Monday, January 30, 2006

Serving Up Something (A Short Play) (2004)

Lights come up on the lobby of “Aunt Mable’s Soul Food” Restaurant, an eclectic but tidy looking place with gingham tablecloths, and blue linen napkins. A banner in the lobby reads: “If Mama’s Ain’t Happy, Nobody’s Happy---Aunt Mable’s where we cook meals just like mama so mama doesn’t have to.” On the walls hang autographs and memorabilia from 1920’s Black California alongside eight by ten glossies from today’s rap and R&B stars. (I envision there are three parts to the set – the lobby, the restaurant and the bathroom.)

Stage right, in the LOBBY Enters Lisa, a twenty something black woman with her hair pulled back, carrying a tray with ketchup, hotsauce and mustard. She is wearing traditional “Aunt Mable’s” garb- crisp white shirts, a yellow blazer, and an apron that reads, “If mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.”

LISA begins placing the condiments on the tables. As she works she hums quietly to herself. ENTER Eric, a young black man stage left, the host. When he sees Lisa setting tables, he immediately grabs some of the condiments off the tray and begins setting up. Immediately Lisa smiles.

ERIC: So, do you always whistle while you work?

LISA: Oh you got jokes?

ERIC: Just asking. (Pause) You know the Sparks are in town tonight.

LISA: Yeah.

ERIC: Yeah well how much you wanna bet Telon Moore is coming here tonight?

LISA: (Stops working for a second) Really? Hold up second, how do you know that?

ERIC: Cause I’m in the know, woman. (Eric pauses. Lisa looks unconvinced.) I saw it in the reservation book. They got the back room.

LISA: Oh my God, Eric, stop playing! That is my man! Do you see the arms on my baby? No wonder he’s been whuppin’ the Pacers!

ERIC: I wouldn’t know, since I don’t judge dudes.

LISA: Whatever. (Begins working again.)

ERIC: Well, I hate to break it to you, Lisa but your man is taken. He’s hooked up with that lil hottie from that Soderberg flick.

LISA: The white girl?

ERIC: Not white, bright skinned. I, on the other hand am completely available and at your disposal. (Bows)

LISA: You let me know when you figure out how I can dispose of you.

ERIC: That’s foul, girl. You better get up on this while you have the opportunity.

LISA ignores Eric and sets the last of her condiments.

ENTER Brenda stage right a forty year old black woman and BAMBAM, a thick thugged out thirty something Latino man with dark shades pushing a tray filled with beautiful arrangements of fresh flowers of white lilies, orchids and banana leaves. After surveying the restaurant BRENDA smiles.

BRENDA: Looking good in here folks. Looking….(eyes the candle display on the table) Who was supposed to change the candles in the tea lights? The wick is down the table!

ERIC: (under his breath to Lisa) Slipping.

BRENDA eyes Eric.

LISA: I’m sorry, Brenda. I’ll get to it.

BRENDA: We gotta be on point guys. This is a big night for us.

ERIC: (eying the flowers) Hey Brenda, is somebody getting married or something?

LISA: (approaches BamBam’s arrangement) Brenda these are fabulous! Who made them?

BAMBAM: I did.

ERIC and LISA in unison: You?

BAMBAM: Y’all know Deuce Floral Designs?

LISA: Yeah

BAMBAM: That’s my shop. This one here is called “Lily of the Valley.”

BRENDA: BamBam is a best kept secret. Just something new to liven the place up. (looking at her watch) Speaking of which, the music for tonight is not here, and we need to get this place set up. Can you give him a hand and get these on the table? I got to make a phone call. (BRENDA exits, stage right)

LISA, ERIC and BAMBAM begin placing the arrangements on the table. LISA eyes BAMBAM who is carefully tweaking each arrangement to ensure it is perfect.

LISA: So what got you interested in flowers?

BAMBAM: You something you like, mami?

LISA: (blushing) I just--I want to go to school for interior design, and I love your arrangement.

BAMBAM: I actually went to school to be an auto mechanic, but my uncle was a gardener. He knew a lot about flowers. He used to take me across town to help him on these jobs, where the rich folks live to keep me out of trouble. I guess I just started liking it.

LISA: So, why they call you BamBam?

BAMBAM: Cause I make all the noise. (winks) That’s from my mechanic days.

Lisa smiles.

LISA: I see. You got a real name?

BAMBAM: You mean my government name? Emilio.

LISA: Well Emilio, what kind of arrangement do you do for birthday parties?

BAMBAM: Your birthday?

LISA: My grandmother, she’s celebrating her 90th next week. She’s real special to me because she’s kind of like a mom.

BAMBAM: She’s the queen, right?

LISA: Oh for sho’.

BAMBAM: My auntie is like that, too. Well, I’d probably do a lot of orchids, and hyacinth, a lil jasmine and lavender. (BAMBAM passes her his card) Give me a call, shortie. I’ll hook it up for you.

ERIC eyes BAMBAM jealously. BAMBAM completes his cart and EXITS. Eric finishes last arrangement then motions for Lisa to follow him DOWN STAGE. LISA follows.

LISA: We got to get this done, Eric.

ERIC: Um yeah I know, but, um, listen, I was just—I mean I was just wondering..”

LISA: Uhh, uhh Eric, I’m not covering the morning shift no more so you and your lil girlfriends can..

ERIC: (Interrupting her) Will you go out with me. (Eric pauses, uncharacteristically flustered.) I mean hang out, maybe, sometime? Look Lisa, I know we’re always clowning around, but I like you. I mean most folks here are just passing through but I know you’re going to be something.

LISA is silent.

ERIC: I know It hasn’t been easy for you with Jacari’s father and everything, but I’m a good man, Lisa, and I was hoping you’d think about it.

LISA is stunned, quiet.

ERIC: (smiles, embarrassed) Well, just think about it. (ERIC Exits.)

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