A Story about a Boy and a Girl, Who are Not Us (Obviously) : A Play in 2 Acts


Scene: Small, untidy, sparsely-furnished city studio apartment. Upstage, a closet spills laundry onto the floor. There is a small kitchenette with dishes stacked haphazardly. A discarded cookie bag sticks out of a trashcan. Stage right is a closed door that opens into an unseen hallway or stairwell. Stage left is an unmade bed and windows that filter in late-afternoon sunlight.

SHE stands, fussing with a back zipper in a non-descript sun dress. It catches, and she sighs. She pinches at the fat of her abdomen; there’s not much, but what is there seems to disgust her. She tries the zipper again, and it goes up. The dress fits. She tests the jiggliness of her arms, first by waving one, then my flexing it and stabbing at it with her finger. When she flexes, there is no jiggle. She poses and examines herself before unzipping the dress. The zipper catches again in the same place before going down, and she removes one arm.

There is the loud. sound of a key in the deadbolt, and SHE clutches the dress back to her chest. HE enters, dressed in work clothes, tie loosened and shirt partially untucked. There is a magazine, folded, in his back pocket.

SHE [dropping the dress to the floor, stands in panties, arms outstretched]: I’ll be ready soon, I promise. I hate all my clothes.

HE: You do not hate all your clothes. [He pats her thigh and kisses her on the temple.] Hi.

SHE: Hi. [She kisses him then slings the sundress away with her foot.] There are things here I’ve never even seen before. [She motions abstractly at the closet.] I’ve never seen them, but I hate them. [Holding up a blue halter-top.] Like this.

HE: Well, wear that.
SHE: It’s not true. I have seen that. [She flings the shirt away.] It has an unflattering neck-line.
HE: You like that blue cardigan and that orange shirt that’s kind of bohemian. You wear those a lot.
SHE: I wear them a lot, so I don’t like them.
HE: What about those new things? Those dresses and things. . . .
SHE: I hate those, too. That’s not true, but I don’t want to wear them today.

HE stretches out on the bed, looks at his phone, flips through the magazine. SHE contemplates the pile of laundry, then leans over and lifts an armful of it before dropping it again. She does this several times.

SHE: [whining] I hate it all.
HE: Did you eat anything?
SHE: Well. . . a snack. Some strawberries and some cheese and some of those chocolate cookies. [She glances quickly at the trash can toward HE before slumping over again, this time contemplating her naked belly.] Which I shouldn’t have done. I’m so fat.
HE: I am pretty sure you are not fat.
SHE: I am! I’m so fat.
HE: Hmm.
SHE: My stomach spills over my pants. And I have thunder thighs.
HE: Yeah. . . and birthing hips. . . .
SHE: [Standing up straight and looks at him, possibly for the first time.] What?
HE: Um. . . [He stands up and takes a few steps in her direction before stopping.]
SHE: Don’t say that! I’m sensitive about my hips. Do you really think I have wide hips?
HE: Um. . . Ah. . . .
SHE: Say I have the sort of hips that will require C-sections. Say my hips are too narrow to allow the passage of a baby’s head!
HE: That sounds. . . unhealthy.
SHE: Unhealthy is good! Unhealthy is pretty. Do you really think I have birthing hips?
HE: I don’t know. I mean, I don’t really pay attention to hips. I’d have to have a lineup of the spectrum of hips. . . .
SHE: Don’t say that! Say you love my hips, they’re prefect hips, they’re the only hips you like. How long do we have? I guess I’ll wear what I was already wearing today.

The lights dim as SHE takes a bra from the pile on the floor and puts it on.


It is nighttime. HE and SHE are on a downtown corner. They are standing on the sidewalk in front of a graffiti-ed brick wall and a deli/bodega.

HE: What do you want to eat?
SHE: Well, obviously I want something big and bad for me, like spaghetti.
HE: I think I have pasta at home.
SHE: I don’t really want that. What about pizza? [She motions into the distance.]
HE: This might be the most unmanly thing I’ve ever said, but that might be a little heavy for me.
SHE: Oh. . . .
HE: What else?
SHE: I’m not really hungry. I’m kind of queasy.
HE: I know what that means. . . You need to eat.
SHE: [defensively] You do not know everything about me. . . .
HE: Maybe not, but I know enough, and I know this.
SHE: How about tacos?
HE: Done.

