“Are you sure you don’t want to go back to the hotel and pick out something more…sexy?” Baldur asked, adjusting his tie in the vanity mirror as Sage stepped out of the car.
Sage looked down at the black, knee-length dress and sensible pumps. Her makeup was neutral; her hair was braided and wrapped around the back of her head in a bun. “What? It’s pretty, but still practical. I’m a professional, Baldur, I want to look like it.”
“She’s not going to let you in.”
Tal stepped out of the car in a purple mini-dress and black tights, brushing a few crumbs off the front as she did. “Come on, you guys. Let’s go do it.”
Tiffany squealed, bouncing up and down. Of the four of them she was the only one who looked like she belonged in the club scene, with a face of dark makeup and a tiny silver dress. “I’m so excited! I haven’t ever been someplace where everyone is dancing!”
“Chill out, short stop,” Baldur smirked, folding his arms and looking at her appreciatively. She grabbed Baldur’s wrist and dragged him towards the club, the other two trailing after them, heads held high and professional demeanor in place.
The door was staffed by the same bouncer as before and a line of twenty or so people waiting to get in. As they rounded the corner, he glanced at them, and then did a double-take. “You!” he called, pointing at them. “Come on!”
“Told you,” Sage said, taking a few steps forward.
“Not you, funeral!” he said, waving her off. “Silver! Come on!”
Tiffany pointed at herself and he nodded, gesturing her forward. The line groaned as she trotted over and planted a kiss on his cheek before turning to the others and calling, “I’ll see you inside!”
“Stee-rike one,” Baldur said, patting Sage on the shoulder as Tiffany disappeared. “Come on, let’s go stand in line.”
Sage frowned and followed him, going to the back of the line with him and Tal. She tapped the man in front of them on the shoulder. “How long have you been in line?”
“Gosh,” he said, turning around and running a hand over his thinning hair. “I’ve been trying to get in for maybe…two days?”
“Two days?!” He shrugged as he turned back around. Sage turned to look at the others, her face thunderous in its determination. “We are not coming back here. We’re getting in tonight.”
“What do you suggest we do?”
“Yeah,” Sage said, her eyes glinting in the glare of the streetlight. “You’ve got some cash, let’s bribe him!”
“Not enough for this joint! Tal’s got debit, why not make her bribe him?”
“There’s a hold on my account,” Tal said, remembering the embarrassment of being declined at the store earlier today. “I don’t know why. I’m trying to get it sorted out. Um…I could flirt with him? That might work.”
“Yeah, that might work. Go for it. Go!” Sage said with a glint in her eyes, giving Tal a small shove towards the bouncer. Tal laughed and fluffed her hair out to go over to him.
Sage had to hand it to her: Tal had flirting down to a science. She approached the bouncer with a smoky look in her eye, shrugging off her jacket as she did, revealing bare shoulders that were somehow sexier than if she’d flashed him. She stepped up to him and Sage couldn’t hear what she said, but after he replied, she giggled and slapped his chest. Sage saw her eyes widen as she felt the pecs bulging out below the tee shirt and wondered if this counted as a lie. The bouncer wrapped his arm around Tal’s waist as she leaned on her tip-toes and whispered something into his ear. He hooked a thumb towards the door and she smiled and nodded, but seemed to remember something and indicated Baldur and Sage. They waved, but the bouncer shook his head. Tal looked from her friends to the door and back again, biting her lip in concern. Sage huffed and crossed her arms, then waved her through. Tal sighed and went in.
“Shut up,” Sage spat, beginning to pace back and forth, her brow darkening with each step. “Okay. Okay. So…we tell him we’re on the list?”
“Maybe I can flirt with him?”
“He probably knows you’re gay.”
“We…we can beg?”
Baldur put his hand on her shoulder, stopping her with a mild look. “You don’t want to beg.”
Sage looked up at him, actual pain filling her voice. “Please don’t make me dress up like a club whore.”
He sighed, his face pitious. “The beauty standard is fucked. But in this instance…you need to stoop to her level. Sorry, kid. Go change.”
