Monday, May 6, 2013

Special Powers

Special Powers 

For Mothers and Daughters  

all of whom have Special Powers


       
Light falls from above on four women standing in a straight line, single file upstage to downstage at center.  There is a grey Queen Anne chair set up stage left, a saffron yellow minimalist Scandinavian Knoll chair upstage right, a purple chaise lounge down right, and a miniature burgundy papa-san chair down left.  
The last woman in line is elderly, around 74, with silver-grey hair pinned up.  She wears black gaucho length slacks and a loose white shirt with Keds.  She carries a tray of small seedlings and seed packets.   The second from the last woman is in her late 60’s with short hair and wears a more colorful but similar rendition of the clothes worn by the lady behind her, and tennis shoes.  There is a wicker wash basket at her feet. The third from the last is in her 40’s,(but resisting it) dressed in flare jeans, red T-shirt, jewelry, short cropped hair and no shoes.   And the first is a 9-11 year old girl, hair long and loose, dressed similarly to the second woman but blazing in colors, again no shoes. She is Puckishly prone to invading the personal space of others by holding hands, leaning in, putting her arm around shoulders etc.   
The girl begins…and as she does, the other women reach to each other and clasp hands, and travel to their chairs carrying their things… Music fades.

VICTORIA
There’s something that ticks me off about fairy tales.  I mean, why don’t girls in fairy tales have Mothers?  Did you notice that Cinderella got the short stick and ended up with an evil stepmother?  Where’s her real Mother?  And the Little Mermaid, Ariel, was being raised by her Father and no Mom? Not that it’s a bad thing. Daddies are really great! But in fairy tales, it’s the same with Belle, Pocahontas, Rapunzel, and Snow White.  Dead Moms.  Think about it! 
My Mom says that …
             
 VICTORIA & LIN 
(Together)
…in the old days, women often died in childbirth, so it makes sense that Moms were written out of the tales...                              
                       VICTORIA
   
(Holding up her hand to make a point) 
Well, that’s one idea, but here’s what I think about why all those fairy tale girls didn’t get to have their Moms in the picture…The people who came up with the stories probably knew Moms were a little too powerful and would use their special Mom skills against evil so nothing bad would happen.  Then, where’s the story? 
 
I think they could’ve done much better, though.  See, if they added in the Moms, they would’ve added the Special Powers every Mommy has. Special Powers are those things that Moms do naturally but seem so magical when they happen. So fairy tales could’ve been much better stories!
People who know about Special Powers think they’re genetic.  And MamaLo, my Grandma, says the gift is linked to the X chramasso –chromasim – 

LOIS
-  Chromosome....

VICTORIA
…gene. If you are lucky enough to be born a girl, you get it at birth.  Mom says some guy named Jack London wrote about it.  It’s called…
        
      LOIS     VERDA      LIN      VICTORIA
(In concert) 
Genetic   Genetic   Genetic   Genetic
          memory    memory    memory    memory

VICTORIA
In easy to understand terms, basically you get a nice library of all your ancestor Mom’s memories. It probably goes all the way back to when our ancestors lived in caves, so it’s been building up over a long time…
   
LOIS
(With glee)  All that DNA combining and recombining adding more and more magic…
VICTORIA
…but my Mom and MamaLo can remember best as far back as Great Grandma Verda …
VERDA
That would be me. 
VICTORIA
…who, even though she said she didn’t, had what we call Special Powers.
LOIS
(Victoria steps aside, but never is without some kind of physical contact with one of the ladies.) 
My Mother, Verda Fern Mize, could grow any flower, vegetable, and plant that she put her mind to growing.  Even her name was earthy meaning, loosely, green fern corn.  The minute the frosts passed in rural Illinois, she would till up her dirt patch into neat rows and plant…
                         
                     LOIS & VERDA
…corn, tomatoes, chiles, zinnias, zucchini, onions, pole beans, water melons, you name it.
   
VERDA
Yes, I could grow corn the size of small logs and tomatoes as big as your head. Oh those tomatoes were mellow on a BLT in the summertime!   I grew so much zucchini one time, I had to put it in bags and sneak it onto my neighbors doorsteps in the middle of the night like orphan children just to get rid of it!
LOIS
And I mean it when I say put her mind to it…She would walk out early in the morning still wearing her silky nightgown and stroll down the long rows of her garden, barefoot, and just talk and sing “How Great Thou Art” and “Amazing Grace.”  Her voice could get living things to grow…She could just look at her garden thinking good thoughts on their behalf and all the plants would just wiggle in anticipation of growing.  That was her Special Power. 
 
VERDA
Oh hogwash, my Special Power was sheep poop…

LOIS
Here I am pointing out the best things about you and you say it’s poop?
VERDA
No, Lo, I used sheep poop for fertilizer! Horse and cow manure just didn’t have the punch!  I’d just go down to the sheep farm and load some bags with fresh sheep droppings, take ‘em home, and spread it around.  You might say I could really shovel the…well you know what I mean!    By the way, all this Special mind powers stuff is not Christian…
VICTORIA
So with Great Grandma Verda’s Special Powers, nobody in fairy tales would starve, there would be no famine, and nobody’s daughter would have to be a servant to an evil king or troll or something just to get food. See my point?

