Steven A. Shapiro

Lost in the Blue Moon’s Shadow

 

A Play in One Act 

 

CAST OF CHARACTERS

CALLISTA – Chicly attired and quaffed, A stunning woman in her early 40s.

RICHARD – Callista’s handsome, neat, casually attired husband in his mid 40s

SAM –     Average looking slightly overweight man in his late 40s.

JACKIE – Sam’s pleasant looking wife. A comfortable woman in her late 40s.

ANDIE — Perky and trendy college sophomore 20.

 

LOCATION


A New York City upper west side apartment.

 

TIME


Evening of a rising blue moon.

 

THE SET


An upper west side apartment comprised of a living room, kitchen and small NYC type terrace with a celestial telescope and chair. The point of view is of the top floor of the adjacent building and the heavens above.  The living room contains at least a couch, two chairs and coffee table and some type of wall unit. Unseen: Stage right leads to the bedrooms and bathrooms.  Stage left leads to Sam’s office. NOTE: Given the size constraints of the producing theatre, the kitchen may be offstage as well.

SYNOPSIS


Two couples meet for drinks the evening of a blue moon. On the surface we see four successful business and creative architypes. By the “shank of the evening” scabs are scratched raw, and what begins to unfold are the outward signs of troubled relationships. Additional stressors are brought to the fore in the form of bickering, passive aggressive behaviors and substantial denial. The fuse that lights the depth of pain comes in the form of Callista and Richard’s daughter Andie.  She is angry and frustrated with a mother who is obtuse and will apparently never accept her life choices.  This is not a story about mother daughter reconciliation - it will never happen.   For Andie is also very dead. 

                    
SCENE 1

At rise, the living room of SAM and JACKIE’S upper west side apartment. Their neighbor and guest RICHARD are on the balcony peering through a telescope, presumably at the stars.  Directly upstage, SAM reclines on the couch with his bad foot resting on the cushions. He periodically glances at his neighbor.
       
SAM
You checking out the moon?

RICHARD
Uh…something like that.  There’s a moon involved…
   
SAM
Ah... lemme’ guess…Top floor, corner unit? Madam yoga pants?
           
RICHARD
So, you’ve discovered her?  And here I thought I was a regular Galileo. 

SAM
Please. Half the guys on this side of the building suddenly took up astronomy because of her. I'm starting to think she owns a telescope store, and this is the way she drums up sales...

RICHARD
I've heard of crazier scams. People find all kinds of ways to make a buck in this city. You wanna’ adjust this back to where you had it? Beyond the basic Peeping Tom stuff, I don't really know what I'm doing.

SAM
Nah.  My neuropathy is killing me.   I’ll readjust the scope later.

 

RICHARD
You know, when Callista said you'd invited us over for a “blue moon party” I thought your wife was just teasing us about never being home... you know, “once in a blue moon?” I feel like Jackie has been trying to set this up for a long time.
       
SAM
Yeah, my wife is persistent when she decides to be social. But in this case, it really is a blue moon. Second full moon in a calendar month. Not super rare, but not common either.

RICHARD
Is that what it means? So, it's not actually going to be blue?

SAM
Nope. Not blue. Although there is an older meaning, which is the fourth full moon in a three-month season. That happens about every two and a half years.

 

RICHARD
Well, now I'm confused.

SAM
Yeah... sorry. It's a bit of math, is all

RICHARD
Totally. I should probably just stick to sexy yoga butt lady.

(Enter CALLISTA with a tray of hors d’oeuvres.)

CALLISTA    
Sexy Yoga Butt Lady? Who's Sexy Yoga Butt Lady?

        (RICHARD Turns to face his wife, simultaneously 
       swinging the telescope up to point at the sky.
        He's smooth.)

RICHARD
Just a new divorce case. Older guy, younger woman, solid pre-nup. Nothing special.

CALLISTA
       (Placing tray of food on the coffee table.)
Nothing special... except for someone's sexy yoga butt?

 

RICHARD
It's just a way of remembering the case. Ten divorces a month... I gotta’ keep 'em separate somehow.

        (CALLISTA regards RICHARD with a raised eyebrow
        and turns to SAM.)

 

SAM
Oh, uh.... I, uh- I was just asking Richard about some, uh, legal concepts for a new a book that I'm, uh...

        (Enter JACKIE.  She carries two open bottles of wine.)

JACKIE
Uh- Oh! What did I miss? What did my husband say?
   
SAM
Me? What... why do you think I said anything?

JACKIE
I come back into the room to find my husband red in the face, looking like a guilty schoolboy with both our guests staring at him!

CALLISTA
Please, Jackie... it's nothing. I walked in on some “guy talk” and decided to make the men squirm a little bit. Of course, my husband is incapable of shame, so I'm afraid poor Sam was the only one squirming.  

JACKIE
“Guy talk?” Oh... I get it. This is about little miss corner apartment!

CALLISTA
Little miss who?

JACKIE
You know, I ran into her at the bodega on 82nd once, and I told her she should consider either hanging up curtains or wearing more clothes. You know what she said? She said, “Mind your own F-wording business.” And then she called me a B-word. That's New York for you.

        (CALLISTA gives RICHARD a “look.”He avoids her gaze.)
        
CALLISTA
Yup... that is so the city. Maybe that's one of the reasons we don't come back very often. It seems the women are exhibitionists and the men Neanderthals. People are more civilized in London.

JACKIE
Well, I hope you spend more time here. I hate to think of that beautiful apartment sitting there empty while nice people like you are off so far away. At least you don't do the Air-B-and-B! The unit right above us? I never know who's going to be in there! It's like one of those Hard Rocker Hotels!
        (JACKIE places the wine on the table. RICHARD picks one            up.)

RICHARD
Chateau Margaux 1986?  Wow! You aren't seriously going to open this, are you?

