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Home: The Toast

Carla Bruce’s previous work for The Toast can be found here.

Dramatis Personae:

Friend #1
Friend #2
Friend #3
Friend #4
(Friends to Boyfriend)
Boyfriend
Girlfriend

Scene: Generic NYC Restaurant/Apartment/Bar

Social Anxiety In Three Acts

[ A C T   1

Scene 1. Brooklyn. An apartment.]

Enter Girlfriend and Boyfriend.

BOYFRIEND: You about ready? Friend #3 is meeting us at the bus stop. (CHECKS PHONE.)

GIRLFRIEND: (APPLYING EYELINER) Yeah, gimme five more minutes. (WINCES, SHARPENS EYE PENCIL.)

BOYFRIEND: Okay. (CHECKS PHONE, CHUCKLES, TYPES.)

GIRLFRIEND: How far is it?

BOYFRIEND: About 20 minutes by bus, why?

GIRLFRIEND: Just wondering. (STARES AT SELF IN MIRROR, GRIMACES, WIPES LIPSTICK OFF TEETH.)

GIRLFRIEND: Does this look okay? Am I too dressy?

BOYFRIEND: You look beautiful, baby.

GIRLFRIEND: (IS SKEPTICAL.)

BOYFRIEND: Ready?

GIRLFRIEND: (IS NOT READY.) Yeah, let me grab my purse.

[Scene 2. Brooklyn. A bus stop.]

Enter Girlfriend, Boyfriend, and Friend #3.

FRIEND #3: (GIVING HUGS.) HEY, HOW’S IT GOING????

GIRLFRIEND: (RETURNING HUG). Good, how are you?

FRIEND #3: Good, good, staying alive, loving life. What have y’all been up to?

BOYFRIEND: Chillin’, man, today was a lazy day. Adventure Time marathon. (GLANCES AT GIRLFRIEND.)

GIRLFRIEND: (SMILES, NODS.) Mm-hmm.

FRIEND #3: That’s cool, enjoying the weekend. I’m trying to think of if I have any new gossip…OH, did you hear about this thing that happened to this person in our shared past?

BOYFRIEND: I saw that! So here is some commentary on that event! Can you believe that after all of the time that has passed, they are still doing that thing?

FRIEND #3: No but actually it isn’t that surprising when you consider this fact that I am bringing up right now.

BOYFRIEND: That is so true. (LAUGHS UPROARIOUSLY.)

FRIEND #3: (LAUGHS UPROARIOUSLY.)

GIRLFRIEND: (CHECKS TWITTER.)

[ A C T 2

Scene 1. Brooklyn. A restaurant.]

Blast of voices and heat. Darkened room, swarming with laughing figures. Enter Friends 1-4, smiling and familiar.

BOYFRIEND: Hey, what’s going on, y’all? (GIVES HUGS.)

FRIEND #3: HEYYYY! (GIVES HUGS.)

GIRLFRIEND: Hey! (GIVES HUGS.) How are you? I’m doing well. Good! Yeah, I’ve been good. Haha, yeah. Just working, yeah… Good! How have you been?

FRIEND #1: So what’s been going on, Girlfriend?

GIRLFRIEND: Not much, just working, haha…

FRIEND #1: Gotcha, gotcha. On the grind.

GIRLFRIEND: Yeah. (PAUSES A BEAT TOO LONG.) Uh, how about you?

FRIEND #1: Same, man, working on a thing I’ve been working on since we met. We talk about this at every outing, but I’ll pretend it’s the first time we’ve talked about this.

GIRLFRIEND: Oh right, this thing again. This is safe topic, because there is only so much to be said, and then we can politely end our conversation.

FRIEND #1: Exactly, see, at this point, there is nothing left to say but we’ve been catching up for the appropriate amount of time, so I can meander away without it seeming rude.

GIRLFRIEND: And I can slink into the corner for a minute or two, until it seems strange that I’m not talking to anybody. (CHECKS FACEBOOK, ACCIDENTALLY LIKES A STATUS, UNLIKES IT.)

BOYFRIEND: What are you doing?

