Dream Pumps: A Playlet
Fashion fan fiction from the mind of writer Wayne Koestenbaum.
A plain room, with a door onto an unfrequented street. The room is furnished with a couch and a table. On the table is a jug in the shape of a rooster.
Skippy Edison. Of undetermined age and gender. Probably male. Probably 35 years old. But not necessarily.
Boss Quince. Of undetermined age and gender. Probably male. Probably 45 years old. But not necessarily.
Dyan Cannon. A person who claims to be or appears to be the actress Dyan Cannon.
Voice-over. An unseen voice.
SKIPPY EDISON: I want you to buy me a pair of fuchsia Marimekko pumps.
BOSS QUINCE: You destroyed the last pair of heels I gave you.
SKIPPY: So I should be weaned from heels?
BOSS: Ballet flats, loafers, boots, mules—yes to all these safe options. But no more pointy, extravagant, exhibitionistic playthings.
SKIPPY: I thought our little agreement gave me the right to specify the variety of shoe I desired.
BOSS: Toward your desires, I try to maintain a neutral distance.
SKIPPY: That’s what Mr. Scala recommended, before he dragged you away from your respectable position as a medical researcher and landed you a job in this seamy boutique.
BOSS: You call it a boutique. It’s a hostel.
SKIPPY: With no guests or customers.
BOSS: The city’s water supply is contaminated. Tourism is down.
SKIPPY: I spend most of my time bringing buckets of potable water from nearby Mt. Serena, a municipality that remains untouched by the disaster.
BOSS: Are you still waiting for your betrothed to return from Trieste? Or have you given up?
SKIPPY: Boss Quince, I’m sorry to chide you, but “betrothed” is not how I describe my friend Stanislaus. He is a short-order cook, an aesthete, a part-time barber, a monk-in-training, a mensch, an erotic zero.
BOSS: Stanislaus dominated this hostel, the Locanda Edison, when he was its bookkeeper and chef.
SKIPPY: Traces of that domination are still evident on my body.
BOSS: Welts? Scars?
SKIPPY: Fuchsia pumps—in that new style—would distract me from my wounds.
BOSS: Show me the wounds first, and then I’ll consider whether the purchase of fuchsia pumps is apropos .
(Skippy Edison falls down and seems to be having a “fit.”)
SKIPPY: I’m having a fit. Just like I told you would happen.
BOSS: If I gently kick you in the thighs with my bare feet, will that stop your trembling and convulsions?
SKIPPY: I no longer want fuchsia pumps. I’m too thirsty.
(Skippy, recovered, stands up.)
BOSS: Now that your convulsions have subsided, you can walk to Mt. Serena and bring us back two buckets of potable water.
SKIPPY: I’m too fatigued for that exacting journey.
BOSS: Skippy, would you prefer a pair of Christian Louboutin yellow pumps, like you were writing about in your diary last week?
SKIPPY: Our arrangement included a clause forbidding you to read my diary.
BOSS: I wanted to know if you were still planning a birthday party for Cary Grant’s former wife Dyan Cannon.
SKIPPY: Dyan is in Catania and isn’t able to travel to our city on short notice.
BOSS: Dyan Cannon stayed at this hostel when she was filming My Mother, the Spy. I was a young hotelier, with ambitions and a good figure. Dyan complimented the way I looked in lederhosen, which were in style then, for a brief time. Few remember that long-ago summer’s craze for lederhosen, a fad that shook the city and made my body, lederhosen-clad, seem to me a conundrum I’d rather destroy than solve.
SKIPPY: Yellow Christian Louboutin pumps. That’s my verdict.
BOSS: I’m thirsty. Is there any wine left in the cellar?
SKIPPY: You know we finished all the wine last Christmas, when our neighbors tried to torch our boutique.
BOSS: It’s a hostel, not a boutique. I’ve managed the Locanda Edison for decades. That’s how I came to be friends with Dyan Cannon.
SKIPPY: I’m so thirsty, I think I might pass out again.
BOSS: Dyan Cannon should be coming tomorrow at 2 pm, with a month’s supply of sparkling water in blue glass bottles.
SKIPPY: Is Dyan Cannon a water connoisseur, a hoarder, a charitable foundation?
BOSS: You foolish sot. Dyan Cannon is your godmother. She was friends with your birth mother, who abandoned you shortly after your christening. Dyan herself shirked most of a godmother’s tasks.
SKIPPY: I changed my mind. Fuchsia Marimekko pumps. By sundown.
BOSS: Just to impress Dyan Cannon? She probably won’t notice what you’ve got on your feet. She never pays much attention to your appearance. Physically, you’re a disappointment to her.
(A knock at the door. The Police Officer enters.)
POLICE OFFICER: We have obtained a court order to shut down this establishment for sanitary violations.
BOSS: Let me explain. The lack of potable water has made it difficult for us to comply with codes.
SKIPPY: Indeed, I have done research on artesian matters pertaining to this city, and despite the natural catastrophe that has visited us, our underground water supplies, though now unavailable, remain pure.
BOSS: Officer, wait for Dyan Cannon. She’s arriving at 2 pm tomorrow, with enough water to satisfy our thirst and to handle all the sanitary crimes that need expert manipulation and concealment.
