SAUTEED GROUSE WITH PEACH BALSAMIC (A play in one scene)

The setting a leafy patio, lunchtime. The cast six gardeners and a rarely seen waiter.

 ANNA: I started a new job last month, a brand new garden, just installed on Potrero Hill. My client is so proud of it. She thinks it’s paradise. You can practically see the blueprint skids.

JASON: Hot tub?

ANNA: Of course. And lawn.

FARO: The drought does not pertain.

ANNA: Does it pertain anywhere in San Francisco? The only place I see it does is the median strip on Sunset Boulevard, and the neighbors are outraged.

TONY: You won’t believe what I saw yesterday. A guy washing his car.

JASON: That’s not unusual.

TONY: His car was parked on the opposite side of the street from his house, and he was standing on the sidewalk shooting water over the street.

UNISON: What an idiot.

MARCIA: I’m not doing a thing different in any of my gardens as far as watering. Are you?

FARO: Not much. But I think I should be.

JASON: That’s my spiritual practice too. I think I should be.

ANNA; I told my client right off I don’t take care of lawns. Guess what I was doing yesterday? Weed-whacking the frickin lawn.

UNISON: Why?

ANNA: She’s gone to Bali for a yoga retreat.

UNISON: Groans.

KATHERINE: Why did you take it on? Why don’t you quit?

ANNA: You know how it is, when you work for yourself you take on everything.

TONY: Work for yourself. Great concept.

JASON: I don’t. I’m selective. There’s plenty of work out there.

KATHERINE (to Anna): Do you like the client?

ANNA: She’s very nice.

JASON: I might be nice if I had a hot tub in my garden.

TONY: That’s doubtful.

ANNA: While she’s away she asked me to put three bromine tablets in the hot tub and something called oxidizing shock and then run the jets. (to Jason) It made me wonder if I’ll ever want to sit in a hot tub again.

FARO: You’re taking care of the hot tub too?

ANNA: I know, it’s ridiculous.

KATHERINE: We all do things we hate.

JASON: Like what?

KATHERINE: Trim boxwood. Pick up after the dog. Blow leaves.

ANNA & FARO: (putting fingers in ears) No, no, no, I don’t want to hear it. There is no excuse for using a blower. Ever. Blowers are evil.

JASON: Like you’ve never been tempted?

TONY: I haven’t. (to Anna) Yesterday while you were grass-whacking I was weeding a sidewalk garden on Precita when the neighbor comes out and starts blowing leaves toward the gutter, and you know he has to blow every goddam leaf. Every goddam smidgeon of every goddam leaf. Such a lovely morning and I’m immediately in a rage. I see clouds of fine dust descending all around me. I give him my death stare.

JASON: Your deadly death stare.

TONY: He doesn’t stop. I guess because it’s electric it’s okay. Finally I couldn’t stand it and walked over and said, “You’re blowing dust all over everything. Would you stop?” I even offered to sweep the sidewalk myself. I demonstrated my broom. He said, “I have to do this. Nothing else gets it clean.” And kept on.

UNISON: You eviscerated him, I hope.

KATHERINE: It would have been justifiable.

TONY: I didn’t do anything, just like I didn’t call out the guy showering his car. Whenever I get in a confrontation I feel worse after than when it began. I wish I had a different personality.

JASON: We all do, dear.

KATHERINE: Would stop picking on each other? Just because you’re boyfriends doesn’t make it fun to listen to.

JASON: I’m joking. He can take it.

MARCIA: So Anna, hot tub and lawn aside, is there anything you like about the garden?

ANNA: I liked it at first. It was very tasteful and orderly, kind of like seeing someone’s tidy closet when yours is a perpetual disaster. Then you find out what it takes, the personality traits, to be so orderly. It turns out the garden has all kinds of issues: the ferns are in too much sun, it’s got about six too many pittosporums, there are blackberries sprouting, and worst of all, bindweed popping up everywhere. What can you do about bindweed?

UNISON: Aaaagggghhhhh. Abandon hope.

FARO: When I was a kid, when my Dad plowed a field he would stop the tractor and grab a gunny sack and throw salt on every patch of bindweed he came across.

MARCIA: Did it kill it?

FARO: It stunted it. But nothing else ever grew in those spots as long as he had his land, probably still not.

TONY: Destroying the village to save it.

FARO: Yep.

KATHERINE: What’s the matter with pittosporum? I thought it was a good choice. It’s drought tolerant.

JASON: Bambino. Pittosporum is hellbent to be a hedge or topiary, no matter what your original bright idea was. Too fast, too big, too hard to prune. General rule.

KATHERINE: Farming and gardening, you’re always battling something. Right now my big enemies are squirrels, gophers and thrips. And whiteflies. Where did all the whiteflies come from? Anybody got some easy solutions?

General silence.

TONY: Monsanto will figure out something.

General hissing.

ANNA: One other thing, the garden has a firepit, a big concrete thing with chunks of colored glass on the bottom. I can’t figure out what is the point, to sit around and gaze at a gas fire? What’s wrong with HBO?

JASON: Firepits are de rigueur. Essential for the new urbanite.

KATHERINE: And so are stainless steel outdoor grills. Preferably the size of a lunar module.

FARO: And for the toddler who will never be allowed to get near the filthy thing after the first month, a massive plastic play structure.

MARCIA: And for the eco-conscious solar lights that last six months and then are bundled and put in the garbage or left strewn about the garden.

TONY: Are any solar lights worthwhile?

General silence.

WAITER: Are you ready to order?

KATHERINE: Has anyone looked at the menu?

JASON: I know what I want.

ANNA: They only have two vegan gluten-free options.

MARCIA: Only two? What kind of place is this? I’m ravenous.

UNISON: Me, too.

FARO: I love our gardener lunches. They cheer me up.

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One response to “SAUTEED GROUSE WITH PEACH BALSAMIC (A play in one scene)

  1. Oh, well. Tough life!

    Joanne Gillis

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