Sage let out the whiniest noise she could muster and her whole body slumped onto an s-shape, the body language of frustrated young adults everywhere. She glanced at Baldur to see if it worked in time to see him catch her elbow and drag her back to the car. He popped the trunk open and grabbed a paper bag, pulling out a super short dress and handing it to her. “Change in the back, I’ll stand guard.”
Sage glared at the tiny dress, with a choker collar and teardrop cutout between where her breasts would be, hoping that the sheer force of her hate for it would cause it to explode, but when it didn’t she released a loud noise of frustration and climbed into the backseat, slamming the door behind her. While she knocked around, shimmying out of the previous dress and trying to slink into the next one, Baldur slammed the trunk and sat on top of it, hunching his back, looking as scary as he could to prevent any peeping toms from ogling his prophet.
After several grunts and groans Sage stumbled out, barefoot and still a little frazzled. “Lace me?” she asked, turning and indicating the lace-up back of the black dress. “This thing is like a fucking ballet slipper.”
Baldur acquiesced, lacing the back up and tying a big bow on top. “There,” he said, turning her around and kneeling to help her slip into a pair of sky-high black t-straps.
Sage looked down at him, an ancient Norse god buckling her shoe, and made a noise halfway between a sigh and a laugh. “I bet this is the first time a god has kneeled before a mortal.”
“You need to brush up on your mythology.” Baldur stood after a moment, leaning around her to pluck the bobby pins from her bun and unbraid her hair. His face was so close to hers, she could trace each line under his eyes. He radiated warmth. His deft hands felt so comforting in her hair that she wanted to close her eyes and fall asleep right there, standing in the BluGirl parking lot at midnight. But then his hands were gone and her hair was a waterfall down her back, waved from the braid. He stepped back and indicated that she should spin around, and she did, watching as a smile crept onto his face.
“Look at you,” he murmured, taking her hands and imparting, with as much sincerity as he could, “You look great.”
“Because I’m dressed like a slut?”
“No. Because you’re smiling.”
This made her smile wider, and she ran to the club door, Baldur in tow. She reached it and opened her mouth to demand to be let in, but before she could say anything, the bouncer smirked. “Come on.”
And she was in.
Techies, you're being pulled on. You're the mechanicals; Robin, Frank, Tom--
You guys, you--come on, guys!
You didn't consult with us! You didn't ask if we wanted to! No consult, no meeting!
There's no way I'll be able to remember my lines! I barely remember if I turned the stove off this morning!
Not doing it.
Did I turn the stove off this morning?
I'm asking you guys as a favor--
Don't pull 'favor' on us, we've done you so many favors--
This will be in addition to all our other things? Who will operate lights if I'm onstage?
I can do it!
And miss fourteen cues because you were trying to remember the plot of Frasier?
I couldn't remember if we ever actually see Maris!
(conspiratorially to Frank)
She gets her phone out and starts looking it up.
Exactly, we have other stuff to be doing while this thing is going on!
And what exactly is that? You build the set; hopefully by the time lights go up, the set will be built.
Though your timeline may predict otherwise....
I move set on and off!
Don't worry, Frank, I can do that.
We're putting it on wheels, the actors will do it.
Can't act if I'm dressing.
Not to fear, I'll dress everyone!
No, Tom, we're not doing costume changes. One outfit for everyone.
So, what, are you going to do it too? Don't make me/ laugh.
/Actually, yes, I'm playing Peter Quince. Seemed appropriate.
Ooh! I know! Pete, you can play Quince, and I'll play all the other mechanicals. Tom, I'll need a large variety of hats--
I'll do it.
Archie is small and soft-spoken, and everyone adores him. Nick deflates and considers.
Well, Archie, I suppose you could be Snug. He plays the lion.
You are not doling out parts, Nicholas!
Archie, you can be Snug.
I'm not sure if I can be the lion. I'm afraid my roaring will scare the audience. Rawr!
Everyone just melts.
So Archie will play Snug, and Nick will play everyone else. Is that what you all want? You selfish--scoundrels? Rapscallions?
(hanging their heads in unison)
That's what I thought.
All cross to get scripts from Ivy. As he passes Pete:
(all cutesiness gone)
You owe me so much money.
