Satsuma: a popular fruit, and more exactly a mandarin, in Europe although sadly lacking from the American repertoire. However, fruit are rarely classified as games, and so to qualify for the Quest, I shall provide details of the game Satsuma, much enjoyed by those at our school who invented it.

Satsuma is played on a tennis court, and resembles doubles tennis in that it features four players. However, each of these four players are to play against one another, which evidently opens up unlimited opportunities for cheating, fighting and profanity; a proper private school game if ever there was one. Each player uses only one square of the court, and the tramlines and rear area are not involved.

Players begin the game with fifteen of the eponymous Satsumas, and lose one every time they lose a point; the rules governing loss are most similar to tennis, since missing the ball or failure to return it are the key offenses. Reaching no satsumas results in the player becoming a so-called "bomb kart", who can no longer win but must play on nevertheless - the game relies on the sporting nature of the participants at this time. When only one player has Satsuma's remaining, he is declared the winner, whereupon some kind of naked dance is often displayed.

As is traditional with improvised games, a large number of superfluous rules are in effect, and Satsuma owes much to Mornington Crescent in this respect. As may have occured to you, playing Satsuma on a standard court, as we are forced to, is less than ideal since there is only one net present where two are required, at right angles, to seperate the players. At this stage, I dare to introduce the K426 rule, or one of it's regional varients, which states that serving into such a square is illegal, as is playing a shot which would hit the hypothetical net. Wherever possible, the game thus degenerates into a brawl, with each player armed with a tennis racquet and an assortment of colourful language.

On hand to resolve such combat is the "modestus", or referee, although he is usually more than willing to partake in a little hand-to-hand if the occasion allows.

Rankings are not kept since that seems too much like hard work, but the beloved Mr Goatee is one of our finest players. However, he may be moving to the Over 65s category soon.

This is only a brief outline of the rules. A full copy of the rules can almost certainly not be obtained, since they number into the thousands and are entirely self-contradictory. Nevertheless, play Satsuma if you dare. It beats shaving Ewan McGregor's head, although I don't believe that was ever offered as a games option.

薩摩

Satsuma is the old Japanese name for the area around Kagoshima, at the southern tip of Japan's mainland. During the Edo period, Satsuma was never fully under the shogun's control, owing to its geographic isolation and its strong daimyo lords.

Following the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry in 1854, which opened up Japanese ports to foreign trade, Satsuma became the hub of the sonno joi movement that sought to "revere the emperor and expel the barbarians." In 1863, Satsuma went to war with Britain after several of its samurai killed a British trader on the Tokaido Road at Kanagawa. When the British failed to receive an apology from the bakufu in Edo, they sailed to Satsuma and let their cannon loose, which more or less quelled the sonno-joi movement. These incidents are fairly well-documented, albeit with names and serial numbers filed off, in James Clavell's historical fantasy novel Gai-Jin.

Satsuma officially ceased to be in the late 1800's, when old feudal fiefs were replaced by prefectures (but the name is still in use, especially in tourist publications). Several of Satsuma's sonno-joi fighters went on to become the country's first prime ministers.

Satsuma (or "Satsuma ware") is a type of Japanese ceramics produced in the Satsuma region of Kyushu Island, Japan. Satsuma ware is produced at lower temperatures than porcelain, yet at higher temperatures than most pottery, so in a way, it is half-way between the two. The central characteristic of Satsuma ware is the richness of its decoration, usually executed in gold and polychrome colours (in later Satsuma ware, one particularly sees a unique blue glaze, Gosu blue) on a background of crackled white glaze.

The first Satsuma ware was produced using imported Korean techniques, using local (brown) clay. By the second half of the 18th century, the Satsuma ceramics had become so popular that clay was freighted from Kyushu to Awata near Kyoto, where it was used to produce a local variant of Satsuma ware, called "Kyoto Satsuma". Much of this was used as export goods, and wound up in Europe, where it helped inspire (among others) Wedgwood's ceramics works. In particular, the 1867 Paris Exhibition served as a showcase for Satsuma ware.

