by Tracy Noble
MAGGIE enters cheerfully with books and notebooks in hand, striding with purpose to the desk. She places all of her materials on the desk and painstakingly organizes them, gets a tape recorder out and sets it up, sharpens her pencil, puts on her glasses, fluffs the pillows on the sofa, straightens the rug on the floor, and finally looks around to make sure she has everything she needs to get started. She sits in the chair but jumps back up for a last-minute adjustment … Going to the “door” she hangs a very large “DO NOT DISTURB” sign on the knob. Satisfied, she hurries back to the desk and turns on the tape recorder.
MAGGIE follows the cues of the RECORDED VOICE.
VOICE: There, now! Let’s continue. Look around. Feel your environment. Survey your surroundings. If you are tense or uncomfortable, just breathe deeply as you close your eyes. Envision yourself in a green meadow … or on a beautiful beach … or anywhere that communicates calmness and serenity. (Maggie pauses for a moment in reflection.)
Off stage children’s voices, arguing.
CHILD 1: Give me that!
CHILD 2: NO!
CHILD 1: I want it!
CHILD 2: It’s MINE!
CHILD 1: MOMMY!!!
MAGGIE [turns off tape recorder, stands and smoothes her clothes, straightens her shoulders, gathers her calm and says sweetly]: Children! Children! Mommy’s needs some quiet right now, so please use your precious little INSIDE voices …”
Off stage children’s voices.
CHILD 2: That’s MINE! Gimme!
CHILD 1: I’m telling Mom! (Crying.)
MAGGIE: [losing her cool] Did you kids hear me? I told you before, I need QUIET!! (She gets up and walks to the sign.) The sign says “DO NOT DISTURB!” Got it? I am TRYING to work in here so knock it off RIGHT NOW !!
MAGGIE stomps back to the desk, plops angrily into the chair, muttering under her breath.
MAGGIE: Is it TOO much to ask for a little peace and quiet? Is it IMPOSSIBLE to get a little cooperation around here, for crying out loud?!?!
MAGGIE: Okay. Alright. EVERYthing’s fine. No stress. No pressure. I’m calm. (She closes her eyes.) Green meadow…..beautiful beach.
MAGGIE turns the recorder back on and takes notes as she listens to the RECORDED VOICE.
VOICE: Breathing! Visualizing! Goooooood … Just relax. Bring your focus inward and listen …
Off stage there is a loud banging noise and a door slamming. A male voice is heard.
DONALD: Honey! I’m home! … Honey? Maggie?
MAGGIE: [in a huff, switching off the recorder again, still seated]: Donald! (struggling for composure) Do you HAVE to shout?!? I’m in the study … TRYING to … STUDY!! I’ll be out later. Until then, PLEASE keep your voice down and PLEASE keep the kids quiet.
MAGGIE: [shaking her head, rolling her eyes, angrily turning the recorder on again]: Don’t be dismayed. Don’t allow any distraction to rob you of this peaceful feeling …
PHONE RINGS …
MAGGIE: (Yells) Someone please get the phone.
MAGGIE: (Yells with a tight voice) Isn’t anyone going to ANSWER the phone?!?!
… and RINGS.
MAGGIE: Do I have to do EVERYthing around here?!?
MAGGIE ( picks up phone angrily but speaks with artificial sweetness]: Hello! (Her head drops realizing that it’s a solicitation call) Yes … this is Mrs. Thompson. Uh huh … Uh huh … No…. No, thank you. [listening and rolling her eyes , changing to an angry voice]: I am not interested. … I don’t WANT TO “battle my bulge!”. (She starts to speak is interrupted by the solicitor) Oh, really?!? Well, maybe you’ll understand THIS … (she slams down the phone)
MAGGIE: (She pops up from her chair) I can’t believe this. This can’t be happening. What a nightmare. I can’t seem to get 10 minutes to myself. They all know this course is VERY important to me, but do I get ANY cooperation? NO! I’ll probably flunk the final exam and THEN I’ll REALLY be mad! She struggles for composure.) Okay, Maggie. Just settle down. Don’t let it get to you, girl! Remember what the instructor has been saying … Breathe! Relax! Visualize!
MAGGIE, more calmly, sits back down at the desk and turns the recorder on once again.
VOICE: If you’re struggling to let go of those things that make you angry, listen carefully. I’m about to tell you EXACTLY how to …. [Garbled sounds of tape malfunctioning[.
MAGGIE: [livid, drops her pencil, grabs the tape recorder and starts banging it on the desk]: Hunk of junk! Good for nothing piece of garbage tape recorder!
DONALD: (Off stage) MAGGIE! What’s going on in there? Are you alright?
MAGGIE: [stops banging the tape recorder]: I’m OKAY! But stop yelling at me! It’s just this junky tape recorder has messed up and now I can’t finish the correspondence class I’ve been working on for the last SIX WEEKS!! I’ll NEVER “graduate” …
DONALD: [entering the room] Honey. (He walks over to her.) I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time. Let me see if I can help … [[Picks up the tape recorder] Begins to check the cords, etc., sets it down on the desk, and pushes “play”]
VOICE: Gotcha! There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with this tape OR your equipment. This was ONLY a test. Did you react in ANGER, believing the tape had malfunctioned? Did you perhaps ABUSE the machinery? If that characterizes your behavior, it is STRONGLY suggested that you return to LESSON TWO of this tape on ANGER MANAGEMENT.
MAGGIE: [incredulous, looking stunned] I can’t believe this. I blew it! Now I’ve got to start ALL OVER AGAIN … [flipping through the workbook, back to Lesson Two, getting angrier by the minute] … Huh! Get this! “LESSON TWO: MIS-DIRECTING YOUR ANGER: HURTING OTHERS BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN HURT”. (She stops and thinks about that one for a beat, then she looks at Donald) I do that, don’t I?
DONALD: (with a smile, breaks into a song) “You only hurt the ones you love..”
MAGGIE: I take it that’s a “Yes!”
DONALD: (Still singing and smiling) “You say yes, I say”…maybe.
MAGGIE: (Appreciating his attempt to diffuse the situation) If you keep singing your answer, I’ll send you right to…”Oklahoma”!
DONALD: Very good, Maggie. (Walks to her, a little more serious) Honey, if you’ll let me, I think I can help you.
MAGGIE: (Almost in tears) Donald, I don’t know where it all comes from. (She gathers herself) I’d really like your help.
DONALD: I’d like it too, honey. (Puts his arm around her shoulder and they start to walk out) Come on. (He breaks into another song) “We’ve only just begun…”
Maggie gives him a playful punch and they exit.
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