Dante, we want you as Egeus. Let's work on getting your old age makeup on point, don't want a repeat of Lear.
(turns to Nick)
Nick tosses his hair, strikes a pose, emulates the fairies as much as possible.
We want you to play...
(he looks helplessly at Ophelia, who nods)
(thrilled, but trying to maintain the drama)
Bottom. That cross-hatched role, that slivering man who seems to exude all competence.
That lush hard-back book, who believes in all good, who loves and loses and pulls the show on his bent back.
That byronic hero of all worlds, both fae and human, who calls forth the scheming adoration of the masses, who pulls the wet, dripping ochre of--
Will you do it or not?
Sick. Get your script.
Rehearsals start tomorrow! Everyone look over your scripts, get yourself in order, start memorizing Act I Scene I. Schedules are in the front pocket. Let's get through this horror show together!
Way to rally the troops, sweetheart.
Even in playtime you
Are greater than the common man
Your dollhouse has 23 rooms,
And five servants
Perpetually dusting the parlor
Folding on the towel horse
Taming white rats near the trunk room
And cleaning tiny bits of plasticine
I do not begrudge you for it
And I assume you do not begrudge me
I just wonder why you made
This monument to excess
The first lady’s inaugural gown
Is on display at the Smithsonian
And all one woman can think to say is that our lady
Is much bigger than she thought she was
I want to say something but
I am struck dumb
A black security guard lets me come in with my soda
And a white one snarls when I take too long
I’m not sure if this means anything
I want to know these people
A family drops their ice cream wrappers
On the ground
Just outside the Environmental Protection Agency and
A trio of Muslim girls
Squeal over boy bands and
A baby shrieks in delight
Over an air vent
I am asked for directions
I’m not sure if this means anything
I want to ride the subway all day
Up and down the blue line
From Largo to Franconia
And watch people
Try to differentiate tourists from locals
Find old black men
And small white teenagers
Find patterns in the hijabs
And bicycles and Burberrys
I want to know what’s playing on their iPods
And when they first fell in love
And where they got those shoes
I want to watch this city cry and laugh and hit things
I want to know these people
I want to eat their memoirs, drink their stories
Like a soda sneaked into the Museum of American History
I want us to mean something
And I’m not sure if this means anything
Congratulations, Violet! That's really huge. I'm so happy that you're taking steps to move forward. Would anyone else...?
(turns to Corgi)
Yes. I think so. I've asked you how you were three times and you've avoided the question.
You're not obliged to go.
No, no. God forbid I worry Robert. He's counting on me.
A stagehand brings on a mic and mic stand, Corgi is back at his comedy club. His demeanor is conspicuously different this time. He is confident, charming, a dynamo at the mic. There's noise to indicate a comedy club. Corgi is 'on' the whole time his story is being told.
How you folks doing tonight?
We already know this part.
No, you don't. How you folks doing tonight?
Waits for audience response.
You ever notice every stand-up comic asks that at the top of their routine? Like the answer's gonna be different. We ask "How you folks doing tonight?" and one day someone's gonna stand up and say "My dog died, Corgi, and your name is making me very sad." And I'm not gonna know what to say to that!
Audience laughs. He is thrilled.
See, that's how the joke's supposed to go! I'm a funny guy, most of the time! Stand-up comedy, it's in my blood. My pappy was a stand-up comic way out west, used to pick jokes fresh from the tree.
Don't lie, Corgi.
It's not a lie, it's a joke. Common misconception. I'm not sure when they became the same thing to me, but jokes, lies--they all mix together in my head. I think Napoleon said "History is a set of lies agreed upon," so really, I'm not a liar. I'm a historian.
Weren't you telling us your story?
Jesus, you people have no sense of humor.
(beat, he plays with the mic)
Okay, so, you want the truth. I'll tell you what, we'll make a game of it. I'll tell you two truths and a lie, you'll have to figure out which one's the lie. Sound fun?
(before anyone can answer)
Sounds fun to me! Okay, to start...one, my mother.
Violet stands and goes to him.
I adore you. You're my favorite person on the planet.