Holding hands, they exit stage left.



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364 days


We had falafel sandwiches in the same place where we first met each other. I made a mess, same as the first time. We call it our first date, start counting from that day, divide our lives into Before Falafel and After. I don’t know where we’d be if we hadn’t met each other.

“I’d probably still be trying to bang every girl on the Lower East Side.”
“And I’d probably be dating a banker.”
“But you wouldn’t be happy.”
“That is probably true.”

It wasn’t a glamorous day, just a really, really good one. They’re mostly good, lately.


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an experiment in judaism

Don’t tell him, but I could have cried at the silent prayer time, and it wasn’t because I felt at home or the presence of God, but the rabbi said pray about things you are thankful for and hopeful about and there were just so many things.


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thoughts on the way to work

“Remember when that pigeon was pecking that other pigeon?”
“Um. . . yeah. . . .”
“Well, first he was walking around on the dead pigeon then he started eating him. . . .”
“Yeah, that was pretty gross.”


I sidestepped a furry patch on the pavement. It was a rat, most likely, before an unfortunate moment-- minutes or hours ago-- in the street where Clinton meets Houston.

I heard a long, loud list of angry obscenities across Spring, but didn’t turn my head, concentrating on Jack Johnson’s and Cat Stevens’ brilliant scoring of my walk to work.

Last night I saw a naked man roller-skate onto a stage-- more of a circus ring, really-- and my first thought was just, If I’d ever taken time to try to imagine a naked man roller-skating, that, I think, is what it would have looked like. . . . the physics, at least, if not the mohawk.

I’m just a drop sometimes, part of an underground stream capable of running up stairs before spewing onto the dirty sidewalk, eyes down-cast in order to avoid dead rats and dog poop, but, when happening to glance up, desensitized to the postcard skyline.

I don’t get asked for directions as often as I used to, but when I do, I can usually give them.

I’m not a New Yorker, I want to shout at the tourists in ugly sneakers, the bums, the F train, the three-hundred-dollar tee shirts, myself. I’m just a little girl from Georgia: witness to shooting stars so bright they must have landed just on the other side of the azalea hedge, where we should probably check in the morning; possessor of black soles, unable to recall the last time she wore shoes; creator of potent perfumes, made with the finest combination of macerated petals, sticks, dirt, and plastic-hose-water; explorer of magnolias, with rooms, big like houses; beneficiary of the night-time lullaby of frogs and crickets and the occasional train whistle.

I could be a New Yorker, most days.

I can believe it until I hear the whine of a 4- or 5-year-old child, sharp and whining, demanding of a parent or nanny that they not walk, but take a cab to their destination.

It’s a voice you’ll hear again in 15 or 20 years. It will be walking in front of you, having an indiscreet mobile conversation about an ex-best-friend’s recently acquired STD or at the next table over, discussing a mother’s most recent rehab attempt and failure. It will sound angry, even when it’s not.

It’s a voice I feel sorry for, making me wonder, In a place with no dirt driveways, where do you learn to ride a bike?




I want to flip through books of paint chips. I want to sew long, straight curtain seams and hang botanical prints and photos we took on vacation. I want to reupholster.

I need a two-tiered, wire bin for onions and potatoes and a magnet strip to hold my knives. I need a bench for the foot of the bed and a four-story shoe rack and a shag rug. I need an immersion blender, a stand mixer, and a set of All-Clad (sans Teflon, please). . . a waffle iron, a mandoline. . . an assortment of Le Creuset (I haven’t decided on a color). . . .

I want to make tiny brioche buns for tiny hamburgers, so we’ll need a tiny barbeque grill on a tiny balcony, overlooking a tiny garden (if you don’t mind). I’ll need a big tray to serve them and several pretty pitchers for offering refills. And I will probably need a crinolined-dress and an apron that was never meant to get dirty. . . .

