Lights up on a bar. A Woman enters carrying suitcases, travel bags, makeup kits, gym bags, and hat boxes, and pulling a trunk on wheels. She situates herself and her baggage at the bar. Bartender appears.
Bartender: What can I get for you?
Woman: New screen name.
Bartender: No more TK421?
Woman: Nope. Let’s try nromanoff.
Bartender: nromanoff. (Hands her a new nametag.) What else can I get for you?
Woman: Guys who like girls, Ages 30–50, Near me, Who are single, For new friends, short-term dating. Oh, and … a gin martini, dirty, extra olives.
Bartender produces drink and disappears. Man approaches.
Man: Hey there … (peering at nametag) … nromanoff. You know, I heard that since we won the Cold War, Russian women have really … (makes what he thinks is a sexy face but is actually just embarrassing) … thawed out. (Get it?)
Woman: Oh no, I’m not actually Russian, it’s a character —
He stares at her for a sec, disappointed, before he forgets about her entirely and moves on. Man 2 approaches.
Man 2: Hey there … (peering at nametag) … nromanoff. My idea of a perfect date is meeting for a hike in the late afternoon followed by cocktails on a terrace overlooking the ocean and a dinner of grilled fish tacos. How about you?
Woman: Well, I mean really, who doesn’t like that, right? I mean I want to go to there!
Man 2: That doesn’t make sense.
Woman: Oh, I know it’s —
Man 2: It’s bad grammar. I. Hate. Bad. Grammar.
Scowls disapprovingly. Moves on. A Man passes carrying a sign that says cute4x4guy. He wears no shirt and the sign obscures his face. The Man in the Gray Unitard chases him.
Woman: Man, things are getting out of hand up in this joint.
Man 3 passes, heading off somewhere else. He is wearing plaid. His hair is purposefully messy. She flags him down.
They look at one another for a while, sensing an attraction. They laugh.
Woman: So … (peering at nametag) … brucebanner. Nice. I’m guessing I won’t like you when you’re angry!
Man 3 (nervously): Oh ha. Yeah, no. Yeah. Really. Not. Uh-huh.
He smiles an awkward smile and shuts his eyes for a second.
Woman: Well, who am I to criticize. I mean how many times have I been brainwashed into completely forgetting who I am altogether! A ha ha!
Man 3 (not really laughing but sort of asthmaing): Yeah, yeah, but you know what’s weird? Your boobs aren’t nearly as big as Scarlett Johansson’s!
Woman: Well, that’s not really the point, is it? I mean the point is that they are all like heroes on like a mythological level and she is a hero too …
Man: WHAT DO YOU KNOW YOU’VE PROBABLY NEVER EVEN READ A COMIC BOOK.
Man 3 storms off as an alarm goes off and a neon sign above the Woman’s head begins flashing “FAKE GEEK GIRL! FAKE GEEK GIRL!”
Woman: Oh come on, seriously?
Everyone in the bar stares at her.
Woman: Are you kidding me? I don’t have to prove this to you. This is what I love. This is not about you.
The Men all look confused. The look at one another. “Do you know what she’s talking about? I don’t know what she’s talking about.” Slowly they go back to chatting up other women.
Woman: Note to self: whatever I have an impulse to do, do the opposite.
Bartender: What can I get for you?
Woman: Gin —
Before she can finish the bartender hands her a gin martini, dirty, with extra olives.
Woman: You do know what I like. (Winks.)
Bartender: What else are you looking for?
Woman: Someone with baggage that matches mine.
Men 4, 5, and 6 appear, holding signs that say, “musicaltheatreguy,” “lightmycandle,” and “technicolordreamcoat.” They are all gay.
Woman (to Bartender): Point taken.
Men 4, 5, and 6 move on.
Woman (to Bartender): Say, how bout you and me get outta here?
Bartender: Well, I’m a computer program, so I don’t think I’d get far.
Woman: You’d get to third base at least! Ask anyone, I’m easy.
Bartender: Har-de har-har.
Woman: Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Bartender: Listen, not that you’ve asked me, but it seems this scene isn’t quite right for you.
Woman (Sighs): What scene is, Bartender? What scene is?
Bartender: You’re the playwright. You tell me.
Woman: Ba-dum ching.
They smile at each other. Bartender disappears. Women sighs. Inhales deeply and closes her eyes. Man 4 appears. He looks at her, sitting at the bar, holding her breath.
Man 4: Hi.
The Woman is surprised, inhales more and then exhales suddenly and pops her eyes open.
Man 4: Hi.
The Woman now has the hiccups.
Woman: Hi. (Hiccup.)
Man 4: Hi.
Woman: So … what’s up? (Hiccup.)
Man 4: Not much.
Woman: Yeah. (Hiccup.) Me either. (Hiccup.)
Man 4: Okay, well then.
Man 4 starts to move on.
Woman: Wait! (Hiccup.) I can rewrite this! (Hiccup.)
Man 4: Look, I’ll be honest with you. I’m sure you’re more than well-versed in the things that I like … (points at his nametag ,which reads forklingonssex=violence) … but I’m looking for someone with a little more …
Man 4 moves on. Woman inhales and holds her breath as long as possible. As she exhales, she speaks into a pretend handheld recorder:
Woman: Captain’s log. Day 3 in Internet Dating World. Men continue to astound. No Exit yet presents itself. Sole comfort is the pleasure of drinking in private.
The Bartender appears.
Bartender: Don’t drink alone, Scarlet. People always find out.
Woman: Aha. But it’s not the Victorian age, is it? We’ve got options now, haven’t we?
Bartender: You tell me.
He gestures at the stage, the lights come up on the other actors and we see that all of the men–straight, gay, and somewhere in between, the business men and the geek guys–are, regardless of age, all pretending to be listening attentively while actually engaging in an elaborate game of Accidentally Cop-a-Feel: brushing hands on boobs as they presumably reach for a face, sliding their hands down a lower back and until they’re grabbing ass. The women, though actually trying to engage in conversation, are also adeptly avoiding the hands. It becomes a dance. The men reach for a boob, the women subtly move one shoulder back. The men run their hands up the women’s legs, the women cross them in the other direction. The dance accelerates. It’s a little Fosse: Sharp, straight movements in close quarters but without touching, accentuated with the sound of a slapstick and performed to the jazz of their own inane bar chatter. The men get more aggressive. In a few couples the dynamic changes and the women become the aggressors. The dance ends for every couple with either a kiss or a slap.
Blackout. End of Part Three.
… to be continued on the next Internet Dating: A Play.
What do you think?