Joan Strauss


pg 2


Scene 3

A local bistro. They are eating and drinking wine.

J. You were right pal. This Australian Shiraz is drinkable but wait, when the Nouveau comes in, you'll have to go with the French.

D. As long as it's red.

M. Why's that?

D. Good for business. Stains the teeth.

M. Fine. I'll guzzle it. Say, how was your week in the Hamptons? Did you eat at Nick and Toni's? Did you sit at a good table?

B. Oh no. We didn't go there. It's too expensive and after a day at the beach I didn't want to dress.

D. Since when do you dress to go anywhere? You never look good.

B. That's not true. I'm sexy. I'm thin.

D. In jeans?

B. Yes. And these jeans cost plenty.

M. Kids, call a truce tonight. Bets is a free spirit. She's unique.

D. What's unique about shopping at Bloomingdale's? If she were more organized, she could find a bargain. I'm not a rich man.

J. You look like one tonight. I bet you're doing great since you've been turning everyone's mouth into dazzling Chiclets. How much does a set cost?

D. Not as much as that Franck Muller on your wrist.

B. Both of you, stop it! (She points her finger at Dan.) Don't ever lay your shit on me again. Get your own head together before you criticize me. I've had enough.

D. Brava. Finally you show some spunk.

(Dan reaches across the table to shake Betsy's hand.)

B. Fuck you.

J. Hey, the two of you. Back off. (He looks at his watch.) It's ten o'clock.

D. Too early to call it a night. Hate to move the car though. I'm parked on your street. If I have to, let's make it interesting. How about going downtown?

M. Are you thinking of a gentlemen's club? If you want a lap dance, I'll give you one right here.

D. Both of us?

M. Sure.

(Margaret gets up from the table and starts to gyrate. She rubs against Jeff. He's mortified.)

J. Sit down! You're drunk.

M. Perhaps a wee bit. Remember the piggies? They go wee, wee, wee all the way home. (Her fingers trace a path downward from his chest toward his groin.) I hoped you were still in the mood.

J. (Shoves Margaret away from him.) How about a gay bar? We'll walk in girl-girl and boy-boy.

M. My God. Do you know of any?

D. Oh no. Bets would never go for that. She might meet someone she knows there.

B. Shut up, asshole.

J. Come on. It's no secret Bets and Mark Crawford are good friends. He lives in the apartment next to you. You recycle together. What's the big deal about him being gay?

D. (Leans across the table and pokes a finger into Jeff's chest.) The fact that Mark is a fag simply means she hasn't gotten laid.

J. Let's get out of here. I need air.

M. No. I don't want to stand on the corner like a prep school kid deciding which party to crash.

J. You're ridiculous. Be honest. You don't want to ruin your hair.

M. Don't ever call me ridiculous. What about your squash and golf games? Nothing comes between you and them.

D. Calm down, girl. You're being a little hard on Jeff. He's showing us how to live well.

M. Oh shut up. He doesn't need you to protect him.

Scene 4

Inside Dan's car. Dan and Betsy in front. Dan at the wheel.

D. Where are we going?

B. Nowhere. Not until you apologize for what you said about Mark and me.

D. Betsy, I regret that Mark doesn't go for girls but fag was clearly written on his pretty face the day we met him...only it's taken you two years to believe it. You want something that's never going to happen and it hurts.

B. He's sweet to me. Why can't you be as nice? I adored you when we met. You're the only man I let touch me. I thought that meant I was in love. I want to feel that again. I need a spiritual connection.

D. And what's that? Your adolescent yearning? Did you get the idea from People magazine? Have an affair. You'll finally grow up.

B. Don't you want me? Am I too dumb for you? Don't I dress right?

(She begins to bang her head repeatedly against the side window.)

M. Stop it! You bang and my head hurts. I can't tell where you leave off and I begin.

(Betsy does not stop. Margaret holds her head with both hands and moans. She reaches for Betsy's hand between the front seats and joins it with Jeff's.)

M CONT’D. Take him. Go on. Take him and get out. Just stop what you're doing. You're killing me.

(Betsy and Jeff look at each other. A long pause is pregnant with conjecture. At last they leave the car together. Dan and Margaret remain as they were, stunned. Dan rests his head on the steering wheel.)

M. Do something. Go after them.

D. No. Let them go. Jeff will talk sense to her. (He turns suddenly to face her.) In college, why did you dump me? We were meant to be together.

M. What!

(To be continued)

Joan Strauss

In a few words: I am a provincial New Yorker. I was born here, raised in Queens, educated at Vassar College and then at New York design schools. I settled in Manhattan for my married life and raised two daughters on the Upper West Side. Professionally I've been a copywriter, an editor for the Urban Coalition, a novelist and an interior designer. I developed "Consequences" as a short story. This is my first attempt to translate it into a play.

Back to Issue 9