Romancin' Mary McBride

SCENE 1

SETTING: Mary’s living/dining room. There is a dining table, chairs
and a side table, which holds glassware and a decanter

The room also features a small sofa and coffee table

AT RISE: Evening. MARY and TESS are seated at the table, playing cards

LIGHTS UP in the middle of the conversation

MARY
So after the Daughters of St. Patrick meetin’, they went to the
Duffy’s for tea and --

TESS
GIN!

MARY
No … tea and scones.

TESS
Gin! I won! Mary Agnes, you’re not payin’ a bit of attention to
playin’ your cards!

MARY
(Throwing her cards down.)
I’m tired of playin’ this game.

TESS
We can play somethin’ different.

MARY
(On her feet, pacing)
Forget cards. I’m bored with the cards.

TESS
Look at ya … restless and fidgety.

MARY
I get too much rest. It’s a change I’m needin’… excitement …
adventure!

TESS
Excitement? Adventure? Are ya forgettin’ how old ya are? It’s
hardly the time to be bookin’ passage to India or takin’ an
African safari!

MARY
And why not? I’ve got a lot of life left in me and I’m not ready
to be signin’ myself into St. Rita’s Home For The Aged! If you
want to settle yourself into senility, go on then! But while I’m
alive, I still plan to do some livin’!

TESS
Don’t ya be getting’ uppity with me, Mary Agnes. Don’t you be
getting’ yer dander up!

MARY
I’m just speakin’ my mind, is all. (Beat) Declan was a lot of fun
… a wonderful husband he was. Then he up and had the coronary four
years ago, and just because he’s gone, everyone is treatin’ me
like I’m gone too.

TESS
‘Tis true. Nobody likes a widow around.

MARY
And it’s right ya are. I remind the women of somethin’ they’re
not wantin’ to face.

TESS
Or thinkin’ maybe you’ll be takin’ a fancy to their husbands.

MARY
Ha … and why would I be wantin’ any one of them? A bunch of old
fools half dead already! They can keep the lot of them!

TESS
There, there. I know ya miss yer Declan.

MARY
The point is, he’s gone. I can’t be changin’ the will of Heaven,
can I now? But I’m not gone and I’d like to start enjoyin’ my
life while I still have it.

TESS
You’ve got your family … and the grandchildren.

MARY
So yer thinkin’ for the rest of my born days, I’m supposed to be
content with grandkids and playin’ cards with you every Friday night
when your Freddie goes bowling? Just have me a grand wake and send me
on to the god of St. Patrick!

TESS
You always were the dramatic one.

MARY
No Tess. I’m the one who always wanted a little more out of life
than the rest of ya! (Beat) Would you have a quart of beer across the
way in yer icebox?

TESS
I don’t keep it in the house now. Freddie can’t drink the beer. It
gives him … gas.

MARY
Flatulent Freddie! So your Fred is full of hot air, eh?

TESS
That he is!
(They share a laugh.)

MARY
Well pour us a bit of the Jameson, then. (Gesturing toward
the side table.) Just two fingers will do.
(Tess moves to the side table,
pours the drinks, carries them
back to the table. They sip.)

TESS
A wee nip is good for the spirit, every now and then, eh Mary?

MARY
Good for the circulation, Da used to say. Yes … getting’ the old
blood pumpin’ … (Beat) Tess, do you and Freddie still … have a
go at it?

TESS
A go at it?

MARY
You know … the love makin’.

TESS
Mary Agnes! What a thing to be askin’ yer sister!

MARY
Well? Do ya now?

TESS
Fred is like an old car. At his age, it takes a lot to crank the motor.

MARY
And you, Tess. What about your motor?

TESS
Who’s to know. In my case, the car has been parked in the garage.
Fred hasn’t started the engine for so long, how would I know if the
old battery can still turn over!

MARY
Don’t you ever … ya know … encourage him?

TESS
And how would I be doin’ that?

MARY
Wear somethin’ … scanty. Somethin’ to get him in the mood.

TESS
You’re talkin’ about a man who gives me a new flannel nightgown
every Christmas.

MARY
Go out and buy somethin’ darin’. See if that can’t start his old
motor.

