberry buzzes. She checks it)
Oh s***. It’s my crazy patient again. She’s calling for an ‘emergency’ appointment. I bet her baby’s just got the hiccups again.

CELIA
Oh no! Does this mean you have to leave now?

LYDIA
‘Fraid so.

PETER
And we were only getting started!

LYDIA
I know! We’re going to have to do this again sometime very soon. We must have you over for dinner!

PETER
Definitely!

LYDIA
Bye, sweetie! (Kisses CELIA)
Bye Henry! (Gives him a flirtatious wave)
(CELIA puts her head on PETER’s chest and he strokes her hair as they watch LYDIA exit. Once she is out of sight, they push each other away.)

PETER
Wow. You’re mother is somethin’ else.

CELIA
Yeah, she is. And just to spare you from that something else, I’ll be breaking up with Henry tonight.

PETER
Phew. Yeah, what a relief. We wouldn’t want to get too carried away.

CELIA
I’m sorry to put you through that.

PETER
It was nothing. Celia/ uh I

CELIA
You were so great. Thank you.

PETER
Really no problem. Actually, I kinda enjoyed being your boyfriend for an afternoon.

CELIA
And I promise, this is the last a**-saving adventure I will ever put you through.

PETER
Somehow, I doubt that.
(CELIA gets up from the table and puts her bag on. Walks downstage to exit.)
And, hey, I will always be Harriet’s mother.
(CELIA cracks a huge smile and exits. Lights Down.)

END OF PLAY





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