Duff, a scene written for David Schweizer's Versailles theatrical project, Feb 2007
My friend, the masterful director David Schweizer, is putting together a theater project about versailles...he asked a number of playwrights (and me) to submit scenes that take place in the famed garden and palace. Below is my submission, which will probably be cut down considerably for the final show of David's since it is on the long side...
[Perry, a Footman for the Duchesse Dauphine, runs onstage and sits on a toilet, letting out a long exhale. He is wearing a disheveled chipmunk outfit, his little furry ears askew. He waits and waits for something significantly digestive to happen. Nothing.]
Perry -- I’m sorry I am totally breaking some theatrical taboos right now. Taboo one: Talking directly to you the audience thusly breaking the fourth wall without any spotlight change or rhythmic emotional texture and Taboo Two: taking a dump on stage. But if you only knew what it’s like here I swear you would do it too. I can’t even evacuate though so don’t worry you won’t see anything gross probably anyway. I am so damn constipated. I’ve been here four days and the only goddamn food they have here is spongecake. I am so stopped up with flour and sugar I’m like a giant cake decorator.
[pounding on the door]
I’ll be out in a second!
P: Look I’ll be constructive while we are here. Some advice. If your friend invites you to a week-long party full of 10,000 people drinking and stuffing their faces and drinking again, your first question should be: “Will there be more than one bathroom?”
[Duchesse Dauphine (“Duff”) enters, talking to Perry in a flashback while he remains sitting]
D – Perry! You should TOTALLY come! I swear the last Versailles Equinox party was so amazing.
P – I don’t know. It’s not really my scene.
D – there are really cute guys there.
P – So? There’ probably all assholes anyway.
D – I told you this already! Last year? Remember I told you how I did three shots of absinthe and smoked some opium and I was dancing in the International Hall of Rainbows? And I met the HOTTEST guy. I could tell he wasn’t, you know, attracted to me, but he was so nice and smart and funny? Remember I told you? His name was Doug. He was from Belgium. Seriously so hot. He had this really musky odor. And he was such a good dancer.
P – Sounds like a keeper.
D – Perry. You have to get out of your “men are pigs” mentality. You are attracting the wrong people to yourself with that attitude alone! Look, this party. It’s not like you think. It’s not just a party. It’s like a community of like-minded partiers. There is like this feeling of good energy, that is so healing? And I really think promotes like good energy across the world?
P – Wow I’m so glad there is a political component. Duff, you know me. I’m not like such a constant partier. I can’t do drugs and stay up.
D – That is such a lie! You were completely high last weekend.
P – I smoked twice from that guy’s hooka. That was it. Then I--
D – then you made out with the Moor…
P – Yes, yes, I made out with the Moor, but
D – He was so HOT
P – But I didn’t stay up and have sex for three days or anything. I gave him my monogrammed gloves and told him to return them to me sometime next week. Did he call for me? No. Did he send a messenger requesting my presence for tea? No. He didn’t even politely decline. Thank god I wasn’t messy high. I was high-sober. There’s a big difference. I can’t go to these big Versailles events. I need to sleep, and –
D – You are so getting the wrong impression. It’s not all relentless dance music and drugs! There are completely places to sleep, and feel peaceful. Last year there were 9 separate chill out tents!
P – full of annoying people –
D - And there’s a really strict door policy, so only cool people are allowed in.
P – Then thousand cool annoying people
D – Totally selected and screened.
P – What if I don’t pass the screening process? That would totally be perfect, we would carriage it all the way out there and then some snippy doorperson would look me up and down and wrinkle his nose and I would be standing there. Like a fool.
D – I got in fine last time.
P – You’re a Duchess! Of course they are going to let you in. I’m no one
D -- You will be coming with me! I’ll give you a job or something. You can be my…pillow fluffer.
[back to the audience]
P: Don’t laugh. A pillow fluffer is actually a real job if you can believe it. They make a lot of money. There’s even a union.
P: I sat there in my bedroom (I live with Duff. I help her pick out her clothes, but its more of a friend friend relationship than a like, royal subject/servant thing). It was a Friday night. Duff was going out to Princess Palatine’s Scarlet Ball. With all twelve of her hairdressers. I watched them all get in three separate carriages, all laughing and squeeling. They were so present. Not one of them thought about tomorrow, or maybe that the drivers were annoyed by them, or that the horses were tired. I’m not saying Duff and her friends are heartless. When they trotted by the gypsies, and see them smeared with mud, looking for food in the gutter, they would probably toss one or two children a coin. But it would wash off of them. They would continue down the street, change the subject, move forward. Why can’t I be as happy as they are? Why do I dwell so much.
Duff was right. I am the cause of my own depression. I need to be more proactive about my happiness.
The theme this year for the Versailled Equinoz party was “Fur: dead or Alive” so Me and Duff decided to dress up like chipmunks. We got in our outfits and drove there in under 13 hours. The doorperson totally recognized Duff and we got in fine.
The palace is HUGE. There were so many people there. Duff seemed to know everyone and dragged me around introducing me to various Viscounts and Dukes. And at first it was fun, I guess. You know, people dancing minuets all the time, screaming “wooo!” someone climbing on someone else’s shoulders, a person on stilts juggling, a fire eater, a weird looking woman with tattooes on her face, someone with dredlocks, blah blah blah.
We had mimosas with this guy dressed as a Dodo Bird and two lady Tit Mice and they told us that this really amazing harpsichord quintet playing in the South wing. So we all walked that way. Ok by this point I had to pee really badly. And said so, and the Dodo Bird guy told me, oh, just pee on the floor, and then he unzipped, whipped it out and peed in the corner of the Hall of Mirrors. I couldn’t believe it. I tried to find a potted plant to relieve myself. I felt weird doing it but no one seemed to care. We kept walking, and I saw at least five different people going to the bathroom, wherever there was a corner. Apparently there is only ONE bathroom! One. One. In the entire shitting palace. It was like all decorous gestures to the host were erased. People were spitting and peeing and doing everything they wanted to everywhere. It was like the palace became a gypsy gutter. We kept walking. The Tit Mice women were SO annoying.
