Excerpts from Loveplay
LIDDIE: Liddie Sherman. Lifestyle Realty.
MELIA: Lidia?
LIDDIE: This is Liddie Sherman.
MELIA: Liddie. Hi, you don’t know me, but I got your name from. . . I’m sorry, this is very. . .
LIDDIE: Are you in the market for a house?
MELIA: No. I. . .
LIDDIE: Oh, was this in . . . reference to something else? I’m sorry, I had my private number switched over to this phone, I forgot to punch it back—
MELIA: I’ve been trying for a long time, and I got your name and. . . Did you give birth to a daughter in June of 1962?
LIDDIE: Who is this?
MELIA: I’m looking for my natural mother . . . and I think you might be her.
LIDDIE: I watch little kids on busses. Little girl, maybe four, Korean maybe. Lady says, “Do you like busses?” “Yes.” “You like trains?” “Yes.” “Which do you like better, trains or busses?” “Busses. No, trains.”
Choose one. Which do you like better, trains or busses? Ice cream or pie? Rock or jazz? Men or women? Archibald or Reginald or Letitia? Why, from the age of three, do we have to choose? Not making discriminations, or sensitizing, but just subtracting options.
“My favorite color is red,” Therefore I must wear red. I must marry red, be faithful to red, head to foot, forever. I may not feel the hot lick of blues. I must not be promiscuous with the spectrum.
Bus or train: Hell, it depends on the schedule, destination, and who I’m on it with.
JANELLE: (from the kitchen) Fuck! Thanks a lot for drinking the last beer.
LIDDIE: Sorry.
Janelle, angry, comes in with armful of notebooks—acting-class journals—and sits down on sofa, starts to read them and pencil notes.
“Hello, how was your day!”
JANELLE: Shitty.
LIDDIE: I never woulda guessed.
JANELLE: (bitterly) I appreciated the note.
JANELLE: “Hi. I’m out. Back in the morning. Love you.”
LIDDIE: Are we back in the Preferred Secrecy mode? I thought you said that hurt worse.
JANELLE: Just do your damn taxes! I’m busy!
LIDDIE: You said be honest.
JANELLE: Be honest. Being honest for you means—
Turning on full comic wattage:
“Nell, sweetiepie, excuse me, would you please hold your hand up there a moment, I have this Inner Need to nail your hand to the wall—”
LIDDIE: Nelly—
JANELLE: “Now I am crucifying you, I know, but I’m being perfectly HONEST about it. Don’t twitch like that? Would you hold these nails for me? Oh, you don’t have a hand free, sorry!”
Finishes with a flourish.
LIDDIE: You are a big dumb clown.
LIDDIE: Janelle. Don’t go tonight. If you have to go, go tomorrow.
JANELLE: (exhausted) I have to do it. I have to follow through with this. I never follow through with anything. I’m so damn funny in comedy, I start doing one thing, and then do the opposite, and they laugh like hell. This is tremendously embarrassing. . .
LIDDIE: Come to bed. I promise not to make love to you. Just stay the night, I’ll bring you a hot scotch, and if you have to go tomorrow, for a while, but don’t do it this way tonight, please. All the motels are closed, you don’t want to drive down the road and have every damn sign say No. Stay one night. Like a sister.
JANELLE: I’m going to go in the morning. . . I’m going to keep packing, start in in the other room on the books. . . I’ll sleep out here.
LIDDIE: You sleep in the bed, I’ll sleep out here.
LIDDIE: I won’t sleep in the bed.
JANELLE: I’ll sleep here.
LIDDIE: I’ll get the sleeping bag, and I’ll take some whiskey, and sleep out in the car, so I know you won’t drive off, and you sleep in the bed.
JANELLE: I won’t sleep in the bed.
LIDDIE: I won’t be in the bed.
JANELLE: Then nobody sleeps in the bed.
LIDDIE: Too bad.
JANELLE: Then we’ll both feel like damn fools.
MELIA: Tell me about Liddie?
JANELLE: Don’t ask me, for Godsake!
Long pause.
She’s extraordinary. There’s not anyone in the world like her. She’s smart as hell, has balls of brass, so to speak. Very theatrical—not fake, but everything to the extreme. I couldn’t believe at the dinner table—
MELIA: Thing with the magazine?—
JANELLE: And it would never occur to her not to say it flat out. Describing the night you were conceived, for Godsake, bless her heart, it’s fabulous, but I couldn’t believe it— She has her own ideas about how people ought to feel, and if they don’t, why too bad for them.
MELIA: I do that. I have my own strong ideas how the world ought to be.
JANELLE: Well it won’t. Just forget it. Not in a million years.
Pause. Janelle drinks, very unsettled.
For Godsake don’t ask me—She’s unbelievably capable. This little partnership, they call it Lifestyle Realty, it’s hippie as all hell, but her clients just love her. She’s invented a life. Invented a life.
MELIA: That scares me. That’s what I’ve always wanted. What if I get it?
JANELLE: She’s crazy about you. She said, “Are you jealous of Melia?” and for Godsake no! Except maybe I am, a bit, or just it’s more like a, what?—
MELIA: Catalyst?
JANELLE: God knows. Jealousy, I don’t know why it’s there, in me, makes no sense, I know, to say “No you cannot be intense except with me,” no sense at all. This whole sex thing, “erotic friendships” she calls’em, Jesus, it’s disgusting, but when she talks about it, well yes she means it, it’s her blood, it’s what acting is to me, as natural as eating, for Godsake, the friendliest, most vitalizing—What am I—I don’t want to defend her, I want to kill her!
I was in a car crash, my own damn fault, and flat on my back for eight months, operations, casts, horrible, horrible. She nursed me. Cleaning my bedpan, sitting there holding my hand for hours. I gave her holy hell, and she just. . . She’s the most totally. . . my God. . . faithful . . . person I’ve ever known.
With great difficulty, she looks at Melia.
We’re not together now.
JANELLE: Sometimes it works.
LIDDIE: Backrubs are a great excuse for starting. Well first it is a backrub, then pour a little oil right in the small of the back, and brush with your whole front, flat belly on the flat back slither, tobogganing. . .
JANELLE: There are rehearsals. Spans of rehearsals, you think you know where the character’s going, and it’s fine, it’s a job. And one day, some very simple question, “Jan, could you move to the sofa?” “Well, why?” “Well I think. . .” And you plunge into the jungle.
TIM: We’d just started seeing each other, and she came to visit, late afternoon, went out on my fire escape to enjoy the breeze, and started kissing, and before we were quite aware, we were doing it, and suddenly “Hoo, this is a fire escape!”
JANELLE: And it’s hell. Three weeks of absolute hell, the director’s pitching a fit, I’m a raging bitch and I start to smoke again, and then—If you’re very lucky, and if you’re all serving the play—Maybe all of a sudden, Friday before tech—It comes together.
MELIA: On the beach, whole image of sand and sky and sea, but the sand sticking, oh God, sheets would be so nice. . . And then home in the bathtub, kissing, and he says, “Talk to me, tell me what you like, tell me what it feels like. . .”
JANELLE: Yes, it does. Even with the most unlikely casting, you find some common thread, and it becomes a kind of a family. . .
LIDDIE: Roaring with laughter on a hot night, and all that sweat, raise up and smack together, like seals, and laugh till you almost lose it. . .
JANELLE: And it does take time to tie up loose ends, but it comes together. Maybe not quite as you’d like, and maybe some scars. But it does come together. Sometimes surprisingly well.
LIDDIE: Backrubs are a great excuse.