[BART crosses downstage and talks to the audience.]

BART: When somebody asks me what I did yesterday or last night or over the weekend-- When a friend asks "Hey man, where were you Saturday? I was trying to get a hold of you!" When my boss says, "You're late for your shift! What were you doing?" When someone says something like that to me I always laugh to myself before I answer. "It's too bad you couldn't make it to the party. Man, everybody was askin' about you! What were you doin'?" Well, I couldn't make it to any of these occasions you see because… I was masturbating. Mas-tur-ba-tion. It's just a word. Masturbation. Masturbating. You say it enough times the word doesn't mean anything. Masturbating, masturbating, masturbating, masturbating, masturbating, masturbating, masturbating. I was masturbating. Needless to say it's an answer that catches people off guard. The next time your boss is pissed and asks where you've been all day just say, "I'm sorry boss, but you see, I was masturbating." Examine the response. Most people laugh. They don't believe me. They think I'm funny. But I'm not trying to be funny. I'm not lying. I was masturbating. I miss a lot of events due to my masturbation. I sometimes go all day. Some people believe it's wrong or it's sick or I'm mentally ill to just sit in a locked room all day and imagine sexual intercourse with women I don't even know and masturbate. But I'm not hurting anyone. They're my thoughts. Just mine. I masturbate. I go to work. I come home. I masturbate. I watch TV. I masturbate again. I'm not on unemployment. No Food Stamps. I've never taken a penny out of anybody's pocket. People should actually want me to masturbate. Before I ever have to go out somewhere, I always try to masturbate as much as possible. Ten, maybe twelve times. See, that way if I happen to meet a woman, I have lost a lot of my sex drive from masturbating so much and then I either don't want to-- or don't feel the need to sleep with a woman as much as if I didn't masturbate. It's complicated. But the point is I'm not sleeping with any women because of my masturbation and therefore I am not spreading any diseases, making unwanted pregnancies, or causing abortions. I'm also not getting married, which will lower incidences of domestic violence as well as the divorce rate. On top of all this I pay more taxes since I have no write-offs. One would think this would make everybody happy! Masturbating gets a bad rap. By practicing masturbation, I'm making life better for everyone.

[The phone rings. He answers.]

BART: Hello? Yes this is he. Yes Marlene I remember you. How are you doing? A proposition? A new business? Well I don't know if I can make it Marlene. Why? Well, you see… [He winks to the audience and pantomimes masturbation.]


[Quick cross fade to ZACH and CAT. It's a few moments after she lit his smoke.]

CAT: [looking at her fingernails] They're not that long. Do you think they're long?

ZACH: I never said they were long--

CAT: They're not that long--

ZACH: I meant they just look nice.

CAT: Thanks. I work at the eye make-up counter over at Meier and Frank so I can't have that long o' nails otherwise I'd be poking all the old ladies eyes out. Wouldn't want to do that.

ZACH: Man, what a great image.

CAT: What? Scooping out some old lady's eyeballs with my fingernails?

ZACH: Eyeballs hitting the floor with an eerie thud and sloppily rolling down the perfume isle--

CAT: Leaving a bright red snail trail--

ZACH: As they're being kicked around unknowingly by Christmas-time shoppers.

CAT: Oh my god we are so morbid.

ZACH: We forgot about the empty socketed old lady running blindly through the mall--

CAT: Screaming!

ZACH: While playing soccer with her own eyeballs!

CAT: Stop it! We have to stop this right now. You're horrible. [She gently socks him on the arm. A beat.] I don't really smoke.

ZACH: You don't really smoke.

CAT: I'm smoking now. But I don't really smoke. I quit.

ZACH: Quit?

CAT: Now you can believe this or not, but I only smoke when I'm drinking.

ZACH: No way.

CAT: I know you're making fun of me. But I'm not kidding…

ZACH: I know you're not.

CAT: You think I'm weird huh?

ZACH: Not at all. I'm the same way. I'm having a beer- I need a smoke.

CAT: And only menthols right?

ZACH: Salems.

CAT: Salems! Salems are the best. This brand sucks.

ZACH: I sure am glad I quit. It makes smoking more enjoyable.

CAT: [giggling] When I was a kid I thought Salems were made here in Salem Oregon.

ZACH: [snickering] Me too. They're not though. They're made in Massachusetts.

[They smoke. Phone ring. BART answers.]

BART: Hello? Yes this is he.

CAT: Salem Massachusetts? Must have something to do with that witch trial thing huh?

BART: Yes Marlene I remember you. How are you doing? A proposition? A new business? Well I don't know if I can make it Marlene. Why? Well, you see… [He winks to the audience and pantomimes masturbation.]


ZACH: I think that should do it.

BART: I'll call you back Marlene. [Hangs up.]

CAT: I got two kids I can get anybody's attention.

BART: [Approaching the bar.] Is there anything I can get you Miss? May I suggest a muzzle?

CAT: I'm sorry but I've been waiting.

BART: I'm only one, lady. I got no help tonight. What can I get you?

CAT: Got any cider?

BART: Cider?

CAT: Cider with alcohol.

BART: Sure lady, I was in the back all last night stomping on apples.

CAT: I just thought since it was Thanksgiving season you might have a little festive cider.

BART: No. Sorry, no cider. Here's an idea-- how ‘bout a beer?

CAT: A light beer. Please. Oh, and some cigarettes!

ZACH: Menthol.

CAT: Salems!

BART: Sorry, no menthols.

CAT: What?

BART: They're with the cider.

