a short play
(written in one night)

It's 2AM in the kind of small college town where people come to maybe learn something but mostly to just get away, and end up staying way after school because it is just that much cooler than where they're from. We are in a small apartment decorated sparsely, but pretty cool.

Four twenty-somethings enter. They are: FORD and ABBY, a couple and residents of the apartment, and ISSAC and FRANCESCA, another couple. They all start to take off their jackets and sit as they talk.

FRANCESCA: Man, that band was cool.

ISAAC: Yeah. They were great. Very cool.

FORD: I love that band. That guitarist!

FRANCESCA: Oh yeah! Yeah! Man, he was all- (She plays air guitar and makes guitar noises.)

ISAAC: Right! And then he was all- (He also plays air guitar and makes noises.)

FORD: And the drummer! He was sitting back there all… sitting there all cool.

FRANCESCA: Yeah! He was like- (She makes drums noises and plays air drums.)

FORD: Totally! All- (He makes drums noises and plays air drums.)

ISAAC: Yeah! And the singer! He was going all- (He grabs an air mic and sings random cool notes.)

FRANCESCA: Hell yeah. All- (She grabs an air mic and also sings random cool notes.)

FORD: Yeah!

ABBY: And the bassist! He was like- (She plays air bass and makes bass noises. Everyone just stares at her. She eventually stops.)


FRANCESCA: Yeah, not really.

ABBY: What?

FORD: He wasn't very cool, baby.

ABBY: Really. I thought he was all-

FORD: Not really.


FORD: You guys want something to drink?

ISAAC: Sure. I'll have a beer.

ABBY: I'll have wine.

FRANCESCA: What are you having, Ford?

FORD: Nothing. (he sits)

ISAAC: Yeah, you know what. I don't want anything either.

FRANCESCA: Yeah, me neither.

FORD: (to Abby) Baby?

ABBY: Uh, I'll have wine.

ISAAC: (to Ford) Did you stop drinking or something?

FORD: No. I just don't feel like having anything.

ISAAC: I hear you. Me neither.


FORD: I danced really hard at the club.

FRANCESCA: We were all dancing pretty hard. I might have hurt something in my leg with all the dancing.

ISAAC: Yeah, you were dancing something fierce.

FRANCESCA: I was. I was dancing my fucking ass off.

FORD: Yeah. We were all dancing our fucking asses off.

FRANCESCA: It was cool.

ISAAC: It was cool.

FORD: Definitely.

ABBY: Yeah. I had a really good time.

The conversation suddenly stops. Silence. Everyone is very at peace with the silence. Very comfortable. Some smile, thinking really cool private thoughts. However, Abby is tense. She looks around, a minor panic growing.

ABBY: Hey! You guys want to play a game?


FORD: Naw.

ABBY: Uh, alright.

FRANCESCA: Oh, speaking of my mother-in-law.

Everyone is instantly rapt. Abby is a bit confused but goes along.

FRANCESCA: So we're meeting her for the first time. I must be, what, sixteen.

ISAAC: Really?


FORD: Cool.

FRANCESCA: Yeah. And so we meet her and… (she laughs) She looks exactly like Rhea Perlman.

FORD: From Cheers!

FRANCESCA: Right. From Cheers. And we're supposed to be polite and welcome her into the fold and all. So we go out to dinner or some shit, and in the middle of dinner, I started singing the Cheers theme. And my dad told me to shut up but I didn't. I just kept right on signing louder. And she's getting bummed, you know, because she knows she looks like Rhea Perlman. Well, the place was like a Sizzler or some shit, and it's festive, and this was at the height of the show's popularity -- pretty soon the whole restaurant is singing, "Making your way in the world today, takes everything you've got!"


FRANCESCA: (laughing) Yes!

ISAAC: That's fucking cool. I never heard this story.

FRANCESCA: And she was so upset, she ran out of the restaurant…

FORD: Cool.

FRANCESCA: …And she got hit by a car.

FORD: No way!

FRANCESCA: Yeah! (Suddenly solemn.) But my dad married her anyway. Even though she's in a wheelchair and looks like Rhea Perlman.


FRANCESCA: (she starts lightly crying) Dad's such a great man.

