Serial Play--entry #8: Fertility

JENNIFER
Well, I guess places have a right to seat people wherever they have space.

ALEX
You would have more experience with this.

JENNIFER
What do you mean?

LORI
Alex…?

ALEX
Your granddad owned a resort up in the mountains?

JENNIFER
What?

LORI (standing up, trying to change the subject)
Alex, can I get another drink please?

GARY
Your parents owned a resort up in the mountains? Which one?

JENNIFER
Not me parents, my grandparents. How did you know that?

(Alex looks at Lori who looks down at the floor.)

JENNIFER
Jesus, Lori—

LORI
I’m sorry, I—

JENNIFER
How many times have I told you--

LORI
What is the big friggin' deal?

JENNIFER
--that I don’t want people to know these things, much less complete strangers.

LORI
They’re not complete strangers.

JENNIFER
They are. Complete strangers. One drunken night at dinner doesn’t make you best friends.

LORI
We could have died!

JENNIFER
But you didn't. And I’m sorry that you think some extraordinary bonding experience happened that night but—

LORI
You weren’t there so you have no way of knowing what that night was like so shut up about it.

JENNIFER
Why should I shut up about this when you won’t shut up about my personal life?

LORI
What is the big deal?  So you’re grandparents owned some property?

ALEX
Well, a resort is a little more than “some property.”

LORI
You're not helping, Alex! I asked you not to say anything!

JENNIFER
What else have you asked him not to say anything about? (Lori does not answer.) Did you hear me?  What else?

ALEX
There’s nothing else.  It’s nothing.

JENNIFER
I don’t know you every well at all, but I can tell you’re lying. You look away just like the girls do when they try to lie at school. 

ALEX
Whatever.

JENNIFER
And the older ones say that when they try to dismiss someone they know is right. What else did she tell you?

ALEX
You wanna know what she told me, Ms. Holy Holy? 

LORI
Alex, just shut up! Both of you just shut up!

ALEX
She told me that you went to private school!  And that your grandparents paid for it! And that you come from privilege.  And that you keep secrets!

JENNIFER (to Lori)
Keep secrets?

LORI
I didn’t say that!  I said I learned some things tonight that I’d never heard before.

ALEX
Whatever.  Same thing.

LORI
Why are you being such a dick?

ALEX
Your girlfriend must bring it out in me.

GARY
Alex, that’s enough.

ALEX
She’s been acting like a prima donna since the moment she walked in here! Judging everything. Looking down her nose at all of us—

GARY
Alex!

ALEX
Oh, Gary, go drop some more food on the floor why don’t you? If you’d just fucking pay attention to what you're doing instead of flitting around here all the time like some—

JENNIFER
He made a mistake, Alex. Give him a break.

ALEX
You really surprise me. I’d expect a spoiled, rich girl to have farm less patience for such stupid mistakes around food and service.

JENNIFER
You’ve got it all wrong.

ALEX
I’m sure I don’t have it all wrong.

LORI
Leave her alone, Alex.

ALEX
Why do you keep defending her?  You’re so much more interesting, so much more fun!  Why are you even with her?  She comes in here, won’t even have a drink, sits there judging the rest of us—

LORI
We’re trying to have a baby, OK?

(Alex stops.)

GARY
What?

LORI
Jennifer's not drinking because we’re trying to have a baby and she's going to carry it. Alright?  She’s got an appointment this week for her first insemination, and she’s trying to—

GARY (going to Jennifer)
What great news! We’re trying too!

JENNIFER
You are?

GARY
We are!

JENNIFER
Wow! Such a coincidence!

GARY
Yeah!  It is!

(Jennifer tentatively hugs Gary back. It’s her first attempt at any kind of physical connection with anyone else that we’ve seen.)

ALEX
Wow. Uh, wow… I’m uh…really sorry. Jesus. (to Lori) Why didn’t you say something? 

LORI
I was trying to tell you before, but we obviously started talking about other stuff. And then they came back when you were telling me about you guys, and I didn’t have the chance.

(Alex is still stunned into near silence, and his embarrassment is very apparent. Jennifer and Lori are silent and won’t look at each other.)

GARY
So let’s sit down and have some dinner.

LORI
Gary--?

GARY
What? … It’s getting cold! We didn’t walk all the way there and back to have this  go to waste. (Moving to the table)  Jennifer, have a seat right here. Lori, you go here.  Alex will be here, and I’ll sit here.  Lemme just go open a bottle of the red wine to have with dinner.  Let’s switch over. And I’ll bring in a bottle of sparkling water?

JENNIFER
Sounds great.

