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BUTTERFLIES PANNÉS, TARTAR SAUCE

Characters

First Sister: a young, pretty girl

Second Sister: a young, pretty girl

Young Man

Guests


A party in a private flat. Lots of people standing and sitting around, chatting, sipping their drinks. A young man is standing alone. The hostess walks over and, seeing that he is on his own, leads him to a huge sofa where she seats him down next to two pretty young girls, First Sister and Second Sister. One of them stares at him fixedly. The time is the present.

FIRST SISTER
Shall I tell you a story?

YOUNG MAN
If you want. A listening ear hears it all.

FIRST SISTER
It was so long ago it isn’t true any more; it happened at the theater.

YOUNG MAN
At the theater. The sooner it comes the faster it goes! Tell me.

FIRST SISTER
One day my sister and I decided to go to the theater. Many people still remember how, when the weather was nice, they used to nip out, in between acts, without their coats or anything, and stroll around the square. The doorman would let you back in with the stub of your ticket.

YOUNG MAN
Yes, I remember. Nothing gained, nothing lost.

FIRST SISTER
That evening we had three tickets. Two for us and one for a distant relative my mother had foisted on us, somebody we’d never even met before.

YOUNG MAN
(Bored) Mothers will be mothers.

FIRST SISTER
But that relative never showed up.

YOUNG MAN
Who knows what wind his mind works on.

FIRST SISTER
And so we decided to give that third ticket to somebody else. We noticed a young man in the crowd, drinking beer from a can in front of the theater. We offered him the extra ticket orchestra, second row my sister told him. He thought we wanted to charge him, it looked expensive and so he retorted: “If it’s all the same to you, I can come just as well standing up! “

YOUNG MAN
All creeps are the same. Don’t be the chisel that smoothes out every bump!

FIRST SISTER
I persuaded him that the ticket was free, he took his can with him and the three of us went in. After the first act, when we stepped outside for a stroll, he took out the can and resumed drinking his beer. But he didn’t appear for the second act.

YOUNG MAN
Really’? Now rub his nose in it and make his road slippery!

FIRST SISTER
Now sitting next to us was an old lady with quail eggs in her chignon. The young man had struck a good bargain. He had obtained a ticket, seen the first act without paying a cent, then sold the unused two thirds of the ticket to the old lady and taken himself off for a beer with the money in his pocket.

YOUNG MAN
Incredible! But God sees all misdeeds through weeds!

FIRST SISTER
That’s what we thought, but we thought wrong. At the third act, sitting next to us was a little girl with missing teeth and a bandaged hand...

YOUNG MAN
Work the ox to fill the crib! The fellow sold the third act as well!

FIRST SISTER
Exactly. When we came out we saw him guzzling down a fresh can of beer bought with the money from our ticket. And he even had some change left over.

YOUNG MAN
The cracks in the ceiling are showing ... That’s a nice little story. Thank you, sister, for telling it to me!

FIRST SISTER
Thank you for the story happening.

YOUNG MAN
I don’t understand. It goes through me like water through a sieve.

FIRST SISTER
Don’t you recognize the story? YOUNG MAN I’m stretching my memory as fast as my ears at school, but, no, I don’t recognize your story.

FIRST SISTER
The person who sold the ticket was you.

YOUNG MAN
Me? Aren’t you perhaps kneading flour for the devil and bran for God? Haven’t you perhaps confused me with somebody else?

FIRST SISTER
If I have, my sister, who gave you the ticket, hasn’t.

YOUNG MAN
And where is your sister now?

FIRST SISTER
Right here. She’s sitting on the other side of you, as she did in the theater.

YOUNG MAN
(Turns around to the other side, runs an eye over the Second Sister hut remains puzzled) Well, all the more power to you. Whenever I leave a bad impression on someone, sister, I can never recognize him again, even if I fall on hard times. And, believe me, I forget the matter with the speed of a man stealing a hat. Now I could swear that I’ve never laid eyes on the young lady before. Like a blind mail at noon.

SECOND SISTER
You’ve laid eyes on me, my pigeon, oh yes you have! A long time ago. I was seven at the time and I was carrying a doll.

YOUNG MAN
In bad times fear the worst. And what happened?

SECOND SISTER
You asked me, my pigeon, if it was hard to have a baby at the age of seven!

YOUNG MAN
(Begins to hedge) Come, come, a prince when young and pauper when old! A man is like an onion, sister. You keep peeling, expecting God knows what, and when you get to the end you find there’s nothing there. Absolutely nothing!

SECOND SISTER
Nothing? Nothing, you say! Rubbish! And tears? What about the tears? You’ve forgotten about the tears, my fine fellow!

YOUNG MAN
And now, my Fortus, taste the bile! ... And that relative, or whatever he was of yours, the one whose mind works on the wind, why didn’t he show up at the theater?

SECOND SISTER
He did show up. Oh yes, he showed up all right!

YOUNG MAN
Really! So what happened to him?

FIRST SISTER
What do you mean, what happened? Why that, of course, was again you. Only we couldn’t know that. (The perplexed Young Man says nothing.) Cat got your tongue? You can’t even open your mouth. How about a swearword at least!

YOUNG MAN
Fuck your mother!

FIRST SISTER
And why shouldn’t you? What’s wrong with my mother?

SECOND SISTER
Don’t you like the theater, my pigeon?

YOUNG MAN
No, I don’t. Why should I? A man’s tongue easily slips into error. I don’t believe a word they say on the stage. You know what the theater is, sister? The theater is the first commune to appear in the world. A phalanx, a well connected mafia that left the one without attaining the other. A man like me, alone and solitary like a nail in dough, a man who is not a communard, has nothing to gain from the theater. Plus, I’m constantly expected to make an effort and work at it, or to fall in love with some bright eyed girl in a tragedy. To pour the sea into a bucket. Why shouldn’t she fall in love with me for a change? What’s wrong with me? No, I do not like the theater. But I do like to cat. And most of all I like foods with pretty names. A menu with a silk ribbon, embroidered in gold, like “The Mountain Wreath” or “Romeo and Juliet”. And inside you’ve got pure gems to read: “Butterflies Pannés, Tartar Sauce” or “Wild Snail Pie” ...Ah, if only you could choose in the theater the way you can from a menu, that would be for me. Because all your effort goes straight down your gullet! Imagine an evening at the theater ordering various starters from the menu, various beginnings for the performance! Imagine sitting down happily in the theater like in an inn and ordering a piece of cake “a la carte”, somebody else orders fruit, and a third person orders cheese. Imagine the menu as a tragedy, or the tragedy as a menu! With the menu’s magic formula of 3+1+3! You couldn’t give it a better cap or prettier dress! “Candied flowers!” Would you like to try it? You don’t know what it is, but as soon as you taste it, time begins to melt away inside you ... You go to see a nice love story and find that in one theater it parts with the audience on a happy note, it’s got what’s called a happy end! In other words, it waxes philosophical about the bad and poetic about the good…. Another theater offers you the same love story, but with a really sad ending for both us and them. And there’s no repenting after death! A third theater serves you its repast of love with yet a third starter and a third dessert, because the satiated never believe the starving. (He suddenly bursts into flawless French:)

Vous pouvez avoir confiance en moi. Je sais tout sur le théaâtre elisabethain et les représentations de Peter Brook et Ingmar Bergman! To life, happiness and good health! Have a pleasant evening!