middaymoon's Reading Room
Cast of Characters
Scene i: Rembrandt’s living room (Rembrandt, Aaron, Narrator)
Rembrandt and Aaron sit in front of a screen, watching a movie
Narrator: You see those guys over there? They’re best friends. You wouldn’t expect it if you knew them individually, though. The one on the left is Aaron.
Aaron looks at the audience and whoops loudly. Narrator winces.
Narrator: Eh, yeah. That’s Aaron for you. Loud. He’s pretty well liked at school, somehow. The guy loves to have fun. He gets invited to a lot of parties. You know the type. Rembrandt, on the other hand, well…
Rembrandt glances at audience, half-smiles and nods, then goes back to the screen
Narrator: He’s more the strong, silent type. He’s a thinker-
Aaron: He’s a pansy!
Rembrandt lightly punches Aaron’s shoulder.
Narrator: Aaron! You’re not allowed to talk to the audience. It doesn’t make any sense.
Aaron: Right, OK. Relax, man.
Narrator: Yeah, well, anyways. Rembrandt’s a thinker. He takes life very seriously. Most of the kids at his school think he’s boring, but that’s not quite right. He’s just very, eh, laid back.
Aaron: Hey, Rem?
Aaron: Do you hear something?
Rembrandt: (Glances at Narrator) I dunno, man. Maybe. Are you saying you think there’s something unwelcome in my house?
Aaron: I’ll get the butterfly net if you get the Super Soaker.
Rembrandt: (Pauses movie) Deal. Do you know where the net is?
Aaron: (Already walking away) Hall closet and on the left?
Narrator: (nervously) As you can see, they get along quite well.
Aaron: Hey, Rem! I didn’t know your family had a taser!
Narrator: (panicked) I gotta go, now. (Walks away quickly)
Aaron looks around, grins, and returns to his seat. Rembrandt chuckles and turns off the movie.
Aaron: (Picks up a ball while talking) So, what’s new with you?
Rembrandt: Not a lot, bro. You?
Aaron: Not a lot. New girlfriend.
Rembrandt: (sighs) I can tell you just wanted to say that. (laughs) Another girlfriend?
Aaron: (shrugs) Yeah. Dast just heow ah rowl.
Rembrandt: Sho eez. Is she nice?
Aaron: Yeah, she’s great. REALLY awesome girl. I’ll bring her to Mall Day tomorrow. Her name’s Liz.
Rembrandt: Mall Day, huh? She must be really special. You’ve known her a while?
Aaron: Nah, just a few days. How about you? Any lucky ladies for the Un-dateable Rembrandt?
Rembrandt: Nope. I’m not really into dating anymore.
Aaron: Not even any cute girls you’ve got your eye on?
Rembrandt: Mmm. Maybe. Not like that. You know how I am.
Aaron: Yeah, I know. Catch! (throws ball at Rembrandt)
Rembrandt chases Aaron off stage.
Scene ii: Food court at the mall (Rembrandt, Aaron, Liz)
Rembrandt is sitting at the table, reading a book. Aaron walks in, sees Rembrandt, and sits across from him.
Aaron: She’ll be here in a minute.
Rembrandt: (still reading) Hmm? (Looks up)
Aaron: Liz. She’ll be here in a minute. Where’s everybody else?
Rembrandt: Oh. (Puts book away) Nobody answered their phone, except for Ally.
Aaron: And? Is she coming?
Rembrandt: Nope. She had plans with her family. She said she might hang out later.
Aaron: What? How can we have a Mall Day with just two people!
Liz sneaks up behind Aaron.
Aaron: Rem, did you hear about the guys at Northshore High? One of them got THIRTY SEVEN people together for a Mall Day. Can you imagine thirty seven people loitering in a mall?
Liz leans down right behind Aaron’s ear.
Aaron: Mall Day is a tradition, man. We can’t do it with just TWO people-
Liz: (Cuts him off) Just two people?
Aaron: (Jumps) AGH! Wha- (Turns around and relaxes) Crap, Liz.
Liz: Crap yourself, Aaron. It’s nice to see you, too. (places hands on Aaron’s shoulders and leans on them, then looks at Rembrandt) Who’s your bud?
Aaron: My bud, as you call him, is my dear friend Rembrandt. (looks up at her) You know. Best friend?
Rembrandt: Hey-o. (smiles and extends hand) Nice to meet you.
Liz: Oh yeah, I’ve heard a lot about you. Rem for short?
Rembrandt: (aborts the dying handshake) Yup. Rem for short.
Aaron: Should I, uh, get you a seat, baby?
Liz: Well, I have some bad news.
Aaron: What? What’s wrong?
Liz: Josh called me. We have a group project for English, and he won’t be here tomorrow. I gotta go work with him today. Now.
