10 Myths on the Proper Application of Beauty Products
“The play makes us think about the dizzying variety of possible physical variations to human genitalia and their spiritual and psychological consequences; the usual categories of ‘male’ and ‘female’ are just too simplistic.”
— Juliet Wittman, Westword
“Definitely a production worth writing about, talking about, and going to see.”
— Berlin Sylvestre, Out Front
Lights up. A bathroom surrounded by emptiness. Sam is in the bathroom — alive and alone. Everyone else in the emptiness, doing their thing. Jenny and Jolene are dancing together, Herman doing his nails, Edward cleaning, the Narrator watching. Time can pass slowly outside the bathroom.
Sam: Make-up tutorial number 37: creating the perfect brow or, as the kids say, keeping your brows on fleek. Shit, I don’t know if the kids say that anymore. Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter. Eyebrows.
Staring into the mirror for a few beats…
Sam: Step one.
Touching her brow, then running her finger down her face, moving her nose around, smiling, grimacing, moving eyebrows up, down, in etc.
Sam: Step one… If only there were still a god of eyebrow grooming, we could stop looking in the mirror, sacrifice something small like a squirrel because nobody likes them anyway and enjoy the rest of our day with perfectly shaped eyebrows. But we got rid of those gods, the ones that meddled in every little thing… doing crazy shit. Like there’s this young couple in a pool together — male and female is the idea — and the gods merge them into one being because she asks them to. And then they’re sexless. Both sexes. A creature of both sexes. Her, you know, breasts, and probably eyebrows or whatever. His… dangly bits. I don’t know.
Herman enters, looking for a nail file.
Sam: The two of them — the one of them — looks back and curses the pool… asks the gods to curse the pool, which of course they do. So this cursed pool gets a reputation: makes men effeminate or whatever, because clearly it’s the man we’re talking about here. Hermaphroditus, that’s his name. It’s his myth, not hers, and no man wants to get “womaned” out of the blue like that.
Sam: He didn’t ask for it, she did! But don’t blame her. Don’t blame these poor kids in the middle of some traumatic gender shit, blame the gods laughing at them. Like, come on! Have a little discretion. You’re a god. Take it seriously! Now you’ve got a cursed body of water. Or blessed, really, depending on who you’re talking to. Either way, some educated so-and-so comes along like Vitruvius or someone and is all “fuck that” it’s just water. Forget about the gods, we’ve got science now!
She gets out a few pill bottles
Sam: Who needs the gods when there’s all these pretty little pills? Vitruvius didn’t say that, I did. Science starts explaining away the god of this and the god of that… until we’re left with just the one: the god of death. That’s a tricky one… pills don’t seem to work on that one. But let’s not get hung up on the ending… sometimes that’s the least important part. We’re not talking about death, we’re talking about bodies — and it’s not like we’ve got the world all making-sense now in that arena. It’s not like we can see what’s coming — first this, then that, with logical causes and effects. Things happen. Other things happen. We can’t explain it. So, I guess, Step One: accept what your face looks like! Or don’t, it’s not my problem. On fleek or not, anything might happen. So do what you want! (pause) Come back somewhere between 15 months and never for step two.
She takes a pill.
Sam: There. See. All gone.
Sam walks out of the bathroom. Time changes.
Sam is dead in her chair. Someone takes a tape out of a box, puts it in the VCR and presses play. They all watch video of Sam undressing while they eat casserole. Narrator walks into the bathroom. They maybe start to prep for a shower, pull open the shower curtain revealing the band, get annoyed, and readjust their plan. They groom in some way and talk into the mirror.
Narrator: It’s hard to say what happened first. Was it the time I asked Herman what he meant with his life, and he just laughed? We piled into his Volvo and drove west. West, young queers! Was it the time we decided to make crafts but only had macaroni and glitter—no glue or paper or pipe cleaners—so we just made a festive dinner with festive after effects? There was glitter in the toilet for days. Was it the time Sam told a story about the gods hearing Salmacis scream out to please let her never be parted from this beautiful boy she was assaulting, and they listened, and merged the two into one form? I have no clue. I have no clue what happened first. Fuck it, I’d say sometimes it’s hard to even say what happened, period. Memory’s a chaotic jerk. It’s all shuffle-y. But Sam happened. I feel fairly confident about that. Mostly because other people would agree. She found us young queers wandering west and collected us, gave us strength in numbers. Sam happened.
Narrator starts to unzip their pants. Herman opens the door.
Herman: Oh, sorry I-—
Narrator: (zipping back up) It’s okay.
Herman: I should have knocked.
Narrator: It doesn’t matter.
Herman: I wasn’t-—
Narrator: It’s fine. Come in. Do whatever you need to do.
Pause. Herman does nothing.
Herman: Beautiful outside. I was just out there and it was beautiful.
Herman: Warm, but not like the last couple days — the humidity. Dry today. A dry heat, you know, but not hot, really. Perfect for a walk.
Herman: The park looked empty. I just came past the park and it looked — there was one couple there, eating I think it was ice-cream cones on a bench. I couldn’t see them well, in the shade of those — what are they — the bigger trees they have there with all the shade, and the benches underneath?
Narrator: It’s ok, Herman…
Herman: Oh sure. Sorry to just, you know. I’ll let you —
Narrator: No, I just — Sorry. Sounds nice. (pause) I think they’re Cottonwood trees.
Herman: I love those.
Narrator: No. Ew, gross. Don’t love those. They fall over. They are big and beautiful but they have small roots so they fall over and die all the time. That’s why they say in a storm never stand near a cottonwood… or something.
Herman: What are you doing this evening?
Narrator: Just going to bed. I’m really, you know, up late the last couple of… I could use the sleep.
Herman: Right. Ok, sure. I was thinking I might, you know, go for a walk or something. It’s so nice out. Outside.
Narrator: I’m sorry, Herman.
Herman: No, you should sleep. We should all sleep.
Narrator: No, I’m sorry you’re alone.
They hold hands and keep trying to groom. At some point they let go of each other’s hands. And it’s easy to do. And that’s sad. Jenny enters.
Jenny: Knock, knock. There’s room for more, right? What’s happening? You two being gloomy or something? Try having a casserole. I guess they’re supposed to help. Seriously I’ve never seen so many casseroles in my life. We should have a dance party. Not really. It’s not great dancing on a full stomach. Ooooo look. Chanel lipstick. Who’s is this? Number 54. Boy.
Herman: It’s called Boy?
Narrator: It looks mauve.
Jenny: Who’s is this?
Herman: Sam’s maybe?
Jenny: I bet it was.
Herman: I want some.
Narrator: Me too.
Jenny: Wait your turn. Chanel lipstick. Not cheap my friends. Not cheap. (putting it on) Make-up tutorial number 114. Step 1: Apply lipstick in a criss-cross pattern at the cupid’s bow, the outer corners and the bottom of the lip.
Narrator: I never knew that part of the lip had a name.
Jenny: Everything has a name. Apply lipstick in the criss-cross pattern at the cupid’s bow, then…
Herman: Then the outer corners and the bottom of the lip.
Narrator: Ooo, I think it kind of looks good just like that.
Jenny: It doesn’t. Step 2: Working from the initial starting points, use a “connect-the-dots” method to fill in the rest of the lips.
Narrator: Lipstick is crazy. Makeup is crazy.
Jenny: It’s fantastic. Nothing wrong with a little makeup.
Narrator: No, I know. It’s just strange. Pinching your cheeks and putting color on your lips and bat shit on your eyelashes that you curl. It’s really weird.
Herman: Bat shit?
Narrator: It was on some tv show. The guy was an animal exterminator or something, and he went to this house that was infested with bats, and he stepped in bat shit, and then he said something about how they use bat shit to make mascara.