FORD: He is. He's a really great man.

FRANCESCA: (she puts a finger to her eye and shows everyone a tear) I'm sorry. It's just very emotional.

ISAAC: That story reminds me of my own mortality. And my sense of right and wrong and the circle of life and the nature of true love.


FORD: If Abby was run over by a car, I would like to think I'd stick with her.

ABBY: Awwww.

FORD: But I wouldn't, because I don't have the strength of character that your dad has. What a great man.

ABBY: Hey.

ISAAC: And what great daughter. You care so much. You care so much. (He stands, overcome.) You are so fucking cool!

FORD: (he stands too) You are. So cool. I'm humbled by how cool you are.

ABBY: You really are, Francesca. That's such a sad story. I remember one time-

ISAAC: (cutting Abby off; to Francesca) Sometimes when you sleep, I just stare at you. I stare at you while you sleep, thinking this thought: "She is fucking cool as fuck."


FORD: I look at you all the time and think that. I do. You make me want to be a cooler person.

ABBY: (a bit less enthusiastic) You are, Francesca. You are so sweet and… cool.

FRANCESCA: Yeah. Thanks, guys.

ISAAC: Sometimes I watch you sleep and I want to take a Sharpie and write things on you. I want to write things like, "This girl is what fucking cool looks like." Or, "Is anyone cooler than me? Are you fucking kidding? No!" Or just, "Cool."


ISAAC: I sometimes stand up at night because the coolness lying next to me is too much. And I dance.

FRANCESCA: You dance?

ISAAC: I do! I dance. I dance in celebration of your coolness. Watch me.

Isaac goes to the stereo. Fat Man Scoop's, "Who Fuckin' Tonight?" plays.

Isaac is dancing in the middle of the room. The others watch, stare. He eventually goes over to the stereo and turns it off. He sits down.

Wordlessly, Ford stands up. He claps, slowly. He is moved. Truly moved.

FORD: Oh. Oh. Oh my god. That was. That was. I'm… I have to leave. (He leaves. After a beat, he comes back in.) Isaac. I just have to say, you are… I have to leave again. (He leaves again. After a beat he reappears.) Cool. Cool. That's was. The way you. I'm just. Bravo. Bravo, sir! Cool. Fucking cool, this one.

ABBY: That was good. You are a good dancer.

FRANCESCA: Baby. I'm awed. I am awed. The way you move. The way you dance and celebrate life. You dance and life is celebrated from here to Australia even. Asians in Asia felt that. A butterfly in Mongolia fluttered in the wind of your coolness just now.

ISAAC: (matter of fact) Mongolia.

FORD: Fucking Inner Mongolia.

FRANCESCA: You say you watch me sleeping and think I'm cool? When you're gone from the house, I lick your books because you read them. I caress your toothbrush because you brushed with it. I put your clothes on and sit on the floor just so perhaps a tiny molecule of your coolness will rub off onto me. When you make love to me I see fire and I hear angles weeping and I just lie back and let do me over and over and over and I just think one word. "Cool."

ISAAC: Yeah.

FORD: I'm going to go get a beer.

ISAAC: I'd love one.


ABBY: Um, I'll have some wine.

Ford goes to get drinks.

ABBY: (she goes to the bookcase) Hey, you guys wanna see something neat? Have you seen these sand dollars we collected on the beach a couple winters ago?


ABBY: Yeah. We went down to Ford's mom's place in South Carolina and it was so cold but I'd heard about these amazing sand dollars they had and we searched all night looking for them but couldn't find them. We eventually stopped and that's when we first said out loud that we loved each other. And by then the sun was coming up all around us where we stood and hugged… and there they were. All around us. They were everywhere. In five minutes we had way too many to carry, so we just took a few. Aren't they pretty?

FRANCESCA: (she doesn't get up) That's neat.

ISAAC: Hey, what ever happened to that new dollar we were supposed to get? The gold coin? We heard all this hype about it, but then, nothing.

FRANCESCA: I have one! Look. (She takes it out. Isaac huddles in close to look.)

ISAAC: Wow. It's beautiful.

FRANCESCA: Isn't it. And look at the sweet little Indian girl on it.

