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What Are You Doing Right Now?
produced at the 14/48 festival, 1/16/09. The randomly drawn theme for that night: "Why Women Gotta Be Like That." My random actor draw: write a play for three women. The title comes from the question that Facebook used to ask in your empty status field; as of late 2014, the question has been updated to "What's on your mind?" A woman sits in a comfy chair center stage, wearing a robe, a laptop closed on her lap. This is CARLY. She addresses the audience directly. CARLY: I'm not old exactly, but I'm old enough to remember what the Internet was like in the old days. The “old school” bulletin board days... back before the World Wide Web. Before spam, before instant messenger. You could talk to someone on a chat channel and if they said they were a sixteen-year-old girl, you didn't have to worry that they were working for the FBI. After a while, you get kind of immune to the latest new hip thing that comes along on the Net. A younger woman enters; she is hip but not obnoxious about it. This is EMMA. EMMA: All right, Carly, we all took a vote and you're completely outnumbered. Today's the day you're getting on Facebook. CARLY opens her laptop, talks to it instead of the audience: Interesting. I just checked my Google calendar and it says right here, for today's date, “Avoid getting on Facebook.” EMMA: No, you're supposed to say “the Facebook,” because you're old, like the mountains. We started a group: the Coalition to Get Carly onto Facebook, and it already has 182 members. Now admittedly the Coalition to Eat Bacon has 182,000 members, but you are almost as good as bacon. CARLY: I didn't get on Friendster. I didn't get on Tribe. I'm not on MySpace, and I'm not getting on Facebook. EMMA: Here's the best part – I already set up your account. I'm just here to give you the password. CARLY: What? EMMA: The password is “fogeygirl69”. Right now, you've only accepted one friend request, from me. When I checked this morning, you had over a hundred friend requests waiting. CARLY: How does that even work? EMMA: I'm not sure. It has something to do with applying electricity to microprocessors until porn appears, and voila - the Interweb! She exits cheerfully. CARLY to audience: So I got on the Facebook. And I admit, I was all excited, counting up my friends like they were poker chips. Best friends from college, old co-workers I'd lost touch with, near complete strangers who claimed they had pictures of me from “that one time we hung out”... Poking and super-poking and super-duper-extra-poking, vampire sucking, now I'm a fan of The L Word, now I'm a fan of bread... so what. And then... A light comes up elsewhere. A confident woman stands with her arms crossed, looking smug. She's looking right at Carly; Carly looks up from the laptop and sees her. This is ALICE. ALICE: Alice Bradley has sent you a friend request. Emma enters next to Alice. EMMA: Why would you do that? ALICE: I just want to see what she's up to. EMMA: No, you just want to torment her, but remotely, so you don't have to look her in the eyes about it. ALICE: The minute we broke up, she added me to all her spam filters. Changed her cell phone number. Started using three different webmail addresses, for added layers of secrecy. But if there's any part of her that still might have any feelings for me at all, she'll accept. EMMA pause: Or, she will throw her laptop into the ocean. ALICE: Yeah, it's pretty much 50/50, isn't it. CARLY: Friends in common – 72. That was the crux of it. You break up, but you don't break up with your friends and before you know it, one of you is the one who goes out to all the parties and meets the new people and circulates, and one of you is the one who stays home playing nine hours of board games by herself and wondering if the Tivo has caught the latest rerun of MASH. It felt like a direct challenge – did she own the whole damn Internet now too? ALICE: She accepted! EMMA: This oughta be good. Emma exits. CARLY: Marital status – what? She is bordering on devastated. ALICE: I met him about a year after you and I broke up. He just sort of did that whole clichéd “sweeping me off my feet” thing and it felt really good after... CARLY: After eight years. ALICE: Eight years of being swept under the rug. CARLY: That is a very big exaggeration. ALICE: No, but I'm using a little smiley face, so it's kind of a joke, see? Pause. I notice you haven't posted any personal information about yourself at all. CARLY: The people who know me already know all that stuff. ALICE: Nobody knows you as well as you think they do. Anyway, I am now sending you an invitation to an event. I am having a pajama party, and you, Carly, are among the 48 people who have not responded. I look forward to hearing from you. Pause. Also, a few people think you are potentially over-using the poke feature. She goes. CARLY: I couldn't find any Facebook apps to fit what I wanted to do. Vampire bites were too trite. I wanted her to log in next time and see, “Carly has stomped your soul into utter oblivion, for 100 points.” EMMA entering, sits next to Carly: Well, I'm going. It sounds fun. A great idea occurs to her: Carly, we could dress up and go together. It would be so much fun. I bet you have totally tattered