Act I of ADJUSTMENTS
Late Nineties, in a restaurant with solid colored table cloths, Victorian Decor with an attractive screen, a tall stand and a phone.
Nell, a senior, stylishly dressed, cell phone
Jane, a senior in rumpled, casual clothes, a bad hair day.
Judy, a smartly dressed young waitress
JUDY: Good morning, Nell. How are you today?
NELL: I’m running a little late. I see our seat is still there. Is Jane here yet?
JUDY: No, and she usually is first getting here for your weekly lunch. Something must be keeping her. Do you want to give her a call?
NELL: I’ve been calling her most of the morning and last night, too. I wanted to make sure we didn’t both wear this same outfit. She hasn’t answered me. I hope she’s OK. A couple of hours ago I called my friend across the hall from her and got her to go check on Jane. Jane wasn’t at home when she went in.
JUDY: Maybe she just dropped in on somebody.
NELL: She wasn’t in last night either, and she usually is on a Sunday night. She likes to watch a program on TV.
JUDY: Maybe she went to Sharon’s place, or something.
NELL: I was afraid she’d fallen. Those paintings of hers don’t want to hang straight and with her stiff knees and the way she’s been acting lately, I get scared she’ll try getting up to straighten one and topple over. People who use canes shouldn’t be climbing.
JUDY: Well, if she’d toppled, she’d likely still be there.
NELL: She’s not at the hospital. I couldn’t get Sharon.
JUDY: Maybe she went for a walk.
NELL: With her knees? I don’t think so… I was just going to call the police when the Handivan came and I had to leave in order to get here.
JUDY: Well, you might as well put it on the radio as call the cops when you’re in the Handivan.
NELL: I wish she’d get one of those alarm things to wear, but she hates things around her neck.
JUDY: It’s dangerous living alone..
NELL: We’re all alone some time…especially us women. It’s not like Jane to be late, though. She’s the one person I know who is most likely to be at least a few minutes early. I wish she’d take better care of herself.
JUDY: I’m going to call my uncle…Maybe he knows what’s happened to her. He’s the temporary super over at Gingko Towers now. (Dials.) No Answer. Oh, here’s a menu and I’ll get you some coffee while you’re waiting for Jane. Did you say Jane’s using a cane now?
NELL: Yes. And I think she really should get a walker. She’s gotten pretty light headed lately.
JUDY: It could be all those pills, she’s been taking. She ate five of them before lunch last time she was here. Sharon is really upset about her mother. She’s afraid she’ll kill herself and maybe poison the kids, too. But Jane just keeps going to more specialists and they all give her pills.
NELL: Who knows what a mixture like that will do to people? Where can she be?
(Jane enters unsteadily on cane.)
NELL: Great Scott Jane! I’m glad to see you. What has happened to you?
JANE: (Crying and pounding cane, purse falls.)
JUDY: Here, have some tissues. What can I get you. Ms. Janson, this is too much. Let me help you.
NELL: Did you fall?
NELL: What then? I tried and tried to get you, but you didn’t answer.
JANE: How am I supposed to answer, when I don’t have a phone?
NELL: How can it be ringing, if you don’t have one? It rang every time I pressed redial. You have a phone. You must have fallen.
JANE: Phone schmone! I’ve fallen afoul of that miserable daughter of mine. All the times I felt sorry when I jabbed her with one of those big ugly diaper pins…. I wish I’d have jabbed her on purpose. Just look at me…this is the only outfit I have and it’s all wrinkles. I’m just a mess. I’m so embarrassed to be in a nice place like the Cream Puff in my garden clothes.
JUDY: Never mind about that. At least, you’re dressed.
NELL: What happened?
JANE: That miserable Sharon, tricked me out of my apartment yesterday and took me to the last stop before the pearly gates. She got her husband in on it. Danny likes gardening, so Sharon sends him out to see my flowering kale, so nothing would do but I had to go out and show it to him. He’s ooing and awing about the purple ones and how white the white ones are and how different the other ones are. Finally he had his fill of admiring kale, looks at his watch and off we went to take one of the kids somewhere and then of course we dropped in at the Great House to see Danny’s Father. He’s got Alzheimer’s, you know. He nearly burned the house down and they tricked him into going to live in the Great House. I should have known they were up to something. The buggers left me there!
