Tunnel of Love
by C H A R L E S L . M E E
A little colorful rocking horse on wheels
a golf bag
a collage statue: a life-size figure of a man or a woman
made of a long-handled hoe
and a clothing iron for a head
and arms of clothes hangars
and legs of chairs and stools
and feet of bricks
and a torso of a fan and godknows what else
a toy bus with an open top where a kid can sit
a plastic pig with a pink saddle
a sewing machine
a wooden doorway lintel from an old house in Szechuan
sailing ship models
a TV set
the black wooden torso of a pregnant African woman
a puppet theatre
a carousel with a half-dozen little cars (not horses)
Buddha's head atop a waist-high Corinthian column with gold leaf
posters of Pluto and Donald Duck
a 17th century French landscape painting
a baby carriage or two.
A café table.
A park bench.
An old broken down sofa?
A wooden rowboat.
All part of the given mix,
with just a tremendous sense of pleasure in random life,
taking things as they are, with delight.
this play can be done with six or seven actors—
with just Ziyi and Robert played by the same two actors throughout—
and all the other roles doubled and triped and quadrupled.
Or it can be done with ten or twelve actors with minimal doubling.
Or it can be done with twenty-one actors.
looks around eagerly,
takes a seat in the wooden boat at center.
And, after a moment,
a man named ROBERT
enters from the opposite direction,
holding a video camera in his hand,
looking a little lost.
Are you Robert?
Ah, yes, yes, I am.
I am Ziyi,
I am a friend of your friend you were going to meet but
he can't come
for some reason.
But, will you have a coffee with me?
[he looks around,
a little confused]
thank you very much.
[as he steps into the boat
and sits next to her]
So, this is the Tunnel of Love.
Well, this is the boat.
And then it goes into the tunnel.
I don't know
it could be
this is what they call the tunnel.
Pascal sends his apologies but
it can't be done
he will hope to be in touch with you tomorrow.
And you are: Ziyi, did you say?
I'm happy to meet you.
[a waiter brings out two coffees
and gives them to Robert and Ziyi]
And you and Pascal:
you are a couple?
Oh, no, he's much too old for me.
I think he's forty.
ROBERT [who looks as though he might be forty himself]
You can understand.
I mean, not that I have anything against older men
quite the opposite in a way
only I was married to an older man
and he took such a patriarchal position
and then I
I found I liked it
I invited it
so we had almost a sado masochistic relationship
which I found I just loved
he had other lovers
he treated me like dirt
he wanted always to handcuff me to the bed
and it seems I not only fell into a sort of dependent role
but I had sought it all along
I'm trying to go straight
have a relationship with another grownup person
as a grownup person
if I have any relationship at all
and at the moment I don't have one at all
and don't want one
because I'm still recovering
I am recovering, too.
From a love?
Right. Of course.
I came here to forget.
or else just to remember how it is to be alone
and to be starting out in a new world
where anything could be possible again
where you don't know what might happen next.
Because when you come to the end
you need to get back on the horse.
I have moved into a new place
which I love.
Of course, I am very lonely
because after you live with someone
you are used to not being alone
even if you hate him and he is disgusting
and picks nothing up from the floor
so that even when you get out of bed in the morning
you slide on a pile of magazines and fall to the floor
and hit your head on the edge of the bed.
But my new place,
it's all mine.
I have a fireplace
a shaded lamp
a box of stationery
a lounge with a mess of cushions of all sizes
a very simple bed in a separate room
and of course my coffee table
made from an old pheasant trap.
Do you know what a pheasant trap is?
No, neither do I.
It looks like a large
what would you say?
a foot locker
two foot lockers together
but made of wood
with little bars, like a wooden bird cage
where you can keep your pheasants
I don't know why
maybe to keep them there
until you set them loose so you can shoot them
I don't know.
So you are looking for a young woman
half your age?
No, no, not at all.
I am not looking for a woman of any sort
because, frankly, I'd like nothing so much as to have a little rest.
Well, and then, if I ever do recover,
I am going to look for a woman my own age
because my wife
my former wife
was younger than I am
and I came to think, finally,
that it might have been the difference in our ages
for her to somehow know in her bones
just where I was in my life
but certainly emotionally
what I was thinking about
how I felt
and for me, too,
she being younger and at a different stage of life.
So now, if I am looking for anyone,
I am looking for someone my own age
so that I can just relax
and feel I am with a friend.
I understand, yes.
And probably part of the problem was
you're a little bit of a stuffed shirt.
Just a little around the edges.
I like a stuffed shirt
but many people find it boring.
Just a little bit.
I find it a little bit relaxing
because I don't feel so threatened.
With most men you know what they want
they are like animals with their appetites
they have only one thing on their mind
and you always know what it is
so you have to be all the time vigilant
and if they are exciting
well, that it makes it harder to stay vigilant
but if a man is a little bit boring
then you can let down your guard and relax
because you know at least you yourself are not going to make trouble.
Oh, good. Good.
We can have dinner.
We can have dinner together.
you'll have dinner with me?
yes, of course.
And then you can hear me sing?
How do you mean?
I am a singer.
I sing in the nightclub here
to make my living.
I will sing for you.
Oh, oh, well: wonderful.
[The lights sweep to darkness.
Music: the first few bars of an intro to a song.
Dim, smoky light.
ZIYI steps up to the microphone and sings.]
If the sky should fall into the sea
and the stars fade all around me
all because what we have known, dear
I will sing a hymn to love
we have lived and reigned we two alone
in a world that seemed our very own
with its memory ever grateful
just for you I'll sing a hymn to love
If one day we had to say goodbye
and our love should fade away and die
in my heart you will remain, dear
and I'll sing a hymn to love.
[As she sings
another couple enters
and dances to the music
several other couples enter—
one couple sits in the carousel cars,
another couple on the park bench,
one woman sits on the pig
while her guy sits on the rocking horse—
and they listen to the music.]
Now, we are in the tunnel of love—
that is to say,
here are many couples
in many relationships,
all on the same journey.
[When Ziyi finishes singing,
followed by an entranced Robert.
the couples have their scenes—
sometimes with the other couples hearing them,
and feeling a little embarrassed,
and sometimes with the other couples,
lost in kissing one another
or looking in a pocketbook for something,
or text messaging,
oblivious to the speakers.]
would you marry me
would you have a coffee with me
and think of having a conversation
that would lead to marriage?
a coffee with you
I would have a coffee with you.
You are free now?
Free now? No, well, no
I am busy.
OK then maybe later this evening?
Well, later this evening also I am busy.
Or late supper.
Or breakfast tomorrow
or lunch or tea in the afternoon
or a movie
or dinner the day after
Thursday for lunch
or Friday dinner
or perhaps you would go for the weekend with me
to my parents' home in the country
or we could stop along the way
and find a little place for ourselves
to be alone.
I don't think I can be alone.
Or by yourself?
You don't like to be alone by yourself?
No, I mean with you this weekend.
Or then just we could
have coffee over and over again
until we get to know one another
and we have the passage of the seasons
in the café
we could celebrate our anniversary
and then perhaps you would forget
that you are not married to me
and we can have a child.
don't you think
after we have been together for a year
it will be time to start to think of these things?
We haven't been together for a day.
You know, I have known many women.
I mean, I don't mean to say....
I mean just
my mother, my grandmother
and also women I have known romantically
and then, too, friends,
and even merely acquaintances
but you know
one meets many people
and it seems to me
we know so much of another person
in the first few moments we meet
not from what a person says alone
but from the way they hold their head
how they listen
what they do with their hand as they speak
or when they are silent
and years later
when these two people break up
I should have known from the beginning
I did know from the beginning
I saw it in her, or in him
the moment we met
but I tried to repress the knowledge
because it wasn't useful at the time
for whatever reason
I just wanted to go to bed with her as fast as I could
or I was lonely
and so I pretended I didn't notice
even though I did
exactly the person she was from the first moment
and so it is with you
and I think probably it is the same for you with me
we know one another
right now from the first moment
we know so much about one another in just this brief time
and we have known many people
and for myself
I can tell
you are one in a million
and I want to marry you
I want to marry you
and have children with you
and grow old together
so I am begging you
just have a coffee with me.
