Prequel – Part One (July 2007)
a play in one act
I love the Magnetic Fields. When I was in college I played Distant Plastic Trees so much that the tape wore through. Not only do I love the Magnetic Fields, I love the Gothic Archies, because I love Lemony Snicket and all things having to do with Daniel Handler. (Except Adverbs. That, not so much. ) I was told, last summer, that Stephin Merritt, of both Magnetic Fields and Gothic Archies, DJs at Beauty Bar every Monday. This filled me with both wonder and delight, so I rallied the forces one drizzly Monday evening and we headed to 14th street.
I do love a good thematic establishment, and Beauty Bar is, in that regard, delightful all around. There was a Bangles/Beatles mix of some kind playing and Scott, Aliza, and I were soon perched happily in salon dryer-chairs, blue drinks that tasted of raspberry Otter Pop in hand.
It’s important to know that I am not terribly articulate in person, even under good circumstances. When I’m nervous, it gets worse. When I’m nervous and in a situation that is rapidly going downhill, I sound like a second grader on heavy medication.
The Tragedy of Gina and Stephin Merritt
Curtains up on a very, very small man in a hat. He is leaning nonchalantly against the DJ booth, a beer in his hand. He is terribly short. This is Stephin Merritt. He is a tiny, tiny man.
Gina enters, twisting her fingers nervously, fully aware that she is surrounded by a crowd of casual young hipster types, all more tattooed and more disdainful than she, who will no doubt listen in on this exchange with scorn. She has the air of knowing the geekery of her soon-to-follow actions, of knowing that this particular crowd may very well point and laugh, but who has flung caution to the wind merely so she can say she did.
G: (Concerned, a bit, that he won’t be able to hear, since she’s a good five and a half feet taller than he) Hi … Mr. Merritt?
SM: (Merely stares at G.)
G: Um. Hi. I just wanted to say hi …
SM: (Continues to stare. Absolutely nothing of a friendly or encouraging nature plays across his face.)
G: I just … you know, wanted to meet you, because … I …
SM: (interrupting) I don’t take requests.
G: … No … I wasn’t trying to … I just. Your music …
SM: (interrupting, with a bark of laughter) What music?
SM is interrupted by another DJ, and turns his back on G to answer. G continues to wring hands, unsure of how to proceed. Should she try again? Should she cut her losses? She looks over her shoulder to where Aliza and Scott are sitting. The matching open-mouthed expressions of horror/pity on their faces let her know that it is, in fact, going as badly as she thinks it is.
SM ends his conversation, re-leans, and drinks from his bottle, turned slightly away from G.
G: (with last ditch desperation) Yeah, so … I just wanted to say hello. Because you know … this one tape … of yours … in college … (she fades) I really … liked it … (trails off)
SM: (Stares – lip curled a little.)
G: So … yeah. Bye.
G returns to her seat. Aliza and Scott volunteer to take turns repeatedly approaching SM over the course of the evening, giving him inane compliments, but G sadly turns down the offer.