Monday, June 14, 2010

Madeline Gets Married

Madeline Gets Married
by Denise Laughlin Stewart
Originally produced by Offstage Theatre at Miller's Restaurant in Charlottesville, VA in February, 2003, and had a staged reading by ETC, the Ensemble Theatre of Chattanooga in March, 2009. This is a companion piece to "Madeline Takes a Cat" previously published on this blog.



Characters:
Flash Cadillac: 25, a DJ
Tonya, 25, a local bride-to-be
Carson, 22, a rich, UVa bride-to-be
Madeline: 30, a reluctant bride-to-be
Jack: Madeline’s fiancé
Caller #1
Caller #2

Setting: a bar on a Friday night
At rise, FLASH CADILLAC is seen at a small table. He is attaching a banner with his radio’s call letters and slogan. There is a microphone and notes on the table. He also sets up three seats or stools next to his table. MADELINE and JACK enter.

JACK
I mean it.

MADELINE
I’m not going to get drunk.

JACK
Get drunk! Get plowed! Do whatever they tell you. Drink something obscene– it’ll be fun!

MADELINE
But–

JACK
(silencing her)
Ssshhzzzz– your friends WANT to do this for you.

MADELINE
I’ve never even BEEN to a bachelorette party–and I’m not licking anything off of anybody–oh, Jack, please, please don’t make me do this!

JACK
Have you ever seen me really, really happy?

MADELINE
I think so.


JACK
Well, if you march up those stairs and go to your bachelorette party and have fun and get drunk and stupid with your friends, I will be TEN times happier than I’ve EVER been.

MADELINE
You’re not even going to be here and–

JACK
I’ll know. I’ll feel from miles away your glee and your lightness of being. Now go do dirty deeds with your dirty girlfriends.

MADELINE
This is stupid.

JACK
Traditions are supposed to be stupid. Remember, we’re just filling up time until we die.
MADELINE
Enough. Okay.
(She waves him away)
I’m going to call you.

JACK
Don’t call me. Get drunk. Well, if you’re drunk, you can call me because that’ll be really funny. Oh– and I got you this–
(JACK pulls out a lei of condoms and puts it around her neck)

MADELINE
No, Jack, please –

JACK
Come on – it’s a “Lei of Condoms.” Ultimatebacheloretteparty.com. You would not believe what they had.

MADELINE
What are you going to do?

JACK
Barracks Road, baby! Bed, Bath and Beyond – there’s a stainless steel, very expensive trash can that I’m adding to our register AND AND AND – Michael’s – my mother called – they have those floating candles for the reception for almost nothing.



MADELINE
You’re sick.

JACK
(leaving)
I love you.

MADELINE nods. JACK disappears. MADELINE watches the beginning of Flash’s monologue, looks up and then heads with trepidation up the stairs.

FLASH
(getting settled, checking his watch, doing a little vocal warm-up)
Unique New York, Unique New York, Unique New York. Annnnnd weee’re ononononon—
(he puts on headphones, but keeps one ear open)
Charlottesville! It’s Friday night and I’m Flash Cadillac and this is WPIG – broadcasting LIVE from Rapture/Orbit! It’s our First Annual YOU’RE NOT READY SHOW! We’ve got brides-to-be and we’ve got questions that BURN. Hey, guys we’ve got the HBIC, the hottest booties in C-ville falling off the map before your very ears. This is it! After tonight they’re as good as gone, YOU BLEW IT – but this is their last chance to be girls gone wild before they turn into tomorrow’s desperate housewives, and we’re bringing them to you – LIVE. Before we meet our Bachelorettes, let’s take a moment to thank our local sponsors. Many thanks to the Hooch and the Itchy Wahoo for their dual-sponsorship of our little reality show, and for those of you who say Charlottesville doesn’t need two weekly mags to tell you what cuisine is served at the Baja Bean we say “up yours with a rubber boot” and “Don’t be such a crotchety bastard – Jefferson would’ve wanted it this way.”
Now, let’s meet the ladies who are competing tonight for a 10-day cruise to the Caribbean – where “poop deck” will really mean something to you. No, just kidding folks, I’m sure THIS cruise WON’T be full of hundreds of people vomiting – I better quit while I still have a job.


