Circles And Options
Setting: Somewhere where they can be lost. Lights are slanting in and getting lower throughout the play.
Teenage Boy: Help! Help!... Help!!
Teenage Girl: Be a man! That's not going to help!
B: Someone might hear us!
G: Here?! You crazy?
B: I might be! You'd better watch out!
G: No, you're not. You're just a coward!
B: At least I'm trying to help.
G: No one is going to hear you!
B: We have to try! The rest of the class might still be within earshot.
G: No, we have to think first. Then, we try.
B: Like what?
G: I don't know; thinking isn't instantaneous... let's compile a resource list.
G: What do we have that can help us? You know... resources... at our disposal?
B: Ummm... I have a set of keys.
G: Great. Not sure why, le's just assume anything can help us at this moment... so, a set of keys, what four or five?
B: (pulling them from his pocket) More like twenty-five...
G: What the hell you need that many keys for?
B: Well, this one is for my bike lock, this is my locker key, this is for the back door on the ...
G: That was not a question that needed to be answered.
G: What else?
B: Water bottle.
G: How much water?
B: Ummm... None.
G: Crap. So, one water bottle.
B: Tennis shoes.
G: Me too.
B: Ummm... that's... that's it from me, I guess.
G: Okay, okay, okay... I've got shoes. Water bottle, 32 ounces, maybe 28 left...
B: We'll share?
G: Yes. Uhhh... hat, a granola bar, windbreaker, dental floss and a hair brush.
B: Hair brush?
G: It gets tangled up sometimes.
B: Seems silly to bring a hair brush somewhere like this.
G: Like you need your keys out here?
B: I like to know where they are.
G: So we both have some weird things, now...
B: Oh yeah, I forgot, I have a compass.
G: You have a compass!? Why didn't you say so?!
B: I didn't know if we needed it.
G: What do you mean?! Of course we need it!
B: Okay! Okay! (fishing keys from pocket again) It's on my key ring; it's kinda small. I don't use it much.
G: It doesn't go bad...
B: (continuing over her line) I put a rubber band on the end so it wouldn't jab me. (hands keys to G)
G: Jab? ... what? (holding it up) Oh, this is a geometry sort-of compass! Man! What are you just not thinking?!
B: I won it for being the second-highest scorer in Math League last year.
G: Congratufuckinlations. It's worthless!
B: You wanted to know every resource we had; so I forgot and I thought...
G: We are not going to get out of this by drawing tiny, perfect circles everywhere!!
B: Sorry. Sorry.
G: No, here (hands keys back to him)... I shouldn't have yelled... I mean we could use it to... uhh... poke wild animals if they try to attack us.
B: Yeah... I suppose... (miming this part) I could like, draw a little target on the animal and then we could stab it in the bull's eye... guaranteed kill... perfectly concentric circles in the target...
G: Hey, if it happens to be a bull...
B: Yeah! Right in the eye...
B: Bull would be so pissed.
B: Probably not a lot of cattle around here.
G: No. Probably... not likely a cow could get here.
G: So, you were in Math League?
B: Ummm... yeah... I guess...
G: It's okay, I don't care.
B: No... I don't care either.
G: That... that didn't make any sense.
G: Did you mean that you didn't care about Math League, or that you didn't care that I didn't care?
G: Listen, it's okay. I meant that I didn't care that you were in Math League... uhh... wait that... didn't come out right...
B: It's okay, I don't care.
G: No! (oops, softening) No, no... don't say that... I meant to say that I don't care that you're in Math League in the sense that I'm not thinking you're some horrible geek, you know? Like, it doesn't bother me... like that?
B: Oh... yeah... ummm... wait, really?
G: Yeah, really. You should be proud of it... you're good at math. What's wrong with that?
B: Ummm... this is weird... really weird...
G: No, it's just telling the truth; you know, don't try to pretend that you're something you're not.
G: Just be yourself, and people will like you much more... Not that they don't like you now! I mean, just that people get more comfortable around people who are just being themselves, you know, and you should be happy to be on the Math League... not try to hide it from me, or be ashamed of it.
