A naked man sits on the edge of a bed and smokes a cigarette and stares into space while a clothed woman lies with her head on a pillow and stares at the man: “The problem is that I’m a better driver then you are and I’m tired of pretending that I’m not just to make you feel better about yourself. Every time we get in the car I have to sit in the passenger seat. Why is that? It’s not your car. It’s my car. We’re not equal when it comes to my car and you don’t get to decide when I get to drive my car. I get to decide when I’m going to drive my car and I get to decide how I want to drive it and what I want to listen to on the radio and how fast I want to drive and which way I want to take in order to get somewhere. If driving my car is one of those things that makes you feel like a real man then I guess you’re going to have to seriously reconsider how much of a real man you’re willing to be. Because I’m tired of helping you get it up. I’m done. If being with me is contingent upon me reinforcing these fakakta ideas you have then maybe we shouldn’t be together anymore. What? Don’t give me that shit, Tim. This has nothing to do with Shulasmith Firestone and you know it. This has to do with your retrograde bullshit machismo. All I did was ask if I could please drive, that’s it, and I don’t even understand why I have to ask you in the first place. You know why? Because you’re a shitty driver that’s why. You tailgate everyone and you don’t use your blinkers and you’re always looking everywhere but the road and you got the freaking Pogues cranked up so loud I can’t even hear myself talk to you. Is that what you want? You want to drive by yourself? That’s fine. Then get your own car. Because that’s not your car. That’s my car. That’s right. I bought it with my money, Tim. I’m castrating you? You have no idea what castrating even means if you think I’m castrating you right now. And you know what, you know what, so what if I was castrating you? So what? What are you going to do about it? Huh? Oh, yeah, sure. You know what, Tim, I’m just standing up for myself right now, that’s all. I don’t like being treated like my opinion doesn’t matter, especially when it comes to something like this. No, it doesn’t. My opinion doesn’t matter. Because you’re the man with the big swinging dick and you get to set the rules and it’s just so corny, you know? Then you’re with the wrong woman. That’s all I can tell you. You’re with the wrong woman. You’re with a woman who’s not conforming to what you think a woman should be, which is docile and forgiving and solely interested in making sure that you feel like a man. Listen, pal, it’s not my job to make you feel like man, don’t you get that? It’s your job to make yourself feel like a man. Then go find someone who does. There are plenty of them around, trust me. It won’t take long. As a matter of fact, I see one right now jogging up the street. You want me to flag her down? I’ll tell her that she can have her very own Tim, just as long as she follows these simple rules: always let him drive; always laugh at his jokes; always wear short little dresses that show your legs off. What? What does that have to do with anything? Real men like legs? What? What are you talking about? Oh, oh, oh, well congratulations. I didn’t know that. Little boys like boobs but real men like legs. Did you come up with that one on your own or is that something you heard from your dad? That’s very deep, Tim. And what happens when my legs go? Oh, they’re going to go, they’re already going, soon I’m going to have varicose veins and cellulite, the whole kit and caboodle, and then what? But I’m not going to do that. You do that. You go under the knife. Because you have a gobbler. Yes you do. You have a gobbler, Tim. Gobble, gobble. What does that book have to do with anything? But you didn’t buy me that book. I bought it. Yes, I did. I went to the bookstore and bought the book because it’s something I’m interested in. These are things I’ve always been interested in. The book just confirmed what I’d been thinking about. So, what, you think the only reason I’m interested in these things is because of you? Boy, you are out of your mind. Are you high right now? This isn’t about feminism, Tim. This is about liberation. I don’t want to be your equal, because being your equal means you get to decide the terms of exactly what being equal means. I want to be liberated. From you, that’s who. From all of you. I’m not here to be your life support system. That’s not my job. I’m not some scatter-brained waitress who desperately needs a man and you’re not some enlightened cowboy who knows how to treat a woman the way a woman wants to be treated. This isn’t the movies, okay? I don’t need you. It would be nice to have you, but I don’t need you. Do you understand that? I’m fine on my own. I have a job and a house and my own money and, more importantly, my own car, a car that, for some reason, you won’t let me drive, even though I’m the one who taught you how to drive stick shift and you still suck at it. That’s right, you suck. Every time I let you drive you burn the clutch. Because you don’t know how to drive stick, that’s why, and God forbid you listen to a woman and let her show you how it’s done. Yeah, you’re a real man, a real man who doesn’t even know how to drive stick but refuses to admit it because if you do you won’t be able to get it up later on. That’s right. You heard me. Oh, yeah? Well, bring it on, then. I’ll be waiting right here for you. And when you get here I’m going to kick your ass.”
MANA MAN and a WOMAN in a room.
WOMAN: I was thinking how strange it is.
WOMAN: That people are able to live together. Days and nights and years. Five years go by. How do they do it? Ten, eleven, twelve years. Two people making one life. Sharing ten thousand meals. Talking to each other face to face, open face, like hot sandwiches. All the words that fill the house. What do people say over a lifetime? Trapped in each other’s syntax. The same voice. The droning tonal repetition. I’ll tell you something.