FLASH signals to someone on the upper level that he’s ready for the first bride. TONYA, dressed in a low-rider jeans, high heels, and a t-shirt that has written on is “SUCK FOR A BUCK” and has little lifesavers stuck all over it. She’s also wearing a head piece made of toilet paper on her head and coming halfway down her back. TONYA is drunk. She pulls a card from her bag a rates a man from the audience as a “10 – Perfect Hottie”.

FLASH
Bachelorette #1 is here. She’s a foxy little mama, who loves to go to the mall for her nail tips, who’s glammed-up for tonight’s event. Her name is Tonya and she’s from Ruckersville. She knows Highway 29 like the back of her hand…and she has a baby from a previous relationship – uh…wow…well, if that scares you guys, you are NOT READY….but she IS ready to take that chance again, saying please, no more drama in my life. Welcome — Miss Tonya! Tonya, by God, is that toilet paper in your hair?

TONYA
It’s my practice tiara – for good luck.

FLASH
Good luck. Let’s get our next bachelorette down here. BACHELORETTE #2? Get down here, girl– Our next bride-to-be is a UVA student, a Wahoo wa, a Rugby Road Rat – she’s NOT GAY, but she’s a brainiac who surely scored over 1400 on her SAT but who’s losing cells by the minute – and she’s graduating this year – aren’t we proud of our grads? Come on, the poor thang’s jumping from the frying pan to the fire, so ya’ll, help me welcome the surely-insane....CARSON!

FLASH gets the entire crowd to cheer for CARSON, who comes down the stairs wearing a white strapless cocktail dress (or tacky white prom dress) with a plastic but elegant veil in her hair. She’s also wearing high heels with a plastic ball and chain around her ankle. She’s also carrying a little bag. She’s hyper and gets the crowd to cheer for her even louder as she struts and uses her arms to get them to “raise the roof”.

FLASH
Okay, listeners. We’ve got a live-one here. I mean, do they know how to raise ‘em over at UVA or what? Carson, you come over here and settle down you little nymph.

CARSON
(offering something to an audience member from a little tin)
Spermies?

FLASH
Spermies?

CARSON
They’re mints. Would you like a Spermie? A mint shaped like a sperm.

An audience member takes a Spermie. CARSON quickly takes out a piece of paper, squeals and marks something off her list.

CARSON
(consulting her list)
Flash, what’s the weirdest thing you have in your pocket?

FLASH
I’ll do the interviewing here, thank you very much.



CARSON
I’ve been like, collecting advice tonight, Flash. My sorority sisters up there told me to go around and like, ask married couples what advice they could give me. What advice can you give me?

FLASH
I’m afraid I’m not married. But please, read us one of those quotes.

CARSON
Let’s see...“If your husband gets so drunk that he wets the bed, throw away the sheets and buy new ones.”

FLASH
Jesus Christ! Let’s get our last bachelorette down here. Our final bride-to-be finds herself walking down the aisle as the sun is setting on her life. Yes, folks, our girl is THIRTY YEARS OLD, a grand old dame, old enough to know better, but still stupid enough to care about her ovaries and what her mother thinks. She didn’t wanna be all by herself, so she managed to snag herself a little muffin, a love machine of her very own, a man among men – a.k.a. somebody to take out the trash on Sunday nights – help us welcome MADELINE!

MADELINE comes down the stairs carrying a six-foot blow-up penis. Someone has taken a black marker and has drawn a face on the penis. There are also some autographs and quotes such as “Better you than me!” and “Run!” She looks mortified. FLASH is speechless.

TONYA
That is so cool. I saw you with that earlier.

CARSON
That is so hilarious, but I would, like, die.

FLASH
Cover your children’s ears because I have to tell you that our last bride-to-be is carrying a–.

MADELINE
It’s a penis.

FLASH
Watch your mouth, lady – this is a family show – SO, who’s your FRIEND?

Madeline is silent.

FLASH
Come on, Madeline, you’re killing me here – what shall we call your FRIEND?