JANE: Yes! They did!
NELL: That was yesterday. Right?
JANE: That’s what I said.
NELL: You were there all night?
JANE: Yes. I was. It’s not easy to leave when everybody thinks you should stay.
NELL: Call a taxi.
JANE: Taxi! Schmaxi!
JUDY: What do you mean, taxi, schmaxi? Your money is as good as anyone else’s, Jane.
JANE: Not as good as Sharon’s money. I’m certain she got to the taxi first. Three taxi’s don’t all suddenly shuffle off to Buffalo. I even tried to hire the limousine and according to the boss person, they’d just taken it’s motor out.
JUDY: On Sunday?
JANE: I never heard so much crap. I don’t have a single friend left who drives…they’re all in on this ‘over the hill’ conspiracy that Sharon cooked up.
JUDY: You never called me.
JANE: You were out.
NELL: Who all did you call?
JANE: Not all I’d have liked to call. They gave me a nice warm cup of tea that tasted a little funny and the next thing I knew it was three o’clock this morning and I had one hell of a time trying to find the washroom. Then I lost the crazy bed. I wound up in the Common Room and just when I got settled in front of a good TV program on Satisfying Sex in the Golden Years, along comes this young whipper snapper and a nurse and they hustle me back to bed with another cup of their ‘Dead to the World Tea’ to snooze me out.
JUDY: How did you get here?
JANE: It wasn’t simple….or strictly honest, but I sneaked out of there and I’m here looking like a disaster.
NELL: It’s true, you’ve looked a whole lot better.
JUDY: How did you get here?
JANE: I got through the gap in the hedge and went out the back way to the road, and of course I fell.
Thank God for Lucy (cane) here. I got back up and got to the parking lot at Canadian Tire.
NELL: Why would you want to go to Canadian Tire, for pity sake?
JANE: Danny works there. You know that, Nell.
NELL: Oh, yeah. Right. So?
JANE: So, I know where Danny hides a key and I helped myself to his truck.
NELL: I thought your licence had expired.
JANE: Frankly my dear, I didn’t give a damn.
NELL: You’d better be careful!
JANE: Or I’ll have something new to write about, eh?
JANE: Even my teeth are grungy! She didn’t pack my stuff for cleaning them, or the cup I put them in at night. No eyeglass cleaner. I feel like a refugee. Where is all my stuff going? I never got to take anything I want with me. Where’s my dog?
JUDY: Yeah! Where’s your dog?
JANE: If anything has happened to Piffles, I’ll ring her neck. Honest to God! I have never been this mad at Sharon in my life before.
(A male voice calls..”Waitress.”)
JUDY: I’m calling Animal Rescue. (Aside) I’m coming. I’m coming. I’ll be right there.
NELL: Call your lawyer.
JANE: I don’t have his number..
NELL: Always have your lawyer’s number… especially if you see your kids looking at you kind of funny.
JANE: Who takes their lawyer’s number with them when they go out to show someone their flowering kale? Who does that?
JUDY: Animal Rescue has just taken Piffles in and somebody is trying to adopt him. Piffles is not for adoption. He has no business being there. There’s been a misunderstanding. Who brought him? …. Sharon de Veen, you say? Well, she had no authority to take Piffles there. Ms. Janson will pick him up in about an hour…. Well, okay then, if you have to leave…. I can put him in the office, I guess. Bring him over to the Cream Puff, then. Ms. Janson is here.
(Judy goes to look after someone behind the screen.)
JANE: Call 911.
NELL: Sh. I’ve got Jack Whitecloud on the line.
JANE: It’s his dad I deal with. Gilbert is my lawyer.
NELL: Gilbert is out somewhere. Talk to Jack. He’s a smart cookie….You take care of my friend Jane, now, Jack. I have the utmost confidence in you and this is an emergency. My friend Jane was kin napped. I mean kid napped
JANE: Kin napped? That’s what it was all right. I was kin napped.
JUDY: I’m calling my uncle, before Sharon gets in there and empties the apartment.
