CELEBRITY – Part One

CHARACTERS

Gloria, in her 40’s or so, much used by life

Barney, a slick guy, also in his 40’s or so

Waitress, experienced in her trade and anywhere from 25 to 60

Man (optional)

SETTING

The present. A coffee shop in Manhattan.

(There are three small tables in a row across the stage. Gloria and a Man are sitting at separate tables, both facing left. Gloria is at the middle table, the Man at the one at right. Barney enters, heads for a table–not one of the three that we see. The Waitress, holding large menus, stops him and points.)

WAITRESS

Singles sit on the left.

BARNEY

(caught short)

What?

WAITRESS

Singles sit on the left.

BARNEY

Those tables? That row of tables?

WAITRESS

Yes.

(He follows her. She sets a menu down, indicating he should sit facing left.)

BARNEY

Can I sit on this side?

WAITRESS

(after thinking)

I suppose you could.

(He moves the menu to the other side, then sits facing right—and facing Gloria.

Waitress exits. Barney smiles at Gloria.)

BARNEY

They sure have rules.

GLORIA

I beg your pardon?

BARNEY

Rules. Where you can sit. She told me:  “Singles sit on the left.”

GLORIA

If it gets too busy and a person took a table for four people . . .

BARNEY

They’re not busy. See? They just like to enforce these rules. I have to admit it gets my goat.

GLORIA

Maybe at certain times. I mean, it’s just a coffee shop, and you can eat here or not.

BARNEY

(rebuffed)

Sure.

(Waitress appears at his side, pad in hand.)

Just coffee.

WAITRESS

Sir?

BARNEY

Just coffee.

WAITRESS

(pointing to a place in the menu)

There’s a three-dollar minimum during dinner hours at tables.

BARNEY

(using his charm)

Even the single tables . . . at the left?

WAITRESS

(grinning meanly)

Yes.

BARNEY

Even if no one’s here?

(Indicates restaurant at large. She points to menu.)

C’mon, sweetheart. Lighten up a little. The SS isn’t recruiting this year.

(She doesn’t smile. He gives up:)

May I have a toasted corn muffin?

WAITRESS

(through her teeth)

Of course you may. Jelly?

BARNEY

What if I wanted two containers of jelly?

(She points to another part of the menu.)

One will do fine.

WAITRESS

Thank you.

(Goes. In the remainder of the play, she serves all the customers as appropriate. Barney addresses Gloria.)

BARNEY

I wonder if there’s a rule on how to eat your corn muffin.

(She smiles to acknowledge his remark but doesn’t encourage him.)

Oh, I’m sorry to bother you. Sorry

(After a pause)

Is that liver? liver and onions?

GLORIA

(her mouth full)

Yes, it is . . .

BARNEY

Is it good?

GLORIA

(swallowing)

Not bad.

BARNEY

I’m sure it follows the regulations for liver. Hey, don’t let me bother you. There’s probably a rule against this anyway.

(She smiles.)

Oh, wait a minute. That smile! I remember you from somewhere. I saw it when you smiled. Sort of a “I’d-like-to-smile-but-life-is-awfully-burdensome” smile. Did you go to Erasmus Hall High School?

GLORIA

No.

BARNEY

Neither did I. But I knew a lot of that crowd. Did you work at Macy’s? I did that for a while.

GLORIA

(increasingly nervous)

No, I didn’t.

BARNEY

I’m bothering, aren’t I? Keeping you from your liver. Go on–chew. But I get the idea I’ve seen you . . . You’re famous for something, aren’t you? You’ve been in the news, or you wrote a book and you went on Oprah to tell the world about it.

GLORIA

No.

BARNEY

Wait, something is coming to me . . . I’m lousy with faces, but names . . . a name will stick in my brain. Gloria–Gloria Shulklepper. Is that close?

GLORIA

(very reluctantly)

Yes, that’s my name. Or used to be.

BARNEY

Okay, so why do I know it? It had something . . . to do with the subway! Right?

GLORIA

I suppose . . .

BARNEY

There were classics in the old days. Remember “Little enough to ride for free? Little enough to ride your knee”?

GLORIA

No, no, I don’t.

BARNEY

You were in an ad! An ad for . . . “the shame and heartbreak of psoriasis” . . . ? “The lonely terror of mental illness”? No–it was for–

(Stops himself.)

Oh, I’m sorry. I keep thinking of some kind of preparation for . . . Oh—yeah! You were “Gloria Shulklepper, Hemorrhoid Sufferer”! Hey, oh my word–

(Reaches for and shakes her hand.)

I’ve never met a celebrity before! I mean, that took some kind of heroism. To get up there and tell the world . . . Do a lot of people still recognize you?

GLORIA

No . . . in fact . . . I’m happy, you know, if they don’t remember.

BARNEY

Why?! I can’t believe that! What about the people who knew you? Were they impressed?

GLORIA

No.

BARNEY

This is something! I never met a celebrity. I saw Soupy Sales at Gristede’s. Waiting at the checkout . . . he wasn’t even telling jokes. What was it you said in the ad? Something

about . . . pain? Go on. Say it.

GLORIA

(looking down, trying to get this over with)

“There’s nothing like it for my pain, swelling, and itching.”

BARNEY

Right–that was it! “Gloria Shulklepper, Hemorrhoid Sufferer.” Your picture, and a picture of the product. “There’s nothing like it for my pain, swelling, and itching.” What a statement! That’s all of real life, right there: pain, swelling, itching . . .

GLORIA

If you’ll excuse me . . .

(Starts to get up; tries to catch eye of the Waitress.)

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