My Darling Love: Drama by Joe Gulla

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My Darling Love
by Joe Gulla

CAST OF CHARACTERS
DAVID Casual, yet distinguished. 70’s
MILO Handsome, modern, confident. 20’s

SETTING
David’s apartment. West Village, NY.

The play begins in darkness. The first sound we hear is the arm of a phonograph being placed on a record. We hear the familiar cracks and pops. A song begins and it is the first strains of Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour.”

Stage remains dark during the opening instrumental section.

Lights up on first lyrics.

(La la la la la la)
(La la la la la la)
(My Cherie Amour, lovely as a summer day)
(My cherie Amour, distant as the milky way)
(My cherie Amour…)

David’s living room is small. A simple couch and small chair sit behind a humble coffee table. There are bookshelves stage left. Crowded with paperbacks and the occasional magazine, David is well-read.

There is a copy of the current New Yorker on his coffee table. Next to it sits a partially unwrapped box. A gift.

A vinyl record… a “45”… leans against this box. This record is, in fact, Stevie Wonder’s hit single, “My Cherie Amour.”

Music volume becomes substantially lower.

David enters stage right. He is carrying a vodka soda. He is dressed in blue jeans and a comfortable flannel shirt. He wears no shoes, just socks. In fact, he shuffles in. Clearly enjoying his solitude, he belts the next few lyrics of the song.

DAVID
(singing loudly and slightly off key) Pretty little one that I adore!
You’re the only “boy” my heart beats for!

David holds up his glass dramatically and looks at his vodka soda with disappointment. He sings the next line of the song in the same tune as the original!

Fuck, David! You forgot your lime!

David scurries off stage right to retrieve a lime.

Song continues. David continues singing from kitchen.

DAVID
In a cafe or sometimes on a crowded street
I’ve been near you, but you never noticed me

Milo enters stage left. He notices the opened box. He is confused by the fresh drink on the table. He appears tentative and smiles when he hears that David is singing. He enjoys catching David this way.

David returns to stage, lime slice in hand. He notices Milo for a moment, but walks past him. He continues to sing.

DAVID
(ignoring MILO) My Cherie Amour, won’t you tell me how could you ignore That behind that little smile I wore
How I wish that you were mine

David sits on couch. He picks up the New Yorker and his drink. He continues to sing.
La la la la la la

MILO
Hello?!
DAVID
(loudly and obnoxiously) LA LA LA LA LA LA!!!!

Music slowly fades out.

MILO
David?
DAVID
(not looking at MILO) Get out!
MILO
What?
DAVID
Out!
MILO
You can’t be serious!

David turns to Milo. Looks him dead in the eye.

DAVID
Leave my home!
MILO
This is my grandmother’s home!
DAVID
Your grandmother lives in a drawer at St. Mother Mary Gates of Glory cemetery. You’ve come to the wrong home.
MILO
That’s sick!
DAVID
That’s the truth, Milo. Exit!
MILO
Why are you being like this?
DAVID
I am not being like anything, dear. I am enjoying a cocktail at home. I am reading the New Yorker. In fact, I am a native New Yorker reading the New Yorker. I am cosmopolitan. I am downright chic.  Leave me to it. Depart my home, young man!
MILO
You’re not a reasonable person.
DAVID
Reasonable? You barge into MY home while I am enjoying a name brand/top shelf vodka. Not only do you arrive uninvited. You balk when I ask you to leave. Then, you REALLY low-ball it and evoke the name of my dear, recently deceased sister. Your grandmother! You’re the unreasonable person here, my dear nephew.
MILO
You’re my grandmother’s brother. I’m your Grand Nephew!

David stands up. He is urgent and angry. He points to the door.

DAVID
GET OUT!!!
MILO
Listen, I know you’re mad at me from the other night. I understand that. That’s why I came here. That’s why I sent you the present. You can throw me out for the other night. I get that. But, you can’t throw me out because I remind you of how old you are. You can’t dislike me for that.

David sits. He is becoming resigned to Milo’s presence.

DAVID
Dearest Milo, I don’t dislike you for your youth. I simply dislike you.
MILO
That’s mean. And it’s a shame… because we are the only two gay people in our family. We should be allies.
DAVID
(correcting MILO) First, we are the only two gay people that are “out of the closet” in our family, Milo. Your Aunt Johanna is a “Dyke on a Bike” if there ever was one. In fact, right about now she’s probably a “Dyke in a Happy Hour Karaoke Contest” at the Cubby Hole.
MILO
How do you know this?
DAVID
Google “mullet”!
MILO
But, she’s married… to Uncle Peter!
DAVID
Google “schmuck”!

There is silence. The air has lightened a bit. Milo tries again.

