I’ve been able to do a little writing. Well, editing. I pulled out my one woman play and punched it up. It’s been years since I read it, and I find myself thinking it’s pretty good. I figured I would post it here and open myself up to criticism and, possibly, a little praise.
STAY STONED SUNDAYS
A One-Person Play
Center stage is a patio chair and small table. On the table sits a small box containing a baggie of a green material, a pipe, a package of rolling papers, matches, and lighter. Seated in the chair is LINDA. As she speaks she proceeds to try to roll and smoke a joint. Ultimately giving up and picking up a glass pipe from the box.
Today is Sunday. My husband, Jake, is away visiting friends. It’s the first time in 25 years he’s ever taken a trip without me, but we couldn’t find a dog sitter, so here I am.
Am I the least bit concerned that a woman he once dated will be there? A woman he lived with before we met. A woman he had once asked to marry him. After 25 years I’m not worried.
I remember the first time I saw him. A slow sandy walk on athletic legs, like he was strolling along the beach. Ten years older than me, tanned, and tattooed with thick, sun-bleached hair. The chest and arms of a surfer. The sleek build of a runner.
I’m this dorky small-town girl from the Midwest far from home for the first time.
Unlike prior guys I’ve dated, he reads and we spend hours in the used book store as he introduces me to new favorite authors. At the music store, I learn about the time when music was great!
Jake is everything I’ve never seen. His confidence is as attractive as his Paul Newman eyes. He’s fun and funny and if that tattoo isn’t enough, the earring is sure to make my Dad cringe.
Within six weeks of our first date we are in a cab to the county courthouse. At 5:00 p.m. on a Friday we sign our names on the license and dash out the door to catch a cab to the hotel where friends are waiting.
Its 25 years later and Jake calls this morning.
Tries and fails to roll a decent joint.
He sounds so happy. He’s thrilled and excited, like a kid that just got a puppy for his birthday.
Pulls out pipe, pours contents of paper into bowl.
Now, I’m worried.
He actually gushes about the old flame. Can I still use that term? I sort of like the sound of that. Old Flame. Makes her sound old, burnt out, dried up, unattractive. Platonic.
Lights bowl and inhaling, says:
So I decide to make today Stay Stoned Sunday. Turn off my mind. With a pipe full of herb and a head full of smoke, it’s easy to delude myself into thinking everything is hunky dory.
Stage goes dark.
Center stage is a patio chair and small table. On the table sits a small box containing a baggie of a green material, pipe and lighter. Seated in the chair is LINDA. As she speaks she proceeds to stuff and smoke from a glass pipe.
It’s Sunday. Jake’s again out of town visiting friends, including the old flame. Did I mind staying home? They’re just going to be reminiscing, looking at old pictures. I’d be bored.
Sure, I’ll stay home. Relax, smoke a little herb. I have my suspicions, but pot helps keep them at a distance.
It’s another Stay Stoned Sunday. Stoned I feel happy. Stoned, I can pretend this isn’t happening to me. Stoned I’m just a little less lonely. I can ignore the nagging fear in my heart and almost enjoy my Sunday alone.
Until the phone rings. It’s the old flame’s husband. He wants me to know that Jake is sleeping with his wife. He’s very pleasant about it. I tell him he’s mistaken. He offers to send me proof. I don’t need any proof. I want to stay in denial.
Looks like Stay Stoned Sunday is about to become a tradition. At least I won’t think about the ‘proof.’ Whether I see it or not, it exists. I just don’t want to know it.
Stage goes dark.
Center stage is a patio chair and small table. On the table sits a small box containing a LARGE baggie of a green material, SEVERAL pipes and lighter. Seated in the chair is LINDA. As she speaks she proceeds to stuff and smoke from an ornate glass pipe.
New Year’s Eve. People going to parties, celebrations everywhere, but for me it’s just another Stay Stoned Sunday. Jake is gone. His fourth trip this year without me.
He went to see her. We discussed it. I told him I didn’t want a marriage of three people. I’m tired of feeling as undesirable, unwanted, and unloved as an old chair. If he keeps running back to her, things were going to change. I was going to change, and he may not like it.
Physically he is here, but mentally he’s someplace else.
So he went to see her for New Years to break it off with her. He has to do it in person, he owes her that much, after all she’s already filed for divorce.
I have my doubts, but I keep my peace. I don’t need to rock this fucking boat any more. I’m already bailing and I don’t want it to sink.
I do not question their choice of dates. New Year’s, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, it’s all the same to me. Not like I’m celebrating this year.