Today, many second-rate knock-off imitations of authentic Satsuma ware are produced, in China and Korea. Some are even passed off as antiques. In these cases, it is a case of caveat emptor. Usually, however, the copies are of such inferior quality that their nature is clear. When in doubt, contact an expert.

Satsuma is also a variety of Plum fruit, popular and common in California. The fruit has dark red flesh and skin, with a sweet, mild flavor. Satsuma plums are ready and ripe in late July, but in order to produce fruit, Santa Rosa Plums need to be planted nearby for pollination. An orchard of these trees, branches loaded and bending with fruit, is truly a spectacular sight.

Satsuma is also the name of a variety of Japanese sweet potato, satsuma-imo (薩摩芋). It is long, skinny, and has slightly pointed ends, with purple skin and yellow-orange flesh.

It is very popular in autumn, although it is thought to be fattening. (Really, it is no more fattening than, say, white rice.) A rarity in Japanese food, it is also a good source of fibre. Most of the fibre is found within 3mm of the skin, so it is best eaten unpeeled. The skin and outer flesh also contain the digestive enzyme yarapin. As a result, including this potato in your Japanese diet can greatly help to prevent constipation.

It is commonly roasted whole or served as tempura. You can also find it in the form of sweet potato chips, or some breakfast cereals such as Calbee's Osatsu.

It's also not uncommon to see the roasted satsuma-imo being sold by street vendors in cities. You can locate these vendors by following the wail of their continuous steam whistle. The unmatched heat-retention properties of this treat will keep your hands warm during those long autumn evening walks. Once cooked, it will easily break in half to share with your friends. Accordingly, satsuma-imo is also an autumn kigo in haiku.

Source: My girlfriend. (She's a nutritionist.)
薩摩

Satsuma was one of the original 68 provinces of ancient Japan, located in the extreme southeast corner of Kyushu in what is today Kagoshima prefecture. Depending on one's perspective, Satsuma was either a primitive backwater nearly 1000 miles from the center of Japanese politics, or a crucial gateway to the outside world. But in either case, none could doubt the region's importance during the late Edo Era when Satsuma Domain rose to national prominence by taking the lead in overthrowing the Tokugawa Shogunate and initiating the Meiji Restoration.

On one hand, Satsuma's position on the periphery of Japanese culture made it easy to view its people as primitive or backward. Natives of Satsuma spoke a dialect of Japanese that was virtually unintelligible to the rest of Japan, and Satsuma food, dress, and customs were influenced by its proximity to Chinese, Korean, and Ryukyuan culture. Satsuma cuisine for example, was based on the sweet potato rather than rice, and instead of imbibing sake like the rest of Japan, the people of Satsuma preferred to get drunk off a ridiculously strong concoction of fermented potatoes, known as "satsuma shochu."

On the other hand, Satsuma was the region of Japan which had the greatest contact with the rest of the world, due to its control of the thriving trade routes in the Ryukyu Islands, and thus throughout its history the domain was an entry point for new ideas, new goods, and new technologies. The Japanese word for the sweet potato, for example, is satsuma imo or "Satsuma potato", because the sweet potato first arrived in Japan from China via Satsuma (In Satsuma however, the term is kara imo, "Chinese potato"). Similarly, guns first arrived in Japan via Satsuma when a ship carrying Portuguese guns wrecked on one of its islands in 1543, and when a Korean pottery style swept across Japan in the 17th century, it quickly became known as Satsuma ware, reflecting its point of entry. In the 19th century, Japanese-English dictionaries were known as satsuma jisho, "Satsuma dictionaries," because scholars in Satsuma were the first to produce them.

