THE END OF CIVILITY
by Nancy Ellen Row
A SCENE FOR TWO WOMEN
FIRST PART OF SCENE IS MONOLOGUE GIVEN BY GOOD NEIGHBOR, STANDING CENTER STAGE, ADDRESSED TO AUDIENCE. BITCH COW BAD NEIGHBOR (BC) COMES IN MIDWAY THROUGH SCENE.
GOOD NEIGHBOR: It was bound to happen. After months of hearing my Bitch Cow neighbor -- BC, lets call her criticize my parenting skills, saying things like "She's not in charge over there, you know" -- "she" being my 3-year-old -- yell at our friends for parking on the street in front of her house, complain about my gardening skills???, and yell at my sister for daring to walk up our shared driveway to get to my backyard, I was so goddamn beyond fed up. So when BC called on the phone bright and early one morning to tell me she'd dumped Weed 'N Feed all over our shared scrap of lawn along the driveway, and to keep my kid and dog away from the driveway and the yard... At first, I did my usual, "Uh-huh, OK, then, neighbor" and hung up.
Then I realized the incident where she yelled at my sister had happened just two days earlier, and this was payback of some sort, for having "an intruder" visit. Whereas BC, who has no friends, has no visitors. I got a little pissed, counted to 10 -- thats a mom's trick and planned out what I would say. Then I called her back -- and it sped downhill from there.
The second conversation went something like this (GOOD NEIGHBOR picks up phone and dials; enter BAD NEIGHBOR, stage left, answering phone.)
GOOD NEIGHBOR: "If you put out Round-Up again, will you please not put it on our lawn?"
BC (screaming): "IT WASN'T ROUND-UP, IT WAS WEED 'N FEED!"
GOOD NEIGHBOR (all civility gone, screaming back): Whatever! (Calms down.) Will you please not?
BC: I was just trying to be NICE, but that's obviously not very easy with you! What do you care? Your daughter never leaves the house, anyway. Next time I'll just put it on my half. It's all our grass anyway.
GOOD NEIGHBOR (to audience): OK -- I'll spare you the she said/she said shit. No, I wont. For the record, my daughter sometimes leaves the house. For the record, BC doesnt own that strip of grass, dammit. We looked it up with the city. We do. (Looks back at BC.)
BC: Next time I just won't tell you! I was just trying to be decent. (She stomps off stage.)
GOOD NEIGHBOR (to audience): No, if she was being decent, she would've asked me before she dumped toxic crap all over the lawn. I know, its not super toxic, its only a little toxic, right? No matter -- my blood pressure soared. Suddenly, I remembered something crucial -- I had a copy of their housekeys! (Pulls them from her pocket and waves them triumphantly.)
I thought of making 10 copies of them and leaving them around town, with BCs address attached. I reconsidered, once I thought of the harm she, her lizard-rearing teenage son, and her contentious 90-year-old mother, who lives with them, could inflict on a poor, helpless burglar. The smell of mothballs and lizard shit alone could cause some serious Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. My daughter was playing at a neighbors house, so I marched over to BCs.
(GOOD NEIGHBOR bangs on door. BC, inside the house, refuses to answer. GOOD NEIGHBOR, keeps banging on door and refuses to leave.)
BC (talking through door): What do you want? (GOOD NEIGHBOR dangles the keys.)
BC: Give me those! (Tries to grab them from GOOD NEIGHBORS hand, who refuses to hand them over.)
GOOD NEIGHBOR (to audience): Years of experience. Ive had a lot of drunk friends.
GOOD NEIGHBOR: Y'know, you could do a lot worse than us as neighbors.
BC: My mother says she has never had neighbors like you guys.
GOOD NEIGHBOR (aside to audience): You ever heard that jump-rope rhyme?
My mother and your mother were hanging out clothes/
my mother punched your mother right in the nose/
what color was the blood?/
red/green/purple/blah blah blah.
Besides, her mother hates everyone -- but she loves us. She told me. I kinda like the old bat. She bakes brownies for my daughter all the time. They taste like mothballs.
GOOD NEIGHBOR (sticking out her tongue at BC): What I want, is for us to be decent neighbors to each other. Do you want that?
BC: Look at you!
GOOD NEIGHBOR: Do. You. Want. That. Or. Not?
GOOD NEIGHBOR: Well then, I know where we stand. I'm over there (points to her house), you're over here, and you can just stay the hell out of my way.
BC: Fine then.
GOOD NEIGHBOR: All I am asking is that you not dump pesticides on the little tiny bit of grass that we share, OK? I don't like my kid and dog around them."
BC: I said, FINE THEN.
GOOD NEIGHBOR (with a huge, fakey, West Coast smile): Rilly? I mean, rilly? Because THAT WOULD BE FUCKING GREAT! (GOOD NEIGHBOR throws keys at BCs feet, who grabs them up and slams door.)
GOOD NEIGHBOR (to audience): Honestly, its never good to be on bad terms with your neighbors. Dont talk to them in the first place and avoid the problem.
(Copyright 2003, Nancy Ellen Row)THIS SCRIPT IS COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL AND MAY NOT BE DOWNLOADED, TRANSMITTED, PRINTED OR PERFORMED WITHOUT THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR
Performed by Janet VanWess and Theodora Knight.