Monologue: My My My

The following monologue is ©2018 by Larry Bliss. Contact me at Lbliss314@yahoo.com for information about permissions. Thank you!

My My My, by Larry Bliss

Lord, if you could please look the other way just for a second, I’d be obliged.

Look at her. She’s just 22, Lord, so pretty. Long blonde hair, the real deal, not out of some bottle. Eyes I could lose myself in. Freckles sprinkled like brown sugar. Wearing her scrubs at the window of the doctor’s office. I can see a little of the crease beneath her neck. (amazed) My my my.

She’s new, three days on the job. She has to call the nurse over to show her how to do my credit card, and she apologizes. Her voice is cool water in the night.

A sweet girl with a nice attitude. Talks to me like I’m her new friend. I ask her name, and she tells me. A pretty name. It fits her.

Says she hasn’t worked in an office in three years. I laugh a bit, and say, that’s a short time. Not for me, she says. I guess not, I reply, thinking that at 57, three years is a different span altogether.

Help me Jesus. Things aren’t so good at home. We hardly talk. I haven’t touched her in eighteen months. That spark died a long time ago.

It’s wrong to stray, I know. But this little girl is so kind, so sweet, so accepting. And there is no ring on her finger.

Yes, I know I am old enough to be her– I know the math. But I am not too old for yearning. Not to old to dream.

So Lord, if you would watch the rest of the world for a little while, I’d appreciate it. Just long enough for me to ask for her number.

I doubt she’ll give it to me… but I gotta try, Lord.

Just once, I gotta try.

© 2018 by Larry Bliss

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Monologue: Sorrow

The following monologue is ©2018 by Larry Bliss. Contact me at Lbliss314@yahoo.com for information about permissions. Thank you!

Sorrow, by Larry Bliss

Some guys fall in love in the blink of an eye. Not me.

Last girl I dallied with, wasn’t much to look at. One of those plain faces you’d never spot in a crowd. Nice, though. Talked my ear off, but she paid attention to what I was sayin’. That’s all I ask—pay me some attention.

She had this funny way of answering the phone. “How dare you interrupt me when I’m doing absolutely nothing!” (smiles) Maybe you had to be there… I like to write stuff, and one day I suggested she take a class. “Shoot me!” she said. Threw me for a loop, that did, ‘cause she wrote well. Long emails, full of interesting details about her dog and her grandkid and her taste in music, which was totally contrary to mine. Seeing her name in the inbox… well, it was nice.

She loved those singer-songwriters, those women with the high voices singing about their lost loves, about their sorrow. Me, I can take em or leave ‘em. I just can’t get into being sad. Just gimme that old time rock n roll.

We had fun for a while. She made me smile, helped me forget my troubles. We were fine… and then… well, then it became… necessary to not see her any more. People could have been hurt. That’s all I have to say about it. People could have been hurt.

Last time I saw her, she played me one of her favorite, weepy songs. Something about a secret sorrow, a sadness that wouldn’t die, a feeling she couldn’t name… pain I didn’t ask for.

[pause]

Some such.

[pause] All over and done… Time to move on. Time.

[pause]

It’s a good thing I don’t fall in love so quick. A good thing. Yeah.

©2018 by Larry Bliss.

Monologue: Here Comes Summer

The following monologue is ©2018 by Larry Bliss. Contact me at Lbliss314@yahoo.com for information about permissions. Thank you!

Here Comes Summer, by Larry Bliss

Here comes summer. Ah, hell. Don’t mean to spoil your fun, but hear me out, folks, hear me out.

That summer heat. So strong, so… thick. Damn air gits hot n sticky, even at eight in the mornin’. And if it ain’t before eight in the morning, buddy roe, I ain’t bothering. Too much heat. Your shirt sticks to the small of your back, your shorts lose their crease, your scalp just burns. And you sweat. You sweat. Your hair sweats, your forehead sweats, your eyebrows sweat.

