A Marriage for the Gifts
Rat: a woman, late 20s to mid 30s
Dragon: her boyfriend, the same age
Scene One: Outside Rat’s house. Dragon knocks on the door and Rat opens, wearing a black wig and black velvet cape.
Dragon: (jumping back) What the hell? (laughing) What happened to you? I didn’t know it was Halloween.
Rat (crossing her arms, looking aggravated): Don’t laugh at Hecate. She’s a very powerful Greek goddess. Her symbol is the moon and she represents choices.
Dragon: Don’t tell me you’re becoming one of those New Age Hippie freaks. Is this more of that female empowerment stuff?
Rat: Yes. Why are you so threatened by that? Do powerful women really scare you that much? You know, women don’t need men as much as you think we do.
Dragon: Dude, stop trippin. Get your stuff. We’re gonna be late.
Rat: Late for what? I thought we were driving to Vegas. We have an estimated time of arrival, or something?
Dragon: Just get your stuff and meet me in the car. (Turns and walks toward the car)
Scene Two: In the car. Dragon is driving. He plays with the radio, turns his head from side to side nervously, keeping time with the music by tapping on his steering wheel.
Rat is holding a white rat, petting it and holding it up to her mouth to kiss it. She is mumbling things to it and smiling, as if she were talking to a baby.
Dragon: Why did you have to bring that thing with us?
Rat: (staring at the rat and talking in “baby voice”) Don’t listen to him, little girl. You’re such a sweet little girl…my little girl. Dragon only respects you if you’re a mythological animal, symbolic of strife and overcoming.
Dragon: Dude, it’s a rat. It can’t understand what the fuck you’re saying.
Rat: (turning to him) She understands the vibe, baby, the vibe. If you’re acting hostile, she can sense that, like kids do. That’s why kids who grow up in violent households become violent.
Dragon: Yeah, so what was my excuse then? Why did I become so violent? My dad wasn’t even around when I was growing up.
Rat: And his absence impressed you with a perpetual inferiority complex that manifested itself in your violent behavior and drug addiction.
Dragon: (looking at her and smiling) You think you’re such a psychologist. I fuckin love that about you. (He leans over and kisses her)
Scene Three: A cheap motel room, dingy walls, wallpaper peeling off. Rat is lying on the bed, smoking a cigarette, with her pet rat beside her in a pink cage on the floor. Dragon is standing by the dresser, watching himself do kung fu moves in the mirror.
Rat: Life is kind of like a motel room, don’t you think?
Dragon: (Still staring at himself doing kung fu) Yeah.
Rat: (Sitting up on the bed) No, think about it. Sometimes you feel like the Motel 6, and sometimes you feel like the Ritz.
Dragon: What’s the Ritz?
Rat: The Ritz Carlton. It’s a hotel in New York City.
Dragon: Oh. (He holds a pose in front of the mirror for a moment, then resumes his kung fu moves) Does this look good or do I look like a total douchebag?
Rat: (falling over on the bed laughing. She continues this until Dragon stops his poses and looks over at her.)
Rat: (Sitting back up and attempting to talk between peals of laughter) No…………. It’s just that………. I……….. (She falls over laughing again)
Dragon: (Shaking his head) You’re trippin, Rat. (Resumes poses in the mirror)
Rat: (Composing herself ) No, it’s just that, when you said that, I literally pictured a douchebag with legs, doing karate. And it cracked me up.
Dragon: Kung fu.
Dragon: It’s kung fu, not karate.
Rat: Oh right. Sorry. And no, you don’t look stupid. You look great. I think it’s hot. You should take your clothes off. That would be even hotter.
Dragon: (Holding a pose) All you ever think about is sex.
Rat: No it’s not.
Dragon: Oh yeah, right. Since the first day I met you you were trying to get me into bed.
Rat: I was not! That was you, sweetie.
Dragon: No it wasn’t. I was an innocent student. They sent me to you for help in English, and you seduced me.
