A Play in One Act
Cast of Characters
A bar, slightly camp, and a dive.
AT RISE: ALEX, SAM, KIRSTIN, and STEPHANIE enter and walk to a table. Pop music from the seventies and eighties—George Michael, David Bowie, Prince, etc.—is playing in the background.
KIRSTIN: Why don’t you two have a seat, and we’ll get the drinks?
STEPHANIE: Why don’t we have a seat and wait for the waitress?
KIRSTIN: Because they’re always slow, and I want alcohol.
STEPHANIE: Well, that doesn’t mean I have to go.
KIRSTIN: Yeah, it does.
KIRSTIN: Because one should never leave one’s friends alone at a bar…Unless, of course, one has been given the signal. You haven’t. Let’s go.
(KIRSTIN and STEPHANIE move to the bar.)
ALEX: They’re like an old married couple.
SAM: In San Francisco.
SAM: And without the sex.
SAM: You don’t think?
ALEX: Never thought about it.
SAM: Never asked.
SAM: Would you?
ALEX: Perhaps. You?
SAM: The bartender.
ALEX: Are you?
SAM: Are you?
ALEX (simultaneously): Perhaps.
SAM: So, does she drag you here often?
ALEX: Never before. Must be a St. Patrick’s Day thing. You?
SAM: Sometimes. Even when I’m not wearing green.
ALEX: It’s a dive.
ALEX: A horrible dive.
ALEX: But with alcohol.
SAM: Always. And cheap, which is why she likes it. I think. She’s also from around here, so, you know…
SAM: I was going to say low standards, but nostalgia works.
ALEX: I hope I’m never nostalgic about this place.
SAM: There are worse things.
ALEX: Such as?
SAM: Across the street.
ALEX: Oh…Why are there so many bars here?
SAM: Have you seen the people here?
ALEX: You’re here.
SAM: You haven’t seen me in the daylight.
ALEX: So what do you think his story is?
ALEX: Him, over there
(ALEX describes a man in the audience.)
ALEX: Yeah, he’s been sitting there all alone watching the DJ and drinking a Coke.
SAM: Maybe he came with her.
SAM: Over your shoulder, Miss Lonelyhearts.
(SAM points to a woman in the audience.)
ALEX: Maybe they’re married.
SAM: And pretending to not know each other so they can play pick-up and then fool around.
ALEX: Maybe he told her he was gay.
SAM: Maybe she told him she was a lesbian.
ALEX: Maybe both.
SAM: Maybe he’s really a she and doesn’t know how to tell her.
ALEX: Maybe she’s really a he and doesn’t know how to tell him.
SAM: They could have a beautiful, heterosexual, transgendered relationship if they could only be honest with one another.
ALEX: But they can’t.
SAM: Because society taught them they were freaks.
ALEX: How tragic.
SAM: I wonder how the sex works.
SAM: I wonder how the sex works, if neither can be honest about his or her genitalia, how do they have sex? No oral. No genital. It’d blow their cover. Or not, as the case may be. Although…no. Still wouldn’t work.
ALEX: What wouldn’t?
SAM: Well, I guess they could use toys—or claim to use toys, but, I don’t know, that would get boring.
ALEX: Had much experience with that?
ALEX: How so?
SAM: Wouldn’t you like to know?
(Beat. Focus shifts to the bar.)
STEPHANIE: And then she told him that he was the worst she’s ever had.
KIRSTIN: A little on the short side?
STEPHANIE: And no endurance.
KIRSTIN: It’s probably for the better.
STEPHANIE: Why’s that?
KIRSTIN: He’s such a closet case.
STEPHANIE: No way.
KIRSTIN: Oh yeah.
STEPHANIE: And I always thought she’d be the one to…
KIRSTIN: She tried it once. Didn’t like it.
STEPHANIE: How do you know these things?
KIRSTIN: Let’s have a seat, and I’ll explain it all to you.
(KIRSTIN and STEPHANIE walk to the table and set the drinks down.
ALEX quickly downs hers.)
STEPHANIE: Damn girl.
ALEX: Can I get another?
(SAM downs his drink.)
SAM: Me too.
KIRSTIN: You’re joking, right?
STEPHANIE: I’m not going back.
KIRSTIN: I’ll tell you a secret.
(KIRSTIN and STEPHANIE walk back to the bar. Beat.)
ALEX: Anyhow, I don’t know what it is with men and genitalia.
SAM: What do you mean?
ALEX: Can’t you guys get off without someone touching your penis? I mean, really?
SAM: What’s the point?
ALEX: The point is you have other body parts, and a mind.
SAM: And that’s what foreplay’s for.
ALEX: So you’ve never had non-penis sex?
ALEX: Sex without someone touching your cock. It’s not that revolutionary an idea, is it?
SAM: Not one that’s ever really crossed my mind, either.
ALEX: You should try.
SAM: Is that an offer?
ALEX: Wouldn’t you like to know?
