Kitchen #7: The Truman Show

The Truman Apartments, 200 East 100 North, Provo, Utah (or thereabouts)

October, 1985

I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans,
and followed in my imagination by the store detective.

– Alan Ginsberg, “A Supermarket in California”

DEEP VOICE:

She is in a movie. She is 19 and a student at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

College,

movie.

Same thing.

SCENE: INT. THE TRUMAN APARTMENTS – KITCHEN – NIGHT

VOICES AND VOICE-OVERS SPEAK,
NOT UNLIKE THE VOICE-OVERS AND VOICES IN DUNE

…OR DRAGNET

…OR BLADE RUNNER

(meaning DEEP)

(SLOW … and DEEP)

DEEP VOICE
Her first apartment. The Truman. A 1920s brick four-plex with hardwood floors and “The Truman” spelled out across its dusky brick face. The landlord, Chase Shepard, owns a trampoline.

EARLY OCTOBER, GOLDEN LIGHT FILTERS THROUGH THE 2nd-STORY WINDOWS. MUSIC.

JONI MITCHELL
(sings)
I’m Don Juan’s Reckless daughter
I’ve come out two days on your tail
Those two bald-headed days in November
Before the first snowflakes sail

DEEP VOICE
Each unit is a “shotgun,” with the living room in the front, leading through a door to the bedroom in the middle, through another door to the kitchen in the back. A back door down a fire escape.
No hallway.
A stage within a stage within a stage.

DOWNSTAIRS NEIGHBORS
(music sounds, thinking sounds, cooking sounds, buzzing sounds)

DEEP VOICE
She is painting the kitchen, with its tall, deep, old-growth Douglas fir, built-in cabinets. She is painting deep into the dark corners, already covered with 5 coats of renter’s paint.
The paint is “Peach Pie.”

JONI MITCHELL
(sings)
Out on the subtle plain of mystery
a split-tongue spirit talks
Noble as a nickel chief
Striking up an old juke box

DEEP VOICE
Houses have lives. Houses are organisms, like an anthill – the ants defined by grains of sand; the grains of sand defined by ants.
Even a small house, a small house, a small apartment, odd in its conformity, is a body, with different parts doing different tasks.

An anthill is a we.

A house is a we.

We are painting the kitchen, the kitchen and she.
Fumes fill the air, and all the windows are open. A dream floats in and out.

UPSTAIRS NEIGHBORS

(thinking sounds)

 What’s for lunch? 

(tromp, tromp, tromp, up and down the stairs)

SHE
A hive of our own craftsmanship.
The Beehive House
Of our own wax, layer upon layer.
Put your shoulder to the wheel, push along.

DEEP VOICE
A hive, my dear, yes.
It has been built for you and this moment – and you have built it and this moment.

This is the room of industry.

This is the room of belief.

This is the room where your ancestors live.

SHE
This is my first own set of rooms. My first own room.

Do your duty with a heart full of song.

SHE
And yet Virginia Woolf still filled her pockets with stones, wandered into the River Ouse. Ooze.
Celtic for water.

DEEP VOICE
Yes, solitude breeds insanity.

SHE
But lack of solitude does the same.

THE DEEP VOICE
Either way, its breeding.
Get used to it.

DOWNSTAIRS NEIGHBORS
(music sounds, thinking sounds, cooking sounds, buzzing sounds)

SHE
We all have work, let no one shirk, put your shoulder to the wheel.
The Truman. The Lion House. The Beehive House.

JONI MITCHELL
(sings)
And he says:
“Snakes along the railroad tracks”
He says: “Eagles in jet trails”
He says: “Coils around feathers and talons on scales.”

SHE
That is what I’m afraid of.

DEEP VOICE, GETTING DEEPER
What?

JONI MITCHELL
(sings)
Behind my bolt-locked door,
the Eagle and the Serpent are at war in me.
The Serpent fighting for blind desire,
the Eagle for clarity.

DEEP VOICE, GETTING DEEPER
Breeding.

SHE
Why am I afraid of that institution? isn’t that what every Mormon girl wants?
Isn’t it?

DEEP VOICE, GETTING LESS DEEP
In the continuum of mental disorders, where do you stand?

UPSTAIRS NEIGHBORS



(thinking sounds)

What’s for lunch?



(tromp, tromp, tromp, up and down the stairs)

SHE
Narcissist, Anti-social, Histrionic, Borderline?

MADONNA
(sings)
Borderline,
feels like I’m going to lose my mind.
You keep on pushin’ my love
over the borderline.

