Monday, October 5, 2009

From the Back of the File Cabinet

(I was going through some old files tonight and found this. It's a one act play I wrote in a creative writing class a while back. In the interest of going to bed early, I am posting this instead of thinking of a new topic.)

First Impressions are Lasting

Cast: Sharon

The Benifield chapter of the ‘Daughters of the American Revolution’

Sharon’s naughty kitty

Fred, Sharon’s husband

Concept: Sharon is giving a luncheon for some guests whom she wants to impress. When she goes into the kitchen to get her lobster Newburg, which she had just placed on the counter, she discovers that the cat has started eating it. She is dismayed, but she puts the cat outside and sprinkles a little cheese on top of the casserole and sticks it under the broiler for a minute. She then serves the dish. About halfway through the dinner she notices through the dining room window that the cat seems to be having convulsions out in the driveway.

Setting: The dining room and kitchen of her slightly shabby turn of the century Victorian painted lady. A luncheon is being given by Sharon, a “Daughters of the American Revolution” want-to-be.

Dining room: The table is impeccably set with her old china and lace tablecloth. There is a triple bank of windows behind the table that looks out onto the driveway of the family home. A swinging door connects the dining room and the kitchen. The front door is to the far right.

Kitchen: Messy, dishes are piled in the sink, cabinets hang open, her cookbook is spread on the countertop. A steaming casserole dish sits on top of the stove.


SHARON: (talking on the phone in hushed tones): Tammy, the Benifield

chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution is actually sitting at my dining

room table, as we speak. Keep your fingers crossed for me. I am so nervous! … Okay,

I’ll calm down. Gotta run. Wish me luck.. (replaces the receiver, then talking to her

Kitty who is spread out in the sun by backdoor) Kitty, this is only the most important luncheon of my life. No one is anyone in this stuffy little town without these women’s nod of approval. (whispers to herself): Please God don’t let me trip and spill salad in anyone’s lap. (she takes the casserole out of the oven hurriedly and places it on the stovetop, smoothes her hair back, takes a deep breath, picks up the salad bowl and sails into the dining room.

(Dining Room)

Four ladies sit stiffly around the table talking in quiet tones to one another. There is a

hush of anticipation as Sharon enters.)

SHARON: Ladies, I hope you like Caesar Salad. I made the dressing myself.

PRETENTIOUS SNOB: My dear, I certainly hope you didn’t use raw eggs. You have heard that they can harbor salmonella bacteria, haven’t you? (accusing tone)

POMPOUS LADY: Oh, yes, yes, precisely why you should never attempt to prepare

homemade dressings. Too much room for error.

PROUD MATRON: Well, dear ladies, we will just have to hope for the best today,

won’t we?. ( she helps herself to a small portion and passes the bowl)

PRIM SOCIALITE: (changing the subject) So Sharon, we are interested to know why

you think you would make a good addition to our little social group. That is, if you have

the proper credentials, of course. You do have the documentation to prove that you have

a direct male ancestor who participated in our Glorious Revolution?

SHARON: (choking on a mouthful of salad, then stuttering) I..I..I am sure

that I would be an excellent addition because I…I …I …my family can trace our lineage

all the way back to Thomas Irving Whistlewath. He fought at Saratoga with Benedict

Arnold…you know, before he turned traitor, …Arnold, that is.

PRETENTIOUS SNOB: (sniffing) Humph.

SHARON: I’ll just go out to the kitchen and get our main course. (hesitantly)

It’s Lobster Newburg. (she quickly slips from the room, looking relieved to be



(Her hand covering her mouth, she silently screams when she sees the cat standing on top of the counter nibbling at the casserole. She grabs him and tosses him out the backdoor swiftly.) What am I going to do now? (lowly moans, thinks for a moment, then takes cheese from the refrigerator and grates enough to lightly cover the top of the nibbled food. She tosses the dish into the oven to melt the cheese.) I’ll never pull this off . What was I thinking inviting these crusty old hoity toity types to my house? (mutters as she removes the dish from the oven and moves towards the dining room door.)

(Dining Room)

PROUD MATRON: (sniffing) Mmmmm, your casserole smells exquisite, my dear.

SHARON: (sighs in relief, sinks into her chair, and passes the dish) Oh, thank you! Actually, you may be interested to know that this is an old family recipe, handed down for 5or 6 generations. We treasure our New England Whistlewath heritage.

PRETENTIOUS SNOB: Yes, back to the reason for our tete-a-tete with you today dear… You want to join our little club. You do understand that certain social obligations are expected of you as a Daughter, don’t you?