Herman: They don’t.
Narrator: “Yes ladies, mascara”! That’s what he said.
Jenny: Jesus, I’m sad.
Narrator: For sure. (beat) Next step.
Jenny: Ah, last but not least, Step 3: Blot lips and apply one final layer of lipstick.
Narrator: Why do we have to blot?
Jenny: To get an even texture before we put on the final layer.
Herman: And some people do this. (pulls finger though lips) So you don’t get it on your teeth.
Narrator: Who said we don’t like lipstick on our teeth?
Jenny: Our teeth should be white and perfect. We want what we are born with. Perfect white teeth.
Herman: Baby’s don’t wear lipstick.
Narrator: More to the point, babies don’t have teeth. And none of their lips are naturally this color.
Herman: Boy. Boy is the color.
Jenny: That’s right.
Narrator: That’s weird too.
Jenny: Absolutely. What is it supposed to mean?
Herman: (looking in mirror, exaggerating lips) Boy. Boy. Boooy. We look like boys now.
Jenny: I’m a pretty boy.
Herman leaves. Jenny starts looking at herself, poking at her body, sucking in her stomach.
Narrator: There’s important stuff in there, you know. They say that if a Barbie were person-sized, there wouldn’t be enough room for all her guts. She’d have only a few inches of intestine and half a liver.
Jenny: And the liver regenerates so that would be a problem.
Narrator: That would be the problem? No, the problem is that there’s only room for half of it.
Jenny: Right. And the other half is going to try to jam itself in there anyway.
Narrator: OK, but the real point is she can’t survive. Look, let’s say that she has her whole liver, but then she doesn’t have either of her kidneys or her, like, I don’t know, spleen or some shit. So she’s not alive and that’s the point, but even if she were alive, she would have to walk on all fours and wouldn’t be able to hold up her enormous head on her fragile little neck.
Jenny: A monster.
Narrator: Yes. A monster.
Jenny: A beautiful, beautiful monster.
Jenny exits. Narrator has needed to pee for so long now. What a relief. They start to prep, still feels self-conscious. They sing “Love in an Elevator”.
Narrator: That doesn’t work at all. That’s supposed to work…
Narrator exits. Time remains the same.
Sam is still dead. Edward enters. He sees the lipstick out with the lid off. He cleans it up and tidies a little in general, mumbling things as he goes. Jolene enters the bathroom, and Edward leaves. She tries to adjust her pinned up sleeve.
Jolene: Ahhh! Shit! A safety pin is far from safe when you’re only using one hand. I think I’m bleeding. I am bleeding. Geez, I’m bleeding a lot. More than is even possible from a stupid pin. Carnage… Sam, would have liked this. Who am I supposed to talk to about guts, and blood, and body parts? About sacrifices to the gods… and how pigs have organ systems very similar to humans… so if the goal is to trick a god who isn’t paying much attention, a pig might be the way to go. Poor smart, sweet pigs with human-like hearts. And here we are shoving them in our mouths, giving ourselves coronary disease in our pig-like hearts… from eating pig. Oh! and weren’t you the one who told me about the Aztecs collecting blood in little bowls… from their ears, remember that? You said they used to go home and collect blood in little bowls for the Gods. Then you said, the Gods were seldom pleased. (pause, dealing with the finger) I think it stopped… Of course the Gods weren’t pleased… It’s not that much blood. Collected in little bowls… What… they’d just prick their ears? You’ve gotta go big. Like an arm… or a leg… your only son… some virgins… (pause, making some final adjustments) I don’t know any virgins…
Jolene exits. Everyone leaves the TV, turning it off and going to do their own thing. Time changes.
Sam stands up — alive and alone again — and goes into the bathroom, slamming the door.
Sam: Everyone is a dick. Are a dick. Everyone are? That’s not right. People are dicks. The team is/are dicks? Politics is messy? Are messy. I’m not British. I’ll never get it right. (beat) Why are people flossing their teeth in the Walgreens parking lot? Why do I have to side step used white plastic one-time teeth flossers every time I get out of my car? The parking lot of Walgreens is a hell show. Everyone is drunk. Or puffy-faced. Or both. There isn’t room for you. It’s too much face. Stop taking up so much space. And stop coughing. (beat) Ghosts are dicks. Just be dead. Men wearing those Toms shoes that look like Hobbit ballet slippers. That makes me so mad inside. (beat) 1 Derful Dave on Match. You’re a dick. Don’t spell wonderful with the number 1. You should know that when you first started emailing me I didn’t notice the one and I just thought your name was Derful Dave and that makes no fucking sense… Since when can’t we write whole words? Since when can’t we say whole words? Totes? Yolo? The world is ending because 8 million years ago we invented language and now we’re here and it’s all wrong and God is pissed or the Gods are pissed. And when we all die, nothing beautiful will be said about us because no one will be left who knows how to talk.
Jolene: You ready for this?
Sam: My dog was a dick but he couldn’t help it. He barked at disabled people.
Jolene: Sometimes animals are dicks because their owners are dicks.
Sam: Oh. I guess I’m the biggest dick, then.
Jolene: Don’t bark at me, Sam. (beat) Are you ready?
Sam: I am!
Sam is giving Jolene a hair cut, with clippers.
Jolene: Are you going to tell me a story?
Sam: What story?
Jolene: Anything. The usual?
Sam: Ok, yes! I was reading about the Aztecs. Every September they would throw this big party to celebrate the Corn Goddess Chicomeco… something or other. It’s probably bad luck not to be able to say her name, but honestly I can’t remember it. It’s pretty long. So everyone has to fast for, like, seven days before the party gets started, and a young slave girl, the prettiest around, is “sanctified”, as in she gets dressed up as the Goddess Chicome-whatever. (regarding the haircut) Is this even making a difference? It looks the same.
Jolene: Yeah. Look: minuscule little hair bits that Edward will bitch about later.
Sam: No. Hair splinters. They can imbed themselves under your skin and get infected. Like they stick in you and your skin absorbs them and then freaks out. Infection.
Jolene: (putting her hand on Sam’s face) If I hold my finger here long enough, will your skin absorb it?
Sam: In theory, I think so.
Jolene: We could grow around each other. It’s like the least romantic romantic-like thing. But back to the slave girl.
Sam: Ok, so they take the slave girl from house to house all over town and she dances for everyone… trying to cheer the people up cuz they’re tired, hungry, and depressed from fasting.
Jolene: Does it work? Dancing slaves don’t cheer me up.
Sam: That’s just the beginning. In the evening everyone gets together at the temple and they decorate one of those boxes that people are carried around in, you know the ones with the poles…
Jolene: A palanquin?
Sam: I don’t know… what’s a palanquin?
Jolene: It’s a box with poles that a person can be carried around in…
Sam: Ok, then, yes. And there’s a huge to-do and everyone goes crazy, crying, singing, praying, generally giving thanks for the fruits of the earth, and the abundant crops that the Goddess bestowed on the people that year.
Jolene: Is this going somewhere?
Sam: You have somewhere to be?
Jolene: Go on.
Sam: Do you want to tell me a story?
Sam: Maybe tell me again about how you met Jenny? How she bagged your groceries and that’s disappointingly not a euphemism?
Jolene: Aztecs! Go back to the Aztecs! More ritual slave dances, please!
Sam: Ok. They lead the virgin out of the temple so she can get some sleep. But everyone else stays up and keeps watch. When the sun comes up, they bring the virgin back and one by one, the men first, followed by the women, they kneel before the dressed up virgin — and make a blood offering. I should back up quick. During the seven days of fasting all the people in town collect blood in little bowls, usually from their ears. So now, when they’re kneeling before the virgin, they can scrape all the blood they’ve collected out of the little bowl and make an offering. Gods partially appeased, everyone heads home, happy, to finally eat and rest.
