In my junior year of college, we studied how to write one act plays in my creative writing class. I originally wasn’t too thrilled with the genre, but the idea for this one came to me and I ended up scribbling it down (while I was in another class half listening to the lecture….oops.) After some polishing, it’s actually one of my favorite things I’ve written.
Because of His Love For Her
(Setting: café. Friends eating lunch.)
Rachel: You’re such a cynic. It’s disgusting.
Jacob: I’m not a cynic; I’m a realist. There’s a difference.
Rachel: Predicting that every single one of my relationships will fail isn’t realistic, Jacob. It’s pessimistic.
Jacob: (affronted) You wound me! Did I say anything about charming Harold when you asked me not to? I never once foretold any ill tidings about that relationship. I kept my mouth shut.
Rachel: Harold left me for my best friend!
Jacob: (laughing as he takes a drink) You make this too easy for me.
Rachel: Say what you want about Nathaniel. He’s the one; I know it.
Jacob: You’ve been going out for three weeks! I have leftovers in my fridge I’ve had a longer relationship with!
(Waiter arrives with food. Jacob waits as Rachel bows her head and prays silently)
Rachel: Nathaniel is different. He’s sweet and funny, and he treats me well!
Jacob: Well, that’s true. I mean, I wasn’t the one who had to come jump your car this morning. (loudly slurps straw, looking innocent.)
Rachel: (hesitates) He…he’s an auditor. He doesn’t know a lot about cars.
Rachel: Why do you say it like that?
Jacob: No, nothing. I was just thinking about that mechanic you dated in college. That was handy, considering the beat up old trap you insist on driving around.
Rachel: Jesse? Yeah, he was nice. Thanks for ending that, by the way.
Rachel: Don’t play innocent. You introduced him to every attractive, available woman you knew! You were there after he gave me the whole, “It’s just not working out, Rachel,” speech before dating Kelly three days later.
Jacob: Ah, yes. I do remember that. You got tears and snot all over my hoodie that night. (shudders)
Rachel: You’re a jerk.
Jacob: That is entirely your opinion. So, what does Nathanial think about the book you’ve been working on?
Rachel: (picking at salad) He’s not a—a big reader.
Rachel: (slightly longer pause) No.
Jacob: I was just thinking about that one guy you dated who loved reading. What was his name?
Jacob: David! He was a nice guy.
Rachel: (irritated) Are you kidding?
Rachel: You intimidated him every chance you got: challenging him, tearing him down, humiliating him–
Jacob: You do have to admit that sweater he bought for you for your birthday was atrocious. And several sizes too big, I add. I was merely defending your honor by pronouncing it the most hideous thing I’d ever seen and suggesting that perhaps any man who buys a sweater for his girlfriend of almost two years is afraid of commitment. Is it my fault that he was offended by that?
(Rachel rolls her eyes. Brief silence)
Jacob: So what does this wonderful Nathaniel do instead of reading?
Rachel: (faintly) He…camps.
Jacob: Camps! Does he hunt?
Rachel: I don’t—
Jacob: He probably does. All hunters camp, you know. He probably enjoys killing innocent animals for fun. Then he’ll keep your fridge stuffed with all that meat and make you wear the furs.
Rachel: STOP. You don’t know that. You don’t know him. Just because you hate marriage doesn’t mean all relationships are doomed to fail.
(Silence. Jacob removes the onions from Rachel’s plate and puts them on his own. She drums her fingers on the table, irritated. Suddenly drops fork, which makes a loud clattering noise.)
Rachel: Nathanial is charming, and sweet, and he has big plans for his life. He’s ambitious, and-and polite—(with a sudden burst of inspiration) His name means gift from God!
Jacob: (with mock seriousness) The heavens have foretold it.
Rachel: I’m serious. He’s fantastic.
Jacob: (checking watch) Well, apparently punctuality isn’t on the list of wonderful attributes for our dear Nathaniel.
Rachel: He’ll be here. And I was doing fine waiting for him by myself.
Jacob: Of course you were.
Rachel: I didn’t need you to come sit with me so I wasn’t eating all alone.
Jacob: Of course you didn’t!
Rachel: I am a strong, independent woman, perfectly capable of surviving on my own.
Jacob: (patronizing) Of course you are.
(Silence. Jacob lifts up the top bun of his burger; Rachel removes the pickles and places them on her plate.)
Rachel: Do you want to know the best thing about Nathaniel?
Jacob: His rugged good looks?
Rachel: (irritated) No.
Jacob: You mean he’s NOT good looking?
Rachel: No! I mean, yes! But that’s not what I’m talking about. Nathanial….(important pause) actually believes in marriage. (sits back, pleased)
Jacob: Hm. Does he want kids?
Rachel: (triumphantly) Yes! He does! Lots of kids!
Jacob: Awwww, how sweet. Is he gonna help take care of them?
Rachel: Well, no…he travels a lot for his job–
Jacob: Huh. So, YOU’LL stop teaching?
Rachel: We…haven’t really talked about that.