JANE: She’d better not be emptying it! Or she’ll damned well put it back. Every blinking bit of it! Oh, yes, I’m sorry, Mr. Whitecloud….. Yes, my daughter drove off and left me at the Great House yesterday…That darned doctor and her are in cahoots….. It all started when he gave me that darned miserable stuff for my high blood pressure and insisted that I take it. I should have known better. Then he shuffled me off to one specialist after another and they all gave me a prescription for something else…..Then he gave me the absolute worst thing. I was dizzy. I had at least two of every key on my keyboard. I’ve been having one hell of a time trying to figure out which is real and which is the phantom. I started typing with my eyes shut and then I’d forget what I was doing and I’d start seeing First of July Fireworks. As if that wasn’t enough, he helps Sharon to dump me in the Great House. Ditzy Doctor! Between him and Sharon they sure screwed my life up. I was OK before he took my blood pressure when I went for that yearly checkup just after he went and made me mad by commenting that I shouldn’t be embarrassed by the hair on my arms. What nerve! I never needed any of that darned stuff. I’d like to paddle the bugger. Well, if you must know, I’m 75. OK. Then, if you’ve pulled me up on your computer….Yes…. Well, I did live at Gingko Towers, until five o’clock last night when I got shafted, I mean shifted without my consent. Or knowledge….. Of course, I’m capable. It was just those stupid drugs that doctor had me on. If I hadn’t got fed up and stopped taking them Saturday night, I’d be so out of it that I’d be darned lucky to be in the Great House. Thank God, I just quit taking all that crap.
JUDY: Now, Jane you really….
JANE: Just let me finish. Then I clued in that I was sicker since I’d seen that doctor than I was before my check-up. Pure serendipity, thinking that thought. Of course, Sharon flipped. She’s such a fussbudget and she’s always going on about something. She takes after my mother-in-law. Never leave anything alone, if you could raise hell by poking it.
NELL: Maybe you should get this checked out.
JANE: Checked schmecked! And get some more stupid pills? No way! Those doctors wanted me to take a handful of that junk before every meal. I tried that and it got really crazy.
NELL: Who’s the doctor here, anywa..?
JANE: Good question! No way, am I taking that stuff. I was a walking hallucination for pity sake. Yesterday, I looked some of those drugs up on the web and their side effects are the kinds of things that a person would go to the doctor for in the first place. So I was getting worse and worse and Sharon decides that I’m right out of it and guess who agrees with her…..the doctor, of course. So before this started, when I broke my leg, I’d put my name in for a place at the Great House, and an opening comes along, and heh, guess where I wound up. Courtesy of Sharon and the Good Doctor. On Friday, I felt so sick I forgot the darned drugs and I began to feel better. So I just flushed them and I’m sane again.
JUDY: You can’t just go off your medication like that.
NELL: Tell him about your computer.
JANE: If he ever comes back on. I’m on hold. Can’t you tell?
JANE: (Nell’s phone) If she’s messed with my computer and my files, I’ll sue her. I want you to take her out of my will and I’m revoking her power of attorney over me. I can’t trust her. That used to just be a feeling until she proved me right yesterday. Just a minute, Judy. Hold on there, Mr. Whitecloud…I’ll just be a minute. My super is on the other phone and I have to have a word with him. (Takes phone from Sharon.) Jane Janson speaking. Are you the new super? Yes, my apartment is number 35. Please have the locks changed and if Sharon de Veen shows up there, she is trespassing…. She’s there? Well, put the skids under her….. You let her take Piffles. You had no right to do that… Well, she fixed it so I was gone, but I’m not Gone-gone. Get it? I shall be back and very shortly. (Switches to Nell’s phone.) Pardon me, Mr. Whitecloud….. He’s calling the cops. Young Jack is a smart cookie. (Back to Sharon’s phone.) Superintendent Jones, let me talk to Sharon….She left? Fast? I’d like to see that… Thank you Mr. Jones… She’s got my key, you know….Yes, I suppose the cops will look after that….. Of course I didn’t give her a key. Maybe I did give her a key. I got pretty confused with all those pills. But she did steal most of the money out of my purse. ……. Oh, yes, I guess it wouldn’t be too smart to have a lot of money in my purse over there. But she should have told me. She should have told me!