MILO
I am happy to see you got the gift. You’re the only person I know who has a machine that can play those plastic things.
DAVID
Yes, I have a phonograph. Yes. Those plastic things are called records. They’re not plastic. They’re made of vinyl.
MILO
Whatever. I’m glad you got it. It was my way of apologizing. I knew I upset you.
DAVID
Was it obvious?
MILO
You threw Cousin Theresa’s pound cake at Mom’s cat and ran out of the house!
DAVID
She’s another lesbian!
MILO
What?!
DAVID
(ignoring MILO and picks up “45”) I was actually shocked when this arrived. The return address said: Mary Pilford, Painesville, Ohio.
MILO
I bought it on eBay. So, the woman who sold it to me mailed it. It is supposed the be the actual one.
DAVID
(with real interest) What do you mean “the actual one”?
MILO
You know what I mean.
DAVID
Not sure I do.
MILO
Uncle David, It is supposed to be the actual record/vinyl… whatever you call it. The one that was in the jukebox at Stonewall… the night of the riots.

David is startled and somewhat moved. He tries not to show it.

DAVID
What do you mean? Why would Mary Pilford from Ohio have this? What are you talking about? Who the fuck is Mary Pilford?!
MILO
There’s a thing called a computer. They have websites. You can buy lots of different things.
DAVID
And you called Mary and purchased Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour”… for me?
MILO
He’s blind you know!
DAVID
That is a very random thing to say at this potentially poignant moment.
MILO
(quickly) Sorry. Yes, um… I felt bad. You seemed upset AF!
DAVID
AF?
MILO
“As fuck”!
DAVID
I like that! I might use that.
MILO
I still don’t understand what I said that bothered you. Can you help me understand? You’re an old poundcake-throwing fool. But I kinda care about you.
DAVID
Let’s not do this. Thanks for the present, Milo. It means more than you know.
MILO
No, tell me! All I remember was that we were having dessert after my Mom’s birthday dinner. Someone commented about us both being gay. You said something about our genes. And I said “Except for our age, we have a lot in common. Only I did not live through the Stonewall Riots or the AIDS crisis!”
DAVID
Milo!!!!
MILO
It’s true. I was just stating facts. I meant it in a “bonding” way. I know some of you older gays get mad because you paved the way and we should be more appreciative. I get that. But, you can’t blame us for that. I was not around for the AIDS crisis. That’s a good thing!
DAVID
(takes a breath) Milo. Stop talking. I am very serious right now. You need to shut up. Or I am going start throwing things that are a lot heavier than poundcake.
MILO
I honestly don’t get it! I’m not trying to upset you.
DAVID
You don’t have to say anything to upset me, Milo. I’m upset! And I am going to stay upset! I am upset because my nephew. Excuse me, my “Grand Nephew”, thinks I lived through the AIDS crisis.

My boy… NO ONE LIVED THROUGH THE AIDS CRISIS!!! NOT ONE PERSON!!!

More accurately, I DIED through the AIDS crisis!!!! I died every time I lost a friend. I lost countless friends.

They did not vanish in a puff of smoke, Milo. They died horrible, ugly, prolonged deaths!

Before they had the LUXURY of dying, they choked and suffered through the task of breathing, they were covered in horrible ugly lesions, they became deformed, emaciated, wasted beyond recognition and most of them went blind. Blind, Milo! And not in a Stevie Wonder anecdote kind of way!

You don’t LIVE through something like that, boy. You DIE through something like that. You die over and over! You don’t have time to appreciate that you SURVIVED… that you LIVED… because you DIDN’T!

They’re dead. You’re dead. You STAY dead!!!
MILO
I’m sorry. I hear you. But, you don’t talk about this stuff, Uncle David. You can be a bitter bitch. I know this. But, you don’t walk around super-depressed and stuff.

David takes a noticeably long sip of his drink. He breathes and lightens a bit.

DAVID
Milo, that’s the thing. I’ve been around a while. I liked men. I wanted to have sex with them. It was a pretty fucked up thought at the time. I guess I had balls because when I was around your age, I went and did something about it.
A simple, scary act: I frequented a bar. A club. And, yes, turns out it is now a very famous bar…
MILO
(smiling) Stonewall!
DAVID
The Stonewall Inn. I knew the guy who installed and maintained the jukebox. He was actually a straight guy. Well, straight-ish. He had a huge crush on your grandmother… or so he said. God rest her soul.

I can’t imagine the conversations she had with this guy. Actually, I’m afraid to imagine. His name was Joe.
Your grandmother told me that there was a club I might like. That I should “Talk to Joe about it. Talk to Joe!”
MILO
(delighted) GO GRAMS!