You'll have a coffee?
Yes. Of course.
When will you do this?
[He takes her hand.]
Do you believe in love at first sight?
No. Oh, no.
It's the truth.
So why do you tell me this?
Because perhaps this is how it is for us.
How can this be after all these years we've known one another?
Because sometimes you don't see the other person at first.
And then suddenly you do.
You sense something in one another.
You might not even know what it is.
In fact, probably you never know,
the connection is so deep,
beneath the place where language even starts.
And then, if you let the moment pass, it is past forever.
And what you never know is:
was this a great love or not?
Was this your one great love
that you've just missed.
Because each of us is given only one great love in life.
That's what all the poets have known.
We've forgotten it in our times.
I think we get too caught up in our daily lives.
But people used to know:
you are born,
you have one great love,
There's nothing else to life.
That's why, in Romeo and Juliet,
after they find their love,
Because that's the truth of it:
birth, love, and death,
that's all there is.
Your great love may come at the beginning of your life,
or in the middle,
or near the end.
Or not at all.
But there is only one
and if you miss it,
you've missed it forever.
Is this what you always say to women?
Are you free for dinner?
As you can see.
Everyone has to eat.
I'm not dressed.
I have something for you.
[he hands her a crimson satin slip]
This is a slip.
Everyone's wearing slips these days.
As a dress?
To go out?
I don't think so.
I like it.
[she steps out of her dress
and into the slip;
she wears, otherwise,
black boots, and socks that are falling down around her ankles;
or else, she takes off the dress and doesn't put the slip on,
wearing nothing else but stockings and red high heels]
Do you dance?
Of course I dance.
[he takes her by the hand
and they leave to dance]
I've been thinking about it
and it turns out
I love you
I didn't know that.
Neither did I
I look at you
and I think you're good-natured.
Yes, I really do.
And I think
if you think a person's agreeable and warmhearted
then I think there's something there you can't explain
that gives you real
you give delight to me.
That's what I'd hope for more than anything.
So would I.
And you're not sorry about it?
How do you mean?
That you find delight in someone
who doesn't seem to you in any other way
who doesn't perhaps have those qualities
that you can count on
for, you know, the solid, long-term kind of thing.
I would just take delight long-term.
So would I.
A man and a woman
at opposite sides of the stage,
computers in their laps,
do email to each other.
The man speaks his own email.]
my dear ella,
and in just four hours,
i'll be on a plane to calcutta...
and to YOU!
jesus, why have i waited so long??
i don't know. but it doesn't matter now, because i'm on my way at last.
and i'm sure i'll survive india.
for one thing, i have jacob's ladder on my side;
and besides that, i've got you,
even if you seem to have momentarily forgotten that fact.
my plane arrives at 5:15pm tomorrow evening, indian time (i think).
will you meet me at the airport?
see you soon...
[The woman speaks her email.]
I'm sorry to spring this on you Carlos
but I won't be at the airport.
I'm leaving Calcutta this morning.
I don't expect you to understand really.
Everything has just been getting worse and worse here,
and I'm freaking out.
I literally don't know why I'm doing what I'm doing anymore
and to put it bluntly, I've been miserable for months.
A couple days ago I heard about
a meditation teacher named Percy Musgrove—
he runs these retreats in Bodhgaya every year,
that small town in Northern India I was telling you about
where the Buddha was enlightened 2,500 years ago.
The retreat is ten days long-
in silence except for group and private meetings with Musgrove
and supposedly they, or so the brochure I got claims,
"include teachings on awakening
and comprehensive instructions on vipassana meditation."
(You probably know this stuff already
but it's the kind of meditation the Buddha supposedly practiced.)
If this isn't what the doctor ordered then it's hopeless.
Maybe it's already hopeless.
It's hard to believe that
some aging hippie meditation teacher could help me now,
but I don't know what else to do really.
Take care of yourself Carlos,
I really hope India treats you well.
i'm writing to you from the american consulate in calcutta,
waiting to see if i can get some money from my parents.
my wallet was stolen last night-
and my packet of handy wipes, too.
i arrived in calcutta four days ago.
when i didn't see you anywhere at the airport,
i made my way to the missionaries of charity to find you.
but, of course, you weren't there.
i was so exhausted they let me stay the night on an empty cot,
but i couldn't sleep because
i knew there'd probably been a dying person on it before me.
the next morning
one of the nuns helped me find a cheap hotel around the corner,
and that's where i've been ever since. mostly.
i woke up before dawn this morning with a killer hangover
on the riverbank beneath the howrah bridge,
about half a mile from my hotel room.
i didn't know who i was,
where i was,
or why i had no shirt on.
i felt like puking and i did—right into the holy ganges...
then i heard a noise and turned to see this old indian guy
squatting down a few feet away,
taking a dump on the beach while smoking one of those
fruity little indian cigarettes you like.
i couldn't figure out how i got there
but after a few minutes
i suddenly remembered some of what had happened last night...
at about 10pm i'd been sitting in the hotel lobby,
when a grungy italian dude with jet-black hair in a ponytail
came up and asked if i'd like to go have some fun.
we got into this rickshaw cart outside,
and the old driver dude pulled us along for over a mile
and then the italian dude led me inside this cheap hotel
and we walked down some stairs and entered this big, noisy,
dimly lit room packed with dancing westerners.
we sat down at a table in the corner and, after he ordered us beers,
he began telling me this whole story about how he ended up in calcutta
after receiving some divine inspiration to do missionary work or something.
i asked him how it was going,
and he said that he'd recently met the girl of his dreams.
and then he just started crying. really loudly.
and proceeded to tell me that he'd been with this girl for a few months
and was madly in love with her,
but recently he started suspecting that she was seeing another guy,
some dude from switzerland.
but she denied it
he said that when he woke up the next morning,
she was gone.
i finally asked him what her name was.
wiping away tears, he said, over and over again,
I won't deny what happened between Donatello and I,
and you couldn't possibly understand how guilty I feel about it.
But I didn't leave him and Calcutta for some other guy—
I left him because he was becoming so emotional and jealous
that he wouldn't have understood why things were over between us.
It didn't have anything to do with Mikael,
the Swedish aid worker visiting from Doctors Without Borders,
it was me—I was so depressed.
The best thing for me to do was to get out of there
before I simply ruined everybody's life.
I'm so sorry that you are upset.
Believe me though, it would have been even worse had I stayed.
I only just arrived in Bodhgaya and got your email—
the retreat starts in a little while so I have to go.
Wish me luck!
i'm sorry to hear how depressed you were,
but i'm still upset that you ditched me in calcutta.
i've been discussing it on the phone with jacob, though,
and he's helping me see things clearer.
I've been on retreat for the past ten days—
I never could have predicted how mind-expanding the whole thing would be.
I'm finally starting to understand
why you were always going to the Zen center in SF
and even some of the spiritual ideas you were always ranting on about.
I don't think I've ever been happier in my life.
When I remember what I was like before I came to Bodhgaya
it's like seeing a completely different person.
I have Percy Musgrove to thank for this.
He is such an incredible person,
I can't wait for you to meet him!
He lifted the veil and allowed me to see the world in a new way,
he allowed me to see the beauty of life for the first time ever.
Oh Carlos, it's so incredible...
It was really on the second day that everything changed for me.