LIN
And I know personally that the Powers flow along down the maternal line…I remember a moment at Grandma Verda’s graveside…
VERDA
I am right here!  What’s all this about gravesides...

LIN
…I was carrying Victoria in my belly. I suppose there’s nothing sadder than a pregnant woman saying goodbye to her kin at graveside.  So, I guess to cheer me up, my Dad said that Verda would carry on in Victoria, like a spirit stowaway for my daughter. He clinched it right then and there.
   
      VICTORIA                     VERDA
I look like her.             She looks like me.

LIN
And you’re stubborn like her. 
        
     VERDA                    VICTORIA
        
         Good!                    Fine with me!
LIN
Now Lois, my Mom, can ball up her Special Powers and unleash them in sprints.  Lois’s Special Power is…Drum roll please because it must be dramatic… a voracious appetite for adventure! 
LOIS
I can’t resist a good road trip. 

VERDA
I’m taking some credit here.  That’s how she became known as “Lois the Linen Lady” at antique shows.  She’s come visit me and we’d run around the Illinois country side to estate sales.  For pennies we’d buy crates of mildewed junk from people’s attics and mine out pure gold from them.  I taught her how to clean up and mend those antique linens as new looking as the day they were created and sell ‘em for money.  Good business and her own cash to spend. 

LOIS
Tried to do the business on EBay and that’s for the birds. Computers are possessed in my opinion.   I like antique fairs…More people, close up and personal.  People watching is my guilty pleasure…But having my own money is what it’s all about.  Then I can do what I really like...

VICTORIA
Go to Cherokee and play the slots?  C’mon, Wild Cherry!

LOIS
Victoria!  You said you wouldn’t tell!
   
LIN
Every day is an adventure for Mom and she infects us all. One time, Dad had a fishing trip with his friends and when she saw that stinking bass boat leave the driveway, Lois bundled me and my brothers into the wood-paneled family cruiser station wagon and we toured Florida’s hot spots…Ringling Museum, Silver Springs, Cypress Gardens, Miami Seaquarium, The Keys…We skipped a bunch of school that time and the nuns were in a wad when we showed up about a week later sun burnt with ear infections but full of stories about swimming with dolphins and mermaids who 
could breathe underwater, about giant old paintings from real famous artists, gardens tamed to look like rooms in the Palace at Versailles...We learned more on Lois’s adventures than in school anyway…

VERDA
Lois knows no stranger.  This can be embarrassing if you’re with her and don’t feel particularly like chatting with, oh biker guys or crazy people.   

LIN                VERDA              VICTORIA
She talks to        She talks to        She talks to everyone…          everyone…       to everyone

VICTORIA
She likes characters.  That’s because she’s an actress!

LOIS
Oh, that was a long time ago…Again, you little stinker, you said you wouldn’t tell.
VICTORIA
(Trying to fit it in before being hushed
On TV, in commercials, on stage…

LIN
She was known as South Florida’s Grace Kelly…
                 
VERDA
And before that she was a cheerleader at Mizzou…That was an adventure.  She has a little of that PT Barnum fellow in her, I think. You can make up for stuff with sheer showmanship sometimes.  She was an ok cheerleader but while all the other young ladies did the routines to the “t,” Lois just got up and whistled.  Loud.  Lois got on that squad by virtue of her singular talent - an ear-splitting whistle…
     
               LOIS                   LIN
Go Tigers!  (Whistle)     Go Tigers!  (Whistle)

LIN
Gotta have a gimmick…To be an adventurer you’ve got to have courage too and Lois has it locked.   It came from Verda, magnified itself in Lois so Victoria and I inherited (Pause) a foolish lack of constraint.  We’re the bungie jumpers in the family.
VICTORIA
Yep!
LIN
Whenever we take a risk, fall face down and run whining to Lois, we get her brand of sideways sympathy.  Let me just for the sake of form put this in fairy tale terms:  (Sarcasm) She casts a restorative spell with these “magical” words -
LOIS
I say - 
   
LIN                  VICTORIA         LOIS
Pull yourself   Pull yourself       Pull yourself
together        together              together
You’re stronger  You’re stronger  You’re stronger
Than that        than that             than that

LIN
(Pause) Infuriating yet somehow comforting. 

VICTORIA
Ok.  Back to my original idea - MamaLo and her Special Adventure Powers prove my point that Moms would’ve been great in fairy tales.  Just think of all the awesome adventures Cinderella would’ve had if her Mom was MamaLo. First of all, that evil stepmother would be toast! Then Cindy still would’ve met the Prince, but he would’ve fallen for her because she was courageous and adventurous and strong like her Mom, instead of just getting by on the pretty.  What a concept!

VERDA
And she’d be rich too!  (They all look at Verda and nod sagely in affirmation)

LOIS
Well, since I made her, I ought to know my own daughter’s Special Power, shouldn’t I?  I have it too…
VICTORIA
(Jumping about)  What is it?  What is it?  She won’t tell me…
VERDA
I know what it is…I have a tinge of it myself.

