Living is easy with eyes closed - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Living is easy with eyes closed

(When the curtain rises Idealist Man  (IM) is assisting Realistic Woman. (RW) Together they are making meatloaf in a modest kitchen. There is an old Formica table with four seats, a gas stove, and a small refrigerator and sink with a counter to prepare meals and paper towels and a banana.  On the counter is a few boxes of Cracker Jack. RW mixes the meatloaf with her hands and shows IM how to do it. IM hesitates but RW forces his hands into the bowl of the meatloaf. After awhile, IM begins to enjoys playing with the meatloaf. RW takes the meatloaf away and puts it in a pan and then into the oven. Throughout this entire scene nothing is said. It is apparent that they have had a fight. Rather than argue about it, they simply smile at one another. Finally IM breaks the code of silence.)

IM

I never told anybody this but since you are my girlfriend, you might as well know. I’m a secret agent. Yes, it’s true. I work the FBI, CIA TWA and I’m an undercover spy for McDonald’s. (RW looks at IM as if they had this conversation before.) 

All right. Maybe I don’t work for TWA.

RW

And?

IM

And  the  CIA.

RW

And?

IM

Can’t I have at least the FBI.  (RW doesn’t answer. IM turns to the audience) That’s a big sign when people say nothing. I mean if everybody said nothing then you know for sure they’re saying something. Actually, nothing means it’s all over. Finito. It’s the say-bye attitude. Come to think of it, there isn’t much you can do with a nothing reply. Oh well, things could be worse. I could be confessing my sins to my priest and begging for forgiveness and he could say nothing. So looking at it from that position, I gave in. (Turns toward RW) All right. You can have the FBI. Just leave me McDonald’s.

RW

(Screaming) Stop it. I don’t want to go through this again.

IM

(To the audience) In an attempt to calm her down I figured out what to say. (To RW) Calm down. Don’t get upset, Relax. Enjoy life. Have a banana. I mean, so I’m not a secret agent . No big deal. I can survive. Let’s just say I’m a….. retired secret agent. (RW turns her back on him in disgust) OK. So you don’t like that. No problem. We’ll just change it. (RW exits. IM follows.) Let’s just I took a leave of absence.

(A door slams off stage and IM returns and the door slams again)

(To the audience) I could tell she didn’t like that either. I mean, I can take a hint. You see I have a great talent for sensing things that are hard to sense. I learned that from Sherlock Holmes. Well, in this case, there really wasn’t any other deduction to draw. I mean, when someone slams a bathroom door in your face, I think it’s safe to conclude they are a little upset. So I better confess.

(IM shouts to RW) All right you win. I’m not and never was a secret agent.  (IM looks off stage where RW exited and reports to the audience) She is opening the door and smiling at me as if she has won me over. I think she wants to kiss me also.

(RW enters, IM Speaks tenderly.)

The truth is well…I… well, well, well, I am a… (IM turns to the audience) It is harder to say than I thought it would be. I figured the only way to speak the truth was to go as fast as I could. So I took a deep breath and said, (IM turns to RW) I fly a 747 and moonlight as a Rock ‘n’ Roll star.

(RW runs off stage. IM runs after her. There is a loud door slammed offstage. IM walks back on stage.)

She slammed the door back in my face gain. Her smile disappeared and I don’t think she was in a kissing mood either. I wasn’t so sure about the last part so I figured I better ask her to be on the safe side. (To RW) So, (clearing throat) Do you still want to kiss me?

(The toilet flushes)

Somehow I think that means no. I figured I’d better confess again unless I wanted to spend the rest of my life talking to a door. (To RW) OK, I can’t fly a 747 and moonlight as a Rock ‘n’ Roll star.  How about if I just fly a very small jet?  (RW no response) All right. How about if I just fly paper airplanes? (RW still doesn’t respond. OK. How about I just put model airplanes together?  I’m getting a little worried here. There is only so much she can do in that room and I’m running out of airplanes.

(RW screams in frustration)

That’s it. Get it all out. Do you feel better?

RW

Get out of my life. I never want to see you anymore!

IM

What am I supposed to say to that? But I’ll give it a shot. Does this mean you don’t want to kiss me? (To the audience) She is opening the door. She is creeping out slowly. It looks as though she is going to speak with angry undertones.

RW

Look, maybe you are tired. You never sleep. Let’s get something straight.

IM

(To the audience) Oh, I think this is going to be good speech. I was thinking I should take notes or something. You never know when you may need a speech like this. Bit if I took notes I might miss something big. How could I be sure to catch all the fine details?  I didn’t know what to do. There seems to be so many decisions to make in life and I always have to make a decision that involves deciding. I wanted to ask her for advise but decided it was unwise to break her train of thought. Still, that made me mad because I made a decision and I didn’t want to decide anything. I guess you can’t escape commitments. Anyway, let’s hear what she has to say.

RW

Now you and me cannot build a relationship without honesty. First you have to be honest with what you are. Living is easy with eyes closed. That’s what you do. But get a grip. You work for Cracker Jack. You put the prize in the box. And that’s OK, but it doesn’t have to define you. You can escape. Forget about about all those rejections. Don’t quit. Who cares who believes in you. You do. You act out everyday. Just do it out there. That’s what is important to know where you are now and then find a way to get where you want to be.

IM

But isn’t it important to know how important you are in relation with how important you want to be? Not to  mention how important you think important can be. (To the audience) She looks rather lost and upset – that angry tone thing. I look rather important.