GIRLFRIEND: (chastised) Nothing. (PUTS PHONE AWAY.)

BOYFRIEND: Why don’t you say hi to Friend #2?

FRIEND #2: Hey, Girlfriend.

GIRLFRIEND: Hey! (HUGS.) How’s it going? (LISTENS ATTENTIVELY, EYEBROWS RAISED.)

GIRLFRIEND: (THINKS: WHAT FACE AM I MAKING RIGHT NOW?)

GIRLFRIEND: (THINKS: I SHOULD STOP STANDING LIKE THIS. MY HIP HURTS.)

GIRLFRIEND: (THINKS: MY ARMS ARE REALLY LONG.)

FRIEND #2: So what’s happening in your life, Girlfriend? Tell me everything.

GIRLFRIEND: (SMILES AND CHUCKLES AWKWARDLY.) Not much at all, just, you know, working. (WONDERS, NOT FOR THE FIRST TIME, IF HER LIFE IS LACKING SOME ESSENTIAL ELEMENT THAT WOULD MAKE THESE CONVERSATIONS LESS AGONIZING.)

FRIEND #2: I either don’t know or don’t care that you’re trying to weasel your way out of this conversation, so I’m going to continue asking different versions of the same question in my relentless quest to make you talk some more.

GIRLFRIEND: Haha. Yeah. (SIPS DRINK.) (SIPS DRINK.) (SIPS DRINK.)

FRIEND #4: Oh hey, what’s up, y’all?

GIRLFRIEND: (EXHALES IN RELIEF.)

FRIEND #4: Hey, Friend #2. I’m going to respond to your question appropriately, being sure to include engaging dialogue and details.

FRIEND #2: I’m going to gently tease you about what you just said! (LAUGHS.)

FRIEND #4: I’m going to acknowledge your teasing in a blasé, unaffected way! (LAUGHS.)

GIRLFRIEND: Hahaha. (CHUGS DRINK, LOOKS AROUND.) Be right back.

[Exeunt Girlfriend.]

[Scene 2. Brooklyn. A restaurant bathroom.]

Enter Girlfriend.

GIRLFRIEND: (BREATHES.)

GIRLFRIEND: (ENTERS HANDICAPPED STALL. WIPES TOILET SEAT. SITS DOWN.)

GIRLFRIEND: (BREATHES.)

GIRLFRIEND: Ugggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

GIRLFRIEND: (STARES AT HANDS. STARES AT FEET. CLICKS HEELS TOGETHER THREE TIMES. LAUGHS BITTERLY.)

GIRLFRIEND: (BREATHES.)

GIRLFRIEND: (STARES AT WALL, GRIMACES.)

GIRLFRIEND: (BREATHES.)

GIRLFRIEND: (STANDS, FLUSHES TOILET WITH FOOT. WATCHES WATER SPIRAL DOWNWARDS AND OUT OF SIGHT. WATCHES WATER SWIRL UPWARDS. WATCHES WATER SETTLE.)

GIRLFRIEND: (BREATHES.)

GIRLFRIEND: (EXITS STALL, WASHES HANDS SLOWLY.)

GIRLFRIEND: (mutters) It’s flu season. (WASHES HANDS AGAIN, MORE SLOWLY.)

GIRLFRIEND: (STARES INTO MIRROR. SCRUNCHES FACE INTO THE SHAPE OF A SMILE. FIXES HAIR. FIXES HAIR SOME MORE.)

GIRLFRIEND: (BREATHES.) (BREATHES.) (BREATHES.)

Exeunt Girlfriend.

[ A C T 3

Scene 1. Brooklyn. A bar, four hours later.]

Thumping bass. Alcohol stink. Hot press of bodies. Enter Boyfriend, Girlfriend, and Friends 1-4.

BOYFRIEND: Are you feeling better?

GIRLFRIEND: (IS FINALLY DRUNK.) Yeah, I’m great! (DANCES AND LAUGHS WITH FRIENDS 1-6.)

BOYFRIEND: (SMILES, DANCES.)

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Carla is a teacher, writer, and serial to-do list creator. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, daughter, and imaginary dog. You can follow her on Twitter @carlawaslike.

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