The Best-Laid Plans For Romance by Michael Tarringer


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Setting: New York City; the year is 2015

      CHARACTERS

      Ruth Green Ė She is married to Max, in her 50s. She has been lonely
      since her kids have grown and left the house, so she hopes to be a
      grandmother soon, but would settle for being closer to her husband.

      Maggie Green Ė Daughter of Ruth and Max. She is in his early to
      mid-20s, a non-traditional college student who works and goes to
      school at night.

      Ira Feinberg Ė Mid 50s and a close friend to Max for many years.
      Divorced, but still a believer in relationships and always tries to
      have fun.

      Max Green Ė He is in his 50s; a passionate baseball fan and believer
      in the ďgood-old days.Ē He is too busy with his own insecurities
      to realize how good life can be.

      Faye Lawson Ė In her 50s, she went to high school with Max. She is
      an attractive and personable woman who would like to finally settle
      down with the right guy.

      Laura Fields Ė late 20s, she is Maggieís roommate.  She works in
      hospital administration. She is in an on-again/off-again dating
      relationship with Don.

      David Becker Ė late 20s/early 30s, divorced doctor who recently
      moved to NY, and works with Laura.

      Don Carter Ė mid-30s; easy-going; he is dating Laura; and

      Doc Ė mid 30s to 50s; a psychiatrist.


      ACT ONE

      SCENE I

      (Lights come up on the living room of Maggie Greenís apartment. Her
      roommate, Laura Fields, a woman in her late 20ís, is getting ready
      for a date with her on-again, off-again boyfriend Don. Maggie enters
      with her father, Max. They are dressed in sports fan attire, having
      just come from leaving a Yankees baseball game early, much to Maxís
      disappointment.)

      MAGGIE: Come on, Dad, itís just a game.

      MAX: It was the seventh inning, and the Yankees just tied the score.

      MAGGIE: Yes, but the three-hundred-pound guy in front of me smelled
      like he hadnít bathed in a week. I couldnít take it anymore.
      (Seeing Laura) Hi.

      MAX: Hello, Laura. How are you, my dear?

      LAURA: Fine, Mr. Green. How was the game?

      MAX: It was 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Yankees had
      players on first and third with one out (turning to look at Maggie)
      and we had to leave.

      MAGGIE: (To Laura) The game should have been called on account of the
      stench coming from the row in front of us. (Turning to her father) You
      know, we could have tried to move to some other seats.

      MAX: We were at the 200 level, right behind home plate! Do you know
      how expensive those tickets were?

      LAURA: 200 level, behind home plate, over $150 a piece.

      MAX: (Surprised) Thatís right. How did you know?

      LAURA: I went to a game last month with my boyfriend; same level.

      MAX: And did you stay for the whole game?

      LAURA: (Laura answers, but then sees Maggie waiving behind her
      fatherís back, shaking her head emphatically and mouthing ďNoĒ,
      indicating how she wants her friend to answer) Yes (switching to cover
      for her friend) No! ... (Retreating from the conversation) I donít remember.

      MAX: (Confused) You donít remember? (Laura gives him a ďSorry,
      canít help youĒ look.) Excuse me, but Iím just going to take a
      look to see what the score is. (He takes out his cell phone and starts
      to push buttons, searching the Internet for the score) (Announcing the
      result, still looking at his phone) The Yankees won!

      LAURA: (Maggie groans. Laura responds to her reaction.) Isnít that
      good?

      MAGGIE: No, thatís bad, because now Iíll never hear the end of it.

      MAX: (To Maggie, showing disappointment in missing the event) They
      came back to win the game.

      MAGGIE: Look at it this way, Daddy, youíre probably going to live at
      least two years longer than if we stayed there and continued to
      breathe in that odor. Besides, I have work to do.

      MAX: (Frowning) I better get going.

      MAGGIE: Donít forget you wanted to check my course catalog. Itís
      on the desk, and I highlighted the class I want to take.

      MAX: Oh, right. (Max goes to the desk and looks at the college course
      catalog).

      LAURA: (To Maggie) What do you mean you have work? I thought your
      class doesnít start until next week                      
        .
      MAGGIE: It doesnít, but the professor assigned the first two
      chapters and wants us to be prepared to discuss them.

