Secretly Obvious

AARON: Male, the main protagonist, a creative college Freshman.

CONNIE: Female, a tattooed baby punk college Freshman.

RUTH: Female pronouns, pansexual and gender fluid, goth punk college Freshman.

MAX: Male, a wild card college Freshman.

GRACE: Female, the main love interest, a responsible college Freshman.

SCENE I

The early Aughts. Springtime. Connie's House. A knock at the door.

AARON: Hello, hello!

CONNIE: Hey, Aaron!

RUTH: Aaron, welcome, welcome!

AARON: Hey, guys! What's going on?

CONNIE: Come on in, and we'll tell you all about it.

AARON: Sure!

RUTH: [As the Igor character] Enter, if you dare. Muahahaha.

AARON: Okay?

CONNIE: Ruth, what the hell? [To AARON] Don't mind her.

AARON: [Enters CONNIE's dining room] Can I put my stuff down somewhere?

CONNIE: Go for it. The table is fine.

AARON: [Places HIS backpack on the dining room table] Thanks. [Beat] Where's Grace?

RUTH: Grace isn't coming.

CONNIE: Nope, she is volunteering down at the Food Bank for our school's Community Service requirement. Today is the only day they had available in her time slot.

RUTH: So, it's just as us tonight, Aaron.

AARON: I see.

RUTH: Don't be scared, I don't bite. [Pause] Hard.

AARON: [Turns away from Ruth] So Connie, did you come up with a name for our scene, yet? Professor Van Chezburg has to have the title for our final project submitted by tomorrow night.

CONNIE: Professor Hamburglar can wait.

RUTH: Eureka! We can call our scene, "Bloody Mary," and then we can make the bartender be a vampire.

CONNIE: Actually, that does sound cool!

AARON: Seriously? You know that Grace is terrified of vampires.

CONNIE: Shoot, I forgot! Good point, Aaron.

RUTH: [As Igor] Yes, yes. Good point, Aaron, indeed.

AARON: Ruth, what is with you? You seem creepier than usual.

CONNIE: Like I said, don't mind her. She's just excited.

AARON: About what?

RUTH: That's for me to know, and for you to find out when we tell you!

AARON: You said over the phone that you had some big news for me. [Pause] You are not going to show me another new tattoo, Connie? I told you, your body modifications are of no particularly interest to me. I don't plan on getting one myself. And I think the whole process is kind of gross.

CONNIE: No, no new ink, yet. [Pause] Besides, why would Ruth get excited about my new tattoo?

AARON: I mean, how should I know? She's Ruth.

RUTH: Good point. [Pause] I am considering getting the same tattoo as my favorite anime character.

CONNIE: Nobody cares, Ruth.

RUTH: [Hurt] HEY!

CONNIE: You know what I mean. [Pause] We're not here to talk about tattoos or piercings.

RUTH: Oh yeah, I forgot, I did just get my bellybutton pierced, though. [Begins to raise HER shirt, to AARON] Want to see it?

AARON: Uh, no thanks.

RUTH: Your loss. [Pause] It's kind of infected, anyway. There might be some pus.

AARON: Gross.

CONNIE: You should probably go take care of that, then, Ruthy.

RUTH: Bleh, I hate it when you call me "Ruthy." My grandma does that! [Pause] I'm not six years old, Connie. I can take care of myself.

CONNIE: Then, do so, Ruth. [Pause] Leave me here with Aaron, so we can chat.

RUTH: Got it, yeah. [Pause] I'll need rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs.

CONNIE: Check the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. Whatever you need should be there. Just ignore my mom's prescription bottles. She's on some experimental new drug for depression. It's making her bloated, like a whale. So, she's on another prescription drug for that ailment, too. [Pause] Just be careful rummaging in there.

RUTH: Got it, yeah. Be back in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

[Exit Ruth]

CONNIE: Good. [Pause] Okay, now that she's gone, where were we?

AARON: I don't exactly know. I thought I originally came over to work on our theatre final, but then you said there was some exciting news over the phone.

CONNIE: There is exciting news. It's going to make your day, if not your whole life! [Pause, moving towards the kitchen] Let's get something to eat, first. [Pause] Ruth got here around one. We watched a few episodes of Hamtaro, On Demand, and kind of forgot to eat. [Pause] What do you want?

AARON: I'm not all that hungry. [Pause] Can I just finish this bag of popcorn that's here?

CONNIE: [With HER back turned towards Aaron] Popcorn?

AARON: Yeah, there's like, a full bag of popcorn, here. It's like, not even opened yet.

CONNIE: Oh, right! We did use the microwave, today! See, I told you Ruth and I forgot to eat. [Pause] Go for it, Bro.

AARON: Thanks.

CONNIE: I'll make something more serious to eat, later. For now, I'll just eat these decorative M&M's my mom keeps here for "company." [Pause] She won't notice if handful or two are missing.

AARON: You can eat some popcorn, too, you know? It's your house, your popcorn.

CONNIE: Sure, sure. We'll snack as we talk. [Grabs a napkin from the ornate holder] Put some popcorn on here, for me. Thanks!

AARON: [Pouring popcorn] No problem.

CONNIE: [Pause] Have a seat. [THEY sit around the table, facing DS.] So, are you excited, or what?

AARON: Uh, what? [Pause] You haven't even given me a hint as to what this big news is, yet.

