May 23, 2008

If You Don't Happen To Like Piña Coladas

If You Don't Happen To Like Piña Coladas

"I was tired of my lady
We'd been together too long
Like a worn-out recording
Of a favorite song
So while she lay there sleeping
I read the paper in bed
And in the personal columns
There was this letter I read

'If you like Piña Coladas
And getting caught in the rain
If you're not into yoga
If you have half-a-brain
If you’d like making love at midnight
In the dunes on the Cape
Then I'm the love that you've looked for
Write to me and escape.'"

- Selected lyrics from
"Escape (The Piña Colada Song)"
by Rupert Holmes


(Table at restaurant. Lights up on MAN and WOMAN sitting down for the start of a blind date. They just met thirty seconds ago. "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)" by Rupert Holmes plays over the restaurant's stereo system a little too loudly. Try as they might, they can't start a real conversation while the song is playing.)

MAN: So long since I...

WOMAN: Oh, me too, I'm just glad that... uhh...

MAN: Yeah, I hope... that...

WOMAN: Well, it should be good food...

MAN: At least... yeah... that's what... yeah...

(they are continually pulled into the song, occasionally mumbling snatches of the lyrics under their breath during pauses, but trying to speak too, not wanting to acknowledge that they are each more entranced with the song than with each other, play with it)

WOMAN: You know...

MAN: Right... I'm hungry... and maybe if we can... just... uhhh...

WOMAN: Yeah, definitely... I don't see anyone at all... but maybe... maybe it's one of those...

MAN: No I ate here... I ate here once... there was... a guy who came... out to...

WOMAN: Take your order?

MAN: What?

WOMAN: Like a waiter?

MAN: Wait for... what?

WOMAN: The guy who came out... he was a...

MAN: A waiter.

WOMAN: A waiter.

MAN: He came out and...

WOMAN: Took your order.

MAN: Yeah... yeah... he did.

WOMAN: That's usually how it... usually there's a... there's a... a guy and...

MAN: He was a tall...

WOMAN: Tall? The waiter?

MAN: Yeah. And he took... he took...

WOMAN: Your order.

MAN: But he was...

WOMAN: Tall?

MAN: Asian.

WOMAN: Tall and Asian?

MAN: Both at the same time.

WOMAN: The waiter.

MAN: I haven't seen him... I hope he comes out...

WOMAN: I'm sure he... He's probably...

(long pause, they stare at each other, but they are listening to the song, this goes on for a long time, then they realize what they are doing, and they hide behind their menus, each mouthing the words to the song when they do so, pretending to read their menus, song eventually ends, MAN pulls down menu and starts laughing lightly to himself)

WOMAN: What?

MAN: Ohh, just... that. (points skyward indicating the source of the song)

WOMAN: That song?

MAN: That song. Yes.

WOMAN: I have to confess. I always liked that song.

MAN: (a connection that he makes more powerful than it merits) Yeah. Yeah! Yeah! Me too!

WOMAN: Phew! I thought, maybe... I was kind of embarrassed to admit it, but...

MAN: No! No! Don't be. It's a great song.

(they both laugh lightly about this, then a rather long pause falls over them)

MAN: You know what it’s about, right?

WOMAN: Yes, the guy’s going to cheat on...

MAN: He needs a change of pace and...

WOMAN: He responds to a personal ad in the newspaper so that...

MAN: ‘Cause his wife doesn’t pay attention to him and...

WOMAN: Well, I think it’s more than that...

MAN: Right, right, she doesn’t care....

WOMAN: (overlap with MAN’s “she doesn’t care”) They’re in a rut...

MAN: Well...

WOMAN: A rut.

MAN: Well...

WOMAN: That happens.

MAN: Yeah, but...

WOMAN: What?

MAN: I think she must have been, you know, cold-hearted and ignoring him to spur him into doing something like that.

WOMAN: Really? How do you make that interpretation?

MAN: The lyrics.

WOMAN: You mean “I was tired of my lady. We’d been together too long?” Those lyrics?