DEEP VOICE

Keep painting, youngest child. You are somewhere on the spectrum, dancing your bee dance, making your movie.

SHE
Who are you?

DEEP VOICE
What role am I playing?

SHE
Whatever!

DEEP VOICE
Exactly!

DOWNSTAIRS NEIGHBORS
(music sounds, thinking sounds, cooking sounds, buzzing sounds)

SHE
I must be mostly Narcissist. Youngest child. Alone in a crowd. Wanting to create my life as a movie, in a time, in a place that is not here, not this decade.

THE DEEP VOICE
Showbiz kids makin’ movies of themselves
they don’t give a fuck about anybody else.

SHE
You know Steely Dan?
Aren’t you from, like, 1850?

DEEP VOICE
Well, I am dead, but I’m not a complete moron.

GETTING DEEPER
And so you collect Nostalgia.
Les Souvenirs.
Memories.
To Remember.
To remember a time, a place you never lived in.
A Romance of and with and to
yourself.

SHE
A proposition of a preposition. A position.
(She sings)
Of, in, by, to, for, with, at, down, from, into.
Under, about, between, on, near, over,
across, against, that is my list.
Yes! And what color will this light be when I paint it?

THE DEEP VOICE
Peach Pie

SHE
And what time of day? And what light?
And what will I cook when I get there?

THE DEEP VOICE
Where?

SHE
Exactly.

BREAK

ROOMMATE
(Pale, disheveled blonde halo of curly hair, ratty jeans and black leather, skeleton tattoo. Enters through front door, followed by large, dour, hirsute Jewish man.)
We’re having a party!

THE VISITOR
Who’s invited?

SHE
It is you! The Visitor!

DEEP VOICE
He looks like Alan Ginsberg.

SHE
So that is who is invited.

ROOMMATE
Then that is who’s coming!

DEEP VOICE
Old friend!
What is happening is happening. Who are we but each other?
Ich Bin Berliner. I am Alan Partridge. Who is John Galt?

SHE
We’ll make a movie!

ROOMMATE
The Show of Shows!

DOWNSTAIRS NEIGHBORS
(music sounds, thinking sounds, cooking sounds, buzzing sounds)

THE VISITOR
Of each other? Of ourselves?

UPSTAIRS NEIGHBORS



(thinking sounds)
What’s for lunch?
(tromp, tromp, tromp, up and down the stairs)

SHE
I saw the best of my generation, starving, naked in the hysterical streets…

DEEP VOICE
Sounds like Fast Sunday in Provo.

THE VISITOR
Who said Fast Sunday?

ROOMMATE
We fast once a month.

We don’t eat for 24 hours, and donate the money we would have spent to the church to feed the needy.

SHE
And we think and pray.

THE VISITOR
Think and pray? Think of prey?

DEEP VOICE
The Visitor speaks in questions?

THE VISITOR
What will we eat?
Reality Sandwiches?
Naked Lunch?

DEEP VOICE
What is sustenance to you?

At this point, SHE and ROOMMATE give each other a knowing look, not knowing what it means.

ROOMMATE
We are sustained by art, by color and sound.

SHE
We are nourished by our heritage.

DOWNSTAIRS NEIGHBORS
(music sounds, thinking sounds, cooking sounds, buzzing sounds)

ROOMMATE
And our God.

UPSTAIRS NEIGHBORS

What’s for lunch?



(tromp, tromp, tromp, up and down the stairs)

SHE and ROOMMATE
(giggles)

MARK STRAND
We are eating poetry.

THE VISITOR
With symbolic lettuce and symbolic dressing?

What kind of knowledge have the dead?

Can they still love their mortal acquaintances?

What do they remember of us?

SHE
We baptize the dead.

We marry them (to ourselves and to each other).

We seal them – for time and all eternity.

We ask a lot of our dead.

DEEP VOICE
You can say that again.

SHE
We ask a lot of our dead.

ROOMMATE
What IS that voice?

THE VISITOR
A voice?

SHE
The eagle and the serpent are at war in me.

ROOMMATE
The Serpent fighting for blind desire.

SHE
The Eagle for clarity.

DEEP VOICE
None of this sounds natural.
Just put on a show, for God’s sake.

ROOMMATE
The party planning phase of this show is going well!

SHE
But you have a question?

ROOMMATE
Natural man, Natural woman, Natural food.
What is natural?

THE VISITOR
Are you shopping for images?

ROOMMATE
In a supermarket in California?

DEEP VOICE
Huh?

SHE
Someone said: What peaches, what penumbras! Whole families shopping at night!

Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados! Babies in the tomatoes!  

DEEP VOICE
Sounds like Tuesday in Provo.

THE VISITOR
What movie shall we watch?

ROOMMATE
One uncensored.
Howzabout let’s make one of the downstairs neighbors?

DOWNSTAIRS NEIGHBORS
(music sounds, thinking sounds, cooking sounds, buzzing sounds)

SHE
Showbiz kids makin’ movies of themselves,
They don’t give a fuck about anybody else.

DEEP VOICE
The dead know nothing of censorship.
But we know our Steely Dan.

ROOMMATE

Or upstairs neighbors?

UPSTAIRS NEIGHBORS

(thinking sounds)

What’s for lunch?



(tromp, tromp, tromp, up and down the stairs)

ROOMMATE
Naked Lunch.

SHE
Excuse me?

ROOMMATE
Steely Dan was the name of the dildo in Naked Lunch.

SHE
We all played piano for Sunday School, we all sang in Merry Miss choir, we all jitterbugged at Dance Festivals.

ROOMMATE
We’re all Mormon showbiz kids.

THE VISITOR
Yes?

ROOMMATE
We all were baptized for the dead.

SHE
That they might live in glory for eternity.

DEEP VOICE
Yes?

SHE
Put your shoulder to the wheel, push along.

THE VISITOR
What do we know of the dead? Did anyone answer that one yet?

DEEP VOICE
Nada. Zilch. Nuts.

UPSTAIRS NEIGHBORS



(thinking sounds)



What’s for lunch?

(tromp, tromp, tromp, up and down the stairs)

THE VISITOR
Nuts?

ROOMMATE
We need to go shopping for the party!

JONI MITCHELL
(sings)
Restless for streets and honky tonks
Restless for home and routine
Restless for country safety and her
Restless for the likes of reckless me

SHE
The dead is my grandmother, who came to this place for me.
I just realized I will betray her…

ROOMMATE
And I will betray mine.
I will worship at the altar of CeeBeeGeeBee BeeGees HeeBeeGeeBees.

SHE

And I at the altar of Bacchus.

SHE and ROOMMATE
(in unison)
And both of us the page.

THOMAS DOLBY
(sings)
Like tiny insects
on the palm of history
A Domino Effect
In a cloud of mystery

THE VISITOR
Is a poem a shopping list?

ROOMMATE
We will tattoo the present onto our bellies
with the ink of history

DEEP VOICE
What size do you WANT to be?

ALICE
One side of WHAT? The other side of WHAT?
(thought Alice to herself)

SHE

What was THAT voice?

DEEP VOICE

Oh, pardon me, that was from another play.

Being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.

ROOMMATE

That’s ok. You are forgiven.

ALICE

Well, I’ve tried to say “HOW DOTH THE LITTLE BUSY BEE,” but it all came different!’
(Alice replied in a very melancholy voice.)

ROOMMATE

That’s ok, Alice. You are forgiven.

DEEP VOICE

You’re forgiving an awful lot of people around here.

ROOMMATE

That’s ok. I’m forgiven.

DEEP VOICE

Upstart.

THE VISITOR

While I’ve got your ear,

Why IS a raven like a writing desk?

DEEP VOICE

I get that all the time.

THOMAS DOLBY
(sings)
My writing …
like an iron fist
My writing …

in a glove full of vaseline
Dip the fuse in the kerosene
I too became a dissident!

THE VISITOR
Who killed the pork chops?
What price bananas?

DEEP VOICE
Are you my Angel?

SHE

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

ROOMMATE
You are forgiven.

THOMAS DOLBY
(sings)
Courting disaster, we ran through the night.
Wings of an angel, torn in flight.
And the man says: Check it
My writing …
Verify it
My writing…

DEEP VOICE
I too became a dissident!

THE VISITOR
Where are we going, Walt Whitman?

The doors close in an hour.

Where does your beard point tonight?

SHE
Became a dissident.

ROOMMATE
Became a dissident!

THE VISITOR
Became?

ALICE
Being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.

THE VISITOR
Became?
Became?

DEEP VOICE
A DISSi
DISSi
DiSsi

VISITOR
D-D-D-D-DENT

(CURTAIN)

This piece is part of a longer memoir called 26 Kitchens: How Neither Here nor There became Home. Not all chapters are written in a crazy play format. Some are written in the style of Herman Melville. If you enjoyed this, please leave a comment below, (or even if you didn’t!). If you would like to read more of my 26 Kitchens, tell me about your kitchens, and connect with me, please subscribe to this blog. Thank you!

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