The Motivational Speaker at the Theatrical Intermission


Good Afternoon:

Last night, I attended the world premiere of Marissa Skudlarek’s Pleiades!, overall a very good show and an auspicious beginning to what I believe will become a long and distinguished playwriting career. Three women about half my age, all about the same height, with the same shoulder-length brown hair and almost the same blue jeans, took seats next to me, and during intermission, the one on the right started talking television.

“It’s like that show, um, you know, that TV show.”

The middle one said, “Oh, yeah, sure we know what you mean, that show.”

The one on the left laughed.

Right whined, “you know which one, the mystery one.”

Middle said, “Which mystery one? Criminal Minds?”

Left chimed in with, “That show is so gross! A villain who gouges out the eyes of his victims and inserts them into the eye sockets of stuffed animals?!”

Right said, “Who comes up with that s—?”

Left replied, “The writers are the criminal minds on that show.”

Middle asked, “So is Criminal Minds the one you’re talking about?”

“No, let me look it up on my phone.”

Middle said, “No. Don’t do that. Put your phone away. You do not need your phone, you can figure it out on your own, you need to fight this dependency of yours and learn to think for yourself.”

“I do not need my cell phone to think for myself!”

“You do!” laughed Left. “You totally do!”

Middle said, “In fact, I have a better idea. Give me your phone. You don’t need it and I will prove it.”

“Will you give it back?” asked Right, timidly.


Right surrendered her phone, gingerly.

Middle said, “Look, I can help you. Just clear your mind and think. Think about the stars. Think about what they look like, or what are their names? Forget your phone, focus on their faces.”

Right said, “This is so hard. Maybe Castle?”

“My mother loves that show! Castle is her favorite!” exclaimed Left.

The other two looked at Left and their upper lips curled up, a sure sign that Castle is an old people’s show, at least in the learned judgment of Middle and Right. Full disclosure: I’ve seen about two dozen episodes, and I’m old (by their standards), so perhaps they’re right.

Middle said, “So is it Castle?”

Right asked, “The guy has curly blond hair, right?”

“No, it’s brown.”

“Then it’s not Castle. Oh, I know! It’s The Mentalist! The cute guy does have blond hair, right?”

Middle said, “Right, you must be talking about The Mentalist. I am so proud of you. You can have your phone back. See what you learned? You figured it out for yourself, you did not need your cell phone. You are better than your device.”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

Left said, “So why did you want to talk about The Mentalist?”

“Uhhhhhh.” Long pause. “I, um, forgot.”

Middle and Left stared at her, but fortunately the lights went down and the second act began, and for a moment I wondered why three women about half my age, all about the same height, with the same shoulder-length brown hair and almost the same blue jeans, would even think about three hour-long television crime dramas at a show like Pleiades!, a play that bears zero, absolutely zero resemblance to any of them.

Vonn Scott Bair


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