Jolene: Oh. That’s much more harmless than I thought it was going to be.
Sam: There’s a little more. I think you are done, by the way.
Jolene: OK, well, I want to hear the end.
Sam: Right. So everyone assembles back in the temple, where the virgin is laid on her back, and they slice her head off. Then a priest flays the headless body, dresses himself in the skin, and leads a procession out of the temple singing and dancing as jauntily as possible, considering he’s a grown man jammed into skin that doesn’t fit him.
Sam: That’s what happens when you want to hear the end.
Jolene: Thanks Sam.
Sam: You’re welcome. (brushing hairs off of Jolene) Don’t let any of it get under your skin.
Sam: (as she’s leaving) YOLO.
Sam starts dressing/undressing. Jolene checks her new do, then exits, catching Edward on his way in.
Edward: Suave, sir.
Jolene: Thanks, man.
Edward: Did you clean up after?
Jolene: Of course we did. You shouldn’t go in there. Sam’s in the tub.
Edward: (to “Sam” after Jolene has gone) You know what I think? I think Jolene cut off her own arm because she knew it wasn’t really hers. (pause) Right? Like, you look down and think that’s your arm, but she looked down and thought get the fuck off me. And then eventually it did. With, like, a saws-all or something. I don’t know. (pause) Why do we spend the majority of our lives on the toilet, and act like it never happened? (pause) Why do we eat eggplant and pretend it’s good? (pause) Helllloo?
Herman: Sam in here?
Edward: She’s been in the tub for hours.
Edward: She does it all the time — drains a little every so often and puts in more hot, but that never really works. It must be freezing. (louder) It must be freezing! I don’t know why anyone would sit in the bath for hours! (back to normal volume) Reading a book, probably. Read it somewhere else, if you ask me. Somewhere none of us might want to be. (louder) We all need to use the bathroom!
Herman pulls back the curtain, revealing the band.
Herman: She’s not in here.
Edward: (looking) Oh. I guess she got out. I wonder where she went. (beat) Ok, look. I know it’s not “nice” to talk about other people. I mean, to stand here and tell you things about someone else as though their story belongs to me, but I have a feeling you know about this by now anyway. Sam films herself undressing for bed.
Herman: Yeah. Every day.
Edward: I found the tapes in the basement — all perfectly labeled. She’s got boxes of them, all the same thing.
Herman: I know.
Edward: Oh? Sure. I said you would. Does everybody? Maybe. Have you asked her why? Has anyone? Mostly the things I do every day are the things that everyone does. Like masturbate or eat a hearty breakfast, breakfast being the most important meal of the day. Masturbation is not actually very easy for me. It takes a lot of visualization and I have trouble relaxing so that’s a thing. Focus. Minor distractions are a problem. So, as you can imagine, doing it daily is no small task. The difference is that I am not collecting VHS tapes in my basement, hard evidence of my daily activity. So you don’t know to think any differently of me, unless someone tells you, which I hope they don’t because it’s not nice to talk about other people.
Herman: Jesus Edward. I was just looking for Sam.
Narrator enters. Herman exits.
Edward: (leaving) Do you want the door open or closed?
Narrator: Doesn’t matter.
Edward: I’ll leave it open?
Narrator: Just go!
They start putting on eyeliner, but it’s not going well.
Narrator: Make-up Tutorial #14. (struggling) Don’t listen to me on the topic. I’m shit at doing make-up. I haven’t had the practice because people don’t think make-up is for everyone and, I guess I went along with that. My understanding of make-up is that it has often had something to do with social status, like when people made themselves more pale to show that they were people of leisure, indoor people, upperclass people. And like when blush and certain shades of nail polish meant you were, like, loose or something. And like how today it still means enough about you that I have trouble putting it on. I want to but, I’m not interested in “making a statement” or being a “pioneer”. Which is laughable anyway because I’d hardly be among the first… anyway, I would like to look a certain way without being noticed. And I don’t know whether that makes sense because why would I want to look anything if other people aren’t seeing me, like how can I look anything if… fuck, I don’t know. I guess just put on make-up how you want to. Or don’t. It’s up to you. Or other people. Or something. (to the band) Goddam it. I’d like to take a bath! How is anyone supposed to deal with this?
Narrator exits. Time changes.
Herman merges into Sam. Everyone else continues what they were doing. Jenny and Jolene enter and groom in the mirror.
Jenny: Where’s Sam?
Jolene: With Herman.
Jolene: Hopefully working on their coordination.
Jenny: They’re not that bad.
Jolene: They look good. I mean it worked out. Or something. Maybe that’s not the right way to say it. This is my only first-hand experience with people, you know… I mean, what do you even call it? Merging or absorbing or something? But the point is that they look good. Sam’s eyes have always been striking, Herman’s legs shapely… Put them, you know (gestures merging)… Anyway, they look good, but you have to admit their coordination is all sorts of fucked up. He sits while she stands, or the other way around.
Jenny: They’ll figure it out. I think it’s nice because you can sit alone with one, but if you’d rather have the other beside you, there she is. I bet it feels good too. Do you think they feel bigger all pushed together like that? Do you think they feel like one big person? Sometimes I reach my hands up as far as they will go just to feel huge.
Jolene: Does it work?
Jenny: No. My body takes up only a certain amount of space, no matter how I organize it. But I’ll still do it. Like, often. And every time I’m disappointed. Plus it makes me feel crazy.
Jolene: I feel crazy a lot. Like most days I feel like I still have my arm. Like I have two full arms.
Jenny: That’s not that crazy. I sometimes feel that way too.
Jolene: You do have two full arms.
Jenny: I mean I sometimes feel like you have two full arms.
Jolene: Oh. That’s weird.
Jenny: But I also feel like I have two arms. I’ve felt that.
Jolene: There are things that I do that are crazy by my own standards. Is that normal?
Jenny: Nothing is “normal” sweetie. There is no “not normal.” That’s not a thing.
Jolene: But you know what I mean, right? Do you do that? I mean, what is something you do that even you think is crazy?
Herman: I lock eyes with every animal I meet. I started with pets, mostly. But now humans. And, of course, wild animals if it is ever possible. But you have to be sneaky to get close. You have to be careful. And you have to be ready for any reaction. You can’t know how anyone or anything might feel when you look right in its damn eyes. I’ve been punched twice.
Jolene: (to Jenny) This person here: not normal. And you want this person to make up half of our child’s DNA.
Jenny: Herman’s perfect for it. I don’t know about the Sam half of the equation.
Sam: Ha ha. (she flips Jenny off)
Jolene: (to Herman/Sam) We were just talking about you.
Herman: I hope you weren’t making fun of our coordination.
Jolene: Obviously not.
Herman: Has anyone seen any tweezers? (or whatever makes a good activity for Herman/Sam)
Jenny: Hold on. I think I saw some in here.
Herman: It’s a learning curve.
Jenny: I bet. I like it. Is it terrible to say that it makes me feel a little special, having friends that became one? Like it raised all of our exotic factor. Is that a gross thing to say?
Herman: I meant it’s a learning curve sharing one bathroom with so many people.
Jolene: It’s a learning curve for some, for others we were born that way. There were seven in my family sharing one, but so much worse then because everybody needed their privacy. Bathrooms were for privacy. As though something unknowable was happening on the other side of the door. Granted, it really was the only private space.
Herman: I’d have had a hard time with this during my awkward years.
Jolene: You’re out of your awkward years? Lucky.
