Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Clair de Lune

[This vignette is an homage to the Terrence McNally play, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. The characters are his. The moonlight belongs to all of us.]

“I’m in love with you.”

“That’s crazy.”

“You don’t believe someone can fall in love in four hours time? It took Romeo and Juliet . . . what? Maybe three seconds? If my calculations are correct then, milady, we’ve had exactly . . . lessee, carry the one . . . forty-fou--no! Forty six hundred times their good fortune. That’s a verible eternity in Shakespeare’s world.”

“Not in mine. I don’t think you get to like someone after four hours.”

“Man, your tits are dynamite.”

“My whats are what?”

“Breasts, then. Is “tits” off limits? I didn’t know. Things change. I thought it might be wrong, but I said it, anyway. So what of it? That’s what you do to me. That’s love. Makes me reckless. And tit-horny.”


“Was that out of bounds? See, I think—”


“I mean, I would hope—”



“Who says these things?”

“Me. I say them. We say them. Why shouldn’t we say them? This is real. We’re real. Right now. You. Me. And the moon makes three.”

“You’re . . . crazy.”

“But you like it. You love it, Frankie.”

“I don’t know. It’s . . . alarming.”

“I thought you'd say romantic.”

“No. It’s too much. I feel like you’re pressing me against a wall or something. This is a huge mistake. I mean, Jesus Christ, Johnny! I can’t fucking breathe!”

“There is no wall, Frankie.”

“There are always walls.”

“Don’t turn away. Don't cry. Look at that moonlight.”

“Moonlight. That’s a streetlight.”

“It’s moonlight. It’s heard about us—Frankie and Johnny—it’s seeking us out, as friends of fate. Watch it ease through your window now . . . massaging your tired ankles . . . there . . . and now it’s sliding up your lovely, lasso legs that I want to sling around my waist until—well, moonlight, I envy you that—and entering into the dark world between your hips, making you move like a cello string, making a low, gorgeous noise, though you can’t hear the music yet. . . and now your belly, which bulges slightly with a meal that neither you or I remember, since we ate unconsciously, like wild animals scared that something would be snatched away from us . . . and there . . . there . . . your dynamite tits . . . of which I will say no more, since we covered that subject thoroughly and with no help from Shakespeare . . . and now that light, that universe light, it stretches its fingers and wraps around your neck, like a choker no man can buy, but every woman should want to own, until finally, finally I say, the moonlight rescues your angel face—yes, rescues—because Frankie, my beloved, Frankie, my darling, you need rescuing from the darkness, from all them walls . . . and not just by me, and not by that moonlight, but by the all of us, this happy, dumb equation we've stumbled upon that's more beautiful, more true than anything Shakespeare or Einstein dreamed up in their laboratories of loneliness. Just us. Here. And now. Streaming across the stars.”

“It was forty-eight.”


Frankie fields Johnny closer, wrapping her legs tightly--more tightly than moonlight--around his waist.

“Forty-eight hundred times as long as Romeo and Juliet had. Probably a good deal more as far as that goes, after all your jabbering.”

“You liked it. You liked the moonlight. You like me.”

“No, Johnny."
Her face erupts in the clair de lune, and she smiles.


[video of Suzanne Godenne performing Debussy's Clair de Lune courtesy of theoshow2]


Nothingman said...

typical guy and typical girl talk:) thats what makes it so...Cool!!

Even though some of it passed over my head, I loved what I read :)



Anonymous said...

Great banter.

Aine said...

Great dialogue!! For some reason I kept picturing Johnny Depp as Johnny though I know it was Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer in the film. (Maybe "Benny and Joon" is on my mind.)

Ah, such sweet craziness... Yes, sometimes love chooses you.

Sarah Hina said...

Thanks, nothingman! I tried to make it sound as natural as I could.

I appreciate that, Wayne. :)

This is wild, Aine, because in the original stage version (1987), Kathy Bates played Frankie! Frankie and Johnny are supposed to be rather average looking, but that doesn't fly in Hollywood, of course. I did like the film, even if they made some extensive changes.

Thanks for the comments! I liked what you said about love choosing you. :)

Anonymous said...

Excellent writing.

I read this a couple hours before I had a Myers-Briggs self-discovery moment (personality analysis is something I'm highly interested in), which now explains my reaction to the story. I think the moment is very truthful and well described, yet fundamentally uncomfortable for me to read. I find both of their reactions unsettling: the over-exuberance and the resistance.

To be clear, my reaction is not a critique. The piece is great. Just ruminating on its personal effect on me.

Sarah Hina said...

That's really interesting, Jason.

I was channeling McNally's voice here to a large degree, which is why *I* am rather uncomfortable with this piece today. I got caught up in Frankie and Johnny after reading the play yesterday, and was grateful for the inspiration after a rather prolonged dry spell. ;)

The characters in the play are ultimately lovable, but Johnny is a tornado, and Frankie has huge barriers. Eventually, he just steamrolls through. I think McNally pulls the tension off better than I, as well as the desperate urgency that these two unhappy people must latch onto one another, and save themselves.

Thank you for your comments! Your discomfort is no rebuke. :)

Hotwire said...

this made me laugh and made me uncomfortable, which is very cool! 'with no help from shakespeare' is a funny line.

Ello said...

I understand what Jason was saying as I was a bit unnerved by the dialogue myself. But I thought it was extremely well done.

Anonymous said...

You make me smile. This was clever and who knows whose gonna fall in love with whom, or why.

Anonymous said...

Titillating. Eruptive reading. And that moon is dominating my work lately. You've seen it too, no doubt. Scalpel moon, cutting at the black belly of night.

Sarah Hina said...

Thanks, everyone, for your comments! I really appreciate them.


Abhinav said...

That's a very nice piece of romantic reading in a long time for me. One of the best non-traditional courtships that I've read.

Talking of Clair de Lune, I was immediately reminded of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata for it has a hypnotic effect on me whenever I hear it. Debussy's Clair de Lune is good too. Now I've two of them to love. ;-)

Shameless said...

Oh this was wonderful in its playfulness. The characters came through so well in the dialogue. Very nice, Sarah. And such a sad ending for him after all that input.

Sarah Hina said...

Ah, thank you, Abhinav. And I love The Moonlight Sonata, too. Will undoubtedly write a piece someday that incorporates it. :)

Thanks, Seamus! I really appreciate that kindness since I was a little queasy about this vignette.

And don't worry...she'll relent to him. Eventually. She wants to so badly...