We went to Crate and Barrel. And maybe I’ve been watching too much Mad Men.

I wonder if this is what it feels like to nest. That’s a thing, right?

I got the most adorable little lidded casserole. It will be so perfect for baked dips and maybe pasta for two and this strawberry clafoutis recipe I’m dying to try.

Hesitant at first, Ted then spent the next twenty minutes deciding on high-ball glasses. And we got some tiny martini glasses, because, even though Ted insists that I never drink, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have lived without them.

These are our first together-things, full of happiness and hope and potential.

Now we just need to buy some plants. . . and a muffin tin. . . and a new duvet. . . .


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the chorus

I keep wishing the blossoms back on the trees.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older, then we wouldn’t have to wait so long.

That Beach Boys’ song came on today at work. I don’t think Brian Wilson* ever sang about the excitement of maybe starting a savings account together. Or apprehension at the possibility of your boyfriend getting a really amazing job in Philadelphia. Or worrying that you’ll never get your place on 6th street or 9th street and that everyone in Philadelphia will hate you and that all the jobs will be in cubicles.

. . . Maybe we could liiiiiiiive together. . . Oh, wouldn’t it beee niiiiice. . .

Sam says it’s the ultimate goal.
“What is?”
“Two people, one bedroom.”

They don’t even mention the part where you have to clear out some of your stuff so your boyfriend’s stuff will have a spot . Or how nice it will be to have both of your wardrobes in a central location. Or how all the logistics will be easier and whoever gets home first can start dinner. . . .

The Beach Boys are old now-- like Beach Grandpas****. In the late autumns of their lives, they probably aren’t wishing to be older, but instead wishing friends back into lives, lovers back into beds, babies back into play-pens, hair back onto heads, blossoms back onto trees.

I just want to be here for a while.

*not to be confused with my lover, and anchor of the NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams**

**not to be confused with my boyfriend, and MSNBC personality, Carl Quintanina***

***I have a thing for newsmen

****Wouldn’t it be nice if they were older and could live together in the same assisted living community?


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we're always ok


He didn’t hear me, so I went back into the bathroom.


He was still shouting ’cause he was in the shower.

“When we move in together, I promise, that if I use your soap, I’ll put it back in the same place so you can find it.”
“Thanks. Maybe I should be promising that I won’t move your soap?”
“How many minutes do I have?”
“Zero. Zero minutes. I’m hungry.”
“Well, you can have some cereal.”
“Can I put it in a bag?”
“Yes. You are like a baby in the park.”

“Except then it would be Cheerios.” We said that part together.

I never worry about what would happen if this didn’t work out. I worry about not worrying about what would happen if this didn’t work out, but that is different, I think.

Maybe I should worry. Do you think you get points for trying not to cry?

’Cause I tried last night, but I was just so hungry and so tired and my feet hurt. And when he walked away in front of me, I thought about David and how wrong something can be even when you think it’s pretty ok.

I tried.

“Hey hey hey. Come here come here come here. I love you.”

I think there is nothing wrong with this. Nothing that a hug and a sandwich won’t fix.


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this easter. . .

We ate matzo for breakfast then went to church-- mostly to see my cousins.

I helped him find the verses in the Bible, then prayed that the pastor wouldn’t say anything embarrassing. God doesn’t answer every prayer.

It’s Easter, but sushi is half-price every Sunday.


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when all else fails. . . .

When the weather changes in New York City, there are days when you remember that there are children in your neighborhood, and there are days when you realize that there are a lot of dogs here. Then there are days when you wonder if everyone has a really pretentious camera.

The sun was shining and the sky was blue, which made the chill seem even crueler.

“You sent her a plant?”
“Yeah. I didn’t know what to do.”
“So you sent her an anonymous break-up plant? . . . What kind of plant was it?”
“You know. . . a nice plant.”

Pete and Pamela broke up, which was, unfortunately, a relief. Obviously, I’d be on his side no matter what, but I’m pretty sure Pamela wasn’t really a nice girl.