MAN: (obviously having lost, a little defensive, then moving on quickly) No. No, not those lyrics. Ummm... so he arranges a meeting.

WOMAN: Yes, to get away from his emotionally distant and detached wife.

MAN: Right.

WOMAN: I was kidding.
MAN: Yeah... uhhh...

WOMAN: (soothing this over) And his wife shows up at the meeting.

MAN: (dragging it right back down) Ah-ha! Right! See? It was her fault.

WOMAN: The song isn’t about fault.

MAN: It is, in a way.

WOMAN: It’s about how we lose track of those that we are supposed to be closest to. Not physically, but emotionally, spiritually, cognitively. Because communication decays over time. The way to keep a relationship strong is to constantly strive to communicate with your partner. How do you feel? What do you like? What’s your opinion? Little questions that mean everything over the great span of any life-long relationship - husband and wife, parent and child, brothers and sisters, or just friendships. So this relationship, in the Piña Colada song, it might have been great once upon a time. They got married, right? Something was there that told them to do that, but it’s faded with time. At some point in that marriage, this man and this woman no longer felt safe or comfortable or whatever to share something as simple as their preference for a certain fruity alcoholic beverage, their desire to get stuck outside in the rain, or even their distaste for yoga. They no longer could express their true selves, their true desires. Perhaps they felt that their spouse would attack them if they did; so the things which once burned inside them had been extinguished. The only way to relight that fire was to take out a personal ad in the paper. It was a sad and desperate act of a woman whose only crime was wanting to feel alive again, to feel that she could find someone who would listen to her needs! To her fears! To her urges! To her passion!

MAN: (long pause as this fervent speech dies down) So you admit it was her fault?


MAN: You said she took out the ad.

WOMAN: Of course she did, but he bit.

MAN: But she started it.

WOMAN: But he didn’t know that.

MAN: Right! He was innocent!

WOMAN: It’s not a trial! Even if it were, they were both guilty. The relationship was dying. They both needed to escape.

MAN: Hey, that’s the real title of the song - “Escape.”

WOMAN: Exactly!

MAN: (now he gets it) Ohhhh... yeah. So... do you?

WOMAN: Hmmm?

MAN: The song... do you?

WOMAN: Do I... what?

MAN: Do you like piña coladas?

WOMAN: (laughs, thinking he's joking around) Ohhhhh! No. No, I don't.

MAN: (he wasn’t) Oh.

WOMAN: I don't like most "girly" drinks.

MAN: Girly?

WOMAN: I prefer straight whiskey. Stiff martinis. That sort of thing.

MAN: Oh.

WOMAN: Do you like...?

MAN: Yeah, actually I do.

WOMAN: Okay. Neat.

MAN: Girly?

WOMAN: Well, I just meant, it's a sweet drink, and...

MAN: It's girly.

WOMAN: No, well, yes, I mean, it's usually meant for women...

MAN: Really?

WOMAN: Umm... I mean, historically, it was...

MAN: Historically?

WOMAN: I mean, the stereotype, you know?

MAN: (pause) No.

WOMAN: You know: men drink hard liquor; women drink sweet.

MAN: I drink sweet liquor.

WOMAN: Right, right, and that's fine... it's just a stereotype...

MAN: Yes, it is.

WOMAN: Just like how I don't fit the stereotype for women, because of what I like to drink, my friends think I’m so butch that way.

MAN: What are you saying?

WOMAN: What?

MAN: Are you saying that... because I like girly drinks, because I like piña coladas... are you saying that...

WOMAN: No! No! Nononono... not at all. I'm not saying you're gay.

MAN: I'm not!

WOMAN: No. I realize that. I mean, I’m just getting to know you and...

MAN: I’m not gay!

WOMAN: You know, it's just a silly old prejudice.

MAN: Do you have any other judgments you'd like to heap on me?

WOMAN: No. No. I...

MAN: Because you said you liked the song!

WOMAN: I do. I love the song, but I...

MAN: Right, right, that's what you said, but then you come out with... with... this! This... this...

WOMAN: I don't get what you're...

