- MRS. JACOB ANDERSON
- A Farmer's Market. A stand of vegetables and fruits. Very picked over. Prices per dozen, per pound, etc, stuck here and there. Afternoon. The here and now.
[As the lights come up, we see LISA, a youngish woman wearing jeans. She is smiling, delighted with life. She examines tomatoes and cucumbers, stopping to stare dreamily off into space. MRS. JACOB ANDERSEN comes into the playing area, carrying a plastic sack of produce. She is a little older than Lisa. Both women are ordinary-looking, with ordinary bodies.]
MRS. ANDERSEN: My...there’s not much left here today.
LISA: Oh I know.
[A frown flits across her face. She studies Mrs. Andersen from the corner of her eye. Mrs. Andersen notices but does not seem to mind.]
MRS. ANDERSEN: They usually have such gorgeous cukes here.
LISA: I guess you have to get here early.
MRS. ANDERSEN: I think you’re right.
[Silence. Mrs. Andersen comes down front as if looking at the sky, at the surrounding countryside.]
MRS. ANDERSON: I know you're fucking my husband.
[Lisa goes very still, like a threatened spider. She does not know what to do. Mrs. Andersen continues to serenely gaze at the ‘sky‘.]
MRS. ANDERSON: Isn’t it a beautiful day? Not many left.
LISA: I...I think you have me confused with...
MRS. ANDERSEN: No. I don’t.
LISA: Well this has been...
MRS. ANDERSEN: Yes. Awkward. Stereotypical...many things. He wants to divorce me and make you Mrs. Andersen. A woman without her own name.
LISA: You’re...Jacob’s wife.
MRS. ANDERSEN: Yes. And that right there should make you run screaming. [Looks over her shoulder at Lisa.] At first I wanted to kill you. Not him. You. I imagined running your through all sorts of industrial machines.
LISA: He loves me. I’m sorry this hurts you...
MRS. ANDERSEN: Love is an anesthesia. It puts you to sleep, it allows you to overlook, not question, not care...and then, one day, you come to. And, by God and all his horny angels...it’s an eye opener.
LISA: Look. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. I’m not a bad person...I didn’t want to fall in love but I did. And we’re happy. Is that what this is about? He said you’d...
MRS. ANDERSEN: Are you the next Mrs. Jacob Andersen?
[Lisa comes forward, determined to have this out.]
LISA: Can’t we be adult about this?
MRS. ANDERSEN: No. Adults are never honest. Let’s be children. Let’s throw rocks, let’s weep and say everything we actually think. But we won’t.
LISA: Okay, look. He hasn’t loved you for a long time. Don’t you have any pride?
MRS. ANDERSEN: Tons of it. An ocean of it. Why don’t you? Why do you love him? He says you can’t find a job right now. He says you’re so pretty and so nice. Nice-- you’re what every man wants a woman to be. Nice. [Mrs. Andersen smiles very gently at Lisa, beckons her closer. Lisa does not move.] Here we are...both picking out vegetables for the same man.
LISA: He’s right. You are a bitch.
MRS. ANDERSEN: Yes, I suppose so. A bitch, a cunt, a twat...why is it always bitch that stings? Oh yes, that’s right-- it implies I’m not as nice as I should be. That I’ve revealed too much of myself. Well...Lisa, is it? What a cheerleader sort of name. Do you cheerlead for him now? Tell him he’s the best, the brightest, the bravest? I can see you doing it. With pompoms in your hands. With that little flippy skirt. You’d look nice in navy. [Sighs. But still steady and calm.] I once had a name. But now it’s bitch and second-best. It’s Mrs. Andersen. Why would you give up your name? Why would you let him erase it from your head with his acid? His sweet...numbing acid...I’ll take care of you, I’ll take care of everything.
LISA: Wow. That’s some speech. Save it for group therapy sometime... [Mrs. Andersen catches Lisa by the arm.] Hey. Don’t.
