Time: The present, late afternoon
At rise: A circle of people sitting in chairs is center stage. Betty prepares to speak at her support group session and is handed a microphone.
Betty: Thanks for giving me a chance to speak. Today, I’m bringing more than just doughnuts and depressive feelings to this group. I’ll get right to it. I was asked to speak at Mike Campbell’s memorial service. As you know, I’ve spoken a lot about Mike before. He seems to come up quite a bit, especially when I try to understand my frequent depressive moods.
At first I didn’t want to speak at his memorial. But the more I thought about it, I decided I should do it. Now, I’m thinking maybe I shouldn’t do it. I’m really conflicted, so I brought it here.
Some of you are new to the group, so let me bring you up to date. Mike was my first boss. He helped me a lot and became a great friend and mentor. Loved the guy! Maybe a bit too much. We had an affair.
A great job opportunity presented itself and I applied for it. Felt it was time to leave the nest. Mike was very supportive and said he would write me an excellent letter of recommendation.
I didn’t get the job. Found out later that Mike had written me a shitty letter of recommendation. I was shocked and filled with fear and anxiety. Looks like Mike wanted to keep me in his nest forever. I was shocked, but I never told Mike that I knew what he had done. This had quite an impact on my life.
So, I stayed and never tried to leave again. The affair ended, but with Mike’s continued mentoring, I achieved great success. I never confronted him … afraid of what damage might be done. I was married at the time and my husband was deployed overseas in the military.
I could never understand why I was always so unhappy when I was doing so well. Seems like I’ve always had difficulty enjoying my success.
So, when Mike died and I was asked to speak at his memorial, it seemed like the right thing to do. But, the more I think about it, the more hesitant I am.
Yes, Mike helped me achieve a lot. But, you know, my involvement with him killed a small part of me. I’ll never know how I could have prospered somewhere else. I’ll never know how good I could have been on my own, away from him.
You know, if I speak at his memorial, I’m condoning all his inappropriate behaviors. If I praise him, I’m in a sense forgiving him. The more I think about it, screw both! I really don’t want to eulogize him at all. You know, I think he took advantage of me!
(Betty stops speaking and seems to think about what she has just said. After a very brief pause, Betty continues.)
Now that I think about it, how can I praise that prick? And, like, why should I? No, I just don’t think I should … and no, I’m not going to! I will not eulogize that manipulative predator! It’s all suddenly so very clear!
Wow! … Why do I suddenly feel so much lighter? Well, I think I’m having a breakthrough! Mike, you no good bastard!
(A hand reaches over to take the microphone. Betty pulls the microphone away from it.)
Not now, Martha! The microphone is still mine. Remember our group motto: “One microphone, one diva.” Well, it’s still my turn. Besides, I already know what you’re going to say about when someone hands you a lemon, make lemonade. Well, too much lemonade gives me mouth sores.
And put your hand down, Roger. And screw you and your speech about forgiveness. My forgiving Mike only validates that bastard’s behaviors.
Oh, for God’s sake. Natalie, put your goddamn hand down too! I don’t want to hear about your dilemma with the glass being half empty or half full. Take my advice and pour that little fucker into a smaller glass! Poof! Problem solved!
What’s wrong with you people? I’m trying to share and you all keep trying to hijack my time. Well, I’ve had just about enough of this bullshit!
Come to think of it, this group has steered me in the wrong direction for quite some time. This group is just another nest offering false security.
I can’t believe how good I suddenly feel. Yet, I’m also very angry! But, suddenly, the anger seems to be disappearing. Oh my God, this is definitely a breakthrough! It’s amazing! I don’t want to let this feeling go.
Here, take the damn microphone. I’m flying out of his goddamn nest. Enjoy the doughnuts, because I won’t be bringing anymore.
Whoa! I don’t know what just happened, but I feel fantastic!
There’s an inner calm and peace that’s starting to take over. I feel like I want to cry. Is that what happiness feels like? I love it!
(Betty sighs, collects herself, and becomes very calm. She takes out a tissue and dabs the tears starting to form in her eyes. As she faces the group, a big smile appears on her face.)
Is it ok if I bring bagels next time?
(Fade to black)
Joseph Gorczynski taught psychology for 35 years at the College of New Jersey. Since retirement he has studied at HB Studio and the Dramatists Guild Institute in New York. His short play, “Exit Papers,” was produced at HB Studio.