Sunday, May 10, 2009

A HISTORY OF JELLO: A ONE ACT UNFINISHED PLAY BY PETER COOPER (DECEASED)


DIALOGUE, 1899

Scene:

New York, a sunny day, during the balmy summer of 1899

Characters:

• Pearle B. Wait, NY Carpenter and Cough Syrup Manufacturer

• Orator Francis Woodward, neighbor

• May Wait, Pearle’s wife

• Italian Salad


••

Pearle: Well hello, Orator. Nice day, isn’t it?

Orator: It certainly is. Where’s May?

Pearle: She’s inside making a jelly mould.

Orator: Jelly mould? What ...?

Pearle: it’s a satisfying taste treat that is icy cold, sweet and delicious. It jiggles on your plate.

Orator: You know I asked about May because I have been thinking about May all day.

Pearle: Really. It jiggles like a crazy person.

Orator: All night, too. I can’t seem to stop. I can’t sleep.

Pearle: A crazy person on Ayahuasca, a psychoactive brew made from the Banisteriosis caapi vine and the Psychotria viridis leaf from the wilds of the Peruvian Amazon.

Orator: What has happened to me?

Pearle: I bet you want to know what flavor it is.

Orator: What? Who?

Pearle: It can be any flavor. That was sort of a trick question.

Orator: May. My May. My dearest.

Pearle: Flavor-wise, so far, I have had good luck with

• Apricot
• Berry Blue
• Black Cherry
• Cherry
• Cranberry
• Cranberry-Raspberry
• Fruit Fiesta
• Grape
• Green Apple
• Lemon
• Lime
• Margarita (seasonal)
• Melon Fusion
• Mixed Fruit
• Orange
• Peach
• Piña Colada (seasonal)
• Pineapple
• Raspberry
• Strawberry
• Strawberry-Banana
• Strawberry-Kiwi
• Strawberry Daiquiri (seasonal)
• Tropical Berry (prepared only)
• Tropical Fusion
• Watermelon
• Wild Cherry
• Wild Strawberry
• Green Tea
• kiwi


Orator: I’m sorry. You were saying–apricot, what?

Pearle: Far less luck I have had with

• Apple
• Black Raspberry
• Blackberry
• Bubble Gum
• Chocolate
• Coffee
• Cola
• Concord Grape
• Cranberry-Strawberry
• Root Beer
• Italian Salad
• Lemon-Lime
• Mango
• Melon-Berry
• Mixed Vegetable
• Orange-Banana
• Orange-Coconut (pudding)
• Orange-Pineapple
• Passion Fruit
• Pineapple-Grapefruit
• Maple Syrup
• Plain
• Raspberry Mango
• Seasoned Tomato
• Sparkling Berry
• Sparkling Mandarin Orange
• Sparkling White Grape
• Strawberry Punch
• Triple Chocolate
• Tropical Fruit
• Wild Raspberry

Hah! Italian Salad – what was I thinkin’?

Orator: Sorry...What? Root Beer? Maple Syrup? Seasoned Tomato?

Pearle: Orator, don’t you think that it is a little odd that my parents named me ‘Pearle’? I’m a guy, after all. With a robust sexual appetite and attendant proclivities. And I am married. To May. Why do parents of a guy named Pearle name their kid ‘Pearle’? Your name is a little funny too, though. It’s Orator. Tell me a little about your parents.

Italian Salad: Italian Salad, yeah baby.

Orator: Sometimes when it is late at night I think of myself and May at that little restaurant in LADY AND THE TRAMP

Pearle: You mean the Frank Sinatra song thing?

Orator: ...and we are absent mindedly slurping up a single strand of spaghetti until our lips touch for the first time...

Pearle: Oh, not Frank Sinatra. I know what you mean! That spaghetti sort of thing happens when you are in love. It happens to everybody. That happened with my May! It’s not really as fun as it sounds, but it is a pleasant memory. Not in Italy, though. It happened somewhere different.

