copyright © 2001 Lee Moyer

Owning Up

By Lee Moyer

A piece for No Shame Theatre

Written 11/10 - Performed 11/16/01


If you’re like me, you can be just a little bit excessive.

…Did I say excessive? I meant obsessive. Same thing really.

You don’t 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 can’t let go of.

Can’t let out of your clutches.

I mean, you’re only human aren’t you?

You hear something once and maybe, well, maybe that’s it.

I mean, you need it. You hear it and boom- you’ve got to have it.

Maybe it’s a taste, a perfume, a painting.

Maybe it’s a statue, a song, a TV serial. Anything.

With me, as you must have already guessed, it’s the music of Stephen Sondheim.

No, I’m 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. I’ll bring them and play them like they’re going out of style. But thanks to Sondheim, they never will. Not with me.

With you dear, despite our certain similarities, it’s probably something different. Maybe you’re 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, it’s our OWN isn’t it? It’s our own. We own it!

And I suppose, in a way, it owns us back.

It’s a bit fetishistic really, isn’t it?

Have you thought about ownership love? I mean really thought about it? Do you have all of Sir Andrew’s works?

Yes, I thought as much.

In your country there’s a saying that "The Grass is always greener on the other side of the street", and that’s a piece of it… yes, but it doesn’t tell the story. I might be more apt to say "I’ve owned this bit of turf for years and now it’s 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…

What’s 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 can’t. 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, must’ve played it 80 - 90 times, and though I sang along every time, I didn’t 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. They’ve 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 wouldn’t even think to look in. No, not any more… Sondheim and I have seen to that.

I mean I’m just lucky that Sondheim is still with us. I… I sometimes think if he dies, I’ll lose all hope. I can’t own all the Sondheim now, because he’s not all done, is he?

The complete collection remains mercifully incomplete. There’s 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 isn’t coming back. He’s lost the low spark of his high-heeled boy now, hasn’t he? There’s 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. He’ll 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 I’m 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, aren’t you are just the little darling to help me out like this?

Why do I love Sondheim so much? I think it’s 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, don’t 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?

Very well.

I’ve read every interview your Uncle Steve has ever granted. I’ve seen the Last of Sheila 47 times. He has a quirky and subtle wit, but I know his little secret. We both do, don’t we?

If he didn’t have a little secret like you just…LAYING…about, I’m sure his work wouldn’t speak to me in quite the same way. We’d have less in common, wouldn’t we?

So, let’s 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?

Don’t worry, I’ll let him speak to you dear. Perhaps I’ll even let you speak to him…

Or maybe not.

I do believe it’s time for a new piece. Something special. Something nice. Something… that speaks to me. After all, Uncle Steve won’t last forever will he? I’ve seen his future…

And when he’s gone, I’ll need something of my own, won’t I.

Something of my OWN…













"Owning Up" debuted November 16, 2001.

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