VICTORIA
And?
LOIS
She attracts living things to her.  People and animals.  They orbit her and there’s always a reason. Like it is planned.  It’s actually kind of odd.

LIN
Well, ok, I’m a card-carrying critter whisperer.  But I can’t help it.  It’s your genes!  Besides, fur therapy is loads less expensive than shrinks.  Lord knows, I’d be counting tiles on the ceiling of the padded room if not for my animals.
VERDA
See?  It is passed down.  I liked sheep and they liked me!

LIN
I just know one thing, wherever life puts me, even if it seems like a disaster at the time, fate put me there with the people and animals around me who seem to need for something.  If I can focus on this, life is good…

LOIS
It started with that Mother cat, you know. 

LIN
You know some people are alarmed by this one, Mom.  Old wives tales about cats suffocating infants and all.  Stealing their breath…

LOIS
That’s their problem!  And they’re so WRONG!  This Mother Siamese cat we had would pack her cute little newborn kittens in around Lin in her playpen.  This cat would carry each one of those wiggly kittens up over the playpen rail and leave them to Lin, who giggled out loud as they climbed all over her little baby body. Then they’d all settle down in a little furry pile and just sleep the sleep of the innocent.  That’s how it started.  It’s a Special Power and animals can sense it.
VICTORIA
Meow
LIN
(Smiling)  Cut it out little missy, I know where you live!
LOIS
That’s not all – Remember the skunk?  The rabbit? The mice?  The snakes? The flock of geese? The fox? The hummingbird?  All those cats, dogs, fish, ducks, racoons?

LIN
Ok ok!! Build me an ark!! 

VICTORIA
The deer?  I know about that one, Grandpa says it just proved how close you are to the unseen, the spirit world.

VERDA
Stop that!  I hope you are telling ghost stories because otherwise this talk is the work of the devil.

LOIS
Mom, we don’t know everything…We’re not meant to.

LIN
He had an eight-point crown of horns.  I was alone in the autumn woods in North Carolina. I could hear him before I could see him.  He looked at first like a giant feral hound, maybe a wolfhound, because he was huge; crashing and snorting. I could see his tawny fur bounding through the brush directly at me…So I assumed the defensive position taught to me by my Dad, crouched with my arms around my neck, my eyes cast down so this big dog maybe wouldn’t kill me.  Maybe just injure me…Then I heard him burst out of the cover onto the path and stop.  He breathed on the top of my head and I looked up into a wild face with liquid bottomless brown eyes framed by eight lethal antler points…He was in full defensive battle stance and I wondered if they’d ever find my perforated and trampled body.  He merely dipped his head, brushed his hoof on the ground and melted into that flaming forest of October.

VICTORIA
He was a spirit guide.

VERDA
Aren’t you going to a private school?  What in blue blazes are they teaching you!  All this spirit stuff!

LOIS
Mom, it’s all good.  (She smiles)  Just what do you think you are at this very moment?

VERDA
Well, hmm.  I suppose.  There’s a Special Power. I’m haunting you! Ha!  

LIN
Usually it’s not so mystical.  I usually employ my Special Powers to tell someone their fly is down or there’s spinach in their teeth. Always ready to help out!

LOIS
Or save someone from themselves.  You’ve saved people by just listening to them when no one else would.  You don’t know how many you have rescued…

LIN
(Chuckling) I wouldn’t want to know.  Too much responsibility!
    
 VICTORIA
But like the animals, people who need you are sent to you. 

LIN
I know what it’s like to be marginalized.  Everyone has worth.  Victoria, you’ll find out. 

VICTORIA
See?  Here it is again.  Maybe if Belle’s Mom had Special Powers like my Mom, she would’ve made meeting the Beast a lot easier!   She’d have known just what to do to calm him down and solve his problem. Much better!
  
VERDA
   
We are certainly the stuff fairy tales could be made from, that’s for sure.

LOIS
How many Grandmothers, Mothers and Daughters have stories like ours?

VICTORIA
They just have to find their own fairy tales like we did…
By now, Lin, Verda and Lois have surrounded Victoria and they begin a slow set of square dance patterns with her.

LIN
Tori, when you become a Mother, you’ll have to fire up your Special Powers too, you know.

VICTORIA
Of course!  Look at you and MamaLo and Great Grandma Verda.  I’ve got great genes.
LOIS
Just so you know, you’ve already got a Special Power…It’s kind of a blend of ours…All that DNA combining and recombining…Magic!
VICTORIA
I’m going to make my very own fairy tale with my daughter.  And when people tell the story, MamaTori will be a big part of it using my Special Power.  What is it?

VERDA
Healing, pumpkin. 

LOIS
You have healing hands.

LIN
You know how your hands feel hot sometimes?  That’s the Power…

VICTORIA
That’s exactly what I wanted!  To make people feel better.  And all I have to do is put my hands on people and I can heal what pains them?

                 LOIS      LIN       VERDA
                  Yes       Yes       Yes

They finish the square dance moves and pause, hands together in the middle…

VICTORIA
So who gets the first back rub?

Blackout.
The End

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