Not All Who Wonder Are Lost

A one-act play

ACT 1

(Older woman enters from the right, sits in a chair facing the audience and loudly exhales)

Ever have one of those days when you can’t decide whether you’re Boy George or Girl Friday?

(pause)

Or maybe Boy George and Girl Friday?

(laughs)

Now, I don’t mean to brag but windows see through me because I am the most fascinating woman in the world. You haven’t seen me perform in television commercials so allow me to present my verbal résumé in order to back up my assertion.

I spent my salad days in Chugwater, Wyoming and found it true that prophets are never accepted in their hometowns. Jesus and I are tight on that one

(holds up middle and forefinger together on right hand)

which only pissed off people there more when I told them that. Living life hollowed out, locked and loaded is not for me. I say we all deserve better than being prisoners of war in our own community. You see, it’s acceptable to think different there, but it has to be the right different and better not be done by a woman.

I got out mostly intact—the nature was beautiful but the nurture was an IV testosterone drip—and headed to New York City to learn more about life and the world outside Wyoming. Manhattan was the land of museums and libraries, and I needed that infusion. I thought I had a certain way with words holding down the best salon in Wyoming, and it seemed like most everyone in New York City, at least on television, was very verbal.

Initially, I did a little of everything in order to get by in Manhattan. But tell me why a man will respond with ‘Oh you’re so industrious and hardworking’ if a man were in my shoes, but he will think a woman must have been Jezebel-ing spread-eagled in Times Square.

I eventually got a position—do not snicker—taking dictation for the editor of the New York Post. I learned quickly to either offer boffo headline quips regardless of your position—remember “Headless Body in Topless Bar”?—or be sent packing. I’m no high society hobnobber, but it frustrated me to no end that the majority of our readership, even if given a first edition of “La Comédie humaine,” couldn’t tell the difference between Balzac and a nut sack.

During that time, and it has apparently been lost to antiquity, I authored “The Brotherhood of the Traveling Boxers.” Can I call it a book if it never appeared in that form? When I pitched it to various publishers, some were confused whether I was referring to gay men’s underwear, pugilism unity, or a dog act within a circus. I later learned a usurper borrowed my concept and got rich after making a few changes. When I gently inquired about receiving royalties, well, so much for the divinity of sisterhood, Ya-Ya or no Ya-Ya.

Soon the musical lure of Greenwich Village was calling my name. I met Dylan, Baez, Dave Van Ronk, you name ‘em. One time over the phone, Bobby told me he had writer’s block and couldn’t shake it. I told him to move two blocks over.

(laughs again)

No, I sang him a verse from a song I was writing at the time.

(pretends she is playing a guitar and sings extremely nasally):

“My ass is on fire and I’m peeing blood
my doctor is babbling like Elmer Fudd
so forgive me Father if I have sinned
noshing at the breast of Heather Prynn…”

Bobby stopped calling after that.

Oh yes, I must confess I was once a Calvinist, back when I was in Wyoming. Those rants about total depravity and limited atonement were attractive for a while in a punkish sort of way. But Calvinists are a very tough crowd. Anyone who would complain that Jesus was a show-off and really needed to tone it down…

(entire body shivers)

I was also close to becoming a Protestant and I will tell you why. Addressing someone as Parson sounded hip. But the religion wasn’t.

(pause)

At least the way I interpreted it. Some people think they are masters of their universe when they aren’t even a player in their own sandbox.

As for Catholicism, it was too much of the saints and the aints for me. The fixation on eternal bleeding just became morbid.

And yes, I have previously been married but now I’m dispossessed. It was to a man named Dooley Noted. What attracted me was dear Dooley possessed the elocution of a Puritan circumcisioner. We had triplets, Hickory, Dickory and Dock. Yes, Dooley had quite the thing for Mother Goose. Reading him nursery rhymes was his Viagra back then. However, I eventually discovered he was running up someone else’s clock on the side so I became a savant at alimony.

Now I have reached what I’ll call a certain number of years. It is said that with age comes wisdom but I don’t think it’s necessarily always a twofer. Some people seem born stupid and make it a point to dearly hold on to that anchor. Others always offer unasked-for advice when their lives have been lifelong trainwrecks. It seems to be men mostly.

Okay, here’s a little something I wrote about a typical lifespan. I sent it off to “The New Yorker” some years ago but never heard back. Damn that William Shawn.

“At 20, you have spark. Life is a series of starburst dreams. The possibilities are endless and each is phenomenal. You dive in headfirst to a mix of “Climb Every Mountain” and “The Impossible Dream” on repeat, and attempt to change the world to conform to your vision.

Come the 30s, life is put on hold if you have a kid or kids. Or if you married one.

As for the 40s, settling settles in. It starts happening with your body too. What once was so important recedes to being a distant crackerjack.

In your 50s, you ask yourself, internally of course, “what the hell have I accomplished and where did my drive go?”

The 60s, oh the 60s, are a never ending battle for satisfactional supremacy between bowel movements and naps. Mortality begins taking repeated punches at you and, unfortunately, some connect.

Life begins so promising amidst vivid colors, even in Chugwater. As time passes, our skin wrinkles, our hair grays, and our original bulb of brilliance dims. Desperate to halt the inevitable decline, we fruitlessly thrash about trying one remedy or another. Finally, a panorama of white envelops us until the light goes out and what is individually us is extinguished.”

Believe it or not, Fred Rogers co-wrote that last part with me but never wanted attribution.

And afterwards, so many seem to want to be boxed up and deposited underground. Not me. We live in a box, drive one, and work in one. That’s enough hemming in. My late friend Nettie was among the casket choosers although first she donated her brain to science. Nettie always had a knack for

(laughs)

thinking outside the box.

Now I’m not Hindu but I think when I’ve bought the ranch I’m going out with a funeral pyre in my backyard. Just think of the consternation when the fire truck pulls up and begins their investigation. I don’t know what the Post headline will be but it should be a doozy.

Let me finish with my prime resentment of older age: being treated differently because I’m wrinkled and elderly. A compilation of decades doesn’t imply feeblemindedness. I don’t necessarily contribute less to society due to my advancing age. I’m finally educated—thanks to those insightful classes at the 92nd Street Y and the New York Public Library—and I’m going to rage and celebrate and continue learning into that good night. Yes, it seems I have a thing for Dylans.

(stands)

My lifelong motto is to forego the taut stomach but have a taught mind. I am the most fascinating woman in the world.