A man in his mid twenties is sitting on the toilet seat dividing up lines on a framed picture, he is dressed as a wizard, a woman also in her mid twenties bursts in and starts inspecting her face in the bathroom mirror. She is dressed as a skimpy fairytale princess. She looks like she’s been crying. Suddenly she notices the man in the reflection.
M: Jesus Christ you scared the hell out me
W: What are you doing in my bathroom?
W: By yourself?
M: Yep, you want some?
W: No… thanks
The man shrugs, does a line and empties more drugs onto the little picture. He’s fascinated by the picture and barely takes his eyes off it for the whole conversation. The woman perches on a stool beside him with her head in her hands.
M: Cheer up birthday girl
W: I hate Halloween
M: No you don’t
W: Yes I do
M: No you don’t, every year you have an excuse to wear a slutty outfit without being called a slut. You love it
W: Shut up
W: You know what a stranger told me at a Halloween party a few years ago?
W: He took me aside and flamboyantly declared I could get by in life on my looks alone. You’re Jane Birkin, he said. You’re just like Jane Birkin!
M: Who’s Jane Perkins?
W: Don’t worry
M: Who said you’re Jane Perkins?
W: Jane Birkin. A stranger said it. I just told you that. I think he worked in fashion or something so I definitely saw him as an authority
M: Was he trying to sleep with you?
W: What, no! Why do I even bother talking to you?
M: He was trying to sleep with you, never trust compliments from strange men at parties
W: What if he’s right though? I didn’t believe him at the time, I’d only just stopped being a gawky little kid, you know? I didn’t even think I was pretty. But now it’s like I’ve been coasting along on my looks this whole time. What happens when I inevitably shrivel into an ugly old bat? Is it like I’m totally void of merit as a person?
The woman gets up and starts applying makeup around her puffy, cried-out eyes
M: You know what I think?
M: I think you should calm down, do have some of these fantastic amphetamines, go back to your party and dance until you’re too sweaty to give a shit about anything
W: Jesus, drugs are the last thing I need right now
W straightens her outfit up and makes to leave
M: OK, OK wait, alright, fine. Because it’s your birthday I’m going to give you two presents.
W: But you already gave me my present, remember?
The woman shakes around the cheap bangle on her wrist
M: But I’m going to give more presents. Better presents
W: Is that so?
M: Yes. First I’m going to give you a compliment
W: I thought I should never accept compliments from strange men at parties
M: Ha! But I’m different
The man starts waving his hands around as if he’s casting spells
M: I’m a strange wizard, you should always accept compliments from strange wizards, we know our shit
W: (laughs) alright, so out with it, what’s my birthday compliment?
M: You worry too much
W: That’s not even compliment
M: Let me finish, I meant you shouldn’t worry so much. You have worth well beyond your looks
W: I know I have worth beyond my looks, idiot. It just pisses me off that I care so much about them
M: about what?
W: About my LOOKS
M: Alright. Fair enough, all I was trying to say is, I am the most intelligent person I know and you still mange to interest me so you must be doing something right
W: You are such a dick…. but thankyou.
W: I actually feel a little better now. I’m going to go back to my party and pretend like I didn’t just have a nervous breakdown. You should come with me. Stop being such a creep in this bathroom by yourself
The woman makes to leave again
M: Wait don’t you want your second present? Trust me; it’s the secret to bliss and contentment
W: (sighs) Alright
The man wipes off the drug residue and gives the woman the picture he’s been transfixed by
W: (giggles) And what am I supposed to do with this?
M: Look at it!
The man gets up and starts pacing around
W: I’m looking at it
M: what do you feel?
W: confused and a little bored
M: You’re not looking hard enough
M: Keep looking, I’m going to tell you something very important
W: Oh god
M: There is no god! The world has no meaning. Human beings are responsible for every
single choice and action they make
W: (laughs) you really are very high aren’t you
M: This is serious. Look at the picture! Concentrate!
W: (giggles) OK I’m concentrating
M: Do you agree we’re responsible for all our choices?
W: Pretty much, I suppose
M: What do you mean ‘pretty much’?
W: Well, what about coercion? What about forces beyond our control? What about fate?
M: Fate is bullshit, fate is an excuse. Coercion is bullshit too people let themselves be coerced into things. Granted we don’t control everything. But in every situation we are faced with choices we do control, right?
W: Like right now, I could choose to leave my bathroom and go speak to a sane person
M: Yes, you could leave but you’re not going to because I’m far too interesting and I still haven’t got to the point yet
W: You’re nowhere near as interesting as you think
M: OK, OK. So what you’re feeling right now is the existential dread every single one of us feels, you know why we have The Dread?
W: (Sighs) Why do we have The Dread?
M: We have The Dread because we fear the void, the nothingness to come. It’s like; we live everyday with this huge burden. The burden to make ourselves into the human beings we are, the humans people see us as. The burden to make choices, only because we’re all pretty well off in the grand scheme of things, we have way more choices than we can cope with. Too many choices means we choose distraction over choice. You distract yourself with your own self image, you let the outside world distract and define you with that image. It’s ok. I do it too, it’s pretty much impossible not to do it. I mainly distract myself with getting high which is probably worse. Once we choose distraction over freedom our choices become much more manageable but much more depressing
W: Right…. I still don’t get why you’re getting me to stare at this stupid picture
M: I’m getting you to stare at the painting it because who ever painted it, totally gets it, you know?
W: Gets what?
The man grabs the picture from the woman’s hands
M: Get’s that the only way out of The Dread is art. Art gets us to see the world as a source of human freedom. It’s like; every day we force order onto a completely fucking insane world, just to get by. When we look at art we do the same thing. We either accept it as authentic or we don’t. Its authenticity depends on our own millions of prejudices and values and predispositions and what we want everyone to think of our choices.
W: (Giggles) yep
M: I can tell who ever painted this. Painted it for its own sake! The minute someone makes art for its own sake and someone appreciates that art then BAM! Their world is transformed just a little bit. And it keeps on transforming every time the artists and the art appreciator get locked in that dance. It’s the dance of meaning. Whoever painted this picture understands the dance. They get it. And I can guarantee you they’re fucking zen.
The woman bursts into uncontrollable laughter
M: What’s so funny?
The woman eventually calms down
M: Seriously, what’s so funny?
W: I painted the picture, you high piece of shit.