She loves me with everything she has. The coolest person I know. Encouraging and kind to a fault. Two, my sister.
Naomi goes to him.
You little twerp, when are you gonna finally make it big so I can mooch off your fame for my own benefit?
Gruff, but sweet when you got to know her. Rough edges. Maybe my best friend in the world. Maybe. Three, my daughter.
Katy goes to him.
I don't have a daddy. I never had a daddy.
She doesn't know about me, as far as I know. I screwed this girl when I was seventeen and trying to sort out my sexuality, and the kid came of it. Now, which one of those is the lie?
Robby goes to refill his coffee.
I say the daughter.
I say the sister.
I say the mother.
It's the daughter.
You shouldn't be allowed to play.
(kisses Katy's head)
Yeah, it's the daughter. I've never touched a vagina in my life. I honestly find them frightening. I'm a gold-star queer.
The women return to their seats. Corgi plays with the mic as he talks.
You don't look for bipolar in kids, you look for someone to pin your hopes on, someone you can cling to and think this child will be the future for us. You think, I am the parent of this normal child and this normal child will one day change the world. You want normal, and you want special, both all at once coalescing into something that can't exist for you. And you leave a child funny, you leave a child heartsick, you leave a child wondering how much of me is me.
(he fumbles with the mic, realizes he's still up, switches back on)
I am definitely one of the gayest people I know. I can barely be friends with women, let alone date them! Then again, I can barely be friends with men. Maybe I'm just not a friendly person.
The trick to bipolar disorder--
Is you have to be ready--
For everything to change.
Just like that.
Corgi is a little shaken, but pushes on.
But, uh--people normally figure out my sexuality pretty quickly, no idea how.
(he steps out of the shoes)
I think it's the heels. I'm not your typical gay comedian, I don't get too fabulous, I mostly just wear the heels to intimidate people. Because when you see a handsome man in high heels coming at you, you're not sure how aroused to feel--
Corgi. Don't lie.
Two truths and a lie! My hair was green in high school, I talked to Cher in an airport coffee shop, and I speak four languages.
You don't speak four languages, you barely speak English. Come on--
It's not that I don't speak English, it's that I can't remember English.
Corgi, honey, I'm not mad you forgot my birthday.
Bipolar fucks with your memory something fierce, I have the memory of a goldfish.
You're late, Corgi. Again.
I go out to eat with someone, eat a bite of burger, chew it, swallow it, then look down and I'm always shocked and delighted that there's a burger in front of me.
(springs towards him)
What do you mean you haven't taken your medication in five days?
I told you, I don't need it--
You always need it, you can't--
I forgot! Okay! I'm sorry! I forget stuff, there's big holes in my memory--!
We could make a chart, something to help--
What, so I can forget to fill that out, too?
I heard ginko biloba, or there are some pills--
Pills I'll forget to take, I forget everything. It's so frustrating! Depression fucks with your memory but bipolar eats it alive. I can't--I wish I could explain how frustrating it is when someone asks what I was up to last night and I know I watched Netflix because it's open on my computer, I know I ate something because there's a plate in my bed, but I don't remember the acts, I'm sorry I forgot--but are the memory problems bipolar or are they me?
(beat, switches back on)
For the longest time, I thought I was just really bad at having depression! I would get happy and think about how much of a betrayal I was to my kind, I would mope and sulk and inside I'd be ready to burst.
The trick to bipolar disorder--
Is knowing the difference between sad and nothing--
And the difference between happy and fast.
It's not flipping from happy to sad, it's not mood swings--there's depression and there's mania. Bipolar disorder is going from--
I don't really feel like much of anything right now.
I'm going to run a marathon! Twelve marathons!
They begin moving towards Corgi. He holds his hands out.
Do I have to go to work today?
I'm going to buy a new car! I deserve it!
I hate everything. I hate myself.
Cocaine would help me do everything so much more!
And then sometimes you have both at the same time, and that presents as--
They slap their hands into Corgi's.
I'm going to throw myself in front of a bus!
Corgi looks visibly shaken by what he just said. Violet and Naomi drop their hands but don't step back.