Tit Mouse one: Oh my gawd did you see Fiona? She was wearing a BELL SKIRT
Tit Mouse Two: NO WAY!
T1: Yea! And a checkered mantilla
T2: Oh my god a mantilla? Hahahahahaha. I hope there are hot guys at the harpsicord concert.
T1: me too. I’m bored. Does anyone have any snuff? Hey. Hey you. Um…Chipmunk. Do you have any blow?
P: Any what?
T2: Blow. Cha cha. Sinus Candy. Gunpowder.
P: Uh no.
T1: Yea…uh…You’re Lame!
P: Thank god Duff was there. You probably think she is meaningless and dim, but she is actually more intelligent than all of us. She has some huge, saintly patience with every type of person. A weird endless reservoir of energy to love and accept anyone. Until she is drunk.
[the Tit Mouse girls give Duff a bottle of green liquid. She drinks a bunch of it and they all start dancing like freaks to a jaunty waltz. They three of them crowd around the Dodo Bird guy and dance in a love sandwich, synchronized with period appropriate decorous bows. Perry is trying to grab the bottle from Duff, worried that she is drinking too much]
D: Perry baby loosen up! Don’t be so serious. It’s just a party, right? Oh! Oh! There’s Doug! The guy I was telling you about! Doug! Doug!
P – Duff Shh! Don’t call him over here!
D – Well your not going to draw him over here with your sour face.
Doug [a hunky obvious clubgoing asshole]: Dufffff! Whuzzup girl?
D – Dougy wuggy! This is Perry! He’s totally single and um..you know…
Doug: Hey bud. What are you into?
P: What am I into? What do you mean?
Doug: You know, what do you like?
P: I don’t know. I like kindness? And a collective human good?
Doug: You’re funny. You’ve got a lot of thoughts around your head.
[the music changes slightly, maybe more of a drum beat]
Doug: Oh man I love this song!
[Doug drags Perry onto the dance floor, and pulls a box of snuff out of his pocket. He does some and hands it to Perry who declines. Doug pulls him in and lifts up his arms. Perry reacts to his body odor, visibly]
P [to audience, escaping the clutches of Doug and going back to the bathroom] Ugh. God. What an asshole. And he smelled so bad. One of those egotistical idiots who thinks his personal smell is some kind of alluring natural cologne. God. I inched my way to the corner. The Tit Mice kept producing bottles of I don’t know what and Doug had his snuff and I watched Duff get drunker and drunker.
And then all of us left and we stumbled into the Topless Room. Where everyone is supposed to take off their tops. I did and Duff pulled off her chipmunk costume and I swear it was like time stopped. Every guy in the place couldn’t stop looking at Duff’s breasts!. Like they had never seen them before. I swear to you the following conversation happened
[Duff and Perry, bobbing slightly to chamber music, guy walks up staring at Duff’s chest, deliciously presented in a tight undergarmet, the entire time]
Duff: Hey there! Greetings! Great night huh?
Guy: Huh. I’m Bertrau. Whats your name?
D: I’m Duff. This is Perry.
P: Hey there.
G: Sup. [to Duff] what you up to?
D: I’m just dancing! I’m loving the energy here!
G: I haven’t had sex since I’ve been here. I really wanna get my mouth on your --
D: Ha ha!
[pulls Duff away, who is getting drunk and is too full of joy to be offended]
P: Try sucking on your French cuffs, asshole!
P: OK, I know that I am not the most butch guy in France, I mean what if I was Duff’s boyfriend? It’s just so gross. Everyone was so sexually active and leering and there wasn’t any social layer of remove, you know? It was like everyone thought it was cool to buck conventions so much that they could just grab and eat and shit anywhere they wanted to. Everyone was dancing and sweating and the place smelled like HELL. Like wet diapers and body odor.
P: I am SO SICK of parties! I am SICK of fun! If I have to hear one more minuet remix I am going to kill someone. I’m sick of dancing. I am sick of screaming to someone over the thump of drums. I’m sick of confetti and costumes and bubbles! Why aren’t there any guys out there who want to just sit down and talk? I want something REAL. I want someone who asks me questions about myself! I want to take a shit!!!
[Duff appears topless, dancing and screaming, very inebriated. The Dodo Bird walks up behind her and starts pawing at her. He is drunk too. Perry gets off the toilet and tries to pry his hands off of her, but they are both too floppy and drunk. He tries again more forcefully but they are so weighty and wasted its like trying to move a large futon mattress. Finally Perry takes off his chipmunk costume and stuffs it with random rags and tossed off petticoats, creating an effigy. He pretends to get into the music. He slowly weaves in between them and, in a deftly choreographed moment, removes Duff from the rapist-like hands of the Dodo Bird and replaces her with his chipmunk outfit. He carries Duff, who is by now totally wasted, over to the toilet]
Duff: Oh god. Perry baby. I feel like hell. Uh uhhh uhhh bleaaaaaa! [Duff pukes in the toilet] I’m sorry I’m sorry.
P: Don’t be sorry sweetie. There’s nothing to be sorry about.
Duff: No. I’m sorry. This is so dumb. You’re right this is so dumb. I want to go home! I want to go home!
P: it’s OK, sweetie…I’ll take us home. It’s fine…it’s fine….shhh shhhh. [to audience] Does anyone have any water? Does anyone have any water? Hello? Please? Please? I need some water. My friend is very sick and I need some water for her. Water? Is there water? Hello?