by Bryce Hooton
As I breathe in the stuffy air of the small, dingy, off-off-Broadway theater, my nostrils are filled with decades of crushed dreams, misguided passion and at least 2 instances of un-simulated, onstage sexual intercourse. I then settle into my rigid, painfully straight-backed table chair that has no business being in a theater with its deflated, lumpy cushion and wobbly legs. It’s fine though. I’ll only be stuck here for 3 hours. Nothing my chiropractor can’t fix tomorrow when I can barely get out of bed.
Finally. The audience hushes. The lights dim to inky blackness. The theater becomes a silent womb for a new story to begin anew. In this mute, impenetrable darkness of anticipation, someone begins to snore.
Behold. The lights slowly brighten to reveal two thespians, a man and woman, sitting cross-legged onstage, bathed in the too-intense beam of a low hanging spotlight. They play two strangers—soon to be lovers, no doubt—talking on a beach. I know they’re on a beach because of the lapping wave soundtrack playing on the dusty old CD player in the back corner. Unfortunately, I am no longer listening to the surely well-crafted dialogue as my eyes have locked onto something unsettling. Something distended. Something peeking out at me from within the dark forbidding opening of the actor’s short shorts. I squint my eyes to focus. I am staring at his nut sack.
The first act passes almost too quickly. I have a loose grasp on the realistically awkward and idealistic beginnings of the characters’ budding relationship, but the damage is done. From this point on, I’m attending a completely different play. A deeper play. A play where I have become an unwilling character, caught in a perverse, meta performance set within the second stage of the actor’s short shorts.
The third scene in the second act throws me back into this sinister sex organ subplot as the actor once again waltzes onstage in his short shorts. Now, regarding these shorts, I forgot to mention that this play takes place in the 70s, so one must understand the importance of wearing the authentic garb of the era. I cannot fault him for this, but he really should wear some underwear.
He arrives in what is supposed to be a living room, sadly played by a broken, crusty couch that looks like it reeks of stale beer and possibly urine. He sits down in a huff, legs closed, thank the Lord. The girlfriend, now fiancé, storms in yelling at him. He yells back, slightly spreading his legs in consternation. It is just enough. A pink oval gonad slowly creeps out, eyeless, yet staring into my soul. ‘Where is this foul story going?’ I quietly whisper to myself.
With utmost subtlety, I glance at nearby audience members. No one returns my questioning gaze. Do they not see this sneaky sack? Are they not privy to this strange and perverse b-story unraveling in which the “b” stands for balls? If so, I cannot tell.
At long last, I’ve reached the final act. My lower back screams in hellish torment from spending hours in this infernal chair. My mind is scarred from several more impromptu scrotal sneak attacks. The gentle droning from the mysterious snorer in the audience indicates that he has finally reached REM sleep. Lucky fool. What fresh hell will these final lights reveal upon this cursed stage?
With a dangerously loud ‘ka-chunk’, the lights go up revealing a lone folding chair amidst the stark floorboards. The actor morosely shuffles onstage—oh Jesus God, he’s back in his short shorts again—and defeatedly plops down upon the ill-fated seat. Without fail, his flaccid nards make their final, dastardly appearance, peeking at me just past the polyester cuff of his shorts. Meanwhile, the actor recites a gut wrenching final monologue, but I am too distracted to hear. The snoring man in the back reaches a triumphant crescendo. The lights fade to black. At least 3 people clap with vigorous enthusiasm. I rub my temples in the darkness.
As I depart the filthy little theater in a woeful daze, I try to replay the events of the play in my head—sans scrotum—to make sense of it all. What did it mean? What was the point of it? And come to think of it, what was the name of it? It seems my mind is already beginning the process of blocking traumatic memories. Then I stop and slowly look up at the flickering, unevenly lettered marquee to read the title. It is a title that will surely haunt me for the rest of my days. It read simply:
Bryce is a writer of humor and a writer of ads. On a good day he'll do both at the same time. When he's not slinging words, he's planning out his next culinary conquest for www.expensiveturds.wordpress.com. He lives in NYC.