Sam: Clearly, we’re out of our awkward years. Nothing awkward about this.
Herman: Everyone knows what I meant.
Jolene: You’d have gotten used to it. Or not have known any different. You might see something else on TV, but that’s so clearly some bit of make-believe that TV people create like happy marriages and people who like to make homemade tomato sauce from their freshly-picked garden-grown heirloom tomatoes.
Jenny: I would like to do that.
Jolene: That’s nonsense.
Jenny: Food you pick yourself tastes better. Well, you don’t have to actually pick it yourself. I mean, fresh food. Stuff from the garden.
Jolene: I never had a garden. I had parking lots.
Sam: (drops a pill) Ugh. Dammit.
Herman: Could someone grab those for me?
Someone does. They take it.
Herman: Are we okay?
Jolene: What is this?
Jolene: Well, yeah, I can see it’s soap. But what’s the purpose? Who put it in here? I know this is what people do, but I don’t get it. This is real soap. Real usable soap. But are people supposed to use it?
Jenny: I don’t know.
Herman: The weird thing is it’s all the same flavor.
Herman: The soap. They all look different but they are all the same flavor.
Jolene: Herman’s right. This one is a seashell and is purple and this one is a… I don’t know what this one is… a fish? Whatever, it’s a fish and it’s pink. But they both smell the same. It’s the same soap, just a different color and shape. If you’re going to bother to have a pile of soap to choose from, they should all be different.
Jenny: I guess I don’t think you are supposed to use that soap.
Jenny: Because there is some soap right there. Like actually by the sink.
Jolene: Who put it here? A pile of real soap that is not to be used as soap but is just to be there as a pile of soap.
Jenny: For decoration.
Sam: I put it there.
Jenny: For decoration?
Sam: An offering of sorts. An offering to the bathroom.
Jenny: But for decoration?
Sam: It’s an offering.
Jolene: There should be a pile of real seashells if you want to have something decorative in your real bathroom. I’m going to use it as soap.
They argue. A knock on the door.
Jenny: Out in a minute.
Still arguing. Another knock.
Jenny: One second.
Jolene: Just come in!
Edward enters. Everyone is silent.
Edward: What are you all doing?
Jolene: Nothing. Literally just talking about this pile of soap.
Edward: Ugh. They’re covered in dust.
He dumps them in the sink, and begins to rinse them.
Herman: No! It’s an offering.
Edward: What’s that supposed to mean? To the Bathroom Gods?
Sam shrugs. She doesn’t know.
Jenny: I don’t think soap gets old. Just dusty.
Herman: Soap doesn’t spoil?
Jenny: I can’t imagine it does.
Sam: Everything spoils.
Jolene: Do you make ‘offerings’ all the time? Because tons of stuff just appears in here.
Jenny: You shouldn’t look through everything.
Jolene: The soap pile is sitting on the back of the toilet. That’s a public arena.
Jenny: Well, speaking broadly, the shit one keeps in the bathroom is private.
Edward: Not as private as what you keep under your bed or in your sock drawer.
Herman: Old ugly sweaters and socks? That’s not private.
Edward: I’m just saying you keep more private stuff elsewhere.
Jolene: (going through a drawer) Ok, here we go. Fleet Enema. Where did this come from?
Jenny: That’s private.
Jolene: An enema? No. That’s fine. Who cares about that?
Jenny: I think it’s private.
Herman: No. A dead body is private.
Edward: No one keeps their dead bodies in the bathroom.
Sam: There’s too many goddamn people in this bathroom. Is anyone else having trouble breathing?
Edward: Seriously though, no one keeps their dead bodies in the bathroom. They keep them under their bed, or buried in the garden. Do you guys ever have that dream where you are burying bodies of people that you’ve killed in your yard? Or you remember about the dead bodies that you’ve buried and you’re embarrassed?’
Jolene: Of course I’ve dreamt I killed people, I’ve just never buried them.
Edward: Well, that’s not tidy.
Jolene: (still going through a drawer) An EPT Fertility Test…
Edward: Ok, that’s kinda of private.
Herman: No, not really… it’s mine.
Edward: It is?
Herman: Yep, I thought in light of Jenny and Jolene asking, I’d check to see if I was viable.
Jolene: It’s not private.
Herman: Oh I’m sorry. I assumed everyone knew.
Edward: Knew what?
Sam: They want Herman’s sperm.
Jenny: It seems kinda private!
Edward: You’re having a baby?
Jenny and Jolene answer at the same time:
Jolene: We want to. / Jenny: We’re thinking about it.
Edward: Wow. I had no idea…
Jolene: We want to. / Jenny: We’re thinking about it.
Herman: Before we get too far along it seemed like a home test would be a cheap and easy way to determine if I can do what you need.
Edward: You’re gonna donate sperm? Can you still do that…
Sam: Good question.
Edward: Let me see that. So what…this is a pregnancy test for guys?
Herman: Fertility test. It determines sperm count. A healthy “male” is supposed to have like 20 million sperm per… I can’t remember…
Edward: Per millimeter… 20 million sperm per millimeter is what it says.
Jenny: Yikes, that’s a lot of sperm!
Edward: I have healthy sperm. You want me to test mine? It looks like you just masturbate into a cup and then mix some testing fluid… it doesn’t look hard…oh great and it comes with gloves! Nice and neat. It’s like a fun science experiment. (pause) Masturbation isn’t always easy, but I do it almost every day… sometimes right into the sink.
Jolene: Oh my God.
Edward: Don’t worry, I clean up right after… I don’t really like to see myself in the mirror though. I make this face that totally ruins it…. lately I’ve been picturing Herman watching Sam. It seems to work… but if I’m looking in the mirror it’s like watching myself picturing Herman watching Sam. It gets too complicated.
Edward: But that’s private.
Jolene: No, that’s wonderful! (finding an eyelash curler) Now this is private.
Herman: Yes! Exposing all the mechanisms used to make you look beautiful. That’s nobody’s business.
They all start to leave talking, except Edward.
Jolene: (the last one out) We’ll just leave you to do your thing.
Edward: I’m not going to… (looking around at the mess) Hey! Nobody cleans? Do they wonder how it gets clean? Do they pray to the Gods and find that the Gods have answered. The fucking toilet is clean. You’re welcome. I did it in between shipwrecking someone and turning someone else into a statue or a lizard or something. There probably is a god of hygiene or bathrooms. Hey, band, can I have some praying music?
The band plays Amazing Grace or something.
Edward: Take each layer, oh God—whatever weird name you may have—and peel it clean. Remove the dust and the little fucking hairs. Take out the trash when it runneth over. You are mighty and I praise you, several times a week at the foot of this multi-use throne… Altar? This porcelain altar? I’ll say whatever to get you to… do your thing…
Narrator enters mid prayer.
Narrator: Are you praying?
Edward: Kind of… though it feels more like atonement.
Narrator: Huh. (flossing teeth) God keeps all the bone of the righteous, so that none of them are broken.
Edward: The god of what?
Narrator: Are teeth bones?
Narrator: You don’t know.
Edward: They’re enamel and like tissue and shit… No one ever cleans this.
Narrator: Because you clean it. (pause) If they’re not bones then why do you always see them on skeletons? (pause) My seventh grade health teacher, Ms. Kellogg, had a skeleton in the corner and it had teeth. Bones and teeth… I think they’re bones.
Edward: They’re harder than bones.
Narrator: Well they’re still around with the bones so you gotta take care of them. (beat) My Mom kept all my baby teeth in a bottle. I found it once.
Edward: Gross and… love. I don’t think the skeleton was real. The one in the corner of your classroom. There’s no way it was real.