SHARON: Well….what exactly do you mean?

PRIM SOCIALITE: You must learn to mix with others of your own kind. It would be better if you weren’t seen with that friend of yours. What’s her name…Tamera?

SHARON: (shocked) What in the world is wrong with Tammy?

POMPOUS LADY: Sharon, surely you can tell that she wouldn’t fit in with our group. She has the audacity to be proud of the fact that her grandfather fought against the repeal of prohibition. He was a bootlegger, pure and simple. Why, the whole town can recite stories about the bathtub gin that he sold. Made all his money that way. You have to be careful of their kind.

SHARON: (protesting) But, that was almost 70 years ago and Tammy can’t help who her grandparents were.

PROUD MATRON: That is a pity isn’t it, but it doesn’t change a thing. We, Daughters, have to be ever vigilant to protect our reputations.

(Sharon glances out the dining room window and sees the cat in the driveway, who seems to be having a convulsion.)

SHARON: Excuse me ladies, I just remembered that I didn’t turn off the oven! (runs from the room)


SHARON: (dialing the phone) I think I poisoned us! Tammy, tell me what to do! (pause as she listens) What is wrong? Everything! (taking a deep breath) I caught Kitty eating my Lobster Newburg….I didn’t know what to do, so I put cheese on it and served it anyway. Now, Kitty is out on the driveway having convulsions. Tell me what to do! (imploringly) Syrup of Ipecac? (looking through cabinets) Yes, I have it. Feed them a dose of it? Why? And, how? (reading from the label) In cases of poisoning, administer ipecac to induce vomiting. Okay, I have to do it, but my guess is that after today, I can kiss my chances of getting in the Daughters goodbye! Yes, I’ll let you know how everything comes out. Very funny! You know, they were right when they said that you aren’t potential Daughters material. But, you sure are more fun to be around! Thanks. (hangs up the phone)

(Hurriedly brews a pot of spiced tea, while arranging cups on a tray, then pours a portion of ipecac in each cup, next fills them with the tea. Enters the dining room with the tray.)

(Dining Room)

SHARON: Ladies, I have to insist that you each try a cup of my special spiced tea. I am willing to wager that it is like nothing you have ever had before.

(The ladies sip their tea, and almost right away they begin to look sick.)

PRIM SOCIALITE: (hand on her stomach) I hate to have to run, but I just thought of something urgent the I have to do. (standing)

(the other three ladies rise in unison)

POMPOUS LADY: Yes, I must be going also!

PRETENTIOUS SNOB: Dear, I am sure that you will hear from us soon.

SHARON: (agreeing) Yes, I am sure I will


(All four women rush from the house nearly knocking down Fred, Sharon’s husband, as he arrives home)

FRED: How did it go, hon? Do you think you were impressive enough for the snobby old bats?

SHARON: Oh, I am sure that this will be a day they will never forget, if we live through it, that is.

FRED: Want to tell me what that means?

SHARON: Did you see the cat as you came in? She was having a seizure a few minutes ago.

FRED: Yes, I wanted to tell you about her earlier, but you were so busy I thought it could wait. I took her to the vet this morning. He says she will be perfectly fine in a few days. We are to watch her carefully, give her some medicine that I just picked up and otherwise treat her normally. He thinks that she may have some sort of cat virus that has been going around.

SHARON: (sinks to the floor and begins giggling hysterically) Fred, the Benifield chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will never forget this luncheon. In fact, I am sure this will be “a date which will live in infamy,” in their minds. Ugh, I’m not feeling so good myself. (she runs from the room, holding her hand over her mouth. Fred looks puzzled, then shrugs and shakes his head)



  1. I have no idea what that red and blue thing is in the middle of the post. Therefore, I have no idea how to get it out. I guess we'll call it the band that came to dinner or luncheon in this instance. Please ignore it.

  2. You wrote this? Wow, I am impressed. I think it is very difficult to write a play, to have different characters speaking and engaging in a dialog.
    First I thought you tried to divide the section of the play with the red band.;)

  3. I think this would make an excellent short story .. loved all your set design and stage direction asides

  4. great writing - I was absorbed into it

  5. this is wonderfully written and a delightful read!! bravo for you!!

  6. I can see this being a Carol Burnett skit from her show days. Ha ha. So funny!

  7. Your play was fun to read, Stevie! I love the characters... I've met a few DAR's!

  8. Mom, just saw your new header, LOVE IT. You did a great job!

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