But I’m New Here! Two morality plays regarding proper approach of women wearing headphones.

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ONE: BUT I’M NEW HERE

(OR, HOW ‘BOUT WE DON’T CHASE DOWN WOMEN ON THE STREET)

A play in one act

ACT I

SCENE 1

Manhattan: Broadway, around 28th Street, late fall, 10 pm on a Tuesday evening. A YOUNG WOMAN, in her late teens, is walking uptown carrying a large messenger bag. She is wearing a bulky coat, jeans, and flat boots, not that it should matter, though you may have been wondering. She has headphones in.

A DUDEBRO enters from stage right. He is tall, wearing a suit jacket and slacks but no tie, and isn’t carrying a briefcase or bag. He walks quickly to catch up with her. Once he’s within a few feet, he shouts.

DUDEBRO: Hey!

The YOUNG WOMAN does not respond. She is wearing headphones, and has a sliver of hope that it is possible he will see this and leave her alone if it’s not an emergency. She turns her music all the way down.

The DUDEBRO gets closer still. He is right behind her now, and starts to walk up next to her.

DUDEBRO: (a bit louder) Hey!

The YOUNG WOMAN begins a complex calculation of the apparent urgency in DUDEBRO’s voice, his size relative to hers, the number of other people on the street (none), and the closest open store or restaurant to which she could run in case he tries something. This experience-based algorithm is done automatically, and results in a finding of “Not urgent, probably jerk.” She decides to keep walking.

DUDEBRO starts walking alongside YOUNG WOMAN, and taps her on the shoulder. He, too, has been doing some math in his head: LADY + RUN AWAY = TESTING MY MASCULINITY. She turns around, and takes off her headphones, in case he is lost, she has dropped something and he is politely returning it to her, and/or he brings news of a zombie apocalypse-in-progress.

YOUNG WOMAN: Yes?

DUDEBRO: Hi!

YOUNG WOMAN: Hello.

DUDEBRO: I’m a little lost and wanted to ask if you knew where
 the nearest Bank of America was.

YOUNG WOMAN lets her responsibilities as a New Yorker override her calculations from “Not urgent, probably jerk,” to “Needs directions, be very polite and specific!”

YOUNG WOMAN: Oh, sure. If you keep walking this way you’ll see the
 Manhattan Mall on your left. Keep on going, and you’ll see a Bank of America a few blocks later. I think it’s between 33rd and 34th, near the corner.

DUDEBRO: Oh, ok! Thank you!

YOUNG WOMAN: No problem!

END

HAHA, JUST KIDDING

DUDEBRO continues to walk alongside YOUNG WOMAN. She goes to put her headphones in again, but before she can —

DUDEBRO: Hey, I’m new here, and I was wondering if you could come with me to the bank? I think I might get lost if I go alone?

YOUNG WOMAN: Uh, I’m trying to catch a train, sorry. (pointing) You can basically see where you need to go from here. If you still can’t find it once you get up there someone can help you out.

She continues walking, wrapping her headphones around her neck. She begins to feel around in her bag for the pocketknife her dad gave her when she started college, as DUDEBRO has officially tripped the first Alert Level of her self-preservation alarm system.

DUDEBRO: (hurriedly) Yeah, but you know where it is already, and then maybe you can show me around!

Haha! Haha! You thought you could be polite and specific, YOUNG WOMAN. You thought he needed help, and then he asked you to show him around midtown, on a Tuesday evening. She revises her estimation of DUDEBRO again, this time arriving at “A shitheel” after taking his haircut, which is worryingly and cartoonishly villainous in a 90s sort of way, and the boozy odor wafting off him, into account. She continues walking.

YOUNG WOMAN: Nope, no thanks.

DUDEBRO: (grabs her shoulder and pulls back to stop her)Oh come on, I’m really nice, and I’m new here. We can go get a drink after —

At this point, YOUNG WOMAN considers saying, “I have a boyfriend,” or, “My dad is good with the cops and will bodily ruin you with impunity if you touch me again.” Having to say either thing is annoying, and also both are total lies. Instead, having found her pocketknife, she flips it out and holds it at the level of his neck.

