This week’s exercise based on Aren’t You Happy for Me? by Richard Bausch
Write a scene of a telephone call between two people who are each going through their own drama. The narrator is slightly closer to the character with the ‘real’ drama. The other person also has something dramatic, but it is told in a funnier, more exaggerated way. The narrator is keeping things moving, keeping things light-hearted.
“You have to roll it on your tongue properly, dear.” Helen told her daughter over the phone. “It’s not Wicado, it’s RRRicarrrdo! Now you try it.”
“Forget it mom,” Eva said in an exasperated tone. “I don’t care. Now, are you going to tell me why you called me up in the first place, and what this Ricardo has to do with it?”
“I thought it was obvious. Ricardo is my new lover.”
“Your what?” Eva blurted out, before her mind could wrap around this foreign concept.
“My new lover.”
“Yes, I heard you. I understood you perfectly the first time.”
“Then why did you say what?”
“I – well, never mind about that. So…who is this Ricardo?”
“My new lover.”
“Yes… yes, I got that. I – I mean who is he? Where did you meet this guy?”
“Oh, he’s my salsa teacher. I started taking lessons two weeks ago.”
Eva was stunned for a moment. “You’re in love with your salsa teacher?” she finally said. She sounded calmer than she thought she would.
“Oh heavens no!” Helen exclaimed. “Whatever gave you that idea?”
“What? You did! You told me three times that he is your new lover.”
Helen laughed. “Oh, you young people nowadays and your foolish notions about love. When I said he is my new lover, I wasn’t talking about true love of course. I meant that he is my new boy toy.”
“Mom, don’t say…”
“That’s what I like to call him anyway. My boy toy. And you know what he called me the other day? He called me his cougar! Rrrowwrr!”
“Mom! A cougar is a desperate older woman who is hunting for younger men.”
“Don’t be ridiculous!” her mother said, sounding quite angry. “A cougar is an attractive and more mature woman who has had enough of balding, fat men her own age, like that impotent father of yours. Younger men are attracted to my beauty, class and experience. It has nothing to do with being desperate and my Ricky Dick understands that when he calls me his cougar. It’s a shame though that you don’t understand.”
“Ok ok, I’m sorry. You’re absolutely right. Just…just stop using those nicknames ok? It’s making me feel uncomfortable.”
“Whatever you say, dear. By the way, I’m having a dinner party next Saturday, and I’d really appreciate it if you came. Ricardo will be here as well. I’m going to introduce him to my friends and make them green with envy. I can’t wait to see the look on their faces.”
Eva rubbed her belly gently, thinking about the life now growing within it and how she should break the news to her mother. The invitation came at a good moment actually. She needed to tell her soon before the bulge in her stomach became too apparent, before people started gossiping, but she was too scared to bring up the subject. Maybe it would be better if they were talking face-to-face.
“Ok, I’ll be there,” she said. “At least if you don’t mind me spending the night over. I hope we’ll get the chance to talk. You know, just the two of us?”
“Of course, dear! I’ll be happy to have you here. It’s been such a long time since we talked.” There was a slight hesitation. “There’s nothing wrong with you, is there?”
“No no, everything is fine. But like you said, it’s been such a long time since we talked. I’ve got so much I want to tell you. And I’m very curious about this Ricardo of yours.”
Her salsa teacher. What are the odds? Eva thought about another salsa teacher she knew, except his name was Guillermo. Guillermo, with whom she had spent one hot, passionate night three months ago. When for one foolish, alcohol-induced moment she had somehow decided to throw all caution into the wind. And that one foolish night had resulted into her current predicament. She had gone back to the salsa school afterwards, but the school was empty. There was only a hastily scribbled note at the entrance. It appeared that Guillermo had packed up his things and left town overnight due to ‘personal reasons’. She had tried to call him on his cell phone, but she could only get his voicemail on the line. She wondered where he was now, and how he would have received the news of his impending fatherhood.
“I’m sure you’ll love Ricardo my dear,” her mother said.
“Sure,” Eva said nervously. “Just… just be careful ok? I don’t want anything bad to happen to you.”
“What could possibly happen to me?”
“I- I don’t know. Sometimes things just happen when people get passionate. Things which we may not have planned for.”
“Oh heavens, you’re not talking about me getting knocked up, are you?” Helen started laughing hysterically, as if it was the funniest thing she had ever heard. “That’s very sweet of you dear, but I’m not a naïve, wide-eyed teenage girl anymore. I know what I’m doing. I’m not that stupid.”
“I know you’re not stupid. It’s just that…” Eva stopped speaking, because her voice was starting to get all squeaky.
“Is everything all right?” her mother asked on the other end.
Eva remained silent for a moment, before answering: “I’m all right, mom. I’m just tired, that’s all. See you next week. Bye!” She hung up the phone hastily, before her mother had a chance to reply.