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HENRY How are you?
LAURA (she addresses audience) How are you?
How- In which way or manner
Are- second person singular of be, meaning to exist
You- The nature or character of the person addressed
In which manner does your nature or character exist? What a stupid question.
Oh you know, hanging in. How was work?
HENRY Remember Joe?
LAURA (to audience) No
(to HENRY) The pompous one?
HENRY The one and only.
LAURA (to audience) It is a truth universally acknowledged that all men find other men pompous.
HENRY Well they canned him.
HENRY Verb. Slang. Implying to be jailed.
LAURA I’m not one of your students Walter
HENRY Then don’t ask stupid questions
LAURA Then don’t tell meaningless stories with no hooks that require prompts for clarification of the plot!
HENRY You never gave the plot a chance!
LAURA Well it started with Joe. Joe’s who are average and own crab shacks
HENRY Unfair generalization. Take it back.
LAURA Do enlighten me, professor, why was dear Joe canned?
HENRY Your sarcasm pierces my soul.
LAURA I have opened the door. Do not close it. First rule of improve.
HENRY You never hear about arrests for the mundane. Arrests are always for drinking and driving, murder, assaulting an officer but never for such clerical issues.
LAURA Joe was arrested for a clerical issue?
HENRY He didn’t pay his taxes. Had the money, just put it off ‘cus he didn’t have the time.
LAURA How horribly mundane.
HENRY Did the conclusion suit you?
LAURA There was no plot twist.
HENRY Sorry. I must go downstairs. Clerical Issues.
LAURA I was hoping we could talk.
HENRY Don’t forget to pick Sarah up at the bus stop.
LAURA HENRY I-
HENRY (exiting) Oh and let me know what I should pick up for dinner. I’m feeling lasagna with that salad you do so well. But don’t put the anchovy paste in the Caesar this time, yes? (exits)
LAURA I pick Sarah up at the bus stop every day at three. But thank goodness he reminded me. And he can’t even tell when I put the anchovy paste in the Caesar. Like this one time, when we were first dating, he took me to this Italian restaurant. It’s always good to take a woman to an Italian restaurant on a first date because the Italian waiters inevitably make up for the charm mere mortal men lack. Anyway, he ordered pasta. The pasta turned out to be the multi-colored variety. And half way through the meal I realized he was picking out only the white noodles to eat. Today he would have sent the meal back, but in an effort to contain his inner Scrouge on a first date, he was coping on my behalf. I finally told him to close his eyes and guess which noodle I was feeding him. He said green, with a repulsed face. The noodle was white.
(hollering) HENRY! (she tries again) HENRY!
HENRY Paying the mortgage!
LAURA Tear yourself away for a minute, would you?
HENRY (enters, carrying a play in his hands) When the play gets dull, just get naked – is that the mentality these days? Jesus Christ, every play, when will they get it? There’s no more shocking to be done. How do you write a review when it’s all been done? I mean I give (reads cover of play) Henri, the fancy French spelling, Henrí LeBlanc. How much you wanna bet that’s a pen name? Hate to break it to you but aesthetic appeal can’t save this sinker!
LAURA Now who’s being melodramatic?
HENRY I’m serious, how would you like it if I just whipped off my pants right now?
LAURA The neighbors would call the gate guards-
HENRY Oh yeah? Let’s add a little shock value (unbuttons his pants, begins to pull them off)
LAURA Whoa there! No, no (LAURA quickly grabs his hands to stop him, they stand awkwardly in silence for a moment as he rebuttons his pants.)
That was (chooses word carefully) immature.
HENRY You’re right.
LAURA Yes. That was childish and impulsive.
HENRY I’m embarrassed.
LAURA No that’s the wrong emotion, you shouldn’t be embarrassed
HENRY You are not at liberty to judge my emotions
LAURA I’m your wife.
HENRY You still cannot tell me how to feel! (short beat) That was childish. My apologies.
LAURA I am embarrassed that you are embarrassed to take your pants off around me.
HENRY This is not an issue of my confidence.
LAURA No! Stop that.
HENRY I will heighten my insecurities. (clears throat) I feel fat.
LAURA Stop thinking! Taking off your pants in broad daylight is preposterous to our little intellectual conformist suburban ethos!
HENRY That was hardly un-intellectual.
LAURA ugh! This is why I should have married the boy who scored a 25 on his ACT and went to state school! I should have done the white picket fence and the mini van and never lost the baby weight! This marriage is cerebral! Marriage is not cerebral!
HENRY You chose your intellectual equal. We are partners, on the same page, in sync.
LAURA Kiss me
HENRY I don’t see what purpose that would serve
LAURA Kiss me
(He walks over, puts both hands on her shoulders, squares up and pecks her on the lips. She purses her lips and keeps her eyes open.)
HENRY I’m beginning to take offense.
LAURA Please, take offense!
HENRY Would you like a mini van?
LAURA Yes! I want all of that. I want the husband who lies to me about the way the dress makes my a** look, the husband who holds doors and hands and eats unhealthy things during the football game-
HENRY That lifestyle is cliché
LAURA Rather than the husband who points out that that lifestyle is cliché!
HENRY You called me up here, away from my work?
LAURA (Sighs) I need carrots.
HENRY But I hate carrots.
LAURA Then buy some f***ing radishes! What do I care? I’m only cooking the damn dinner and picking up the kid and – I’m sorry.