NELL: Ask about your computer.
JANE: Is my computer all right? ….Right. How would you know?….. OK. You deal with the cops. Get that key back. I don’t want her sneaking around behind my back, screwing up my life. Thanks. (Hangs up restaurant phone.) I’ll be bringing her up the day I die. Gives a whole new meaning to the word, aftertaste. I’d rather not think about that one. (Shudders.)
JUDY: Jane, are you sure you’re OK?
JANE: I doubt it. I’m ticked off for sure. Get me some chicken soup…with rice, I guess.
JUDY: Are you sure?
JANE: No, forget that. I’m having cheesecake jubilee.
JUDY: Cheesecake jubilee? You are in a mood!
JANE: No. Better not. Given my luck today, I’d be what got flambeed and Sharon would try to pull the plug on me.
JUDY: I’ll get Nell’s order. You take all the time you want now, Jane.
NELL: I’m going to have the chicken and barley salad with jellied Waldorf on the side and for dessert I’d like Baked Alaska on Apple Betty.
JUDY: An excellent choice. I know you’ll enjoy our new salad.
NELL: No, scratch that. I’ll take the usual.
JANE: Me, too. I look forward to those blintzes all week.
JUDY: Cheese Blintzs with apple compote coming up.
Jane: (Nods.) Mr. Whitecloud?…. Now?…. Right this minute?… I just ordered lunch…..Well, yes, I want it dealt with. Somebody has to put that turkey in his place. Judy, hold off on my blintzes will you and please keep Piffles if they bring him while I’m gone. I’m sorry Nell, go ahead without me. (Gives phone back to Nell.)
NELL: No way. Judy’ll hold off on the blintzes ‘til you get back.
JUDY: You just take it easy Jane. The lunch bunch is gone and it’s quiet for a while. (Aside) No rush on the blintzes Pierre.
NELL: I told her not to trust that girl. I guess Gilbert must have let her name Sharon for power of attorney for her. One foolish move, if you ask me.
JUDY: What a dirty stunt. My daughter is eight years old. She’d better not do that to me. Why did Sharon do that? Is Jane slipping?
NELL: The last straw was Jane getting a cold. She couldn’t smell too well last week. Jane gave Sharon some milk that had started to turn for her coffee. Jane was in a snit about the milk curdling. Apparently, it set Sharon right off.
JUDY: Lots of people have milk go sour and nobody dumps them at the Great House.
NELL: You only get forty-eight hours to decide whether to take an opening at the Great House or pass on it.
JUDY: I guess Sharon decided to go for it.
NELL: Sharon’s been sure that Jane had one foot below grade ever since her responsibility got printed out on paper.
NELL: Uptight for sure.
JUDY: What a decision!
NELL: Sharon is such a fuss budget. She lines the beds in the house up with a compass.
NELL: Jane told me. Jane thinks Sharon may have a nutritional deficiency that affects the brain.
JUDY: Really? What would that look like? The beds positioned according to the compass, I mean.
NELL: Like nothing you ever saw before. You should hear her mother-in-law. My second cousin. She doesn’t get what Danny sees in that Sharon at all. She took some snaps one day and showed me. Furniture all corner-wise… apparently the compass wasn’t just working quite right when they bought the house.
JUDY: She’s got the bed corner-wise?
NELL: Beds….with an “s”.
NELL: You got it.
JUDY: What ever for?
NELL: Something about magnetic alignment …or some other goofy thing nobody but Sharon ever heard of.
JUDY: I wonder where she got that idea.
NELL: Oh ecology, most likely. Sharon is a green lady…mulleins in the flowerbed, daisies in the salad.
JUDY: I never guessed that Jane could get this riled up.
NELL: Everybody but Sharon, knows better than to mess with Jane.
JUDY: Isn’t Sharon an only child?
NELL: Only child, or one of ten, no one is going to pull something like this on Jane for a flimsy reason like sour milk.
JUDY: It must really be upsetting for them all….I hope they figure out a way to get it together again.
