Playaday: Schubert of the Pampas

#60—“The Schubert of the Pampas” describes composer Carlos Guastavino. Describe yourself as “The…. of the . . . “

(I’m going to be offline over the weekend, but I’ll still try to write my playlets, which I shall post on Monday. This one wrote itself. The characters inhabit a Play for Voices that I wrote which will be a podcast sometime in February.)

CHARACTERS

VICKY—a retired lawyer—queen of the courtroom

SHARON—a massage therapist—supreme organizer

NANCY—a former priest—queen of the sacristy

LINDA—a retired nurse

SALLY—a matriarch—NOT an angel

They are old women who have been friends for years.

Setting:  A coffee shop, the middle of a conversation.

VICKY

No, I didn’t always want to be a lawyer. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Queen.

LINDA

What? Queen? Vicky! Where did you get that idea?

VICKY

The coronation movie. I saw it when I was, what? Three? Did you see it? Elizabeth, like a fairy tale princess with that gown and cape and crown and the scepter and the orb and the sword. . .

LINDA

(Ironic.)

Well, I must say it affected your taste in clothes. Those little suits of yours.

NANCY

You do wear nice jewelry.

VICKY

That’s due to Sharon. If you like nice jewelry, have a spouse with good taste, I always say.

SHARON

That’s my girl. Queen of the Courtroom.

NANCY

Well, what about you, Sharon? Was massage therapy even a thing when we were kids?

SHARON

I vaguely remember a large Swedish masseuse  in some movie or other. But no. I wanted to be a secretary.

NANCY

That was basically the choice, wasn’t it? Teacher, nurse, secretary, housewife.

SALLY

And I picked housewife. And I don’t regret it at all.

SHARON

Why should you, Sally? You’ve raised a batch of great kids. And grandkids, too. Without being the “angel in the home,” too.

SALLY

Right. Anyone who calls me an “angel” would be in serious trouble. But back to you, Sharon. A secretary. Why?

SHARON

I like order. I like office supplies. Folders and stickers and file boxes and rolodexes and pens and pencils and. . .

VICKY

Oh no! You got her going! Everything in our house is labeled and filed! Sharon, Supreme Organizer!

SHARON

(Primly.)

However. You can find things in our house, can’t you? And it really helps me with the business.

VICKY

All true, all true. Nancy. Were you one of those girls who dreamed of being a priest or an astronaut or something girls couldn’t be?

NANCY

As a matter of fact, I was. I wanted to be a priest. But when the dust had settled, when I began to realize that dealing with a parish and trying to talk about a god I only half believed in, I saw that it was at least partly about the stuff. 

LINDA

The stuff?

NANCY

Yeah. The music and the stained glass and the incense. And—the clothes. You know? The robes. They were pretty nice.

VICKY

I get it, Nance. If I was Queen of the Courtroom, you were. . . 

NANCY

Queen of the Sacristy.

LINDA

What’s a sacristy?

NANCY

The dressing room. Backstage. Yeah. That works. But not queen, when I think about it. More like, oh, I don’t know, clown. 

SALLY

Clown?

NANCY

That’s not right either. Impressionist, maybe. But that doesn’t matter any more. What about you, Linda?

LINDA

Nurse. Nurse LInda all the way. The Florence Nightingale of Milwaukee. I still miss it.

VICKY

Craziness. I can not imagine wanting to take care of sick people.

SHARON

But you used to take care of deranged people, love. Some of those clients of yours. . . 

VICKY

Different, different. They didn’t barf and need bedpans.

SHARON

I hate to break this up, but I have a client in half an hour so I’ve got to run. See you all next week?

(Stands.)

SALLY

God willing and the creek don’t rise. Yeah, I’d better get going, too.

(They all stand, and exit, talking quietly, as the curtain falls.)

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