MADELINE
(nervous, blurting out)
Archibald!

FLASH
Welcome, Archibald, now I don’t feel so outnumbered. So callers, get your fingers ready to dial and redial! YOU’RE going to get to do the eliminating. YOU listen to their answers and YOU call in to say who’s NOT READY to walk down that aisle. Who knows? You might save a life tonight, sugar bear. This is Flash Cadillac broadcasting live tonight from Rapture – where the fear factor is really, really real, just ask Brad and Jen. PART ONE: The Question. Tonya, what’s your biggest fear about getting married?

TONYA
That I will try to make my husband my savior and forsake Jesus Christ.

FLASH
Carson?

CARSON
I was JUST talking to my fiancé, Carson, about this–

FLASH
(confused)
Your fiance’s name is Carson, too?

CARSON
Isn’t it just, like, wild? BOTH of our mothers named us their maiden names...Carson.

FLASH
It’s, like, fate.

CARSON
Exactly.

FLASH
So, Carson, what scares the – daylights out of you when you think about marrying Carson?

CARSON
Flash, fear of perfection. It’s all been so perfect so far. I mean, everything is right on time. I wanted early decision to Uva – got it. I wanted to go abroad for study AND finish on time– did it. I wanted to meet someone who was at least 3 inches taller than me AND associated through his fraternity to my sorority – found him. We have SO many friends in common which is EXACTLY what I wanted. And his mom and my mom wear, like, the same shoes, it’s like, sick, and his dad and my dad are going to like, get season tickets near each other, and I know that we are going to have like, perfect children after I start grad school and, well, can this be right? What if it, like, blows up in my face – you know, to punish me, like, UNMERCIFULLY, for, you know, for like, the balance of the universe?

FLASH
What in the hell–


TONYA
Jinxed. You think you’re going to be jinxed. My cousin got jinxed.


FLASH
AUDIENCE – I hope you’re listening and getting ready to tell one of these ladies, as hard as it may be to hear that they’re NOT READY. Listen to these worries. This is a beautiful country. Now, Madeline, you’ve been so quiet, you and Mr. Johnson over there. Tell us, WHAT are you afraid of?

MADELINE
I don’t know about this – my friends signed me up for this contest. I didn’t –

FLASH
I’m starting to think WFART sent you over here to wreck my show. Now, just play the game, Madeline. What’s the problem? The callers out there want to hear if you’re ready or if you’re not. Now, WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

MADELINE
Privacy, money, boredom, giving up my dreams, in-laws, retirement accounts, poker nights, snoring, calling to check-in, staying home all weekend, babies, monotony, fear of fidelity, possible divorce, and the constant consulting and checking and asking and apologizing–

FLASH
Whoa.

CARSON
I don’t think she’s ready.

FLASH
That, my friendly callers, is up to YOU. So, the seventh caller gets to give one unlucky bride-to-be the news.

FLASH looks to his unseen tech person to get the signal for the right caller.

FLASH
And here we go. Caller Seven, you’re on the air! What do you want to tell us?

CALLER #1
(a very serious man)
Hiya Flash. This is Theresa from New York.


FLASH
Incredible! You’re picking us up in New York? Are you listening on-line?



CALLER #1
No, I’m FROM New York. I’m calling from Lake Monticello. My husband just retired and we relocated down here.

FLASH
Gotcha. Who’s not ready, Theresa?

CALLER #1
Carson. No doubt about it.

CARSON
What? No way. No way.

MADELINE
Oh no.

FLASH
(to the caller)
Tell us why.

CALLER #1
I don’t know what’s going on down here. This is NOT the way we do it where I’m from. Where I’m from, if you’re a GIRL, you get a GIRL’S NAME – Kathryn, Rose, Cynthia, Helen. Down here I hear them called Madison, Rhyne, Brown, Thompson. What kind of crap is that? And BOYS don’t have it any easier! I can’t find a William or a Henry in the birth announcements to save my life. It’s a PHENOMENA. I read names like Parker Turner, Baker Thomas. What’s first, what’s last? Where does the comma go? I won’t be surprised if I read tomorrow about twins names Window and Door! My own grandchild did this to me. She named her child Kane. Kane! “Because that was your maiden name, Grandma.” I know what my maiden name. Wait a jiffy second, I told her. The ONLY Cain I know is in the Bible. So, Carson, I’m doing you a favor. YOU’RE NOT READY. Now, go out there and find a Paul or a Mark. Goodnight, Flash. Is that your real name?

