From a room next door we begin to hear a nostalgic melody being played on a saxophone with the faltering notes of a beginner. It is the melody of a very beautiful song, which must be created especially for this play in keeping with the spirit and style of the period.
Graciela interrupts the monologue, and imitates the sax with her voice, then begins to sing the song very quietly, as if trying to remember the words. At last she sings it at full volume, and sings it well, like a professional.
While the song lasts, she closes the ironing board, takes down the hammock, and transforms the stage back from the time when they were poor to the present.
I tell you: being poor didn’t matter to me. The opposite, if only I was still there, an orphan with a stutter, but lulled to sleep by the saxophone exercises of Amalia Florida, God rest her soul. Poor Amalia, she dedicated her life to learning one single piece on the saxophone, always the same one. (Repeats the first bars of the song she has just sung, imitating a saxophone. Laughs, happy.) Sometimes I couldn’t take it anymore, and I shouted at her (Shouts.): ‘For God’s sake, Amalia, give that piece of tin a rest!’. And she, in all seriousness, shouted back (Shouts.): ‘Don’t be rude, woman. The sax is not a piece of tin.’. And she went on practising the same song day and night.
Happiness is not like they say, that’s for sure, that it only lasts a moment and you don’t know you have it till it’s gone. The truth is that it lasts as long as love lasts, because if you’ve got love, even dying’s okay.
She lights a cigarette.
And still you have the cheek to say to me that I’m becoming jealous in my old age. Imagine! God knows what I’ve been through to not let the gossip about your affairs get to me. About that day when you came in looking half dead at five in the morning not because you were kidnapped (as you had the newspapers publish), but because you were locked up all night with an underage girl in someone else’s house, and you yourself shredded your clothes and covered your face in bruises so they’d believe your story. Or the other time when you actually were attacked while you were in the car with Rosa San Román. How dreadful! With Saint Rosita San Román, no less, and they not only left you both butt naked, but you paid I don’t know how much so that they wouldn’t rape you in front of her. Maybe that’s why I laugh so much when they send me anonymous letters. Because they only describe all the screwing around which shows you in a bad light, and the ones that show you in a good light are only told by you, and nobody believes them.
It doesn’t bother me, because I’ve always maintained what I said when we got married: I don’t care who you sleep with as long as it’s not always the same woman. But don’t come to me now saying that she’s someone different every time, if very soon you two aren’t reaching the same silver wedding anniversary that we are. Then again, she’s had even more married years of messing her husband around. They say he goes to the barber’s once a week to have his cuckold’s horns sawn off, priding himself on all his children having the same Jaraiz de la Vera eyelashes, all except the youngest daughter with the hair. No one knows where that wiry, wild black fuzz she has comes from, which makes me think (thank you Lord), that now she’s given you a taste of your own medicine.
Today’s newspaper is slid under the door. She picks it up and puts it near her husband.
(Ironic.) There, you’ve got today’s paper, so that you can give that one a well-deserved rest. Must be rubbed out by now with so much reading.
She seems to be interrupted by an inaudible voice at the door. She listens attentively, and then delivers categorical instructions for the party:
You’ll do no such thing. Tell Gaspar to go ahead as we agreed in the rehearsal on Saturday, and to use his own initiative to sort out anything else new which comes up at the last minute, agreed?
Pauses to listen.
Yes, and please, don’t bother me anymore. Or my husband either. Not even by telephone. Tell them to say that they don’t know where we went. We’re going to be busy here until who knows when. (Fake smile.)
Thank you, Brígida.
God, I’m rude! The gossip magazines are going to say we’ve spent the whole day celebrating our silver wedding anniversary in bed. (Shrugs her shoulders.) I don’t give a toss, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s not true! What was I saying?
Out of character now, she asks the audience:
Does anyone remember what I was saying?
The audience’s responses allow her to pick up the thread of the monologue, but before that she says to those who have helped her remember:
Thanks ever so much, but when all’s said and done, he is my husband and this fight’s between the two of us and nobody else need get involved. No offence, eh?
She pours herself a drink. Sips a little. After some thought she turns to her husband:
Well, it’s all history now. It’s over! Your deputy mummy, the one who warmed your socks before bed so you didn’t die of cold feet, the one who cut your fingernails with little sewing scissors, the one who sprinkled boric talc on your crotch so that the burning, from whichever whore you used up and spat out, didn’t get inflamed, the one who, with such devotion, put up with your drunken vomiting and your dawn farts under the covers, all that settled what should have been clear from day one: I’m completely fucked!
The above sample taken from the translation Diatribe of Love Against a Seated Man by Gwendolen MacKeith is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Entry written by Gwendolen Mackeith. Last updated on 4 March 2011.