JACKIE
Why not? I got a great deal... I know people!  

CALLISTA
Isn't this the sort of thing you save for a special occasion?

JACKIE
I've been pestering you two to come by since you bought into the building, and you're finally here.  I say that's occasion enough. Right Sam?
           
SAM
       (He stuffs a cracker in his mouth and washes it down with a           freshly opened bottle of wine.)
Absolutely. Down the hatch!

        (JACKIE rolls her eyes at her uncouth husband.)

CALLISTA
I'm not sure this is a “down the hatch” vintage. 

RICHARD
More like, “Down in the wine cellar, appreciating value, waiting to fund my retirement.”
           
SAM
Okay fine. Well, if it's that special, it should at least be able to dull the throbbing in this damn foot of mine.

RICHARD
Hey, if your goal is “feeling no pain,” my wife has a whole pharmacy in her purse. She takes this pill for her migraines that-

 

SAM
Oh no. No. No. I can't do those prescription pills. No, sir.

JACKIE
Sam threw out his back last year. A “friend” at his gym gave him two Percocets, and-

 

SAM    
And next thing I know, I wake up on the beach at Coney Island, half buried in the sand. Didn't even know what year it was.


CALLISTA
        (Softly but audible.)
That sounds kinda’ nice, actually. I'd like to forget what year it is.

JACKIE
Yes, well, unfortunately, he could tell what month it was... January.

 

RICHARD
Ouch.

SAM
The frostbite made me forget all about my aching back.

JACKIE
Plus, it inspired yet another book. What was it, Sam? “The Frozen Something?”

SAM
“Ice Moon Beta-9.” Not my best work. But a translation sold in Portugal and Brazil, so that was a nice little bonus.

JACKIE
I love those foreign sales! A check just appears in the mailbox! I know Sam doesn’t worry about the business end.  For me it’s something tangible. Almost like stealing.

 

CALLISTA
So, it sounds like science fiction pays well.

SAM
It does if you're writing movies or TV. Genre paperbacks... not so much. Can't compete with the screens. But the serialized audio books pay well.

JACKIE
It helps that Sam is so prolific. And that he writes in more than one genre.

SAM
Yep, I keep churning it out... under several pseudonyms. For hard sci-fi I'm Jack Stellan. For fantasy, I go by Eveline Aanderson.

RICHARD
Eveline?

SAM
My dragons-and-elves stories tend to get a little... steamy. My editor thought the romance would be more palatable if it came from a female writer. From Sam Stein it's sexist exploitation, but from Eveline Aanderson, it's empowering pro-sex feminism.
           
RICHARD
Wow. That's a damn sneaky way to spin a negative into a positive. And I'm a member of the legal profession, so I know something of duplicity.

SAM
I let Jackie choose the name. Her mother's name was Eveline. We always said if we had a daughter... well... anyway. No daughter

        (Awkward pause.)

SAM
What about you two? Children?

CALLISTA
        (Quickly)
Yes. A daughter. She's in college, actually. A sophomore at Kings College in London.

RICHARD
Well, she's not- I mean...I'm not her birth father. But, uh, Andie is-

CALLISTA
What Richard is trying to say is that he never formally adopted Andrea. But he's the man who's been there for her. Since she was five.

JACKIE
That sounds like a father to me. You put in the time - you get the title.

RICHARD
I suppose you're right.
        (Pause)

            SAM
Hey, we've put in our time too. I mean, as a couple. 25 years next month!

RICHARD
25 years? Wow! Were you high school sweethearts?        
           
JACKIE
Not quite. We met when Sam was at MIT and I was at BU.  On our second date he showed me his first manuscript. Remember?

SAM
Sixth.

JACKIE
Whatever.


SAM
It was our sixth date.  And she stole it out of my portfolio while we were having coffee.

JACKIE
I didn't steal it. Stop it with the accusations. It fell out when you ran to the men's room!

SAM
See? That proves it. Sixth date. Nobody runs to the toilet during a second date. You hold it in.

RICHARD
I'm going to agree with Sam on that one. He makes a compelling argument.

JACKIE
Oh, please. Like Sam could hold anything in.

CALLISTA
        (to SAM)
You went to MIT to become a novelist?

SAM
Hardly! No, my first love was mathematics. I was pretty good at it, too. Sorta’ like John Nash – Beautiful Mind.  I could just see answers, like it was on a movie screen.

JACKIE
First in his class.  And that was a deep class! The guy who graduated third ended up winning the Fields Medal years later.

RICHARD
Is that a big deal?

SAM
It is, if you're a math nerd. It’s like a Nobel, only they give it every four years. This guy, Stanley, got his for non-linear partial differential equations. Who would’ve guessed?  He wasn’t very impressive.  Actually kinda’ of a schmuck who wore the same corduroy pants every day for a semester. I guess people change. Sometimes you grow into something that doesn't quite fit you at first.

JACKIE
Sam was recruited by NASA and Microsoft and turned them both down to marry me.  

SAM
She thought Houston was too hot, Redmond was too wet. I tried to tell her that New York is either one or both of those things about ten months of the year, but what can ya’ do? I think we're both East Coasters to be honest.  As Nash said, “Go figure the equations of the heart,” right?


JACKIE
He’s exaggerating. I would have followed him anywhere if that's what he really wanted. But it turns out, he loves writing books as much as wrestling with a proof.  At least, I hope he loves it. I mean, after 44 books!

CALLISTA
44 books? That’s incredible!

SAM
It's really 42. “Sword Warp” is a single book that the publisher serialized and chopped into three parts. Then there are some anthologies, a few novellas... but who's quibbling?

JACKIE
You are Sam.

RICHARD
Wow. So, you're Ms. Aanderson for fantasy, and Jack Whatever for-

SAM
Jack Stellan.