Even during the Edo Era, when Japan was theoretically a "closed country" (sakoku), Satsuma was allowed to continue this exchange with the outside world through the legal fiction that the Ryukyu Islands were an independent kingdom, and any trade that went on there had nothing to do with Japan, even though everyone knew that Satsuma had conquered the Ryukyus back in 1609. Given this long history of cultural exchange, it is not surprising that following the Opening of Japan in 1853, Satsuma was one of the first domains to embrace Western ideas, and became the site of some of Japan's first shipyards, large iron foundries, and munitions factories.

Rise

Although the name "Satsuma" dates at least to the creation of Satsuma province for taxation purposes in the 7th century, the modern history of Satsuma begins in 1185 when Minamoto Yoritomo, Japan's first shogun, appointed Koremune Tadahisa as military steward (geshi) of Shimazu shoen, a large investiture in the area surrounding what is now the city of Kagoshima. In 1197, Tadahisa was promoted to shugo, or military governor, of the entire Satsuma province, and the following year he changed his family name to match the name of the original investiture, thus founding the mighty Shimazu warrior clan.

While most Japanese provinces switched hands many times in the ensuing centuries as warrior houses rose and fell, the Shimazu remained one of the strongest families in Japan, ruling over the same territory uninterruptedly for nearly 700 years. Over time, they expanded their holdings, conquering neighboring Owari province, parts of Higo and Hyuga, and eventually, all of the Ryukyus. In the great battle of Sekigahara in 1600, when Tokugawa Ieyasu cemented his control over Japan, the Shimazu had the misfortune of fighting for the losing Western Alliance, and thus were labeled tozama daimyo and were barred from participating in the new national government established by Ieyasu. This proved to be a blessing in disguise however, as it also meant that the Shimazu were not subjected to many of the rigid social structures that would eviscerate the independent power of the loyal, or "fudai" daimyo. Thus by the mid-19th century, when most of the other domains had grown soft and weak, Satsuma retained a strong military and a vibrant, independent government, almost like an independent kingdom, which would allow it to play a dominant role in the birth of modern Japan.

Today the Shimazu no longer rule a feudal domain, but the have turned themselves into a modern corporation and continue to make their presence felt in modern-day Kagoshima, where Shimazu descendants are active in tourism ventures, hotels, and running museums, such that any visitor to Kagoshima is very likely to meet an employee of the Shimazu at some point during their stay. The seal of Kagoshima City is clearly derived from the Shimazu family crest, and nowhere else in Japan are the descendants of feudal warlords so prominently visible in contemporary life.

Revolution

Of all its various roles in Japanese history, Satsuma is most famous as the domain that, along with Choshu, initiated the overthrow of the Tokugawa bakufu and the Meiji Restoration which putatively restored the emperor as ruler of Japan, but in reality, created Japan's modern bureaucratic democracy.

Like so many other changes, Satsuma's rise to national prominence began with the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry's black ships in 1853. In the wake of Perry's "opening" of Japan, the weakness of the shogunate was increasingly exposed as the Americans and other Western powers forced humiliating "unequal treaties" on Japan and the British navy brazenly shelled Japanese cities whenever they felt Japan was not obsequious enough. Satsuma itself was bombarded in 1863 when Satsuma samurai killed a British trader for failing to kowtow to the domain's ruler, Shimazu Hisamitsu (although this later proved beneficial to Satsuma when as part of his settlement with Britain, Hisamitsu agreed to purchase weapons and iron-clad warships).

In response to the patent impotence of the shogunate to retain any of Japan's dignity in the face of increasing foreign exploitation, the daimyo began pressing for a reforms to create a stronger government which could stand up to foreigners, with the primary goal of securing revision of the reviled unequal treaties. The secondary goal was of course to increase the power of the daimyo at the expense of the shogun, as the daimyo were essentially calling for the creation of a daimyo council which would approve or block shogunal decisions.

