Thursday, February 21, 2013

Favorite scenes

One of my favorite scenes, from my early play The Pardon. The actors speak to the audience. Above love and sex in the 1950s.
FRANK: Harriet, you see, married Daniel while I was at the University of Maryland. I thought I was still in love with her then, so it hurt. In 1959, when we were seniors at Rutherford High, our petting had finally, inevitably, reach its (ahem) climax on a spring moon-filled night in the back seat of my '52 Merc convertible. We had the top down.
HARRIET: Were you a virgin? It's not so unfashionable to ask today.
FRANK: I plead guilty.
HARRIET: At the time I thought I was the only virgin over sixteen on the planet.
FRANK: In 1959, genitalia hadn't gone public yet. We didn't have Penthouse. We had nudist magazines filled with naked families playing volleyball, and to a person their genitalia were depicted as hairless smudges. This wasn't much help.
HARRIET: Despite this handicap we succeeded — how does one put it? — in lining ourselves up properly. I believe we did.
FRANK: Eventually.
HARRIET: I believe I told you I loved you.
FRANK: And not for the first time.
HARRIET: And did you love me?
FRANK: Of course. This was 1959.
HARRIET: Then what went wrong?
FRANK: I'm not sure. Perhaps it was the special logic of the fifties. Or maybe it was only Rutherford. Or only us. I do know this: that if you slept with a nice girl in 1959 —
HARRIET: And was I a nice girl?
FRANK: I knew no other kind. If you slept with her, then ipso facto you were in love with her.
HARRIET: Ipso facto.
FRANK: The times knew no other moral possibility. And if you loved her, ipso facto you married her. One's sense of moral responsibility was strongly syllogistic in those days.
HARRIET: Shoo-be-do-be: we were in love, therefore we made love.
FRANK: Sha-na-na: we made love, therefore we were in love.
HARRIET: Ipso ...
FRANK: ... facto.
HARRIET: Actually I felt like a tramp afterwards. I was sure you'd drop me in a minute.

(A beat: Frank clears his throat.)

FRANK: Will you marry me?
HARRIET: Yes. I believe I said yes.
HARRIET: What else could I say? There was blood all over his back seat upholstery. He loved that car!
FRANK: So we were engaged, and not thirty minutes after sharing our loss of virginity.
HARRIET: Very secretly engaged.
FRANK: And very secretly rehearsing, continuing to rehearse, for the real thing: the marriage bed.
HARRIET: Four months later I missed my period.
FRANK: But no slinky abortion, folks!
HARRIET: The proverbial false alarm. But it did scare the hell out of us.
FRANK: And she means both of us.
HARRIET: So thereafter we refrained from climbing into the back seat.
FRANK: But not without wall-climbing discipline, certain insatiable appetites having been whetted.
HARRIET: And he means in both of us. Though, of course, a nice girl didn't admit such a thing in 1959.
FRANK: Unsatisfied appetites lead to frustration; frustration to arguments —
HARRIET: And to make a long story short, since we really didn't want to get married quite yet anyway, we did the next best thing.
FRANK: We broke up.
HARRIET: Rationally and only temporarily.
FRANK: We were biding time until we finished college. I went away to the University of Maryland. I would date other girls.
HARRIET: I stayed home and attended Rutherford College and would date other men. Why do you say girls and I say men?
FRANK: The times were chauvinistic all the way around.
HARRIET: Then I met Daniel and was swept off my feet and we were married the summer after my Junior year.
FRANK: So ends the love story of Frank and Harriet. Still friends?
HARRIET: Still friends.

(They peck, and Harriet moves off.)

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