RICHARD
Right, for Hard Sci-Fi, whatever that is. What about plain old Sam Stein? Does he write anything?

SAM
Nope.  At first, I thought fiction was just a side-gig. I wanted to publish serious papers in serious math and science journals. I wanted my name on a Nobel or Fields or later after I began writing, at least a Pulitzer... I didn't think it would help if that same name was on a book about a time-traveling anthropomorphic cat woman. Plus, my editor said Stein sounded too Jewish. Something like “there is something incongruous about Jews in space.” A real Jew hating Jew.

JACKIE
Can you believe that? I tried to tell her that half the Grand Masters of the genre were Jews, but she wouldn't listen. Told Sam that the pseudonyms would have broad appeal and would look better on the covers. So that's the name on the rest of his books.

SAM
By the time I admitted to myself that the Nobel would never happen, the penname was established, and I had contracts for a dozen Jack Stellan books. And then, one of my books got short-listed for a Hugo award. So, there was no going back. So, Sam Stein was left in relative obscurity.

 

RICHARD
It sounds to me like your editor's instincts were right. Names are just words, after all. What does it matter if you're Stein or Stellan or Aanderson, as long as you're still you?

       (CALLISTA gives RICHARD another “look.”)

            RICHARD
       (to CALLISTA)
What?
   
CALLISTA
Nothing.
           
JACKIE
Well, I'm in the art world, and in that business, names are everything. Two paintings could be absolutely identical right down to the molecules, but the one by Rembrandt is worth 100 million, and the one by Joe Schmoe is worth bupkiss.

RICHARD
It can work that way with lawyers too. Until your name is on the marquee, people won't give you that same level of respect...

        (RICHARD gives his wife a quick side-glance.)

            CALLISTA
        (Quickly changing subject.)
So, Jackie... tell us how you managed to get not one, but two bottles of this spectacular wine without selling your apartment first?

JACKIE
Oh, please. It's not that expensive...Just because a wine is old doesn’t mean it’s a great vintage. 
        (Giggles)
This just happens to be a bit of both, though.

RICHARD
I beg to differ…got to be a grand a bottle. Callista hob-nobs with some pretty high rollers, and I don't think we've had the '86…well…never.

        (CALLISTA nods. SAM suddenly looks concerned.)
           SAM
Is that so?
        (Then, to JACKIE.)
Honey... you don't think anyone... made a mistake, do you?


JACKIE
        (Defensively)
Oh, pish! Nobody made a mistake. I know a few high rollers myself; you know. These were a gift! After the Whitney fundraiser. Do you have any idea how much money I helped them bring in with that event? Tim Apple was at that event!

SAM
You mean Tim Cook of Apple.

JACKIE
Whatever. The Apple-phone man. Anyway, I was talking to this deep pocket guy who ended up bidding on a Modigliani thanks to me!  Guy has a billion bucks. A slam-dunk. So, a couple bottles of wine was the least they could do for the person who put it all together. Now stop talking about the wine and just enjoy it!

RICHARD
Well, you can't argue with that. How about a toast? To... uh, blue moons, and to Modigliani!

 

JACKIE
Cheers!

SAM
And, as my old man said every time, he took a drink, “hey, it ain't my birthday, but it's gotta’ be somebody's, so drink up! Mazel Tov!”

        (JACKIE, SAM, and RICHARD stand and clink glasses,                  CALLISTA does the same but it seems half-hearted.)

RICHARD
He really said that every time he drank.

SAM
Totally. I mean, when there were people around. I hope he didn't make toasts when he drank alone-

        (CALLISTA puts down her glass, her eyes distant.)

RICHARD
Callista?

JACKIE
Is everything okay?


CALLISTA
Oh, uh... yes. I think I just need a little fresh air. Is it okay if I step out for a minute?

JACKIE
Of course, dear!

CALLISTA
Thank you. I just need to... I just need a few minutes.

        (CALLISTA exits to the balcony).

SAM
         (To JACKIE and RICHARD.)
Wasn’t Modigliani a Jew?  (Beat) Hm. Maybe they got him to change his name too. I guess all the money in the art business was in being Italian.

JACKIE
You idiot. His father was Modigliani.  He was an Italian Jew.  Amadeus Modigliani.

SAM
Oh. That makes more sense.
          (To RICHARD)
Hey, did I say something wrong? Your wife looked-

RICHARD
She'll be okay. It's just... It's Andie's birthday tomorrow. She's... I mean we're pretty upset that she's not here with us. Callista just needs to call... she'll be better after she calls.

JACKIE
You know, the reception on the terrace is horrible... like a dead spot! She can call from my study if she wants-

RICHARD
She'll move if she has to.
       
         (Lights dim on the living room, and rise on the balcony,                   where CALLISTA holds her cellphone.)

CALLISTA
Hello sweetie.

ANDIE
          (Voice only, from the darkness.)
Hi, Mom.


CALLISTA
Almost midnight over there. I wanted to be the first to wish you a happy birthday.  

         

ANDIE
Okay.

 

CALLISTA
Okay? That's it?


ANDIE
I meant, “Okay, be the first to wish me a happy birthday.”

                    

CALLISTA (sighs)
Oh. Then... Happy birthday to you, darling.

ANDIE
Thank you.

                    

CALLISTA
Where are you now? Are you out celebrating?

                    

ANDIE
I'm at a pub. Just a few close friends. Nothing special.

                    

CALLISTA
Shouldn't your 20th birthday be special?

                    

ANDIE
It is special. We're just not doing anything special. We're just hanging out. Typical Saturday night.

                    

CALLISTA
Are you with anybody I would know?

                    

ANDIE
I seriously doubt it.

                    

CALLISTA
How are you for money?
       
ANDIE
You mean right this minute, or in general?