FLASH
(Seriously)
Our caller has spoken.

TONYA
(waving to Carson)
I’ll tell her what my mama tells all the Yankees at Walmart, “If you don’t like it here, why don’t you go back where you came from.”

CARSON takes her cell phone out of her bag and gets up from her seat and heads upstairs, talking to herself and anyone who will listen.




CARSON
(calling a friend)
I’m coming back up there. I got kicked off. You guys won’t believe it! Why didn’t you, like, come downstairs? I’ve never lost anything in my life. I need more time on this list-

FLASH
PART TWO: The Confession.
Ladies, consider what you’re about to say very carefully, because it’s finally down to just the two of you and the winner of this round is going to win a 10-day Carribean cruise. Tell our listeners and the fine patrons of Rapture/Orbit your biggest secret. Madeline, why don’t you go first?

MADELINE
A secret? Okay...uh, I’ve never used the bathroom in front of my fiancé.

FLASH
Madeline’s shy. Isn’t that cute? Come on, let’s have a group sigh from our live audience here for little bashful Madeline. One, two, three–

The audience sighs a big “Ahh” for her.

FLASH
You gotta do better than that. Give us something we can feel, if you don’t mind. Try again. Are you a brideZILLA?

MADELINE
No. Not at all. Really – I don’t feel like a bride at all. I know I’m supposed to be a wreck, but I’m not running around, stressing out, being a “bridezilla.” My fiancé, Jack, he’s made all the decisions. He’s kept our budget and called the photographer and the church and the minister and the caterer. He’s done it all. I’ve just gone along. I mean, I was in the room when we picked out the flowers, but mostly I just nodded or smiled. I didn’t know what flowers I wanted. What are you supposed to ask for? Uh, pretty flowers, that’s what I want, right? My mother picked out my dress and my jewelry. People ask me, “What are your colors?” and I say, “Oh, it’s a surprise.” Yeah, it’s a surprise to me! I don’t know what the hell they’re talking about! The dress is white. That’s my color! Is that what they’re talking about?

FLASH
Tonya?

TONYA
(sobbing, then bursting)
I’M IN LOVE WITH MY BOSS AND I’M PREGNANT WITH HIS BABY!

FLASH
Caller #7, let me hear from you.

TONYA
Dwayne, I’m so sorry! Please forgive me! Dwayne!


FLASH
Caller #7, you’re on the air!

CALLER #2
(a redneck)
Tonya Michelle, you little slut.

FLASH
Sounds like your news is all over town. Yes, we boast a huge listenership, Charlottesville, and this is just proof–

CALLER #2
Tonya Michelle, I knew it. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it. This is the last straw. You ought to be ashamed. Is this why you signed up for this show? To trash talk your way to the Carribean? I ought to slap you into next week. I never should’ve let you become a dental hygienist –

TONYA
Mama?

CALLER #2
YOU’RE NOT READY TO GET MARRIED TONYA MICHELLE! Everyone warned me. All dental hygienists are sluts! They warned me. BUT NO, I believed you when you told me you wanted to go and learn a SKILL. All those nights when you told poor Dwayne you were filling up bleaching trays –

FLASH
(seriously)
Our caller has spoken.

TONYA
Oh heavens! What have I done?
(Running upstairs)
Belinda! Heather! Monica! Sharon! I confessed! I confessed!

MADELINE
Hurray?

FLASH
Yes, Madeline, you win! You’re ready to get married.

MADELINE
(quietly)
Only by default.



FLASH
A 10-day cruise to the Carribean with your man. Yes, just call you angel in the morning, angel. Grab your sunscreen.
(pause)
But wait, our soon-to-be-newlywed seems less than excited. Don’t you want to go on the cruise?