Jacob: Oh, my mistake. I thought since you’ve been discussing marriage you’d have talked about kids. (brief pause) And religion.
(Rachel is silent)
Jacob: (overly shocked) SURELY you’ve talked about RELIGION?
Rachel: I mean….sort of…(firmly) I definitely think he’s Lutheran.
Rachel: Yes. (pause) Or maybe Baptist.
Rachel: Yes. (pause) Or…or maybe Catholic.
Jacob: Perhaps he’s Jewish!
Rachel: (frowns thoughtfully, considering) No, I don’t think so….
Jacob: Or maybe he’s Mormon. Maybe he already has a couple of wives!
Rachel: He does not!
Jacob: (chuckles and takes a bite of his burger) You don’t even know his religious beliefs.
Rachel: I do, too.
Jacob: Prove it.
Rachel: Prove it? What, are we 7 years old again?
Jacob: Well, you’ve told me you’re probably gonna marry this guy, so you must know all there is to know about him. So, prove it! What religion does our dear gift from God follow?
Rachel: I…I think he’s actually…more…non-religious (sneaks look at Jacob, who is nonchalantly chewing.)
Rachel: So. (another pause. She awkwardly toys with her silverware. A sudden burst of laughter from Jacob startles her.)
Rachel: What? What?! What’s so funny?
Jacob: This guy is your polar opposite, and you think he’s the perfect one. You’re going to end up chained for the rest of your life to an illiterate chauvinist who makes you quit your job to take care of all the kids you keep popping out, and skips church on Sunday to murder Bambi’s mother!
Rachel: Stop it! (Jacob continues to laugh, slapping table) Rachel: You know what?
Jacob: (still laughing) What?
Rachel: You…you are…just…
(Jacob’s laughter flusters her)
Rachel: A mean cynic!
Jacob: Realist, my darling. Realist.
(In a huff, Rachel turns to her Coke. Jacob continues to laugh softly.)
Rachel: Shut up.
Jacob: Oh, I just can’t.
(They eat in silence for a moment; Jacob’s amused, Rachel’s indignant.)
Rachel: Why do you have to be so mean to me all the time?
Jacob: It’s good for you. It’ll put hair on your chest.
Rachel: I don’t want hair on my chest. I want to have a conversation with you for once without you shooting down all of my choices in men and making me feel like an idiot.
Jacob: Is it my fault that every guy you pick out has mortal flaws? You missed a pickle.
Rachel: They weren’t all bad.
Jacob: Nah. I especially liked the guy who liked to argue that he really was abducted by aliens. Take this pickle.
Rachel: One date! I went on one date with that man—he does not count!
Jacob: I’m giving you my opinion. Pickle!
Rachel: I don’t want your stupid opinion.
(Exasperated, Jacob gingerly picks the pickle off his burger and holds it between two fingers out to Rachel, stops when he sees she is sitting dejected.)
Rachel: I just…what’s wrong with me that all of my relationships have failed miserably?
Jacob: They’re jerks.
Rachel: Not all of them. Jesse was a nice guy. David was a nice guy. Harold— (pause) Okay, Harold was a jerk. But everyone else was great. They were great! And it ended badly. And now they’re all married or engaged. It shows that the problem wasn’t because of them. That leaves one person. Me. So, I ask you. What’s wrong with me?
(Long silence as they stare at each other.)
Jacob: Maybe it’s your man hands.
Rachel: (shocked) My what?!
Jacob: Nah, that’s probably not it. Maybe it’s your cooking. Or your whining. You do whine a lot.
Rachel: (hurt) That’s a mean thing to say!
(Jacob raises eyebrow, grinning.)
Rachel: I hate you.
Jacob: Sometimes, yeah, you do. And sometimes I deserve it. But you have to admit—I’m always right. You could even call me Mr. Right.
Rachel: (glumly) Nathanial’s gonna be out of town for my cousin’s wedding.
Jacob: Oh. When is it?
Rachel: Next Saturday. Do you have a game?
Jacob: Nope. We lost last week and the tournament ended. I can go with you so you don’t have to deal with Grandma Ruth’s proclamations of, ‘Oh, my poor, poor Rachel, doomed to single-hood forever!’
Rachel: Thanks, Jacob. (smiles.)
Jacob: Any time. (brief pause) Now will you please take this pickle before I throw it at you?
(Rachel removes the pickle from his burger and eats it. They sit in companionable silence, eating their meals. Nathanial enters, sits in chair next to Rachel.)
Nathaniel: Sorry I’m late—
Rachel: You’re ALWAYS late.
Nathaniel: (taken aback) What?
Rachel: And I don’t want to quit my job!
Nathaniel: But I never—
Rachel: And I AM A VEGETARIAN! (throws napkin down and exits)
(Nathanial looks bewildered at a very pleased Jacob, who quickly schools his features to look sympathetic.)
Jacob: Tough break, Sport. (shrugs innocently) Women! (pats shoulder and leaves him sitting alone at the table, dials a number on his phone.) Jacob: Hey man, listen. I’m not gonna be able to play in the tournament next weekend….