By Jen Novotny
Paul: 30, accountant for a large local bank. Dressed in nice suit, though he wears it slightly off, as though he is not use to it. Close-cropped hair, good looking in an average way. Married to Katherine for 3 years.
Katherine: 28, event organizer and entrepreneur. Very focused on her business, sometimes wonders why she married Paul in the first place. Wears a nice dress, hitting at the knee or higher and four-inch heels. She is dressed up for a night out, and she is owning it, most of the time.
The couple’s SUV, driving down the road
Two Chairs sit CS. Otherwise bare.
Paul (offstage right): I can’t believe you’re making me miss the television premiere of Inception for this.
Katherine (also OSR): You already own it.
Paul: Not the point.
Katherine: Well, maybe we’ll catch the second running after dinner.
Paul: Honey, we’re going to be late. Could you walk a little quicker?
Katherine: How about we put you in four-inch heels and see how quick you walk?
Paul: (as he comes onstage) Then why are you wearing them?
Katherine: (trailing behind) This is our first date night in months. I want to look hot.
Paul: Honey, you know you don’t have to do that for me. (Pantomimes holding car door open for her.) I love you, no matter what you’re wearing.
Katherine: It’s not for you. (Gets in)
Paul: Then who is it for?
Katherine: The people at the restaurant. Why do you think I made you wear the good suit?
Paul: I don’t understand.
Katherine: Darling, forget it. Just get in the car.
Paul: But why don’t you–.
Katherine: We’re going to be late, remember?
(As Katherine primps in the visor mirror, Paul mimics strangling her before shrugging it off and walking around to the driver’s side seat. Several moments of silence as Paul mimes driving and Katherine stares out the window.)
Katherine: Did you call your mother?
Paul: I forgot. I’ll do it tomorrow. She won’t mind.
Katherine: (mutters) Yea, right.
Paul: I think I know my own mother well enough to know how she’ll feel about me calling one day later than I said I would.
Katherine: I know Meredith pretty well by now, and you should know that what she says to your face isn’t necessarily—
Paul: (suddenly lays on the horn—a tinny and all together ridiculous sound—and gesticulates wildly while shouting) Watch what you’re doing, asshole! You can’t just pull out at a four-way stop when it’s not your turn! God damn it. (Calms down instantly) I’m sorry, honey, what were you saying?
Katherine: Nevermind, just don’t forget to call her tomorrow or all I’ll be hearing the next time we go over is how her son doesn’t care about her at all.
Paul: What? Has my mother said that to you before?
Katherine: Darling you have no idea. Before we got married I thought she was trying to convince me not to stay with you the way she’d go on and on about all of your bad qualities. Now I just think she likes to complain about her family members. You should hear the way she talks about your father.
Paul: Are you serious? I thought my mother— (horn again, yelling out the window) Your lane! Stay in your lane! Your lane! Can you believe the way people drive these days? Do people even have to take a test anymore? Jesus.
Katherine (sighs): I wish you’d stop doing that.
Paul: What? What am I doing?
Katherine: Getting angry at every person that so much as twitches wrong at you. Half the time I’m pretty sure you’re imagining it.
Paul: I most certainly am not imagining it. Honey, we’ve almost been killed twice already. (Horn again) You bastard! Did you even look? And where the hell was your blinker?
Katherine: And I rest my case.
Paul: Now that was clearly the third time we’ve almost been killed, and we just left the house.
Katherine: But you don’t have to have a conniption fit every time something even remotely bad happens. Do you think maybe you’re part of the problem?
Paul: Do you want to drive? Because I can pull over so you can take the wheel, since you’re obviously so much better at driving than I am. Miss Calm and Collected in her four-inch freaking heels.
Katherine: No, I don’t want to drive, but if you’re going to pout you might as well turn around and take me home. And why are you attacking my shoes again? What did they ever do to you?
Paul: O hell, I don’t care what shoes you wear. I just want you to get off my case about the way I drive. (Horn again, also, both jerk forward slightly as Paul slams on the brakes) Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! When my light is green it means yours is definitely red! Yellow means slow down, not speed up, Genius! (Calm again) I’m sorry, where were we?
Katherine: O nevermind! Can you at least stop laying on the horn every time? Yell if you must, but holy crap, Paul. I get embarrassed riding in a car with you when every five seconds you’re blasting that damn thing. And what’s worse is that it sounds ridiculous.
Paul: It is a pretty pathetic horn for an SUV. (Beat) I’ll try to stop honking the horn so much.
Katherine: Thank you.
Paul: Honey, can I ask you something without you getting mad at me?
Katherine: That you have to ask that means the answer is probably no.
Paul: O, ok.
Katherine: Well ask me anyway. I will attempt to keep an open mind.
Paul: Ok, so, you said you get embarrassed riding with me when I get angry at stupid drivers—like that asshole, there! O that turn signal was beautiful! I wish I’d taken a picture of it! O wait, there wasn’t one!—but it made me wonder, don’t you ever get angry and honk the horn at somebody who cuts you off or nearly hits you?
Katherine (thinks for a moment before replying): Nope, can’t say that I do.
Paul: O, ok. (Beat) Honey, you still haven’t told me where we’re going.
Katherine: I’m pretty sure that I did actually.
Paul: No, I think I would’ve remembered that.
Katherine: Then why didn’t you say something sooner?
Paul: Well, I kept thinking you would tell me eventually if I drove around long enough, but you’ve been too busy harping on my driving habits to give me directions.
