This week, we are bringing you the winning entries from our Lonely Hearts Club Writing Contest.
Our final entry comes from Misty, who responded to the prompt, “Would you ever swear off dating for the rest of high school/college? How do you think it would play out?”
Here is Misty’s entry:
Yes, swear off dating, for the rest of college, yes. I’ll do one better: I’ll swear them off entirely until I’ve landed my first Broadway show. I’m ready to give up the tingly flap of butterfly wings and any long phone conversations with deep, velvety voices because even a drama major, such as myself, deserves to have less drama in her relationship than the one I ended last week.
Ted, who has the perfectly wrong name for a flamboyant stage actor, made a play for my ex-boyfriend, Ricardo. Wait. Not that kind of play. A real play, with casting and props and lighting. We’re all drama majors in the same classes at Walden University.
Ricardo is a behind-the-scenes guy, with what I used to think was a brilliant eye and ear for directing. When Ted got the go-ahead from a local theater to use their facility, it didn’t matter that it was available on a Thursday night, in the sweltering center of August, without any air conditioning. Ted had written a play that he wanted Ricardo to direct and we celebrated the idea of this being the bud of our careers and the first of our many fames, as we contacted all the local papers and invited everyone we had ever known and hung up a thousand fliers.
It was a little cart-before-horse, sure, but once Ted gave us the lines, Ricardo got right down to highlighting and sticky-noting and hammering out decisions. The three of us had recruited Warren, a fellow prop guy, to construct our stage and background and we had a zillion ideas for wardrobe. Jug, a lighting geek who’d done tons of high school musicals already, came on board for the wage of a candy bar. Everybody we knew in the drama department wanted in. Any fifteen minutes of fame, thrown into a pool of drama majors, turns the water into a vicious, feeding frenzy.
The play itself was familiar, almost cliché, until the end. It was a medieval story of two women,- the first being the gorgeous miller’s wife named Shadori, who didn’t properly appreciate her knight-by-night husband who Robin-Hooded for orphans. The other woman was a haggard fishwife, with less than a third of Shadori’s lines. The fishwife is in love with the miller/knight but is so hideously ugly that he ends up slaying her as she tries to catch his eye. The stupid miller/knight ends up with Shadori, who dumps him for being shallow.
Everything was moving along right up to casting. Ricardo had made it seem fair, by opening the auditions to everyone we knew, which was the entire drama department. It was obvious and substantiated with gossip that I’d be getting the lead but Ricardo wanted to play it out professionally. The only concession he allowed was letting me read for Shadori first.
I bit my nails for a week before the casting sheet went up.
He teased me about being nervous.
And he picked Grace Puhgson for Shadori. Pug-face Grace is what we called her. WE. Called HER.
Ricardo cast me as the fishwife. I don’t even know what her name was in the play. I didn’t care. Once I read Ricardo’s casting picks, I flung myself behind the wheel of my Cavalier and gunned it out of the college theater’s parking lot. I didn’t care if he’d come with me. He could catch a ride, wherever he was going from now on, with Pug-face-Grace-Shadori.
We haven’t talked since, although I’ve gotten a thousand phone calls from Ricardo. They started out with him trying to pacify me.
“Honey, you will knock them…” Click.
“Annie, don’t hang up…” Click.
“You’re the only one that I knew could get into the head of the fish…” Click.
“The show must…” Click.
“You’re being really…” Click.
“This is so unprofess…” Click.
“You’re acting like a spoiled…” Click. That’s when I turned off my phone and stuffed it in the bottom of my purse.
I was probably everything Ricardo said about me and I didn’t care. Nobody understands what it is like to be chosen as an ugly fishwife by your own boyfriend. It’s unbearable, going back to classes with everybody whispering about how your boyfriend picked someone else for the lead in his play. My best friend, Nakita, told me that my blazing pain and searing anger are valuable additions to my emotional toolbox.
The only one who sympathized with me at all was Ted, who made Ricardo’s directing debut dependent on Ted’s landing the lead as the miller/knight. Ted told me he thought Ricardo’s directing power was going to his head. He said he’d been thinking it for a long time and he said he was glad that I’d turned down the fishwife because there was no way he could kill me, even if it was on stage. In fact, he said he’d been working on a surprise re-write for the ending that he might pop on Ricardo at the first show, just as a way of helping me get my revenge. He said it would be a whole new twist that I’ll like even though I told him I’m not looking for revenge. I’m just looking not to be somebody’s fishwife.
And that was right when Ted made a play for me. A real one. He put his arm around my shoulder and his lips way too close to mine. Ugh.
Enough is enough.
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