HOW TWO PASSENGERS ABOARD THE GUY V. MOLINARI FELL IN LOVE–BARA SWAIN
Outside the railing of the Staten Island Ferry
WOMAN: 20s-30s, attractive. She is not a good listener and has a
very short fuse.
MAN: Mid-20s to 30s. He is well-mannered and insecure.
AT RISE: A MAN is inching his way across the outside of a railing on the Staten
Island Ferry. On the opposite end, a WOMAN is inching her way across,
too. They stop momentarily and clutch the rails as a strong gust of wind
tosses them around. Then, oblivious to each other, they continue inching
along until they reach the center. The MAN bumps into the WOMAN.
Are you crazy?!!! What do you think you’re doing?!
I’m trying to get a better view of Lady Liberty – Wait a second. Isn’t that the pot calling
the kettle black?
Oh, you’re deep. Very deep. Didn’t you know this is a no passing zone?
It’s three o’clock in the morning. I didn’t expect any traffic.
(The WOMAN shouts over a strong gust of wind.)
WHAT DID YOU SAY?
I SAID, I DIDN’T EXPECT ANY TRAFFIC! IF I WANTED TRAFFIC, I’D TAKE
THE VERRAZANO BRIDGE.
(They both toss about in the wind. It calms down. Pause.)
I don’t have a car.
I said, I DON’T HAVE A CAR!
Well, you don’t need to shout.
I thought you couldn’t hear me.
No, I’m just not following you.
You need a car – an automobile — to cross the Verrazano. There’s no pedestrian
(nodding) I heard that the George Washington Bridge is more accessible for – you know
– people like … like –
(Man smiles bashfully. They glance at each other. She smiles. Man turns away.
I had a yellow Volkswagen when I was in college.
Where did you go?
I haven’t gone ANYWHERE! Someone – and I won’t name names – isn’t giving me the
right of way.
Where did you go to college?
Did you like it?
No, but I love Taye Diggs.
DIGGS! (softer) It’s his alma mater. You know, “Private Practice,” “Rent.” He was
born in Newark.
That’s … fascinating.
You don’t know who Taye Diggs is, do you?
Everyone knows who Taye Diggs is. Next to Denzel Washington, Taye Diggs is the
hottest black actor in – Are you a RACIST!?
First you call me crazy. Then you call me a racist. What’s WITH you?
(There’s another strong gust of wind. They gyrate and continue speaking.)
Well, you don’t have to raise your voice.
I said, YOU DON’T HAVE TO RAISE YOUR VOICE!
YOU DON’T HAVE TO RAISE YOUR VOICE!
ISN’T THAT THE OCEAN CALLING THE RIVER DEEP?
(The wind stops. They’re both still again. Pause.)
How … deep do you think it is?
Well, it’s hard to say. (nodding forward) Up north? – Have you ever been to West
You’ve GOT to be … (catching herself) … No.
(During the MAN’s response, the WOMAN plays the hand game where she claps
once, then holds the rail. She claps twice, then three and four times, each time
returning her hands to the rail.)
If you take the Bear Mountain Cruise – about 45 miles up the Hudson – past Grants
Tomb, past the Cloisters, and you just keep going — you’ll sail right by the Military
Academy near World’s End – near it, because the river’s too hard to navigate along that
stretch –and that’s where it’s the deepest. Two-hundred and sixteen feet deep, to be
(MAN looks at WOMAN. SHE is clapping. The MAN is pleasantly surprised.)
(HE gives her the brightest and most charming smile. SHE can’t take her eyes off
him. HE is aware of her attention.)
And – about 12 miles south of West Point, it’s also the widest – over 3 miles wide. Less
than 4. It’s precisely 3 point 5 miles wide — at a place called Haverstraw which – if you
need a point of reference – is close to Croton-on-Hudson. Which is a couple miles from
Sing Sing. The Correctional Facility.
(after a moment)
Have you ever been there?
(WOMAN shakes her head.)
So – how deep is it here?
Right. It’s … deep. Very deep. It’s definitely, posolutely deep enough to —
What. Say it. To WHAT? A gentleman would finish his sentence.
My mother always said, “Never engage in Maybe, just maybe – under the
a conversation with a man who speaks in circumstances — I don’t feel obligated to
incomplete sentences.” answer.
And you seem like a gentle … man.
Are you humoring me?
Why would I do that!? I don’t even KNOW you!
(SHE catches herself)
But I do like jokes. I think a man who can tell a good joke is worth holding onto.
Do I LOOK like I’m fooling around!?
(SHE glares at him as another burst of wind sends them gyrating. Finally, they’re
still. The silence is broken by the WOMAN’s ragged breathing and gulping.)
(wailing) I’M FOOLING AROUND!
And that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
I’M FOOLING AROUND WITH MY BOSS!
Is he married?
No, he’s not married! What kind of person do you think I am? I’m not a homewrecker,
for God fucking sakes. I’M A TEMP!!!
(SHE weeps loudly.)
It’s like wearing a sign on my back: I Fraternize With Co-workers.
(gently) Isn’t that against company policy?
YES, IT’S AGAINST COMPANY POLICY! YES, YES, IT’S AGAINST COMPANY
POLICY. But every time I think I’ll be offered a full-time position … (wailing) THE
BOSS ASKS ME TO TAKE DICTATION!!
Nobody takes dictation anymore.
(sobbing) I KNOW! IT WENT OUT WITH PROZAC AND THE OLSEN TWINS
AND EARTH SHOES AND TANYA HARDING AND FREE BANKING AND THE
GRAPEFRUIT DIET! AM I RIGHT?!