CALLISTA
Please... please don't make this difficult for me.


(Spotlight comes up, showing a young woman with short       hair, dressed in cargo pants, leather jacket, and work             boots. This is ANDIE. She stands alone, surrounded by           darkness, speaking into her cell phone.)

    

ANDIE
Mom, you know that it's never my intention to make things difficult for you. But the problem is that when you say that, what you really want me to do is to make things EASY for you... even if that means that my life becomes much, much more difficult for me.

                    

CALLISTA
That's not fair-

                    

ANDIE    
Fuck fair, mom! There's no such thing as fair!
        (She turns and looks directly at the AUDIENCE.)
        (To AUDIENCE)
Can you believe my mother just used the phrase “that's not fair?” Jesus. If you're not a toddler having a tantrum, that word shouldn't even be in your vocabulary. Absolutely nobody who uses that word ever actually wants things to be fair. They just want things to be better for them, and worse for somebody else.

                    

CALLISTA
Hello?

                    

ANDIE
       (To phone)
Yeah, mom. I'm still here. Look, thanks for calling. I'm fine, everything's fine. I have to go now. I'm with people-

                    

CALLISTA
I'm trying. I'm really trying Andrea-

                    

ANDIE
Mom, don't.

                    

CALLISTA
Sorry. I'm sor-
              
ANDIE
Nobody here calls me that. It's Andie. Why can't you remember that one little thing?

                    

CALLISTA
It's not a little thing to me. And I think I remember too much actually. Maybe that's my problem.
                   

ANDIE
        (To AUDIENCE)
Ugh. Can you believe this shit? Look... I'm sorry. You don't know me, and I'm sure that I seem like a total asshole right now. I mean, you've met my mother, watched her chat with the neighbors, talk about wine and art and shit. She seems like she's got it together, right? Great hair, perfect clothes, enough money so she never has to worry. But trust me when I say that this situation you see before you is definitely messed up. She thinks she's talking to me, but she's not. Not really. She's talking to a version of me that lives in her head. Check it out:
                   
CALLISTA
Did you get your present? Did it get there in time?

                    

ANDIE
Yes, Thank you. And thank Richard for me. It was...a nice thought.

                    

CALLISTA
We knew you'd want to do something nice with... your friend.

                    

ANDIE
        (To AUDIENCE)
Okay, so that sounded normal, right? Well, it wasn't. First of all, she bought me tickets to a concert...by a K-pop boy band. I have never liked K-pop, ever. Some girls in my school did, when I was fifteen... but not me. Also, I have never even liked boy bands. Also-also. I have never even liked boys. That's right... the “friend” my mom mentioned? The correct word is “girlfriend.” But she won't- or can't- say that. It's one of the things she's simply blocked out. Like, edited out of her brain. Not the biggest thing, but... one of them.

                    

CALLISTA
Is it still raining over there? Richard was trying to keep an eye on the satellite forecast-

                    

ANDIE
        (to AUDIENCE)
Oh, for fuck's sake. Weather talk? It’s England – it always rains.
        (To phone)
Look mom, I have to go. People are waiting. Say hello to Richard. Tell him I think the pigeon shit in London is even better than New York.
        (She hangs up).
        (to AUDIENCE)
What? What are you looking at? Oh... You all still think I'm the crazy one. That I'm the one who's being unreasonable... am I right? Well... maybe. But she'll keep calling... keep saying, and not saying, the same things. Even if it doesn't change anything. Especially if it doesn't change anything. And then we'll see. Oh, and that line about pigeon shit- that gets explained in scene two.

 

LIGHTS FADETO BLACK

END OF SCENE
   
 

SCENE 2

Lights up on main set. It’s later, as evidenced
by the remains of food & drink on the table. CALLISTA holds one of Sam's books.

                    

CALLISTA
        (Reading from cover.)
“Lost in the Blue Moon's Shadow, by Eveline Aanderson.”

                    

SAM
It's an early one, but I thought it was appropriate for the occasion.

                    

RICHARD
        (Takes the book from CALLISTA)
I like the cover art. Is it normal for this woman's species to have four boobs like that?

                    

JACKIE
That's the second version of that cover. You should've seen the one they wanted to use!

                    

CALLISTA
Fewer breasts?

                    

SAM
Fewer items of clothing, actually.

                    

JACKIE
I marched him right down to that publisher and told them that my husband was the next Phillip K. Dick, and he wasn't going to sell his novels based on nudity.

                    

SAM
At least not nudity alone...

                    

JACKIE
Right. So, I demanded they have the artist paint a bikini over those things.

                    

SAM
Two bikinis.

                    

JACKIE
Right. And do you know what mister big-shot publisher said to me then?

                    

RICHARD
“Get out of my office?”


SAM
Eventually. But first he looked my wife right in the eyes and said... and I'll never forget this- “Any other changes you'd like to demand before we send this goddamn thing to printers, Ma'am?”

                    

JACKIE
He was being an a-word-h-word. But I stared right back at him and said. “Yes, mister smarty-britches! You can add another letter A at the beginning of Anderson.”

                    

RICHARD
So, Anderson with one A became Aanderson with two As?    

            

JACKIE
Exactly! For the bookstores! Sam-that is, Eveline Aanderson with two As- is the very first author in every fantasy section of every bookstore.

            

SAM
There aren't many actual bookstores anymore, but it still doesn't hurt to be at the top of the list, even on Amazon. You know... anything that gets categorized alphabetically...

            

CALLISTA
Oh, I get it, believe me. I totally get it. Richard and I actually met because of something similar.

            

RICHARD
We did?

            

CALLISTA
My first husband described himself as “alphabetically disadvantaged.”
   
RICHARD
Ah, yes. Good old Double-Z. Or, “Double Zed” actually, because that's apparently what the British call the letter Z. And they call a zero a “naught.” Why do they do that?