Percy was giving a guided meditation to everyone (130 people or so)
and I was sitting with my eyes closed
and after five or ten minutes
I became completely absorbed by the sound of his voice.
It was taking me deeper and deeper inside myself,
leading me eventually to my own heart.
Then suddenly it was like I was injected with a drug:
an overwhelming flood of bliss began spreading through my body,
filling every limb and my entire being
with this total ecstasy that I had never known existed before.
Tears started streaming from my eyes
and somehow I just knew that everything I thought was wrong before,
everything I thought was fucked up about me and the world,
was no longer a problem.
Everything was ok.
No—not just "ok," that sounds kind of lame.
That night I went to talk to Percy
and when I told him about my experience he said,
"Wonderful, Ayoka! Keep going, my dear!"
Just like that.
The next eight days we practiced vipassana meditation.
I discovered I could sit meditating for hours without moving,
and not even struggle or want to get up.
I would just follow my breath in and out, in and out, in and out.
And without fail I would discover this sense of complete
peace and goodness.
It filled my heart with love over and over again.
I've decided to go on the next ten day retreat too.
How could I not?
Plus, Percy thinks it would "be a tragedy not to."
It starts tomorrow
so this will be the last email I can write for a little while.
i'm happy to hear that you had such an incredible experience
on the meditation retreat.
that's really great.
i've been in calcutta for over three weeks now.
thankfully, each day i've been able to call jacob,
who has been trying hard to keep me connected to the rungs.
yesterday morning he said to me,
"evan, in all my years as a personal counselor,
i've never had a co-explorer as brave as you."
it was cool of him to say that, but ella, i honestly haven't felt brave at all!
i usually feel pretty freaked out.
i wake up in the middle of the night
hearing all the usual noise outside
in the insanely packed streets of perpetual chaos,
and i wonder how the hell i ended up here.
there's no pepto-bismol here,
but the nice old woman who runs this hotel
has this gnarly little kid named manoj,
who goes out every morning to pick up stuff like
bottled water, snickers bars, and toilet paper for me.
manoj and i have a checkers competition going,
which has been fun. he's pretty good.
well, i'm going to go sit in the lobby and watch some more indian mtv...
it's amazing—something totally profound has just happened.
like i said in my email the other day, i've been talking a lot with jacob,
and our conversations so far have been very illuminating.
but in the past 24 hours, we've had an extraordinary breakthrough.
yesterday jacob told me that he thinks my need
to take so many showers since i got here
is a consequence of your having abandoned me,
and that it's the soul's way of speaking to me,
clueing me in to what's actually happening at a deeper level.
"the soul speaks in archetype and metaphor," jacob said.
but i didn't understand what he meant by this
until he explained that i am already beginning to reach for the sixth rung
(finding one's true destiny).
when i last saw him before i left for india,
he whispered in my ear
that i would discover my true destiny when i came here,
and i thought that meant being with you.
but that's not it at all.
this weird compulsion to constantly wash myself
is just a metaphor for my need to "cleanse myself" of YOU.
when jacob pointed this out,
i immediately knew on some level that it was true.
but i didn't understand—
if you and i are soulmates, then how can i just leave you?
how can i let go of the other half of my own soul?
jacob chuckled softly over the phone for a long time after i said this,
and then said, "evan, in order for a soul to evolve,
it must from time to time split into two parts that can go their separate ways.
then—only then—can they come together
and merge at a higher level than they were ever at before."
"but jacob, i love her!" i blurted out.
he took a deep breath and then just started shouting at me:
"the sixth rung is about growing as an individual
in order for this higher integration to happen!
and in order to do that, evan, you first have to let her go!
as hard as it will be, it's time to
LET HER GO!!"
i stayed awake all last night,
sitting in my hotel room as moonlight streamed through the window,
and at 6:00am i finally decided to let you go forever.
almost immediately i felt this totally deep sense of peace come over me,
and suddenly it was like all of my fear just disappeared.
i practically ran outside of the hotel
and spent most of today just walking around the crowded city,
marveling at the beauty of it all.
for the first time since i got here, i feel FREE!
ella, you know i'll always love you and care about you,
and that i understand what it's like to go through life's rough patches.
so i forgive you for cheating on me, ella.
in this life and in all others.
and maybe some day in another lifetime, you and i can start over again,
at a higher level of love and wisdom than we've ever been at before.
p.s. tomorrow i'm off to the himalayas!
Something terrible has happened.
The past few weeks were just a big lie——
it's as if my life has been shattered.
The retreat ended and everyone left, including Percy.
I can't stop crying.
I can't stop even now, emailing you—
the shame of writing everything down is so horrible.
But I have to.
At the beginning of the second retreat
Percy asked if I would like to work more intensively with him.
I had been making a lot of progress with the meditation practice
as I had told you
but he thought I could go even deeper.
I felt excited to have that much time with him
because he knows so much about spirituality—
and life in general, it seemed.
So I began to meet with him in the afternoons
for a half hour or sometimes an hour.
Usually we walked around the gardens of the monastery
or sat on the porch of his bungalow—
I would tell him about my experience and he would talk and talk,
it seemed like the wisdom of the ages
flowed from the very pores of his being.
Our conversations were so incredible,
some days I left them feeling like my head was exploding.
The truth is I had never felt so happy Carlos.
Then on the last day of the retreat
we were drinking tea in his room
and in mid-sentence he suddenly stopped
and looked me straight in the eyes for a few minutes...
began kissing me.
And one thing led to another,
and before I knew it we were in bed together...
Looking back on it it's so goddamn crazy!
He is probably forty years older than me
but then I thought about our talks,
how much care and understanding he had shown me,
and it began to seem so natural.
After it was over he turned around and said to me,
"This is just between us sweet Ayoka, ok?
It's important that nobody hears about this, let it just be our special secret."
Then he gave me an open invitation to visit him in England.
I said ok,
but thinking back on it
I realize how naive I was to what was really going on.
The next day when I went to the bungalow
I knocked on the door and a girl a couple of years older than me answered.
I asked if Percy was there
and she said that he had already left to go to Sarnath,
the town where the Buddha gave his first dharma teachings,
but that if I had a message or letter for him
she could take it to him
because she was also going there.
I asked her if she was going on a retreat and she said,
"Oh no, he's my dad!"
I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me.
I'm completely lost here Carlos and I'm all alone.
All I do is walk around these dusty streets
and hang around tibetan tea shops for hours and hours chain smoking,
unable to eat—
I think some of the locals are beginning to worry about me.
You have no reason to help me but I don't know what else to do.
Can you please please please come to Bodhgaya?
I need you...
there's no one else.
the man in the ticket booth stands up so he can be seen,
and he speaks.
He wears the official uniform of a ship's captain.]
THE TICKET BOOTH MAN
the mutual love of a man and woman who have come together
is of four kinds:
when a man under some pretext or other
goes in front or alongside of a woman
and touches her body with his own,
it is called the 'touching embrace'.
And when a woman in a lonely place bends down,
as if to pick up something
near a man who is sitting or standing
and, as it were,
pierces him with her breasts,
and the man in return takes hold of them,
it is called a 'piercing embrace'.
The ticket booth man
steps out of the ticket booth
and pulls up his shirt
where a dancing couple
has been tattooed on his belly,
and he does a belly dance
so that the couple on his belly: dances.
The others watch the belly dance
hesitantly at first,
as though trying to imitate the movements of the tattooed couple,
join in his dancing.
It could be that on the back wall
little miniature black silhouettes of embracing couples
raining slowly down from the heavens.
The scene is not so boisterous—
just very happy;
and it goes on for a while.
Robert and Ziyi join in—
the dance of the loving couple.
And then, after a few minutes,
one of the actors
pulls a curtain across the front of the stage—
the sort of curtain that lets us see the shadows of the dancers
behind the curtain
as the music continues,
we see the dancers' shadows dancing
We hear the voiceover of the ticket booth man.]