Narrator: Yeah, probably not. I don’t remember. Maybe there wasn’t a skeleton at all… but she did teach seventh grade health…
Edward: Well, if it was there, it wasn’t real.
Narrator: We put condoms on bananas… I remember that.
Edward: A useful skill.
Narrator: And Ms. Kellogg said that boys shouldn’t worry because all you need to satisfy a woman is the first four inches.
Edward: What’s that supposed to mean?
Narrator: She wasn’t my best teacher.
Edward: Oh, hey! How did Jolene lose her arm?
Narrator: I don’t know. Why?
Edward: Sam said Jolene was in the war and doesn’t like to talk about it — lost her arm to an IUD.
Herman: (laughing) How many soldiers lose their arms to birth-control? I heard Jolene was conjoined at birth — twin sisters sharing an elbow from two upper-arms. After surgery, one or both were put up for adoption, and somewhere in the world a second Jolene got the long end of the straw.
Edward: Jenny said Jolene and her sister were out on a frozen river with their friends from high school — oh! Like a wishbone! (beat) Anyway, some kid, Paco, starts jumping on a dark spot — thinks he’s funny, but goes right through — and Jolene is the only one with balls enough to save him. Lost her arm to frostbite. She’s probably a hero in south Nebraska or wherever. I think Jolene cut it off herself. Because it didn’t feel like hers. Xenomelia. WebMD! It’s like xenophobia, but less… racist.
Narrator: Is this all you think about? Why do you care so much? You have so many stories.
Edward: I don’t know.
Sam: Mythicize, you should look that up… We’re trying to understand the situation.
Narrator: I think Jolene was born without an arm. It happens, right?
Narrator: People look all sorts of ways. I mean, when I look in the mirror, I sometimes can’t believe the shapes.
Edward: I wish I could say the same. (studying) My belly is dumpier than I would like. My eyes are bloodshot, my hair thin. But goddamnit, that still looks like me.
Edward and Narrator leave. Time changes.
Sam separates from Herman and sits down, dead in her chair. Everyone goes to watch TV and eat. Herman stays, looking in the mirror.
Herman: Make-up tutorial #117: If you close your eyes, the mirror no longer has any power over you. You are a gorgeous fairy princess, and the birds dance your dress into a carriage, and the prince tracks you down with hunting dogs, and it’s at least three years before the divorce, when you have to close your eyes again and start all over.
Herman: What’s going on out there?
Jenny: Nothing. Lots of stuff. The same things. I don’t know. It’s weird, right? I don’t know if it’s all supposed to be, like, a metaphor or what. It’s quiet in here.
Jenny: You look nice.
Herman: Do I? I feel terrible.
Jenny: Well, sure. We all feel terrible, but you look nice.
Herman: Is it okay to wear eyeliner to a funeral?
Jenny: What do you mean? Of course it is. It’s okay to wear eyeliner wherever you want to wear eyeliner.
Herman: No, I know that. I mean. Will it be okay? Because of the crying.
Jenny: Oh. No. You’re going to look awful. You’re going to look the way you feel.
They both put on eyeliner.
Jenny: Herman, does it feel different being just you again?
Herman: Depends on the moment. It’s like Jolene can sometimes feel her arm, right? I can sometimes feel Sam.
Jenny: I can sometimes feel Sam.
Herman: Oh. Well. Nobody’s special.
Jenny kisses Herman, wipes her lipstick from Herman’s cheek and exits.
Herman: (in the mirror) I do this for you, I do this for you, I do this for you. I mucus you. I scab you.
Herman exits. Time remains the same.
Narrator enters. Sam is still dead.
Narrator: It’s one of those mornings where you wake up, not knowing where you are in time. At some point Sam dies, but I don’t think we’re there yet.
Time begins to change.
Narrator: I suppose at some point, we all die, but we’re not there yet either. Have Sam and Herman melded together?
Herman and Sam merge, and everyone goes about their activities.
Narrator: Sam had a fever, and Herman sat with her through the night, and by morning they became one. That’s one story. Others say it happened chopping onions for dinner, when Sam slipped in a tad too close, and stuck. I don’t know. People seem to agree that it was something mundane. But that happens later, I think.
Time begins to change.
Narrator: Sam is alive and alone.
Herman lets go. Sam is alone.
Narrator: Still dressing and undressing for the camera — trying to get it right. In any case, I woke up feeling like people — all of us — are made of complicated stuff. Too hard to understand or fix. So I’m screwed because I am breaking down and unfixable. And, to make matters worse, time is passing. Lots of it. Because nobody has yet figured out how to stop it in such a crisis. Someone should really get on that. So that’s the kind of morning it is. And it took forever to pull pants on over my legs because I didn’t understand what the fuck my legs even were. It’s time I get a handle on this. It’s time that there are no mornings like this. I want to wake up knowing that it’s simple: that I am made of tinfoil and paperclips. So I took initiative and looked it up. “What are people made of” I typed. And nothing is helpful. Because we are apparently made of everything: we are made of calcium, oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and phosphorus or body, mind, intellect, ego and soul or, according to a Modest Mouse song, nothing but water and shit. Or snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails if you identify as a little boy or sugar and spice and all things nice if you identify as a little girl which makes it ten times more complicated because now I am required to think of myself as something more specific than just a people — I mean, a person. (beat) Ha! A little boy, a little girl, a little people. I don’t know… fuck it if it’s that kind of day.
Narrator exits. Time remains the same.
Sam is alone. People do what they do. Edward enters.
Edward: Make-up tutorial number something: clean your prep area. It’s easier to change your look if you are organized. I’m not a neatnik. I know it seems like I am. It’s about respect. When we misfits find a place where we can be ourselves, then for god’s sake, let’s respect it. Love it. I do this for Sam because of what she’s done for me. For all of us. I do this for her whether she asks or not. (looking in the tub) Ugh. That’s a mess. (maybe he gets out a lint roller and starts rolling the band members) Sam! Sam! I do this for you! Really, it’s common courtesy.
Sam: (entering) Are you yelling at me?
Edward: Not at you. I appreciate you.
Sam: I appreciate you too, Edward.
Edward: I’m not a neatnik.
Sam: Of course not. (she sits on the toilet, tired) Does today seem hard?
Edward: I don’t know. Are you okay?
Sam: I can’t feel my heart beating.
Edward: (his hand on her heart) It is.
Sam: Thank you.
Sam kisses him, and he exits. Sam sits alone for a bit, then she stands up, splashing some water on her face. She starts to brush her teeth. Herman enters and joins her. They merge somehow. It can be simple. They hold hands and they can’t stop. They like it, and explore it, then exit as one. Time remains the same.
Sam/Herman are merged. Everyone else continues doing their thing. Jolene and Jenny enter.
Jolene: We should have a baby. You should have a baby. I bet you’d make a pretty baby.
Jolene: I’m telling you you’re pretty.
Jenny: (doing her voice) I bet you’d make a pretty baby.
Jolene: Well that’s how it works. Good looks are passed down the line.
Jenny: You’d make a good looking child.
Jolene: My sister’s kid is squished and ugly.
Jenny: Your sister’s baby. He’s a baby.
Jolene: Not all babies are squished and ugly.
Jenny: Babies are squished and ugly and also cute all at once.
Jolene: Well (imitating Jenny imitating her) I bet you’d make a pretty baby.
Jenny: Babies are expensive.
Jolene: Yea, I know. Cost me an arm and a leg.
Jenny: You’re hilarious.
Jolene: The leg grew back.
Jenny: A riot.
Jolene: Edward would like it. Wouldn’t get the joke, but he’d like it. (looking in the mirror) I’m not the man I once was. I never was the man I once was.