Aaron: Eh, OK. Talk to you later, then. Good luck, baby.
Liz: Bye, guys. (walks quickly off)
Aaron: Aw, man. Now it IS just a two-person Mall Day. This sucks.
Rembrandt: (chuckling) “Baby”, huh?
Aaron: Yeah. We’re in love.
Rembrandt: After only, what, a week? That’s hard to believe.
Aaron: (shrug) She’s really funny, and smart, and she’s just…the coolest girl ever.
Rembrandt: Yeah, she seems pretty cool. You wanna forget Mall Day and go chill at my house later?
Aaron: (sigh) Yeah, man. Just, it kind of sucks. Too bad about Ally, too. I haven’t seen her around for ages.
Both get up and walk out.
Scene iii: Rembrandt’s house, two weeks later (Rembrandt, Aaron)
Rembrandt and Aaron are in Rembrandt’s living room again, doing homework and eating snacks.
Aaron: Rem, can you pass the bowl?
Rembrandt: Chips, or doodles?
Rembrandt: Sure. (passes bowl across table) What’s eating you?
Aaron: Whaddya mean? (eats some chips, and talks through his food) I’m fine. Nothing’s wrong with me. (talking muffled and spitting chips everywhere)
Rembrandt: Yeah, there is. Something’s bothering you.
Aaron: (still muffled) What makes you think that?
Rembrandt: Because I know you too well.
Rembrandt: For instance, I know how much you hate Salt and Vinegar flavored chips.
Aaron: Yeah? So?
Rembrandt: So, I think that’s an awful big mouthful you’ve got there. Salt-and-Vinegar-y, isn’t it?
Aaron: (jerks, then slowly and deliberately spits out his mouthful in a napkin) I didn’t even notice.
Rembrandt: No kidding. So, spill. What’s goin’ on?
Aaron: I, uh…I broke up with Liz.
Rembrandt: Oh? YOU broke up with HER?
Aaron: Well, no. She broke up with me. To go out with Josh.
Rembrandt: Aw, crap man. That’s the pits. Did you talk to her about it?
Aaron: No, but I will. You think I should slash his tires?
Rembrandt: Who, Josh’s? No! Are you serious? Slash his tires? He might be a sleaze ball, but you don’t just go and slash someone’s tires.
Aaron: Why not? I love her, man. She was my girlfriend, and he stole her.
Rembrandt: (puts down homework) OK, you know what? This is not the way to go! I bet you two were spouting “I love you!” all over the place after the first week. That’s pathetic, Aaron. Look, here’s a brief rundown of love: doing something nice for somebody else. I don’t mean just any old nice thing, because most of the time we’re only nice so we can get something from somebody or because we owe them a favor. I mean being kind for the sake of making someone else happy. That’s love. Holding the door, giving to charity, accepting somebody’s flaws, or waving back at the kid who mistook you for someone else. That is how you love somebody, whether they are a total stranger or the girl you’re crushing on. And don’t get into the mindset of having all forms of love equal. There are different forms for different relationships. Brotherly love. Parental love. Romantic love. You don’t learn to love a girl in the romantic sense in a week, Aaron. And what’s with this “Will you date me?” charade? I mean, it’s cute, but what does it change? All of a sudden you get to hold hands and use pet names? It’s as if “to date” no longer means “to go on dates with”. Now it’s something like “to enter into a semi-formal social relationship because two kids had a crush.”
Aaron: (turns red) It’s not JUST a crush…
Rembrandt: Don’t get me wrong, Aaron. I’ve learned to appreciate all the cute little couple things. But when I ask a girl out, I’m literally asking her to come with me to a movie or out to eat or something. Whatever feelings of infatuation are there, great. Act on them. Love each other. But there’s no need for all these rules and expectations. Are you trying to imitate marriage or something? Because if you look at high school students as a whole, the “divorce rate” is pretty high. Next time you like a girl, Aaron, don’t ask her out right off the bat. Get to know her. Be with her. Hang out with her. Go on dates, maybe. Learn to love each other. All the stuff that high school couples make awkward, all the cute couple things, and even the status of being “boyfriend and girlfriend” should come naturally out of love for each other, not the other way around. And I know what you’re thinking. “Oh, that’s so weird and old-fashioned, nyeah!” Yeah, Aaron, it is. But I’m telling you, man, if you can spend your time on a girl just because you want to see her happy and not because you’re expected to, you’ve got the world.
Aaron: So you think I sound like that?
Rembrandt: No, it’s just…man. It is so frustrating to watch all these kids acting like that and just hurting themselves for it. They were in the relationships for the wrong reasons.
Aaron: Me, too, huh?
