Sun, 5 Aug 2001

[Written during a marathon weekend of porno-clerking.]

THE UNTALENTED SALESMAN
A short play.

Dramatis personae:
a CLERK.
a CUSTOMER.

SCENE: A porno shop. The CUSTOMER is browsing among the racks of lingerie. The CLERK is sitting behind a counter nearby, reading a newspaper. The CUSTOMER approaches the counter holding a pair of latex underwear:

CUST: This latex underwear.

CLERK: Yes?

CUST: What is it for?

CLERK: I’m sorry?

CUST: What does it do?

CLERK: Do?

CUST: Yes, what does it do?

CLERK: Ah…I’m not sure…I mean, what, really, does anything do?

CUST: That’s true.

CLERK: I mean, what do I do? What do YOU do?

CUST: What I’m asking is, does it prolong your erection?

CLERK: Oh, I see. No, I don’t think it does.

CUST: Oh.

CLERK: I mean, I’m no expert, but…

CUST: …But?

CLERK: But I think, no.

CUST: Oh. That’s too bad.

CLERK: It is too bad.

CUST: Thank you.

The CUSTOMER returns the underwear to the lingerie section and resumes his browsing. The CLERK returns to his paper. After a few moments, the CUSTOMER approaches the counter once again.

CUST: What do women usually buy?

CLERK: What do you mean?

CUST: Which lingerie do they buy?

CLERK: Which lingerie…?

CUST: I mean, it’s usually women, right? Men don’t come in to buy this stuff.

CLERK: Well, oftentimes men buy lingerie. Other times, it is the women who buy the lingerie. You know, it can be one or the other.

CUST: So what is most popular?

CLERK: Uh…

CUST: Which lingerie is most popular with women, in your experience?

CLERK: Uh…let me join you in the lingerie section.

The CLERK emerges from behind the counter and together they walk over to the lingerie section. The CLERK shuffles through the items on the rack.

CLERK: Are you looking for something particular…?

CUST: What do you recommend?

CLERK: Uh. Are you shopping for somebody in particular?

CUST: Yeah, my girlfriend.

CLERK: Okay. So, do you know what she likes?

CUST: I don’t know.

The CLERK picks an item at random.

CLERK: Well, these, I think, might be fairly popular.

CUST: I see. Do those fit women of every size?

CLERK: (examining the label) It says ‘one size fits most’.

CUST: So would you say that would fit most women?

CLERK: I would say, assuming your girlfriend is of average size, it should fit, probably, unless she’s of larger size, in which case it might be a bit tight, or if she’s smaller, in which case, it could be a bit loose. It’s hard to say, really.

CUST: Well, she’s pretty average. But she’s big up top.

CLERK: So you might want to look for something a little looser on top. Otherwise she might find it a little tight. Around the…you know…the bust region.

CUST: Hmm. Yes, that’s true.

CLERK: Yes. (pause) But if you’re not sure that it will fit…

CUST: Yes?

CLERK: Then perhaps you should come back with your girlfriend and she can try it on in our changing room.

CUST: I don’t think she’d like to do that.

CLERK: Then it’s a gamble.

CUST: True. Well, I’ll think about it.

CLERK: That’s a good idea. I’ll just stand nearby and look busy.

The CLERK stands nearby and looks busy while the CUSTOMER continues to browse among the lingerie. Soon the CUSTOMER wanders over to the sex toy section. He pulls a dildo off the wall. He regards it with skepticism.

CUST: Excuse me.

CLERK: Yes?

CUST: Can you explain what this is?

CLERK: Perhaps. (he looks at it) It is a dildo.

CUST: Is it for lesbians?

CLERK: Is it?

CUST: Is that why the woman on the box cover has it strapped onto her thigh?

CLERK: That may be.

CUST: Is that what you’re supposed to do? Are you supposed to strap it to your thigh?

CLERK: According to the box cover, yes.

CUST: So is it only for lesbians?

CLERK: I’m not sure. Probably.

CUST: Oh.

Disappointed, the CUSTOMER returns the dildo to the wall where he found it. The CLERK is still looking busy. The CUSTOMER takes one final look around.

CUST: Well, thank you for your assistance.

CLERK: It’s been my pleasure.

CUST: I guess I can’t really find anything that my girlfriend would like.

CLERK: That’s too bad.

CUST: Yes, it is. I really wanted to buy something here today.

CLERK: Oh, well.

CUST: Perhaps some other time?

CLERK: Perhaps, perhaps not.

CUST: Yes. Well, goodbye.