        (SAM just shrugs. CALLISTA ignores her
        husband's attempt at humor.)

            CALLISTA
Zelig Zeigler. I was young and naïve and, he was handsome and English. We eloped and I got pregnant. I wanted to name our daughter Zoe, but he refused. He claimed his name had held him back all his life... always at the back of the room or last in line no matter which of his names was used. He said he wasn't going to let his daughter go through life with that kind of handicap if she didn't have to.

 

SAM
So, he was a victim... of alphabetical order? I mean, book sales are one thing, but... isn't that a strange complaint to hang your success or failure on?

            

CALLISTA
That's pretty much what I said to him... and that's when I saw his real temper for the first time. After a few more shouting matches got out of hand, I realized that I'd committed to spending my life with someone without really getting to know him first. So, I left him, flew back to the states, and filed for divorce. I signed the papers a week before our daughter was born. I named her Andrea as my one little concession to him. Such a beautiful baby girl...

        (CALLISTA seems to lose track of her thoughts.)

            

JACKIE
And then...?

            

CALLISTA
And then... what?

            

RICHARD
Dear, I think Jackie is asking how that led to you and I meeting each other.

            

CALLISTA
Oh, right. Well, Richard was my divorce lawyer.

            

RICHARD
Not quite. Technically, I was a junior associate at the firm that handled her divorce. But I was still risking getting fired when I asked her out to dinner. She said 'no,' of course.

            

CALLISTA
Five years later we met again by chance, at some fundraising event.
           
           

RICHARD
She totally did not remember me. Had no clue who I was.

            

CALLISTA
But you made Andrea laugh with that joke about all the artwork looking like bird droppings.

            

RICHARD
The phrase was 'melted pigeon poop.'  And to this day I've never heard a little girl laugh that loud. Five years old, rolling on the carpet in hysterics in the middle of all these big money museum donors. Callie was so embarrassed, when one woman asked if her daughter was having a seizure.  

            

JACKIE
Pigeon poop? Are you talking about the Jackson Pollack event? For the autism society?

            

RICHARD
Yes, exactly!                                     

            

JACKIE
Oh, isn't that funny! That was right after I started working for MOMA... What year was that Sam?

            

SAM
It was, uh... well, let's just say it was a long time ago.

            

JACKIE
That was the first fundraiser I helped out with. A big success! I don't remember a hysterical little girl, though. Maybe it was after we left?

        (JACKIE looks at SAM, who simply shrugs.)

            

CALLISTA
If you had been there for this, you'd remember it. Trust me. I had to drag Andrea out of there, she was so loud. But then she kept asking me when we were going to see 'that funny poop man' again-

            

RICHARD
And a couple weeks later one of the guys in my firm tells me a woman called to ask all kinds of questions about me. Was I on track to make partner, was I single, did I pee standing up or sitting down-

            

CALLISTA
Oh, come on.

            

RICHARD
I felt like a horse getting inspected for auction!

            

CALLISTA
What can I say? I'm a head-hunter. I wasn't going to spend less time on vetting a potential husband than I would for some management hire at a brokerage firm.

            

RICHARD
Sounds just like a fairy tale, doesn't it?  A real Heathcliff and Cathy courtship.

        (CALLISTA gives RICHARD another stink-eye
for this jab. There is a moment of tension, which RICHARD breaks-)

            

RICHARD
So, it turns out that Callista was just the spark I needed to light a fire under my career.

            

CALLISTA
I just reversed my normal process. Typically, I go out and find somebody who's a perfect fit for an existing position. With Richard, I shaped him until he fit the position, I knew he could get... if he put in the effort.

            

JACKIE
You shaped him... like a sculptor?

            

RICHARD
I was two hundred pounds of unformed, underachieving, unsuccessful guy with a law degree from Brooklyn Law School until I met Callista.

            

CALLISTA
Well, most of the changes were on paper... CV stuff. Careful editing.

            

SAM
Or creative writing?

            

CALLISTA
Yes, precisely. See, Richard? Sam gets it.

       (Now it's RICHARD’S turn to give his wife a look.)

            

SAM
Oh, I wouldn't count on me to “get” anything. But I do know that it's almost time to go out and take a look at that blue moon, and since a precise adjustment to the telescope is pretty tedious stuff when you're sober, I suggest we open the second bottle of this yummy wine.

            

RICHARD
Oh, god. Please don't! Let's switch to something far cheaper... like liquid gold? Or a bottle full of raw diamonds?

            

SAM
No, no. I won't have any leftovers. As we used to say in college, when our snoopy RA would check our rooms after a party, the best defense is no evidence!
        (to JACKIE)
Right dear?

            

JACKIE
I think you've had enough already.


SAM
Nonsense! I can still feel my aching foot!

        (SAM, who is indeed a little tipsy, removes the cork
        on the second bottle, which overflows.)

            

JACKIE
Oh Sam! The rug!

            

SAM
Oh, calm down. Red wine doesn't leave a permanent stain. Does it?

            

CALLISTA
If it does, I can guarantee the stain will be worth a lot more than the carpet.

            

SAM
Don't be so sure about that. This carpet used to be in the-

            

JACKIE
        (Shouts)
Samuel!

        (Everyone turns to Jackie.)

            

JACKIE
Go get a towel and take care of that spill! And some of that red wine remover also. You're embarrassing yourself.

        (SAM looking shamed, sets down the bottle
        and hobbles offstage to the kitchen.)

            

JACKIE
I apologize for Sam-

            

RICHARD
No need. At all.

            

JACKIE
He never could hold his drink. Even that thing he said about his dorm was nonsense. The strongest thing he drank in college was half-caff coffee. I remember one time he confessed to me that he was relieved that the drinking age went up to 21 right before we got to school... he didn't think he could “keep up” with the other boys. The wealthy ones. “Sailboat boys,” he called them.
   