ISAAC: It's pretty.

FRANCESCA: It's really cool.

ISAAC: Yeah.

Abby sits down as the phone rings. Ford comes in, puts the drinks down, and answers it.

FORD: (into phone) Hello? Who? Tammy? No, Tammy doesn't live here. Yes, I'm sure. You know, maybe next time you make a phone call you should check to make sure you calling the right number, Incorrecty McDialer.

He hangs up. Francesca and Isaac immediately fall to the floor, laughing. Ford busts up too. Abby is very confused.

FRANCESCA: You called him Incorrecty McDialer!

ISAAC: Oh. My. God.

FORD: Yeah. You should have heard him, all, "What?"

They all laugh, anew.

ISAAC: (when he regains control; still laughing) That was so cool.

ABBY: Oh, c'mon!

FRANCESCA: That was the coolest. Ford, you are so funny.

FORD: Yeah.

ISAAC: You wound me with your funniness on the phone all the time. I want to hurt myself physically with a sharp object, you are so cool.

FRANCESCA: Super-cool.

ISAAC: (he goes to Ford) Can I rest my hand against your chest, so I might somehow feel the coolness pumping through your cool-ass heart?

FRANCESCA: There's cool, Ford. There's really cool. Then there's fucking cool. And then there's you looking down on all of it and being like, "Pshaw."

ABBY: (resigned) You are cool, baby.

FORD: (to Francesca and Isaac) You guys. Thanks. It was pretty cool.

FRANCESCA: See that wall over there. I would slam my head into that wall if you wanted me to, that's how fucking cool you are.

ISAAC: (taking out his cell phone) You know what? I'm erasing you from my speed-dial because I don't deserve to be your friend, you're just that goddamn motherfucking titty-sucking cool.

FORD: Word.

They all take their drinks and sit down. Beat.

FRANCESCA: (getting up) Well, okay.

ISAAC: (also getting up) We're out of here.

FRANCESCA: Thanks for a great night, you guys.

FORD: Later.

They head for the door. An indignant Abby stops them.

ABBY: Wait!

They stop.

ABBY: You're leaving?


FORD: (cheerfully) Bye, guys!

ABBY: What about me? We all said how cool Francesca is and then everyone said how cool Isaac is and then how cool Ford is.

ISAAC: Yeah?

ABBY: But what about me? It's my turn. Tell me how cool I am!

Pause. Isaac, Ford, and Francesca look at each other.

FRANCESCA: But you're not cool.

ABBY: I'm not! I'm not cool!?

ISAAC: Not really.


FORD: You're cute, though.

ISAAC: Yeah.

FRANCESCA: Very cute.

ABBY: Wait. Bullshit. I'm cool. I'm really cool. Everyone thinks I'm cool.

ISAAC: No they don't.

ABBY: They don't?


ABBY: But-


ABBY: But-


ABBY: I am. I am! I'm cool. I know I am. Some people think I'm very cool.

FRANCESCA: Look, people are either cool or they aren't cool.

FORD: It's not subjective.

ABBY: Of course it is.

ISAAC: No it's not.

FRANCESCA: We'll quiz you.

FORD: We'll name people, you make the call. Cool or not cool.

ABBY: Okay.


ABBY: Cool.


ISAAC: Goldie Hawn.

ABBY: Not cool.


FORD: David Copperfield.

ABBY: Not cool.


FRANCESCA: Fred Astaire.

ABBY: Cool.


ISAAC: Chef Boyardee.

ABBY: I don't know. Cool.


FORD: Jamie Farr.

ABBY: Not cool.


FRANCESCA: Lee Ioccoca.

ABBY: Not cool.


ISAAC: President Martin Van Buren.

ABBY: Cool.

They are briefly taken aback.

FRANCESCA: Lucky guess.

ISAAC: The point is, if one doesn't know what cool is, how can one be cool oneself?

FRANCESCA: Oh baby, you said that so well.

ISAAC: Yeah. Thanks.

FRANCESCA: You're so cool.

ISAAC: You're the cool.

They start making out.

ISAAC: (to Ford) You mind if we use your laundry room for a minute?

FORD: Go ahead.