THE TICKET BOOTH MAN
When two lovers are walking slowly together,
either in the dark,
or in a place of public resort,
or in a lonely place,
and rub their bodies against each other,
it is called a 'rubbing embrace'.
When, on the above occasion,
one of them presses the other's body forcibly against a wall or pillar,
it is called a 'pressing embrace'.
When a woman, clinging to a man as a creeper twines round a tree,
bends his head down to hers with the desire of kissing him
and slightly makes the sound of sut sut,
and looks lovingly towards him,
it is called Jataveshtitaka, or the 'twining of a creeper'.
When a woman,
having placed one of her feet on the foot of her lover,
and the other on one of his thighs,
passes one of her arms round his back,
and the other on his shoulders,
makes slightly the sounds of singing and cooing,
and wishes, as it were, to climb up him in order to have a kiss,
it is called Vrikshadhirudhaka, or the 'climbing of a tree'.
When lovers lie on a bed,
and embrace each other so closely
that the arms and thighs of the one
are encircled by the arms and thighs of the other,
and are, as it were, rubbing up against them,
this is called
Tila-Tandulaka, or 'the mixture of sesamum seed with rice'.
And, when a man and a woman are very much in love with each other,
and, not thinking of any pain or hurt,
embrace each other as if they were entering into each other's bodies
either while the woman is sitting on the lap of the man,
or in front of him,
or on a bed,
then it is called
Kshiraniraka, or a 'mixture of milk and water'.
as the voiceover finishes,
the curtain is pulled aside
and Ziyi and Robert
are just getting out of "bed—"
which is to say,
they have been lying down in the boat,
and they sit up,
pulling on their clothes.
Ziyi gets quickly out of the boat
getting dressed as she gets out.]
Well, you see, this was a mistake.
[And now ROBERT stands up,
more slowly and uncertainly,
pulling on his pants.]
I don't mean to say I didn't have a wonderful time.
In fact, with you, the sex:
I'll say no more.
Because I like to be kissed
I had a wonderful time.
I'll say no more.
But, to be honest, this was not a good idea
except for the kissing
or unless one thinks it was not serious.
If one thinks it was just an escapade
[she gets back into the boat
to pick up another piece of clothing
and sits back down]
A fling. Yes.
And then, too, not just the kissing
let's be honest
I'm not ready even for a fling.
[he joins her in the boat]
No, of course not.
Well, I don't think I am either.
You liked making love with me?
Yes, I did. I certainly did.
So, that's no good.
We are damaged goods
both of us.
With the experiences we have had
we can't be with anyone just now.
The point is: we can't trust anyone.
This is crazy.
You could find yourself suddenly in a relationship with someone
all over again
and you don't know anything about him
so you are just falling into the old patterns
because you are doomed
to repeat who you are over and over again
you don't know who you are.
So, forget about it.
I am going to take you somewhere
and drop you off.
Where do you want to go?
Well, I don't know.
It seems you are a little bit helpless.
Well, I just arrived, you know,
things happened so
I don't actually know quite where I am.
How does this happen?
You think I am promiscuous?
No. Certainly not.
Do you think I just sleep with any man the moment I meet him?
I don't know.
It's not the sense I have of you.
I mean I even thought possibly
there was something about me in particular.
Are you just sleeping with everyone
and spreading death by virus wherever you go?
No, certainly not.
I haven't been interested in any sort of intimacy of any kind
since I separated from my wife.
But then, with you,
here is a wonderful person.
stepping out into the unknown
taking a chance
I should take a chance.
Not be afraid myself.
The man I used to love
would say to me from time to time
don't you think you should go home now for a while
to visit with your parents
because he didn't think where he and I lived was our home
and because he wanted to have a fling
and even to have his fling in the bed we slept in
because he wasn't afraid of anything
and sometimes I would come home—because it was home to me—
and he would be there with a mistress
and I was expected to make conversation with her
and I did because—what did she know?
she must have been as confused as I was—
and sometimes he would even expect me to take his mistress out for a walk
because he was expecting another lover
and so his mistress—is this what people say,
these days still: his mistress?—
Yes. You could.
his mistress and I would go for a long walk
and sit in a café drinking coffee
while my husband was making love with someone else
who could do this now that you think back on it?—
why would I live like that?
but the one thing that is for sure is
if I am so untrustworthy a person
so unable to look out for myself
for sure I don't want to get mixed up with another man
before I know what I am doing
and what just happened if it wasn't that?
And I myself: in the same way
I married a person because I fell in love
but I don't know with whom or what.
She was very beautiful and smart and quirky
and she seemed stable
not a crazy person
because I had had some hot romances before
but with women who were crazy
because I like a passionate person
and it turned out I was always falling in love with crazy people
who would fly off the handle and curse and scream and throw things
I do that myself.
and, of course, sometimes it must have been my fault
because, partly, I was cool and rational
in a way that would drive any normal person crazy
but also I think I chose people who were erratic and unpredictable
because I was so rational
and I wanted someone who would take a sudden turn
you know and take me to some surprising place
and then only later did I discover that people who did that
are often crazy people
they take these unexpected turns all the time
and you don't always appreciate it
you wake up in the morning
and find a note on the pillow saying
"I'm going to see Ulu, going to see Ulu,
going to see Ulu Skrebenski"
and you don't know whether it's a poem of a kind
or she is just feeling really light-hearted
or she is already drinking at seven o'clock in the morning
and then when we stayed in a hotel
and she ripped up the pillow cases so we could take turns
tying one another to the bedposts
and she had her period so she made sure she got blood on her fingers
and reached back up behind the headboard of the bed
and streaked the wall with blood
or sometimes when she was just happy
she would throw dishes
dish after dish against the wall
just because she felt a little bit abandoned
You'd like to do that.
So when I found a stable person at last who was also sexy
I thought: ok, at last, I've found a person I can marry
and that was the fatal thought, I think,
"I've found a person"
which is to say, I'd found a kind of person
a category of person I felt good with
not always sitting on the edge of my chair
wondering what might happen next
someone I could just feel
OK, this is going to be a quiet evening at home
and so I married her
and it's still not clear to me if my mistake was thinking categorically
or, on the other hand,
if the mistake was just that the category was wrong:
or if the mistake was just thinking at all
instead of following my instincts
because I think sometimes I think too much
and not always very clearly or intelligently
and I'd be better off just to say:
oh, right, good, okay, hot, go for it
and live life moment to moment
without thinking about the consequences
weighing and balancing
trying to use a lot of forethought
because that kind of thing always puts you living in the future
which we can't predict
and know nothing about
and simultaneously takes us out of the present
where we are living
and might know something about it if we only paid attention.
So, as you can see,
I don't think I'm a person
who ought to be getting involved with anyone else either.
I mean, my intentions are not so clear either.
And it's no good to be involved with someone
whose intentions are not clear.
Although, I have to say,
if we were involved with one another
I don't think I'd ever tell you you ought to go home.
we are saying goodbye.
So, I'll drop you off
so you don't get lost.
Your friend you were going to meet.
Right, of course. Pascal.
And maybe on the way
we could take a walk in the park
parting from each other
it isn't so abrupt
so even it almost seems so rude
OK. Yes. We could do that.
Just have another coffee
and then say goodbye.
OK. Good. Yes. We could do that.
All the others have witnessed this scene
and now they have their scenes:]
I'm glad to see you again.
So you say.
I don't know how it could be true.
How could it not be true?
Because if you were glad to see me
you would never have left me.
Of course I would.
if you love someone
you don't leave them.
You hold onto them for dear life
you hold onto them forever
unless you are a stupid person
which I don't think you are
what else can I think
except you never really loved me
I was just another one of your flings along the way
whereas I loved you
if you love someone
you don't let them go
And yet you did.