DUDEBRO: WHOA WHOA WHOA

DUDEBRO realizes this has not been in any of the how-to guides. Maybe he will write a how-to guide?

YOUNG WOMAN: If you want to make it to tomorrow, you’ll keep your hands off me —

DUDEBRO skitters backwards, his hands up. He realizes he will have to make up a lot of other lines for her, if he is to write “How To Talk To Women Who Have Pulled Knives On You After You Tried To Talk To Them While They Were Wearing Headphones.” Maybe he will just write to the guy who wrote the original article. The YOUNG WOMAN turns, staring at him, knife still up.

YOUNG WOMAN: Yeah, you’re new here? Get a grip before you try to fuck with someone much worse than me. Get the hell out of here.

DUDEBRO: I was just trying to make a friend, alright?

YOUNG WOMAN: NO, NOT ALRIGHT. GET AWAY FROM ME.

DUDEBRO turns and walks briskly down Broadway in the other direction, far, far from the YOUNG WOMAN and aforementioned Bank of America. Bye!

YOUNG WOMAN continues on to Penn Station in an adrenaline fugue. She had wanted to spend the train ride reading an article for a paper she’s working on, but keeps replaying the scene in her head, and wondering where that asshole went next. Should she have done more? Less? Did she perhaps make her react to wildly? Why the hell is she considering her actions as ‘too wild’ when someone twice her size laid hands on her in public and she successfully made them go away? Nah, it went fine. She tries to decide whether or not to take a cab home when she gets off the train, and decides to walk the mile instead. What are the chances something like this happens twice in one day? Probably too high, but she’s only got $10 for the rest of the week and she needs it for lunches.

She tells her MOM and DAD about this when she gets home, and they reprimand her for wearing headphones and “Not paying attention,” though she is pretty sure they’re both also a little proud, especially DAD.

END, for real this time.

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TWO: BUT IT’S THE APOCALYPSE

A SITUATION IN WHICH ASKING A WOMAN TO REMOVE HER HEADPHONES IS PROABLY OKEY-DOKEY

A play in one act

ACT I

SCENE 1

Broadway, around 28th street, late fall, 10 pm on a Tuesday evening. A YOUNG WOMAN, in her late teens, is walking uptown carrying a large messenger bag. She is wearing a bulky coat, jeans, and flat boots, not that it should matter, though you may have been wondering. She has headphones in.

A large, lumpy DUDEBRO trundles in from stage right. He is tall, too tall, and is wearing a hat and a trenchcoat. His feet and hands look much too small for his body. He runs to catch up to the YOUNG WOMAN. Once he’s within a few feet, he shouts. His voice is exceptionally high.

DUDEBRO: Hey!

The YOUNG WOMAN does not respond. She is wearing headphones, and has a sliver of hope that it is possible he will see this and leave her alone if it’s not an emergency. She turns her music all the way down.

The DUDEBRO gets closer still, tripping over himself a bit. He is having a bit of trouble walking.

DUDEBRO: (a bit louder) Hey!

The YOUNG WOMAN turns her head to the side to glance at DUDEBRO, and begins a complex calculation of the apparent urgency in DUDEBRO’s voice, his size relative to hers, the number of other people on the street (none), and the closest open store or restaurant to which she could run in case he tries something. This experience-based algorithm is done automatically, and results in a finding of “Not urgent, possibly three kids in a coat?” She decides to slow down to let him catch up. There is an odd sound in the distance — groans, and police sirens.

DUDEBRO starts walking alongside YOUNG WOMAN, huffing and puffing. She takes off her headphones, and looks at him.

YOUNG WOMAN: Yes?

DUDEBRO: (speaking very quickly, and wobbling) Hi! Sorry to bother you, but you’re the first living person I’ve seen in a few blocks and —

YOUNG WOMAN: What? Slow down.

DUDEBRO: (takes a breath) Okay. Ooookay. Listen, something terrible is going on, and they sent us out to find anyone who might still be alive and bring them back to the armory.