CLERK: Have a nice day.

The CUSTOMER exits. The CLERK returns to his spot behind the counter and reads his newspaper.

***

THE SALESMAN WHO TAUGHT HIMSELF THE GREEK ALPHABET
Another short play.

Dramatis personae:
a CLERK.
his GUARDIAN ANGEL.

SCENE: A porno shop. The CLERK is behind the counter, reading from a thick book. Every few seconds he stops and writes something on a scrap of paper. Then he returns to the book.

His GUARDIAN ANGEL appears. The CLERK does not notice him.

The ANGEL stands unmoving for approximately seven minutes. The CLERK is still absorbed in his book. Finally, impatient, the ANGEL turns to leave. The CLERK finally sees him.

CLERK: Oh.

ANGEL: Hello.

CLERK: I didn’t see you there.

ANGEL: I’ve been standing here for approximately seven minutes.

CLERK: I’m sorry. Did you come to rent pornography from me?

ANGEL: Well, I very well might have, and what kind of customer would that make me?

CLERK: I don’t understand.

ANGEL: A dissatisfied customer. That’s what it would make me. Standing here for seven minutes, for heaven’s sake, unnoticed. What are you so absorbed in?

CLERK: It is a concise dictionary of classical mythology.

ANGEL: And what are you doing with the pen and paper?

CLERK: I’m teaching myself the Greek alphabet again. I used to know it, but I sort of lost it. So I thought I would teach it to myself again.

ANGEL: I see.

CLERK: So what I’m doing is, I’m flipping through the dictionary looking for the names of characters from Greek mythology, and then I’m writing out their names in the Greek alphabet. And then I look in the book to see if I’m correct – see? It has the actual Greek spelling in italics.

ANGEL: That’s very interesting.

CLERK: Yes it is.

ANGEL: And how are you doing?

CLERK: I keep getting omicron and omega mixed up. They seem to be used interchangeably, and I can’t quite make out when I should be using one
and when I should be using the other.

ANGEL: Ah.

CLERK: Also, epsilon and eta.

ANGEL: Yes.

CLERK: Do you know the Greek alphabet?

ANGEL: No.

CLERK: That’s a shame. It’s really very useful. For instance, at parties.

ANGEL: Ah?

CLERK: And for impressing girls, I find, it comes in very handy.

ANGEL: No doubt.

CLERK: But enough about me and my ongoing attempts to teach myself the Greek alphabet. How can I help you today?

ANGEL: You can answer me this question: Have you given any thought to how you are going to spend the next few years of your life?

CLERK: How do you mean?

ANGEL: Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?

CLERK: That’s an interesting question.

ANGEL: Well, you should think about it.

CLERK: Perhaps I should.

ANGEL: I think so.

CLERK: Why is it so important to you that I think about what I’m going to be doing in ten years’ time?

ANGEL: I’ll explain it to you, Michael. It’s because I’m your guar…

CLERK: Hold on a second, will you?

The CLERK goes to the CD player on the counter and removes the “Greatest Hits of Bing Crosby” CD which has been playing quietly in the background, and replaces it with a Belle & Sebastian CD. The ANGEL, meanwhile, is idly scanning the videos on display. The CLERK returns.

CLERK: I’m sorry about that. What were you saying?

ANGEL: Hmm? Oh, nothing. What do you need to get an account here?

CLERK: Either a credit card or a photo driver’s license and your social insurance card.

ANGEL: I don’t have my card but I know my number.

CLERK: I guess that’s all right. Just don’t tell my boss. He gets really mad about that.

ANGEL: All right. I’d like to rent this copy of “Rocco’s Best Butt Fucks”.

CLERK: Okay. That’ll be four dollars and fifty one cents.

The ANGEL pays. The CLERK puts his video in a bag and gives him his change.

CLERK: Thank you very much. Have a nice day.

ANGEL: Thank you.

The CLERK returns to his Greek studies. The ANGEL turns into a butterfly and floats out the door, which is open for some reason.

***

THE SALESMAN WHO WAS OBSESSED WITH KEVIN CHONG
Another short play.

Dramatis personae:
a CLERK.
the GLOBE & MAIL, Canada’s national newspaper, founded in 1844.

SCENE: A porno shop. The CLERK is seated behind the counter, reading the GLOBE & MAIL.

The GLOBE & MAIL suddenly comes to life.

GLOBE: (prancing around the store) Yaaah! I’ve come to life!

CLERK: My goodness.

GLOBE: (still prancing) Wahoo! It’s good to come to life!

