May 2013 - Comments Off

Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life

Alan Dupont '15

CIGARETTE – a woman of twenty, bone to pick with “life”
SYLVIE – a woman of twenty, hasn’t done much thinking
GINA – a woman of twenty, thinks she’s over it, isn’t
CUSTOMER – a man of forty, edgy dad with morals

(CIGARETTE and GINA are both behind the counter of a Barnes and Noble working.)

GINA
He’s bored with me, I can tell. It’s insulting.

CIGARETTE
You’re bored with him, though.

GINA (defensive)
That’s different.

(pause because it’s not different, CIGARETTE indicates the stupidity of this with her face)

CIGARETTE
Rip off the band-aid.

GINA
I should do it before he does. I don’t think my self-confidence can handle being dumped right
now.

(takes a breath)

He’s just so critical, like I’ll say something about how I feel—not fishing for a compliment or anything, just sharing—I’ll say ‘I probably shouldn’t eat these onion rings,’ and he’ll just say something like, ‘yeah they aren’t very good for you’.

CIGARETTE
Yeah.

GINA
It’s hard to come up with a good example, but it happens all the time.

(pause)
(SYLVIE enters)

Look whose back from break.

SYLVIE
I’m lightheaded.
(pause)
I think I’m a little lightheaded. It isn’t too bad though.

GINA
You should lie down.

SYLVIE
We’re on the clock I can’t just lie down.

GINA
Why not? Cigarette and I never care when we are on the clock, we just do whatever.

SYLVIE
We’re getting paid to do a job, though.

CIGARETTE
Stop being so hyper-ethical. There’s a reason nuns don’t have friends.

SYLVIE
My Mom is a nun, you shouldn’t say things like that.

GINA
Nuns don’t have kids.

SYLVIE
I was lying.

GINA
Have some water.

SYLVIE
Good idea.
(does not have water)
Wanna know why I’m lightheaded?
(pause)
I smoked a cigarette. It’s something I’ve been doing pretty often lately. When I’m stressed, usually, but also just whenever.

GINA
That’s great Sylvie.

SYLVIE
Why do they call you cigarette?

CIGARETTE
Because it’s my name. My parents named me that. Virginia Cigarette Slim.

GINA
What’s it to you, Sylvie?

CIGARETTE
It’s also a word with beautiful aesthetics: cig-a-rette.
(pause)
(oddly aggressive, perhaps sarcastic)
Why are you called Sylvie?

SYLVIE
My actual name is Sylvia, it’s a nickname. Can I call you Virginia? That’s a beautiful word too.

CIGARETTE
No, but I’m going to call you Sylvia from now on.

SYLVIE
Yeah that’s totally fine.

GINA (to CIGARETTE)
Do you even smoke?

CIGARETTE
I used to but East coast weed doesn’t do it for me anymore. Not after I had some of that medical
grade Frisco shit. Why, you got a spliff?

SYLVIE
You go by Cigarette and you don’t smoke!?

CIGARETTE
Oh, you mean ciggs. When I’m drunk sometimes or if I’m in need of inspiration.

GINA
And you still go by cigarette?

CIGARETTE
Maybe if you had a cool name your boyfriend wouldn’t be bored.

GINA
Gina is a cool name. You aren’t supposed to say things like that, you’re my friend.

CIGARETTE
Yeah.

SYLVIE (to CIGARETTE)
I always forget you do art.
(pause)
Cigarette, can I see some of your art?

(CIGARETTE silently walks over to her bag, takes out a computer, sets it down where they can both observe, opens it up.)

CIGARETTE
Art isn’t something you do, it’s something you are. At a certain moment. No, all the time. You
can’t slip it on and off like a glove. If you’re an artist then you’re always an artist and everything you do is art. Understand?

SYLVIE
Totally.
(pause)
No, not really.

GINA
You’re not saying you’re an artist, you’re saying you’re art. That’s dumb. We’re all just people.

CIGARETTE
No we aren’t, we’re stylistic choices. All of us are stylistic choices. The people who
acknowledge it, they are artists.

SYLVIE
I don’t know about that.

GINA
My stylistic choice would be...like, casual prep with hints of something lurking underneath: a
wild side.

CIGARETTE
I really don’t see you that way.

GINA
Is it lunch yet, I want to call Zack.

CIGARETTE
Just call him.

GINA
Fine.

(GINA distances herself a little bit, dials her cell)

SYLVIE
Are we going to look at your art?

GINA
(into her phone)
Hey Zack. I just wanted to call and say hi. No, no, nothings’ really going on; well, just that one of the girls here was being kinda mean. How are you?

CIGARETTE
This is my dog when she was a puppy. I know you don't like pets. But I don't care.
This is a dress I wanted but it got sold.
These are shoes I want. They are 300 dollars. They will never be mine.

GINA (phone)
That sucks, listen: am I boring? It’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. Also, why don’t
you have a petname for me. Like, everyone else is off calling each other ‘honey’ or ‘sweetie’ or ‘ladycakes’ and you’re always just like: ‘Gina, hand me the remote.’