Katherine: O for the love of… Pull over.
Katherine: Anywhere. It doesn’t matter. Just pull over and let me drive.
Paul: But what about your shoes?
Katherine: What about them?
(Paul puts the car in park and both unbuckle their seatbelts and get out as the dialogue continues.)
Paul: Will you be able to drive in them?
Katherine: I’ll take them off.
Paul: But, driving barefoot? Really?
(They stop and face each other at the front of the car.)
Katherine: Why not?
Paul: That’s just… Well, it’s weird.
Katherine: You’ve never driven barefoot before?
Paul: No, definitely not.
Katherine: O, well… I do sometimes.
Paul: I never knew that.
Katherine: Yea, well, you’re the one who drives whenever we go somewhere, so… yea…
(Awkward pause before they get back in the car, now with Katherine driving)
Katherine: Why do you get so bent out shape when other drivers do stupid things? I mean, I get angry, but I don’t turn into a big ball of jackass, yelling at people who can’t even hear me.
Paul: (testily) Well, that’s what the horn is for.
Katherine: But even that’s dumb. I mean, you can’t tell me that you’ve never done anything stupid while driving.
Paul: Yea, but I feel really bad about it when I do, and I apologize to them, even though they can’t hear me.
Katherine: Right. (Beat). But seriously why do you feel the need to freak out?
Paul: I don’t need to. I can quit doing it any time I want.
Paul: Anyway, it makes me feel better. It de-stresses me.
Katherine: Like yoga?
Paul: Sure. Whatever. It makes me less likely to pick fights with people. Like you.
Katherine: So if you weren’t constantly yelling at other drivers you’d be yelling at me?
Paul: I plead the fifth. (Beat) Where are we going?
Katherine: You’ll find out when we get there. By the way, (She’s clearly nervous about the subject she’s going to bring up.) Marsha is having a baby shower next Tuesday.
Paul: I forgot she was pregnant. Well, have fun.
Katherine: It’s a couples’ shower.
Paul: No. No, honey, just no.
Katherine: Paul, be reasonable.
Paul: I am. No man in his right mind is going to go to a baby shower.
Katherine: What if it was for our baby?
Paul: But we aren’t having a baby. Not for a long time at least; and possibly not ever.
Katherine: Not ever?
Paul: Well, (growing uncomfortable) why should we? We’re both focused on our careers. I’m trying to work my way up at the bank, and your event planning business is really taking off. Neither of us has time for a child, and maybe we’ll decide that we never will. What’s wrong with that?
Katherine: You don’t possibly want to pass on your genes to the next generation?
Paul: I think you’ve been spending too much time with my mother.
(He realizes how terrible of a thing that was for him to say and cringes away as if he’s afraid she’s actually going to hit him. She grows very quiet for several moments before suddenly shouting and laying on the horn.)
Katherine: Watch what you’re doing, you asshole! Are you trying to cause a wreck? What the hell! Yield means wait until it’s clear, not go when you feel like it. (Pause, then another tirade while laying on the tinny horn; it should be clear this is another vehicle, not the same one.) Turn off your brights! You’re driving through town not a deer infested backroad. Are you trying to blind me?
Paul: Honey? (No response.) Honey? Are you ok?
Katherine: I’m fine.
Paul: You’re acting a little strange.
Katherine: I’m just trying to do what you suggested. Take my anger out on people who can’t hear me instead of you.
Paul: Why are you so upset?
Katherine: I’m not upset. If I were upset, I would be crying. (Starts to cry.) But I’m not am I?
Paul: What did I do now?
Katherine: You don’t want to have children with me! (Sound of a car horn—not theirs—is heard, and then another closely follows it.)
Paul: Honey, watch the road; you’re going to get us killed.
Katherine: Shut up! You know, all I wanted tonight was to get dressed up, go out to a nice restaurant, have some quality time together, and tell you I’m pregnant. But no, you had to do your usual shit with the road rage and, and keep complaining about my shoes!
(Long beat as Paul processes what just happened.)
Paul: I told you I don’t have a problem with your shoes.
(Katherine stares at him, and there are more car horns, very emphatic now. She turns back to the road, shaking her head over and over.)
Paul: I mean, ok, I’ll admit it, I don’t like it when you wear heels…Because it makes you taller than me…But if it makes you happy to wear them, then by all means, do it.
Katherine: Are you seriously talking about my shoes right now? I just told you I’m going to have your baby, a baby you apparently don’t want, and you’re talking about my shoes.
Paul: It’s an analogy.
Katherine: You should stop talking now.
Paul: If it’s a boy can we name him Maximus?
Katherine: Seriously, just stop talking.
Paul: I mean it. I’ve always wanted to meet someone named Maximus, so how cool would it be if I actually had a kid named that?
Katherine: I might murder you.
Paul: Maximus Gaius. To stick with the Roman theme, you know?
Katherine: (She’s slowly starting to smile.) And if it’s a girl?
Paul: Ellen Paige. (Pause.) Why are you pulling over?
(She turns to him and throws her arms around him.)
Katherine: Let’s switch places so you can yell at other drivers.
Paul: Ok, but where are we going?
Paul: So I got dressed up and missed Inception for nothing?
Katherine: I still might murder you.
Paul: But you wore heels.
Katherine: And they’d be the perfect weapon.
Paul: I don’t understand.
Katherine: Shut up and take us home, darling.