RICHARD
Ah... yachting types. Callista and I tried to do the whole yacht club thing for awhile...those rich kids do tend to toss back a lot of booze after a race. It's why we never felt comfortable in that scene. Well, one of the reasons. 

JACKIE
What were the others?

            

RICHARD
It's a long story. I'll just say that, well, Andie was never one to just say “no,” to a boy who paid too much attention. Especially a boy who was raised to feel entitled. Andie would say “no” and then back it up with a punch and a couple kicks to the nuts.

            

JACKIE
Good for her! She sounds like quite a girl.

            

CALLISTA
        (Jumping in quickly.)
Andrea just turned 18, so she still can't legally drink in New York. I remember when she announced that she was applying to colleges in England, I asked her if one of her reasons was the fact that you can drink at 18 over there. She laughed at me and asked me how I could call myself her mother when I knew so little about her.

            

RICHARD
If she'd been a drinker, I would have known it. She never kept secrets.

            

CALLISTA
Maybe not from you.

        (Awkward pause, broken by the sound of a
        HUGE CRASH from the direction of the kitchen.)

            

JACKIE
Oh, god... Sam!

        (JACKIE heads quickly offstage towards the kitchen.)

            RICHARD
I'll help.

        (He follows Jackie offstage. CALLISTA is now alone.
        She takes out her phone.

        (LIGHTS DIM. SPOTLIGHT UP ON CALLISTA.)


CALLISTA
       (To phone.)
Hey sweetie. I'm sorry if I woke you.

        (Spotlight up on ANDIE.)

            

ANDIE
I wasn't asleep. I'm still out.

            

CALLISTA
Still? Places are still open?

            

ANDIE
Everything is open. It's Saturday night in London, mom. Well, Sunday morning now, but whatever.

            

CALLISTA
Are you having fun?

            

ANDIE
If I wasn't, I wouldn't still be out.

            

CALLISTA
Did you hear from your father?

            

ANDIE
He called. Sent a card. A little money.

            

CALLISTA
That's good.

            

ANDIE
He's getting married again.

            

CALLISTA
Oh really?

            

ANDIE
She's young. Cute. Too cute for Professor Zelig. Fantastic ass though.

            

CALLISTA
Andrea!! I mean-

        (ANDIE turns to face the AUDIENCE.)

        
           

ANDIE
        (to AUDIENCE.)
I know. That was a dick move. But I can't help myself. If I didn't poke her, she'd go right back to weather talk.
        (To phone.)
Yes, mom. I'm just teasing. I haven't even met her. I saw a couple pictures on Instagram, but they didn't include her ass.
        (To AUDIENCE.)
My mother gets paid to ask deeply personal questions of people she's just met. She matches big people with big jobs, but it's not good for her rep if they don't last long in the position, so she asks about everything: allergies, politics, dream vacations, pets, kids, hobbies, go-to porn categories. Okay, maybe not that last one. But my point is, by the time she's ready to tell some Wall Street firm that she's found their next Director for the Asian Region or whatever, she knows that person like a blind nun knows her rosary beads. But me, her own daughter? These are the types of questions I get:

            

CALLISTA
So, your classes are good? You're... okay with them?

        (ANDIE rolls her eyes at the audience.)

            

ANDIE
        (To AUDIENCE)
See what I'm talking about? It's like a robot watched a bunch of YouTube videos about how to have a conversation with a human. Or, better yet, it's like a conversation between a real person and someone who's just... not present, you know? Not really there?

 

When I was twelve, I told my mom that my name wasn't Andrea anymore. You know what she thought? She thought I was pissed off at my father and I wanted to change my name to Zoe, like she'd originally planned, just to hurt him. I didn't know what the hell she was talking about. She'd never even told me I was almost Zoe Zeigler, and I didn't know my birth father enough to be mad at him.

 

I cried so hard that night... not just because my mom had no idea who I was, or why I hated my name, but because she made the moment all about HER. I'd been building up the courage for months to tell her that I wanted a boy's name- ANDY- and she had no idea about any of it. Because she never saw me- the real me. Just the frozen memory of who I might have been, or who I was supposed to be. Some pink taffeta ballet lesson princess named Zoe.
        (To phone)
Mom, I'm gonna’ go now. I'm tired. I'm heading home. Call me in the morning if you want.

            

LIGHTS FADE TO DARK

            

END OF SCENE 2
           

 

SCENE 3

Lights up dimly on the main set. About an hour has passed. CALLISTA and SAM are on the balcony with the telescope as lights rise fully. SAM now sports a bandage on his head looking like a post craniotomy patient. RICHARD and JACKIE are on the couch, Lights will dim and rise as needed between the two locations. CALLISTA peers through the telescope.    `

            

CALLISTA
I'm not sure what it is I'm supposed to be seeing here.

            

SAM
Well, the moon, for a start. Surely, you can see moon.

            

CALLISTA
I can see it. I just... I mean, why isn't it blue?

            

SAM
Ah, well, as I was explaining to Richard earlier, it's not actually about the color. A blue moon-

            

CALLISTA
Sam, I'm just messing with you. I know what a blue moon is. An extra full moon in a month or in a season.

            

SAM
Oh, okay, yeah. Not many people know that. Or could define it so clearly.

            

CALLISTA
Zelig? My first husband? He's a professor. He was my professor. Astronomy and astro-physics. For a while I thought that might be my major, but honestly, I was just drifting. Then I got pregnant with Andrea and suddenly I had to make money. Whatever plans I might've made... well, at that point they were made for me.

            

SAM
I was an only child. My dad was always working, so he didn't really have much to do with me. But my mom- she made my path all mapped out. I was supposed to be a priest... maybe even a bishop.