MAN: This bullshit!!

WOMAN: Excuse me?

MAN: Is it or is it not true that you don't like piña coladas or Escape begin parentheses The Piña Colada Song end parentheses by Rupert Holmes at all?!

WOMAN: Hold on... wait, what?

MAN: Do you now or have you ever liked piña coladas?

WOMAN: No, I told you that.

MAN: Yet you like the song?

WOMAN: Right, but...

MAN: You confessed to liking the song!

WOMAN: Confessed?

MAN: What other lies do you have for me?

WOMAN: Listen...

MAN: No, you listen. You're either lying about liking the song, or you're lying about hating piña coladas! You can't have it both ways! I will not start off this relationship with untruths and prevarication!! I demand honesty! Demand it! You need to respect that! And you need to respect the drinks that I drink! I don't care if you think they're girly, or if you think I'm gay. They're not, and I'm not! And even if I was either one of those things, I would still be a better person than you, because I'm honest. I don't come to a blind date brimming to the tip-top with deceit, slander and trickery; do I? What kind of sick person does that? You. You just did it. You are that sick person! (beat) You know what, though? I'm glad this is out in the open now and not later, after we've been dating for a while, what other pathetic tall-tales would I have fallen victim to? What ugly falsehoods would have popped up in our life together? When we were in our first home? In our bed? In front of each other's parents? In front of our children?! What about that? Huh? What about the children? Have you even thought about them?! No. No. You haven't. You just sit there and happily spin a tapestry of lies, trying to hide the real you from me. And why? Because, your whole being is leached through with treachery. You lie and lie and lie and lie and lie and lie and lie and lie until you become a lie!! You become not real. Every part of you. Not just your heart, but your brain, your soul, your tits, and even some of your lesser organs. I'm sorry that's what's happened to you. I'm sorry you can't be real. I'm sorry that it killed your chances with me. I'm sorry you feel it's necessary to play out your pathetic insecurities on me, a well-meaning, caring, heterosexual man, but I won't just roll over and take your malicious jabs and your damn, damn lies! You know why? Do you? Because I'm stronger than that, I'm better than that, and I don't have all these incredible bullshit issues to dump all over the place! I'm more secure than all that. So, yes. Yes, I do! I do like piña coladas! And, if you can't accept that, then you can just get the hell out of here!!

(very, very long pause)

WOMAN: Well. Ummm...

MAN: (shocked, waking up to what he just did, very resigned, slumps) Shit. Shit. I'm... listen... I'm so sorry. Really, I apologize. That was not necessary. At all.

WOMAN: Uhh... okay. Apology accepted.

MAN: I mean... so what? So you don't like piña coladas? Alright. I can live with that.

WOMAN: Good.

MAN: I'm sure you have many other desirable qualities.

WOMAN: (trying a joke) I do. I like getting caught in the rain.

MAN: (connecting again) You do? Really?


MAN: Me too! That's so great!

WOMAN: I thought you might.

MAN: You know, why don't we start over?

WOMAN: Sure. Sure. I can do that.

MAN: Great.

WOMAN: Why don't we start over someplace else? I don't think that tall, Asian waiter is ever going to help us.

MAN: Yeah. Bad vibes here now anyway. Totally my fault, I know.

WOMAN: It’s not about fault. Despite all the shouting, there's something about you I find disarmingly attractive.

MAN: Really? There is?

WOMAN: Yeah, you express you inner desires. Your needs. Your fears. Your urges. Your passion.

MAN: (overlapping) My passion.

WOMAN: (softly, connecting) You know what? Why don't we go to my place?

MAN: Alright. Yeah! Sure! Where do you live?

(standing, starting to leave)

WOMAN: Near downtown on Fifth. I've got this great apartment directly above my all-time favorite yoga studio.

MAN: (taken aback, stopping) Oh. I’m really not into yoga.

WOMAN: (taking his hand, leading him out) Yeah. I kinda figured that.


!Bonus! Joel and the Bots riffing on the song in an MST3K episode:

I share many of their concerns.

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