MRS. ANDERSEN: Please. Tell me why you love him. Tell me everything...and we never have to talk again. I’ll step aside. I’ll...let you have him. I’ll disappear. I’ll be like an abortion in your lives...something that never happened, something that was scraped into a pail. [Looks into Lisa’s face, releases her, steps away.] Surely...if you love him you won’t mind facing your enemy. We can go somewhere else if you wish.
LISA: No. Harriman’s Market is just fine. I...I just tell you whatever and you go away? Just like a big puff of smoke?
MRS. ANDERSEN: You betcha.
LISA: You betcha. [Silence. The two contemplate each other.] Jacob says you lie.
MRS. ANDERSEN: That’s...very funny.
LISA: I think it’s sad. It’s probably why you two just didn’t work out. I feel sorry for you.
MRS. ANDERSEN: That’s funny, too. Because I feel sorry for you. Here we are with pity in our hearts...all this pity and no place to put it away for good. [Pause.] Do you pity me when you’re beneath him?
LISA: Don’t be disgusting. He said you could be disgusting.
MRS. ANDERSEN: It’s just us. Are you going to tell him of this meeting? I’m not.
LISA: Of course I’m going to tell him. I don’t keep secrets.
MRS. ANDERSEN: Fucking a married man in your car is a secret. Giving him blow jobs parked on the side of the freeway is a secret...He tells me things, too, my dear. [Lisa sniffs, turns away for a moment.] And how alive he feels, how refreshed. You’re just like a glass of iced tea.
LISA: Ummm. I think I’ve had enough of this...
MRS. ANDERSEN: Lisa. All I want is a confession. Is that so hard? Can you face me and confess...confess how you love my husband? [Lisa puts her hand into the vegetables. She examines them.] It’s hard, isn’t it. Sleeping with him is easy. Telling me about it...difficult. Yet...you say you have no secrets.
LISA: Not from Jacob! I don’t have secrets from the man I love, the man I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. Got that? You want a confession? Here it is. We met, we fought against it, we gave in because it’s right, it feels right. And yeah...I fuck him. I fuck him with nothing held back. [Silence.] So get on your broomstick and take a left turn.
MRS. ANDERSEN: The second Mrs. Jacob Andersen.
[Lisa stops from leaving.]
LISA: The only Mrs. Andersen.
MRS. ANDERSEN: No. There are many nameless women behind you...many before you. You are not the only one. And what a beautiful love story. We met, we fought it, we fucked. Spare, succinct, to the point. Nothing flowery or pretty. Just bodies and selfishness.
LISA: How dare you...how dare you...
MRS. ANDERSEN: Because I looked in the mirror one day. I looked and I could not see myself. I had no face, no features. There was only...Mrs. Jacob Andersen...a wife, a woman with no children, a woman who helps out in her church.
LISA: Well maybe you should get out more.
MRS. ANDERSEN: Shh...listen. You see...I had a sort of vision. A presentiment...a feeling of doom. Not for me...for you. For all women like you.
LISA: Women like me...?!
MRS. ANDERSEN: Women who give up their identities....their souls...the secret sweetness of their hearts. I saw in my mirror many women...of all sizes, all shapes. With kinky hair, with straight, with curly and short. With wide dark faces, narrow pale ones, and every sort of face in between...
LISA: You’re crazy...he never said you were crazy... [Mrs. Andersen takes Lisa by the wrist.] Let me go.
MRS. ANDERSEN: All these different, glorious women. And then came this mist, this fog. It covered them, every one. And it took their faces and made them all the same. And I was so afraid...so afraid. Because they were dead. They had given up their faces, their names...and now they were dead in that mist. And they were lost. As I was lost since I was fourteen.
LISA: I’m...I’m not faceless. You’re...just trying to get him back.
MRS. ANDERSEN: No. I want someone much more important back.
LISA: His money?
MRS. ANDERSEN: Don't be obtuse.
LISA: He's a great guy! He said you'd act all crazy and spooky...
