Friday, August 16, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Never Forget How to be Alone



It's long after the club has closed, and the Funny Man stands on the circular stage, one of the nicest he's ever seen, even though it's too dark to make out much more than its purple plastic cover bunching over oak boards. The seats are all empty, cushions collapsed upwards and into their seatbacks, the only things in the world the Funny Man knows of that collapse upward.

He makes a joke about it. Two people in the front row chuckle, and he bends to his haunches, looking them in eyes that aren't there for a follow-up. Laughter ripples in the seats around them.

He's working the crowd, feet already shuffling, smoothing out the purple plastic cover. It becomes his playing field, his circular baseball diamond, and he paces the bases as he likens politics to foul balls. The Funny Man raises three fingers in a gesture like no one else he knows has ever done, saluting into an imaginary outfield, and back rows clap with amusement. The Funny Man has never been comfortable with audiences applauding rather than laughing at comedy; he is there to be enjoyed, not agreed with. Yet he can't deny the warm feedback, the adulation radiating from a packed house. No one is even complaining how dim it is.

He asks, who decided to run a show in the dark? And the two people he started on in the front row are wheezing with laughter and clutching their ribs. He riffs on the dark theatre, the darkness of night, scary places that aren't lit well enough, for minutes upon minutes, until he regrets not having set up a camera to record a special live from the dark circle with its purple plastic cover.

Then he riffs off wishing he had a crowd like his for his live-to-tape special. Then he riffs off live-to-tape. Then he riffs off of Youtube, Son of America's Funniest Home Videos, and then what the Daughter of America's Funniest Home Videos would look like, and how the internet leaves no man unconnected. It's on that word, "unconnected," that a car alarm blares up through a window and his audience dampens, and thins, and three blinks later, dispels down the drain of imagination.

Four blinks later, there are no cushions that collapse upward. There is only the private theatre of his kitchen. He steps off the circular dining table, dropping to the floor and straightening the plastic table cloth. It's purple. It's not made of cloth, he thinks. He thinks that would make good material.

He has not forgotten how to be alone.

23 comments:

  1. I love your writing--this was so well done!

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    1. Very kind of you to say, Sam. Thank you.

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  2. This is a very emotive piece. Thank you. I think it played on my own love of, and need for solitude...

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    1. And thank you. It comes from my love of solitude, a love so deep it worries much of my family. We ought never to forget how to be alone.

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  3. Amazing how something so mundane can become a stage, and how something else will easily interrupt your time in the spotlight.

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    1. It's the lot of we meager distractables.

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  4. Absolutely first class. I've run out of stars.

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    1. Thank you, Natalie! That was so sweet of you to say.

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  5. Wow, that was a great twist! I was expecting him to be the janitor after a "real" show, or a survivor playing to a dead world (with "collapse upward" as a hint).

    The ending brought to mind a line from an Alice Cooper song: "I may be lonely, but I'm never alone." Sounds like this guy is the opposite.

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    1. I live a little like that Cooper song. I'm only ever lonely when other people are alone. It's a bit freakish of me, eh?

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  6. The last line is a corker! Fantastic.
    Adam B @revhappiness

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  7. I'm picturing you as the funny man. Funny concepts, you should write 'em up and go to open mike night somewhere!

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    1. That's a totally fair projection, Harry.

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  8. Very nicely done. I really loved this. And, as per usual, I did not see the twist coming!

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  9. I really enjoyed this piece- very well done.

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  10. I really liked this one, John. I've always loved being alone with my imagination and I'm sometimes sad when reality interupts me.

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  11. You got me on this one, especially liked the line, there to laugh not agree with him. Nice.

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  12. It sucks when reality intrudes, doesn't it?

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

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  13. This reminded me of the part in Man on the Moon where Andy Kaufman's dad tells him that he can't talk to his bedroom wallpaper -- he has to either find an audience with real people in it, or he has to stop. I remember thinking that wallpaper would make an excellent practice audience.

    This is proof.

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  14. Nicely done. No one should be afraid to be silly and enjoy their own company and imagination! :)

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  15. To be able to entertain oneself is such a gift. Clearly, he's got it.

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  16. Only just got round to this. Like the folk above, I love the mood of it and the way it ends. Good work, John!

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