NELL: Jane is no push over. But she doesn’t hold a grudge….she’s just really wary. I hope this doesn’t make her stubborn.
JUDY: I hope not. Mom had Jane for a teacher in Grade Five and she really liked Jane. Would she be upset if she knew what Sharon pulled on her. Danny’s dad, now, he just drove everybody nuts. After the fire in the middle of the dining room table, that was it for him. He had a Big Mac and a trip to the Great House. I actually felt sorry for Sharon trying to look after him. That old guy drove the whole family to the brink of exhaustion. He got nasty, too. So they say.
NELL: You want to believe it…I’ve heard all about it. A lot more than I want to know.
JUDY: Sharon even let him have fries with salt on them for his last supper out. If he’d been in his right mind, he’d have known something was going to hit the fan.
NELL: Sharon has met her match this time…
JUDY: I hope I don’t get tempted to do that to my parents.
NELL: Sharon fussed about not having time to keep two houses. Nobody said she had to. Jane had someone come in and clean and she liked salads and had good healthy meals… Sharon thought Jane couldn’t cook. She used to take Jane all this spicy stuff that wouldn’t agree with her because she thought she had to feed her mother. Jane just froze it and gave it to a needy family along with a bottle of Pepto Bismal. She gave them dog food, too. If Sharon only knew, but you can’t tell Sharon anything. If she learns something, the lesson has to be dramatic.
JUDY: How’s Jane supposed to write in the Great House? A lot of privacy and quiet she’d have there.
NELL: Sharon isn’t impressed. She thinks it doesn’t matter…Jane’s just wasting her money buying computers and all that Internet stuff. But Jane has a great time.
JUDY: What’s she write about?
NELL: Women, mostly I guess. She took some Women’s Studies at University last summer and stayed on campus. And she writes kid’s stories. She did one about the bread and roses strike thing away back a century ago….If it weren’t for women like her, Sharon wouldn’t even get to vote today….wouldn’t even be a person..
JUDY: What do you mean, wouldn’t be a person?
NELL: I wasn’t a person until I was four years old and the Persons Act went through…women could be appointed to the Canadian Senate. We weren’t just men’s belongings any more.
JUDY: Of all the stupid conceit! Are you sure, Nell?
NELL: I’m sure. My Mother was scandalized at being a person. She thought Nellie McClung and her gang…Emily Murphy and several others, were just too brazen.
JUDY: And who is Nellie McClung?
NELL: She was born over a hundred years ago near a little town called Chatsworth. Here in Ontario. Nellie Moonie went to Manitoba when she was still a child and she’s the prairie lady, Nellie McClung that you see mocking the man who says nice women don’t want the vote.
JUDY: Oh, in those heritage things on CBC?
JUDY: The only females I ever heard about at school were from Niagara. One was Laura Secord and the other was a cow! I pay taxes, too. There is something wrong about this!
JANE: What’s wrong now?
JUDY: All I ever learned about in Social Studies and History was about a bunch of guys killing each other. Having this rebellion, or that war! Great way to spend tax money on half an education. The boys learn to fight and the girls see that baby making is what girls do. These kids grow up and the men declare war and kill them off…Big stink. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
JANE: You’ve got that right.
NELL: So what happened?
JUDY: What happened? Tell us.
NELL: Don’t just sit there! Say something.
JANE: If I could get a word in edgewise….I never even got to see the lawyer. He had the secretary get me to sign some stuff. I personally pressed the button to run that power of attorney thing through the shredder. They sure don’t waste time, especially when young Jack is on it. Gilbert has to chat for an hour and still nothing much happens. Nice change. Jack Whitecloud is sending a letter to Sharon to let her know that she has no say in my affairs whatsoever and that she has no rights to my car which was to be sold on consignment. Those glucosamine pills I’m taking are helping my knees. I’m getting better and I’m going to drive that car. As a matter of fact I’m getting my licence renewed as soon as I get Piffles home. Is he here yet?
JUDY: Your blintzes, Ladies. No Piffles yet.
JANE: I absolutely love these. They never serve blintzes at the Great House. I asked. I can’t possibly live there.
NELL: Your will?
JANE: She’s just getting enough so she can’t sue successfully….