MADELINE
No! It’s just – I burn. That’s all. And sarongs. I don’t do sarongs.

FLASH
It’s not nice to lie. Not to those who have kept you here. Not to your fans. Just tell us the truth.

MADELINE
Maybe my friends should come down–

FLASH
You’ve already said that you don’t feel like a bride, that you don’t even care about your flowers and your colors. I mean, audience, have we been duped? She’s got ice in her shoes, OBVIOUSLY. Or maybe it’s more like Tonya’s story – a dentist in the wings–

MADELINE
No! I care about my flowers. I mean, yes, yes, I want flowers. Yes I do.

FLASH
How many people are coming to your wedding?

MADELINE
Um–

FLASH
Doesn’t the bride know how many people are coming to the wedding?

MADELINE
A lot of people are coming. A lot of people have said yes.

FLASH
Do you even know how many people have been invited? Do you even know WHO’S been invited?

MADELINE
Family....friends...co-workers...there IS a list–

FLASH
And does – what’s your fiance’s name?

MADELINE
Jack.



FLASH
Good job. Where’s Jack tonight? At his BACHELOR party?

MADELINE
No.

FLASH
Does Jack know how un-brideish you feel?

MADELINE
Things have been very hectic–

FLASH
But this is the real deal, right? He’s the one, right? Let’s call him. Don’t you think you should tell him how–

MADELINE
What? What? THAT I’M NOT READY EITHER? I’M NOT READY TO GET MARRIED?
DON’T CALL HIM BECAUSE HE’S AT BED, BATH, AND BEYOND
...SHOPPING FOR TRASH CANS
...BECAUSE WE’RE GETTING MARRIED!
(turning around)
Jack!

JACK
You’re on the radio! You’ve been saying all this stuff, live, on the radio!

FLASH
(quietly, into his microphone)
WPIG. Charlottesville. Reality Radio. We’re live, folks!

JACK
(astonished, heartbroken)
You don’t want to get married?

MADELINE
We were just answering questions...what we’re scared about...you know–

JACK
You “just nodded and smiled at the florists”? I didn’t know that. I didn’t see that.

FLASH
Madeline, it’s time to answer the question. Do you or don’t you want to get married?

CARSON comes running down the stairs.





CARSON
(to JACK, with her hand behind her back)
Can I give you a blow job?

She pulls a “Blow Job” shot of a from behind her back. JACK, confused, takes it.

CARSON
(Checking another thing off her list)
Yes!

JACK
Madeline, just tell me right now where I stand. I just want to know where I stand. WHERE DO I STAND?

TONYA comes running down the stairs.

TONYA
My friends told me that you’re freaking out. Believe me, honey, I know exactly what you’re going through. God will forgive you and he will carry you through this troubled time. Just tell the truth. That’s what I did and my buzz came right back.

TONYA exits upstairs.
CARSON
(to Madeline, pointing at Tonya)
I just want you to know that, like, SHE has never been on a cruise and if you’re, like, not going to use it, she would SO enjoy going on a cruise! She had, like, her heart set on it.

JACK
Don’t you love me?

MADELINE
STOP. EVERYBODY STOP! I can’t handle this. All this pressure. This is a lot easier for everybody else, I think. It’s so hard, you know. It’s so hard to know what to do. There’s this person and two years feels like forever and we live together and we have this life. And MY neighbor, she’s got this great picture of her husband and he looks just like Cary Grant and you can tell that she always loved him and that she didn’t mind taking care of him while he was dying. And I was walking to work one day and it was icy and there was this woman and she was shoveling the walk and there was her husband by the corner by the garage, and he just had to watch because he was so old and he couldn’t help, but he didn’t want her to be alone. And if you don’t get married, YOU DON’T GET THAT! You don’t! And that’s it!
(turning to JACK)
And I picture you old and crippled and wheezing, and I don’t want anyone to take care of you but me, even if you turn into an old bastard. And YES, I’m very worried about all that’s going to happen because I may be 30, but I’m still a child, and being married means growing up. I don’t care about the wedding, but I’m very curious about the marriage.
(pause)
That’s where you stand.