TESS
Freddie would be thinkin’ I lost my mind … gone over the edge!

(She finishes her drink, moves to the side table with her glass)

Another?

MARY
I will. What kind of woman would be lettin’ her baby sister be
drinkin’ alone?

TESS
(Refilling glasses)
And how was it with Declan (God rest him)?

MARY
Declan was a passionate man. For sure and he never bought me a flannel
nightgown. The truth be known, we always went to bed just the way God
made us.

TESS
Naked?! Well it’s not the wonder you created seven sons!
(They sip their drinks.)

MARY
I miss it.

TESS
What.

MARY
The lovemakin’.

TESS
There’s nothin’ you can be doin’ about it now.

MARY
Isn’t there?

TESS
(Slow and deliberate)
Well ya can’t go fer a ride if ya don’t have a car!

MARY
And I’ve been thinkin’ there are some old cars out there that
might be wantin’ their old motors revved up.

TESS
Mary Agnes!

MARY
Four years I have been the widow, livin’ like a nun. Sister Mary
Agnes … livin’ the cloistered life. It’s NOT my vocation. It’s
time to leave the convent and put romancin’ back in my life!

TESS
Romancin’! With who?

MARY
I have someone in mind.

TESS
What? Who! The widow Murphy?

MARY
Paddy Murphy? He’s as ancient as Moses! What would I be wantin’
with the likes of him!

TESS
Who then?

MARY
Louie DeMarco.

TESS
The butcher? He’s Italian!

MARY
And so?

TESS
If Da were alive, he’d be havin’ his say. Da didn’t take to
Italians.

MARY
Da’s dead. I’m alive.

TESS
And another thing … the widow Vincenzi is sweet on Louie … has
been for years. Always bakin’ and cookin’ for him. I’ve seen her
down at his shop, cooin’ and primpin’ like a puffed up pigeon!

MARY
Rosa Vincenzi … for all the bakin’, cookin’ and cooin’, all
she has gotten for her troubles is dirty dish pans. If Louie was
findin’ her to be such a fine catch, he would have pulled in the
nets by now!

TESS
What makes you think he has taken a fancy to you?

MARY
A woman just knows this kind of thing.

TESS
What does he say to ya?

MARY
It’s not so much in the sayin’. It’s the twinkle in his eye.

TESS
The twinkle, eh.

MARY
And the winkin’.

TESS
So the man has come right out in the open with the flirtin’!

MARY
Indeed! Tryin’ to hook up the jumper cables to the old battery to be
seein’ if there still isn’t a bit of life in her!

(They giggle like school girls)

TESS
What do ya do when he winks at ya?

MARY
I give him a wink right back.

TESS
Mary Agnes McBride! Aren’t you the one who is misbehavin’!

MARY
That would be me … the old temptress. (Beat) It’s like this, so. I
walk into the shop and he says to me, “And how are you today, young
Mary McBride.”

TESS
YOUNG he says?

MARY
He wouldn’t be callin’ me old now, would he? I say … “Get
along with ya, Louie DeMarco. Just you be trimmin’ the fat off my
stew meat, you divil of a man.” And he says, “For an angel such as
you, I will.”

TESS
Rosa Vincenzi would be havin’ a conniption if she could be hearin’
that talk. But has Louie asked ya for a date?

MARY
Not yet. But I have a good scheme workin’ in my mind.

TESS
And what scheme is that, ya sly old girl?

MARY
I’ve got some Aces up my sleeve. I’m workin’ on playin’ out my
best hand.

TESS
And you … the one tellin’ me she doesn’t like to be playin’
her hand at cards.

MARY
Tessie dear … there’s more than a wee difference between a game of
Gin with a sister on a Friday night and a game of romance with a
handsome butcher.

(Tess lifts her glass in a toast)

TESS
From the hills of Connemara, to old Boston town, you’ll not find a
more clever croon around! Widow Vincenzi, fer all the schemin’ ya
tried, you’ll soon be outdone by Mary McBride!

(Gleeful laughter and clinking glasses)

MARY
Slainte!

BLACKOUT

End of Extract

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