Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Huh? (01/21/10)
TITLE: Shelving the Subject
By Anita van der Elst
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Two characters, a married couple:
(Nadine and Butch are seated at table with drinks.)
Nadine (fuming): I know what you’re looking at, Butch! You’ve been staring at her all evening. This is supposed to be our evening to celebrate. I want your eyes, Butch!
Butch (pulling back from table in innocence): Huh? What are you talking about, Nadine?
Nadine: That woman at the table across from us. Your eyes followed her all the way to the restroom just now. And I know what you were looking at!
Butch (raising hands palms up and spreading them wide): What was I looking at?
Nadine (indignantly): You were looking at…at…at…her shelf!
Butch (obviously completely in the dark on this one; scratches head): Huh? Nadine, you are losing it. I don’t know what you mean. Do you?
Nadine (folds arms across small bosom and glares at Butch): I know I am not amply endowed but it’s the way God made me. And I don’t appreciate you ogling some other woman’s chest, just because you feel deprived by my lack!
Butch: But you said ‘shelf’, Nadine! What does a shelf have to do with her chest, huh? (leaning forward, elbows on table) Shelf…chest…dresser…drawers? Nope, I don’t think I’m getting it.
Nadine: I’ve heard you use that term, Butch! When you watch any of those movies that have full-figured women in them…I…I can’t think of their names right now. When you watch sports and the cheerleaders come out at halftime. That neighbor of ours who sunbathes in her backyard.
Butch (furrows brow, squints eyes): Huh?
Nadine (sighs exasperatedly): It’s just got to stop, Butch. I feel so devalued by you when you look at them instead of me and make those kinds of comments. And then not very cherished.
Butch: Ah, honey, I sure don’t want you to feel that way. I do value you and cherish you. I know I’m guilty of what you’re saying and I’m working hard at overcoming that. That men’s accountability group I’m in is keeping me in check. But I’m just trying to remember… I don’t think I’ve ever used ‘shelf’ to describe a woman’s… (Comprehension arises. Eyes widen.) Did you mean ‘rack’, honey?
Nadine (unfolding her arms, tilting head to one side): Huh?
Butch: The word I think you meant is ‘rack’, not ‘shelf’, and I do recall using that term many a time, darling. (looks chagrinned, speaks sincerely) I agree it’s not very complimentary, not to the woman in question, nor to you, for me to use that term or to stare. I am increasingly sorry for my insensitivity. Please forgive me? (pauses) Just so you know, I truly had not even noticed her until you mentioned her. You and I were in the middle of a great conversation, and as you know, when I get going on something I find interesting in our communication, my brain starts popping and my eyes involuntarily rove about. It was not my intent to cause you any pain at all. I am sorry for the misunderstanding.
(Nadine’s lips tremble. Butch reaches across the table and touches her fingers.)
Nadine (sounding strangled): Huh…huh…huh…(begins to laugh) What a ninny I am. Ha ha ha ha ha.
Nadine (recovering from laughing fit, takes Butch’s hand): I’m so sorry, Butch. I jumped to a conclusion. Yes, I forgive you. Will you forgive me?
Butch (in wonderment): Huh. Now that’s a switch, isn’t it? Of course, sweetheart. Shall we consider the subject shelved?
(They lift their glasses in a toast.)
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