MAN: You’ll tell me something.
WOMAN: There’s a mystery here. The people behind the walls of the brown house next door. What do they say and how do they survive it? All that idle dialogue. The nasality. The banality. I was thinking how strange it is. How do they do it, night after night, all those nights, those words, those few who do it and survive?
MAN: They make love. They make salads.
WOMAN: But sooner or later they have to speak. This is what shatters the world. I mean isn’t it gradually shattering to sit and listen to the same person all the time, without reason or rhyme. Words that trail away. The pauses. The clauses. How many thousands of times can you look at the same drained face and watch the mouth begin to open? Everything’s been fine up to now. It is when they open their mouths. It is when they speak.
MAN: I’m still not over this cold of mine.
WOMAN: Take those things you take.
MAN: The tablets.
WOMAN: The caplets.
MAN: Long day.
WOMAN: Long day.
MAN: A good night’s sleep.
WOMAN: Long slow day.
[Lights slowly down.]
Vladimir Nabokov is sitting at the back of a school bus holding a pencil and a notebook and listening intently to the fantastic cadences and blunt locutions of the girls when one of the girls gets up out of her seat, walks to the back, sits down next to him, and says, You’re cute, mister, prompting him to look away from her and towards the front of the bus, where he catches the bus driver’s shifty eyes looking at him in the rear-view mirror: “Later that night at the Little Vagabond Motel Gus asks Barbara what she said to the old Commie sitting at the back of the bus. None of your beeswax, Barbara says. Gus smiles and then backhands Barbara across the face, inadvertently popping a few of the pimples on her chin. While she’s lying on the floor of the motel room Gus bends down and tells her how disgusting she is. He tells her that she needs to take better care of herself, wash her face more often, stop drinking so much soda and lay off the greasy foods. Barbara, who thinks Gus hits about as hard as her mom, tells him that if he wants to shack up with a fifteen year old then he’s going to have to put up with some pimples, which only serves to further enrage him. For the next three hours Gus proceeds to lecture Barbara about the evils of communism, after which he breaks down in tears, apologizes for striking her, and rambles on about how she’s going to leave him for a boy closer to her own age; how he’ll grow old by himself; how he’ll spend all his waking hours thinking about the times they spent in motel rooms; how the grief will be too much for him to bear, causing him to lose his job and slowly isolate himself; how the memories will sustain him for a long time, but not long enough; how it will be impossible for him to stop thinking about her since every time he gets a whiff of stale smoke it will remind him of her; how impossible it is to go anywhere and not catch a whiff of stale smoke; and how all of this will either drive him to kill himself, kill someone who looks just like him, or start writing detective novels about a down-on-his-luck Private Eye who drinks too much and only takes cases involving missing young girls. Barbara listens to Gus’ bathetic spiel, tells him she had no idea he could even read, let alone write, and then proceeds, with her chewing gum, to blow the biggest bubble Gus has ever seen in his life, a bubble Barbara pops voluntarily, with a devilish gleam in her eye and a laugh Gus will later describe to the authorities as the sound of pure evil, like a slinky quickly moving down a flight of metal stairs.”
John Belushi rolls up a hundred dollar bill, leans down, quickly inhales a massive bump of cocaine, stands up, looks at Dick Cavett, raises one eyebrow, hands the rolled up hundred dollar bill to Cavett, watches as Cavett partially inhales another massive bump of cocaine, then waits for Cavett to stand up, raises the other eyebrow, and watches as Cavett leans down and inhales the rest of the bump: “This song, you know what this song reminds me of, it reminds of the time I was invited to a pool party where I knew I was going to be peer-pressured into skinny dipping, which wouldn’t have been such a big deal except at the time I had a Herpes Simplex two breakout near my jonquils, and my jonquils were a mess, but I went to the pool party anyway, and guess what, I got pressured, by my peers, into skinny dipping, and so I drop my shorts and everyone’s looking at my jonquils but no one is saying anything because they’re all a bunch of artists and musicians and actors, so they wanted to pretend like it didn’t bother them, but I could tell, it did bother them, it bothered them a lot, I mean, my jonquils are just like, they’re like, they’re like covered in Herpes Simplex two, but what am I supposed to do, they keep pressuring me, these are my peers, and they’re pressuring me, hey, they say, hey, hey, take off your shorts, man, take them off and go skinning dipping, and I guess I could have said something, said something like, hey, hey, I got some Herpes Simplex two right now, you should see my jonquils, but I didn’t say anything, they probably wouldn’t have believed me anyway, it would have encouraged them to keep egging me on, so I said to myself, I remember this, I remember saying to myself, okay, you invited me to this pool party, and you keep telling me to take off my shorts, so I’m going to take off my shorts, because I’m at a pool party with a bunch of artists and musicians and actors, and that’s what you do, you take off your shorts when they tell you to take off your shorts, whether you got Herpes Simplex two or not, so that’s what I did, I took off my shorts, and there it was, all over my jonquils, and I felt self-conscious about it for a second, but that was it, I jumped in the pool, and then I got out, poured myself a glass of Sangria, and this song was playing, normally I would hate this song, but there was something about listening