A crowded bar, filled with intellectual people having intellectual conversations.
The phrases "theatrical vitality," "as put forth," "a large vodka," "schadenfreude," "my wife," "to be frank" are repeated--loudly until action begins, and then very softly,
growing in volume until, at the end of the play, the other patrons drown out the dialogue in a chant. PERROUQUE is sitting at the bar, opening a box with a new felt hat in it, and his DOG, a mangy, ancient creature, whines softly at his feet. PIMM is nursing a beer next to him.
Enter a LADY from the left of the stage, about 35 years with a nervous attitude.
LADY: What is the name of this bar?
PIMM: This bar?
PERROUQUE: (trying to push his dog into the hatbox on the counter) Stupid mutt! Stop squirming, stop squirming, do you hear?
LADY: Yes, this one.
PIMM: (turning away) Shut that creature up, won't you? Such a racket!
PERROUQUE: He won't fit, Pimm.
PIMM: He's too big, that's why. Undoubtedly that's why.
PERROUQUE: He used to fit in it. I remember when Emily gave him to me in a hatbox, tied with a pink ribbon. Or maybe it was blue. Yes, it must have been blue. In any case--he used to fit.
PIMM: He doesn't any more, obviously. You might as well stop trying.
PERROUQUE: What sort of attitude is that?
LADY: (interrupting) Excuse me, what is the name of this bar?
PIMM: (coldly) Excuse me, madam, we are in the middle of a conversation.
PERROUQUE: He used to fit perfectly in Emily's hatboxes. I don't understand it.
PIMM: Perrouque, my old friend, that was a long time ago.
WAITER: (walking past) Time?
PIMM: Why did you just do that? A bit dramatic, wasn't it.
PERROUQUE: What? (shaking the dog) Just cooperate with me, you mutt!
PIMM: (shaking his head) Why don't you stop that?
PIMM: It's pointless, that's why!
PIMM: (after a pause) I think, perhaps, that you are being symbolic. Have you considered that? Yes. You are. It is achingly symbolic, painfully so, even. You are trying to stuff all the evils of the world (indicating the dog) back into Pandora's box (indicating the hatbox with Mrs. Skillett's Fancy Hats written on the side) thus ushering in a time of pure goodness for all mankind (indicating Perrouque and himself).
PERROUQUE: I am?
PIMM: Indubitably. Undoubtedly. It is the product of too much Sunday school. You did attend, did you not?
PERROUQUE: Of course.
PIMM: Damn right. There's nothing better. In any case--
LADY: What is the name of this bar?
(All their voices have been steadily raising, synchronously with the other patrons. At this point they are almost shouting)
PIMM: Doesn't it say on the outside?
LADY: (nodding her head and wringing her hands) It says The Blue Lagoon.
PIMM: That's settled then, we're sitting in The Blue Lagoon.
PERROUQUE: Are we really?
PERROUQUE: How do you know?
PIMM: We might as well be. Even though it is a bit kitschy.
PERROUQUE: (considering) I suppose you're right. Well. We've established the 'where,' in any case.
(The dog, yelping, slips out of Perrouque's hands and tries to jump off the table. The lady instinctively reaches out to catch him. They both fall silently--the dog runs out the back, the lady remains on the floor)
PIMM: When did you buy that hat?
PERROUQUE: (touching the brim) Perhaps yesterday. Perhaps. It can be reversed and worn inside out, you know.
PIMM: Really? Show me.
PIMM: Marvelous. Simply amazing.
(By this point, Pimm and Perrouque are shouting)
PIMM: Have you considered, old friend, that you are being symbolic? Indeed. You are. It is hauntingly symbolic, utterly so.
PERROUQUE: Do you think so?
PIMM: Indubitably, undoubtedly. This hat is an allegory for--
(At this point, the other patrons' voices drown out Perrouque and Pimm. After a few moments, more people enter the bar and add to the chanting until gradually Perrouque and Pimm are completely obscured)
M. Jayanth is currently a student (i.e., not gainfully employed) and plans to pursue English Literature (because she can't ever imagine being gainfully employed). When not writing, she hosts tea parties with Albert Camus.
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story copyright by author 2004 all rights reserved