Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Singles' Night

BILL, just shy of 50, dances with LINDA at singles' night. They rock awkwardly back and forth for a while. LINDA has her eyes closed. BILL stares vacantly into the space behind her.

BILL
This is my first time at one of these things.

LINDA
What?

BILL
Yep, it’s true.

LINDA
No, I mean. I didn’t hear you.

BILL
Oh. I said. This is my first time at one of these things. You know. Singles night. I saw it driving home from work, and I thought. What the heck. Singles night.

LINDA
Yeah. It’s. I have a good time.

BILL
Have you been to one before?

LINDA
A couple times I guess. I try to go like. Once a month or whatever.

BILL
Oh, sure.

A pause. They keep dancing.

LINDA
I’m new to the area, see. I moved hear about a year ago.

BILL
Oh?

LINDA
Yeah, and I just. I don’t know many people so I started coming, and it’s. You know. It’s fun.

BILL
Yeah. It’s fun.

LINDA
Yeah.

A pause.

BILL
What do you do? For, like, employment.

LINDA
I’m a lawyer. A criminal defense lawyer.

A pause. They continue dancing.

BILL
And you. You didn’t grow up around here? You just moved here?

LINDA
I’m from Philly.

BILL
Really? Yeah, I think I have some cousins in, like, uh, Ardmore? Is that nearby?

LINDA
Yeah. Well I mean I say I’m from Philly but I’m not, like, from the city. I’m from the suburbs, the. The Main Line, it’s called. I live in Radnor. Ardmore is right down the street.

BILL
Why’d you move up here?

LINDA
I was working for a big firm in the city and they wanted me in one of their satellite offices in Albany.

BILL
Oh, sure. That makes sense.

LINDA
Yeah. What about you? Are you from around here?

BILL
Yeah, I’m from Poughkeepsie. I was working in Seattle after school, you know. Writing user manuals for a tech company out there, but then. Well. My dad wasn’t doing too great or whatever after my mom passed away so I moved back here.

LINDA
Are you employed in the area now?

BILL
Yeah, I work for General Electric. GE Appliances. That’s part of the reason I came, because. Because I work with mostly men, and I thought. You know, I have my poker buddies or whatever but it’s nice- (trails off)

LINDA
To know women?

BILL
Yeah. I guess.

A pause.

LINDA
And you write manuals at GE too?

BILL
Yeah, manuals. It’s. It’s okay work. I like that it’s, you know, pretty cut and dry for me. Because I know how to use the stuff and I just, I. I explain it.

A pause.

BILL
Because you go through life solving problems, right? It’s nice that I can. You know. It’s nice that I can think that I’m helping people solve a few of them. Even if it is, just. With their refrigerator. Like I mean how you help people stay out of jail. That’s.

A pause.

BILL (half trying to laugh)
That’s a lot bigger, I guess.

A pause.

LINDA
But what you do is pretty important too.

BILL
I mean, sure. Yeah.

LINDA
Because. Because people pay me to keep them out of jail, you know. But you get paid to. You help people help themselves.

BILL (sort of weakly)
Ha, yeah, I guess.

LINDA
No, I think. I think really. We need more user manuals, you know? For life. For. For making friends or whatever. For more than, you know. Refrigerators.

BILL
Yeah.

A short beat.

BILL
Yeah. That’d be funny, if we had a. A user manual for life.

LINDA
I’d buy it, though.

BILL
Me too. Who wouldn’t?

Another beat.

LINDA
You can put your arms around my waist if you want.

BILL (flustered)
What. Oh. Yeah oh. I mean. Sure.

LINDA
It’s just because. I only said that because it would have been in the manual.

BILL
What?

LINDA
The life. The user manual for life. For dancing with a girl, it would say- I mean you said you would have bought it so I just figured I’d let you know. It would say, you can put your hands around her waist.

BILL
Oh. Well, thanks.

BILL slips his arms down around LINDA’s waist. They dance a little closer as the lights fade.

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