JACK
I can live with that.

CARSON
(while dialing)
That was like, amazing.

MADELINE kisses JACK.

CARSON
Carson! This is Carson! What are you doing, sweetie? Let me tell you, you are rushing me on this marriage plan. I need to wait until I’m 24. I just can’t get all my stuff done, you know? And I don’t think I’m going to be really, you know, like grown up, until, like, later, when I’m 24. You know?

MADELINE
Let’s go home.

JACK
And what about Archibald?

MADELINE
(Remembering, embarrassed)
Oh, I’m sorry. I was on the spot.

JACK
Jeez, is nothing sacred anymore?

MADELINE
Yeah, a few things.


MADELINE gives Archibald to a woman in the audience. MADELINE and JACK leave.

FLASH
Well, WPIG listeners – THIS has been reality radio, and this is Flash Cadillac signing off from Rapture/Orbit and our first YOU’RE NOT READY! SHOW. Now, as the lights go down in the Cville, let me ask you folks at home – WHERE DO YOU STAND? ARE YOU READY OR NOT?
THE END

Friday, June 4, 2010

C-Ville: ADVICE - NEW! May 2010: Like Sisters

Hi there! So my new advice column came out this week in C mag: Check it out, if you please:

C-Ville: ADVICE - NEW! May 2010: Like Sisters

Stacks of Rocks


Horseshoe Bend Trail, Mt. Baker National Park, May 2010



While on retreat/vacation/get this girl out of town on Mount Baker in Washington State, my sister and I took a little hike. By the Nooksack River, we came upon a collection of cairns. Cairns are stacks of rocks that mark trails for hikers, but this collection was huge! A tall stack here, a little stack there, one close to the river and one big rock covered with tiny little stacks. Who made these stacks? Could they really have been made over time by various travelers, bringing up rocks from the bottom of the mountain to replace the ones washed down through the year? Did a bunch of little kids do this in one afternoon under the guidance of their hippie dad? Most importantly, what did it mean for me? Without cell phone service, with boots, with time on my hands and a cute hat, I had to wonder. I always wonder. I write journals that are full of my wondering and worrying. Could a stack of rocks have the power to straighten me out, put me or keep me on the right path? Could a week away into the high hills with good wine and coffee but no alarm clock or corn syrup have the power to set my brain free?

My thought in the first minutes while checking in was that this was the most perfect setting for a murder mystery. All elements were in place. You will recognize those elements but I'm saving them for the book I'm going to start/write/still be thinking about on my next retreat.

My thought after passing a group of outdoorsy-types on their way to put-in or take-out their kayak was, "I could never marry a kayaker." "I'd worry too much."

My thought after a couple days of this (reading, sleeping, talking, swimming, walking, walking, river-watching, talking, laughing, crying) was, "I would like to own a general store in a quiet ski town, but I would need a bigger dog."

My thought on day three is that when you retreat from the world, you are stuck with yourself. Luckily, I had my sister to also be stuck with and we rocked the gas fireplace and some Charlie Wilson's War. Oh, and there was a little mouse, and he made us both shriek, but he ate the cheese I lured him out with, and he was cute, so I wasn't disappointed.

That there wasn't a murder the WHOLE week, now that was disappointing.

My thought after day four was that applying Vitamin E oil directly to my face was turning back the clock.

My question on day five was "Would it better for the murder victim to be a kayaker or the girl that ran the general store?" My sister threw in that it was better if it was someone other people hated, like a real estate developer, or someone who didn't pay employment insurance for their maids.

My concern at the end of day five was that I was wasting time.

My quandary on day six was "What am I going to do without this place? I love it here."

My epiphany at some moment on some hike is that it would be possible for me to start over anywhere -- including at home. Trees and time and rushing water and good company can make you feel this way.

So, with the stacks of rocks off to the right and interstate markers saying to turn left and head south, we stopped retreating and headed back into the world.

I'm keeping my eyes open for stacks of rocks that won't be so obvious, or maybe there have always been stacks of rocks to lead the way; stacks of rocks at every stop sign and in the spaces in-between every phone call.