Sucker for Love…And Payback
“How’d rehearsal go?” I asked my husband as he walked through the door.
I looked up. “Well, what?”
“Well…it went fine. Except that since you weren’t able to go they had someone else read your story.”
“WHAT? Really? That’s so…awkward.”
He nodded. “It was really awkward. Poor Elizabeth…”
“Poor Elizabeth? What about me? No one said it would be read out loud. The version they had wasn’t edited yet. It wasn’t…”
It wasn’t ready for the stage. It wasn’t even ready for a table read. Especially in front of him. It was the classic tale of a girl (me) who got the guy (him), toyed with him until she thought she lost him, and then fell in love with him and wanted him back. And as one of the stories in a book I wrote, it was admittedly prosy, flowery and filled with kind of crafted imagery that would never fly on a SpeakeasyDC stage. Which is why I probably would’ve dragged my kids to the rehearsal had I known that someone else was going to read it aloud if I didn’t.
The worst part was that I’d already rewritten the story. After accepting it for the Sucker for Love show, Stephanie Garibaldi gave me two big notes. The first one was: Oralize it. So I started deconstructing it right away. I slashed sentences and rearranged paragraphs so that it sounded less writerly and more conversational, which was a strange feeling after spending so long crafting it into prose. By the time poor, unsuspecting Elizabeth was forced to serenade my husband with graphic recollections of how hot and bothered I was the first time he visited my family, the version on my computer looked less like what she was reading, and more like this (left)
(I’m pretty sure the only red Elizabeth saw was spread across my husband’s face. So awkward…)
Stephanie’s other big note was to make sure that my story matched up with my husband’s story, because he was also part of the Sucker for Love cast, and would be performing his side of the tale after me. Matching our facts should’ve been the easy part. After all, it was OUR story and we got married at the end of it. Yet many of our details didn’t match up. At all.
How had we not realized this before? Maybe the discrepancies didn’t matter to my husband when he read and edited my book, after all my name was on it, not his. Or maybe it was the lapse in time; the kids, dogs, and life that filled up those 14 years. (Or maybe he pointed out the inconsistencies several times over the years and since I disagreed, I went ahead and ignored him.) But now that his side was being represented on stage, he started challenging my memory. Which really sucked because when you’ve already published the story in a book the last thing you want is to start remembering it differently. The stage is much more forgiving than print.
“Relax,” my husband said. “It’s no big deal.”
He was right. Storytellers understand the process. They know that the final product is rarely as clunky as the first draft. (Even when the first draft was a final product of something else…)
“Besides,” he teased. “If you’re gonna worry, you should worry about how awkward it’s going to be for you when the audience finds out what you put me through. ‘Cause I’m takin’ it there. I’m goin’ deep.”
Nothing says Sucker for Love like a 14-year-old (public) payback.