a sweater apart

(MARTY and ZEKE are at an apartment party. they are, as usual, dressed the same)

MARTY: I've been waiting all summer for this.
ZEKE: The first apartment party of the year.
MARTY: They're vital. Everything happens at apartment parties. Destinies are forged here, my friend. Now life can, at last, begin again. (calls over to someone, who waves back) Phillipe! Staying out of trouble, right? Good to see you.
ZEKE: Do you know that guy?
MARTY: Know him? I slashed the tires on his bike. The man's a jerk.
ZEKE: Got any plans for this year, Marty?
MARTY: Oh, you know. Keep it smooth. Don't stop the rock. (calls over to another person) Norman! That's what I like to see, buddy, that's what I like to see!
ZEKE: Norman, he looks familiar...
MARTY: Wets his bed. Poor Ted, they lived in the dorms together last year. Decided to save space, go for bunk beds. Absolute tragedy. Ted's never been the same.
ZEKE: Wow, that's a shame.
MARTY: Yeah, well, Ted, I could tell you a thing or two about that guy. (calls over to another person, cheerfully) Frederick, you miserable bastard! How the hell are you?
ZEKE: Who's he?
MARTY: A miserable bastard. So what are your plans for this year?
ZEKE: I don't know. I was thinking of getting involved with some groups. Meet some new people.
MARTY: Yeah, well, good luck with that. If you meet anyone new, tell them I said 'hi'.
ZEKE: (distracted, in awe) Hey, do you know that girl over there? (he points to ROSE, who is talking to someone on the other side of the stage)
MARTY: (looking) Who, Dana?
ZEKE: No, the blonde. Next to her.
MARTY: Huh. No, I don't know her.
ZEKE: Holy god, she's beautiful. I'm in love. And listen! Her voice is like music...

(everyone suddenly becomes silent except ROSE)

ROSE: No, I've never tried quiche. I'd like to, though.

(the sound resumes)

ZEKE: I'm going to make quiche for her.

(DANA comes over)

DANA: How are you boys doing?
MARTY: Not bad, Dana. And yourself?
DANA: Not bad. I notice you're still (pointing to their sweaters) coordinating.
ZEKE: Oh, well, that...
MARTY: I mean, we don't really plan it...
ZEKE: Impossible to. It's a surprise every time...
MARTY: Never know how it's going to come out. Today we both went grey (or whatever color they're wearing). Could be something else entirely tomorrow. Who knows?
DANA: Are you coming to Econ, Zeke?
ZEKE: Yeah, I guess so. Is it 11 already?
DANA: Yep. It's a little weird holding an apartment party on a class day in the afternoon. We used to wait for the weekend.
MARTY: Well, you know how it goes. There are things that must be done. The party must be started.
ZEKE: I'd better go.
MARTY: I'm sticking around. I don't have class until two today.
DANA: Keep the party going, Marty!
MARTY: You bet I will, sweet thing.

(everyone exits. ZEKE and DANA return, wearing backpacks)

DANA: I hate that class already.
ZEKE: Professor does seem a bit boring.
DANA: You coming back to the party?
ZEKE: No, I've got a meeting to go to.
DANA: Oh, okay. See you later, then.

(DANA leaves. ZEKE looks at a bulletin board)

ZEKE: What club should I join? Hmm...well, the Justice Action Progressivist Society is meeting a couple doors down from here. Eh, I don't know. Activism...oh, what the heck. Might as well give it a try.

(a group of activists enter and sit in a circle. ZEKE joins them but does not take part in anything they do - he just watches)

ZEKE: Is this the Justice Action Progressivist Society?
PYOTR: Yes, it is. Welcome, brother. (stands) Alright, my comrades in arms. I move that we call this meeting to order.
SANDRA: I second that motion.
PYOTR: Vote? (the vote is unanimous) The motion carries. The meeting is called to order. I'm stirred to see such a glorious turnout for our first meeting of the year. Numbers are truly beginning to swing our way and I think we're ready to make a real difference this year.
SANDRA: This year, the apathetic masses only outnumber us by 4500 to 1. That's a 25% decrease from last year! (cheers all around)
PYOTR: Our first action of the year is to deal once again with the local grocery stores (boos all around) and the evil they continue to perpetuate in San McLemore. Once a tropical paradise, San McLemore is now a capitalist nightmare. It's time for us to make our voices heard against all the American dollar-hungry corporations that support that oppressive regime! (cries of support all around)
ZEKE: (excited) What do they do? Do they have slaves?
PYOTR: No. They commit brutal, violent torture...
ZEKE: On underpaid children? The bastards!
PYOTR: No. On bananas.
ZEKE: (pauses) Hang on. (stands up, walks foot after foot in a straight line) Okay, I'm sober. You said "bananas", didn't you?
PYOTR: Yes. Do you find something strange about that?
ZEKE: Well, yes. Don't you?
PYOTR: I find it strange that such unconscionable acts of brutality could be committed in a supposedly enlightened society.
ZEKE: But they're bananas!
ZEKE: So how do you torture a banana?
PYOTR: What, are you looking for a how-to manual? I can put you in touch with the fascist dictatorship of San McLemore if you think torture is such a good idea.
ZEKE: But they're just bananas!
PYOTR: And you're "just" a college student! Should you be tortured too?
ZEKE: Bananas don't have feelings!
PYOTR: Oh, I guess you believe everything you read.
ZEKE: Well, no, but...
PYOTR: Do you think the fascist corporate-owned newspapers would print the truth if it hurt their profit margins? Of course not! Do you think the fascist corporate-owned biology textbooks would print the truth if it hurt their profit margins either? Hell no!
ZEKE: Okay, this is ridiculous. I'm leaving...