Summer’s fun, you say. Fun for some, I’ll grant you. Little kids and rowdy boys and those skinny little gals with they boobies hangin’ out. Pardon my French. Great for the kids, but look. I’m seventy-two. Summer is what you fancy folks call an or-deal. I can’t take fifty paces thout feeling wore out and limp. The damn flies land on you like nobody’s business. You are a-number-one on their target list.

Then it rains. God, how it rains. Clouds gather up, wind blows and blam! You’re gettin’ a damn soaking. Clothes cling like damp rags. Think I like that? Lightnin’ flashes. Air pops. No warning at all. Scare you shitless, make you think you’re gonna die… Make you think you’re gonna die.

[pause]

Tell you somethin’. I was just a kid, workin’ out in the field, out in the baccer. Me and my brother Billy, and our little sister Hannah.Hard damn work. You folks just don’t know…

Storm blew up outta the west, fast like. Comin’ in like a freight train, and no time to find a dry spot. We was in the middle of the field, bent over, sweating, bone tired. The rain hit us, and we decided to run for the woods.

Running hard, fast as our little legs would carry us… Of a sudden, the air cracked open. No other way to tell it, just, cracked, open. Thew me to the ground. Mouth fulla dirt… Then it was quiet, eerie quiet… I heard Billy commence to wailin’. Picked myself up, turned around.

[pause]

(With no emotion.) Nothing of her left. Her dress was smokin’. Billy was still wailin’. Couldn’t recognize her no more.

[pause]

Sweet, lovely gal, momma’s pride and joy…

[pause]

Sweet lord Jesus.

[pause]

Don’t tell me bout no summer.

©2018 by Larry Bliss

Monologue: Floating

The following monologue is ©2018 by Larry Bliss. Contact me at Lbliss314@yahoo.com for information about permissions. Thank you!

Floating, by Larry Bliss

My name is Mandeep Bhattacharyya. Everyone calls me Manny. In the early 2000s I worked as a communication engineer for a NASA contractor. It was my dream job and I hoped it would never end. Much of my time was spent in Cape Canaveral monitoring the Ku bandwidth for the Shuttle. Every time she went up, I watched her. I even dreamed of her.

One morning in 2003, I was outside in the yard, with my little girl Priya, who was then seven. It was a cold day in Melbourne, but we played outside anyway. Sweet little girl with brown eyes. Mom was out. It was her turn to do groceries.

After kicking around a soccer ball, we went in. It was around ten. I turned on NPR for the news. I knew Columbia was due to land at 9:15 with seven souls.

As soon as I switched on the radio I heard the words debris field.

Debris field? I looked at the radio. The reporter said it again.

Oh my. I stopped breathing. Debris field. Eastern Texas. Oh my.

Seven people gone. Just like that. Priya looked at me and asked me, daddy, what’s wrong? I had gone white.

I sat down by the kitchen table. I turned off the radio and took her in my arms. I took a deep breath.

Do you remember last June, when we visited the Cape?

We met some astronauts, she said. They had blue suits.

Yes, blue flight suits with lot of pockets. One of them was an Indian lady named Kalpana. She had dark hair and dark skin like you, and she smiled at you, and rubbed your head.

Nice lady, she said.

Very nice. Priya just looked at me, as my eyes watered.

What’s the matter daddy?

The lady you met. —I couldn’t say her name anymore. She… she was way up there in space. She was supposed to come home this morning… But something bad happened. She… won’t come home today.

The room was silent.

Finally she asked, like auntie Akshara?

Yes.

She looked out the window. The wind was blowing. I shivered, even though it was warm inside. I held her closer.

Where is she now, daddy?

I don’t remember the next two minutes. Andrea was not at home… After a while I came to myself… I looked in her bright brown eyes.

She’s up there with her friends, Priya. Seven of them, all in blue suits. She’s looking down through the clouds, and she’s smiling. She has a big smile, Priya. And she’s saying.. she’s saying, come play with us Priya. Play with us and float in the sky, and be free. We’ll have so much fun.

Priya said nothing for a while, and then she picked up her dolly and said, maybe you and mommy can float too.

The front door opened, and Andrea set down her bags and came in. She knew. I got up and rubbed my daughter’s hair, like she had, and then I went to my dear wife and she held me in her arms for a long, long time.

