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Tomatoes and Courage, Bimbos and Bad Hair

Fifteen actresses came together last summer in Theatre Neo’s presentation of “Girls Talk,” a collection of two dozen largely autobiographical monologues and sketches. The show, in Hollywood, proved so popular that it is being revived next month. Here are four scenes, each written by its performer:

Naked One By Kirsten S. Vangsness

Walks up to man at bar, takes off glasses and speaks quickly. I’ve had three glasses of champagne and I did something to my back so my doctor put me on this medication that keeps me lit like 12 hours of the day and I have never done this but you are just so beautiful that I am finding strength in your beauty and I just wanted to come over here and say hi. Pause. Hi!

At first I thought you were gay but my best friend’s been giving you eyes all night and you haven’t responded once so . . . yeah!

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You know, I bet you have all sorts of beautiful, beautiful women fall on you all the time in that sort of gazelle-like way that beautiful, beautiful, beautiful women can fall, and I’m sure you’re thinking why should I respond to drunk medicated geek girl and I have an answer to that. Slowly. I know you’re not just the way you look. Quickly. Which is great the way you look if I have not said that but I know you’re not just about that because I saw you talking to Sheldon and I saw you laughing at one of his dirty Dr. Seuss limericks that only I laugh at, so see? We have that in common . . . we both laugh at Sheldon.

And, you know, if you did respond to me, it would be incredibly good for my self-image, and if you think I’m even remotely attractive now, you should see me when my self-image is up. I am gorgeous. Pause. Presently it’s not up. Slowly. Presently it’s flailing, it’s flailing. Badly. You don’t understand this is a really big deal for me. I have never gone after something I really wanted. Quickly. It’s not that I’m lazy. I have the passion to get what I want. I just feel like I’m not enough. I’m not worthy or something ENOUGH to deserve that thing I want so badly. And you are just so beautiful, and I know I keep saying that, but I want you. Yeah. Loudly. I want you to want me. I choose to be interested in you, MISTER . . . and according to my great homo friend over there, I am as beautiful, funny, sexy and intelligent as they come, and you know gay men are never wrong about that kind of thing. Long pause. Slowly. OK. I am going to go shrivel from mortification or recover or if you wanna go laugh at me or ask me out or whatever, I’ll be right here. Walks away. He comes to her.

Bimbo in the Manicure Shop By Ursula Whittaker

Why am I afraid of falling in love again? The bimbo in the manicure shop. Bleached blond, wannabe 20s, with a hot little body, a redesigned . . . just about everything, and a 4-year-old’s voice. She’s desperately trying to decide what color nail polish she should get. Not because she doesn’t know what she wants. She knows it. I know it. And perhaps even her 50-year-old boyfriend getting the manicure and pedicure knows it.

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He’s a treat. He’s as much of a cliche as she is. Sardonic smile. You know, the guy whose musk sucks the air out of the room. The one who wears loafers with no socks for every occasion. He’s always well armed with a cell phone and an organizer in each hand to assert his importance. And to mention the notion that his hair has traveled from the top of his head to just about every other region of his body would seem to be stating the obvious.

But I digress. Where was I? Oh, yes, we all know what color nail polish she wants to wear. But she doesn’t know it out loud. Because Sugar Daddy doesn’t want her to wear that color. Black. Pause. She tries to persuade him. “It’s sexy.” He’d prefer the peach on her, he says. I bet she doesn’t even like peach. And yet, she can’t seem to make up her mind. I’m sick. Sick, sick, sick. Why? I’m not a bimbo. My voice is that of a woman’s. My body is all mine. And I have no sugar daddy. So, then why? Long pause.

Because I’m like her. Because I once was where she is now. And because there’s that part of me that knows I could go back there, just like that. I wanted his approval. The one I loved. The one I thought, “Happily ever after.” Pause.

I’m watching her, restraining that voice that rumbles deep inside my belly. Inside my head. Caught in my throat. I feel the sudden urge to stand up on top of the beautician’s table and scream out (climbs atop table and yells): “Go for the black nail polish, Bambi. Do it for you. Do it for me. Do it for all of us women who’ve lost our voice.” Long pause.

Softly. Do we lose our voice? Or is it that we just tuck it away for a while? Because we think, “He won’t like it. I can just stuff it down, and then he’ll stay. And then I’ll be OK.” No, I don’t want that. I don’t want to fall in love again. ‘Cause I’m afraid I’ll stop being able to make decisions. Important ones. Like . . . What color nail polish do I want to wear?

