"You wear a cross around your neck./Tucked inside my blouse. I don't brandish it like I'm warding off vampires."
This is the first appearance of these characters in the play. They are all in their late teens/early twenties and have just started college. They have all gone shopping together as a supposedly neutral and safe activity, but Linc and Isobel are at it again. Linc is openly gay. Isobel knows this, but is still carrying a torch for him, though she'd be the first to deny it. Ralph, Linc's straight fraternal twin brother, is romantically interested in Isobel, but she doesn't notice him when Linc's around. Linc and Ralph have both known Isobel since their days in high school together, where all this has its roots. Diana is a closeted lesbian and Isobel's newest friend. Diana also harbors a crush on Isobel, but would be the first to deny it.
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copyright 2001 by Matthew A. Everett
Emphasis shifts abruptly to another pool of light as, from opposite corners of the stage area, four people in their late teens/early twenties converge on the light -
- LINC, a radiant young man and
- ISOBEL, an intense young woman
zero in on one another, while
- RALPH, an awkward young man and
- DIANA, an offbeat-looking young woman
find themselves on the outside of the discussion.
LINCYou can't tell me you didn't hear that, Isobel.
ISOBELI heard it, I just don't see what was so bad --
LINCAre you kidding me?
DIANA and RALPH try to interject, attempting to steer the conversation to safer ground.
ISOBELHe used the right phrase, didn't he?
LINCIt wasn't what he said, it was the way he said it.
RALPHYup, we are so in a shopping mall right now.
ISOBELYou don't think you're being just a little sensitive?
LINCHow did I know you'd be defending him?
ISOBELI'm not defending anybody, Linc. I don't think he did anything that needs defending, that's all I'm saying.
DIANAStores stretching in every direction.
LINCHe's a professor.
LINCSo what he says, and the way he says it, particularly when other people can clearly hear it, it's important.
ISOBELI'm not arguing that.
RALPH and DIANA give up on the others and turn their attention to each other to pass the time while they wait.
RALPHI'm Ralph, by the way.
RALPHLinc's twin brother.
DIANAIsobel's friend from church, well, and classes, too, I guess.
RALPHNice to meet you.
LINC makes a gesture for quotation marks in the air for emphasis and adopts a sarcastic tone, imitating the professor.
LINC"Domestic Partner." "Significant Other." "I suppose I need to be 'Politically Correct' about these things."
ISOBELHe didn't make quotation marks in the air.
LINCHe might as well have, with that tone. He was clearly mocking the whole concept.
DIANAYou don't look much alike.
RALPHFraternal, not identical.
DIANABet you get that a lot.
ISOBELHe went out of his way to include your --
ISOBELSexual orientation into the conversation. He didn't just assume you'd understand by him saying "girlfriend" that he meant to include everyone's --
RALPHYou don't look much like you --
DIANA-- would be going to the same church as Isobel?
RALPHBet you get that a lot.
ISOBELWell, did you ever stop to think that if you weren't so --
ISOBELOpen about it, aggressively open about it --
LINCBe a good little faggot --
ISOBELYou know I hate that word.
RALPHSo how long you think, before Isobel tries to set us up?
ISOBELNow you're baiting me just like you did him.
DIANAWhat makes you think she hasn't already started?
LINCBaiting? I asked a simple question.
ISOBELNo question is ever simple with you. You're constantly lying in wait for the rest of us to make an honest slip so you can blow it completely out of proportion and claim that you and your kind are always the injured parties.
DIANAStill, it's hardly inevitable.
LINCExcuse me, my kind?
RALPHWhy not? Single guy, single girl.
DIANA gives RALPH a look.
ISOBELSee, there, case in point, you know what I meant.
RALPH'Scuse me - single woman.
LINCDo you stop being a heterosexual woman when you enter a classroom?
ISOBELNo, of course not, but --
DIANA indicates LINC and ISOBEL.
DIANAThey're "single woman, single guy."
RALPHYeah, but one of them's gay.
ISOBELAh, but everyone assumes, looking at me that I am a woman, and nine times out of ten, percentages being what they are, heterosexual. You have to go out of your way to let people know what you are --
ISOBEL-- who you are, excuse me. And you always do.
RALPHShe talks about you all the time.
DIANA visibly brightens at learning this.
RALPHYup. Diana this, Diana that.
DIANAShe's been talking about you a lot, too.
Now it's RALPH's turn to perk up.
RALPHOh. So maybe she's just --
DIANA-- laying the groundwork.
They both deflate a little.
LINCYou wear a cross around your neck.
ISOBELTucked inside my blouse. I don't brandish it like I'm warding off vampires.
RALPHShe talks about Linc more than she talks about either of us, doesn't she?
ISOBELAnd I don't verbally correct someone's misconceptions or misstatements every thirty seconds.
DIANAShe talks about Linc almost as much as she talks about God.
ISOBELYou can come off seeming very combative and people respond to that differently.
DIANAMaybe she wouldn't if --
RALPH-- if he didn't push her buttons quite so effectively.
LINCSo he was perfectly within his rights to make fun of something that's important to me.
DIANAAnd then there's the crush.
RALPH is suddenly on the defensive.
DIANAHer on him, I meant.
ISOBELNo. But one, I don't think that's what he was doing, and two, even if he was, it's understandable.
RALPHWell, his boyfriend put a stop to that.
DIANAHim being gay --
RALPHHer being straight.
DIANARight. If only.
LINCSo just cut him some slack, even if he's wrong.
ISOBELThere are ways to confront prejudice without bludgeoning people, yes.
RALPHIf only what?
DIANAIf only crushes just ended when they didn't make sense.
RALPHYou mean she -- ?
RALPHDamn. Wish I could inspire --
RALPHYou know, something like that. Someone -- falling for me.
LINCWhat if I went around saying "wife" and "girlfriend" like that all the time?
ISOBELYou'd be pretty much as annoying as you are now, and you wouldn't gain any allies. The point is to make allies, right, not just alienate anyone who doesn't tow the party line?
Now DIANA is on the defensive.
DIANAWhy, what did you think I meant?
DIANACrushes. A crush. That crush, I mean.
RALPHDunno -- just, you know, people have crushes on her, too, so -- I mean, you know, no one at the moment, that I'm aware of.
RALPHWhy, do you know about anyone who -- ?
DIANANo. Just curious. None of my business.
RALPHMine either, I guess.
LINCHe doesn't make light of your beliefs.
ISOBELNo, I have my friends for that.
LINCNow who's being sensitive?
Both RALPH and DIANA look at ISOBEL, not catching the depth of each other's attachment.
DIANAEasy to see why someone might --
ISOBEL and LINC turn on RALPH and DIANA.
ISOBELWhat are you two talking about over there?
RALPH and DIANANothing.
LINC guides RALPH off in one direction, at the same time ISOBEL guides DIANA off in the opposite direction.
RALPH shrugs to DIANA as LINC pulls him off into the dark.
copyright 2001 by Matthew A. Everett