Shimazu Hisamitsu was one of the leaders in the push for the creation of such a council, and was aided in his efforts by the able politicking of his two advisors Saigo Takamori and Okubo Toshimichi. At first the Satsuma leaders envisioned reform within the existing structure of the shogunate, and Satsuma troops under Saigo were instrumental in putting down an 1864 attempt by Choshu domain to overthrow the shogunate. But as the young shogun's regent, Hitosubashi Keiki, continued to refuse the daimyo a greater voice in the national government, the Satsuma leaders eventually decided that the shogunate had to go, and in 1868 they united with their erstwhile Choshu enemies to topple the shogunate in the Boshin War.

Rebellion

But if Satsuma and Choshu had brought down the shogunate to protect and increase daimyo power, they ended up with the exact opposite. The new national government, even though it was made up of Satsuma and Choshu samurai including Okubo and Saigo, quickly realized that if Japan was to compete with Western nations it would have to eliminate the feudal system, and soon began a systematic assault on samurai privilege. Starting in 1871, the domain system was abolished, daimyo were stripped of their titles, and the old provinces were reorganized into the modern prefectures.

By 1873, even Saigo had had enough, and resigned from his position on the imperial council, where he had been one of the three most powerful men in Japan. Many of the highest officers in the government resigned with him, leaving the pragmatic Okubo sole master of the Meiji state. Saigo returned home to retirement in Satsuma, while the assaults on the samurai's elite status continued, culminating in the hatorei edict of 1876, which banned samurai from wearing topknots or carrying swords.

The final straw for Satsuma came in 1877, when rumors of a government plot to assassinate Saigo began to spread across the domain. Saigo, whose disaffection with the government he helped create had only deepened in the preceding years, was roused from his retirement and declared his intention to travel to Tokyo and "question" the government about the alleged plot on his life. This might have been all well and good, if not for the fact that 40,000 armed and disgruntled Satsuma samurai decided to travel with him. Of course, the national government and the newly formed Imperial Army could not allow this.

The result was the so-called "Satsuma Rebellion" of 1877. Saigo's goals were unclear from the start, and although many disaffected samurai from other domains flocked to the banner of their nations greatest living hero, and his men were spirited and well-trained, he lacked the supply lines and the ammunition stores of the well-funded if ill-trained national army, which consisted largely of conscripted commoners. An ill-advised besiegement of Kumamoto Castle in central Kyushu wasted precious time, allowing the Imperial Army to gather reinforcements and put its munitions factories into high gear. Meanwhile Saigo's army gradually exhausted its ammunition until it was fighting only with swords and pikes.

Still, Saigo held out for a year as the Imperial army chased him around Kyushu, his army gradually reduced by attrition, until at last he and his last few hundred men were cornered at Shiroyama just outside Kagoshima. On September 23, Imperial forces under future prime minister Yamagata Aritomo began the final assault on Saigo's position. The "last samurai" was killed in the fighting, and Satsuma's days as an independent state were over.

Important Dates in Satsuma History

1185 - Koremune Tadahisa named steward of Shimazu shoen.
1197 - Koremune Tadahisa becomes governor of Satsuma.
1198 - Koremune Tadahisa changes his family name to Shimazu.
1543 - Guns arrive in Japan for the first time when a Portuguese ship wrecks on Satsuma's Tanegashima Island.
1598 - Japanese returning to Satsuma from Toyotomi Hideyoshi's Invasion of Korea introduce "Satsuma ware" pottery to Japan.
1600 - Satsuma fights on the losing side in the Battle of Sekigahara.
1603 - The Tokugawa bakufu is established. Satsuma is labeled one of the tozama domains.
1609 - Satsuma forces capture the Ryukyu capital of Naha, securing Satsuma control of the Ryukyu islands.
1828 - Saigo Takamori is born to a low-ranking Kagoshima samurai family.
1863 - Kagoshima is bombarded by British warships in retaliation for the murder of British merchant Charles Richardson
1864 - Satsuma forces under Saigo Takamori thwart an attempt by Choshu troops to seize the Imperial Palace.
1866 - Satsuma signs an alliance pact with Choshu domain for the purpose of subverting the shogunate.
1867 - A Satsuma army enters Kyoto to demand the resignation of the shogun.
1868 - Satsuma and Choshu easily defeat Tokugawa forces in the Boshin War.
1877 - Satsuma forces under Saigo Takamori are defeated in the Satsuma Rebellion.