Rat: Stop living in a fantasyland. You love being able to say you’re sleeping with your tutor. Everyone is jealous of you, admit it.
Dragon: They are jealous, cause you’re sexy. (He stops his kung fu moves and comes over to sit next to her on the bed. He runs his hand through her hair.) With your wig and your female empowerment stuff. (He leans in to kiss her) It’s so cute.
Rat: (Backing away) Cute? What’s so cute about female empowerment?
Dragon: (Catching himself before he falls over on the bed) I don’t know. It’s just cute. Calm down. I was just trying to be nice.
Rat: Nice? You think belittling my personal belief system is nice? That’s so typical of you, Dragon. I don’t attack the things you’re into. I don’t make fun of your karate stuff.
Dragon: Kung fu.
Dragon: It’s kung fu not karate. I thought I told you that before.
Rat: Whatever. You know what I mean. I don’t attack it. That’s what I’m saying.
Dragon: No, you just sit there and tell me how hot it would be if I did it naked. That’s really nice. (Sighing) Look, don’t go getting up on your high horse again. I was just trying to be romantic, pay you a compliment, and now I have to sit here and defend myself. That’s bullshit. Just give me a blow job and shut up.
Rat: Fuck you.
Dragon: (Laughing) No. I was hoping to fuck you. That was the point, until you had to get all defensive and shit.
Rat: See? That’s exactly what I mean. Men think they can say a few cute things to women, to appease them, and then they’ll get sex. Why do we let you guys think that?
Dragon: Darlin, I’m not speaking for all men. I’m a depressed asshole who used to shoot up every day. You care too much about what men think.
Rat: No. I really don’t give a shit what you think.
Dragon: (Laughing) You want sex all the time, but then get pissed off because you see it as a male control thing, so you’re constantly fighting with yourself when you should just be enjoying it.
Rat: It’s stupid, isn’t it?
Dragon: (Leaning into her again) Yeah, it’s all stupid. (Starts kissing her cheek, pulling down the strap on her dress)
Rat: (Moving away, causing Dragon to fall down on the bed) The whole love and romance thing is stupid! (Laughing) That’s it! That’s what I am going to write my Masters thesis on. Women have been conditioned to believe that their Prince Charming, knight-in-shining-armor is coming to rescue them, when really the whole notion is a sham designed to keep them passive. (Pointing her finger to accentuate her point) From the Bible on down, society has conditioned us to believe in this big lie. Love is a big fucking lie.
Dragon: (Sitting back up on the bed) It’s not a lie. Love doesn’t exist. Period. Just because people said it did, doesn’t mean it’s true. Life is totally pointless. So what? Accept it and move on.
Rat: So what’s the point of anything then? Why do anything?
Rat: Sex is the point of everything?
Dragon: (Smiling) Yeah. I think the Bible says that too.
Rat: (laughing) Shut up.
(Dragon leans over and kisses her and they fall back on the bed.)
Scene Four A booth at a coffee shop. Rat has her sunglasses on and a red feather boa around her neck. Dragon is leaning back against the wall, his feet stretched out on the seat. He also has his sunglasses on and is smoking a cigarette.
Dragon: Dude, you gotta love Nevada. Hookers, gambling, and smoking. I’m gonna move here.
Rat: We should go to the casinos when we get to Vegas. I love playing Black Jack.
Dragon: Craps has the best odds in the house. I’ve gotta go check in at the kung fu tournament. You can go to the casino if you want. Just don’t get shitfaced drunk and make me come looking for your ass.
Rat: I’m insulted that you would even say that! I told you, I haven’t gotten really drunk in over six months. I’m mellow now.
Dragon: No, I know. It’s cool. I’m just saying…in Vegas, dude? They fuckin hand the drinks to you at the casinos, for free! If they were handing out heroin, it would be really hard for me not to get fucked up. (Staring at the cigarette as he puts it out in the ashtray) Yeah, sex, cigarettes, and coffee are the only addictions I need anymore. So, where are we staying again?