©2018 by Larry Bliss

Monologue: Little Stinker

The following monologue is ©2018 by Larry Bliss. Contact me at Lbliss314@yahoo.com for information about permissions. Thank you!

Little Stinker, by Larry Bliss

I love my boy. His name is Jackie, like his dad. He has red hair and freckles. My sister calls him Opie, only he can’t fish… yet. He is four years old and can already do anything he sets his mind to.

He’s a tough little munchkin. Full of spit and disobedience. Loves every dinosaur that walked the earth, and in his hockey get-up, he’s Ron Francis.

I have passed on to him an unholy love of dirt and mudpies. Even though he loves his video games, he always has dirt under his fingernails.

Behind the house there is a creek. Creeks are necessary for little boys. He splashes and loves to get wet. One day he’ll drink from it, and as daddies should, I will chastise him. But secretly I will be tickled.

I fought for him. Lorraine was a damn mess. She went way too far into the dope. I’m no saint—I got into it now and again… okay a lot… but she… well, it ate her alive. I have custody, and she’s in court-ordered meetings. I still love her, and I wish her well… but I can’t take chances with my son. The papers were served yesterday.

Of course, none of this is his concern. I do the dad stuff, and my sister does the mom stuff. I’d be lost without her.

Anyways… the little stinker and I are at the park, just me and him. He’s on the giant pterodactyl, the one with feather flames. The neck sticks way out. He’s riding it and giggling. He makes roaring pterodactyl noises, and I roar back. I’m the T-rex in the family.

All my cares disappear. I’m no longer a contractor, an ex-husband, or even a role model. I’m four years old, having some fun with my guy.

All of a sudden, Jackie stops roaring. He looks me straight in the eye. I see something in them I have never seen before.

He leans to the left. Looks down, looks at me, and grins. He leans a little more… and then he lets go and falls off, deliberately. He hits the cement.

Oh my sweet Lord! I’m off the bench. My heart is pounding and my throat is dry. He’s all in a heap and he’s crying louder than hell. Are you all right? Can you move? Where does it hurt? I’ll get Auntie. I’ll get Auntie. You’ll be fine you’ll be fine you’ll be fine.

I move his little arms and legs. He cries and cries but they bend okay. There’s blood on his shoulder and his wrists and his knees… but he’s breathing. So am I.

Then comes the car, and the emergency room, and the wait, and the doctor. They clean his wounds and bandage him with little T-rexes. The little stinker just laughs.

We’re home now. He’s in bed. Jeopardy is on. There’s two empty Millers, and I’m working on another.

Tomorrow we’ll have the talk. I’ll be mad, but I will resist the urge to smack him into next Thursday. He’ll promise to never do it again. I’ll hug him and let him loose, and cry a little.

He’ll go down to the creek. Maybe he’ll take a drink.

I won’t care.

©2018 by Larry Bliss

 

 

 

Women

Women. Lots of women.

Women in twelve-step meetings who console frightened young girls new to recover. Women who crack great jokes. Women who read lots of books. Women who stand up to men possessed by power-lust. Women who break into the secrets of the universe. Women who live in space for months at a time.

Women who raise kids by themselves while holding three jobs. Women who earn advanced degrees after sending those kids to college. Women who run households day in and day out no matter how tired they are.

Women who set the altar in church Sunday after Sunday, preach, teach, serve communion, and lead choirs. Women who put their all into their fields of play and beat the living daylights out of their opponents and hug them when the game is over.

Women who lead entire nations. Women who direct and act in great movies and television shows. Women who cut fine figures as Rey and Princess Leia. Women who take startling photographs and plunge their hands into spinning clay.

Women who work.

Women.

Women with short hair that reaches only the nape of their neck. Women with squashed noses and immense smiles. Women with freckly arms. Women who barely clear five feet. Women who tower over me.

Women with eyes you could live inside. Women with curly lips. Women with every skin color imaginable. Women with high, sharp cheekbones. Women with not one but two or three sets of dimples. Women with little hands that fit perfectly inside mine. Women with hair barely a sixteenth of an inch long. Women with hair down to their waist.