            

CALLISTA
A Jewish priest?

            
SAM
My father was Jewish. Sam Stein Senior. My mother, Gertrude Minardi, was Italian Catholic. Is that like Modigliani? Or maybe that's the reverse of Modigliani... I dunno. Anyway, I hated church, but my mom was not a lady you said “no” to, so I went. Then, one Sunday, I'm sitting in the pew, and the priest is saying something about the heavens and the earth, the stars and the sun... something from the Bible obviously. And suddenly I say to myself... this old man is making no sense. No sense at all! And I realized that I wasn't going to have anything more to do with any of it. It just hit me. Wham!

            

CALLISTA
Like a moon. Hit by a comet.

            

SAM
Right. Exactly. Or like a kitchen countertop hit by an old drunken fool's head.

            

CALLISTA
Yeah, how is your head? 

            

SAM
Which one?

            

CALLISTA
You sure you don't want a pill? They're not exactly Percocets...but they're pretty strong.

            

SAM
Thank you, but no. I think taking anything on top of wine would probably kill me. Maybe if I get lucky, the pain in my foot and the pain in my head will meet in the middle, and they'll cancel each other out.

        (Pause)
           
CALLISTA
Hey, can I ask something that might be incredibly rude and intrusive? It's what I do for a living, so it's a hard habit to break.

            

SAM
I can't promise I'll answer, but shoot.

            

CALLISTA
What's the story behind those bottles of wine? I mean, really?

        (SAM looks at the ground, then up at the moon and
        sighs as lights dim on the balcony and rise fully on the living          room couch.)
       

RICHARD
Aren't you going to take a look at the moon?

            

JACKIE
Nah, it's cold. Besides, it's the same moon it always is.

            

RICHARD
But, isn't that why we're here? For a blue moon party?

            

JACKIE
Oh, please! That was just to get Sam to agree to invite you two. He never wants to have people over. His idea of a dinner party is schlepping outside to the Sabrett stand and getting a hot dog boiled in gray water. I think he’s Christos the hot dog guy best customer.

            RICHARD
I've been known to eat those on occasion too. I try to look away when the guy opens the tray though. That gray water is a bit disturbing.

            JACKIE
What's disturbing is what food like that does to a person's body. But I shouldn't talk I suppose... I go to so many museum events and fundraisers, sometimes I think all I eat is canapes and hors d'oeuvres.

            

RICHARD
Horse ovaries. That's what Andie and I used to call them. Sometimes, we'd be at some snooty rich people party, and I'd get Andie giggling so hard she could hardly breathe.

            

JACKIE
It sounds like you two are close. I was always much closer to my father as well. That can be hard on a mother...

            

RICHARD
Why do you say that? I mean... why do you say that about me and Callista?

            

JACKIE
Oh, little things. The way each of you speaks. When she talks about your daughter, she goes... stiff? And then sometimes she seems to drift away? And she calls her “Andrea,” while you say “Andie.”

            

RICHARD
Yeah, well... that's a whole thing all by itself.

            

JACKIE
It wasn't just drunk rich boys she pushed away, am I right? It was all the boys?

            

RICHARD
How'd you guess?

            

JACKIE
Please. I work with artists.

            

RICHARD
Fair enough.    

            

JACKIE
Your wife seems very... sophisticated. New York, London, high society functions. I'm surprised she has that particular issue with your daughter.

            

RICHARD
Are you asking why she's a homophobe?

            

JACKIE
Well, I... I mean I wouldn't-

            

RICHARD
She isn't. She's very progressive, politically. Socially.  Callista just... she has plans, and she wants things, and people, to fit into those plans. It's like... do you like to cook? Even with something I've made a hundred times before... I always just follow my taste buds, and it comes out a little bit different each time. Callista hates that about me... that I can start something, like a recipe, without knowing how I'll finish it.
       
           

JACKIE
Not at all. I'm terrible. It's one of the only ways I take after my mother.

            

RICHARD
Well, I love it. But I taught myself, and I never follow cookbooks. I just make it up as I go. Andi loved it.

        (Pause)

            

JACKIE
“How to Bake A Family.”

            

RICHARD
What?

            

JACKIE
It was a book. A picture book... the kind you read to kids at night. But it was written like a cookbook. A cup of Mommy, a cup of Daddy, a pinch of love... that sort of thing. Silly. I don't know why that sticks in my head.

            

RICHARD
Memories are like that. Things stick. (Beat) Things get stuck.

        (Lights dim on the living room and rise on the balcony.)

            

CALLISTA
Is she seeing someone? Getting help? I have some names if you'd like-

            

SAM
No. I mean... maybe. Thank you. It's just... it's never been something this big before. Not big- you know what I mean. Valuable. It started after we gave up on in-vitro. The third and last time. It was a stupid book... a baby book. We were at a restaurant... I stepped out for a cigarette, 'cuz I smoked back then. And when I came back, she hadn't paid the bill. She'd left her wallet at the apartment. Then I see this book, and I think... how'd she pay for that, with no wallet? Then I start noticing things... little things. Price tags still on.

            

CALLISTA
Baby things?

            

SAM
Yeah. Blankets. Little pajamas. Those knobs you put on the drawers so the kids can't get 'em open. I confronted her. She denied it, then she cried. Then she promised it would stop.

            

CALLISTA
But it didn't.

            

SAM
It's not that often... I don't think. Then, last year, the rug. The one I spilled on. From one of her events... it belonged to the museum. I almost blew my stack, but I kept my mouth shut... decided to see if that was the end of it. And I thought it was. Now this wine... is it really as expensive as you say it is?

            

CALLISTA
Yes. She said it was a gift, right? For the Whitney fundraiser.

            

SAM
Yeah, for all her hard work. Maybe that's what she tells herself. Maybe that's how she justifies it. I don't know.