ZACH: How ‘bout Camels. You like Camels?

CAT: Sure. I like Camels.

BART: All we got are non-filtered.

ZACH: Straights?

CAT: We'll take ‘em

BART: [sniffs out a laugh, getting close to her] You sure? That's a tough smoke.

CAT: I was smoking Camel filterless before you were born.

BART: Yea. I'm 28.

CAT: Yea. I'm 41. Go get the smokes!

BART: You're not 41.

[CAT grins and sets down her purse defiantly. She gets up and takes off her coat enticingly and hangs it up behind her chair.]

CAT: Bathroom?

[BART points a finger.]

[CAT struts towards the bathroom of the tavern while the men watch.]

BART : She's not 41.

ZACH: She can't be 41.

BART: No way.

[She stops at the bathroom door and turns to the audience.]

CAT: They're right. I'm 40.

[At this point CAT's sign is revealed "Catherine. Born 1952."]

[CAT exits. A sad instrumental song rises. BART and ZACH exchange a look and a laugh. BART shrugs and exits.]

[Lights up on CAT and a toilet. CAT pulls down her panties from under her skirt and sits on the toilet and sighs.]

CAT: Hear that song? I love this song. It's one of those songs you always hear, but you never know who plays it. I'll probably never know. I don't want to know now. It would probably ruin the feeling. Whenever I hear this song I always feel there should be credits rolling you know? Like it's the end of something. The end of a movie. It just brings up so much… that guitar. It's concluding something. It's talking. The credits are rolling over the lead actor's dead body facedown in a gutter. The camera pans back. The rain is pouring down. And all that guitar can say is "Oh well." "That's Life." "Whatever." Every time I hear this song from now on I will remember this day and what happened and what I did. And I will remember this moment in time, right now, this exact place, the smell, everything… and the scene will freeze and the credits will roll. I never want to know who plays this song. It would ruin everything.

[CAT is finished. She stands and pulls up her panties. She looks in an invisible mirror facing the audience and gussies herself up.]

[LIGHTS up on ZACH and BART, who is bringing a beer.]

BART: Here's that dames beer. She still in the can?

ZACH: Yea.

[CAT licks her lips and unbuttons her blouse.]

BART: I bet you she's that guy's wife.

ZACH: Who?

BART: The guy who was just here. Nature boy? He's lookin' for her.

CAT: [into the mirror] I'm a monkey. I'm a monkey man.

[Lights out on CAT.]

ZACH: [to BART] Hey. Don't tell her. Don't tell her he was here okay?

[CAT enters and crosses to the bar.]

BART: You got it coach.

[They slap hands. BART exits.]

CAT: [sitting down, sips her beer] Do you know who plays this song?


CAT: You ever had cider? We have some every Thanksgiving. My husband makes it. I don't know what he puts in it. I had some earlier this evening.

ZACH: You're not 41.

CAT: Next month. [pointing off to BART] But don't tell him that. That bartender's probably been thinkin' "Let's see, she's 41, I'm 28, she was smokin' before I was born… 41 minus 28... 13! Smokin' at 13?" He'll believe it. He wouldn't believe 12. 12 sounds too young. Men will always believe a woman did something taboo at 13, but not 12.

ZACH: Really.

CAT: I'm Catherine. Call me Cat.

ZACH: I'm Zachary. Call me Zach.

BART: [entering] And I'm the Bartender. Call me Bart. [sets down smokes] That's $4.50 all together.

[CAT begins rummaging through her large purse.]

ZACH: Listen, let me buy your smokes…

CAT: No, no, no…

ZACH: Yea, I'm gonna buy your smokes because I'm probably going to want some more.

CAT: You put that money away-- they're my treat--

ZACH: No really--

CAT: They're my smokes. I'll buy ‘em.

ZACH: Then at least let me buy your beer.

CAT: That is unnecessary.

[BART begins singing Jeopardy! tune throughout the following.]

ZACH: That is the biggest purse I have ever seen--

CAT: Don't you love it?

ZACH: It's big.

CAT: I found it at this great little consignment store--

ZACH: [offering money to BART] Let me pay for this.

CAT: [also to BART] Don't you dare take money from him!

ZACH: Please...

CAT: No! I have it!

[ZACH waves money in BART'S face.]

BART: You're making this all very painful ma'am.

CAT: I just have to find my wallet.

BART: [Laughing at her bag] In that thing? What, you running away from home or something?

[CAT suddenly stops rummaging through her bag.]

BART: [elbowing ZACH] Looks like she should have that bag tied to a stick and flung over her shoulder, huh? [No one is laughing. CAT's stare is making him uncomfortable.] What?

CAT: [sternly] You got my smokes.

BART: [pointing at them] They're right there. [to ZACH] What's up…?

ZACH: How ‘bout we put it all on a tab. For now.

BART: Fine. Didn't mean to make fun of your bag. I like your bag. Really. [writing up the tab] Smokin' at 13 huh? Wow. And what were you doin' at 14.

CAT: I was a bartender.

BART: [pasted on smile] Oh. Ha. That's funny.

[BART exits into the back.]

[We hear a crashing of pots and pans.]

ZACH: That guys a jerk. Here…[raising his pint glass] Cheers.

CAT: [raising her pint] I'll find my wallet later…

ZACH: Sure. Relax and drink your brew. That's what we came here for… isn't it?

[Instead of a reply, CAT decides to smile and clink her pint to his. They drink.]

ZACH: So… Is your husband gonna be up early tomorrow watching football?


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Copyright © 2003 by Nick Zagone

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