Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Give Blood (An Excerpt from "The Safety Net")

(JUSTIN is staring at a girl sitting in a bulky blue recliner chair used for donating blood. Her name is JACKIE. She's filling out a form on a clipboard. There is a similar chair nearby. His dialogue is primarily to the audience.)

Everybody's good at something. Everybody has a talent. No matter our story, no matter our circumstance, no matter our history, there will always be something that we can do that works to our advantage. Anyone who tells you that they're not good at anything is a liar. Anyone who says that they have no talent is only begging for a fool to come along and massage their ego. It's a simple fact that every person in this world can do something better than most others can and to question this simple truth is a waste of time. For better or worse, everybody's good at something, and I'm proud to announce that I can give blood.

Giving blood is the one thing I'm good at. I'm young, I'm healthy. I don't mind needles. I don't mind nurses asking me personal questions about my high-risk activities. No, I've never vacationed in Rwanda or Mozambique. No, I haven't been sharing needles with prostitutes who specialize in gangbangs at the county jail. No, I haven't been involved in any sexual activity with a man since 1977. Seeing as Brad Pitt won't return my phone calls and I'm a masochist who enjoys jumping through hoops for the opposite sex, why should I make my sex life easier? (Pause) I'm good at giving blood, so when I passed by the university blood drive on a Thursday afternoon in November, I decided to take a seat and fill out the form.

That's when I noticed this girl. (Points at Jackie.) Here's another thing I'm good at: my radar's always on. I'm always looking for attraction and chemistry and everything that comes with it. I'm searching for possibility; I'm keeping myself open to the idea that there is a girl in Room 833. (Pause) You see, I don't want to be content with what I have in life. In fact, I have no real interest in settling for the guidelines of a traditional relationship. Did I forget to mention that I'm good at being remarkably selfish and inherently self-destructive? Well, I am. I'm also fiercely independent and I'll be damned if I'm going to let opportunity pass me by. Although I am in a serious long-term relationship that is pretty much contingent upon great sex, I'm still not satisfied. I can't be. I'm young and horny and incredibly eager to add several hundred notches to the bedpost before I start looking like something the cat dragged in and these girls start equating financial security with sexual attraction.

So, while I still have the chance, I'm looking for a mistress. I'm interested in finding a high-heeled hurricane who'll give me a call in the dead of night just to tell me that she misses my tongue. And while I'm at it, I'm also in the mood for a bisexual nymphomaniac who wouldn't mind entertaining me and my girlfriend. Does this make me a bad boyfriend? Yes . . . but I'm not going to pretend that I'm the catch of a lifetime. I'm not. In all honesty, I know what I'm capable of, and I don't care what anyone else thinks of my desire to pleasure many attractive women.

I'm telling you all this because I'm also really good at analyzing the extremes. I'm really good at finding my limits without ever testing them. Would I take part in casual sex? Sure . . . who wouldn't? But is it what I really desire? (Shakes head.) No. I'm happy to say that I've never warmed to the idea of intercourse as a second-rate hobby. I don't believe it's right to abuse lust with emotional vacancy. I'm not scanning these girls because I'm looking for a quick release of endorphines and a hasty retreat at sunrise. What's the point in intimacy if there's no real craving to be intimate? What's the point in cheating if you don't feel any guilt? Our entire lives are based around simple perfunctory tasks that require so little thought yet so much time. Why in the hell should we start relating sex to washing dishes or brushing our teeth? Why would we deny ourselves the gauntlet of emotions that we should experience with someone between the sheets? Why would we want to stifle the excitement, the frustration, the wonder, the anxiety, the exhilaration . . . the . . . the absolute terror that we experience during these wonderfully awkward moments of intimacy?

These are the thoughts that swim through my head when I'm trying to gather enough courage to introduce myself to this girl. Before I forget, I'd like to mention that I'm good at being my own worst enemy. I'm especially good at psyching myself out with relentless self-deprecation. My so-called conscience -- that little condescending, know-it-all sonofabitch in the back of my head -- is always the first in line to assume the worst. What was supposed to be a simple exercise in the art of seduction has now become an epic struggle between what I want and what I fear. Think about it. I have absolutely nothing to lose by saying hello to this girl, but by now I'm so afraid of rejection that I'm practically paralyzed. And although I would like to introduce myself as a charming, intelligent and overall captivating young man whom she'd like to fuck and then take home to meet her parents, I'm already aware that I'll most likely sound like a complete boob who talks too fast and can't annunciate properly because he's so damn nervous.

(Begins pacing the floor frantically.)

You see, this is becoming a psychosis. What the hell is wrong with me? Why is it so difficult to work up the nerve to talk to a girl? I'm twenty-one years old and I still can't understand why I torture myself with worst-case scenarios! It's only a girl! It's a girl who doesn't even know I exist! How could she possibly hate me? How could she be offended by my advances if I haven't even made a move? Why am I making this so difficult?

(Extremely frustrated. Ranting to himself.)

Damnit, Velander, you're running out of time! Do something! Knock off this bullshit! Get her attention! Tell her you're an idiot! Tell her that you're smitten! Tell her that your mind is in the gutter! Ask her if she'd be attracted to a pervert! Ask her if she needs a pool boy! Say anything! Open your fucking mouth and take a fucking chance!

(JUSTIN hops into the empty seat and looks at JACKIE. He smiles nervously.)


JACKIE: (looks at JUSTIN)

Um, donate blood often?

Excuse me?

Uh . . . (nervous laugh, wider smile) I said, 'Donate blood often?'

Hmmm. You know what?


JACKIE: (smiles)
I do.

That's great!

Yeah . . . I'd have to say it's the one thing I'm good at.

JUSTIN: (looks at audience)
No kidding?

(Lights dim)


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