August 27, 2006

A Play A Day #136



Setting: A lunch counter at a diner, except it's late, the place is closing down.

Bert: (catching waitress' eye) Waitress... Waitress? Hi, can I get a refill? (holds coffee cup out, waitress already has the pot in her hand, pulls it up)

Bert: (stopping her) Decaf?

Waitress: Yes!

B: Great!

W: (Goes to pour, thinks again) Umm... we're closing up. I don't really want to refill your cup...

B: What?

W: Look, you've been here for about five hours. This is your eighth? ninth? tenth? cup of decaf. We're closing down for the night.

B: I'd like a refill.

W: I know you do.

B: Is this because I'm black?

W: What? No.

B: I'm really getting tired...

W: You're whiter than skim milk!

B: Sure, bring that up...

W: What up?

B: Race issues.

W: You brought...

B: Why does my need for coffee need to be a question of my race everytime?

W: What? It's not! What...

B: You just accused me of being white!

W: You are!

B: Maybe so, but why does that disqualify me from a seventh cup of coffee?

W: It doesn't... look, you said you were black!

B: Maybe I said black, but I meant white and used black as an entry-point to discuss your vicious racist streak!

W: What! Listen, I don't know what you're trying to pull, man...

B: Nothing, I'm just another white man being denied his coffee refill.

W: We are closing!

B: A convenient cover for your racism.

W: No! It's a convenient cover for my wanting to kick you out.

B: So... you admit it?

W: I admit nothing!

B: You hate white people, and you conveniently use closing time as an excuse to deny them their coffee.

W: I don't hate white people!

B: Then... my coffee?

W: I hate white assholes!

B: How dare you!

W: Ohhh! I dare! I will continue to dare until...

B: My father was a white asshole!

W: I don't doubt it!

B: I refuse to be judged because of his behavior!

W: You're not being judged; you're being idiotic.

B: I am not the bearer of my father's sins!

W: Listen! Please, just leave... o.k. I've been here doing a double shift, I still have to clean the grill, close out the till, mop up and drive fifteen minutes to get home, I have two kids and no husband. My kids are small, I live in a bad neighborhood. I need you to leave!

B: Trying to get my sympathy... typical ploy to excuse your racism.

W: Listen man, I'm white, my kids are white, I don't hate white people. I hate people who are mean for no apparent reason. People who don't have the common decency to leave when the place is closing.

B: You have no right to deny me my coffee!

W: Actually, I do... see that sign? "Management reserves to right to deny service to anyone at anytime."

B: Why don't you just add "if they're white" up there!

W: (pause, pulls out her pen) O.K. I will (she goes to the sign, writes and speaks as she does so) If they... are... white ....and... an asshole.

B: Nice. Really know how to make a customer welcome.

W: I made you welcome five damn hours ago. You are no longer welcome here!

B: Typical.

W: (pleading) Why won't you leave? Do you have nowhere to go? Has everyone you know shunned you because of your assholery?

B: (quietly) Yes.

W: And now... (his "yes" sinks in) Oh... uhh... I didn't realize...

B: I am an ass. Just like my father. No one likes me. I alienate everyone.

W: Well, you haven't been easy to deal with here tonight.

B: I know.

W: If you know, then you can avoid it... right?

B: Maybe.

W: If you had just left a few minutes ago; I might not have been so upset with you.

B: Yeah, I know.

W: I mean, sitting at a diner for five hours is extreme, but not illegal. You were okay, you know, as a customer, until the whole bizarre race thing.

B: I don't know how to talk to people.

W: You're talking to me.

B: I always have to argue; it's the only way I know how to communicate.

W: Nonsense. You're being really nice right now.

B: Ahh... you're just feeling bad for me.

W: No! No... I never... well... o.k. I do feel sorta bad for you. You're right.

B: I know I am.

W: Well... you know you can come back tomorrow. We'll practice.

B: Practice?

W: Having normal, nice conversations.

B: Really?

W: Yeah, and we'll see how well you can learn to talk... to me... without arguing.

B: You'd do that for me?

W: Yes... sure... why... why not?

B: You'd be... like a... friend?

W: Yeah... I guess I would be. Sure.

B: (he starts breaking down, sniffling) I've never really had a friend.

W: Hey now...

B: Almost fifty years old, and I've never had a friend...

W: Well, I guess you have one now.

B: (crying) You know, never been able to make a friend... or... or... a girlfriend.

W: Ummm... just friends, for now... o.k.?

B: Yeah, yeah... friends... thank you... thank you so much...

W: You're very welcome.

B: Can I get my coffee refill now?

W: (stunned, not sure how to respond, long pause) Uhhh... no... I mean, I really...

B: Is this an age thing?

W: What? Please don't do this!

B: I see now, because you found out that I'm almost fifty, and you're younger than me...

W: Please! Stop!

B: This is just so typical!

W: No, we were going to be friends...

B: Just another older-American being denied his coffee refill!

W: Stop! (crying) Just stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop! Stop!...

(lights out as waitress continues shouting "stop")


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