I wrote this play over four years ago, and I have not looked at it since. I made it for a very specific circumstance, and once that circumstance had passed, I let it go—forgot about it, nearly entirely. And then, because of THE IRON NODER CHALLENGE 7, I remembered it again. Such are the strange blessings of strange challenges, in strange places to which one can find oneself returning after a long, long time. Back when I wrote this piece, I was deeply involved in advocating for “locally grown new plays” (You can read more about that concept here.) I challenged some fellow Seattle playwrights, along with myself, to write something short for specific actors in mind. We enlisted a group of actors, put their names in a hat and drew them at random. I drew two local players named Gin Hammond and Rik Deskin. I interviewed them to garner aspects of their personal biographies for use in the play. There was one additional quirk of the challenge. Each playwright gave another participating playwright a list of ten words to choose from, all of which had to be included in the play. (I’m not going to tell you which words I was given. I want you to guess and message me.) Reading over it now, after four years, and polishing it up just a little bit, I like this play. A lot. Certainly much more than I did back then. The challenges of writing for specific actors, plus the list of words to include, forced me to tell a story I otherwise would have never imagined. I would love to see this piece staged fully. But then, I would love to see ALL of my plays staged fully. Alas, that’s not always possible. And that’s just one in a long list of reasons why, over a year ago, I retired from the theatre.

 

(Darkness.

Then a man’s face appears in the glow of an iPad held about foot and a half from his face in his left hand.  With his right hand Cotton masturbates to what he’s watching on his PDA.)

 

COTTON (low, insistent, earnest murmur):  What? … Touch you there?  Oh, I don’t know…..  No…. You shouldn’t….  No, don’t take my hand like that and put it… there because. . .  . . .

 

(A trap door opens in the floor behind the sofa on which Cotton sits, spilling a little bit more light into the room from below.)

 

Oh….  Oh, you’re so excited.  You’re sopping--

 

(Kir pops her head through the trap door.)

 

KIR:  Cotton?

 

COTTON (tossing the PDA away and covering himself with a nearby blanket or towel): Ah!  Hello?

 

KIR:  Hey, Cotton.  It’s just Kir.

 

COTTON:  Yeah, hi.  Hey.   I was uh…

 

KIR (fully up the ladder now):  Smells like funk in here.

 

COTTON:  You probably mean fug.

 

KIR:  I do?

 

COTTON:  Well, fug means the close damp atmosphere of a room that that has had people in it for a while without full ventilation.  Funk means that something smells off, ripe.

 

KIR:  Right.  Then it smells like fugging funk in here.

 

COTTON:  Okay.  I’ll be sure to buy a fan next time I’m out.

 

KIR:  Next time you’re out?

 

(Kir draws open all the curtains in the room.

Cotton is painfully sun dazzled, literally hissing at the glare of sunshine now pouring into the room.

Kir notices Cotton’s boner, and then immediately pretends not to notice Cotton’s boner.)

 

KIR:  Sorry for my outfit.  I just got done my class.

 

COTTON:  Pilates?

 

KIR:  What?

 

COTTON:  The class.  Was it pilates?

 

KIR:  No.  Yoga.  Bikram.

 

COTTON:  Hunh?

 

KIR:  You’ve heard of Bikram yoga.

 

COTTON:  No I haven’t. 

 

KIR:  Hot yoga.  I tried pilates once, but I just found the people who were good at it-- you know, really into it?-- to be, I don’t know, corseted somehow.

 

COTTON:  I see.  And that’s not you.

 

KIR:  No.  You think?

 

COTTON:  No.  You’re a—definitely, much more hot yoga in my eyes.