Jenny: My boobs are sagging. Children or no, they sag in the end.
Jolene: I never noticed.
Jenny: All wrinkles, the two of us. Skin and more skin.
Jolene: Thanks. Hey, you know the story of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus, rght?
Jenny: Obviously. Though I don’t understand why the Gods would grant the wish of a young woman in the midst of assaulting a 15-year-old boy mid-swim.
Jolene: Maybe making them one wasn’t granting the wish the way she wanted. She just wanted to never be apart. Maybe they were teaching her a lesson about being careful with your words.
Jenny: But Hermaphroditus didn’t need to be taught that lesson.
Jolene: I know, I know. We’re off track. I wanted to just be like ‘you know the story of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus, right’ and then you say ‘yeah’ and then I say ‘do you also know about Iphis and Ianthe’?
Jenny: Oh. Do you want to start over or just go from there?
Jolene: I don’t know. It seems kind of ruined now.
They exit. Time changes.
Sam is dead in her chair. Everyone is watching TV and Herman enters the bathroom.
Herman: Make-up tutorial #128: For just a moment, things improve if you wash your face after you’ve been crying. (wiping face) A face wipe or water, it doesn’t really matter. You know the tightness of dried tears, and the run of your mascara? Getting rid of those makes you feel better. It might not last, but you will take what you can get, right? (pause, wipes face, wipes face again) Sam thinks — Sam thought — baths cure everything. Our femur could have been jutting out of our skin and she would suggest taking a bath. She couldn’t imagine a life without baths. (wipes face) I never take baths anymore. (looks at the band, wipes face again) We should’ve taken her around. The family is requesting an open casket… can you make Sam look like Sam? If you can’t make Sam look like Sam, you don’t get the job… I don’t know who ended up doing it. Are they good at their job? If that’s as good as that job can be done, it shouldn’t be anyone’s job. Because in the end… it was very strange. It’s like dressing up like yourself but getting it wrong. Someone should do a make-up tutorial on that: Looking like you, but not. Looking like weird dead made-up you. I guess the hands were right, but I don’t know if anything is done to the hands besides placing them in a… solemn position. Why would the custom be to look at the body after it’s been dressed up by someone who doesn’t know the body? I knew the body. No one asked me to dress her up. (pause) Funerals are such a creepy mix of dust-to-dust futility, wacky stories, gross greener pastures bullshit, and a fucking painted body in the corner that used to have a person inside. Two people. I was…
Herman: Jolene is building her own coffin for when the time comes — a room of her own. I want to see the sky. I want to float away gentle on a boat, with candles and black powder, under the moon. Whisper, splash, boom. And the flames are reflected in the water. No body hanging around to get in your way.
Edward: Canes Sepulchrale.
Edward: People used to breed dogs for the sole purpose of devouring human remains. Bodies were put into open fields to be devoured by wild animals and it was considered a bad omen if the body wasn’t devoured. The opposite of covering things up and burying them. Naked, open, evisceration. The idea was that if the wild animals ate the body, your loved ones live on in the animal… a sort of living sepulcher… hence the carefully trained dogs… in case the wild beast thing didn’t work out… the soul should have a strong and lusty frame to dwell in. (pause) Then again, dogs like to bury things… so maybe the ancient people got it wrong.
Herman: When my dad died, so many people brought cake to the house, the soft kind, it was… they were all… kind of airy… do you know the kind of cake I mean? The problem was the frosting I think… it stained my lips blue. I ate and ate. I felt sick. You’re never full. Ugh. I don’t feel very good.
Edward: (filling a glass) Drink some water.
Herman: Gross, that’s the toothbrush glass.
Edward: I’m rinsing it. (the water sputters and stops) Shit. What’s going on?
Herman: The faucet is cursed.
Edward: Or a little broken. Here.
Herman: I don’t want water. Why do people always think that water is the answer to everything? It’s not.
Edward: Jesus Christ. I’m just offering you an alternative to not feeling good. I don’t even know what that means: I don’t feel good. Who the fuck feels good?
Herman: I’m just feeling off.
Edward: Water is good for you.
Herman: I know that.
Edward: Water is, like, the reason we’re alive or something.
Herman: I know.
Edward: So maybe you do need to drink some fucking water.
Herman: Is there any Pepto?
Edward: Oh, if you need Pepto, you’re not feeling off. You are specifically feeling either nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, or diarrhea.
Herman: No I’m not.
Edward: You can have diarrhea in front of me. It would take our relationship to the next level. I can tell people, this is my friend Herman and not only did Herman poop in front of me, Herman had diarrhea.
Herman: That’s not a thing. I need you to leave.
Edward: Because you are going to poop?
Herman: No! No, I’m not going to poop, I just don’t want to talk to you anymore.
Edward: I’m just trying to help. I told you to drink some water!
Herman: That’s not being helpful, Edward! Of course I should drink some water! Every single person should just go ahead and drink some fucking water, but I don’t want to drink any fucking water. (beat) I’m certainly not going to drink bathroom water.
Edward: Bathroom water?
Herman: Water from the bathroom tap… It’s… It’s bathroom water.
Edward: It’s the same water that’s in the rest of the house. (pause) You know that right? There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s not cursed or blessed or something. It’s water.
Herman: Please just go.
Edward leaves the bathroom. Herman sits on the toilet. In comes Narrator.
Narrator: Hey. Are you OK?
Herman: I don’t feel good.
Narrator: Did you drink some water?
Narrator: Did you take some Pepto?
Herman: Not yet.
Narrator: Well, get on it. You’ll feel right as rain.
Narrator: (holding a bottle of pills) These were Sam’s. There are bits and pieces of Sam hanging around all over the place. A shoe there. A bottle of pills here. (looking at the prescription label) 30 tabs… one 10mg tab, once a day. There are… five left. Huh… I may not be the only one taking these. I remember going through a box of my mother’s things and finding a little bottle… (realization) it may have been a prescription bottle… that’s strange… I can’t remember what she would have been taking… full of my teeth. It was a shock. Those pieces of myself that I had traded in for money, using an agreed upon game of make believe. Why did she keep them? I mean first and foremost get rid of any evidence that refutes a belief system you’re trying to put in place.
Herman enters and stands in the doorway.
Narrator: That’s just basic… but then I had to come to terms with all those little yellowed… pieces of me… I mean I had already come to terms with the loss… it’s a whole process… first the tooth is loose, right, you wiggle it for days, it falls out, and then you tongue the hole… obsessively. That’s how you come to terms with it being gone. The hole takes shape. You understand it’s shape… probably better than the missing tooth… and then to find them all again… it’s traumatic. Pieces of yourself hanging around all over the place…
Herman: (grabbing the glass of water and pouring it out) Cute explanation about missing teeth and loss. The shape of something that’s not there. A metaphor?
Narrator: What are you doing?
Herman: Wouldn’t want to leave this just laying around — just in case there’s something… I mean, it’s just water, but… um, this is the toothbrush glass, so… gross. (exiting) If Sam fell out, as you suggest, was it to make room for something else coming in or was she eaten up from the inside, leaving an empty spot that can only be artificially filled? (pops his head back in) I’m playing along, by the way… with your tooth metaphor. It’s heavy-handed, but you started it.
Narrator: Now I can’t even remember what I was talking about. It wasn’t conscious… the tooth metaphor. It wasn’t crafted. I was just holding this bottle and that put me in mind of the bottle of my baby teeth… It was organic. Herman made it weird. That’s what Herman does. Shit! Now I’m going to do it: Sam was a molar. Not an incisor, not small… larger… necessary, needed… for chewing. Sam was a molar… This is goofy… K. I’m gonna take one of these. Not because there’s anything wrong with me. Because there was something wrong with Sam. (they swallow the pill and open their mouth to prove it’s gone) See. All gone.