      LAURA: That stinks.

      MAGGIE: So did the baseball game.

      LAURA: I better get ready for my date.

      MAX: Whoís the lucky guy?

      LAURA: My boyfriend, Don.

      MAX:  Donís the one who took you to the baseball game last month?

      LAURA:  Yes, he did.

      MAX:  In the 200 level seats, behind home plate?

      LAURA:  Yes.

      MAX: (Impressed) Those are expensive seats.  Sounds like a sports fan.
      What does he do?

      LAURA: He just started working in the merchandising department for the
      baseball team.

      MAX:  The Yankees!?

      LAURA:  Thatís right.  If you need tickets, Iím sure he can help
      you out.  Excuse me; I have to jump in the shower.

      MAX:  (Smiling) Enjoy yourself.

      LAURA: Thanks. Iíll try. (She exits)

      MAX: Thatís a nice girl. Iím glad you two became roommates.
      (Looking back at the course catalog.)  You know, Maggie, your mother
      and I are very proud of you for going back to school to get your
      degree.

      MAGGIE: Thank you, Daddy.

      MAX: I mean it. Holding down a full-time job while you take courses at
      night and during the summer takes a lot of gumption, and Ö. (His
      eyes open wide, surprised by what he sees.) Oh, God. Oh ....my
      ....God!

      MAGGIE: (She walks over and looks over his shoulder) What?
      MAX: What? What do you mean, ďWhat?Ē (Pointing at the catalog)
      Four thousand dollars, thatís what!

      MAGGIE: Thatís what all the three-credit courses cost.

      MAX: I can see that. And I was worried you were going to get mugged on
      the streets of New York, when itís the colleges that rob people
      blind! Why do you want to take a class in the summer anyway? Itís
      too hot to study.

      MAGGIE: Taking one this summer will lighten my work load next fall.
      Come on, Daddy, you promised if I signed up for a business class, you
      would pay for a summer course.

      MAX: And? Did you?

      MAGGIE: The book is right here (pointing to a textbook on the table).

      MAX: Economics. Great class!

      MAGGIE: (Sarcastically) Yeah, I canít wait.

      MAX: Learning a little bit about economics will do you some good.

      MAGGIE: Weíll see. Iím not excited about having an assignment
      before the first class even starts.

      MAX: What did you expect?

      MAGGIE: I donít knowÖreceiving a syllabus, a nice little
      introduction from the professor, some background information about
      what weíll be covering during the semesterÖ. At least, thatís
      what the professors usually do. I certainly didnít expect to read
      the first two chapters before walking through the door.
      MAX: Well, I didnít expect to pay four thousand dollars for one
      course. When I was your age, Ö.

      MAGGIE: (To herself) Here we go.

      MAX: (continuing)Ö.everyone didnít have to go to college to earn a
      decent living.

      MAGGIE: Times have changed, Dad.

      MAX: Youíre telling meÖ You wouldnít believe how many people I
      saw on the way over here who were staring at their cell phones,
      texting away, as if there was no one else aroundÖAnd those were the
      ones driving cars. Then, there were the pedestrians, walking around
      like zombies, eyes glued to those little screens, and they continued
      into the street without even looking to see if a car was coming.
      (Shaking his head) My God, Maggie, what did everyone do before
      smartphones were invented?

      MAGGIE: Well, I guessÖ.

      MAX: (Interrupting) They talked. They looked each other in the eye and
      they had a conversation! Itís a lost art.

      MAGGIE: Speaking of art, Iíve been dying to take this Art History
      class. What do you think?

      MAX: If itís less than four thousand dollars, I love it.

      MAGGIE: Thanks for helping me out, Dad.

      MAX: Thatís alright. Time for me to head out. (Maggie walks her
      father to the door). You know how your mother is about dinner.

      MAGGIE: Every night at 6 PM.

      MAX:  On the dot. 

      MAGGIE: You should try taking her out some time.

      MAX: Your mother has a very delicate stomach that only tolerates very
      expensive food.

      MAGGIE: Well, a new Italian place just opened up across the street.
      Their prices seem reasonable, and you both like pasta.

      MAX:  (Interested) Yeah?  When were you there?

      MAGGIE: Laura and I checked it out last week.

