By Margy McCarthy
(The curtain rises on a typical family room. It is evening. Lamps are lit. Two overstuffed chairs flank a small table, up stage right; a couch is along the wall stage left. A roll top desk with a computer is along the up stage wall. The TV, its back toward the audience, is down center. As the lights come up, we hear a familiar commercial jingle from the television, and see SHRIEK, a twelve-year old girl, sprawled in one of the chairs, watching TV. Her parents, SPARKY and MARGY, are cuddled on the couch. They kiss.)
SHRIEK: Oh, yuck, you two, do you mind? I don’t want to see you macking all over each other again!
MARGY: Macking? (laughs) What is macking?
SHRIEK: (Rolls her eyes.) Mo-ther!
MARGY: How can I be macking if I don’t even know what macking is? (She kisses SPARKY again.) Do you know what macking is, Honey?
SPARKY: I think it’s this. (He kisses MARGY several times, making “MACK” sounds with each one. MARGY laughs and does it too.)
SPARKY and MARGY: (together) Mmmmaaack! Mmmmaaack! Mmmmaaack!
SHRIEK: (covering her ears) Arrrggghhh! Come on! Really, you guys, I’m trying to watch this. Why don’t you get a room or something?
SPARKY: (to MARGY) This is our room, isn’t it, Honey?
MARGY: Last time I checked it was still attached to the house.
SPARKY: (authoritatively, to SHRIEK) This is our room. We ‘got this room’ fifteen years ago.
MARGY: Before you were even born.
SPARKY: Think how lucky you are-- if your mom and I never ‘macked all over’ each other, you wouldn’t even be here to complain.
MARGY: Come to think of it, maybe we should have named you Mack.
SPARKY: You and your brother, both.
SHRIEK: (covering ears, running off, stage left) AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!
(SPARKY and MARGY look at each other, puzzled.)
MARGY: (Shaking her head.) You would think she’d be glad we still like each other.
SPARKY: Kids are weird.
Don’t you love intermission? Don’t you love being all dressed up looking at all the fancy people in the lobby sipping drinks and critiquing the show?
Well, grab some bubbly, and let’s find a quiet spot-- here’s what I think so far:
The girl who plays the ingénue, Shriek, is a truly gifted actress. Did you see the horrified expression on her face when she was running offstage? Perfect Stanislavski method.
My kids couldn’t pull that scene off. They never fail to complain about shows of affection between their father and myself, (we’re too old, it’s gross, disgusting, etc.) but while they’re complaining, they always break character just a little. I see a smidgen of a smile- an impish little twitch at the corners of their mouths. Maybe it’s due to our silly responses to their grumpiness, but even as they pronounce us shriveled up and over the hill, there is always a teeny little trace of delight that after almost twenty-five years we can stand to be cuddled up on the couch together.
I think they secretly sort of like it.
When I was little, I would squeeze myself between my parents when they were embracing each other; I wanted my share of love too. Later, as I realized that the smooches in the kitchen were indicative of something more happening somewhere else, I was less inclined to do that. And I certainly blocked my mind to any thoughts of further activity behind closed doors. But there was a real measure of comfort and security for me in the fact that they loved and enjoyed each other after all those years. I didn’t want to think about it very much, but I was glad it was there.
Oh! They’re blinking the lobby lights! We’d better get back to our seats before Act Two!
(The curtain rises on the scene. It is the following evening. MARGY is in the family room, typing a blog on the computer up stage center. SHRIEK is seated on the floor, Center, drawing; SNOOZE is sleeping on the couch. The phone rings. MARGY, stretching, picks up the receiver and crosses down left, to a stool in a spotlight. A second spot illuminates downstage right where MARGY’S mom, FOXY, is seated on a stool with a phone in her hand. There is an open suitcase near her feet.)
FOXY: Hi, Honey.
MARGY: Oh! Hi, Mom. Are you guys all packed? Are you ready to head back north for the summer?
FOXY: I sure hope so. It’s been a long day- lots of last-minute errands- and your dad wants to take off first thing in the morning.
MARGY: Did you leave me a list?
FOXY: Yes. It’s on the kitchen counter. Nothing much left for you to do- I have some milk and food in the fridge, though- you’ll want to come by and pick those things up.
MARGY: Okay. I’ll do that.
FOXY: There’s lemon pie for Snooze, and those tortillas that Shriek likes so much.
MARGY: Thanks. They’ll love that.
FOXY: Oh, my, I’m tired. We did so much today. (Rummaging in suitcase) I’m ready for bed. (Digs through suitcase some more.) Hmm. That’s odd. I can’t find my nightgown in this suitcase. I know I put it in here this morning…
MARGY: Maybe it’s in a different bag.
FOXY: No- it was this one. (calling offstage) Bud? Did you move my nightgown?
MALE VOICE: (with a teasing tone- offstage) Of course not. Why would I do such a thing?
MARGY: (laughs) Really, Mom. Why would he do such a thing?
FOXY: Well, you know how men are. If he hides my nightgown, I won’t be able to wear it tonight. I think it’s one of his little tricks.
MARGY: Mom! Do you mean--?
FOXY: Well, of course, Dear! As soon as I hang up the phone, he’ll be macking all over me. What did you think? We may be old, but we’re not dead!
MARGY: (throwing phone into the air—she is horrified, but there is a trace of a smile on her lips as she exits stage left) AAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!
SNOOZE: (wakes groggily) Man—What’s wrong with Mom?
SHRIEK: (shrugs) Parents are weird.