What Happens When the Fat Lady Sings: Part I--Journeys (Chapter 3)


Journeys


---------------------------We know a thing by its opposite corollary;
---------------------------hot by having experienced cold;
---------------------------good, by having decided what is bad;
---------------------------love by hate.

----------------------------------------------------------
Sylvia Plath


(Music. Theme to “The Twilight Zone.” Spotlight, beginning as a pinpoint of light and broadening into a tight circle of light, comes up. Samantha, the fat woman, about 40, vivid red hair falling to her waist, steps into the spotlight. She wears summer clothes: a Prussian Blue knit top, white shorts, scruffy sandals. A striking woman, she stands straight and places her arms akimbo. Spotlight broadens to encompass the entire stage, which is bare, except downstage left: a car, a red Jetta, obviously well-used, is parked, its trunk open. Several suitcases, duffel bags, etc. are stacked behind the car. Music fades.)

Samantha: I begin my journey alone. A journey that begins and ends as part reality, part psychodrama. I think it’s the only way I can navigate my way through this reunion. I suppose this is nothing new, really. I have lived much of my life through the color of my mind, my actors manipulated like pieces on a game board, like paint strokes on a canvas.

I want, I want, I want...I win!

Sheldon teaches group psychodrama to his students and patients–-I mean clients; he says it’s a way to act out one’s life without risking, well...risk. It all sounds so silly, and I tell Sheldon so, at least twice a week. Besides, who takes that silly hot tub guru Fritz Perls and his psychobabble seriously? It’s SO 70's.

Hello. Sheldon needs to embrace the here and now.

Besides I just can’t imagine acting my life out in front of strangers, whacked out ones, at that. I can’t relate to dysfunctional people.

But I must admit: moving characters around in my head appeals to me; I control their actions, their hot buttons.

God knows I don’t control them in real life. The truth is, they sing and I dance.

For once in my life, I want to be the singer.

(Sheldon Weiss, Samantha’s husband, enters stage right. Tall, with a full head of well-styled blonde wavy hair, he is very handsome in a classic square jaw and angular kind of way. He moves around regally, wearing crisp khaki slacks, a green Izod knit shirt, and matching athletic shoes. Carrying a brief case and a backpack, he walks behind Samantha to a Volkswagen Jetta where he opens the back passenger door. Muttering, he tosses these items in the back seat and roots around, rattling papers, etc. He appears not to notice Samantha.)

Samantha: Yes, Sheldon’s physical self is with me, but he cannot know what awaits me.

Sheldon: (Looking all around, he calls toward offstage right.) Sammy! Blah, blah, blah, blah...! (Shaking his head, he exits stage right.)

Samantha: I see his mouth moving as he barks orders at me, but I can’t comprehend what he’s saying. (Goes stage right, picks up a suitcase, and hoists it into the trunk.) And, yet, I find myself stowing complicated suitcases– Shel’s theory of geometric packing at work–grocery bags, books, and travel stuff into the trunk. Pieces of my life.

(As Samantha continues to speak, Nicole, Samantha’s daughter, a beautiful young pregnant woman, with long black hair, enters unnoticed stage left, and shuffles over to Samantha.)

Samantha: I offered to pack up the car, which kind of surprised Shel. It’s not that I’m so thoughtful and kind; he mustn’t know about the paintings I’ve rolled up and stashed into a tent bag. Last night, as he slept, I hid the bag behind a rug that’s been rolling around in the trunk for two months. He’ll never suspect. I’m not sure why I’m dragging my artistic failures to the reunion, except that maybe I see some successes here, too.

(Nicole walks up to Samantha and hugs her.)

Nicole: Mommy?

Samantha: (Surprised. She disengages from Nicole.) What are you doing here? This is MY psychodrama. You don’t belong here.

Nicole: You can’t keep me away. I am part you.

Samantha: You have no right...

Nicole: It was the only way I could get your attention.

Samantha: Oh, Nikki...

Nicole: I mean it, Mama. You never answered my letter.

Samantha: (Evasive.) Well, you know how it is...

Nicole: No I don’t. I want to go, too.

Samantha: (Looks away from Nicole.) It’s not practical–you might pop that baby somewhere in Ohio.

Nicole: I’m only five months.

Samantha: It just isn’t right.

Nicole: I want to see my family.

Samantha: You should have thought about that before...

Nicole: Oh, Mother. It’s not like you’re so lily white...

Samantha: At least I didn’t shove my pregnancy down Nana’s and Pappa’s throats. I handled it all on my own.

Nicole: You were ashamed of me. (Pats her stomach.) I’ll never be ashamed of my child...

Samantha: Oh, Nikki. It’s not that...

Nicole: It isn’t?

Samantha: Of course not!

Nicole: If you loved me, you would take me with you, no matter what. I have the right to see my people.

Samantha: We have to think of Nana. What would she say if she saw you this way?

Nicole: She’d wag her finger at me. Then she’d hug me.

Samantha: It would kill her.

Nicole: Just like it killed her after I was born.

Samantha: That was different. She wasn’t old and sick then.

Nicole: That’s just an excuse. This is about you. You ALWAYS put your feelings ahead of mine.

(Samantha turns away from Nicole.)

(Sheldon enters stage right.)

Sheldon: (Yells.) Samantha! Time to go! (He gets into the car and starts the engine. He honks the horn.)

Nicole: (Pulls Samantha to her and clings to her.) Please, Mom. (Begins to weep.)

Samantha: (Pulls away from Nicole). I’ve got to go. (Walks over to the passenger side of the car and opens the door. Pauses.) Bye, sweetie. (Gets into the car.)

Nicole: (As the car pulls away:) Mama, why are you doing this to me? (As the roar of the engine fades, she collapses to the floor, folding like a bloom closing its petals).

(Light slowly fades into until darkness. The crying continues until it becomes an echo, and then it fades out. The spotlight comes up and shines on Samantha. The spotlight broadens to encompass the entire stage. Nicole is gone. Samantha goes center stage, to the edge of the stage.)

Samantha: (To the Audience:) How dare that kid do this to me? I fought hard for her–if not for my stubbornness, she’d be the ghost of fetal cells, rotted away in some landfill.

Lord knows I can’t ever tell her this; I swear she’ll never know how unhappy and shocked her dad and I were when we found out... (Shakes her head and exits stage right.)

(Music:“The Twilight Zone.” Then fadeout and darkness. Curtain.)

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