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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Edward Albee

Atheneum, 1960

Truth and illusion. Snap! The following essay is trying to be something it is not. Snap! Just read the damn thing and ask questions later. (Not that anyone will answer. The lights are off and nobody’s home.)

Act I: Secrets and Lies

High school. Best years of our lies. A time when interests begin to develop, sprouting up faster than zits and pubic hair. The world blooms. Isn’t it gorgeous? Maybe teachers are not all bad. The ones that aren’t high on power or leaking broken dreams from blank stares. Perhaps it is the warm fuzz that does it. When you tap the keg and the buzz first hits. Even if it is a bit more than you bargained for, the fuzz marks the beginning of something great. Courage. Pour another. Welcome to the dance. Feeling hot, hot, hot. Another. The curtain of youth closes. You can hide behind it now. The booze diploma lights up adolescence like Christmas decorations charging through every last house on the block. There is a new view in the locker room. Equal parts awkward and exciting. Didn’t see that coming. Shhhh. Keep it to yourself. Now isn’t the time to go all true confession. This game is “Secrets and Lies.” Another still. You are old now. Balding. A wily old veteran. Old enough to be left alone by priests. You don’t think that’s a nice thing to say though. But that doesn’t stop you from thinking it.

Act II: The Nightmare Before Christmas

Another game? Or, are you too old for that now? I say, go for it. How about “Dollars and Sense.” The rules are easy. Follow the trail of rude awakenings. No Santa. Or, in fact, you turned into Santa, Fatty. Remembering the time when Christmas first became less about compiling wish lists in the Sears catalog and more about mall gridlock and credit card debt. Hustle, bustle and Merry Christmas. Make that, Happy Holidays. Haven’t you heard? Get with the program. Not to offend others, you erase a little bit of yourself. This game is “The Nightmare Before Christmas” … er … “Holidays.” At least it’s not “Doom and Gloom.” Not when you’re walking down the aisle in the most amazing wedding dress Daddy can buy. It is the happiest day of your life. Tonight, you will be Mrs. Newname on her way to a spanking new beginning. The champagne fountain overflows with promises of happiness and you are there to drink it up.

Act III: The Remains of the Day

Morning has broken. Or, morning is broken. It is actually well past noon but who’s counting? Past tense is present tense. Or at least, presently tense. Is that a hangover I smell? The Cleavers have moved away. The muzak in your house, Mrs. Newname, plays on continuous rotation. It’s lulled you to sleep, making you almost forget that company is coming tonight. Barely enough time to whip anything together so you have to go with the tried and true house specialty. One part just kidding and three parts fuck off. Serve immediately. They say red wine goes great although bourbon has its fans. The timing just sucks though. Of all nights. You just found out that your wife/husband is fucking her/his boss/secretary. She/he denies it. So do you. No choice. Damn. The sun’s intrusion on a clear day is a brutal imposition. There is nowhere to hide in the cruel spotlight. You either do it alone (shudder) or grab hold of him/her and make do with what is left of the day. The doorbell rings.