(A Short Play.)
Jim Hooper, A Psychology Graduate Student
Mary Darrin, Jim's Girlfriend, also a Psychology Graduate Student
, a schizophrenic homeless man with the mental acuity of a five year old
Oscar the Grouch
, an extremely bipolar homeless man
(Stairs leading up to a door are set up center stage, a trash can is set to their right, with a cardboard box sitting by the trash can.)
(Jim and Mary enter stage left)
MARY: I can’t believe you used to live here.
JIM: Well, during the summer. My grandpa used to own the grocery store
. I haven’t been back since he died. Jeez, that was like 23 years ago…
MARY: So, a little boy is traumatized by the death of his father figure at a young age, avoids anything that reminds him of it his whole life, goes to grad school to study psychology, and then returns, finally, to the site of the trauma when writing his dissertation? I think I might have a topic for mine now…
JIM: Hey, I just remember the people around here being really interesting -- a large group of idiosyncratic individuals on this one street, that’s all. I didn’t want to write yet another paper on the paradox of an individual’s post-modern alienation in the most individualistic society in history.
(A man enters, stage left. He is wearing all yellow, and a mardi gras mask on his face with feathers and a beak.)
BIG BIRD: A, B, C, D, E, F, G… (struggling to remember the next letter)
BIG BIRD: H, of course! I always get stuck on that one. Hey, who are you?
JIM: Hi, I’m Jim, and this is Mary. You seem familiar…
BIG BIRD: I’m Big Bird! And it’s nice to meet you! Have you come to play with me?
JIM: Well, actually, I’m doing a sociological study of everyone who lives on this block. How long have you lived here, may I ask?
(The Bird stares at him blankly)
MARY: Uh, yes, we’ve come to play with you.
BIG BIRD: That’s great! What game do you want to play?
(Mary and Jim look at each other)
JIM: We don’t really know any games… what would you like to play?
BIG BIRD: I know! Let’s bang pots and pans on the sidewalk for no reason at all!
JIM: Umm, well, okay…
(Big Bird pulls some pans out of the box and starts hammering the floor. Jim and Mary hesitantly join in.)
(The trash can lid raises, and a man wearing drab green, a green wig, and his face smeared with muck sticks his head and arms out of it, holding a 40 in a brown paper bag.)
OSCAR: WHAT THE HELL IS MAKING ALL THAT RACKET!?!?
BIG BIRD: Oh, Hi Oscar!
OSCAR: Bird, one of these days, I'm gonna knife ya.
BIG BIRD: Oh, Oscar, you sillyhead! I was just playing a game with my new friends!
OSCAR: Well, thanks for waking me up and making me ANGRY. I LOVE it when I’m ANGRY! But I don’t want to meet your new friends. I HATE having friends.
MARY: Oh God, what is that smell
(She sniffs, stands up, and looks inside Oscar’s can.)
MARY: That is disgusting! There must be thirty years of accumulated filth in here! Do you live in this thing?! Are you raising worms in there?!
OSCAR: Hey lady, I don’t come over to your house and take a dump on your living room floor. So keep your mitts off of my can!
JIM: Oscar, I definitely remember you -- and you haven’t changed a bit.
OSCAR: And who are you? Some snot-nosed brat that used to bang on my can come back to reclaim a childlike sense of innocence and joy? I HATE when kids come back here because that makes me HAPPY. AND THAT MAKES ME ANGRY
JIM: Well, uhhh…
OSCAR: Don’t think you’re special or unique. We get your kind around here all the damn time. Thinking about knocking this broad up and wondering what childhood will be like for your kids?
JIM: Actually, we’re doing a study on the people who live on this street…
OSCAR: Really? Well, I’ll help you out with that. Everyone on the street caters to the whims of a retarded toddler with a lisp, the Count doesn’t thunder anymore, and Bert and Ernie moved to Massachusetts to get married
. Most everyone else is still here, but you wouldn’t recognize them.
JIM: This isn’t what I remember. I think maybe we’ll be leaving…
BIG BIRD: No, don’t go! We can play another game! Let’s play hide and seek!
(Mary and Jim start walking away, as Big Bird sits down, covers his eyes, and starts to count in the background.)
MARY: Get what you came for?
JIM: No, and yes. But I can’t write about this… you can’t go home again.
MARY: Hon, these people are sick and in need of professional hope. And an inordinately large amount of medication.
JIM: Maybe, maybe so. But maybe they aren’t the crazy ones
(Exit Jim and Mary.)
OSCAR: You can stop counting, they left, just like all the others.
BIG BIRD: Oh, but I really liked them.
(They both stare off into the crowd.)
OSCAR: So, Bird, you cooking?
BIG BIRD: No, I’m off the smack
OSCAR: Well, that’s a damn shame, Bird, a damn shame.
(Oscar slumps down inside his trash can. Big Bird walks slowly off the stage, singing softly to himself.)
BIG BIRD: Sunny Day, sweeping the clouds away…