(Gary exits leaving Jennifer, Lori, and Alex standing there in awkward silence. Jennifer looks at the table and then towards the kitchen, after Gary.)

JENNIFER (moving towards the table)
Where did he say he wanted me?

LORI
Jennifer?

JENNIFER (moving to the place at the table)
I think it was here.  Is this right, Alex?

ALEX
Huh?

JENNIFER
Is this where I'm supposed to sit?

LORI
What are you doing?

JENNIFER
I’m sitting down where Gary told me to sit. You should do the same.

LORI
But—

JENNIFER
Us “spoiled, rich girls” are great at dinner parties when there’s tension.  Happens all the time.

LORI
I think we should go.

JENNIFER
Our gracious hosts have gone to all of this trouble to host us for this lovely dinner party, and you’re suggesting we leave?

LORI
Don’t pull this shit now.

JENNIFER
I’m not pulling any shit. Where are your manners, for God’s sake? 

LORI
Now you’re being ridiculous.

JENNIFER
I don’t know what you’re talking about.

(Gary comes back into the room with four glasses, a bottle of red, and a bottle of Perrier. Lori shakes her head, moves to her chair, and sits down.)

GARY
Alex, are you coming?

ALEX (still a bit dazed)
What?

GARY (pointing)
Have a seat there. Start passing the food.

ALEX
Right. OK. (He follows Gary’s instructions.)

(There’s silence as Gary pours three glasses of the wine and the water for Jennifer, and Alex passes the bowls of food around the table.)

GARY (sitting at his place)
So who is your doctor?

JENNIFER
For the fertility process?

GARY
Yes, for the fertility process. I’m always curious to find out where other couples are going, what their experience is like, you know, the whole she-bang.

JENNIFER (looking at Lori who doesn’t return the look)
Uh, OK. Well, we’re going to Dr. Kramer. Her practice is on 78th and Madison. She’s the daughter of a friend of my father, and she had great ratings on our insurance website. So we met with her about two years ago and—

GARY
You’ve been trying for that long?

JENNIFER (again looking at Lori)
Uh, sort of.

GARY
What does “sort of” mean?

(Jennifer looks to Lori who is drinking her wine. She notices that Gary and Alex are also looking at her, so she puts the wine down and leans forward.)

LORI (like it's a secret)
Jennifer is now modeling what she wishes I would do for her.  Right, honey?

(Silence.)

LORI
We started our process with Dr. Kramer with the assumption that I would carry the baby, that it would be my egg, and I would be the biological mother. But that didn’t work out.

GARY
What happened?

ALEX
Gary, maybe she doesn’t want to talk about it?

GARY
Oh. Oh! Oh.  I’m sorry

LORI
No, I’m fine to talk about it. We found a donor that we liked, we made the connection, and I was inseminated. (she takes a drink of wine) Nothing happened. We tried again. Nothing happened. After five attempts, we decided that maybe it wasn’t meant to be.

JENNIFER
But Lori really wanted to have a baby. It’s less important—   Sorry. Was less important to me, but when I realized how much Lori wanted it, I figured I’d give it a try.

GARY
So great. You and Alex are so much alike. (He takes a sip of his wine and smiles.)

ALEX
Huh?

JENNIFER
How so?

GARY
Well, something similar happened to us.

ALEX
I think it’s a lot different, Gary.

GARY
How so?  It’s like fate makes the choice, right?  Fate, or nature, or—

JENNIFER
God?

GARY
OK…sure, if that’s what you believe, we can say God. But whatever force it is, so much of it is out of our control. I mean so much of human life is just not what we think it is in terms of our ability to control it. You know, we think because modern medicine is so advanced that doctors can do anything, but it’s just not the case.  They can do a lot, but they can’t do everything. They can’t save everyone. They can’t solve all of our problems.  We want to think they can, but they can’t. They have no way of knowing what’s really going to happen when they tell you those statistics about diseases or traits or characteristics.

ALEX
OK, Gary, that’s—

GARY
It’s true.  We put so much faith in these people who pay all this money for this specialized training and spend hours working long shifts to get their residency hours, and then they continue to be mentored, supposedly, and they do professional development, supposedly, and yet they still don’t always know what the fuck they’re doing!  I mean all the money they make, the fancy cars they drive, the vacations they take, and they still fuck things up.  For people. Who just simply want to have a child.

(There’s silence after this.  Gary picks up his wine glass and drains it.)

GARY (picking up the wine bottle)
More wine?

LORI
I’m good.

ALEX
Gary, maybe you should—

GARY (pouring the rest of the bottle into his glass)
I’m fine.