      MAX:  Maybe weíll give it a try.

      MAGGIE: And you should get her some flowers.

      MAX:  Flowers? What for?  Isnít dinner enough?

      MAGGIE:  Dinner is nice, but flowers with dinner is even better, and
      you two donít get out that much.

      MAX: How do you know?

      MAGGIE: Okay, when was the last time you took Mom out?

      MAX: (After staring at his daughter for several seconds, and then
      realizing sheís right.) Iíll get her flowers. You know, your
      mother and I love you very much.

      MAGGIE: Oh, Daddy, I love you too.

      MAX: Iíll send you a check for the course.

      MAGGIE: Thanks.

      MAX: After you finish the economics class.

      MAGGIE: Daddy!

      MAX: And get at least a B for the course.

      MAGGIE: Daddy!!

      MAX: Donít act so surprised. Our deal wasnít that you just sign up
      for the business class; our deal was that you learn the material.

      MAGGIE: Fine.

      MAX: I love you, sweetie.

      MAGGIE: I love you too, Dad. Come on, Iíll walk you out.

      (Intercom buzzes as theyíre about to walk out.)
      MAGGIE: That must be Don.  Hello?

      DON (voice): Hi Mag, itís me. Iím here to pick up Laura.

      MAGGIE:  Don, Iím walking my dad out now, so Iíll come get you.

      DON (voice): Great!  See you soon.

      MAGGIE: Weíll be right there. (She releases the intercom button.)

      MAX: Thatís the guy who works for the Yankees?

      MAGGIE:  Yep. Come on, Iíll introduce you.   

      MAX: HmmmÖ.maybe leaving the game early wasnít such a bad idea
      after all.

      (They exit).

      (BLACKOUT)

      SCENE II

      (The scene opens later that same day, in the home of Maggieís
      parents, Max and Ruth Green. The couple just finished dinner and Max
      is sitting watching a baseball game on television.  Ruth enters and
      passes in front of the television several times, collecting soda cans
      and plates to take back to the kitchen.  Each time she passes in front
      of the television, Max counters her movements, working to see the
      screen in order to avoid missing any part of the game.)

      RUTH: So, did you like the dinner, Max? It was all vegetarian.

      MAX:  (without lifting his head from the television) It was good,
      thanks.

      RUTH:  I was feeling adventurous tonight, so I tried something a
      little different with the roast to make it taste more like turkey.

      MAX:  (still focused on the game) Enjoyed it. Thanks.

      RUTH:  I added something to the sauce.

      MAX:  Yeah, yeah, very tasty.

      RUTH:  (Realizing he hasnít been listening to word) A little
      arsenic.

      MAX: (Not hearing her) Loved it, much appreciated. 

      RUTH:  Uh huh. (She leaves, put off by his lack of attention)

      (Maxís cell phone rings after Ruth exits)

      MAX:  HelloÖ. Hi IraÖ.. Yeah, of course Iím watching, what else
      would I be doing?..... Youíre kidding!  No way!  They finally got
      rid of Whitaker, itís about time! Ė Talk about excess baggage.
      What did they get for him?..... Another relief pitcher!?  They need a
      hitter, someone with speed who can steal basesÖ.. Well, at least
      heís off the payroll.  Listen, they just came back from a commercial
      break, so Iíll talk to you later.  Yeah, weíre still on for Saturday.  See
      you then.

      (Ruth comes back in, having disposed of the cans and plates, again
      walking in front of the television, this time pausing to pick up an
      earring off the floor, with Max countering in another effort to see
      the screen).

      RUTH: Thatís where that went!  I was looking all over for this
      earring. (Turning to Max and realizing heís up trying to look around
      her).  What are you doing?

      MAX:  Iím trying to watch the game.

      RUTH:  Oh, yeah Ö sorry.  What inning are they in?

      MAX:  The second.  Could you move a little to the right?

      RUTH: Max, maybe we could watch something else tonight? Something
      together?

      MAX:  Like what?

      RUTH:  Well, thereís this new show where these couples get fixed
      upÖ

      MAX: (Interrupting) Wait a minute, one of those reality shows?

      RUTH:  Yeah, itís really cute.  They never met before andÖ.

      MAX: I donít think so.

      RUTH:  Why not?

