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The Screenplay

August 6, 2012

Seen by Liz….Sam is typing….

Do you think the guys who develop technology in companies like Apple really know how the seemingly small changes they create in the technology we use everyday affects our social structure and how we communicate and see each other? These days I find myself looking at my computer screen and watching the faded gray message that informs me….Sam is typing. Right next to that a group chat box is open. Seen by Liz. Seen by Sam. Seen by Everybody. Sometimes one box says Sam and Liz, another says Liz and a third, Sam. It becomes very important to keep them straight as I have a private, girl-talk conversation with Liz, a group-bullshit, laugh-session with both of them and a private, way-too-flirty-for-my-own-good conversation with Sam. I’m living a fucking romantic comedy.

This screenplay has been written and filmed a hundred times. A group of friends bond over common misery. Divorce. Heartbreak. Marie was married for 20 years and has two grown children. Having dedicated her life to her family she finds herself independent for the first time. She bonds with Liz, the career architect who dedicated her life to her visionary husband who abandoned her for his student. Newly single they embark on a set of misadventures and madcap shenanigans as they navigate self-discovery, singledom and forces of change that happen faster than they catch up to.

There’s laughter and good times. Moments of bliss and life affirmation. There’s sadness and despair. Catharsis and conflict. It’s all there. The soundtrack is a combination of 80s alternative rock and a moving original score.

Bring in the thrid, male character for depth and plot twists: Sam, fun loving, cute and different, brings a zest for life, a great sense of humor and a knack for giving morsels of delicious attention to the women around him. On the surface he’s the guy who’s got it going on. He’s smooth, he’s cool. He likes to dance and laugh. He knows how to schmooze the ladies and he doesn’t spare Liz or Marie in his attentions. But he’s broken too. Divorced only a year, the wounds haven’t healed. He’s a contradiction of confidence and strength, an almost inflated sense of self with cracks in the shield that reveal insecurity and a naiveté about his own influence and power over those around him.

The plot reaches its point of tension when predictably Sam hooks up with one of the girls. He’s known Liz for over twenty years and was friends with her husband. She’s like a little sister to him. Marie, however is a renewed acquaintance. Here’s how it goes down: Marie is a Jane Austen-reading hopeless romantic. Her need for attention and grand gestures were never fully satisfied by her husband. Though she had imagined she would have walls built up around her heart and might become a bitter divorcé, unable to let anyone in, she finds herself more like a 16-year old, vulnerable to the attentions of cute boys, Sam not excluded.

You see where this is going.

One weekend Liz and Marie meet Sam in New Orleans for some Zydeco dancing. Sam and Liz have been trying to teach Marie to maneuver and navigate these prescribed dances. Liz is an exceptional dancer. Sam is very good, but has his own unique rhythm and style. The first time Sam danced with Marie he scolded her, “You’re a hard lead.” It was true. Marie was not accustomed to letting go and allowing someone else to be in control. But she likes the way Sam holds her in his arms. She likes the strength of it. She started closing her eyes when she was in his arms and letting herself be carried along by him. The next time, Sam scolds her again saying, “Don’t close your eyes. Look at your partner right in the eyes and then you’ll know exactly what he’s going to do.” The next time they dance, Marie sets her eyes right into his and doesn’t leave them. She looks right at him with a perfectly contended smile on her face as he twirls her around and presses his body against hers guiding her steps back and forth. Marie thinks he probably doesn’t like dancing with her very much. She can’t keep up with him but she really enjoys being in his arms on the dance floor. There is something wonderful about being held up like that.