Rat: The Bellagio.
Dragon: The whaaaat?
Rat: It’s Steve Wynn’s hotel. I heard it’s great. I don’t know. My dad made the reservation for me. He gets air miles on his credit card so he wanted something that cost a lot.
Dragon: Dude, you’re spending a hundred dollars a night so that your dad can get air miles? That’s stupid. It’s gonna end up costing him way more than it would’ve just to buy the fucking ticket.
Rat: I don’t know. I don’t have to pay him back. He did it as a gift.
Dragon: A gift for what? Oh no, you didn’t tell him we were getting married, did you?
Rat: You wish! No, a gift for being a wonderful daughter, who just happens to be a spoiled princess, only child. Be happy. It’s a sweet hotel.
Dragon: I bet your dad is real happy with all the guys you bring home. Have we all been ex-convicts?
Rat: Yeah. Or should’ve been.
Dragon: (Laughs harshly) Maybe that’s why you’re so bitter about love. You’re bringing home the wrong guys. Why don’t you try dating stockbrokers or something?
Rat: (Leaning into the table speaking with a delicious quality to her voice) Because stockbrokers don’t stimulate me. I love the tortured soul.
Dragon: (Sarcastically) And we love you too.
Rat: No, you don’t, that’s exactly it. The only men I really want are the ones who don’t give a shit. I am completely turned-off by too much attention. Isn’t that sad?
Dragon: Kind of, but you’re choosing that.
Rat: I don’t think so. I think certain energies are just drawn together and there’s nothing you can do to stop the momentum.
Dragon: What the fuck are you talking about?
Rat: Forget it, Dragon.
Dragon: (Smiling) I knew that about you though.
Dragon: I knew you were one of those chicks that was used to having men fall at her feet. The only ones they ever fall for are the ones they can’t have. It’s a challenge.
Rat: (Sarcastically) Oh that’s so calculating of you.
Dragon: Yeah, I’m tricky like that.
Scene Five: Dragon and Rat walk down the Vegas strip, then turn a corner and walk down a lesser lighted street.
Dragon: Dude, I can’t believe you just won $700.
Rat: (Laughing loudly) I was so drunk off my ass. I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing!
Dragon: I told you craps had the best odds in the house.
Rat: I’m going shopping tomorrow! I need new clothes…and a purse. I need a new purse really bad.
Dragon: And you’re gonna hook me up with some nice jeans… a suit. I don’t even own a suit.
Rat: (Grabbing his hand) I love Vegas! Where else can you indulge like this without feeling guilty?
Dragon: I know. I feel like we just got married or something.
Rat: (Stopping in front of a streetside chapel, with the word “weddings” in pink neon) Wouldn’t that be funny?
Dragon: What? To get married?
Rat: Yeah, just to see what it felt like. Do you think it feels any different when someone pronounces you “husband and wife”?
Dragon: I don’t know. Wanna find out?
Rat: (Doubling over with laughter) Oh my God! Did you just ask me to marry you? (Hysterically laughing) That is so funny.
Dragon: (He looks uncomfortable at first but then starts laughing too) That is funny, huh?
Rat: We should go get married.
Dragon: And then we could go home and tell everybody so we could get gifts, and then we could split them and use them in our separate houses.
Rat: Yeah, get married for the gifts and then lead totally separate lives.
Dragon: ‘Cause then it wouldn’t even be like being married, you know? You would be more like my girl, my family or something.
Rat: You should take my last name. It would be really cool if you did that.
Dragon: (Laughing) I don’t even remember your last name. Why don’t we just keep our own names? We’re not living together.
Rat: But what about the children? They’re going to have to have one of our last names. Why can’t we take mine? The conventions of patriarchal society will never…
Dragon: (Excitedly cutting her off) Oh! How about this? The girls can take your name and the boys can take mine. Or we could reverse it, whatever. We could split it up, just to be fair. Oh dude! I can’t wait to teach my kids kung fu. That’ll be awesome!