to it while drinking Sangria that just made, it made, it made sense, because I hate Sangria and I hate this song but they seem to complement each other, you know, like two halves making a whole, and that’s what it was, the song and the Sangria combining to rid me of my ambivalence, although hate isn’t really ambivalence, it’s hate, that’s a feeling, ambivalence is a lack of feeling, and I definitely have feelings for this song, and Sangria, I hate both of them with equal intensity, but not together, together I find them rather pleasant, mellow, and that’s not what I am, normally I hate, and I hate, and I hate, there are so many things in this world I hate, if you took everything away that I hate there would be nothing left for me to do, you know, I mean, thank Christ for hate, and I hate this song, and now that I think about it, I hate that for a moment I didn’t hate this song, but I blame it on the Sangria, and vice versa for the, the, the, the lack of hate, I know hate Sangria, but I didn’t hate Sangria, and I blame this song, with me standing there, with my Sangria and my jonquils covered in Herpes Simplex two and it was a nice moment, now that I think about it, even though, you know Amy Irving, I mean, I know you know Amy Irving, but I mean, she was at this pool party and she comes up to me while I’m standing there with my Sangria in my hand and she pulls me aside and she tells me how she’s a big fan and tells me how cute I am and then she tells me, get this, she tells me that she really wanted to sleep with me, and she was going to, but then she saw my jonquils and she decided that it probably wasn’t a good idea, and I’m thinking, you’re right, it’s probably not a good idea to sleep with me at the moment considering my condition, but then I’m thinking, you know what, I’m thinking, why would you tell someone that you were going to sleep with them but then you decided it wasn’t a good idea, I mean, who says that to someone, what a buzzkill, it’s not like I was planning on sleeping with anyone at this pool party, I was just there to have a good time, and I was having a good time, and then Amy Irving, she totally ruins it by telling me this, and I tell her this, I tell her she’s a buzzkill, I call her a buzzkill, and she gets this real snotty look on her face, and she walks away from me and then she turns around a gives me this look, she looks at my jonquils and then she looks back at me and then she looks at my jonquils and she shakes her head like she’s disgusted with me, and it hurt my feelings, I’m being honest with you, it really hurt my feelings, because, you know, despite myself, I have feelings too, you know, and Jesus fucking Christ would somebody please put on another song, for the love of all that is holy, I can’t take it anymore, I can’t take it anymore, turn it off, somebody better turn off this song or somebody better get me a glass of Sangria, a huge glass of Sangria, because you have no idea how long this song is, it’s long, so it better be a huge glass, as big as that vase right over there, somebody better take out all those orchids, clean that vase, and then pour some Sangria in that vase and give it to me, forget it, I’ll do it myself, watch out, here I come, out of the way, this looks heavy, better not forget to use my legs.”
An esteemed film critic famous for his thick bi-annual paperback compendiums containing quick synopses of almost every single film ever made carefully sidesteps across a row of seats, making sure not to step on the feet of the other moviegoers (and apologizing to those whose feet he does step on), sits down, opens his briefcase, takes out a large plastic baggie filled with pink and white-frosted cookies in the shape of circus animals, and bites into an elephant as the lights start to go down: “Two men – one short, hirsute and chatty, the other tall, bald and stoic – decide to take a road trip across the United States in a rented 1976 Honda Prelude. Starting in Portland, Oregon, they will drive until they reach Portland, Maine, where the chatty man will throw himself off a cliff and into the sea and the stoic man will visit his ailing father for what he presumes will be the last time. During this trip the two men anticipate that there will be a growing emphasis on camaraderie, including some good-natured ribbing. Both men are able to think on the fly, as both are naturally gifted, or so they have been told most of their adult lives. Really, what this trip is about is the act of self-expression, and the farther East they drive the more they expect that they will be able to express the deepest, darkest parts of themselves without being judged. The stoic man, especially, is hoping to release the full bounty of malaise that has been sitting in his gut since he left home all those years ago, disappointing his father in the process. The chatty man is, of course, looking for a reason to live, as most short, hirsute and chatty men are wont to do. They both expect that at some point in this journey to nowhere they will cross paths with two buxom but hardened women who will bestow upon them both a brief moment of joy followed by an awkward coffee shop breakfast of burnt bacon, runny eggs, and bitter black coffee. But somewhere around Ames, Iowa the two men decide that they truly cannot stand each other, turn around, and head back to Portland, Oregon. Once there the men part ways without saying good-bye. The chatty man decides to see a therapist, and he does, one who prescribes him some very potent medication which, in fact, cures not only his depression, but his incessant need to talk and his dread of silence. The stoic man thinks about calling his father, but does not. When he hears that his father has passed away he sends a fruit basket, and it is this act, and this act alone, which sets him free from the past. He no longer has a home to go back to, but it doesn’t worry him, it doesn’t worry him, you might think it does, but it doesn’t worry him.”