Actually, that wasn’t really fair for me to say. She just misunderstands everything she sees. Right? Come on people work with me here. I’m right. Right. You guys over there  in the cheap seats do the Lennon thing and rattle your jewelry, if you think I’m right. I’m a deep person. OK, I mean, I have a philosophy degree in philosophy. I learned about life and stuff that no one ever thinks about except when they run out of conversation pieces. The truth about philosophy is it’s a lot of words and details that you study and then throw away because it can’t pay for the meatloaf and then you end up at Cracker Jack when all I wanted to do was to act. (By the way I’m a manager there. I tell people what prizes to put in the box. It pays the bills. Thank you very much.)

But they say it’s great to have  a background in something that no one understands like philosophy. I think that’s because someone else gets the meatloaf. Well I suppose it might come in handy some day. You never know when someone might walk up to you and ask a deep question like, “Does virtue wear the pants of justice?”

Sill, I wonder why I chose to study philosophy. I think maybe because I figured it would help me be a better actor.  It didn’t help. Couldn’t get enough parts to make a dent in the bills and Cracker Jack just started to consume me. It became me and I found myself explaining at auditions that I worked for Cracker Jack. That shouldn’t be. I should have been telling Cracker Jack that this is just a thing I do because I’m really a crackerjack actor. Somewhere down the line things got all twisted up and I forgot the lines I was supposed to say. Sort of like forgetting where you put your keys in the morning.

I think it was when my summer stock director told me to move to New York and live there for 10 years .  Ten years didn’t seem like a long time and he seemed to be encouraging – thinking I had a shot in the Big Apple. So I pressed him a little further. Every actor needs a little love – make that a lot of love – especially us character actors who never get the girl.

‘What’s the part in ten years I would get,? I remember asking him.

“The part? “he said. He seemed preoccupied almost perturbed that I asked him a question.

“Yeah,” he said with little emotion. You’d be that guy in a John Wayne western type movie.

Cool, I thought. A leading role at last! No more character parts. New York, here I come!

He continued. You’d be the guy who gets tossed through the barroom window and that’s as far as you will go in this business.

That’s when reality sank in. I’m no crackerjack actor. I can’t even land a lead role in a summer stock production. What was I thinking?

I mean it’s funny how you can go through four years of college – six in my case – as a dreamer in philosophy and end up a realist. That’s probably how the saying, “It’s been real” started. Yet, it’s even funnier to think that you study reality in books , lectures, and class discussions and some old man that you have never seen before hands you a diploma that states you understand reality and can handle it. Something is wrong, though.

I mean nobody wants to face it. It’s not just in a book. It looks you straight in the eye. Reality is wondering what’s going to be on the table when you don’t even own a table. It’s looking for someone to hold you when no one is there. It’s believing in dreams that you know are dead. It’s ..It’s.. It’s boring.

I think I’m rattling a bit too much and neglecting  my girlfriend who has a point to make.

(RW is crying and cries louder as he continues to get lost within himself) I feel pretty bad. I don’t see how I can get so caught up with myself and forget about responsibilities. You need responsibilities to be responsible. I mean if you are not responsible you are innocent and nobody wants to be innocent.  (He gives RW a white handkerchief. She wipes a tear. Their eyes meet and love is obviously still there in a strange way. After a long pause, RW gathers herself and speaks.)

RW

You now you don’t have to be a secret agent or a jet pilot or a Rock ‘n’ Roll star. You don’t have to play any of those roles with me anymore. You can go back to what you were before. Sometimes you just need to go back to go forward. Don’t listen to what others have told you. Do what you want to do. (Her hand touches his face) Believe me you will understand because I finally do. (Short pause) Here, I think you will need this more than I will. (Hands him the handkerchief. She looks hard at him. He wants to say something but doesn’t. Finally she turns and walks out of his life. He is silent.  He wants to cry but can’t.)

IM

What about the meatloaf? …I hate it when they get the last word in. (He takes the meatloaf out of the stove) It makes you look like you’re the one that has to grow up. That SHE was right. That SHE understands. She understands? Why is it that everyone understands your problems before you realize you have problems. I always hate people who say, ‘I understand.”

The world would be a lot better off if people didn’t understand each other because then people would probably have a better chance to understand what they don’t understand.

This really gets me. (He sits at the kitchen table and starts to serve himself meatloaf) She thinks she has pinpointed my problems by telling me to go back to go forward. What the hell does that mean anyway? Well, I think she watches too much TV. Life’s problems are not solved in 40 minutes of drama and 20 minutes of commercials. Life has to be deeper than that. I know that for a fact.

After all I studied deep stuff and life is one of those things that can be considered…. deep. Still, why go back? What’s that mean? Where you came from? Who you are? What you believe in? Well, I used to believe in myself.  I had confidence. What happened? Did I give it away? No that’s not it either. The truth, The truth is I sold it for meatloaf.  I compromised like everyone else here did. I made sacrifices to murder my dreams. No wonder I can’t sleep at night. Sleep, it’s overrated. (Long pause)  But maybe I’m not. Maybe I’m not.

(His eyes well up and lights fade to black)

Curtain


About the author

Timothy W. Maier

Timothy W. Maier started out writing music, fiction and poetry and then turned to news writing where he spent the past three decades at news organizations in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington, D.C. More recently he was the managing editor at the Baltimore Examiner. He now spends time with his family, dogs, trains for marathons and works as a media consultant. Contact the author.
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