I never did.
if one day you are going to leave me
then go now
don't just keep tormenting me.
It's not that I left you.
I didn't leave you.
And yet, you are not with me.
What else happened?
It turned out
we were at different points in our lives
we couldn't go on.
I could have gone on.
Shall we talk about something else?
in the world
people have wars and they die
entire countries come to an end
Etienne has died of cancer
I didn't know.
How could you?
there it is.
And one day I will die
and so will you.
you could leave me.
I don't understand.
I will never understand
how it is if you have only one life to live
and you find your own true love
the person all your life you were meant to find
and your only job then was to cherish that person
and care for that person
and never let go
but it turns out
you can still think
for some reason
because this or that
you end it
you end it forever
you end it for the only life you will ever live on earth.
Maybe if you would be reincarnated
and you could come back to life again and again a dozen times
then this would make sense
to throw away your only chance for love in this life
because you would have another chance in another life
but when this is your only chance
how can this make sense?
Do you think
there will ever be a time
when we could get back together?
Not ever at all
this is so hard for me to accept.
More than anything
I love to lie in bed with you at night
and look at your naked back
and stroke your back slowly
from your neck to your cocyx
and let my fingers fan out
and drift over your smooth buttock
and slip slowly down along your thigh
to your sweet knee
only to return again
coming up the back of your thigh
hesitating a moment
to let my fingers rest in the sweet valley
at the very top of your thigh, just below your buttock
and so slowly up along the small of your back
to your shoulder blade
and then to let your hair tickle my face
as I put my lips to your shoulder
and kiss you and kiss you and kiss you forever
this is what I call heaven
and what I hope will last forever
[SHIZUKO stands to leave]
I love you, Catherine.
I have never loved anyone in my life as I have loved you
and I know I never will.
But we cannot be together.
Catherine watches her go.]
Okay, what's your problem?
What's my problem?
Basically, you're not giving me the time of day.
You came on to me at first....
Came on to you?
Invited me to join you for a coffee....
That was not coming on to you,
that was being polite.
Oh, there's where I went wrong.
See, I thought you kind of liked me
and then, I don't know,
you turned into some kind of prick teaser or something.
Or, I don't know,
you didn't trust me for,
as far as I could see,
no reason at all.
No reason at all?
Where should I begin?
Suddenly you're having nightmares,
I think I was being moderately okay
just making conversation
that could have led just to a cup of coffee or something
although I have to admit I was hoping it might lead beyond that
I don't know
because, frankly, I fell for you.
You fell for me?
You fell for my what?
You don't know me.
You don't know anything about me.
I'm a total stranger.
You know how I look, that's it.
This is how you fall for women?
You fell for my what?
I fell for your kindness.
And then I thought you got scared.
But I see now that I was wrong.
You're a stranger to me.
Sure. I know.
it used to be in the olden days
I don't know
people would meet at church socials
or some harmless place I don't know
where they could talk without anyone feeling frightened
and now you have to what
meet through a personals ad
or walk up to someone in a bar
how would I ever meet you
even when I'd really like to meet you
and have a chance to get past
just going by appearances or first impressions
get to know each other and maybe
I don't know
fall in love
I don't mean to say
like I don't mean to come on too fast all over again
but I did feel that first moment
when you were so kind
I mean I felt that was your total person
all at once
your whole thing revealed in a millisecond
and sometimes you can tell that about a person at first glance
but I take it back
I take it back
because I don't want to like
make you uncomfortable.
Where I come from
I couldn't trust anyone.
Because they would always come on to me.
That's the problem for beautiful women.
Anyhow, that's what they did.
So, you come on to me
like some kind of moron
and I find it hard to get past that
even to see if you might not be a total fool
through and through
you know what I'm saying?
So you're saying:
another cup of coffee would be out of the question.
If you were just a little less pushy
I might do it.
this is how you are.
You are so not cool,
do you know that about yourself?
Still, the thing you do know about me
is I respond well to kindness
which would seem to indicate that I, too,
like you, have some good instincts.
And a person might think, well,
there's a place to start,
there's the groundwork
maybe it's worth seeing what could be built up from there.
I guess there used to be a time
if a guy would see someone like you
there might be the circumstances that would be appropriate
where he could come up to you
do you want to dance?
he watches her go, and then he goes out in the opposite direction]
You say you can't go on,
but you always do go on.
Because how it is:
when you feel you might be losing me
as you have felt over the Christmas holidays
then you run to me
and we make love
over and over and over again
until we are exhausted
and you feel sure that you have me again
and so that makes you feel confident
that you can drop me and go back to Yvette
because she is your wife and
by then, you are afraid she doesn't love you any more
because she is jealous
or she is angry
or she feels lost or left out
and so you go back to her
and I guess you make love to her over and over and over
until she feels reassured
and I am, by this time, crazy because you have dumped me
and so you run back to me
and you make love with me over and over and over again
until you have me again
and then you dump me again.
So it turns out,
the way to keep you
is to make you feel anxious and uncertain
and if I show my love for you
I lose you.
So I have to behave backwards:
if I love you I have to reject you,
and if I don't love you I should seem to love you,
so that I have to live an opposite life
and I can never show you the love I really feel for you
because if I do, I will lose you,
and this is what people call crazy
and if you do it and do it over and over and over
you become crazy.
Because our whole love for one another
is not just a thousand times coming together
but also a thousand rejections.
Not to mention you
because you are already crazy
running back and forth
never doing what you might want to do
but only going where anxiety drives you
back and forth back and forth
like a ping pong ball.
Edmund feels OK: ping
Yvette feels OK: pong
Edmund feels OK: ping.
So this can't go on
or we will all end up in the hospital with padded walls.
So I am being decisive.
Edmund, you know you are the only one I love
why do you be idiotic about Yvette
when you know she doesn't matter to us.
How can you say this?
Because you know it's true.
I think you are lying to me, BehnAm.
You are always lying to me
because you wish something would be true
but it isn't.
You are a weak spineless person, BehnAm,
feckless, feeble and ineffective.
But I love you like a cicada.
Like a grasshopper you mean?
Do you know what a cicada is?
I thought I did.
There was a time long ago, in prehistoric times
when cicadas were human beings
back before the Muses were born.
And then when the Muses were born
and song came into being
some of these human creatures were so taken by the pleasure of it
that they sang and sang and sang.
And they forgot to eat or drink
they just sang and sang
before they knew it,
And from those human creatures a new species came into being
and they were given this special gift from the Muses:
that from the time they are born
they need no nourishment
they just sing continuously
caught forever in the pleasure of the moment
without eating or drinking
until they die.
This is the story of love.
If you stay there forever in that place
you die of it.
That's why people
can't stay in love.
But that's how I've loved you.
And how I love you now.
And how I always will.
I thought you were a person who would give yourself entirely to me
you said you were the sort of person who
if you were betrayed in love
you would throw rocks
through the window of the person who betrayed you
and I called up all my old lovers when we got together
and said I was no longer available
you insisted your family was your family
and your friends were your friends
and there was no reason to drop family and friends
because it had nothing to do with love affairs
and friendships don't have to end when you stop sleeping with someone
and when I told you I felt jealous
however irrational that was
you said you couldn't be controlled by my irrationality
and you would continue to see your friends
what if I didn't
that was my choice
so when I said then I would see my old lovers
you said, why would you do that, you said you didn't want to
I said I will do it if you do
you said that was infantile
I was doing it just to get back at you
whereas you were doing it because you wanted to do it
and I said then I want to do it, too, I always wanted to do it
and you said you never wanted to do it
I said I got the idea from you, I think it is a good idea
I will do it, too
and you said, if you do, I will leave you without thinking twice about it
you will leave me, I said
you will leave me?
yes, you said,
because you are an adolescent
and I only want a relationship with an adult, you said,
so I said, fine, fine, forget it
see whoever you want
have your marriage if that's what you want!!!
you ignore me,
you neglect me,
you're always running around with these sluts
I beg your pardon?