      MAX:  I donít like Reality TV.  I get enough of reality at work.

      RUTH:  Okay, then how about a movie?

      MAX:  Well, I never did see the last Star Wars film.

      RUTH:  Donít you ever get tired of Star Wars?

      MAX:  You suggested a movie.  Star Wars is a movie.

      RUTH:  I didnít mean Star Wars.  Thereís a new movie about this
      married couple that goes on a second honeymoon andÖ.

      MAX: Tell you what, I have to go to the bathroom, but hold that
      thought, because unfortunately I canít hold it anymore.  You can
      tell me the rest when I get back.

      RUTH:  Ok. (As Max leaves) Oh, weíre almost out of toilet paper, so
      if you finish it, recycle the roll. (Max turns around with a look).
      What? Ė you forgot last time.

      (Ruthís cell phone goes off as Max exits).

      Hello.  Oh, hi sweetie, how are you? .... Thatís good Ö.  Me?
      Nothing. Your father and I just finished dinner. Youíre coming by
      tomorrow morning, arenít you?  Just making sure. It will be nice to
      catch upÖ. I know we just saw each other, but you know how much I
      enjoy our weekend mornings togetherÖ. Really? Is that on tonight?
      (She reaches for the remote control) What channel?  I love Barbara
      Streisand!  Such a voice! And she can act tooÖ. Of course I donít
      mind.  Stop over whenever youíre done.  Alright sweetie, take care
      and Iíll see you tomorrow.  Iíll be hereÖ.. Bye.  (To herself)
      Where else am I going to be?

      (Max returns from the bathroom and notices the channel has been
      switched away from the baseball game)

      MAX:  Whatís this?  (He changes the channel back to the baseball
      game.  Ruth glares at him. After a beat, Max finally notices.)  What?
      You knew I was watching the game, right?

      RUTH: I didnít know when you were coming back.  I thought you fell
      in. Besides, we were talking about watching a movie instead, remember?

      MAX: (frowning and giving her a look back) Yeah, we were talking about
      it, but nothing had been decided yet.

      RUTH:  Thereís a Barbara Streisand movie on that I thought we could
      watch.

      MAX:  What about the game?

      RUTH:  You just came back from a baseball game.

      MAX:  Every game is different.

      RUTH:  They all look the same to me Ė just like the nights here, all
      the same.

      MAX:  Jesus Christ.

      RUTH:  Oh come on, Max, itís not like Iím asking you to spend
      money on dinner and dancing.  Iím talking about watching a movie on
      TV together, just not a space movie.

      MAX:  Are you knocking Star Wars?

      RUTH: I just think you need to expand your horizons.

      MAX: Maybe you just donít appreciate science fiction.  Did you know
      the original Star Wars was nominated for an Academy Award for Best
      Picture. 

      RUTH: Did it win?

      MAX: No, but it should have.  And you wonder why I donít rush home
      and we donít watch anything together. 

      RUTH: So, Iím the reason you work late!? 

      MAX:  Here we go.

      RUTH:  Is it!?

      MAX:  Sometimes, I go out after work with the guys. (Ruth gives him a
      look)  What? Ė not every night.  Itís not like Iím cheating on you.

      RUTH: Maybe instead of ďgoing out with the guys,Ē did you ever
      think of taking me out instead?

      MAX: The thought crossed my mind.

      RUTH: And?

      MAX: When it crossed, it never slowed down Ė just kept going.

      RUTH: Thatís not funny, Max.

      MAX:  Iím sorry.  Look, itís usually very difficult for us to
      agree on where to go or what to do.

      RUTH:  Thatís not true.

      MAX:  Oh yeah, look at us now Ė weíre having a grand time trying
      to figure out what to watch together.  It shouldnít be this hard.

      RUTH:  You give up too easy.  (Max starts walking away)  Where are you
      going?

      MAX:  To bed. 

      RUTH:  Itís only 8:00. 

      MAX:  I donít want to argue.

      RUTH:  Weíre not arguing; weíre talking.

      MAX:  All this talk is tiring me out. 

      RUTH:  What am I supposed to do?

      MAX:  Watch Barbara Streisand.

      RUTH:  Max!

      MAX:  You win. Iím going to bed.

      (BLACKOUT)


[End of Extract]


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