(ZEKE turns to leave when ROSE enters)

ROSE: Sorry I'm late, Pyotr. I can't wait to start making a difference for justice! (sees ZEKE) Oh, hi! You were at the party earlier today, weren't you?
ZEKE: Uh, yes.
ROSE: I noticed you. My name's Rose.
ZEKE: I'm, uh, Zeke.
ROSE: God, I find men who are committed to causes...sexy.

(ZEKE stares at the sky, conflicted. then he looks down and takes ROSE's hand as the group walks offstage. they both smile. the group comes back onstage a moment later, holding signs and chanting. ZEKE is wearing a white t-shirt bearing an anti-banana torture slogan. a SHOPKEEPER stands, bewildered)

PYOTR: No justice!
ALL: No peace!
PYOTR: No justice!
ALL: No peace!
PYOTR: End banana torture now!
SHOPKEEPER: What the hell are you talking about?
ALL: 1, 2, 3, 4...
ROSE: We don't want your blood-stained fruit no more!
ALL: 5, 6, 7, 8...
ZEKE: (stepping forward) Stop abusing bananas! Stop the hate!

(everyone cheers and surround the SHOPKEEPER. MARTY emerges from the store, carrying a bag)

MARTY: (singing to himself) "Proud Mary keep on burnin'..." (stops) Zeke?
ZEKE: (startled) Marty?
MARTY: What are you doing here?
ZEKE: What are you doing here?
MARTY: We ran out of dip at the party. Where've you been?
ZEKE: (determined) In love, Marty. I've been in love.
MARTY: (pointing) With crazy-banana-girl?
ZEKE: She's not crazy.
MARTY: Of course she is. How do you torture a banana?
ZEKE: It happens, Marty. Do you believe everything you read?
MARTY: Do you believe everything you don't read?
ZEKE: Do you not believe everything you don't read?
MARTY: Do you not believe everything you don't not read?
ZEKE: I'm trying to make a difference, Marty!
MARTY: By saving the bananas?
ZEKE: Someone has to.
MARTY: Why don't you let the apples take care of it?
ZEKE: This isn't funny, Marty!

(the duo stare at each other for a moment, and then MARTY begins to sing)

Sometimes, I think I don't know you anymore.
Sometimes, I wonder what happened to the Zeke from before
Not falling for crazy activists
Willing to eat a banana sandwich
The Zeke I knew before.

Sometimes, I think I don't know you anymore.
Sometimes, I wonder what happened to the Marty from before
You'd follow me down these roads
We'd wear similar clothes
The Marty I knew before.

Look at you, man, what are you wearing?
Black marker scrawled, that shirt's ill-fitting!
You can't get it from the mall
You shouldn't wear it at all
The slogan is really dumb.

Look at you, man, what are you standing for?
Apartment parties, that's all we do anymore!
The people are the same!
This isn't a game!
It's life, we've got to do what's right!

That woman made you crazy!
I tell you that she loves me!
You're defending bananas!
I'm saving Chiquitas!
We used to wear the same clothes
We used to be best friends
But now, we're a sweater apart
A sweater apart.

(a MAN comes out onstage and plays as close to a Journey-ish wanky guitar solo as we can get. when he's done, he moves aside and they resume singing - softer, this time)

Zeke, I miss you.
I have no one left to make snide comments to.
Marty, I miss you.
Without you I don't know the right thing to do.
You wind up acting like an idiot
It's true, I admit it
We used to be best friends
We used to be best friends
But now, we're a sweater apart.
A sweater apart.

(they stop singing and look at each other. then, abruptly, MARTY speaks)

MARTY: Come on. We're missing out on a rippin' game of Balderdash at the party. And I've got us some porch time reserved for eight.
ZEKE: On one condition.
MARTY: What's that?
ZEKE: You buy the Schlitz.
MARTY: Can do, buddy. Can do.

(a matching sweater for ZEKE is tossed onstage. he puts it on and they exit)

a sweater apart by marc heiden september 1999