Hair Peace By Carrie Robinson

Looking in mirror, tugging on unruly bangs. Why do you always do that? Pause. Yes, that! Oh, this is so completely annoying. Why should I expect you to act any different? Any time I want you to look good, I know you’re going to end up lying on my head like straw sucked through a fan. Why do I even try? Fix, fix, fix. Ugh! Can’t you get along with me?

Pause. Don’t you like me? I mean, you’ve taken up residence on top of my head, shouldn’t you have at least a shred of affection for me?

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Ahhh, this is hopeless . . . I don’t claim you. When people ask, I’ll say, “Oh, it’s a perm,” or “I get it colored,” anything to distance myself from you. Loudly. What do you want from me?

You didn’t like being long so I cut you short, now short seems to be out of the question, and this growing out thing--well, this is a picnic so . . . whimpering . . . wwhhaatt?

I just want to be friends, you know, work together and create a new look, an old look . . . just a look that doesn’t get funny looks.

Heavy sigh. How did this happen? How did we get so estranged? I look back at pictures of when we were young, and you were so sweet--all white and fluffy. Pause. You’ve been fighting me ever since I got that Farrah Fawcett haircut, haven’t you? I’m sorry--it was all the rage, and what else can you expect from an eighth-grader? Anyway, that style didn’t last long--thanks to you. And besides that, I learned my lesson. Hey--did I get a Rachel do? That’s right--I did not, because I am an adult now and I know she has a stylist on the set to make sure her hair looks perfect! Fix, fix, fix.

I give up. Angrily. Look however you want. You might as well go ahead and look like crap; compete for the ugly award with the dark circles under my eyes, and the . . . the . . . loudly . . . volcano forming on my forehead! Screaming. What is it with all of you? Why are you ganging up on me? What did I ever do to any of you? . . . Don’t even answer that.

Well, I quit. Screw you! Screw you all! I want nothing more to do with any of you--you make me sick, you pain-in-the neck . . . ugly . . . stupid . . . UGGHH, I HATE YOU . . . Long pause.

Quietly. Well, this is no longer about my hair now, is it?

The Visitation By Louise Claps

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Enters, appearing flustered. Sorry I’m late. I stopped at that ranch market you like so much. I hate going there, especially on a Saturday. The parking lot is impossible, and when I come here, the market is on the WRONG side of the street, and you know how I feel about making left turns against traffic.

Anyway, the strangest thing happened to me in the produce department. I think I had a mini-breakdown. I was picking at the plum tomatoes, trying to find some nice ones. They all looked so pathetic and certainly weren’t worth $2.39 a pound. There I was squeezing and sorting when suddenly I saw this girl--young woman actually. She was about 12 or 13. You know, that age. She was wearing a Catholic school uniform. She had her cardigan sweater buttoned at the top and had it draped over her shoulders like a cape and she was doing this I’m-the-princess-in-the-cape dance. Quickly. She had a ton of curly hair and was chubby and she was in her own little world.

And I thought, “My God, I’m looking at myself!” and I started to cry. She could have been my daughter. Long pause. Was she? She was the right age. I mean, had her life force found another way to get born? And was she telling me she was OK, that she made it?

Then I had this real primal kind of realization. I mean, women are never far from dealing with life and death as a matter of course in our lives. I thought of all my women friends, how many had abortions, who had had a miscarriage or a tubular this or a Fallopian that. And that we weren’t that far from that character in the Pearl S. Buck novel, “The Good Earth.” Loudly. Remember, she had her baby right there in the rice paddy and just kept on working? And I thought about my ex-husband, and after all this time, did he ever see a baby or a child to his likeness and wonder and cry like this?

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t about regret. It’s more about missed opportunity. We only get a few big events to participate in in life and I missed out on one of them, and that makes me sad.

Well, I looked up and the girl was gone. And I thought, “Great, now I’m seeing things.” Then I realized, maybe she didn’t really exist at all.

Anyway, by this time I noticed the produce guy was staring at me, and he asked me if everything was all right, and all I could say was: “You know, these tomatoes are really disappointing.”

He apologized and offered me a rain check and commented as he walked away that he had never seen anybody get so emotional over a bad crop before. So, I went and got canned tomatoes, and that’s why I’m late.

*

“Girls Talk,” produced by Rebecca O’Brien and Daniel Doran, will be performed Tuesday nights, Nov. 9 through Dec. 14, at the Hudson Avenue Theatre, Hollywood, (323) 769-5858.

Cheryl Himmelstein


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