Backstory: That Thing
It would be wonderful to think that I will be sexually active well into my golden years. It's a hobby that's been very good to me over the years and I have no intention of giving it up or taking up bowling instead. (Old joke: Why is sex better than bowling? The balls are smaller and you don't have to change your shoes.) That being said, when I look back across my lurid history and think of some of the things I've done over the years, it does make me wonder how I'll remember them 20, 30 or 40 years later.
And thus, That Thing. Maybe it's me, but I find the idea of an older couple who had a little something kinky as part of their boudoir routine back in their youth quite funny. It became funnier when I decided to explore the avenue of having the missus remember it not quite as fondly as the mister. In a roundabout way this leads them into a discussion of their life together, the secrets we keep in our relationships, and the things we do to keep the people we love happy.
Heady stuff for a 10-minute comedy, hey?
This is one of those plays that, once it found its footing, just wrote itself. There was no back-and-forth with myself, no stalling wondering where it was going. I immediately liked Carl and Linda and it was easy to create and explore their relationship. I could firmly feel Linda's glee when she decides to turn the conversation around on Carl. I liked that what was coming out wasn't a woman unsheathing her verbal sword out of spite; rather, it was the joy of finally feeling able to say what she'd been feeling for years--all the stuff her girlfriends probably already knew about ol' one-'n-done. And turning the conversation this way allowed me to then have her spin it back to show the beauty of their life together. I find Linda's talk about making love with the one man she's ever loved an absolutely beautiful little bit of dialogue.
The show premiered at the Boston Theatre Marathon in 2007. I had been in Philadelphia the day before, taking in a concert. I drove six hours back home on about four hours' sleep, stopping only for a pair of hot dogs at the legendary Super Weiner in Connecticut, popped in at home to say hello to the wife, then kept going on into Boston for the show. It went over nicely, acted by Dale Powers and Kippy Goldfarb, veterans of the Boston theatre scene, and directed by Fran Weinberg. I was pleased.
I was once again invited to submit my Marathon entry to Smith & Kraus, and was again lucky enough to have it selected for inclusion in an anthology. (Best 10-Minute Plays of 2008, 2 Actors.)
The show was supposed to premiere as part of a night of my short works at Curtain Call. It would have featured the actors I kept in mind as I was writing, Martha and John Sawyer. That fell through; I still hope to have Martha and John do it soon.
I had absolutely nothing in mind when I wrote the bit about Carl doing "the hand motion." That's up to the actors. My friend Gordon Ellis told me that when actors were auditioning for this show for its appearance in the 2009 Acme Theatre New Works Winter Festival, the range of hand motions from the actors was hysterical.
I have described the motion that Acme's Carl, Mr. Tom Powers, came up with as "Pete Townsend and a leaf blower being invited into the boudoir." Use your imagination if you didn't see it.
I don't think I've ever done "a thing with...the other... thing." Oh, wait... Yes, I have.