They exit, making out furiously. Abby watches them leave, dumbfounded. Ford comes up behind her and slides his arms around her.

FORD: Don't worry about it, baby. We already told you you're cute.

ABBY: (getting away from him) I don't get it. I'm not cool? You're all cool but I'm not cool? Then I don't understand. I don't understand it! Why don't I have it? Is it clothes? I wear cool clothes. I wear thongs for chrissakes! Black ones. And not for you, for me. (She is getting more and more exasperated, pacing around the apartment furiously.)

FORD: Be careful, honey.

ABBY: I curse. I say, "Fuck" sometimes and I lean back when I sit down. I slump. I do! I smoke. Cool people smoke. I do what I want to do when I want to. I'm independent. I pay my own bills. That's cool. "Throw your hands up at me?" See? I listen to cool music.

FORD: Honey, be careful.

ABBY: I'm nice and I love you and care about you but not in a way that takes away who I am as a modern, independent woman. I can beat you in most video games and I'm interesting and I like to party and drink. (Really going now.) I once slept with two guys at the same time and I didn't even know one of their names! I cut classes in college and smoked weed. I dropped acid eight times! I wear a leather jacket! I'm cool! I'm very cool!

FORD: Honey!

ABBY: But you say I'm not cool so if that's not cool, if that's not cool then I guess I just don't fucking know what fucking cool is!!!

She very abruptly falls to the ground, out cold.

Isaac and Francesca enter.

FRANCESCA: What was that?

ISAAC: (he sees Abby) Woah.

FORD: (trying to gently rouse Abby) This happens sometimes when she gets too excited. Abby? Baby? Wake up. (explaining) She has a touch of narcolepsy.

ISAAC: No kidding.


ABBY: (waking up) Wha? Oh. Oh. (She gets up, woozy.) Oh. Sorry.

FORD: Here, sit.

Abby sits, still a little dazed.

ISAAC: That was incredible.

FRANCESCA: I've never seen anything like it.

FORD: Are you OK?

ABBY: Yeah.

FRANCESCA: That was amazing!

ISAAC: Man, can you do it again?

ABBY: Do it again? (pause; reason slowly overtakes her) Do it- You know what? You guys can go fuck yourselves. You want me to do it again? Fuck you all.

FRANCESCA: No, really, you just fall asleep? That's awesome!

ABBY: Man. I've been worrying for so long what you guys thought of me, but I don't care anymore. You guys are stupid and petty and retarded and I don't give a crap what you think. Forget it.

ISAAC: Goddamn, I can't get over that.

ABBY: Yeah, whatever. I'm going to bed. (She heads for the bedroom.)

ISAAC: Really, that's was so cool.

At "cool," Abby stops dead.

ABBY: Cool?

FRANCESCA: Yeah. That's the fucking coolest. You're so cool.

ISAAC: Yeah. Totally. You're coolness is sudden but scary and intense. That's goddamn cool.

ABBY: You think that was cool? You think I'm cool?

FRANCESCA: We don't "think" you're cool. You are cool. You the coolest girl on the planet.

FORD: That was pretty cool when you think about it, baby.

ABBY: I'm cool because of that? I'm really cool?

ISAAC: Yes, you're so cool. Do it again.

Pause. Abby is conflicted. Pause. Pause.

ABBY: Okay!

She runs around the room, getting herself worked up. Everyone watches in awe. Suddenly, again, she drops to the ground. Out.

Francesca and Isaac are beside themselves.


ISAAC: Awesome!

Ford wakes Abby quickly this time. She stands awkwardly, but smiling.

FRANCESCA: That's so fucking cool!

ISAAC: It's even cooler that I imagined! You are so cool.

ABBY: Yeah?

FORD: Yeah.

ABBY: (proudly) Yeah.

FRANCESCA: I'm cool too. Watch. (She starts talking tearfully about her father as before.)

FORD: Yeah, I'm cool too. (He grabs the phone and starts making jokes.)

ISAAC: Yeah! I'm cool too. (He turns on the music and starts dancing as before.)

Abby watches, and then starts running around, passing out. She gets back up. Everyone continues their action, repeating, "I'm cool!" "We're all cool." "I'm so cool!" Etc.

The lights fade.


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