Women who turn beauty on its head and shine from within. Women whose steady gaze could stop a regiment. Women with “s” curves that hint at divinity. Women whose eyes light up when they see babies. Women who are too lovely for Vogue magazine.

Women who put up with the endless dumb behavior of men and like us anyway. (Thank God.)

Women. Lots of women, with more being added every day.

So glad they’re there. Women.

A Modest Proposal for the Christian Church

My friend Marge, as fine a Lutheran as you could ask for, has a beef with the apostle Paul. According to her, he’s a sexist. I agree. According to 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, women should not speak but ask their husbands to speak for them. I doubt many women would submit to this today, and it would come as a surprise to the Protestant and Jewish women who speak for wisdom in the assemblies. (In another passage, however, Paul says women should be allowed to prophesy. So he is a sexist and inconsistent.)

There is a trap in this kind of thinkingthe assumption that specific instructions to specific churches should be held up as universal commands for all time.

Many biblical scholars agree with this position, taking into account the vast differences between first century Palestine and 21st century America. However, inconsistency persists in the application of this reasonable principal.

Most Christians admit to a looser interpretation of Paul’s anti-female views… but cling to them in regard to that most loaded of topics:

Sex.

Here is where some folks will go into a tizzy. The word “fornication” (admittedly a delicious word for fooling around outside of marriage) can be translated as “sexual immorality.”

This puts the argument on a quantumly different plane. Rather than define sexual expression by its congruence with the institution of marriage, sexual immorality opens the discussion to all-too-frequent instances sexual exploitation, either to maintain power over another individual, obtain instant gratification for oneself, or too participate in a relationship that is too weak to withstand the raw passions associated with sex.

Therefore, I propose the following as examples of sexual immorality: yes, adultery (since it hurts innocent children and spouses), but also promiscuity, bondage and submission, partner-swapping (since it violates the essential privacy of sex), and spousal rape (horrific to contemplate, but it happens).

Allow me to weave my situation into this. I am in my sixties and never married. I am not stranger to sex, and I really, really like it. In its proper place, it’s life-giving, healing, and fun. (My friend Jane says sex is a sacrament. This may be going a little too far, but it contains more than a kernel of truth.)

The doctrine of intra-marital exclusivity (an later addition to the sayings of Jesus) was devised in an age where the average lifespan topped out at anywhere from 30 to t0. Agricultural societies and the need to bear many children encouraged marriage within only a few years of puberty.

Today people go decades between or without marriage(s). Some decide never to marry.

Look: God made us sexual beings. It is hard-wired into our nervous systems. The body, in particular the female body, has an extraordinary capacity for pleasure. Science is discovering that regular has many health benefits.

God also gave us the capacity to create art, build culture, feed the hungry, nurture future generations, plumb the depths of the universein short, to co-create what Martin Luther called the good order of creation. No one is seriously proposing we set up artificial limits on these activities.

He also gave us the powers of reason and conscience. As the maker of the gift of sexuality, he expects us to use it well.

So let the Church move into the modern world. If she shed a few inhibitions, she might just attract more believers.

Chris Farley, Motivation, and Compression Socks

I love Chris Farley’s SNL sketch about the motivational speaker who lives in (yes) a van down by the river. (Was there ever a better description of one-step-above-the-streets poverty?)

Farley (rest his hilarious soul) was satirizing motivators, of course, but he hit upon my problem with motivational speaking. It’s based on the assumption that people can be changed by being talked into it. If you can only find the perfect slogan, you can inspire people to move mountains.

Here’s how I motivate myself: pure self-interest.

Take exercising. You and I have you-must-exercise dinned into us forty ʾleven million* times a day. That doesn’t work for me. I don’t respond to scientific nagging.

I have a problem with my feet swelling. I had trouble fitting my fat feet into my shoes. A nurse told me to buy compression socks and walk more to increase the blood flow to my feet and reduce the swelling.

I wanted to fit into my shoes without buying new ones. So on came the socks and out I went walking.

I got the results I wanted.

This principle applies to everything else. If I want a better life, I take the necessary steps and wait for good results. Try itit just might keep your mind out of that van down by the river.