B: But, in school, you aren't nice... you know, you hang out with some mean people, people who pick on me.
G: Well, they're my friends, and... they have different standards than you...
B: What's that supposed to mean?
G: Ummm... just they... uhhh... they...
B: Like being jerks?
G: They aren't jerks. They just have to consider the options.
G: Okay, okay... (pause) you sure you want to hear this?
B: Why? Is it something you're ashamed of?
G: (thinks for a while, which surprises B since it was a rhetorical, mocking question) It might be. Okay... my friends and I have a limited group of people we can be safely seen with. Whenever we bump into someone who doesn't fit into that group, we have three possible options: we can ignore the person, we can ridicule the person, or we can be nice to the person. The problem with being nice to the person is that it confuses them, and makes them think that they might also be a member of the group in some way.
B: (pause) You condescending bitch!
G: No... I told you that it was something...
B: You should be ashamed of that!
G: I... I... think I am... I just...
B: You know exactly what you're doing and you keep doing it, and then you tell me to not be ashamed of something that you and your friends spend years making me and my friends feel ashamed about!!
G: No! The truth is that we don't care about you and your friends; we just have to protect our group!
B: From what!? From what!!? Marauding packs of Math Leaguers looking to calculate the best way to implode your perfect circle!?
G: No! We have the right things going for us! There's a lot of pressure on us to keep being popular! It's a sorta game, a very difficult game.
B: Pity on you!
G: Every new person we let into the circle is one more variable we have to control.
B: (starts crying) And every person you keep out of the circle is looking up to you?! Is that what you think!? I mean do you honestly think we all stand back and stare and secretly wish we were part of your pathetic group!?
G: (she looks at him for a long while, her eyes soften) You tell me.
B: Fuck off! (he turns away, still crying, it's getting pretty dark on stage by this time, long pause) I meant.... yes... yes... We do want to be part of your horrible group.
G: I'm... sorry.
B: You know Math League is very difficult sorta game, too.
G: Yeah, I bet.
B: Sometimes, you really don't know the answer so, you limit down the choices to the possible options.
G: You get stuck?
B: Yeah, you're trapped, and the tests are timed, so you often just have to pick the best of several possible options; because you only have so much time.
G: Sounds tough.
B: It's very stressful.
G: Why do you do it?
B: 'Cause I'm good at it, I guess.
G: Same as me.
B: You're good at math too?
G: I meant, the popular group, the perfect circle. I'm good at it.
G: I'm pretty good at math, but I kinda have to hide that.
B: What? Really? Why?
G: It's not well-accepted in the circle.
B: Why don't you step outside the circle?
G: I... I... don't know... I guess I'm scared. A coward.
B: Me too. Scared of your circle. I don't need to be.
G: Please... don't be.
(A scuffling noise from above, we hear a distant voice shout, "Over here". We see the light of flashlights pointing straight down on B and G. The lights train on the two of them, forming two perfect circles of light centering on each of them. Other stage lights fade out slowly. Voice shouts "I think that's them! Joey?! Amanda?!")
B: (turning around and craning his head upward) We're here! We're right down here!
Voice: We're going to be sending some climbers down to get you out! Are you hurt?
Voice: Stay right where you are! We will keep these lights on you! Stay right there! It may take a while to get to you!
(long pause, they stand in their circles, looking up)
G: So... we're rescued.
G: (looking at and then indicating her circle of light) Is this a perfect circle?
B: Maybe. I can't really tell without using...
G: (interrupts him softly) Ummm... can I... can you just...
B: (looking at her) What?
G: (looking at him) Take a step.
G: (indicates toward her) And I'll...
B: (nervously) Toward me?
(G nods head, they each step toward the other, the lights don't follow immediately, then they snap to them standing face to face, pause)
G: (looking around them) Is this the best possible option?
B: (very nervous) We'll... uhh... we only ... only have so much time.
(G takes B's hands and places them around her back, then she leans in and kisses him passionately, he starts out awkwardly then slowly melts into it as the circle of light tightens on them, then quickly goes out)