SKIPPY: Fuchsia Marimekko pumps, to impress Dyan Cannon when she arrives with our water.
POLICE: Fuchsia pumps? In the midst of a sanitary crisis and a shutdown?
BOSS: Fuchsia Marimekko pumps for Skippy Edison are a priority, officer, as are Christian Louboutin yellow pumps.
SKIPPY: You’ve solved my problem. My lifelong dilemma.
BOSS: Fuchsia and yellow. Two pairs. For day and evening. For depressed moments and gay moments. No need to choose.
POLICE: This establishment is now shut down and will remain extinct and invisible until further notice.
(Police Officer exits, perplexed.)
BOSS: A kiss, please, Skippy Edison.
SKIPPY: I don’t kiss.
BOSS: Fuchsia and yellow.
SKIPPY: Which should I wear for Dyan Cannon?
BOSS: Fuchsia Marimekko. May I wear the yellow Christian Louboutin? Our shoe size is more or less the same.
SKIPPY: Yellow Christian Louboutin for you, despite our thirst, despite my convulsions, despite the extinction of this hostel-cum-boutique-cum-eyesore.
BOSS: I learned in school that if you are dangerously parched, you should go to sleep, so the body’s internal reserves of moisture can replenish themselves and prevent fatal dehydration.
SKIPPY: I feel too peppy, after our decision to buy both pairs of pumps and our encounter with the law—too peppy to sleep.
BOSS: Here. Take these pills. I’ll swallow my dose too. We’ll be expeditiously knocked out.
SKIPPY: I remember these pills. Dyan Cannon warned me against them, but she is not a flawless judge of sickness and health. Your early training as medical researcher qualifies you to prescribe dubious antidotes.
BOSS: Goodbye to thirst.
SKIPPY: Goodbye to extinction and invisibility.
(They swallow the pills and lie down on the couch. Time stops; time lurches forward. Dyan Cannon enters the room.)
DYAN CANNON: Good afternoon, my ambiguous darlings of the Locanda Edison. I have sparkling water to deliver.
( Boss Quince and Skippy Edison remain comatose or asleep.)
DYAN: Well, then, I’ll keep this water for myself. I’ve grown greedy, truth be told, and thirsty—and tired of pretending to be a godmother to every passing stranger. It’s time I looked after my own needs. I’m Dyan Cannon. I’m not the Red Cross.
( She looks out the open door.)
DYAN: What’s this? Two boxes on the doorstep?
( She exits briefly and then, holding the boxes, re-enters the room.)
DYAN: Two packages from the local luxury department store.
(She opens the boxes.)
DYAN: Christian Louboutin yellow pumps! And Marimekko fuchsia pumps!
( She tries them on, one pair at a time.)
DYAN: They’re snug, but they’ll stretch. These pumps are just the thing to relieve my mood slump.
( She addresses the following line to an offstage presence.)
DYAN: Driver, no need to unload the cartons of sparkling water from the limo. Let’s drive back home now. This so-called locanda is growing blurry and murky and dim—it seems almost invisible now, though just five minutes ago I could see it clearly. Strange atmospheric conditions pertain in this valley, which functions as a prism, focusing and destroying the optical waves of nearby settlements.
( She exits. Skippy Edison sits up.)
SKIPPY: I heard voices. Officer?
(Skippy shakes Boss Quince, who seems unarousable.)
SKIPPY: When I recover my strength, I’ll walk to Mt. Serena, but in the meantime I’ll practice my speech of supplication to Dyan Cannon, who will doubtless soon arrive, despite what the clocks say. It’s getting murky in here. All I can see now is an empty water jug in the shape of a rooster. Dyan Cannon once brought it back from Morocco for me. Boss Quince threw it on the ground and smashed the vessel to pieces, but then repented and glued the shards back together.
(Disoriented, Skippy rises, stumbles toward the table, picks up the rooster-shaped pitcher, and gently shakes it.)
SKIPPY: I can’t see anything now, but I suspect that there’s liquid in this jug. Water, or wine?
(Skippy raises the jug to his mouth and drinks.)
SKIPPY: It’s not water. It’s not wine. It’s sticky, like cider, or stout, or syrup.
(Skippy takes another sip.)
SKIPPY: I think it quenches my thirst, but I’m not sure. Boss Quince, wake up, there’s an unidentifiable, possibly thirst-quenching solution here, in the rooster jug that Dyan Cannon once brought back for me from Morocco—the jug you once tried to destroy. Your violence usually comes to naught.
(Skippy Edison stands, arrested, in the dark room.)
VOICE-OVER: The room is now almost entirely dark—or, the murkiness has consolidated into a thick miasma that makes sight too taxing and pointless an operation to merit the struggle. Boss Quince remains unarousable. Skippy Edison keeps drinking the unidentified sticky liquid. Eventually, he will pass out again, but we lack the omniscience to predict occurrences beyond the frame of this water-deprived locanda in a valley mostly forgotten by tale-tellers, historians, and cartographers, not to mention the divines, of any denomination, who make human souls their business, even when those souls are defunct, dangerous, imperiled, or unworthy of becoming role models for you, who await a bedtime sip of absinthe or some other contemporary vehicle of oblivion.