Actresses, then, actresses!
I love you, Habib,
I was always the only one who ever loved you.
You will end up alone and lonely
because you can't know what it is to be loved.
You think I am clinging and demanding
And neurotic, frankly.
Let's be honest.
YVETTE [to Habib]
You think you'd like to get rid of me
but I could take care of you forever, Habib!
Sometimes, Habib, I think you are a good person
if only sometimes you wouldn't try so hard
if you would just relax
let life come to you
take it as it is
don't always be on the prowl
because, in the end,
all we have is one another
you're not a boy any longer
you won't live forever
and what you will have had will be your friends
these days like today
where nothing special happens to you
but you have been with me
[she is weeping now]
I don't want to go through life
always bickering, always unhappy
I could be content just to have a glass of wine
to hear you sing
I don't care what kind of voice you have
I love you
I can be with you as long as we have on earth
it's not so bad
just to love and be loved
On again off again!
On again off again!
You are a lunatic!
I'm a person who says what I feel
when I feel it.
With me you always know where you stand.
You can count on it.
That is a kind of certainty and security
that is almost impossible to come by in this world.
We could have another chance, Habib!
Would you stop this holding on to me?
Can't I take a breath?
Can't I go out to dinner?
You are a married woman!
This is disgraceful!
Can't I do my job without you calling
tracking me down,
you'd think you were my wife
asking me, can you see me now,
can I come with you,
where are you now?
Who are you with?
Are you having an affair?
You're more than neurotic
[Marnisha, the cook,
enters wiping her hands on a dish towel,
stands there listening to Habib.]
with your crying and your pleading
and what else
your taking pills to go to sleep
pills to wake up.
I have to live my life,
you would suffocate me,
you would pull me down and bury me alive!
I wish you were dead!
So this is how people speak to one another these days?
Who wants you?
With a man, every act of love is an act of rape.
A man will swim through a river of snot,
wade nostril-deep through a mile of vomit,
if he thinks there'll be a friendly pussy waiting for him on the other side.
He'll screw a woman he despises,
any snaggle-toothed hag,
and furthermore, pay for the opportunity.
A man will fuck mud if he has to.
And why is that?
Because every man, deep down,
knows he is a worthless piece of shit
hoping some woman will make him feel good about himself.
Eaten up with guilt, shame, fears and insecurities
obsessed with screwing,
to call a man an animal is to flatter him;
a man is a walking dildo,
a completely isolated unit,
trapped inside himself,
incapable of love, friendship, affection or tenderness
his responses entirely visceral, never cerebral
his intelligence a mere tool of his drives and needs;
a half-dead, unresponsive lump of flesh,
trapped in a twilight zone halfway between humans and apes.
Why did god create man?
Because a vibrator can't mow the lawn.
I went to the County Fair.
They had one of those "Believe It or Not?" shows.
They had a man born with a penis and a brain.
Why were men given brains larger than dogs?
So they wouldn't hump women's legs at cocktail parties.
My feelings about men
are like a Jew just released from Dachau.
I watch the handsome young Nazi soldier
fall writhing to the ground with a bullet in his stomach
and I look briefly and walk on.
I don't even need to shrug.
Men pretend to be normal
but what they're doing sitting there
with benign smiles on their faces
is they're manufacturing sperm.
They do it all the time.
They never stop.
They are suffering from testosterone poisoning.
You know what they say:
What do you call a man with half a brain?
Why do men name their penises?
Because they want to be on a first-name basis
with the person who makes all their decisions.
What do you call the useless bit of fatty tissue
at the end of a penis?
Will all these people be staying to lunch?
I wouldn't eat a lunch you made
if it were the last piece of uncooked shit on the planet.
What is it with you women
you think men can't live without you.
Have you noticed
how uncomfortable it is for most women
to put their elbows on the table while they eat?
Because the table is too high for them.
But for most men,
it is uncomfortable not to put their elbows on the table
because they are taller.
But it's not proper to put one's elbows on the table.
And why is that?
Because etiquette is a system that defines as appropriate
what is natural for a woman,
and defines as inappropriate what is natural for a man.
So, of course,
perhaps one should not be so surprised that pornography,
which appeals to men
while soap operas and romance novels,
the female equivalent of pornography
And so, of course, men have become ashamed that they are men.
And so women control men as they wish, at their whim,
they get men to do whatever women want them to do.
The women get the men to do the dirty work, the violence,
the bad stuff
whatever women want but don't want to do with their own hands
so they can have whatever they like
and blame the men for it.
[A woman stands, facing front.
A man steps in front of her,
his back to the audience
and begins to throw himself repeatedly to the floor
in front of her.
After a few minutes,
she throws herself to the floor, too.
But she does it only a few times,
finally standing up,
looking at him,
and turning around and walking away,
leaving him to go on until he is exhausted.
Then 6 guys line up at front of stage
with their backs to audience
while 6 women dance for them
lonely, sad unison dance
while a soprano sings.
A woman is lying on the floor.
A guy leans down and locks lips with her
and raises her from the floor into a flamenco-like dance
with lips permanently locked in a kiss
they go on and on and on and on and on
until he passes out and falls to the ground in a heap
she turns to another guy and locks lips with him immediately
and they dance
but she stops them, interrupts the dance
to tell him he is dancing the wrong way
they lock lips and dance again
she stops to correct him again
until she spins around, grabs the sleeve of his shirt
and rips it
then he is pissed
they argue and argue and argue and argue and argue
till the guy turns front and takes a dance posture
and flexes his bicep
he flexes his bicep to the music
5 guys join him in bicep flexing dance
all in unison
then they all do a hip thrust
then turns upstage and wiggle their butts
(not SO macho)
they move through other male display dance moves
finger snapping, etc
then three women step up and do the same male display moves
another thing to steal:
a guy spins a top on the stage
then he flings himself down on the stage
and spins like a top, too,
on his back, side, etc etc
deafening music kicks in.
Purcell or Lully.
And the scene explodes:
six convertibles made of pink vinyl,
like the soft sculptures of Claes Oldenburg,
It is a wedding parade.
The bride and groom step out of their car
They are joined by the rest of the cast, who dance, too.
And, if the music is not Purcell or Lully
but some song with lyrics,
then it may be that the entire cast sings while they dance.
And that sometimes,
while the wedding couple dances,
the rest of the cast stands facing forward
A guy comes in wearing a medieval costume,
riding on a horse on wheels,
accompanied by a drummer.
Celebratory wedding guests.
Another guy, wearing a wet suit with suspenders,
and holding a wash tub around his waist
with a shower head over his head
carries a placard saying: Don Quixote.
Another guy wears a crown of flowers
and struts proudly around.
Another guy is
sitting on the shelf above the tank of water,
when we hear a loud bang,
and the shelf opens suddenly
and the guy falls into the tank of water.
Of course, he gets out of the water,
and climbs back up on the shelf,
and this happens over and over.
There are accordions everywhere,
probably playing really badly.
oiled head to toe,
enter and wrestle.
Wedding guests at a party.
A Comedie Francaise actor in full eighteenth century garb
declaims a speech from Moliere
and fences with an enemy
while another guy sings a song.
A guy sings a love song into a mike
while wearing a roller blade on only one foot
going in circles.
How far can this go?
A few 20 foot tall puppets?
Dinosaurs on stilts?
Six dancers with horses' heads or donkeys' heads?
A guy in a halloween costume
with a green long-nosed head
and an orange silk scarf coming out of its nose?