 

KIR:  Oh.  Well, I--  I was just walking past the carriage house when I realized that I hadn’t been up to see you since the earthquake.

 

COTTON:  The what?

 

KIR:  The earthquake.  We had an earthquake a week and a half ago?  6.7 on the Richter scale.

 

COTTON:  Well, you know, I don’t really do the news or anything.

 

KIR:  No.  I know but. . . 6.7.  That’s sort of a doozy.  Several aftershocks.  Pretty much everyone I know felt it. 

 

COTTON:  Must’ve slept through it.  I have a water bed you know.

 

KIR:  No, I didn’t.  You have a waterbed?

 

COTTON:  Yeah.

 

KIR:  Where?

 

COTTON:  Back over in the corner there.

 

KIR:  Over the Bugatti?!

 

COTTON:  What?  The car?  Yeah, I guess so.

 

KIR:  It’s not a car.  It’s a roadster.  It’s a Bugatti roadster.  Dad bought the Bugatti in 1971 for three hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars.  It’s only appreciated like five-fold since then.  We’re insured for earthquake but I’m pretty sure we’re not insured for waterbed.

 

COTTON:  Take it out of my back allowance.

 

KIR:  That’s between you and Dad-- was between you and dad.

 

COTTON:  Yeah, well, you don’t believe I’m his son anyway, so. . . .

 

KIR:  I gave you a place to stay, didn’t I?  I’m up here checking on your well being after the earthquake, aren’t I?

 

COTTON:  A week and a half ago?

 

KIR:  Cotton. 

 

COTTON:  Look.  I don’t care.  I appreciate you letting me stay here and get some work done.  When it doesn’t work out anymore, I’ll be cool with that too and move on.

 

KIR:  How is the painting coming?

 

COTTON:  It comes. 

 

KIR:  Yeah?

 

COTTON:  It goes.

 

KIR:  Okay.  (She goes to a canvas with a sheet draped over it.)  What’s this?

 

COTTON:  That’s uh… unfinished.

 

KIR:  Can I see it?

 

COTTON:  I’d probably rather you didn’t.

 

KIR:  How unfinished is it?

 

COTTON:  I’m not sure.

 

KIR:  Is it started?

 

COTTON:  You’re hilarious.

 

KIR:  I can’t see it?

 

COTTON:  Look, if you wanna check my homework, feel free.

 

KIR:  Oh come on.  It’s nothing like that.  I’m really just curious.  I’ve only ever seen one of your paintings once at that gallery in Kent.

 

COTTON:  Yeah.

 

KIR (as she’ takes the sheet off the canvas):  And I must confess that that piece wasn’t much my cup of –

 

(Upon seeing the painting she cannot help but gape to fully take it in, surprised and a bit overwhelmed by it.)

 

COTTON:  What?

 

KIR:  What?

 

COTTON:  Not your cup of what?

 

KIR:  This is…

 

COTTON:  What?

 

KIR:  Really cool.

 

COTTON:  Cool?

 

KIR:  Amazing.  I--  Sort of magic, isn’t it?

 

COTTON:  Is it?

 

KIR:  Yeah, well.  I’m must admit I’m impressed.  Good job.  It—

 

COTTON:  It’s not finished.

 

KIR:  It’s not? 

 

COTTON:  Does it look like it?

 

KIR:  I—I wouldn’t know how to finish it?

 

COTTON:  Do you paint?

 

KIR:  No, you know I didn’t inherit any of his talent.

 

COTTON:  Then why would you expect to know how to finish it?

 

KIR:  I just— an expression is all.

 

COTTON (Looking at it, frustrated, a bit astounded himself):  I might give up on it.

 

KIR:  Really?

 

COTTON:  Wouldn’t you?

 

KIR:  No.

 

COTTON:  You just said you wouldn’t have any idea how to finish it.

 

KIR:  But if I did, I would. Or I wouldn’t finish it.  But I wouldn’t give up on it.  Does it need finishing?

