Excerpts from Dream House
Flashlight behind cloth. Beam moves about.
Where the hell? Where’d I put it?
Where where where. . .
It’s the only one I’ve got. I need to find it. Where’d I put it? I need to find it.
I can’t. It’s lost.
It’s a dream it’s a dream it’s a dream. . .
It’s a dream. It’s ok, it’s only a—
I’m spinning I’m spinning
Spin spin spin spin
Dream dream dream. . .
Here it is.
She puts on a red nose.
That’s scary. Stick it on better. Dream stuff falls off.
She pounds the nose on tight. Reacts in pain. Looks around.
Yes yes yes. A place to be. My Dream House.
I’ve never never ever had just what I want, but it’s my dream so I can have just what I want. What do I want?
Ok, this is West. West? It’s my dream: it’s West. So I want big-time permeability in the West, windows wall to wall, that rosy light pouring in.
East, my portal, so the door is here, gorgeous archway. Wham.
South, big fireplace in the South, and Pow! to the North. Earth stuff, store my intellect there, and photo albums, gas receipts, piles of crap.
And a clear space for looking out. Clearly in here looking out. Me. Here. Out.
Then a great big plant that just goes RAHHH! And a curtain of ivy in a pot right over the door, so the earthquake comes it falls on my head, I have one fantastic orgasm and die! Facing West.
My cats, my ivy, my ficus, my lemon tree. Old lovers down in the root cellar. And I live and work and cook and dance and garden and love and yell THANK YOU MAMA!
I can’t believe it’s happening.
But it will. Just gotta keep my nose on. Stay focused.
Find it! Find what? Find the letter! What letter? The letter I’m dreaming about. Where’s the—
She searches frantically.
“In accord with the mandate of executors hereinunder named—
It’s here. . .
This is to detail particulars of the bequest of which you are named legatee—
It’s gotta be. . .
“As joint beneficiary with your sisters.”
She finds the letter, halts.
Sisters. Sisters, right. I didn’t read that far.
I don’t think I really need any sisters here, cause I’ve got it pretty well worked out, and anyway that’s kinda complicated because I don’t . . . have any sisters and . . . we’re barely on speaking terms.
My dear, we are sisters. We have sisters. And in this family we are named Elizabeth.
It is not for me to speculate why our parents chose to name seven daughters Elizabeth, but life is like that. And after exhausting Elizabeth, Liz, Lizzie, Liza, Beth, Bessie, Bette, what is there left but Bozo?
I do my best to meet your needs. Now you need me to be an experienced real estate developer, so be it. Just as I had to be a piano prodigy, a merit scholar, a full-charge bookkeeper, an actress, a composer, a public relations expert, a pathological liar, or whatever else you needed me to excel at. I must admit to being a bit tired of it all.
Light. Bessie the Plumber:
So whatta you got here? You got no plumbing. You never put first things first. Plumbing is beneath me, you think. It damn well better be. Try to have civilization without it. The Metropolitan Opera relies on good plumbing. The Super Bowl—that’s why they call it that. The United Nations—one thing they all agree on. One human need.
Just keep your mouth shut. I don’t like chit-chat.
Starts putting PVC together.
I hate new construction. It’s all so shoddy. I need a beer. Any beer, Bozo, beer for your sis? Course not. Depend on me. Maintain your angle of slope. Hold on, we gotta vent this.
Starts banging with a hammer.
People don’t think you’re working if you don’t make a lotta noise.
Music. She drags in a pile of wood, starts to build, Echoes.
Fix the charger. Strip the floor. Set the alarm.
Feed the dog. Find the dog food. Find the dog. Neuter the cat.
Put toys away. Write thank-you notes. Brush teeth. Memorize poem. Find Crayolas. Sharpen knife. Kill chicken.
Take off trap. Clean up goop. Stop drip. Take nap. Smoke dope.
Lose homework. Forge report card. Miss bus. Lie to parents. Shoplift. Get pregnant. Time contractions. Have baby. Nurse baby. Raise baby.
Circuit tester, wire stripper, nippers, pliers, receipts, canceled checks, contracts, petty cash, general ledger, trial balance, quarterlies. 990’s. 1099’s. W2’s.
Eat apple. Build ark. Leave Egypt. Battle Philistines. Rise from dead.
Sew my pants. Fix the sewing machine so I can sew my pants. Change the bulb so I can fix the sewing machine so I can sew my pants. Borrow a ladder so I can change the bulb so I can fix the sewing machine so I can sew my pants. Put on my pants so I can borrow a ladder—
Reinstall operating system.
Bette the Inspector. She examines things.