Narrator exits. Time changes.
Sam merges into Herman. They enter the bathroom quickly, as one.
Sam: This is fun. Isn’t this fun?
Checks teeth in mirror, pinches cheeks, pats lips to make them pink, as:
Herman: For sure. He’s not very interesting though.
Sam: No. The internet has rarely provided me with someone interesting. Have I ever told you about Derful Dave? But still this is fun. And he’s way into us.
Herman: (looking in mirror) Yeah, well, me too. I’ve never looked prettier. I mean, we finally look like me. I’m not saying it right.
Sam: (looking in mirror) I see myself for the first time.
Herman: Yes. We feel myself for the first time.
Sam: So we agree, we look good, but how do we smell?
Sam: Oh, I have something in my teeth.
Herman starts flossing.
Sam: Crotch check!
Herman leans down to check lower body smell. It’s hard, cause they’re not limber enough. Smells crotch of jeans.
Herman: We’re good.
Sam: (sees her bare stomach in mirror) Oh Jesus, Sasquatch. Chewbacca. Hirsute.
Herman: It’s not that bad.
Sam: It’s that bad. Make-up tutorial number —
Herman: Go for the cheap joke! Number 69.
Sam: (Herman digs through drawers and finds a razor, starts to deal with abdominal hair) The important part is: even with only minutes, you can get a quick grooming session in.
Herman: But keep in mind, he probably won’t even notice.
Sam: We do it to feel good about ourselves. To feel confident.
Herman: How could we not be confident? Look at us! We’re…
Sam: A poly pandrogynous gender-fucked hairy femme with two people inside?
Herman: Not that hairy!
Sam: Hirsute is exactly how it sounds. Not from Latin or Olde English – originated in some frat house or locker room when some guy was just like “what do you call a hairy chick” and some other dude was like “a her in a suit”. Hirsute. A her suit made of hair. A hair suit. Hirsute. I mean, no, that’s dumb, but either way, it’s onomatopoeia. Like love.
Herman: That’s not onomatopoeia.
Sam: I know, but kind of. It’s all lips and tongue and a big, open uh sound. The same shape your mouth makes when you’re doing things to someone you love. Imagine if that feeling was described with some totally different word, like mucus or scab. I mucus you. I scab you.
Herman: You’re nuts. I mucus you, scab you, love you.
Sam: I love you too. And I love that love means so many things and only one thing all at once.
Herman: Did you know that when a flower has both carpels and stamens, it’s called a perfect flower?
Sam: Isn’t that most flowers? Don’t most flowers have both?
Herman: I don’t know. Maybe.
Sam: Nobody’s special. (she falters) Woah, dizzy.
Herman: You okay?
Sam: Excited. But also I can’t feel your heart beating.
Herman: (his hand on her heart) It is.
Sam: Good. We should get back out there. (holding up her arm) Last check.
Herman: (smelling her pit) We smell great.
They exit. Time remains the same.
Herman/Sam are merged. Everyone does their own thing. Jenny enters. She is being a bit cagey and secretive, checking the door. Then she lays a towel out and fills it with toilet paper rolls and folds the towel up around the rolls, maybe with a bit of a struggle. Once swaddled, she holds the rolls like a baby. She looks at herself in the mirror. It’s all a bit awkward. She tries to get into the moment.
Jenny: Okay. Let’s try this.
She starts to sing a lullaby, or a love song, and the band joins in. Jenny sings. Before she is done, Narrator enters, surprising her. The music stops. Jenny drops the “baby”.
Jenny: Oh god. I’m terrible. I — oh god, I dropped the — toilet paper.
Narrator leans over to pick up a roll.
Jenny: No! (picking it all up) I… have to do it. I will get it. If anybody should help me, it should be Jolene. But she’s always… doing something.
Narrator: Okay. Well, I actually just needed a little… to…
_Narrator rips off a piece of toilet paper and blows their nose. Jenny is distressed. Narrator exits, and Jolene enters.
Jenny: There you are! We’re you doing something?**
Jolene: What? I don’t know… (putting on a mud mask) Make-up tutorial #78. You should put on a little mascara, they say. You’ll look so pretty. It’ll make your eyes bright. A little concealer can touch those blemishes right up. A splash of blush, a smear of lipstick, they say. Huh. And you try. You do try. I think you’d look better without all that makeup, they say. I like the natural look. There’s no pleasing them.
She starts to sing in the mirror. Edward interrupts.
Edward: Can I ask you something Jolene?
Jolene: I bet you can, Edward.
Edward: Did you throw it? To win a race?
Jolene: Did I throw what?
Edward: Your… (indicating arm) Like the Red Hand of Ulster. Has Sam told you that bit of gore? The story goes that the kingdom of Ulster had no heir to the thrown so they set up a boat race — the first one to touch shore wears the crown. So this slow bastard cuts off his hand and throws it, for the win.
Jolene: Holy shit. He wasn’t going to win —
Edward: He wasn’t going to win so he flings his fucking hand.
Jolene: — touches the shore.
Edward: Touches the shore. The Red Hand of Ulster.
Jolene: (gesturing) It’s the Red Stump they should be worried about.
Jenny: Holy smokes, you scared me.
Jolene: How do I look?
Jenny: Like you have mud on your face.
Jolene: Bingo. It’s a treatment. It’s mineral rich clay mud that was imported from the Aztec mountains or something like that. It’s magic. Edward thinks that I threw my hand onto a distant shore to win a race. I don’t know what he thought I did with the rest of the arm, but the bloody hand won me a race.
Jenny: I don’t know what you’re talking about, but good for you being a winner.
Jolene: (about the mud) Want some?
Jenny puts on the mask
Edward: Jolene, I didn’t mean… I just was…
Jolene: Don’t worry about it Edward. I like stories.
Jenny: Make-up tutorial number 89, Edward. This shit is good for your skin. It helps to create a nice canvas to work on.
They put it on without talking. They all three look in the mirror. Then Edward starts to clean the toilet.
Jolene: Ok, the story of Iphis and Ianthe.
Jolene: Iphis’ father swore that he would kill his child if she was a girl and so Iphis’ mother hid her daughter’s gender from her husband, raising Iphis as a boy. When Iphis was old enough to get married — whatever that means — her father arranged for his “son” to marry Ianthe. Iphis instantly fell in love with Ianthe but was conflicted about feeling that way about another woman.
Jenny: Did Ianthe think Iphis was a man too?
Jolene: Yes and she was also in love. So that’s nice, requited love.
Jenny: Did they get to be with each other?
Jolene: It’s mythology, hon. A god swooped in and just changed Iphis into a man on their wedding day.
Jenny: Oh. Well, that’s convenient, I guess. I mean if that’s what Iphis wanted. Being in a Greek myth is cheaper than hormones and surgery, that’s for sure.
Edward: Ahhh… It’s too dramatic for me. All the tragedy… the changes… and on your wedding day. I try to avoid all the drama by staying on my knees… groveling at the altar.
Jenny: I meant to do some cleaning the other day.
Edward: I’m sure.
Jenny: You do such a nice job.
Jolene: You do do such a nice job! HaHa! But Edward, beautiful man, get up off your knees, the greek stuff isn’t about groveling, it’s not about the Gods, it’s about you. I have a story for you too. Do you know about Prometheus?
Jenny: Just say no.
Jolene: So there’s a God, and he’s angry, and he’s tormenting Prometheus, and in a terrible way…
Edward: More terrible than forcing him to perpetually clean the toilet?
Jenny: I’ve cleaned the toilet before!