MRS. ANDERSEN: What are you, twelve? Are you some twelve year old who believes everything a boy tells her? Everything? If you love me you'll do as I ask, as I demand with no giving back, with no giving back??!!
[Silence. Lisa stares determinedly away. Mrs. Andersen steps back toward the vegetables, fingers them.]
MRS. ANDERSON: Some day, it's going to be you here in my place, a name with nothing to it, looking at a young, stupid woman. Because it won't end with you. Jacob always tires of his new toys.
LISA: No. He tired of you! He got tired of your whiny, bitchy ways. That's what he said. He said you fooled him, that you weren't honest...
MRS. ANDERSEN: Of course I wasn't. What women is honest, ever, with a man? Can you imagine the horror if we told them what we really feel, what we really think?
LISA: He said...
MRS. ANDERSEN: He said, he said!! What about you? What do you say? [Lisa frowns. Mrs. Andersen approaches her.] You say nothing, is that it? His voice, never your voice. What he wants, what he needs. Always. I know. I know all about it...
LISA: What you know, lady, is that you've lost. You fucked up by not loving him enough. Jacob says he froze being in the same room with you.
MRS. ANDERSEN: Of course he did. I grew warm and he grew cold.
LISA: We're done talking or whatever this is.
MRS. ANDERSEN: Lisa. A confession. Admit what you did. Not what he did. What you did.
LISA: I told you already.
MRS. ANDERSEN: No. You mouthed what he wants you to say!!
LISA: He said you'd be like this. That you wouldn't understand.
[Silence. Mrs. Andersen starts laughing. Lisa ducks her head defensively.]
MRS. ANDERSEN: Do you know he cheated on his girlfriend with me? And he told me how understanding and nice I was, so much more understanding than her, the other twat in his life. That's what he called her-- the other twat. No name, just known by her one body part, which he had grown tired of. I was so flattered. Like you are. So glad that such a handsome man would ever look my way. So full of this grinning glad power that I had stolen him from a much prettier girl. Not allowing myself to know that I had not stolen him at all-- that he just needed a new hole. [Pause.] Women don't talk like this. Do we. We talk about feelings and love and the heart. We don't mention dicks or assholes or pussies. It's disgusting and disturbing for women to say such things-- for good girls to say such things.
LISA: You were his first girlfriend and first wife...
MRS. ANDERSEN: No. You're not listening. I wish you to be free. I wish y you to keep your cheerleader name. Because you won't last. He'll burn through you like a grass fire. You'll be ashes and tears by the time he's moved on.
LISA: He's not moving on. He is not ever moving on. You're so disgusting!
MRS. ANDERSEN: I am, I quite agree. You're already cracked about the edges, a dish with chipped edges. I can see it. He did that to you. Oh he didn't mean to, he probably really does love you or whatever he bothers to feel. [Pause.] I just wanted to warn you.
LISA: No...you wanted to be a total bitch. You wanted revenge because I make him happy and you don't...
MRS. ANDERSEN: Oh dear, were you speaking? You don't seem to have any lips. Or a face, for that matter. I feel so sorry for you. I really do. I hated you until someone pointed out who you were. And...since you're not leaving, some part of you knows...
LISA: I love him. He loves me. We are gonna have everything you never had ... including children.
MRS. ANDERSEN: You're pregnant?
LISA: Not yet.
Congratulations when you are. He likes his steaks fried with onions, there's some nice ones here still. You know, my dear Lisa...there've been others...besides you. And he promised them, too, he would leave me and marry them. How stupid...how stupid are you?
[Their eyes meet and lock. Lisa tosses her head.]
LISA: How stupid are you to stay?
MRS. ANDERSEN: I'm not. When he comes home from work tonight...he'll find his clothes in suitcases, his possessions neatly boxed up. I was going to burn everything, including the house. How expected. Goodbye, my dear. Goodbye, Mrs. Andersen, part two.
LISA: [Whispers this.] He's a wonderful man.
[Mrs. Andersen exits as Lisa stares after her. Blackout.]
Copyright © 2008 by Ann Wuehler
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