David chuckles.

She’s the reason you fought for liberation!

DAVID
(rolls his eyes) Milo, I did not fight for liberation. I hung out at a bar… scared shitless!
MILO
But that was brave… especially then.
DAVID
I wasn’t trying to be brave. I wanted a drink. Everyone in that place… just wanted a drink. That’s all!
MILO
You told me some of these stories. You told me that you played the song “My Cherie Amour’ every time you went. You had the hots for some guy.
DAVID
You remember all of that, but God forbid a card materializes on my birthday!
MILO
WE’VE BEEN TOLD TO IGNORE YOUR BIRTHDAY!!!
DAVID
Ok… fair enough.

Yeah, I had the hots for some guy. And, yeah, that’s why I went to Stonewall… a lot. And, it happens to be the reason I was there the night of the riots.
MILO
I’ve always admired that about you, Uncle David. You were THERE! I think it is killer brave of you.
DAVID
(slowly) Milo. I liked a guy. That’s why I was there. I simply liked…a guy!
MILO
But you slept with him. Right? Thats’s worth fighting for. No one should stop you or ANYONE from doing that! We should be able to have sex with anyone we want!

DAVID
(dreamily, talking to himself more than MILO) I’d walk in at around 10:30 every night. He’d arrive at about 10:45… maybe 11. He was Spanish, not sure from where. Puerto Rican maybe. Ruggedly handsome. Handsomely rugged.
He’d go to the bar and order the same thing every night. A simple glass of whiskey. It suited him.
I’d wait for him to take his first sip and, then, I’d walk to the jukebox. His first sip controlled me. It was my cue. I walked right over.

When I got to the jukebox, I would stare right at him. I held my gaze until we connected. He’d make me wait. He liked the game, but he always gave in. I relished his vulnerability. He’d stare back… with a macho-tinged hopefulness in his eyes.

J 11 – “My Cherie Amour”. Stevie Wonder’s huge hit at the time.

When the song came on, I could tell he was reassured.

Like… I didn’t let him down. Like he was actually allowed to look forward to something.

DAVID turns to MILO and speaks to him directly. “My Cherie Amour” begins to play softly.

DAVID
That’s what’s worth fighting for, Milo. That indescribable quiet, simple feeling. Brief. Potent. Life-giving… fuck the rest of it! You fight because you have NO CHOICE! On June 28th, 1969… in MY place… my sacred place… I had NO CHOICE!

MILO and DAVID hug.

And it was worth it! It was absolutely worth fighting for because one day…. after riots, diseases, deaths too many to count… one day, you wake up to a package from one Mary Pilford, Painesville, Ohio.

DAVID holds MILO’s face.

You don’t know her, but you know instinctively that your beautiful gay Grand Nephew utilized his kindness and creativity to create a miracle!
He manages to remind you of everything you fought for and didn’t fight for… he reminds you of what you died for… and what you live for!

DAVID continues to hold MILO’s face. He looks at MILO proudly and lovingly. They hold this pose.
A beat.

MILO
This would be the coolest movie ever if they cut to a shot of Aunt Johanna singing “My Cherie Amour” at Lesbian Karaoke right now!

Blackout.

“My Cherie Amour” plays loudly into Curtain Call.

 


Named one of the “15 regional theatre companies leading the charge in gay theatre” by Playbill Magazine, The Emerald Theatre Company will produce the World Premiere of Joe Gulla’s My Darling Love in September 2019 in Memphis, Tennessee.


Joe Gulla is an American playwright, actor and reality television participant. He is best known for the autobiographical monologues he writes and performs. Bronx Queen Trilogy is based on his experiences growing up as a gay Italian boy in the Bronx. Joe is a regular performer at Joe’s Pub at New York City’s legendary Public Theater and his play, Reel Wood, was selected to participate in the 2019 Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez, Alaska. GAY.PORN.MAFIA, a collection of Joe’s award-winning nationally and internationally produced short plays, had a sold out World Premiere at Chelsea’s New York Live Arts Theater and went on to win the 2018 “Downtown Urban Arts Festival” Audience Award. Previously, Joe’s The Bronx Queen (Joe’s Pub) and Garbo (Cherry Lane Theater) won the 2016 and 2017 “Downtown Urban Arts Festival” Audience Award, respectively. As an actor, Joe played Joey in San Francisco’s Tony & Tina’s Wedding for many years and Frankie in Off-Broadway’s My Big Gay Italian Wedding. He starred on NBC’s LOST, one of television’s first adventure reality series. You can see Joe on Season 3 of HBO’s The Deuce, currently in production. Joe is a proud member of the Dramatist’s Guild. For more information, visit: JoeGulla.com.