CLERK: My gracious.

GLOBE: (done prancing) Well, now. How do you do?

CLERK: I’m mildly alarmed and confused. Why have you – Canada’s newspaper of record since 1844 – suddenly come to life here, in an obscure porn shop in a small city in western Canada? Why not come to life, for example, in Toronto, the city of your publication, and the unswerving nexus of your narrow outlook on national affairs?

GLOBE: Because I’ve come to harass you! Yaaah!

CLERK: Heavens.

GLOBE: Now, seriously. I’ve come to reinforce your insecurities by introducing you to a passage in myself which you might otherwise have missed. It’s in the “Books” section, through which, it has been my experience, you often skim without really paying attention to what you are reading.

CLERK: Do I?

GLOBE: Admit it. Canadian literature bores you to death.

CLERK: No, no. I’m very concerned about women and immigrants and landscapes and things.

GLOBE: Here. Let me flip myself to page D9.

The GLOBE & MAIL flips itself to page D9 and lies spread-eagled on the counter in front of the CLERK.

CLERK: (averts his eyes) Cover yourself!

GLOBE: Don’t be timid. Look at the story on the right-hand side of me.

CLERK: (still averting) Your right hand side or my right hand side?

GLOBE: Don’t be such a prude. You were openly caressing my pages a few moments ago, before I came to life. Now, look!

CLERK: (looking) What, this story on Antoine de Saint Exupery, the internationally-beloved author of “The Little Prince”?

GLOBE: Yes, that’s the one. Read on.

CLERK: Hmm…some clues have recently surfaced that may shed light on his mysterious disappearance flying reconnaissance over the Mediterranean during World War II.

GLOBE: Yes, yes.

CLERK: A bracelet was found in the waters off Marseilles…it is engraved with the names ‘Antoine’ and ‘Consuelo’…the first names of the author and his wife.

GLOBE: Read on.

CLERK: Let’s see…a few paragraphs on Saint Exupery’s continuing popularity in France…his portrait is on the 50-franc note…an airport in Lyons was named after him…”The Little Prince” was voted the greatest book of the millennium by the French public…

GLOBE: The greatest French book, or the greatest book, period?

CLERK: The article doesn’t say…it’s rather vague…looks like the whole story was assembled after a few minutes of hasty internet research.

GLOBE: Any other general impressions?

CLERK: Could’ve used some additional proofreading…sentences could be rewritten…ending lacks punch…the French spelling ‘Marseille’ is pretentiously, or perhaps accidentally, deployed in lieu of the English ‘Marseilles’.

GLOBE: So what do you think?

CLERK: I don’t know. What am I supposed to think?

GLOBE: Did you glance at the byline?

CLERK: Why would an article this inconsequential carry a byline? Surely it was put together by some intern in order to fill column inches that otherwise would have been dedicated to deconstructing Earle Birney’s grocery lists.

GLOBE: No, it has a byline. Look, look!

The CLERK looks. He gasps.

CLERK: Kevin Chong!

GLOBE: Now do you see?

CLERK: The author of this article is Kevin Chong! My arch-nemesis! The playwright who parlayed his fourth-place finish in the teen playwriting contest I won seven years ago into a literary career!

GLOBE: Yes! He is the author of this flimsy piece on Antoine de Saint Exupery!

CLERK: He was paid money to write this!

GLOBE: The devious scoundrel.

CLERK: He probably received in excess of one hundred dollars to compose these paltry, gramatically-unsound sentences!

GLOBE: How much were you paid to work fourteen consecutive hours at the porno shop?

CLERK: Six dollars and forty cents an hour.

GLOBE: Meanwhile Kevin Chong eats caviar in his penthouse apartment and talks on his cell phone to his agent and picks up cute girls at the
local Starbucks by casually mentioning that he is a published author.

CLERK: Curse his name! Curse his family! Curse the seed from which he sprang!

GLOBE: You tell ‘im!

CLERK: Gaarh!

The CLERK tears at his hair and gnashes his teeth. The GLOBE & MAIL dances around the store, cheerfully disordering the merchandise on the shelves.

The CLERK removes his shirt and flagellates himself with a twelve-inch dildo. The GLOBE & MAIL sets fire to the store.

The CLERK gouges out his eyes and wanders moaning onto Idylwyld Drive, where he is flattened by a pickup truck. The GLOBE & MAIL spins crazily off into the center of the universe, collapses into a black hole, and sucks four thousand constellations into the whirling abyss of its relentlessly Toronto-centric news coverage.

THE END.

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