Neutrality is a Tricky Thing: A One-Act Play about Self-Absorption, World War II and Hats

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Setting:  Early Evening. Tempest is watching television with two dogs draped across her lap.  Thunder enters the room, showered, wearing new pants and shirt and getting ready to leave for a tournament.

 

Thunder:   What do you think of this shirt?

Tempest:   Shirt?

Th:            Yeah, how does it look?  Should I wear this one or the other one we bought?

Te:            (Looks at Thunder.  Thinks he looks fine and doesn’t think it matters which shirt he wears.)    Hmmm, you know what?  I think I’m…Denmark.

Th:           Denmark?

Te:           Yeah, I’m neutral.  I can’t be Switzerland any more.  We used to always say, “I’m Switzerland.”   You know, your friends are arguing.  They turn to you to sort it out.  You want to stay out of it.  We used to say, “I’m Switzerland.”  But then we found out that Switzerland wasn’t neutral.  They were helping the Nazis all over the place.  Hell, they were picking out flatware and monogrammed towels with the Nazis.  We just didn’t know it.     So now, I’m Denmark…

Th:           Uh…no, I don’t think so…

Te:           Denmark?

Th:           “Occupied Denmark” I believe is the phrase.  Adolph and the boys wandered in and took over.   Maybe not “rah rah, Germany,” but the Danes weren’t removed from the war, either.  Can’t be neutral with people high-stepping all over your countryside. 

Te:           Okay, so what am I?  Sweden?

Th:           Uh…debatable.  They allowed the Nazis to use the Swedish railways throughout the country.  Not exactly neutral, no.

Te:           Canada?

Th:           Nope, they entered the war early with Great Britain.

Te:           Okay, how about… American Samoa?

Th:           With a U.S. military base there?  Nothing in the Pacific was neutral. 

Te:           Not even Papua New Guinea?

Th:           What?

Te:            I just like saying it…Papua New Guinea, Papua New Guinea… Okay, so what am I?

Th:           Well, you could be Argentina, I guess.  Didn’t pick sides, and sold supplies to everyone.  Declared war on Germany, but only after Germany surrendered.  But probably… the most neutral country was Vatican City.  Limited resources, couldn’t provide supplies to anyone, had nothing to offer either side as far as strength… hell, they couldn’t organize enough Cardinals to play a soccer match…the most they could have done was throw stones across the border at the Nazis or Allies.

Te:           …how do you know this?

Th:            I read a book.

Te:            More like 5 books.

Th:            I got game.

Te:            No kidding.  Okay, so I’m the Vatican.  Nobody is going to know what that means if I say it.  They knew what “I’m Switzerland” meant.  Now when I say “I’m the Vatican,” they’re going to think of big, pointy hats and fussy robes.  I kind of like the big pointy hat.  And the vibrant red the Cardinals wear would look good on me.  If I could be Argentina, then people would think about Gauchos.  They wore those long ponchos and hats with little balls on them and cool boots.     (Thunder bends down and kisses Tempest on the cheek before heading for the front door.)    If I were Papua New Guinea, I have no idea what I’d be wearing, but it would have to be lightweight and comfortable.  It’s got to be hotter than hell there, right?  Papua New Guinea…Papua New Guinea…  Hey!  I wonder how I would look in that hat with little balls on it.  Do you think I would look good in a hat with little balls on it?  And what about the Cardinals’ hat?  It looks like an upside down Chinese takeout box with its own big pom-pom on that.  Would I look better in the Argentine hat or the Cardinals’ hat?

Th:            (stopped listening long ago and is already wandering out the door)   Sorry… I can’t hear you… I’m all the way over here in Vatican City…see you later!

and SCENE

May 24th, 2009

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