old cotton pajamas buried in your closet, and we could put your hair up in curlers and a net. And then you could smoke a cigar and everyone would just sort of fall completely in love with you. Seriously, I'll drive. CARLY: I don't think so. EMMA intervention time: Carly, you never... leave... your house. You're like a crazy person. You work from home. You have groceries delivered. They pick up your laundry. And all because... because, what? You might see an ex-girlfriend? News flash: you will also be surrounded by people who love you and miss you. CARLY: I am not a crazy person. Pouts a little. I am deliberately eccentric. EMMA: I will hold your hand the entire night. CARLY caught off guard: Really? Emmy smiles, nods, exits. CARLY: I hit the RSVP button to let Alice know I was coming to her party. The next day, obsessively, I checked Alice's profile again. Her marital status had changed. She was single now. Lights rise on Alice. ALICE: Yeah... we divorced a while back, I just... never got around to updating my profile. CARLY skeptical: Oh really. ALICE: Hey, some people wait forever before they finally take off their wedding rings. It was like that. CARLY: And how exactly did you break up? ALICE: Interesting story. Improvising: I thought he was having an affair, so one night while he was asleep, I set his genitals on fire. CARLY: Oh perfect. ALICE continuing to riff: Yeah, I just wanted his penis to be mine, so I burned it, but then... it was all burned and shriveled and gooey, and I just didn't want it anymore, so... CARLY: Alice is now single! Emma enters next to Alice. EMMA: She's coming. She's actually coming. ALICE a little smug: I saw that. EMMA: Alice Bradley, if you are anything less than completely civil with her, my next Flickr gallery will consist entirely of pictures of you having sex with horses. ALICE: I never- EMMA: Photoshop, Alice, I took classes. Long pause. ALICE: But where do you get horse pictures- EMMA: Please don't ask me these questions, Alice. As lights fade on Alice and Emma, Carly sets her laptop aside and rises as she speaks. CARLY: The idea of going to this party felt like... well, it was like the first time I ever posted something personal on a bulletin board. Feeling like you have enough of a connection with your imaginary Internet friends that you can share a slice of yourself and post it for anyone to see. It was different back then... we didn't expect every thought we shared to get archived in the cloud for eternity, so it was... visceral, and... you couldn't ignore it the way you let status updates slide past while you're staring at your Facebook wall and wondering who the fuck all these people are that all call themselves friends. Pause. I don't know, maybe this felt a little different than that. She takes her robe off, revealing plain but fashionable pj's. Emma arrives, bedecked in very cute pj's, the two of them pull the chairs out of the way so that the stage is mostly empty and then they stand, holding hands, off to one side, perhaps miming a conversation with someone who is leaving. Alice enters, dressed in quite provocative pj's – almost lingerie, but hopefully a little more subtle than that. Carly notices her immediately. Alice smiles. ALICE: Hi, Carly. I'm really glad you could make it. Emma studies Carly's reactions closely. CARLY sniffing: Hmm, you know, it does smell like burnt penis in here. To Emma: I used a smiley face, didn't I? Emma leads Carly by the hand to center stage, where they meet Alice. After an awkward pause, Alice leans forward to hug Carly. Carly awkwardly responds, without letting go of Emma's hand. ALICE: You look great in those pajamas. CARLY: I see you still have issues with telling the truth. ALICE: No, seriously. EMMA: Carly, what have I told you about accepting a compliment? CARLY: Smile, nod graciously, say “why, thank you,” and then secretly start looking for weaknesses to exploit. EMMA: I didn't tell her that last part. ALICE bemused: No, she has been an expert on that part as long as I've known her. CARLY: Oh, snap. ALICE: So are you two here as a couple? EMMA totally caught off guard: Huh? ALICE: You've been holding hands all night. The entire night. You went to the bathroom together. CARLY: Nice bathroom, by the way. ALICE smiles, nods overly graciously: Why, thank you. Pause. Seriously. Emma looks at Carly, flustered. Carly, however, is very calm. CARLY: "It's complicated." ALICE rueful – she had not expected this, but is not completely surprised: Well then. I guess I'll see you floating through my live feed occasionally. CARLY: Maybe. ALICE: Status update – Alice is entertaining guests in the kitchen! She exits. EMMA: I didn't- I'm really sorry, if you wanted to- talk with her, without- I mean, I don't have to hold your hand- CARLY: Yes, Emma, actually you do. You said you would hold it all night. We still have several hours to go. EMMA: I see. CARLY: Would you like to come back to my place for a while? I have some very interesting board games we could play. Emma smiles. EMMA: That sounds lovely. CARLY: Thank you for getting me on the Facebook. EMMA: You are very, very welcome. CARLY: You were poked by Carly. EMMA: You were bitten by Emma. They smile at each other as the lights fade.
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