This Saturday, Nakai Theatre will be hosting the 24-hour Playwriting Competition Cabaret. It's a chance for the playwrights who participated in the competition to perform approximately five minutes of their play for a live audience.
For mine, I've rounded up a talented young actor, Graham Rudge, and my across-the-street neighbour who has never acted before, Paul.
My play requires a pair of army pants (my last pair of which I regrettably threw out - which just goes to show that you should never get rid of old clothes, no matter how many holes in the seat they might have) and a few other props - one of which is a toaster, because what's a play without a toaster, right?
My family, being the poor and unfortunate lot that we are, doesn't own a toaster. Just a toaster oven. Not wanting to fork out the big bucks for a new toaster, I dropped by the Salvation Army Thrift Store to see if I could get one there. One of the stores workers informed the that I missed the last toaster by a scant twenty minutes.
Disappointed but undaunted, I went to a consignment store down the road to see what they might have.
I found a pair of ugly, poor-quality, and much-too-large camouflage pants for $35. I wasn't willing to pay $35 for them, but I grabbed them anyway. I also found a non-functioning stainless-steel toaster. I wandered around the store while the consignment lady dealt with a couple of other customers before making what, I thought, was a simple request.
I should have known better. My brother told me about the consignment lady before.
"Hi, I'm doing a play this weekend and I need a pair of army pants, but I can't really afford to spend $35 on a pair of pants that I'll be using for five minutes."
"They're brand new pants," she informed me through her Eastern European accent.
"Yes, I know," I replied, "I was wondering if it would be possible for me to -"
"No," she interrupted.
I continued, "They're going to be worn for five minutes. I was wondering if it might be possible to -"
"No," she repeated, "You cannot borrow the pants. They're brand new pants. What if your friend drops cigarette on them?"
"What if I buy them and return them when -"
"And you give me five dollars them? No. How I do that? You don't know me. I can't do that."
"But that way you can make sure that they're-"
"No. You don't know me. I can't do that."
"But you could make $5 and still have the pants to -"
"You can buy and bring back on consignment."
"These pants are huge," I explained, trying to imagine the very, very round but short-legged person that would be required to fit them properly, "I don't want to wait that long for them to sell."
"They'll sell. They'll sell quickly," she asserted.
Seeing that this topic was a dead-end, I held up the toaster.
"How much?" I asked.
"$7.50," she told me.
"$7.50?" I balked, "You know it doesn't work, right?"
She grabbed the toaster from my hands and tried the lever that's used to push down the bread. It didn't work.
"I can't sell," she informed me.
"That's OK," I told her, "I only need it for a prop. I don't need it to work."
"I can't sell," she repeated, "It goes in garbage now."
"Look, sell it to me for $5, then at least it will get used for something."
"No, you don't know me. I can't sell now. It goes in garbage." Then, the consignment lady marched off into the back room, taking the toaster with her.
While I stared after her in a state of non-comprehension, a customer, who had been talking to the consignment lady earlier, looked at me in sympathy before tipping her head in the consignment lady's direction and shaking it in disbelief.
"If you sell it to me, at least you can make $5! That's better than not making anything at all!" I shouted into the back room.
"You don't know me! I can't do it!" came the voice from the back room.
"That's crazy!" I called back, "This way, you end up with nothing! Why would you just throw it out when you can sell it to me?"
"It goes in garbage! It doesn't work!" she repeated from the back room.
"You're crazy!" I inadvertently blurted out, "That makes no sense at all!"
"No, no, you don't know me! I can't do it!" she insisted.
The other lady and I walked out, both shaking our heads and rolling our eyes, and grinning at each other in disbelief. We climbed into our respective vehicles, still smiling at each other and still shaking our heads in disbelief. We both drove out of the parking lot, laughing with each other and still shaking our heads in disbelief."
In the end, I drove to one of the local big box stores and bought a brand new toaster for $9.33. I found a brand new, good-looking pair of army pants elsewhere, as well.