* Forty ʾleven million is a unit of numeric measure, perhaps unique to the South. It refers to numbers between 350 and 860 trillion.

We Bear Our Wounds, We Bare Our Wounds

I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered
I don’t have a friend who feels at ease
I don’t know a dream that’s not been shattered
or driven to its knees

American Tune, Paul Simon

I know a young woman who was a former nurse. She was a newcomer at a halfway house. While she was out, her housemates staged an emergency accident scene in the house, a woman with an open neck wound. They called my nurse friend, who of course broke speed limits to return home.

She went into full emergency mode when she got there, speaking words of command and compassion. She did her job, and she did it very well.

As she reached to gently remove the “bandage”, the “victim” laughed and squirted my nurse friend with the contents of a ketchup packet.

A joke.

Some joke.

I cannot imagine the anger and shame that inhabited her. She spoke of it later in a calm, steady voice that belied a reservoir of hurt.

On hearing it, I felt a deep and abiding anger and disgust for those alleged human beings. I hope they got the dressing-down they richly deserved.

There are times when I hate the wickedness of the human race and its insistence on wallowing in evil.

We are the walking wounded, every one of us. Everyone is scarred, from booze, drugs, violence, abuse, neglect, prejudice, disease, and just flat out inhumanity. All of us are broken, and our souls have been battered.

But faced with evil and suffering, we take action. We console each other, listen to each other, let tears soak our shoulder and hold on as if our lives depended on itbecause it does.

My life was saved by a man who shared my name. He that told me his story of loss and despair. It was my story too.

I owe him so much. We owe it to each other.

There are times when I cherish the goodness of the human race and its insistence on wallowing in good works.

May it be so always.

Elegy for the Wax Machine

I admit itI am a throwback. Dial telephones, black and white TVs, vinyl records… I loved them all.

In the early Eighties, I worked for Spectator magazine, one of those free weekly newspapers. (Most of them were run by liberals; the owner of the Spectator, the late force of nature Bernie Reeves, was a right-winger. But I digress.)

In the pre-PC era, pages in print were hand-crafted. The technology of that time was cold type: body text and headlines were preserved on thick bands of paper. Setting the words into motion was the phototypesetter.

To work it, you pressed a key on a specialized keyboard. The machine passed a signal to a light emitter (not a laser) that illuminated a rapidly spinning film strip or disk. At just the right time, the beam created a letter on a roll of photosensitive paper which fed into a light-tight carrier.

Developing the paper involved horrible chemicals. You fed into a machine that pulled the paper through a developer and a fixer, and voila! Black type on white paper that you hung up to dry, using an even more ancient technology.

The type was pasted onto a paper form that the printer photographed on a camera bigger than God that was converted with more horrible chemicals into a plate that was strapped to the press.

It’s hard to believe things were that crude not forty years ago.

Crudest of all was the wax machine. You had to attach the type to the layout page. The machine coated the back of the paper with a thick ooze of wax.

The wax was melted into liquid in a metal tray that burned the living sin out of your fingers if you were dumb enough to try it. (Being a man, of course I did.) A grooved roller slurped up the wax and coated the paper.

The wax machine was one gigantic pain in the ass. It was a fire hazard, so you had to to turn it off at night. On deadline morning, switching it back on and waiting for the wax to re-melt was exquisite torture.

Wax collected everywhereon the plastic cover, on the rollers, on the temperature knob, on the power cord, and on the table the damn thing rested on.

The wax came in butter-sized sticks. If you loaded one too many stick in, the wax built up on the rollers and coated both sides of the type… which you then had to clean with a cheesecloth (even more old tech).

The machine whirred and grinded most unpleasantly. It was, as I said, a pain in the ass… but a necessary one. I don’t miss it.

And yet, and yet… The digital age has made it cleaner, faster, cheaper… and antiseptic. As a person who enjoys sensory input, I miss the old days of brute matter, of tangible objects, of a process that created words on paper as it smeared wax and dirt on your fingers.

It was real, and you could feel it. When we lost the wax machine, we lost something precious.