Jolene: The punishment isn’t important, what’s important is what Prometheus says… you want to know what he says?
Jenny: Say yes!
Jolene: Prometheus, chained, suffering, looks to the heavens and says, ‘Fuck off! I care less than nothing for Zeus. Let him do what he likes’.
Edward: He said ‘fuck off’?
Jolene: No groveling from him. Cuz, the greek stuff wasn’t written by priests, it was written by poets and that makes a huge difference. The priests go and make things all god-y all the time. Poets are happy to put people in the middle, flipping off the Gods. What you’re doing Edward, on your knees, it’s too bible-y.
Edward: It’s hard to take you seriously in a mud mask.
Jolene: Then lets take em off!
Jenny: I think they’re supposed to stay on longer. I mean if you want the full benefit of the Aztec mud.
Edward: Fuck the Aztecs, my face burns.
Jolene: Fuck Zeus and fuck the Aztecs! Fuck the Gods and the poets they rode in on!
They wipe the mud off. Narrator enters.
Narrator: Whoa. Crowded.
They all start to do some kind of preening, helping each other as needed.
Narrator: I feel like I’m always in the bathroom. Getting ready for the day. Getting ready for the night.
All mumble some sort of agreement.
Narrator: And, of course, time on the toilet.
All mumble agreement.
Narrator: But we don’t talk of such things.
Edward: I read a newspaper article about a woman who sat on the toilet so long that the two became fused.
Narrator: Or we do talk of such things.
Jolene: Fused how? Never mind, I don’t need to hear…
Edward: Her skin grew around the toilet seat.
Jolene: …hear that. Ugh, like a hair splinter.
Jolene: Hairs can grow into your — it doesn’t matter. We can grow around things.
Edward: Yeah, her skin grew around the seat. And when the paramedics came, they pried the seat off, with the woman attached, and took them both to the hospital.
Narrator: So the seat could be removed.
Edward: I think so… (pause) It wasn’t even her toilet. It was her boyfriend’s.
Narrator: That’s the problem for you?
Edward: Well… it’s inconsiderate.
Jenny: You think it was her plan to inconvenience him?
Edward: I don’t know. (pause) Bodies are strange. (pause, no response) Her skin grew around the seat. (pause) You don’t think that’s strange?
Jenny: I don’t think that bodies are strange. I think people think bodies are strange. We’re just one form among many.
Narrator: One form among many?
Jenny: We’re as common as toilet seats. So… no, not strange.
Edward: Well I’ve never heard of anything like it. Skin growing around a toilet seat.
Jolene: Never, Edward? (she puts her finger on his forehead) If we wait long enough, your face will grow around my finger.
Edward: Romantic and totally not at all romantic.
Jolene: I know, right?
During this next section, Sam/Herman stop trying on clothes in front of the camera. Something is happening. Sam is dying. It can be as stylized or realistic as it needs to be.
Narrator: What happened to the boyfriend?
Edward: I don’t know… he got a new toilet seat and was finally able to use his bathroom? I mean, she’d been there a long time. He brought her food and stuff. She didn’t want to leave. He’d ask and she’d say, “Maybe tomorrow”.
Narrator: Maybe tomorrow.
Edward: Maybe tomorrow.
Narrator: Hmmm… the world is full of strange situations.
All mumble in agreement.
Narrator: Or not.
All mumble in agreement.
Herman places Sam’s body in the chair, arranging her. Sam is dead. Herman pauses, then enters the bathroom where everyone is preening.
Herman: Shit. I can feel my heart beating. It’s horrible.
Jolene: Are you okay? you don’t look whole.
Herman: Neither do you. You’re missing an arm.
Jolene: Shit Herman, where’s Sam?
Herman: I don’t know. Her body’s in her room. All dressed, nowhere to go.
Jenny: Holy shit.
Jolene: What do we do now?
Edward: (grabbing the pile of soap) Is this a thing? An offering?
Jolene: We need to call someone.
Jenny: I think people bring us casseroles that we eat for weeks or something.
Herman: Can I please just have some space?
Jolene kisses Herman and exits with Jenny. Edward hands Herman the soap and exits. They grab the tapes still in Sam’s space and start watching them.
Herman: (looking at the band) I’d watch out if I were you. There might be something in the water — it’s just one theory — but the water could have something to do with it. You know: two people merge into one and it’s amazing but then someone dies and it’s emptier than ever. I’m not saying it’s what happens. But it’s what happened. Unbelievable is just one weird thing away from it happened. Either way, your equipment could get ruined.
Narrator: I’m sorry, Herman. I have to pee.
Herman: Ah, great.
Herman takes a pill and rubs toothpaste all over the inside of their mouth.
Narrator: What are you doing?
Herman: These block dopamine from being reabsorbed, so called re-uptake inhibitors… Ahhh! I love Colgate. It has to be one of the big bad ADA approved monsters, Crest, or Colgate… and for me it’s the taste of Colgate that’s really just…it’s the best… Wanna try some?
Herman: And so mint toothpaste produces dopamine… toothpaste makes me happy… and this keeps me happy… it’s a great combination… peanut butter and jelly.
Narrator: It’s happening quickly.
Herman: Yeah, quick artificial happiness.
Narrator: I’d like to go to the bathroom.
Herman: I kinda have to go too. (pause) Sorry, ok you first. I’ll wait right outside. (starts to leave) Oh, let me grab this (grabs the toothpaste). I might need more.
Herman leaves but pops his head back in.
Herman: Pretty smart right? Interesting? Better living through science. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and the idea with some of these antidepressants is that… Ok wait… let me talk first about the Axon terminal…
Narrator: Herman —
Herman: Really there’s no compelling evidence that the fucking pills work in the first place. It’s like psychiatrists don’t know… doctors don’t know. Is there a problem with your serotonin production? Or, is there a myth perpetuated by drug companies to tell you that there’s a problem with your serotonin production. I haven’t gotten around to any clinical trials, but I have found that toothpaste…
Herman: What’s wrong… you can’t go when I’m talking? You should try singing a song. It’s supposed take your mind off having to pee in front of people. (pause) Although, thinking of a song in front of people…
Narrator: Please… go away.
Herman: I’ll just give you one. Then you don’t have to think of one… um… give me a second…it’s harder than you might think… Oh! Love in an Elevator. Everyone knows Aerosmith. Ding. Second floor. Hardware, Children’s Ware, Ladies Lingerie. Oh, good morning Mr. Tyler…going… down… (waits) going down… you’re supposed to sing!
Herman sings, with the band:
Herman: Working like a dog for the boss man. wo-oh. Working for the company. wo-yeah. Bettin’ on the dice I’m tossin’… wo-oh. I’m gonna have a fantasy. wo-yeah…
Herman stops singing, and cuts off the band.
Herman: What’s wrong? You don’t know the song? You could just skip to the chorus.
Herman sings, with the band:
Herman: Love in an elevator, living it up when I’m going down. Love in an elevator… (stops again) Is it helping?
Narrator gives up and opens the door all the way.
Herman: Everyone pees. It’s a natural human process. Nothing to be embarrassed about. Here, maybe if you hear it, it’ll help. (silence as Herman pees) Did you hear that?
Herman: You’re welcome.
Narrator: (sitting on the toilet) Make-up tutorial number 157: Everyone pees. It’s a natural human process. It doesn’t require some tutorial. Babies do it all the time… I don’t know. Sam would have had something to say about it. Maybe there’s a myth about peeing, and how the gods cursed us — or blessed us, if that’s your thing? — with a sewer system connected to our sexy bits… I don’t know.
Narrator sits awkwardly in silence. The band starts to play something. The lights go out. The end.
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