He slinks into the house. He hasn’t shaved in days, his eyes are red rimmed, and his clothes are rumpled from a long ride. He looks like cold shit on toast
On the other hand, I feel pretty good. Actually almost happy for the first time in months. I’ve won!
Only time will tell if my prize is the donkey behind door number three.
Stage goes dark.
Center stage is a patio chair and small table. On the table sits a large baggie of a green material, pipes, matches, and lighter. A thin leafy plant sits nearby. Seated in the chair is LINDA.
It’s Sunday again. I pretend not to know about the emails and phone calls as we go through the motions of reconnecting: going to play Frisbee on Saturdays. To the beach on Sundays so he can teach me to surf. I am tan and my hair is sun bleached, my skin is dry, and I have bursitis in my shoulder. But nothing else has changed.
He no longer calls me beautiful. He doesn’t tell me he loves me. He stays up late, and I go to bed alone. I take off my wedding band one day, put it on the next. My hand looks naked without it.
Stuffs and lights pipe.
Last week he says he needs some time alone. He needs to get his head together.
Out of his ass, I hope.
He talks about going toSan Francisco, or maybe San Diego. He mentions Vegas,Santa Barbara,Sacramento. Never settling on anyplace. Although I don’t ask, he tells me again and again that he will be alone. Of course I don’t believe him, but it’s easier for me to pretend I do.
He calls to tell me he’s arrived safely. I ask for a phone number to call him back, but he doesn’t have the hotel’s number. He can’t remember the name of the hotel. In fact, he’s not even sure which city he’s in. He might be inSacramento, or maybe it’sLodi.
There is a part of me that hopes he won’t come back.
Looking at audience, as if for an answer.
Should I pack all his shit and leave it on the porch?
Should I pack my shit and leave a note that says, “I’ll come home when you quit fucking the old flame”?
What do I do?
I go to see an old friend’s new place. He just happened to call to say Hi and catch up, give us his new number. I burst into tears, and tell him I’m filing for divorce. He says to come out and see his new place. And, not wanting to be alone, I go. A nice drive out to the country would do me good.
The last time I saw Jerry was at a party few years ago when he staggered over and sat down next to me, leered at me and said something about he’d still be married if he’d been married to me. Then he planted an amazing kiss on me, jumped up and disappeared into the house before I could react.
When I get there, Jerry walks up to my car motions me to roll down the window and kisses me. A real bodice ripper. I get out of the car in a daze.
I hear the door close and Jerry grabs me around the waist and starts kissing my neck, sending shivers down my spine. His hands are in my hair, touching my face, my neck, and slip on down, tugging at my shirt.
Doing some bodice ripping of my own, we move out of the street and into his bedroom like a four legged beast. I don’t even think about the way he tastes of cigarettes and beer. And then I’m naked, sloshing on his water bed.
I try to turn off the cheap porn music playing in my head.
He stares at me—like a starving dog at a bone. He licks his lips, drops his boxers and stands before me in all his pasty-white glory. Then he’s on me like an octopus; all hands and hot lips, pressing down on me. And I start to feel good.
But he’s making all these noises: smacking, slurping, yeah baby
All I can think about is him sounding like he was narrating a bad porn movie to the blind. I try not to laugh.
All I can hear now is the cheap porn music, his incoherent mutterings, and the sloshing of the bed. And suddenly, I feel seasick.
He tries to move, but the bed’s waves counter him and he goes ass first off the bed. He sits up and proceeds to recite to me the many times he’s imagined me, tells me how much he wants me, how long he’s imagined this moment. Straight out of a romance novel and it makes me feel cheap, and accents my feeling of participating in bad porn.
I am acutely conscious of being naked in a strange man’s bedroom. I get up and I step over said strange man.
I start retrieving things from the hall floor. As I zip up my jeans he asks me where I’m going.
I was never here. I said. This never happened.
I make it to my car before I burst into tears. I feel hopeless and stupid, I don’t even know how to have an affair.
That was yesterday. Today, Sunday, I have somewhat recovered from my foray into the single world when Jake calls to tell me he’ll be home by lunchtime today.
It’s now 3:00 p.m. and I’ve had no word. It’s another stay stoned Sunday.
Brings hookah into view.
At 10:30 p.m. I call everyone I can think of for input and support, but no one is home except the police. Officer Adams is very kind. He tells me there has been no John Doe involved in a motor vehicle accident on the 5 or the 101, or PCH. He assures me my husband will be home soon.
I try to explain to him that she may have killed him. Beaned him over the head with a hard-bound copy of Gideon’s Bible and dumped him along the freeway. Officer Adams suggests I get some sleep.