 

COTTON:  Does anything?

 

KIR:  Right.  So… Listen, I came up here with a purpose actually.

 

COTTON:  Really?

 

KIR:  Are you being sarcastic?

 

COTTON:  Well I have never known you not to have a purpose.

 

KIR:  Is that a good thing or bad thing.

 

COTTON:  Just is.  That’s fine.

 

KIR:  Okay.  Jarod’s worried that the garage sustained structural damage.

 

COTTON:  How?

 

KIR:  From the earthquake.

 

COTTON:  Oh, the earthquake.  The one that didn’t even wake me up.

 

KIR:  Yes.

 

COTTON:  So?

 

KIR:  So we keep the Bugatti here and if there’s structural damage to the garage and we don’t address it then the insurance company might not pay if anything were to happen to it.

 

COTTON:  Ah.

 

KIR:  So we have to have the entire structure inspected.  And really, maybe move the Bugatti until we make repairs.

 

COTTON:  Repairs.

 

KIR:  And really, maybe even tear the whole thing down if there damage is bad enough.

 

COTTON:  The damage that you don’t even know exists. 

 

KIR:  Well, Jarod thinks he can see cracks.

 

COTTON:  Oh, I’ll bet he does.

 

KIR:  What does that mean?

 

COTTON:  I mean I bet Jarod can see cracks.

 

KIR:  Jarod likes you.

 

COTTON:  Okay.

 

KIR:  He’s never said anything but the most complimentary things about you.

 

COTTON:  What about you?

 

KIR:  Of course I like you.  I let you live here, didn’t I?

 

COTTON:  I am indebted to your largesse.  But no, I meant does Jarod like you?

 

KIR:  What? 

 

COTTON:  Pretty simple question.

 

KIR:  I am not trying to kick you out.  If anything, I’m trying to assure your safety.

 

COTTON:  Ah safety.

 

KIR:  I am happy to pay for you to stay in a hotel while we’re inspecting the carriage house.  And, if after inspection, we decide to take it down, and build something safer for the Bugattti, well then we can talk about that circumstance as it comes.

 

COTTON:  Perfect.

 

KIR:  Sarcasm.

 

COTTON:  No perfect.  It’s all perfect.  Really there’s nothing that’s not perfect.

 

KIR:  Cotton.

 

COTTON:  I’m perfect.  My painting’s perfect.  You’re perfect.

 

KIR:  I’m just trying to talk to you here.

 

COTTON:  I mean it.  You’re perfect.

 

KIR:  Thank you, that’s sweet but—

 

COTTON:  It’s not sweet.

 

KIR:  I think it’s sweet.

 

COTTON:  Semi-sweet, maybe. 

 

KIR:  In any case, it’s not true. 

 

COTTON:  And that painting.  It’s you.

 

KIR:  It’s an orange.

 

COTTON:  Satsuma.

 

KIR:  Satsuma.  Whatever.

 

COTTON:  No whatever.  Just satsuma.  Satsuma.

 

KIR:  Satsuma.  Perfect.

 

COTTON:  Plenty of men would be happy to give you a baby.

 

KIR:  What?

 

COTTON:  Pretty simple statement.

 

KIR:  My god, how dare—what are you--?

 

COTTON:  You shouldn’t let someone like Jarod leverage you just because you think he would be a good father.  He wouldn’t.

 

KIR:  How would you know what a good father is?  You claim you never had one.

 

COTTON:  That’s true.  But I am one.

 

KIR:  What?

 

COTTON:  I’m a father.

 

KIR:  You are?

 

COTTON:  Of four.  I’m a grandfather too, actually.

 

KIR:  What?

 

COTTON:  Life doesn’t always wait around until you’re ready. 

 

(Long pause.  Kir literally cannot form words as she sorts through all this.)

 

COTTON:  Hello?

 

KIR:  Hello.

 

COTTON:  I really do hope you get what you want.