SYLVIE
Woah, those are COOL.

CIGARETTE
This is Julie and her cat.
This is Mason and me.
That's my sister's boyfriend and his cat. Gulliver. This is France.

SYLVIE
I’ve always wanted to see France.

GINA
(phone)
No, no, I don’t want you to call me ladycakes, I want something that’s heartfelt. And maybe edgy. You know how I call you ‘Zee-Zee’ sometimes? I think you should have something like that for me.

CIGARETTE
This is four goats in a bucket.
This is me when I looked like a lesbian.

SYLVIE
You’d be a great lesbian!

(CUSTOMER enters)

CIGARETTE
They’ve been trying to recruit me for a while now.
This is two sheep sitting on a sheep. I don't know what that is.
That's Julie's cat again. With me.

CUSTOMER
Excuse me, Miss?

GINA (phone)
What about ‘G & T’?

(To CUSTOMER)

One sec, can’t you see I’m on the phone?

(Back to the phone)
'G & T'.
Like the first drink we had together and it also /sounds like Gina, so.

CUSTOMER
/I don’t mean to interrupt, but.

GINA
(phone)
I can be—I am edgy.

CIGARETTE
This is kind of the tattoo I want. Sort of.
This is hello kitty but she's a Scorpio. This is a dog wolf.

CUSTOMER
Miss, I just would like

GINA
(to CUSTOMER)
Ask them. Okay? They work here too. God.
(into the phone)
You know what? I called you to feel better about this whole thing and you just make me feel worse.

(the CUSTOMER moseys over to CIGARETTE and SYLVIE)

GINA
(phone)
There are times when I don’t want to hear the truth, Zack. No. I said that wrong. When the truth is not the right thing to say. That’s what I meant.

CUSTOMER
(to CIGARETTE and SYLVIE)
Excuse me, could one of you help me?

CIGARETTE
There is a self check-out, you know.
(to SYLVIE)
This is a pink chicken with long eyelashes.
That's boring.
This is more sheep.

SYLVIE
Um, Cigarette, I think we should help him.

CIGARETTE
He’s fine.

CUSTOMER
Can I speak with your manager?

CIGARETTE
I am the manager.

SYLVIE
No you aren’t.

CIGARETTE
Yes I am. And he needs to wait for one more minute.

GINA
Well, this has been great for my self confidence, Zack.
(pause)
That’s not fair, when have I ever said I think that this relationship is all about me? I would never say that. I don’t get why you can’t just validate me right now. You know what, just: bye, Zack.

CIGARETTE
This is France again.
This is the birth of Venus.
This is a cat in a car, this is a cat with a hat. And everything else is boring.

SYLVIE
Cigg, you’re so cool.

CIGARETTE
Don’t call me Cigg.
(to CUSTOMER)
What is it.

CUSTOMER
(puts book on counter)
...

CIGARETTE
Jane Austen, how original. Read some Foucault or something.

CUSTOMER
It’s for my daughter.

CIGARETTE
Do her a favor, get some Bukowski.

CUSTOMER
I don’t think that would be appropriate. I would just like to purchase this book.

GINA
(Walking toward them)
Is he giving you a hard time too?

CIGARETTE
He’s buying his daughter Pride and Prejudice. Now she’s gonna be one of those girls.

CUSTOMER
...

CIGARETTE
You know.

GINA
I bet your family is, like, perfect. Not even any secrets lurking underneath. Little suburban dream.

CIGARETTE
Ha, probably.

GINA
Yeah, and I bet you all eat dinner together.

CUSTOMER
...

SYLVIE
Sir, maybe I can help you.

GINA
No, Sylvie, this guy is being mean to us. Sylvie, what do you think his name is?

CIGARETTE
Yeah, Sylvie, what’s his name?

CUSTOMER
...

SYLVIE
Probably Phillip?

GINA
Oh my God!

CIGARETTE
Let me ask you something, Philip, how would you describe yourself?

CUSTOMER
...

GINA
Just answer this question and we’ll help you check out.

CIGARETTE
Yeah, just answer the question.

CUSTOMER
I am an optometrist.

GINA
(Starting to help CUSTOMER, scanning the books, etc.)
Definitely not an artist.

CIGARETTE
Typical regular guy. Not living like an artist for sure. No stylistic choices.

SYLVIE
Haha, no, not like you, Cigarette. With your sheep in a bucket or cool pictures of cats.

GINA
Cats.

(GINA finishes helping him. He exits.)

GINA
Have a nice day!

CIGARETTE
What a loser.

SYLVIE
Is it just me, or did he seem pretty unaffected by that?

GINA
Yeah on the surface, but there’s probably something lurking underneath.

CIGARETTE Yeah. He’s insecure, I can tell.

SYLVIE
You think so?

CIGARETTE
Yeah.

GINA
Phillip.

(blackout.)

Published by: in Prose, Volume 69, Volume 69: Issue 2

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