A guy with a mask that looks like a monster
out of the Ramayana?
Another guy puts on 15 shirts
and 8 pairs of pants
then has a fit getting out of them
throwing them around
making pile of laundry and diving into it.
It could be that a woman has a similar clothing fit, too.
Another woman in an elegant black dress
with a blood red face
does a wild wild dance
and smears red lipstick all over her face
in time with the music
and then throws herself to the ground on her back over and over and over
and kicks and writhes wildly on the ground on her back
like a cockroach frantic on its back
Edmund goes offstage for a moment
and returns with a door on wheels.
He wheels it out,
looks at BehnAm,
and slams the door (which is miked to resonate).
BehnAm looks at the door,
looks at Edmund,
looks at the door,
walks over and slams the door.
Edmund slams the door.
BehnAm turns and leaves.
Edmund slams the door.
BehnAm returns and slams the door and leaves.
Yvette enters and slams the door.
A performance piece of opera and door slamming.
All the other couples
come out and slam the door in turn
over and over
watching one another do it.
During all this ruckus,
or at some other point in the play,
the following texts can be projected on a wall or walls
as though they are text messages being sent back and forth,
or they can scroll across the front of one of the carnival booths
like a news ticker in lights.]
I love you because you talk more than me, even though you think you talk too much at times.
I love you because you always tell me how lucky you are to be with me.
I love you because you always make me feel loved.
I love you because there's always something new that you wanna try/do.
I love the way you hold your arms around me when we go to sleep at night.
I love the way you dance and the way you look at me when you do.
I love you because you let me into your life and heart even though you've been let down by others.
I love you because you always excuse yourself even though you don't have to 90% of the times.
I love you because if you could you'd make love to me anywhere & anytime.
I love you because you always know if there's something wrong with me.
I love you because you're beautiful when you sleep.
I love you because every time you touch me you make me tremble.
I love you because you never pretend to be something you're not.
I love you because you sound so cute when you say "sug min kuk."
The first thing you learned to say in my language.
I love you when you sometimes speak french to me even though I don't understand a word.
I love you because you love sex so much.
I love the way you try to calm me down when I'm stressed.
I love you for wanting to make love to me until 2-3am even though you have to get up around 6 am for work.
I love you because you're not trying to change who I am.
I love you because you are not afraid to cry.
I love you because you say I look beautiful even though I just woke up and, according to myself, look like hell.
I love you because you always sound so happy when you answer the phone
and hear that it's me who's calling you.
I love you because you showed me that not all men are the same.
I love you because you touch me in a way no one has ever done.
I love you because you don't take anything for granted.
I love you because you're not afraid to talk about the future.
I love you because you chose to be with me of all the women in the world.
I love you because you respect that I don't like when you drive too fast.
everyone dances out
we are left with an anguished couple
still holding their champagne glasses
from the wedding reception.
There are streamers and other wedding decorations
scattered everywhere on stage.]
How could you just suddenly: disappear?
I thought you did.
And I thought you loved me.
Well, I do love you.
[The other characters exit.]
Oh, yes, you love me,
but you don't love me in that way.
I never pretended to love you in that way.
I can't go on in life
without being loved in that way.
A lot of people are never loved in that way.
How can you tell
if you are really alive
if you're never loved in that way?
What do you mean: in that way?
Unless I thought you were crazy for me
so crazy for me you couldn't stand it
you just had to kiss me
you just had to knock me down and kiss me
because you couldn't stand it
that you laughed at my jokes
or thought I was so cool
or like said really intelligent things that made you think
maybe not all of those things
but even just any one of them
just one of them
You see what I mean, not even one.
Why did you live with me, then?
I thought I loved you
but I guess I didn't know what love was.
I liked you in a way
but in some ways
or at least in the ways I thought guys could be likeable
and the rest of it I thought maybe that's just
how guys are
and as time went on maybe it wouldn't matter so much
but then I find it does matter
I can't help myself
some stuff you do
I just can't get over it
and the stuff I liked:
that I thought you were a responsible person
solid and dependable
all those turned out not to be true at all
so what am I left with?
It's not your fault.
No, it's not.
Or maybe it is
that you weren't thinking very clearly
or being very focussed when you made your choice
and a lot of people were depending on that choice being really clear
or at least I was
Being sorry doesn't cut it somehow.
I know people always say they're sorry
and probably they are
and I don't think it means nothing
I'm sure it means something
and it's essential for people to feel it
and to say it
in order for life to go on at all
the truth is
it doesn't cut it.
I'm sorry: but it doesn't.
[she turns and leaves;
he throws up his hands
and leaves in the other direction]
The way it is now:
dogs are better than men.
At least dogs miss you when you're gone.
Dogs look at your eyes.
And they feel guilty when they've done something wrong.
You can force a dog to take a bath.
Dogs mean it when they kiss you.
Dogs understand if some of their friends can't come inside.
Dogs are already in touch with their inner puppies.
How can you tell a man's sexually excited?
What should you give a man who has everything?
A woman to show him how to work it.
What do men have in common with floor tiles?
If you lay them right the first time,
you can walk all over them forever.
What is a man, really?
A man is a vibrator with a wallet.
A man is an unresponsive lump of flesh
obsessed with screwing,
incapable of empathy,
a half-dead isolated unit that will swim a river of snot,
wade nostril-deep through a mile of vomit
if he thinks there'll be a friendly cunt waiting for him at the other end.
is a creature who will fuck mud if he can.
And then these women wonder why
a man would prefer masturbation to marriage.
I know some guys who like electronic masturbation.
You know, you take some electrodes
and some low-power, carefully controlled electric current,
run that through your genitals
and you'll get some very interesting tingling and
And why do you want to do that
when you can masturbate with your hand?
You ask that because you've never done it.
You'll get something very different with electronic stimulation.
You get yourself a stereo audio amplifier,
with 1 to 5 watts per channel of output power.
A tone generator of some sort.
An electronic music synthesizer like Casio or Yamaha.
You don't want to use an electric guitar,
which could put a current through your whole torso.
You set the amp control to MINIMUM.
Set your tone source to produce a continuous tone of about 440 Hz:
that's the "A" above "middle C" on a musical keyboard.
Insert the small loop electrode just inside your urethra.
SLOWLY turn up the amplifier's volume control.
Then you can play the "A above middle C" on the left channel,
and play the "A" an octave lower on the right channel.
Or play "C" on one channel
and the adjacent "C sharp" on the other channel.
Play a steady
tone on the left channel
and do a downward "glissando" on the right channel.
You know: fool around.
It's just like any other kind of sex:
it's not always the same.
Of course, you get into an area like this
it's hard to judge.
Sometimes you think,
But then you think:
well, I mean: women's lives, too.
I had a friend:
when she first met her husband
he was preoccupied with young girls.
All the time.
Paul. His name was Paul.
Looking at pictures of them.
Looking at them on the street.
To her it seemed strange.
And, then, the first time she helped him get a young girl into the car
to take her home,
my friend was,
a knot in her stomach,
that sick excited sensation.
After that it was easy.
I don't mean she doesn't still get excited,
but it was never again like the first time.
The first time is always different, with everything.
You might say
I'd never do such a thing
how do you know?
you say: because that's not the kind of person I am
But you don't know.
Because one day you will do something
and then you will find out what sort of person you are.
How a human will turn out
they just turn out how they do
and then you know
but you don't know before
and then, later on, maybe they change their minds
and they turn out another way
and then they turn out another way yet again
and you never knew
because the human creature is a surprising, fluid event
oh, you can say, bla bla bla
but I don't think so
you didn't know how Elizabeth Taylor was going to turn out
you didn't know how Simone de Beauvoir was going to turn out
you didn't know how Celine Dion was going to turn out
neither did her mother
because, if you did, you would have been able to predict feminism
which you didn't
because you didn't know
This guy said to me one time
I can't pin you down
like a butterfly, you mean?