 

KIR:  How could you possibly know what I want?

 

COTTON:  You wear it on your face.  You walk around with it in your body.  I can paint an orange--

 

KIR:  Satsuma.

 

COTTON:  Satsuma, thank you, and illustrate your wanting.

 

KIR:  Well, I suppose that makes you very talented.  Far more talented than I.  You can peer down from your funky fugging bat-shit solopsitic perch and see my wanting and use it for your picture.  Dad would be so proud.

 

COTTON:  Now who’s sarcastic?

 

KIR:  Not me.  I honestly think he would be proud of that.  Whether you were related to him or not.  He always liked other weirdo artists.  I was always far too conventional for him.

 

COTTON:  I’m just saying you should find someone.  Some who affects you.  Reaches to your core.  And you should fuck his brains out.  Get yourself pregnant on him.  You don’t need Jarod and his manipulations.

 

KIR:  Maybe you’re right.

 

(She takes off her sweatshirt, revealing a just the top of her leotard underneath.  She sits, close to Cotton.)

 

KIR:  I’ll be honest.  He does want you out before he’s willing to consider a baby.

 

COTTON:  Blackmail.

 

KIR:  Yeah, but he knows what I want, so . . . that’s something right.

 

COTTON:  Everyone who knows you knows what you want, Kir.

 

KIR:  Like you.

 

COTTON:  Sure.

 

KIR:  Four kids.

 

COTTON:  Yeah.

 

KIR:  And a grand kid?

 

COTTON:  Yup.

 

KIR:  You must be very . . . fecund.

 

COTTON:  If I’m right in knowing what that word means, then I guess I’d have to admit that’s true.

 

KIR:  What’s to stop you from giving me what I want?

 

COTTON:  Uh…

 

KIR:  What’s stopping you?

 

COTTON:  I’m your brother.

 

KIR:  Half-brother.  And I’ve never really believed it anyway, so I have no objections on that count.  I wouldn’t be looking for anything more than a one time… donation.  I doesn’t even have to be fun.  Though I have no objections on that count either, should it turn out to be. . .

 

COTTON:  Kir.

 

KIR:  Fun.

 

COTTON:  What you’re proposing is… is impossible.  Right?  I mean, even if we weren’t related, I—I couldn’t just---  I have very strong feelings about child-rearing.

 

KIR:  Clearly.  So lay down some ground rules, daddy.

 

COTTON:  Come on.

 

KIR:  I’m serious.

 

COTTON:  Well, for one, I’m pretty against circumcision.

 

KIR:  Well, that’s very good to know.

 

COTTON:  I— you’re serious?

 

KIR:  Do I seem unserious?

 

COTTON:  Um…How?  When are you…?

 

KIR:  What’s wrong with right now?

 

COTTON:  I don’t know.

 

KIR:  So you’ll do it?

 

COTTON:  Shouldn’t we think about it?

 

KIR:  No, we shouldn’t.  Will you do it?

 

COTTON:  I—

 

KIR:  Say you’ll do it.

 

COTTON:  Aaaah.  Okay.

 

KIR:  Okay?

 

COTTON:  I-- sure.  Okay.  Alright.  Okay.

 

KIR:  I knew it!  You don’t think you’re my brother any more than Jarod thinks you’re my brother.  I’ve been a complete and utter patsy this entire time.  My GOD!

 

COTTON:  What?  No!

 

KIR:  You think you’re my brother and yet you’re willing to give me a baby?  What kind of creep are you?

 

COTTON:  Generous?

 

KIR:  Get out.

 

COTTON:  You want me to move out?

 

KIR:  I want to you LEAVE!  As in right now.  We’ll have someone send you all your crap.

 

COTTON:  What about the painting?

 

(She looks at the painting.  Looks back at him.)

 

KIR:  What do you want me to say?

 

COTTON:  I have no idea.

 

(Lights fade on them taking each other in and the painting too.

End of play.)

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