Average Jane

The Thea-tah! (Or… How Jane Got Cultured)

In what could be considered the start of a really bad joke*, last Friday I went to Manassas, VA for some culture. I was invited by MAD man to see “Some Girl(s)“, a play by Neil LaBute. Given the nature of the offer (it was a free ticket) and given the company (an old friend I had recently reconnected with from camp growing up) (and given that it was as date-like as I was going to get for some time), I jumped at the opportunity to roll my cute little uncultured butt down to the nation’s most livable city for some community theater! THEA-TAH!

I read up on the play just after I said I’d go. And before I realized that I might have to battle I-66 during rush hour on a Friday.  Apparently, Some Girl(s) starred Eric McCormick in a particularly post-Will-and-Grace-non-gay role. So non-gay that it involves his really fucked up relationships with not one, but five women. The reviews from its off Broadway stint weren’t terrible, and at that point I decided to actually get excited about my cross-town adventure.

Old town Manassas is way less morally objectionable than the rest of Manassas. Its brick buildings and narrow streets are quaint, charming… and stuff. The theater was in was looked like a converted church, and ended up being on the “intimate” side of “very small”. The metal folding chairs were fitted with foam cushions to alleviate the numb-butt that I inevitably got anyway.  The wine was cheap and red. But delicious. And perfectly fitting the occasion.

When the play began, something struck me, although I couldn’t figure out quite what until about 15 minutes in. The main character was, for all intents and purposes, my ex boyfriend. From the sound of his voice to his inflection, his gestures and his mannerisms, down to the very words he spoke… he was so familiar. It was almost uncomfortable. But in the end, it made the play.

So, as for the plot of the play, think My Name is Earl meets October Road meets Sex and the City (for dudes). The story follows the main character, Guy (the subtle implication that this could have been any-guy was not lost on me. So. Smart.), who goes on a nationwide ex-girlfriend tour, righting his relationships wrongs (My Name is Earl). We find out that Guy is a writer… a very self-referential writer (“Listen, I’m a writer.”)… who wrote an article about his past relationships (Sex and the City) that got a moderate amount of national attention — enough attention that all of his ex- girlfriends, now strewn across the country, are up in arms about what he had to say (October Road (I know you’ve never heard of it, but it’s a good show and you should watch it)).

I understood the premise: Asshole guy, Guy, has a “come to Jesus” moment in the wake of his engagement. For some reason, this particular subset of his exes all agree to meet him in a hotel room, to hear him out, to get some sort of closure. But when pressed, all he says is, “I don’t know why I’m here… to tell you I know I screwed up,” essentially. There weren’t too many (if any) “I’m sorrys”. There were lots of “let me explains”, and “that’s not the way it was’s”. And to be fair, that is probably pretty true to life.

The play didn’t pull punches. It got down to the heart of fucked up relationships. I think everyone left saying, “I knew that girl,” or “I was that guy.” The acting was more than decent — it was impressive.

But what was the takeaway message? I guess it begged the question, “Who do I have to apologize to? What loose ends do I have to tie up?” And it did, too. But maybe because the themes seemed to hit so close to home I found myself asking, “Who could I use an apology from to really move on with my life? What closure do I need?” It feels so selfish to take that approach, but I find myself apologizing all. the. time. To the point of annoyance. Maybe I am engulfed in apologizing for things that don’t matter to the point that I’ve lost touch with those who I owe more than a cursory “I’m sorry”.  I know there are people I have wronged. But damn it, I have been wronged, too. And for all the Yom Kippurs that I “celebrate” and all the forgiveness I ask for, sometimes I feel like I have forgiveness that I need to give. And I know that you can forgive without having to be apologized to… but maybe not for me. Not yet.

When I grow up and publish my book and all the names have been thinly veiled and all the stories sound vaguely familiar to people who may have known me and may remember me when prompted… I want to have a clear conscious. I want to be at peace with my past.

I’m not spoiler, but let’s just say I was “ok” with how the play ended. Not because it was “right”, but because it was honest, and sometimes that’s all we can ask for.


*You see, when I left “going to manassas tonight to get cultured” as my status message, Laundro wrote me saying, “oh, I get it.” It only got worse when I had to explain that it wasn’t a joke. Or a pun. Or anything else that I kind of wish it had been.


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  1. * Sam says:

    I know exactly what you mean about needing to forgive but not having anyone whose asking for it. I experienced a slightly-judgemental moment reading your post where I thought, “that’s kind of selfish…” but that was right before I realized that the my relationship hangups and trust issues are at least in part a consequence of no one ever having apologized to me. Like, you can forgive someone for betraying your trust, but if they don’t regret it and express remorse, if they don’t acknowledge that in retrospect it was a Bad Thing to Do, how are you supposed to believe other people won’t also do the same thing to you?

    The best I usually get is “I’m sorry you’re upset.” Which is infuriating because it actually means something completely different from, for instance, “I’m sorry about getting drunk and banging that other dude.” Gah, but now I’m going to go through the rest of my day thinking about how much people suck. 🙂

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 3 months ago
  2. * KassyK says:

    I love Neil LaBute plays. They always come at you full force in obvious AND subtle ways while really being honest about life and relationships in a not so pretty way.

    He is one of my favorites.

    His movies are quite disturbing (in the best way) as well. In the Company of Men and The Shape of Things are my favorite because they reverse roles…in one men are cruel and manipulative for fun and in the other woman are cruel and manipulative.

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 2 months ago
  3. * KassyK says:

    Oops spelling…I meant “a man” and then “a woman”

    | Reply Posted 10 years, 2 months ago

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