By Lee Moyer
A piece for No Shame Theatre
Written 11/10 - Performed 11/16/01
If youre like me, you can be just a little bit excessive.
Did I say excessive? I meant obsessive. Same thing really.
You dont want to own up, to come clean, but I know you are.
Maybe not about the small things, maybe not about the large things, but there are some things you just cant let go of.
Cant let out of your clutches.
I mean, youre only human arent you?
You hear something once and maybe, well, maybe thats it.
I mean, you need it. You hear it and boom- youve got to have it.
Maybe its a taste, a perfume, a painting.
Maybe its a statue, a song, a TV serial. Anything.
With me, as you must have already guessed, its the music of Stephen Sondheim.
No, Im not one of those queens that loves Liza, or Bette, or Julie Andrews unconditionally...
I have a condition.
Put them all on the soundtrack of a Sondheim play, and then . Only then will I bring the old girls round. Ill bring them and play them like theyre going out of style. But thanks to Sondheim, they never will. Not with me.
With you dear, despite our certain similarities, its probably something different. Maybe youre a Gershwin fan. Maybe you dig Charlie Mingus. Maybe its Jim Bloody Steinman or god forbid- Andrew Lloyd ah yes. I see. Andrew Lloyd Webber is it?.
(sings) "M i d - n I g h t" blech.
Some pleasures are, of course, guiltier than others.
Whatever it is, we bring it home, and we obsess.
We fawn over it, pet it, clutch it to our breasts, devour it.
And then well, its our OWN isnt it? Its our own. We own it!
And I suppose, in a way, it owns us back.
Its a bit fetishistic really, isnt it?
Have you thought about ownership love? I mean really thought about it? Do you have all of Sir Andrews works?
Yes, I thought as much.
In your country theres a saying that "The Grass is always greener on the other side of the street", and thats a piece of it yes, but it doesnt tell the story. I might be more apt to say "Ive owned this bit of turf for years and now its getting a bit old. It might be nice to own a bit of yours too. You know, go for the whole collection".
A lot of wars probably start that way
Whats wrong with me?
Why do I need to own things anyway?
I long to hear "Company" as if it were the very first time. But I cant. I bloody own it and my own all-consuming passion for it gets in my way- Numbs me to its charms.
I had it on all week, mustve played it 80 - 90 times, and though I sang along every time, I didnt really love it enough. Not in that pure way, and I miss that purity, that religious purity.
I take it for granted now. I suppose we all do.
I know the neighbors do.
They all hate me of course, but why should I care?
They never take any interest in anything I do any more. Theyve heard West Side Story drifting down the street a million times over by now. I could have a heart attack- I could go stark raving mad and break everything in the house, and they wouldnt even think to look in. No, not any more Sondheim and I have seen to that.
I mean Im just lucky that Sondheim is still with us. I I sometimes think if he dies, Ill lose all hope. I cant own all the Sondheim now, because hes not all done, is he?
The complete collection remains mercifully incomplete. Theres more to come, and that is the sweetest feeling in the world- that anticip ation.
Imagine being the poor bastard who owns all the Queen albums and Barcelona, and that bloody Highlander soundtrack... Everything there is to get hold of, but dear dead Freddie isnt coming back. Hes lost the low spark of his high-heeled boy now, hasnt he? Theres nothing left for him to hope for, is there? I mean, every time he plays Bicycle Race or Seven Seas of Rye, it comes back to him more and more distant negligible. More a private soundtrack and less the arresting, affecting Aria he fell in love with and brought home to mother...
And one day, it will just disappear into the background of his desperate life. Hell be forced to do something rash- sign up for French Foreign Legion or the new Survivor just because he needs to leave dear Freddie behind for a while- a trial separation. But oh, oh the joy when he comes back and finds Freddie, his Freddie, waiting just for him!
But Im not going to be that poor bastard now, am I?
No. I. Am. Not.
And that brings us round to you.
I need to own things, collect things. I think that should be clear to both of us by now. And you, arent you are just the little darling to help me out like this?
Why do I love Sondheim so much? I think its because, in addition to his vast musical gifts, he understands me, the real me. The real deep down, obsessive me. The first time I heard Sweeney Todd, Oh my!
That sweet and succulent Little Priest "Those up above will serve those down below".
I mean that song was written with me in mind, dont you think?
I think Sond Oh, is this distressing you? My Sondheim-this and Sondheim-that? Is it perhaps just a little too familiar for you? Too disrespectful? Alright.
What do you call him then?
Uncle Steve is it?
Ive read every interview your Uncle Steve has ever granted. Ive seen the Last of Sheila 47 times. He has a quirky and subtle wit, but I know his little secret. We both do, dont we?
If he didnt have a little secret like you just LAYING about, Im sure his work wouldnt speak to me in quite the same way. Wed have less in common, wouldnt we?
So, lets go through this once again, my new best little friend.
Whatever are we going to tell Uncle Steve when we get him on the phone?
Dont worry, Ill let him speak to you dear. Perhaps Ill even let you speak to him
Or maybe not.
I do believe its time for a new piece. Something special. Something nice. Something that speaks to me. After all, Uncle Steve wont last forever will he? Ive seen his future
And when hes gone, Ill need something of my own, wont I.
Something of my OWN
"Owning Up" IS COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL AND MAY NOT BE DOWNLOADED, TRANSMITTED, PRINTED OR PERFORMED WITHOUT THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR
"Owning Up" debuted November 16, 2001.