Pimp My Lent/Day 10
Original artwork from Dallas artist Ann Huey, “Naked in The Waffle House”
(SETTING: Present day. The Waffle House, somewhere in America. It’s morning rush hour. The booths are full, mostly truckers and travelers. A stray drunk or two)
(SOUND: road noise outside, cars zooming, trucks downshifting, etc.)
(A woman, GUYLENE, 50ish, sits on one of the counter stools. She is naked. She’s sound asleep, conked out, head on the formica countertop, body limp)
(SOUND: POP of champagne cork. All diner noise and road noise stop. Guylene wakes with a start. SOUND: UNSEEN PARTY CROWD yells: “Happy New Year!” Noisemakers, horns, etc.More champagne pops)
(Guylene slowly, stiffly climbs off the diner stool. Her hands grasp a framed picture of her boyfriend Jeff. SOUND: New Year’s Eve noises fade as diner noise resumes)
(Guylene sighs as the WAITRESS pours coffee for the patrons, going down the counter, one cup to the next, getting progressively sloppier until she’s just pouring coffee on the counter. Waitress finishes off the rest of the coffee herself, chug-a-lugging straight from the pot)
(Guylene speaks to the audience)
GUYLENE : I hate this dream.
(DINER PATRONS applaud the waitress and sing the 20th Century Fox fanfare)
PATRONS: Dat-da-da-da, dat-da-da-da! Dat-da-da-dat-da-da-dat-da-da-daaaaaa!
(Patrons resume eating, talking, etc)
GUYLENE: Now, the waffles.
(Waitress starts at upstage end of counter, picks up a platter of waffles, then walks down the counter again, serving waffles plate by plate, again progressively sloppier, until she’s flinging waffles like she’s dealing playing cards. The waitress takes the last waffle, folds it, and crams it in her mouth)
PATRONS: (same as before) Dat-da-da-da, dat-da-da-da! Dat-da-da-dat-da-da-daaaaaa!
(Same as before, patrons and waitress go back to normal business. Guylene speaks to the audience again)
GUYLENE: I am in twilight sleep. A medically-induced coma. Doped up so I won’t fight the tubes of the ventilator that’s breathing for me at Holy Holy Holy Hospital. (stops) Wait. That’s not it. What is it? Holy…something. Holy…. (sighs) There’s nothing to love about this, any of it. Cold that wasn’t a cold, then pneumonia. Extended stay in ICU, collapsed lungs, both of them, and now the vent and the drug-coma to keep me from yanking the tubes out of my throat. Same dreams, over and over. Friends come to visit, when they can. They’re good people, it’s just that I’ve been in here for over a month. So they can’t exactly stop their lives to take care of me. I think I may be slipping away. Half the time now I can’t remember my, uh, my own, uh…
(She snaps her fingers as she thinks)
GUYLENE: Age. My own age. I have to stop and think about it. Stop and think, “Okay, I was born in 1959, so that’s blah-blah-blah. It’s hard. I was never good at math. (Holds up the framed picture) Jeff. “Jeff Who Left.” We were engaged for …. I keep forgetting years. Why do I keep forgetting numbers of years? Anyway, in a minute here, after the, right after the, uh –
(Points at patron, a beefy trucker dude)
GUYLENE: The big guy there jumps to his feet and starts singing “La Bamba,” and doing pelvic-thrusts at all the women – who laugh – except for me, I’m just disgusted. After that, Jeff comes in looking for a phone but he doesn’t have a quarter. I jump to help him, then realize that my purse isn’t here, and that I’m naked in The Waffle House. I will look for something to cover myself, somebody’s coat, something, but no luck. Instead, I focus on finding a quarter for Jeff. I beg the customers, and the waitress, to loan me a cell phone, but they won’t do it. By that time –
(Points out another patron, very old woman)
GUYLENE: Ruthless Toothless over there constantly working her jaw – why do old people do that, anyway – will reach back with both hands and pull a long, lovely brunette ponytail out of the back of her head just like the Chrissy Doll that I desperately wanted when I was six years old but never got. She’ll take out a tiny pink plastic hairbrush and drape the beautiful ponytail over her shoulder and laugh at me as I attempt to engage Jeff – Dream Jeff – in conversation with me. But he’s distracted, looking at severely disabled sixteen-year-old Asian girl with cerebral palsy in the booth opposite, and he will sit down to feed her her lunch. I will stand over there apologizing to Jeff over and over for not finding a quarter for him. But he’s so engrossed in the girl, feeding her spoonfuls of pickled beets, that he will not hear me. He’ll break the news that this is his newly adopted daughter, and that he is devoting his life to her care, and that quarters and phone calls and ex-girlfriends do not matter to him anymore. Nothing matters except caring for this poor child.
At this point, I will look down and see a quarter embedded in a blackened mass of some disgusting something smashed into the floor there, by the rubber ficus tree. It might be a wad of gum, but could also be the remains of something dead, as I can see tiny bird bones and black feathers in it. I fight the urge to vomit just looking at it. Still, this is my chance to impress Jeff. If I please him, maybe he will forget the 28-year-old secretary he left me for – after 10 years of us practically being engaged. I mean Jeff Who Left, not the dream guy.
I use my fingernails to pick the quarter out of the muck – which becomes even more disgusting as it turns into the consistency of feces. I scald myself, sear off my own skin, cleaning it in boiling water. When it’s sparkling, I carefully present the quarter to Jeff, the skin of my fingers hanging loose – I can see muscles and meat in my hands.
He will ignore me, and the quarter. I will become irate and demand his attention. People – especially the woman over there abusing vegetables, and the guy in the orange jumpsuit eating Beanie Weenies out of the can – they begin to berate me, shouting, calling me insensitive, prejudiced, what a horrible person to shout at a great, great guy like Jeff, who is devoted to feeding beets to this pitifully crippled child.
Just by the way – Jeff Who Left gets creeped out by anybody with a disability, anyone who’s different, who’s not quote-unquote normal. Not like he makes fun of them or anything. He’s not an total asshole. He just pretends they don’t exist. If he saw a child in a diner with severe cerebral palsy, he would insist that we sit somewhere he doesn’t have to look at her.
(She leans back against the stool)
Jeff – Who Left – has not come to the hospital. He won’t. He knows that when I wake up – if I wake up – I won’t remember who came to see me and who didn’t. He’s banking on that. He’s that kind of guy. The kind who banks. Fifteen years ago, on New Year’s Eve, he took my virginity, at a party. Not by force. I was willing. Then he turned into a total jerk. Five years later, five years, he called me, out of the blue. He asked do I remember him and he’d like to come over and see me. For a a “visit.” And ten years later, he’s still living in my apartment, and he still doesn’t have a job. And even though we’re broken up, he’s still living with me. God only knows what and who he’s been doing since I’ve been in here.
I wish I could, like, split, mind out of body, and head over to the apartment. I swear, if I ever do figure it out, how to leave this behind and move on, and if I go over there, and find him screwing around on me – again – in my bed – again – I will go total Amityville on him. Jerk.
(SOUND: door bell jangles. GUYLENE’S MOTHER enters, her purse over her arm and carrying a “live” chicken by its feet)
GUYLENE: Oh, great. Change-up. New stream of consciousness. I hate it when this happens.
MOTHER: (calling her to eat) Guylene, honey, wash up for supper!
GUYLENE: I’m not hungry, Mom.
MOTHER: But, we’re having chicken!
(Mother bites the head off the chicken)
PATRONS: Dat-da-da-da, dat-da-da-da! Dat-da-da-dat-da-da-dat-da-da-daaaaaa!
GUYLENE: (big sigh) I hate this dream.