Then the c’mon baby’s start. They’re going through a drive-through when Sam starts imitating how some men sound when they’re trying to make up with their women by saying in a sweet, smooth, baritone voice, “c’mon baby, whatchu want?” Marie is in the front seat and he makes her the object of this pleading, in jest. She genuinely blushes and smiles coyly. Seeing the effect this has on her only eggs Sam on and he continues the c’mon baby’s the rest of the night. Marie jokingly protests, telling him to stop. “Don’t start something you can’t finish,” she teases him. Back at Sam’s house, he continues and Marie tells Sam that if he doesn’t cut it out he’s going to need to lock his door. All this is in jest, but the truth is if Sam had wanted to have her that night, she would have been putty in his hands. That Sam could’ve have been oblivious to this, shows either his insecurity, naiveté or both. Or maybe he just didn’t care.

A week later, Sam is coming into town to join the girls at a Sunday birthday party. The Sunday plans turns into Friday-Monday plans. Crashing at Marie’s apartment turns into spending three nights at a spacious, four bedroom home in the country with a pool, the home of one of Liz’s clients. By that Friday evening the flirting between Sam and Marie has escalated and Marie is feeling confused. She hadn’t thought of Sam in romantic terms up until then and wasn’t even sure she wanted that kind of attention from him. Finally she embarrassingly asks Liz if she thought Sam might be seriously flirting with her. Marie assumes Liz is going to dismiss this notion and say, “No, he’s like that with everybody. Whatever you do, don’t take it seriously.” She didn’t say that. She said she didn’t know. Marie quotes from some of his texts and chat messages and they agree that the tone is overtly romantic and sexual. “He doesn’t talk to me that way,” Liz says. They agree that the weekend will likely be revelatory. That Friday afternoon, Marie writes in her Liz and Sam chat box, “It’s gonna get weird, bitches!”

Friday night, they assemble at Marie’s apartment before going out dancing. As the night wears on Sam pours out the flirting like slow, thick molasses. Marie is a more than willing participant. The c’mon baby’s are whispered in Marie’s ear. He dances with her and only her all night, an unusual thing for Sam. He holds her hand and puts his arm around her when they walk around together. Everyone who sees them out that night clearly picks up on the chemistry between them. They exude an attraction for each other. Finally, they walk out to the street to get something in Liz’s car. Sam whispers in her ear, “c’mon baby, watchu want.” Marie looks him in the eye and smiles and they kiss. His beard is soft and he kisses her tenderly. Marie is intoxicated both with wine and the sweetness of the moment and the night. She doesn’t recognize the red flag that goes up when she pulls him by the hand to stop him from walking back to the entrance and asks, “So, I wasn’t imagining things?” He looks at her curiously and says nothing. He is more than a little drunk as well. They’re operating on two different levels. She is responding to what she perceives as weeks of intentional flirting. He is being a man and living in the moment. Conquest. Sex. Those are the thoughts in his head. Romance. Possibility. Crush. Those are in hers.

They make out on a bench in the dark when Liz leaves them to bring her sister home. His kisses are loving and tender and he holds her face in his hands. They continue in the back seat as Liz drives to the client’s house. Upon arrival, Marie opens one of the bottles of wine she brought with her, pours herself a glass and walks into the pool fully dressed in her pink skirt and white blouse. Liz and Sam join her in their bathing suits. They swim for a while, laughing and talking until Sam swims over to Marie and puts his arms around her. Liz takes her cue and goes inside and crashes on a sofa. Marie and Sam kiss and hug in the water and Marie asks him, “How far are we going to take this?”

Yadda yadda yadda and they wake up in each other’s arms in the purple master bedroom the next morning.

Marie gets up and finds Liz in the kitchen making coffee. “I think I slept with Sam last night,” she laughs. “Uh, yeah, you did.” Liz laughs back. “Shit,” Marie says.

This is Marie’s first post-20-year-marriage sexual experience. Sam is only the third person she’s ever slept with. This is the part in the movie when things get weird between the friends. Sam’s demeanor changes over the weekend, going from hot to cold and confusing the shit out of both Marie and Liz. The level of affection and attention he poured on Marie wanes and though they have sex again that weekend, his signals are all over the place. He doesn’t join her in the back seat on the way to the dance hall Saturday night but he reaches back to hold her hand the whole way there and calls her over for a sweet kiss when Liz steps into a store. At the venue, there’s no dancing with Marie and he seems distant and preoccupied. By Sunday night, Marie asks him point-blank, “Is this just a weekend thing?” Sam says “Yes.”