YOUNG WOMAN considers the odd combination of DUDEBRO’s gait, outfit, choice of plural pronoun, and odd, musky smell. Her estimation of him changes from “Not urgent, maybe three kids in a coat?” to “Urgent, and also almost definitely several small talking animals in a coat.” She tries to get a better look at DUDEBRO’s face, and he shies away.

YOUNG WOMAN: I’m sorry, but… can you… can you take off your hat?

DUDEBRO: No.

YOUNG WOMAN: This might sound awkward, and apologies if it’s not the case, but I feel like you might be several small animals in a coat.

VOICE FROM COAT: Shit!

YOUNG WOMAN: Oh my god! Wait, what are you?! Are you a bunch of raccoons?

DUDEBRO flails a bit, regains balance. Hat falls off, revealing that his head is, in fact, that of a raccoon.

Police sirens grow fainter. There are several groans heard from offstage, much louder now.

RACOON: (glancing around nervously) Alright, will you come with us if we tell you what we are?

VOICE FROM COAT: Bad idea, man!

YOUNG WOMAN: Uh, yeah, I will probably come with you if you are all talking raccoons, yes.

After a beat, trenchcoat collapses gently. The RACCOON crawls out first, and holds the coat up for two PIGEONS, a family of RATS, and a STARLING crawl out after it.

YOUNG WOMAN: Oh my —

RACCOON: Okay, you really need to come with us now, alright?

YOUNG WOMAN: ARE YOU THE SPIRIT OF NEW YORK?

PIGEON 1: Are you an idiot, lady? No!

STARLING: Larry, don’t be mean. Sorry, Larry’s just kinda stressed out.

YOUNG WOMAN gapes at animals, pointing at them in turn. She claps.

STARLING and PIGEON 1 look at each other. STARLING looks away, pecks at gum on sidewalk.

RACCOON: (sighs heavily, head in hands) Alright, enough of this. We need to get

moving.

YOUNG WOMAN: Oh my god, did I die? AM I IN HEAVEN?

RAT KID: No no no, we’re part of a government research project gone horribly wrong and —

RAT PARENT 2: Not right now, Timmy! Ma’am, we’re all alive for now, but the humans are eating each other!

RACCOON takes YOUNG WOMAN’s hand and tries to pull her along, as groans from offstage become very loud. YOUNG WOMAN turns, and blanches.

YOUNG WOMAN: Holy shit, it’s the zombie apocalypse and small animals came to warn me!

RAT PARENT 1: Hey, right place right time, lady, you ain’t Snow White! Get a move on!

They all start moving towards stage right.

YOUNG WOMAN: Wait! Are there cats where we’re going? CAN THEY TALK TOO.

The STARLING gasps. All the animals turn and stare at her. The RAT PARENTS gather around RAT KID, who holds his tail. LARRY THE PIGEON walks back to her, bobbing head aggressively.

LARRY: Are you really gonna come at us with the c- word after all we’ve done for you?!

Have you lost your mind? There is a child present.

RAT KID begins to cry. PIGEON 2 puts a wing around the RAT FAMILY.

LARRY: That’s just perfect. (pecks ground and puffs up) Typical human, we’re walking along, trying to find the last vestiges of your frankly terrible species, and you ask if the monsters responsible for all the woes we’ve ever experienced, at least the ones that didn’t come from YOU ALL (points wing at YOUNG WOMAN) are (mockingly) where we’re going?

YOUNG WOMAN looks at the ground.

LARRY: Yeah, yeah, yeah, you know what? Pop your thing into your weird heary-hole and you and your untied shoe can rot right here with all the other rude assholes who —

STARLING: LARRY!

YOUNG WOMAN squats down and ties her shoe. Groans become even louder.

RACCOON: Okay, not the time, let’s go!

A zombie shambles in from stage left. Everyone screams.

RACCOON pushes everyone towards stage right, and YOUNG WOMAN and her new animal friends (?) run for the Armory. The birds work to create diversions for the land-bound mammals as they navigate around zombie hordes. They reach the Armory, and find a small but tough group of humans and animals ready to wait out the worst of it. After some exposition exposition secret government programs exposition vaccine, they build a new world, one in which people wearing headphones are only bothered out of legitimate and absolute necessity.

FIN