HENRY Hate is a strong word. Carrots aren’t my favorite. I will buy the carrots. Anything else while I’m out?
LAURA I can’t think of anything, unless you want something.
HENRY No, no (he goes to exit)
LAURA Honey, what’s that play about?
HENRY It’s called Deferred – in reference to college admissions.
LAURA The pent up angst of a twenty five year old playwright finally realizing that his unemployment is the result of his mediocre college and now blames the admissions committee that deferred him from his dream school?
HENRY Something like that.
LAURA What’s the twist?
HENRY That college admissions officers are really inmates at the Federal Prison who opted out of license plate painting to read the applications of thousands of college hopefuls instead.
LAURA That’s actually quite good-
HENRY You can’t be serious
LAURA It sort of makes sense-
HENRY It’s pure angst!
LAURA It is well channeled angst.
HENRY He is pouring his diary out on stage for Christ sake!
LAURA At least his angst is comedic and the title is compelling-
HENRY Well if the title’s good, by all means, produce the damn thing!
LAURA Think about it. Deferred…
HENRY It is not a bad title, it is simply a bad play
LAURA Deferred means postponed, like to put something off. Putting off some unpleasant,
life altering decision because you think you will have better perspective or a calmer spirit in a month or so.
HENRY Oh how I do love when you define things
LAURA Just think about how much of life you defer. It’s just lazy. Deferring is f***ing lazy.
HENRY I’m going to the grocery store now, no more deferring! Love you, bye.
LAURA I want a divorce.
HENRY You’re right deferring is f***ing lazy, maybe Joe wouldn’t be in prison today if he hadn’t deferred those clerical issues, eh honey?
LAURA Clerical issues, right. Don’t forget the carrots.
(HENRY goes to exit and freezes as LAURA addresses the audience)
Do you ever look in the mirror and wonder if you see what everyone else sees? You wonder if anyone notices that your hair frames your face particularly well today. I do. There are some people you look at as just transportation devices for thoughts. Like their hair and boobs and eyes are there not to attract the opposite sex but to blend in amongst the other humans so that can germinate the earth with their thoughts without the distraction of sexual whims. I believe I am such a person. I believe I am a thought transporter. People look at me and see marketable ideas and dependability, but not a date to bring to the bar to meet their friends. Just once I want to be shown off. To be the arm candy. To have people stare at me and not listen to me. And here I am pouring my diary out on stage. HENRY would not approve.
HENRY Forgot the keys! (Heading back into the kitchen)
LAURA HENRY, when I tell you I look fat, what do you say?
HENRY I say that’s the menopause talking.
LAURA And I respond by hiding your Viagra, try again.
HENRY I say that, honey, I’m sorry I’ve been so busy and I know it has taken an emotional toll on you and that I haven’t been holding up my side of the marriage, but that you are my rock and I promise to place you in the center of my universe where you belong.
LAURA Don’t you use your analytical skills to condescend me!
HENRY That was a compliment.
LAURA You label me as the little housewife who thumbs idly through Cosmo’s while waiting for some attention from her breadwinning husband.
HENRY Well clearly you are suffering from some sort of insecurity because I have been trying to leave the house for the past five minutes and you keep locking me in conversation.
LAURA This is argument, not conversation.
HENRY Fine ARGUMENT, may I leave? Or do you have more insecurities to address? Because, by all means, fire away, I’m feeling complimentary.
LAURA I WANT A DIVORCE
HENRY Now’s not the right time.
LAURA There’s a right time to sever the ties of matrimony?
HENRY Unfortunately, yes.
LAURA I don’t believe this!
HENRY As much as you and I would both like to believe that true love can come together and fall apart within 80 pages of dialogue, we know that is not reality. A relationship takes timing, tact, planning and thoughtful termination.
LAURA Don’t call it termination-
HENRY A relationship requires setting dates, fulfilling agreements, saying sorry, checking boxes and unfortunately lacks the sparks and fateful moments we design for our characters
LAURA Stop defining. I’m not your student.
HENRY I need to define.
LAURA Definition is painful.
HENRY Would you rather I defer?
LAURA You cannot mock this!
HENRY How can I mock this when I don’t understand this?
LAURA What don’t you-
HENRY No, listen. I compartmentalize because this hurts. Because this hits too close to home. So I put it in a box and I keep it at arms length. I define it. I generalize it because that is how I have understood everything my whole life. And I’m sorry that I can’t go to the mat with you on this one because twenty years of my heart is at stake. The moments of showing someone the worst things about me, the moments of sharing my triumphs because I knew they were our triumphs. Twenty years of being your other half is why I cannot argue about divorce, I can only define it and plan it.
LAURA (tearing up) I didn’t realize-
HENRY Neither did I
LAURA I haven’t been listening
HENRY No, you’ve been listening too carefully.
LAURA Where’s the plot twist?
HENRY There’s never a plot twist
LAURA F*** (rushing towards the door)
LAURA I’m late to pick up Sarah!
HENRY Does that mean we’re deferring this conversation?
LAURA (Pauses) Consider the conversation deferred.
HENRY Do we still need carrots for dinner?
LAURA I wouldn’t mind asparagus.
HENRY I’ll buy both.
LAURA I’d better go.
HENRY I love you.
LAURA I love you.