Instead I pull out divorce papers and try to figure them out. I turn on the TV, flip through the 600 channels for a couple of hours. Get up, walk around the empty house ending up in the office where I have been putting empty boxes.
I imagine putting my stuff in boxes, putting the boxes in my car and being gone before he comes home. I can only pack one box: a broken lamp, a radio that doesn’t work, a china turtle he got for me on my birthday last year, bookends we bought on a trip to Catalina, wrapped in one of his old flannel shirts.
Long beat, she stares at box. Then looks up suddenly.
Was that a car door closing?
I hear the keys in the door.
I am in his arms before he even steps inside.
I hate you. I hate you for doing this to us.
I love you.
So glad you’re home.
Stage goes dark.
Center stage is a patio chair and small table. On the table sits a large baggie of a green material, hookah, and lighter. A tall leafy plant sits nearby. Seated in the chair is LINDA.
Another Sunday. Stoned again. I’ve been sleeping on the couch for the past several weeks. He can’t seem to hear me any more. He loves me, but he’s in love with her too. I tell him he’s lied too many times. Despite all my pleas, he continues to talk to her on the phone. I bring home more boxes and pretend to pack my things.
He calls me every day at work four, five, 18 times a day. I’m being smothered and I finally tell him I put a deposit on a place. Now he’s stopped talking to me at all.
Stay Stoned Sundays are turning into Stay Stoned Days. Anything to keep my mind from running. Anything to try to forget what my life has become.
Yesterday we went to look at my apartment 40 miles away. Yes, we. He wants to make sure the neighborhood is safe; that the landlord isn’t some sort of pervert.
I knew they were going to replace the carpet and renovate the bathroom, but I can barely contain my tears when we open the door and the entire place has been gutted. The toilet sits in the middle of the living room. The kitchen is exposed wiring and floor joists. The cabinets are in the second bedroom, and the kitchen sink is on the patio behind a broken glass door. Seems there was some sort of leak, the kitchen cabinets had to be taken down to find the source, and all the flooring has to be replaced.
We talk on the way home. He tells me he’s never seen me so forceful before. He says he’s impressed and likes to see me strong. I cry. He cries. We stop for dinner and talk. When we get home I light up, and Jake sits with me and we talk some more. I yell and throw divorce papers at him.
Stuffs, hits hookah.
I don’t know what I’m going to do, I admit at last. That apartment is going to take weeks.
Stay, he says.
I love you.
How do I convince you?
We hammer out some new rules of marriage and figure after 25 years we could give it another shot.
I’ll make it up to you, he promises. But you have to help me figure things out.
No one’s helped me figure things out. Even Fucking Kobe Bryant figured out for himself that step one was to give his wife a ring!
I can’t buy you a diamond ring.
I know that, and I’m not asking for one. But you could still buy me a fucking present.
And he did.
He bought me a chicken.
Not a live chicken, but one to stand in the garden. It’s not big, but it is pretty. I’d always had a thing for chickens. It stands in the center of the garden among the violets and daisies. The colors are so beautiful when I’m stoned.
Stage goes dark.
Center stage is a patio chair and small table. On the table sits a box, unopened. Hookah is gone, plant is gone. Seated in the chair is LINDA.
Sunday. It’s beautiful today. Jake is planting a tree in the yard. The ceramic chicken he bought late last summer has been breeding and we now have a small brood of variously colored chicks.
Somehow we’ve made it through the past two years. I could have walked away. Friends told me I should have. I let my gut guide me, and my herb keep me from dwelling too long in ugly places. I gave him time to figure things out. Kept myself from pushing him closer to her.
Somehow after disappearing slowly over the past 25 years, I’ve managed to find myself. I’ve changed. It’s been a stereotypical “long hard road” filled with tears, but I’ve come out on the other side—like people do.
For a long time I wasn’t sure I knew what love felt like. Had I ever known? After all the angry words, the fights, the tears, the empty pain in my chest. I find myself falling in love again.
We take walks on the beach. Go out to dinner and the movies. Surfing and throwing the Frisbee. Who would’ve believed it? My friends can’t understand why or how we are still together. I don’t understand it, so I can’t very well explain it to anyone else.
We’re nicer to each other now, and have more fun. We laugh more. We like each other again.
I still have a lot of questions. Would we have stayed together if the roles had been reversed? What if I had consummated my affair? If I had been able to pack my things? If they hadn’t gutted my apartment?
I wonder if there is a future for us together. I wonder if I’ve forgiven him. Wonder if he still thinks about her. Almost every day I wonder why I stayed. Wonder if I made the right decision.
I wonder if I should smoke a bowl, but today I think I’ll pass.
Stage goes dark.