Well, the other’s working fine now.
ALEX: Men. Penetration’s fine, but if that’s all you ever end up doing, then you’re missing the point. You have lips, teeth, tongues, arms, a back, stomach, chest. Lots of fun, fun games to play. Leather, lace, oils, scarves—
SAM: And that’s all it takes for you?
ALEX: With the right person.
SAM: There are guys who don’t want to fuck?
SAM: Maybe they’re pretending to have an affair. They meet here, pretend not to know each other, then leave one at a time and go to a motel.
ALEX: Maybe she took his Viagra, and he took her estrogen pills.
SAM: Then it’s good they’re sitting apart.
ALEX: You know, I never really got the point of Viagra.
SAM: What do you mean?
ALEX: Well, it’s like this huge cultural thing—everyone from Rafael Palmeiro to Bob Dole talk about it—but it’s really just a sex toy in a bottle. If it helps you get off, so what?
(“Stayin’ Alive” begins to play, causing ALEX to pause,
pick up the beat, and begin dancing in her seat.)
I love this song.
SAM: Beats NSYNC doing it.
ALEX: They didn’t.
SAM: They did. Grammys. Bad.
ALEX: Let’s get the girls to go dancing.
SAM: We’ll see.
ALEX: Not the dancing type?
SAM: We’ll see.
ALEX: Don’t you want to shake your booty…Watch me shake mine?
SAM: I don’t know. I’m a little more café than club.
ALEX: Bob Dylan?
ALEX: Cool. Effeminate, but cool.
SAM: If it makes you feel better, I sometimes watch football while listening.
ALEX: I’m not sure what that means.
SAM: Did you know they used one of her songs in a football ad?
SAM: “32 Flavors” dubbed over linebackers. Very transgendered. Most people probably didn’t get it.
ALEX: Did she know?
SAM: Not sure. We haven’t talked recently.
ALEX: So you like Ani? Any other ways we can have female bonding?
SAM: Audrey Hepburn?
ALEX: Nice. I always related more to Cat: “A couple of poor, nameless slobs.”
SAM: Is that what we are?
ALEX: I don’t think we’re quite “nameless.”
SAM: But do they fit?
ALEX: Do they ever? I mean, really: gay, straight, Christian, atheist, Republican, Democrat, right, wrong, good, bad. Who the hell ever lives up to anything that they’re called? Who wants to?
SAM: So what do you call yourself?
SAM: And if someone asks you to describe yourself?
ALEX: I tell ’em to take the time to talk to me.
SAM: And when you’re deciding who to sleep with?
ALEX: What’s there to decide? I know whether or not someone turns me on without any labels. I can feel it. Hell, sometimes I think I may need to change the panties before I ever get the person in bed.
ALEX: What? Don’t erections tell you what works better than definitions?
SAM: Waking up gives me an erection.
ALEX: That’s so sad.
SAM: Well, between relationships it is. Otherwise, it serves its purpose.
(Beat. The focus shifts to KIRSTIN and STEPHANIE at the bar.)
KIRSTIN: Well, they certainly seem to be getting along well enough.
STEPHANIE: Yeah, that’s nice.
KIRSTIN: Perhaps it’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
STEPHANIE: Or more.
KIRSTIN: I wouldn’t count on it.
STEPHANIE: Why not? They’re clicking.
KIRSTIN: They are.
Only one of them is throwing fastballs.
KIRSTIN: The other’s pitching curves.
STEPHANIE: You mean?
STEPHANIE: No? Not?
STEPHANIE: How do you know?
KIRSTIN: I can tell.
STEPHANIE: How can you tell?
KIRSTIN: There are ways.
STEPHANIE: Are you sure?
KIRSTIN: Come on.
(KIRSTIN and STEPHANIE walk back to the table and set down four drinks.
SAM quickly downs his. KIRSTIN starts to speak, but stops when ALEX does the same.)
SAM: Could we…?
KIRSTIN: You’re kidding, right?
STEPHANIE: This is so the last time.
(KIRSTIN and STEPHANIE walk back to the bar.)
STEPHANIE: You were saying…
SAM: So, how is someone supposed to know you’re interested?
ALEX: What do you mean?
SAM: Say you’re flirting with someone at a bar; how is the…person supposed to know you’re interested if you don’t clarify your sexuality? Assumption?
ALEX: Or risk.
Besides, you don’t introduce yourself by your sexuality, do you?
SAM: Well, it depends on the situation, whether I’m saying hello with a handshake or a tongue.
ALEX: We’ll stick to the handshake.
SAM: Well, no, not usually, but I give signs.
ALEX: Do you?
SAM: Talking about past relationships.
ALEX: Well there’s a turn on. Besides, sexuality’s not past tense.
(SAM starts to speak, then pauses as he hears “Dancing Queen” playing. SAM sings some of the song, while ALEX dances and periodically joins in. KIRSTIN and STEPHANIE also sing at the bar.)