“Were you flirting with me in New Orleans?” Marie asks. “No.” Sam replies. Ouch.

“I think I made a mistake,” Marie confesses to Liz Monday morning. “What if it’s weird now.”

“I don’t think there’s any such thing as making a mistake for you and I right now,” Liz counsels. We’re not doing anything harmful. You had sex with a friend. Own it like a rock star. It’s only going to be weird if you let it.”

Marie tries to take Liz’s advice but she’s on unsure footing. She’s never done anything like this before.

Marie takes her leave of Sam and Liz, giving each a hug and heads off to work. The magic of the weekend comes to an end.

By that afternoon, the trio is right back where they left off. “I’m in the purple room now.” Sam posts on her wall. Marie “likes” the post while reminding herself that he’s not flirting. The week goes by and each day is filled with the same kind of chat conversations as before. Marie has a Sam window open next to a Liz window and a Sam and Liz window. It’s even more important now to keep them straight. The flirting picks up with a little less intensity and Sam and Marie are able to make jokes about their dalliance. It’s going to be okay, maybe.

Girls have this need to make an emotional connection when we have sex, even if the sex is purely physical. Marie’s task now is to try to stop herself from falling for Sam, for allowing her brain to put emotional connections where there is no basis for them.

But she finds her heart skipping a beat when she hears that sound that signals he’s messaged her something and she finds herself sitting and staring at the computer when the faded gray Sam is typing, appears. She posts things on her wall, knowing it will bait him to comment. She talks to herself saying, “Don’t fall for him. He’s damaged and complicated. He’s not right for you.”

He texts a link to a song to her and she finds herself disappointed to know he texted it to both she and Liz. He calls her when he’s driving home and they talk about things they’ve never talked about before. He pays more attention to her.

“C’mon baby,” he texts her one day while she’s walking in the park.

“Easy there, kitten,” she replies, “Remember what happened last time you started that shit with me.”

“Lol,” he responds, “It’s okay. I’m in New Orleans.”

Marie thinks to herself, I’ve got a car and a tank of gas you moron. Don’t start this shit with me. She doesn’t go there.

Sam invites Marie and Liz to come see him in New Orleans again. Marie wants to go. They always have fun together. But, how will that play out, she wonders. Now that they’ve slept together, are they friends with benefits now? If she and Liz go stay at his house again, will it be understood that she will sleep in his bed, even if all they do is sleep? Or, will the weekend-only fling mean that’s off limits now? Should Marie even allow herself to indulge in the benefits, given the danger it puts her heart?

How does the screenplay end? If this were one of the hundreds of movies written with this plot, there would be some moment when things come to a head. A conflict. An argument and they would be mad at each other or she would be mad at him. Then there would be the big romantic scene where one of them rushes through the airport or runs through the streets in the rain or is waiting there when he or she shows up somewhere. And then, finally they would admit that they really love each other, the barriers come tumbling down as they fall into each other’s arms.

That’s not going to happen. What will happen is Sam will keep flirting with Marie. Marie will flirt back. They won’t sleep together again and they’ll remain friends until this phase in the trio’s lives comes to its natural end. Sam and Marie will look back with fondness and a little weirdness at that weekend at that house and waking up in the purple room.

Sam will find a girlfriend. Liz and Marie will find boyfriends and life will move on. Happily. Ever. After.

Or, it really will get weird, they won’t be able to recover from it. Hearts will be broken and the trio will break up with a bang.

We’ll see.

Meanwhile, casting for the roles of Liz, Marie and Sam start Monday.

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From → Rantings

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