by J. Alderton
A young man learns to cope with the loss of his girlfriend.
| (The scene is a bench. That’s it. Just a bench. The time is the present. JAKE enters SR, carrying a large heavy duffel bag and sits. MR. LABAN, a middle-aged gentleman enters SL and sits. He has a newspaper under his arm. From the looks of it he doesn’t want to be bothered. LABAN opens the paper and starts to read in that “I don’t care what I’m reading as long as no one’s bothering me” way. Throughout the following monologue LABAN reacts as if completely agitated by this nut who he is “forced” to sit beside. At one point he can even move and sit on the ground behind the bench, still reading his paper of course.)
Jake: What do you want to be when you grow up? Do you remember that question? “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I remember a lot about growing up, but it’s funny how quickly you forget that question. There may have been a wall, somewhere, in an elementary school, or nursery school, or preschool with crayon drawings hanging on it of smiling stick figures showing just what a certain kid wanted to be when he grew up; what exactly did anyone think a preschooler was going to accomplish with an assignment like that? What is a preschooler going to say he wants to be, a dinosaur? (LABAN smiles halfheartedly at the joke.) I remember one day in church school I drew a picture of Jesus. He was dirt biking. Yeah. (pause) For some reason all the Jesus pictures that day had dirt biking.
LABAN: (agitated) I’m Jewish.
JAKE: (somewhat uncomfortable) Anyway (pause), I’ve never given that question much consideration until now. I guess I always thought that I wanted to be a drummer, but not for the reason most people think. I’m, in my childish mind’s eye, not a Ringo Starr drummer, but the kind of drummer that makes everyone else in high school marching band look totally cool. Oh, you’ve seen them. It’s dark. It’s Friday. The lights in the stadium are still on but the players have left the field. In that glaring glow of glory, while you are still mustarding a hot dog, they come out of nowhere onto the field along with all the others in gaudy uniform and stupid hats. They have what seems to be an entire drum set mounted to their person, minus the cymbals. Cymbals would look ridiculous. ‘How is this comfortable?” you ask yourself but no matter, they just look cool. You also have the guy with the big bass drum and whoever has the cymbals, but “cymbal person” looks like a monkey, and “big bass drum guy” just looks incredibly fat.
Then there are the flag people. It’s hard to fathom what the flag people are supposed to be or where they came from, but you doubt it has anything to do with the military, like the marching band did, but it probably did have something to do with the military because some of the girls have rifles, not real rifles of course but white, wooden, sub-community theater prop rifles, that couldn’t hurt anyone unless you were fighting at very close range, and also were some kind of caveman. So where did the rifles come from? I don’t know. (Notices what must be an old cigarette butt that has been lying on the ground for days, picks it up) Hey, you might have dropped this. (LABAN responds as expected.)
Anyhow, everyone’s on the field and that’s when you hear it, the warmup, the sounds of brass and woodwind; you see it, the twirl of colored flags; you smell it, and it smells like mustard because you’re still at the concession stand and whoever asked for that hotdog is now, due to your lengthy absence, wondering if she should have asked for nachos instead. Somewhere in that chaos you’ll hear a trumpet; I guess if you wanted to be totally frank about it, you’d say you can still hear that trumpet now, only it’s a different melody and a completely different warmup. Last call. (trumpet sounds).
Mr. Laban: Look….interesting story. I think I just read about the same Lion’s Club
meeting five times. No wait…(sardonically examining paper) six times! (gets up to leave)
Jake: It was nice to meet you! I’ll tell Rachel you said “hi.” (no response, as LABAN leaves SL) (Jake rummages through his duffel bag until he finds what he’s looking for, a framed photo with stand. He takes the picture, looks at it, and then sets it on the ground. Several seconds go by. The world is continuing as it always has. Cars pass, birds chirp happily. Finally, not being able to stand it any more, Jake shoves a hand into his pocket and pulls out a rosary. He simply holds it. He waits several seconds before pulling a pad of paper and a pen from his pocket, he writes something on it. Ripping off the sheet, he places it on the bench and sets the rosary on top of it. Giving the picture one last look, he gets up and walks off, SL.)