I don't know he said
well, I said,
I don't think I want to be pinned down.
One time I was offered to my masters
I was going to be whipped in that humiliating position—
arms and legs spread—
and I was perspiring
my body was taut with the pain
but pain turning into pleasure
and then when Pierre began to put the pincers on my breasts
well that always makes me suffer a great deal
and I thought I couldn't endure it
but when I was suspended by the handcuffs
and I felt the pain in my thighs
and I couldn't turn my head to see anyone in the room
and Fiona put something on me
I don't know what it was
an electric drill and miniaspirator of some kind
while she was touching me with such a soft hand
and the sugar-sweet smell of her perfume filled my nostrils
so that it was very sweet and unbearable at the same time
this dizzying shiver shot through me
and I was afraid I was going to piss myself with pleasure
like a stark beginner
my thighs were trembling
I was soaked
I was soaked
so that I thought for a moment that the juices ran as far as my thighs
There was a time I thought after the first time
What you have done once is not your fate
not something you have to do over and over again
and so you say
but then you do it again
Lust will show you the dark truth about nature.
Lust is the animal reality that will never be tamed by love.
Lust is elemental, aggressive, unfettered, asocial.
This is where we live
in the lush, disorderly fullness of the flesh.
this is not just my power as a woman
it is my power as a human being
it is my power of life
and when someone threatens
to destroy the life force itself
the place from which all life comes
this is life or death
And so this guy wants to snuff you out
let's say he has his way of snuffing you out
maybe he doesn't come at you with a knife
but his intent is to snuff you out
as surely as if he did
then you can snuff him out
you are entitled to it
that's all there is to it
I have no regrets
and I would do it again
and I have done it again
and I will do it again
I will do it again and again and again
and then I will do it again
because I will not roll over
and let my life be snuffed out
and I make no apologies for it.
[Ziyi enters in a huff,
sits emphatically in the boat.
Robert follows hesitantly,
stands outside the boat.]
Yes, of course.
we've had a good time together.
This has been a nice little romance after all.
Yes. Yes, it certainly has.
We were afraid to have a fling
I won't speak for you,
I was afraid
but it turns out it was OK.
And I hope, when you get back to your home,
you will keep me in a good place in your heart.
Yes, I will.
I certainly will.
he gets hesitantly into the boat with Ziyi;
they sit quietly]
this is how it is in life.
You have a lovely time
you hold your life with a light touch
and it's not a tragedy.
All we did was talk about how we can't get together
and all the time we got together anyway.
Because we liked it.
we are too damaged
we can't do this
because of our histories
they hold us in a grip and
we can't go on
but then we do.
We don't go on to be together, of course,
when we are just being quiet and considerate with each other
still we know
it's not right for us
because we are grownups.
Because we are different in age.
And because we still do have our histories
they don't go away all at once
a person cannot suddenly
all over again become a different person.
And because you are still a little boring.
And you have some ways of being I don't know
I won't say I don't have some ways of being that aren't wrong
but with me
these ways of being are passing things
because I am young
and maybe I don't know any better
Or anyway I will learn
because I will see what these bad ways of being get me into
and I won't like it
and I will have other ways of being
I don't mean to say:
after all, you are a nice person, I think
and I think you still have the capacity to learn
I hope so!
and nothing is to be said against a person
who is so considerate
a real gentleman I think
with you, you have some ways of being that you have
because they are so old
and you haven't gotten over them
and even if I wouldn't care
because I would love you
I would see right through your ways of being to you yourself
and say, well, so what
he's a little stupid
but he's a nice guy underneath it all
even so, after I would do all that
still the things I think are fun
you think are silly
and what you find interesting
to me is just incredibly tedious
That could be.
So finally you would bore me to tears
I wouldn't be able to stand it
I would be feeling guilty about it
because here you would still be
being considerate and supportive and generous and loving
and I would just want to hit you in the face with a frying pan
so it would be wrong
it would be bad
that would be no fun for you.
So, if we have had our little fling
and you go back home
and I go back to my life
maybe we think of each other
and we think of each other in a way of warmth
Yes. I know I will.
and I think
OK maybe a man is not such a bad thing
and I could have a life with another man
and you could think maybe a woman is not such an evil species
and you will find someone
or you will have your old friend
because an old friend is a good thing
and when you get to be your age
probably this is more important than anything else.
Yes. And solace
and, you know, getting ready to calm down
to enjoy being in the twilight of your life
wallowing in that a little bit so you don't miss it
and you don't have some frantic bimbo
trying all the time to get you out of the house
You can have your grandchildren.
And they will play around your feet
next to the dog
and you will doze off in the afternoon sunlight coming through the window
I think this will be good for you
And me, I am at the beginning
I want some excitement, you know,
I am going to want to travel quite a lot
and maybe even have sex with a lot of guys
or maybe not
because I am not so wild
or just looking for the thrills
but to be free to be with whoever it is I want
to have the adventures
it's a little bit, you know,
with each person
you enter into their world
you live in their world for a while
it is like a trip to the moon
to step into their lives for a while
it is to have another entire life for yourself
Yes, it certainly is.
and a person wants these things
to have many lives in one life
not a thousand lives maybe
because then you don't notice any one of them
but to have some lives
since you won't have another chance if you only have one life yourself
Or you might say
why can't you find all people in one person?
This is what a man I once knew used to say
I was interested in him
in a romantic way
and I tried to seduce him
I have to admit it
and he was in love with another woman
and I said to him
how can you just be faithful to her
isn't this a little boring
because if you would be with me, too,
then it's another whole world for you to live in before you die
and he said
with this woman I love
I find all the women of the world in one woman
and I thought
oh, yes, well, this could be what people want
and they never find it.
you are leaving.
You wish I would drop you at Pascal's?
I can find my own way.
I'll say goodbye then.
Probably I won't ever see you again.
not for a million years.
[he gets up and gets out of the boat]
Ziyi gets out of the boat
and goes to a microphone
and sings a song
sings a song
sings a song
sings a song
sings a song
sings a song
sings a song
sings a song
sings a song
sings a song
sings a song
sings a song
sings a song
sings a song
Before she finishes the song,
we see Robert come back in,
and stands there,
listening to her.
When she finishes singing,
she turns and sees him standing there.
You came back.
I thought I wasn't going to see you for a million years.
[He steps into the boat;
Someone brings Robert and Ziyi two coffees in paper take-out cups,
and they settle back down in the boat,
snuggling next to one another, with their coffees in hand.
Everyone else settles down in cars
or on the pig's back, or the horse's back,
or on the bench,
with their coffees
and Cokes and milkshakes.
THE TICKET BOOTH MAN
In the end,
of all human qualities,
the greatest is sympathy—
for clouds even
for the banks of ditches
for turf bogs
or rotten wood
for wet ravines
orange flower water
lessons for the flute
a quill pen
a red umbrella
some faded thing
handkerchiefs made of lawn
of Irish linen
of Chinese silk
the dung beetle
a mouse cut in two
In spring the dawn.
In summer the nights.
In autumn the evenings
In winter the early mornings
the burning firewood
piles of white ashes
the ground white with frost
spring water welling up
the hum of the insects
the human voice
the pear tree
The sunlight you see in water as you pour it from a pitcher into a bowl.
The earth itself.
The music continues
as the lights fade to darkness.]
NOTE ON THE TEXT:
Many of the texts for Tunnel of Love are taken from other plays of mine—with a newly appropriated text, the email exchange between Ayoka and Carlos, which is taken from the 21st Century Love Story in the online magazine EnlightenmentNext.
Charles Mee's work has been made possible by the support of Richard B. Fisher and Jeanne Donovan Fisher.