We really shouldn’t know that song so well.
ALEX: Cultural phenomenon, I guess.
SAM: Or personality indicator.
ALEX: But it’s so bad.
SAM: So was Prince…in a different way.
ALEX: You know, I saw this Rolling Stone list the other day about the top ten sex tips you can learn from Prince songs.
SAM: That had to be cool.
ALEX: Most were from “Get Off” and “Little Red Corvette.” They didn’t try too hard.
SAM: In Rolling Stone?
SAM: Did they mention “Darling Nikki”?
ALEX: I don’t think so.
SAM: That’s good.
I wonder if purple would work for me.
ALEX: And a jeri-curl?
SAM: I think Michael Jackson killed those.
ALEX: Among other things.
SAM: Did you ever figure out how to do twenty-three positions in a one-night stand?
ALEX: Tonight you’re a star and I’m the big dipper.
SAM: That’s awfully close to a definition.
ALEX: Or a joke.
You should laugh more. It’s good for you.
SAM: I never was good at escapism.
ALEX: No fairytales?
SAM: Never did much for me.
ALEX: Never dreamed of being Prince Charming?
SAM: You know what they never tell you?
SAM: That Prince Charming and Cinderella realized later that they didn’t love one another, but stuck it out because the sex was good; the “slipper” fit well.
ALEX: I don’t know. I wouldn’t mind someone putting flowers in my hair and carrying me away.
SAM: A white dress?
ALEX: Well, I don’t know about the whole wedding thing, but romance has its place.
SAM: Foreplay for spiritual fucking?
ALEX: Seriously, there’s something nice about being held, being close to someone in relative control.
SAM: You seem pretty in control yourself.
ALEX: Sometimes more than others.
SAM: Yeah, I guess I can see that. I mean, I try to question those social ideas, those “patriarchal standards”, but I don’t know, every now and then I think I might want a fairytale. It seems…simpler.
ALEX: But I’m not sure how well I could fit into the fairytale. I never made a good vestal virgin.
SAM: Me either.
ALEX: Perhaps a Rocky Horror Picture Show fairytale.
SAM: Or a John Waters one.
ALEX: You think things ever work out that way?
SAM: What way?
ALEX: Like in the movies?
SAM: I guess…It depends. Sandra Bullock or Merryl Streep?
ALEX: Any of them.
SAM: I don’t think so. If it were that easy, then no one would write the stories. They’d be off living them.
ALEX: Having conversations in bars.
SAM: Walks along sidewalks at night.
ALEX: On beaches.
SAM: With beautiful moons overhead.
ALEX: Not a cloud in the sky.
SAM: Sex on the beach…And not the drink.
ALEX: Fairytales just don’t exist.
SAM: Not for tramps like us.
ALEX:”‘Cause baby, we were born to run.”
SAM: The question is whether we’re running to or from.
ALEX: Or who to and who from.
SAM: Or where to…or with whom.
ALEX: Trains in the night.
SAM: Pulling into the same station, wondering how long they’re stopped.
ALEX: More fairytales.
SAM: Alcohol and evening.
ALEX: The dreamer’s time.
SAM: Close our eyes.
STEPAHNIE: I’m ready to sit down.
KIRSTIN: Me too.
STEPHANIE: Let’s not let them drink this time.
KIRSTIN: I’ve got a better idea.
(KIRSTIN whispers in STEPHANIE’s ear.)
STEPHANIE: I like.
(KIRSTIN and STEPHANIE return to the table, placing drinks on the table. One sits by SAM and the other sits by ALEX. They each lean over and whisper in the ear of the person beside them. SAM and ALEX turn to each other and throw their hands in the air. As the lines progress, they should move through anger and sadness to disappointed acceptance.)
ALEX (simultaneously): What?
SAM: You’re… ?
ALEX (simultaneously): You’re… ?
ALEX: But you said?
SAM: No, you…
ALEX: How could you?
SAM: You’re not supposed to…
ALEX: I thought?
SAM: But I thought we…
ALEX: You made me believe…
ALEX: Damn it.
SAM, ALEX (Drinks then turns to KIRSTIN and STEPHANIE respectively):
I’m going to need another drink.
(KIRSTIN and STEPHANIE throw their hands in the air.)
END OF PLAY
George Potter is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing at Indiana State University, where he also works as a teaching assistant. After graduation, George would like to teach in Asia for a year before pursuing a PhD in Performance Studies. His research explores performance as a cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary form. George has also work in performance as an actor, director, and playwright.
He writes: “The play Curves developed from three sources. First, was gender and sexuality theory I was reading for a paper on gender performances in the film Some Like It Hot. Second, a number of conversations in bars made their way into the text. Last, and most important, were various attempts among people I knew to decode and label one another’s sexuality, attempts I found to be rather arbitrary and inaccurate, much as they are in the script.”
If you would like to perform Curves, George will happily give permission. Contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.