            

CALLISTA
What will you do?


SAM
What can I do? I love her. She jokes about how I gave up a career for her, but it's the other way 'round. She was a brilliant artist you know. Incredible. But she threw her lot in with me, went for the family and motherhood bit. And I couldn't even give her that. It was me... there's nothing wrong with her, as far as having kids. It's all my fault.

        (Light dim on the balcony and rise on the
       living room couch.)

            

RICHARD
You know about the whole genderless pronoun thing? They, them?

            

JACKIE
Of course.

            

RICHARD
Well, when Andie was in high school, it was a game people played, to stay in denial, I guess. You say “they” instead of “her” so you're not really talking about two girls going to the prom, even though you both know full well that's what it is.
       
JACKIE
It's a paper-thin kind of denial, I guess.

            

RICHARD
That's all it takes, sometimes, to avoid reality. But then, the whole pronoun thing shifted... suddenly it was something the kids were embracing... it stopped being about denial and started being about identity. They and Them became part of the truth, instead of a way of talking around the truth.

            

JACKIE
I understand.

            

RICHARD
Callista didn't. It caught her off-guard. She'd had enough difficulty letting go of her notions of Andie dating boys, but then it wasn't just about who her daughter loved... but who she was. Army boots, short hair, all that. And no more Andie with an I-E, as Callista insisted on spelling it. Andy with a Y. Man... they'd never had such a screaming match. Right before he... Andy... left for London. And then for 6 months, they didn't speak. Not until just before Andy turned twenty.

            

JACKIE
That was... what, three years ago?

        (There is a pause as RICHARD looks at JACKIE)

            
RICHARD
How did?-

            

JACKIE
I'm sorry. That was rude. It's just... well, Sam is the real mathematician, but even I can do simple sums. You met Andie at the Jackson Pollack event. She was five. But, I was thinking, that event was 18 years ago, so she can't have just turned twenty, like your wife said. More like 23?

            

RICHARD
Yeah. You're right of course. It's-

            

JACKIE
What? It's what?

            

RICHARD
More denial. More... being stuck.

        (Lights dim on set as a spotlight rises on Andie; Alone.) 
       

ANDIE
        (To AUDIENCE)
My mother called me three times on the night and morning of my twentieth birthday, although I only picked up for the first two. That was three years ago. Since then, every year on my birthday, she's been making those same calls...a ritual, I guess. Richard's done his best, and mom's been through shitloads of therapy. But still... the phone calls.  The same conversations, over and over. Year after year.

 

You heard approximations of the two calls we had, but not the real things. We didn't talk about anything very important... neither of us wanted to waste time arguing. She didn't ask about my girlfriend Lylah, or about what it was like for me living as a gender-fluid person, no longer a young woman, but not sure about becoming a young man. We both figured we would have those conversations one day in the future.

 

But there was no future. Not for me, anyway. I was never much of a drinker, but since I was turning the big two-oh, I let Lylah and some other friends treat me to vodka shots. Then, leaving a club at three AM, I was too fuzzy to overcome my American habit of looking left when crossing the street. In England you need to look to the right. But I didn't, and the taxi that hit me wasn’t even speeding.

 

My mother's third call went to my voicemail. I never heard it, obviously. I was dead. Still am, really.

        (Spotlight fades to dark as light rise on the balcony.)
           

SAM
It's getting cold. Are you cold?

            

CALLISTA
I'm okay. You go in. I'll stay here for a minute. Can you make it by yourself?

            

SAM
Yeah. I think I'll be fine.

        (SAM exits the balcony, shuffling on his bad foot.
        CALLISTA now alone takes her phone from her pocket
        and dials. Light out on the balcony as they rise on
        the living room as SAM shuffles in.)

            

SAM
Freezing out there. 

            

JACKIE
Now you know why I didn't want to come out.

            

SAM
        (To RICHARD)
What about you? Don't care about the blue moon?

            

RICHARD
I saw the good stuff earlier. The moon would be a let-down after that, I think. Besides, it's way late... we should go.

            

SAM
Well, I'm glad we finally did this. Sorry I caused a scene and all that.

            

RICHARD
You're okay? Your head?

            

SAM
Head hurts, but yeah. I'll be okay. Everything will be good. Just need some sleep.

        (SAM kisses JACKIE on the cheek, then turns to Richard.)

            

SAM
I think Callista's making a call. Tell her good night for me.

        (SAM exits toward the bedroom, offstage.  CALLISTA enters from the balcony.)    

            

RICHARD
How did it go?

            

CALLISTA
With the telescope?

            

RICHARD
With the call.

            

CALLISTA
Oh. It went to voicemail. So, time to get going?

            

RICHARD
Yep. We better get started, too. It's a thirty-second walk to our apartment.

            

CALLISTA
I’m sorry I spent so much time on the phone.

            

JACKIE
No apologies needed. Thanks so much for coming.

        (RICHARD and CALLISTA exit.  Jackie looks around the                  apartment, then her eyes fall on the two empty bottles of                  wine.  She picks them up and drops them in the trash can by          the kitchen door. She then exits toward the bedroom                        offstage.Lights fade then pause. SFX: cell phone tone.)
           

ANDIE
        (RECORDED)
Hello, you've reached the phone belonging to Andie Zeigler. Or is it Andrew Zeigler? Well, leave a message for either of us.

            

CALLISTA
       (RECORDED)
Hello... Andrew. You must be asleep. I hope you had a good time tonight. Last night. I hope you have a great year being twenty. I hope... I hope that... despite all the mistakes I've made... despite all that I've... well. I guess we can talk tomorrow. I just want... one more chance, I guess. Sleep tight. I love you.


LIGHTS FADE TO BLACK

Misteri screen shot 2.png