No. Nope. No. No way. No no. Nosireebob. Negative. Nope. No.
You ask if you conform to code. No you do not. Maybe the Code of Hammurabi or the tax code or the Morse code, but not to the building code.
Violations: there, there, there, there, there, there and there. Also there. I know you’re aware of this. There’s guilt written all over your nose.
I find this. A work list. “Put my toys away. Do my arithmetic. Say my prayers.” But what about your ground fault interrupt? That is required in kitchens and bathrooms and don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the ground fault interrupt. People think Oh I’m grounded I’m hot shit. You may be grounded, but if you haven’t got an interrupt you’re not up to code.
No ground fault interrupt.
Entrances: this is really substandard except for a Hobbit. Outlets, switches: substandard. Crawl space: substandard.
Worklist: “Feed the cat. Wash my hair. Balance the petty cash.” Petty cash: substandard. Hair: substandard. Cat: substandard.
Floor, ok, you got a floor. We’re making progress. Doors and windows: you need some. Roof: You have no roof. Did you ever look up? You have rain, Bozo, you have meteorites, you have shitting birds, and there are books that show pictures of roofs, you can see what they look like, roofs in Switzerland and in China and in the United States of America.
This is not the former Soviet Union. This is not Cuba where they are forced by the secret police to divide up their roofs. You may have your own roof if you please!
I need to write this up.
Bette, couldn’t you sometimes say what’s good instead of what’s bad? Evaluation in a spirit of support. Do I have to take more tests to decide whether I deserve to be alive?
Walls! Look at this, watch this!
Waves arm through wall space.
You have no walls. You have no walls! You have a framework of plastic pipes. I think you’d better invest in building some walls and then rethink your philosophy of life.
We’re not talking occupancy permits here. We are talking about your license to the American middle class, your license to survival. No, I’m sorry.
She rips a document to pieces.
Now put your nose on and cry!
The lights are out. Stay that way.
Flashlight on. A doll with a red clown nose is raised into the beam. Clown, behind, is a second voice. Doll is manipulated in a non-representational way.
Somebody help me.
Climb the stairs.
I need Mama.
Dream a mama.
That’s Moo. She’s in the kitchen. Talking to herself. Round baby face. Frizzy red hair. Big baggy belly. Razor lips.
Gonna cut off my hair and keep me ugly.
Climb the stairs.
Jungle of legs. And Moo is coming and she knows my name and she’ll grab it and rip it up and I won’t even be born cause I don’t have a name.
Climb the stairs.
Climb the stairs.
There’s a monster.
In the attic. There’s a monster in every attic but it’s better than the one in the kitchen that’s mumbling Love me! Say thank you! Answer me!
I want my sisters.
No sisters in the attic. Just the Sphinx.
The monster is the Sphinx and the Sphinx is a riddler and the riddle is Who?
WHO ARE YOU???
Who are you???
Liza the Gambler, high on the stepladder.
So come on up here. You’re scared. So what? Be scared. Win, lose, no big deal. You win, you keep playing the game. You lose, that’s it. Worst thing that happens, you die, then all your problems are solved. I call that looking on the bright side. Let’s play the game.
Pause. Brings the nose to her face. Other hand slaps it away.
Enough with the nose. I had one, lost it in a game of blackjack. You play, you play it bare-faced.
I don’t know how.
Sure you do. Put down some cards, pick up some cards, let the universe decide. I bid two no trump, stand pat, snake eyes, pawn to queen seven. See the trick is even knowing what game you’re playing. Damn. I won.
Winning just means taking longer to lose. What do you win? You win the chance to keep playing the game. We’re not playing for bottle caps, baby.
Now you play. You’re a big girl now. It’s a matter of will. Pull the will over your own eyes.
Who’s Elizabeth? Who’s the sister and who’s the you? Who’s getting older now? Who gets freaked by the military pharmaceutical complex?
Who looms in the mirror? Who’s finding her face at the very moment she’s dissolving?
Grass, and the stars are so bright, I’m hanging on so I won’t fall off the earth. Oh Mama, hold me. That’s what gravity is, it’s love, it’s Mama hanging on. Hold me.
Hold who? Who’s at the core?
I was dancing. I was barefoot, I had a long scarf and long floaty skirt, and a very slithery top. I was so carried away by the music I made a really clumsy step on a piece of my—
And I just went tail over teakettle. And this slithery shirt flopped completely inside out and hanging off my wrists, and here I am topless, my skirt half down my butt, my feet in the air.
And I just howled. I laughed till I almost peed myself. So who’s at the core of that laughing fool?