Rembrandt: Yeah. You, too. And, for the record, I don’t think she was ever really interested in you. She probably just thought you were fun to hang around with.
Aaron: Wow, Rembrandt. I didn’t know you thought that about me. (stands up angrily)
Rembrandt: Come on, you know that’s not what I meant.
Aaron: Ally called earlier to talk about Liz, but I told her I’d be here. But now I’m going to go meet her at the mall. I’ll see you later, Rem.
Rembrandt: (sighs) Alright, dude. See ya.
Aaron walks out and the Narrator walks in.
Narrator: Well, that was interesting. Ally is one of Aaron’s older friends. She’s a real character. Eccentric. Thoughtful. She knows she’s out there, so she’s shy. She, like Rembrandt, never really got into the dating scene. Once, when she was little…
Narrator: (turns around) Hello?
Rembrandt: (Threatening tone) Why do you keep coming into my house?
Narrator: I…I was just leaving…
Narrator turns and walks out, leaving Rembrandt by himself.
Scene iv: The
Aaron and Ally are at a table, already in discussion.
Aaron: …and then he went on, like, a half-hour rant about how I need to be more careful dating and stuff. And how I, apparently, don’t know what I’m talking about and dating is a charade and… (groans)
Aaron: And, he’s right, I guess. Could have been nicer about it.
Ally: You gonna be OK?
Aaron: Yeah, yeah. I’ll be fine. I’ll talk to him about it tomorrow. He’s a great dude, and he’s pretty chill. He’ll understand.
Ally: That’s good. You two have been friends for as long as I can remember. It’d be too weird if you got in a fight and stayed mad at each other or something.
Aaron: Pshh, yeah. No cat fights for us. (checks his watch) Hey, listen, I gotta go. Thanks for calling to hang out with me, I really appreciate it.
Ally: Oh, um. No problem. I was just a little concerned about Liz. It was nice catching up with you, too. Tell Rem that I should hang out with him, too!
Aaron: Yeah, it was. And I will. You wanna come do this again sometime next week?
Ally: (shocked) Um…yeah, if I have time. That’d be nice.
Aaron: Alright. See you later!
Both walk away as Narrator walks on
Narrator: Today, Aaron takes what Rembrandt said to heart. He really was upset about the whole Liz thing, and he decides that he’s not going to get into crummy relationships with girls if he can help it. Ally’s call came at a perfect time. Truth be told, he’s always had a special place for her in his heart, but they never became much more than friends because he was with so many different girls all the time. But now…well. Over the next few months, they’ll become closer and closer, and…oh, here. You watch.
Scene v: The
Aaron, Rembrandt, and Ally are all sitting at the table, talking and laughing. Aaron is wearing a party hat and is trying to get Ally to put one on.
Rembrandt: Come on, man. Don’t do that to her.
Ally: Aaron! I am NOT wearing that hat! Rem’s not wearing one!
Aaron: Hey, Rem! Where’s the hat I gave you?
Rembrandt: I left it at home.
Aaron: Oh, come on. I bet you’re sitting on it. Go on, put it on.
Rembrandt sheepishly pulls a squished hat from under him and holds it up. Aaron and Ally stop struggling and stare at the hat before bursting into laughter.
Aaron: You were really sitting on it? I was just messing around.
Ally: You see, Aaron? He doesn’t like the hat idea, either.
Rembrandt: …I sat on it by accident.
Aaron: (still laughing) Rem, you are a glorious fellow. Fine, Ally. No hat for you.
Aaron stands up on his chair and addresses the audience in a loud voice. Rembrandt covers his face and starts laughing, but Ally just covers her face to hide.
Aaron: Attention, ladies and gentlemen! Today is the seventeenth birthday of this lovely young lady…
Ally: (groans) Oh, my gosh. Aaron, I hate you!
Aaron: …so could you all sing happy birthday to her? (steps down off the chair) C’mon Ally. Let all the nice people sing to you.
Ally: There is no way I’m standing up on that chair. Nope.
Aaron: Aww, not even for me?
Rembrandt: Go on, Ally. It’s not thaaat baaad.
Ally: (stands up) I will not forget this, Aaron! (climbs up onto the chair)
Aaron and Rembrandt try to persuade the audience to sing Happy Birthday to Ally. After the song finishes, Narrator walks past as if part of the crowd. Rembrandt sees him
Rembrandt: Hey, Aaron. Look.
Aaron: Ha! Watch this, guys. (cups his hands and shouts off stage) Security! Sir! That man (points to Narrator) just shoplifted the department store.
Narrator stops, glances around confusedly, sees Aaron and Rembrandt, and runs offstage. Rembrandt runs after him, while Aaron and Ally stay back a while. They look at each other in the eyes for a few seconds, grasp hands, and run after Rembrandt, laughing.
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