(fiercely) Do you know what dictation is?
An antiquated job skill?
YES! And a precursor to a closed door and a pat on the behind and a dinner date –
THAT DOESN’T INCLUDE DINNER! But if I say no, I’m terminated. And if I say
yes, I’m terminated.
(Tentatively, the MAN reaches over and pats her hand.)
I’ve had twenty-five short-term assignments since I lost my job. TWENTY-FIVE! I
don’t care anymore whether I’m overqualified or underpaid or even unappreciated. I
really don’t! All I want … all I REALLY wants is something permanent, you know?
(The MAN hesitates, then nods.)
I want a 401K and a company email account and a bulletin board to put up pictures of my
cat and motivational sayings by Winston Churchill and Gandhi, and, YES, God damn it,
LANCE ARMSTRONG! I want to do Secret Santa and Casual Friday and take a sick
day to go shopping at IKEA for a deluxe wardrobe organizer — THAT I WON’T BE
ABLE TO ASSEMBLE. Is that asking too much?
(Another burst of wind sends them into another long gyration. When it is calm
again, the MAN is in a new position — his arms circling the WOMAN. Silence.)
I envy you.
I said, I envy you.
ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR …! (she stops herself). You do? Why?
(The MAN takes a deep breath, and quickly recites.)
Every morning, I wake up at 6 o’clock and I eat two slices of dry toast and a 2-minute
boiled egg before I brush my teeth and shave. On Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays,
I finish the Times Crossword Puzzle before I get dressed. On Thursday mornings I
separate the garbage – paper, plastic and glass – and on Fridays I load the dishwasher and
I prepare a bag of dress shirts that need to be laundered. I ask the cleaners not to iron
them so that I have something to do on Saturday and Sunday mornings after I eat a raisin
bagel with low-fat cream cheese and a spoonful of seedless strawberry jam. I iron my
(HE takes a deep breath.)
Every day I go to work at the same place that I’ve been employed since I graduated from
a selective private college with a 3.8 GPA. I think about those 2 tenths of a point on
Yom Kippur and my father’s birthday, and on my own birthday I buy 10 lottery tickets
after the newspaper stand across from my child-friendly co-op opens at noon because I
was born on the first of the year. Then I check my email for New Years greetings from
an occasional colleague and chain letters from a handful of acquaintances that I send to
myself the prerequisite number of times to avoid bad luck or win an undisclosed amount
of money before I download applications for the MBA Program that I know I won’t start
in the Fall because I’ll get a winter bonus and a substantial raise in the Spring and I’m set
for another year of the same thing, day in and day out. Alone. So this is the point. Are
Some of the most beautiful and interesting things in life are temporary. A ripe melon, a
bad hair day, an itch, a hangover, an adrenaline rush, a clean shave, a standing ovation,
(HE reaches out and pushes her hair behind her ears.)
And my first impression of you is that you have better things to do and so many places to
see that … aren’t here! So now…?
(The MAN prepares to move past her.)
Where are you going!?
(HE smiles and moves to the WOMAN’s side.)
To get a better view of Lady Liberty!
(The MAN crouches down as the WOMAN watches, horrified. SHE covers her
eyes with her forearm and screams. When SHE finally opens her eyes, the
WOMAN desperately searches the water. The MAN isn’t there. HE has climbed
over the rail of the boat to the deck. HE looks toward the direction of the Statue
of Liberty, then down at her from above. Silence. HE clears his throat and
Three guys die in car crash and go to heaven for orientation. So St. Peter asks them all,
“When you are in your casket and friends and family are mourning over you, what would
like to hear them say about you?” And the first guy says, “I would like to hear them say
that I was a great doctor of my time and a great family man.” The second guy says, “I
would like to hear them say that I was a wonderful husband and school teacher, which
made a huge difference in our children of tomorrow.” And the third guy says, I would
like to hear them say, ‘LOOK! HE’S MOVING!’”
(Silence. Then the WOMAN throws her head back and laughs. The MAN waits
patiently until SHE recovers. Silence. The MAN reaches down and helps the
WOMAN to the deck. HE steadies her with an embrace. SHE releases her hold
to look at him directly.)
A man who can tell a good joke is worth holding onto.
(The lights fade to black as THEY embrace again.)
END OF PLAY
Bara Swain’s plays and monologues have been staged in 200+ venues in 29 states and abroad (UK, Ireland, UAE, Canada, Australia, Ukraine), as well as 45+ zoom performances. NYC theatres include Urban Stages, Abingdon, Barrow Group, Symphony Space, Primary Stages, Sam French, Westside Theatre, Gallery Players, Artistic New Directions, The Bechdel Group, and Planet Connections. Selective awards include First Place Winner, Shawnee Playhouse One-Act Play Festival 2020-21 for The Wonder of You, Standing Ovation Award for I Love Lucy and Can You Hear Me Now? (Smith & Kraus), and City Theatre National Award Finalist for Short Playwriting for Extraordinary and The Hotel Lobbyist (FL), Bara’s plays and monologues are anthologized by Smith & Kraus, Applause Books, Oxford U. Press, and Art Age Press. Recent and upcoming: The Plan (live at Metropolitan Playhouse, “East Side Stories, Actually”), Can You Hear Me Now? (Crafton Hills New Play Festival (CA), and The Wonder of You (10th Annual Columbus Black Theatre Festival, OH). www.BaraSwain.com