Orator: It never happened.

Pearle: I kid you not! (starts to become distracted, and in a low voice, to himself): Italian Salad, again, as far as thinking goes, I don’t know if I was doing that. The Maple Syrup one, though, that I still stand behind. It’s an aphrodisiac. Like oysters or rhino whatevers.

Orator: Stop.

Pearle: Did I ever tell you about the time May and I...?

Orator: Seriously. Stop.

Pearle: No, this isn’t a joke. This is serious. May and I did the Ayahuasca thing with a mess of Mestizo healers on the outskirts of Puccalpa. I ate the head of a poison dart frog. It tasted crispier than I thought it would. And a little gamey. It wasn’t at all good. For one tiny second I could see God in the milky white coating of his tiny black eyeball. It wasn’t very pleasant. It made me feel all squishy inside. But again, an enjoyable memory, over all. Isn’t that what life is all about when you come right down to it?

Orator: No.

Orator is distracted from the subject of poison dart frogs as he sees May in the doorway, mopping her brow with the tail of her blouse, which is moist and translucent and clinging to her taut, firm body in the powerful summer heat.)

May: ooohhhhh

Orator: God, when will it be 1900?

Pearle (not seeming to hear Orator, who has vivid blue eyes, like blue jello.) And now here we are, it’s 1899 and I’ve got a wife making a triple chocolate jelly mould in the kitchen and the Amazon is so far away ...(sighs)

Orator: Why don’t you go back?

Pearle: If only...

Orator: You could. You could do it right now.

Pearle: You think?

Orator: Sure. I’ll help. Don’t worry about May. She will be fine.

Pearle: But the money ...

Orator: Have you ever considered a patent? I wouldn’t mind throwing a few dollars your way. I have to say that the jelly mould thing sounds tasty. Mighty tasty.

Pearle: Oh, it is. (sighs) I have this vision of making it from a powdered gelatin, dissolving it in hot water, chilling it and allowing it to set and then adding delicious fruit and vegetables and whipped cream to in in various moulds of sundry shapes and sizes. I was thinking of maybe cute little things, like jigglers maybe, or sturgeon bladders or calves' hooves. A Sarah Bernhardt shaped plastic moulds that you can freeze and then plop into a little dessert bowl would be nice.

Orator: Uh huh.

Pearle: It came to me in a dream.

Orator: Uh huh.

Pearle: It was a dark night, and I was restless. I had so much on my mind. May was beside me. We had made love, for hours I think...

May (from inside the house, slightly off stage): not really.

Pearle: ...how she loves me so. But I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t dream. You have to dream. If you don’t, you will die. I read this article about it.

Orator: We need to get you a plane ticket.

Pearle: Sometimes it’s all I think about. Why should wives and young daughters stand for hours over a hot fire, mixing compounds to make people ill, when in two minutes and with an expense of 10 cents, they can produce an attractive, delicious dessert?

Orator: I am going to get you a plane ticket.

Pearle: What? Why? Do you think that the Peruvians would be interested in it?

Orator: I don’t see why not. It helped you, didn’t it?

Pearle: Sure, but that’s me. It just seems unlikely for Peru, that’s all. Life in the Peruvian Amazon is already so perfect. Why should they care for icy cold flavored jelly moulds?

Orator: How much is a plane ticket to Pucca whatever?

Pearle: Seriously? No kidding? Orator–you’re a real pal! I'm going to go right upstairs and pack! Ora, I could kiss you. In fact, I am going to kiss you, right now on the lips, hard and strong, as though it were for the last time.

Pearle approaches Orator, his hands extended ever so gently towards Orator’s face.

Orator freezes in place.

May places the jelly mould in the ice box.


Fade to Black.

2 comments:

Molly Gaudry said...

Congrats, Crispy, re: apt!

Tortilla ex Machina said...

OH Molly, that is so kind! Thank you.

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