Rat: I know! That would be so cute. I think I’ll homeschool. I’ve always wanted to do that. You know, live somewhere out in the woods and be that earth goddess kind of mom.
Dragon: I can totally see you doing that. (Leaning in to kiss her, taking her face in his hands.) So, what are you going to give me for a honeymoon present? It’ll be our wedding night tonight.
Rat: (Closing her eyes, smiling as he kisses her cheek and her neck.) Hmmmm, I could think of a few things. Those fuzzy handcuffs we saw at the lingerie store down the street. I could do so many things to you with those.
Dragon: (His mouth to her ear) What about the things I could do to you? What about that French maid costume?
Rat: (Abruptly pulling away) A maid? You want me to dress up like a maid? Why? So you can demean me as a woman? Is that what you think of me? I’m your servant?
Dragon: (Jumping back. He stares at her and shakes his head, laughing.) No! That’s not what I meant! You were talking about fantasies. (Getting angry) You think it’s so bad that I want a French maid costume? You were just talking about handcuffs, Rat. Handcuffs! I’m sick of your high horse feminist shit. It’s OK for you to want to tie me up but I can never do anything to you. I can’t even say anything without you biting my fucking head off. That’s bullshit!
Rat: (Shocked) I never get to tie you up. You never let me do that.
Dragon: No, you just fucking say it all the time. (Pausing and chuckling deviously) I’ll let you do it tonight if you give me one thing.
Rat: What’s that?
Dragon: (Coming up close to her, speaking low and seductively) I’ll let you get the fuzzy handcuffs, the whips, whatever you want, if you say you love me right now. (Suggestively looking her up and down) Say it once and you’ll get whatever you want. (He runs his hands over her shoulders, down to her waist, and begins kissing her.)
Rat: (Closing her eyes, taking a deep breath) Mmmmmm… that sounds like a good deal.
Dragon: (Still speaking low and seductively) Just say it…once.
Rat: (Backing away from him, squinting her eyes.) Are you just doing this to feed your ego? Just so you can say I said it first? Or do you really want me to tell you I love you?
Dragon: I just wanna hear you say it, Miss Ice-Cold, bad-ass feminist. I wanna hear those words come out of your mouth.
Rat: (Pausing for a second) I don’t know. It’s just an ego boost for you. Why should I contribute to your already huge ego?
Dragon: Handcuffs. (Coming up to her and putting his arms around her waist again, his mouth close to her ear; speaking low and seductively again.) Picture me, completely helpless, lying on the bed…completely at your mercy.
Rat: Oh, you are such a tease.
Dragon: (Backing away) Say it.
Rat: (Laughing nervously) I don’t know.
Dragon: Say it, Rat. Say it.
Rat: (Sighing) OK, fine…God! (Clearing her throat, stepping back, adjusting her shirt, staring at him.) OK. (Sighs again, then pronounces each word slow and dramatically.) Dragon, I…love…you… (Dragon says nothing, but stands there smiling, a mixture of mischief and satisfaction on his face. There is a pause as the two face each other in silence. Finally, he walks right up to her and grabs her by the shoulders.)
Dragon: (Speaking as slow and dramatically as she had.) I…love…you…too. (He claps and starts laughing loudly.) That’s how you said it! You were all mooooviiinnnnggg your mouth so slllllloooooowwwlllyyy. (Clapping and laughing again.) That was awesome though! You were all serious, talking to me like I was deaf. Why were you so loud?
Rat: Shut up! I said it. Now, I get to go buy those handcuffs.
Dragon: After the wedding.
Rat: (Laughing) Yeah, after the wedding.
Dragon: (Throwing his arm around her.) Come on darlin. Let’s go get married.
Rat: (Putting her arm around his waist and looking up at him, smiling.) Let’s go! (They start walking.) Are you sure you don’t want to take my last name?
Dragon: We already talked about this.
Rat: I’ll tell you I love you again. (Dragon shakes his head and they walk into the chapel.)