“I’m pretty sure it shouldn’t be that hard. . . . Hey, you want something to cheer you up?”

There was the cutest baby bulldog ever in Madison Square Park. Not just the cutest baby bulldog, the cutest dog, the cutest animal, the cutest thing I have ever seen.

“So when are you getting married?”
“I don’t know. You want to come?”


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this might take some getting used to AND i'm not sure i'm willing to claim the napkin holder just yet

“I’m pretty sure you’re my person. I decided.”
“Yeah. . . I hope so. . . . Otherwise I’m not going to let you move in to my apartment.”


At brunch, he was listening to me talk talk talk about what I might buy at Crate and Barrel with the coupon I have.

“And I need a sugar canister. My sugar keeps getting wet, somehow. But I want a fun one.”
“Like one that’s a frog?”
“Why would I want one that’s a frog?”
“To match our napkin holder.”
“Oh. . . . That sounds so funny, ‘Our napkin holder’.”
“I know. I was just trying it out.”


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the most beautiful day

I guess it was only about a week ago that my boss quit. Well, he quit on Friday and then got fired on Monday. That. . . doesn’t even make sense anywhere else.

I’m starting to feel like myself again.

Turns out I like myself.

And I told my mom about Ted moving in. That felt good.

And I’m glad he’s moving in. It feels good to think about a future with someone without panicking at the direness of it all.

I love him and I love every street I’m walking down, but I love that one in particular. Maybe we can move there next.

I love my hypothetical apartment on 6th street. It has a garden.

And I love New York. I walked through Thompson Square Park by myself, and all the aggressive homeless men have been replaced by laughing children and well-behaved dogs. And the sun is at the most perfect angle to reflect off the windows and on the other side the daffodils are blooming. When did this even happen? Maybe I should take a picture.

But when I look back at where I came from, the shadows aren’t as nice. I’ll just remember.

We have dinner plans with friends. Oh, and I got a raise today.

I like where this is going.


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“I heard a rumor that you and Ted might be moving in together.”

I was on the train out of the city with Ted’s cousin when I realized that the only thing more exhausting than a family might be two families.

We went to Princeton for his family’s Seder, and after the meal I could hear Ted’s dad from the other end of the table. Palms flat on the table, he was explaining to Ted’s old cousins:

“Well, Ted’s lease is up in June, but Beatrix’s isn’t up until the end of the year. . . .”

So, you know, I guess it was a thing. A thing about which my parents should probably be informed.

My mom had a hard time explaining how she felt. Which I understood:

“You sound exactly like we do when we talk about it.”

She told me:

“I think it will be fine. I think it makes sense for you.”

I never expected glowing excitement over the living-in-sin thing. So, I’ll take it.


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movies are not real life

WARNING: Don’t watch Away We Go with your boyfriend unless you want to spend the rest of the weekend talking about if you are in the right place and where you should live and what it will be like to have babies together.

DISCLAIMER: It might be time for you to talk about these things even if you don’t watch the movie.

ADVICE: Watch the movie, because it is good. And the New York Times has a list of things to talk about before you get married, if you find you might need one of those.

WARNING: Number 9 might be really hard.

DISCLAIMER: If Number 9 is so hard, you should probably be trying to figure it out anyway.

ADVICE: Take a deep breath. Relax. Enjoy this part. And order in.


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once upon a time

I met up with Fred who was in town to visit Mateo who I never see even though he lives 4 blocks from Ted. Mateo got married, I remembered, recently. And his wife was there, too.

And I wondered, like I always do, why things are so awkward between me and Mateo.

Then I remembered, like I usually do. There was that time we were all hanging out and drunk and getting asked politely to please go home so they could close the bar and we all said we should go watch belly dancing soon. And then Mateo called to ask if I wanted to go watch flamenco dancing at that same restaurant, and when I asked him who was coming, he said Paul and some people. But he showed up alone in Fred’s borrowed car and he paid and it was supposed to be a date.

So I pretended I was busy for a while then dated his room mate.

Ten million years ago. So easy to forget. I bet his wife doesn’t know that story.


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