JUDY: The rest?
JANE: It goes to Piffles.
NELL: She’ll be mad.
JANE: I hope so. I’m certainly angry. Why should she get off Scott free?
JUDY: How did all this happen?
JANE: The police are picking up my things at the Great House and Sharon will not be allowed near Gingko Towers.
NELL: Wow! When you get upset, things sure change…
JANE: They’d better change. I’m not putting up with this crap! I worked in a war factory and so did you, Nell. We were both welders. Could we get a job welding after the boys came home..It was back to the kitchen or the nursery, or off to nursing school or normal school. We couldn’t even get a job building ticky-tacky little wartime houses.
JUDY: I’ve been telling my daughter she can do anything she pleases and she said, “Oh, if I’m pleased enough they’re just going to let me into the CFL, aren’t they? I can likely be a waitress, or a pre-school teacher. But don’t think I’m going to be a quarterback in this lifetime. Maybe next time, when I’m a boy.” What am I supposed to say to this kid?
JANE: She’s right!
NELL: She’s wrong.
JUDY: Sure. On the one hand you’re right, but on the…..
JANE: I’d better call about my car… (Dials Nell’s phone.) This is Jane. I’ve decided not to sell my car after all….You just sold it? I get the money, not Sharon de Veen…. Yes, my lawyer will be in touch and sort that out…. I get the money! (Hangs up.) Stupid car, it froze shut in the winter and was a perfect pain. I’ll get a better one, that doesn’t do that, and I’m having a lawn sale next long weekend and I’m enlarging my apartment…all the stupid stuff that I don’t like is out of there. Then I’ll have some space. I’m decorating my way, with my choices, not the Christmas crap. On second thought, I have a couple of truckloads to go to the auction. I’m not waiting for any week-end lawn sale.
NELL: Maybe you’d better think about this first, before you get rid of everything.
JANE: I’ve been through this. Just wait til you wind up with nothing but a suitcase that someone else packs for you and the clothes on your back. There’s a whole bunch of stuff there I can live without. And I’m going to get some new stuff that I want….not stupid ideas like that futon that Sharon insisted I buy. I hate that thing. It’s going down the road. This may be my last fling ….Hmmph! It’s my only fling to have what I want. I always had to compromise before. Now, I can buy whatever I please.
NELL: Well, I guess when you put it that way..
JUDY: What do I tell my daughter?
JANE: Tell her that nothing worthwhile is free. She has too work for it just like the women before her.
NELL: I can’t believe the wages that men give themselves for pitching garbage around… no less. Women teach pre-schoolers and get half of what a sanitary engineer gets…That doesn’t make sense to me. Looking after kids should be worth more than pitching garbage around.
JANE: Then men say, ‘Don’t take my job away from me.’
NELL: If women were paid forty per cent more so they’d be getting equal wages, guess who’d be trying to take the jobs from whom?
JUDY: Just guess!
JANE: Never mind equal wages. They’ll try to get into your job and once they’re in, they get the Old Boys to put them in charge. Then the washroom clique calls him an administrator and up goes his take home pay.
NELL: And his taxes.
JUDY: I thought there was supposed to be pay equity. Right?
JANE: That’s what you’re supposed to think.
NELL: Not a lot of choices when you go to vote, are there?
JUDY: Didn’t the Civil Servants get a settlement?
JANE: If words were loonies, they’d be rich, but the men have figured out a new way to go behind their backs.
JANE: Yes! They can’t figure out how to distribute it.
JUDY: Ohhhhhhhhhhh! Men!
JANE: Men aren’t the only ones. The population of this country is over fifty per cent women, so how can you blame the men for it all? It’s a woman that I’m really ticked off about right now. I’ll never understand how her mind works. She’s due to find out a bit about how my mind works, though. How could she go behind my back like that?
NELL: Here they come with Piffles.
(Jane turns head toward door.)
JANE: Great! At least she tried to find a home for him.
NELL: Maybe there’s hope after all.
JANE: Piffles! Piffles! I’m going to get you a new couch, Piffles.. And some room to run around, too. Now, what do you think of that? (Piffles barks.)
For the other two acts, please contact me.