CONNIE: [Snacking] Well, I don't want to tell you without Ruth being here. She'd get so mad at me. We've been talking about telling you this news for ages. [Pause] After going back and forth about the morality of it, and whether or not it's our place, it got to the point where you're clearly wasting your time. Somebody needs to say something, or like, you'll miss out on a huge opportunity. And then not only will you regret it for the rest of your life, but we'll regret not telling you. And then, life becomes one big dung heap of regret. And nobody wants to live in a dung heap, am I right?

AARON: Uh, maybe a dung beetle?

CONNIE: You know what I mean, Aaron. [Pause] If Ruth and I don't take action, and tell you what we know sooner rather than later, you and Grace might end up taking the wrong paths in life, and not living up to your full potentials, and the whole thing could result in you never getting your Grammy Award and Grace never getting her Oscar, and all of us no longer being friends, but instead enemies fighting on opposing sides. Grace, for the Rebellion. Ruth and I for the Empire. And you, Han Solo, a rogue fighter who says he's not affiliated with either side, but who we all know secretly wants to join the Rebellion.

AARON: Connie, whatever it is you want to tell me, we're not going to end up like Star Wars, if you don't. For one thing, we don't live in outer space. And for another…

[Enter RUTH, interrupting]

RUTH: I'm back, and I'm clean.

AARON: So gross.

RUTH: What? I said that I was clean!

CONNIE: Good for you, Ruth.

RUTH: [Moves a chair, sits.] You guys suck.

AARON: [Beat] Okay, so what is this big news, that could change the course of multiple lives if you don't tell me?

CONNIE: Two lives. It's more like two lives that could change.

AARON: You said Grace was in on this news, too, right?

RUTH: Oh, she's not in on it, not yet anyway…

AARON: What do you mean?

CONNIE: [Break] Ruth, you know who we should call?

RUTH: Hold on, give me a second. Accessing my psychic software. Hmmm…

AARON: And?

CONNIE: Give her a second.

RUTH: [Pause] Got it!

AARON: Okay then, who?

RUTH: We should call Max!

AARON: What, why?

CONNIE: Ding, ding, ding! Correct! What's her prize, folks?

RUTH: Pizza bagels!

CONNIE: Later!

RUTH: Damn.

CONNIE: Max should totally be here for this moment, though.

AARON: And that is because, why, again?

CONNIE: Because, unlike Grace, he is in on the know.

AARON: So, Max knows, but Grace doesn't?

RUTH: [As Igor] Yes, yes. Indeed.

AARON: But, whatever is going on, also involves Grace?

CONNIE: Ding, ding! We have another winner, folks! You got it, Bro.

AARON: [Pause] I am starting to get an idea.

CONNIE: Well, I should hope so! It's only the most obvious thing in this massive world where we live. Even Ruth is on board with it.

RUTH: And I am a horror movie enthusiast, so that says a lot right there.

AARON: But, do we really have to call Max? He can be so exhausting.

CONNIE: He has to be here when we tell you, though. He's known since like Day One.

AARON: This whole thing better be what I think it is, or I'm going to be more shocked than you think.

CONNIE: Trust us. [Pause] Ruth, call Max.

RUTH: Why me?

CONNIE: Because, you're my sidekick.

RUTH: I am, since when?

CONNIE: Since you started playing Igor, today. That obviously makes me Dr. Frankenstein, so I win!

RUTH: [As Igor] Yes, Master. [Pause, dials Max's number, as Igor]. Hello. [Clears throat, as HERSELF] Hello, Max. [Pause] Yes, yes. We're at Connie's. Today is the day! [Pause] I know, right? 'Bout time! [Pause] How long will you take to get here? [Pause] What do you mean less than one minute? Where are you? [Pause] You're down the block at deFalco's house. What are you doing there? [Pause] Oh, duh, it's Monday Night Raw. It's like, still the afternoon, though. [Pause] Okay, get your but down here, Max.

[A knock at the door. THEY stand. CONNIE opens it. Enter MAX.]

MAX: Yo, yo, yo! What is up, mah peeps?! The party has just arrived!

RUTH: [Hangs up HER phone.] Max is here.

MAX: Yeah, yeah, yeah! I started walking down the street the moment my phone rang, and I saw who was calling. [Places a flat box on the table] And I brought donuts!

RUTH: Yay, food! [Grabs a donut] Chocolate!

MAX: You bet! deFalco was too busy lifting weights, to eat any. [Beat, pats AARON on the back] So, are you ready to hear the big news, Son?!

AARON: How do you know they haven't told me, yet?

MAX: Because these two promised I could be a part of the Main Event, duh!

AARON: How do you know I don't already know what it is you think I don't know, and want to tell me? [Aside] That was a mouthful.

MAX: Because the three of us have watched you screw up your life for the past few months, maybe even years, and we know you don't know what's going on behind the scenes in your own life, otherwise you wouldn't be making such huge mistakes with it.

AARON: Huge mistakes, like what, exactly?

MAX: Like dating that skank ho Barbara. She is nasty. And she cheated on you, Son.

AARON: Yeah, well, she was in my Sociology class. How could I decline her advances?

MAX: Easy. [Acting] Hey, Mr. Aaron, would you be interested having fellatio, this evening? No, thank you, Ms. Barbara. I am not interested in receiving oral pleasure from you. Have a good night. [Laughs] See, that was easy. No pun intended.

AARON: That is not fair, Max.

MAX: To who? You or Barbara? It's not like she's here to get offended. [Crosses HIMSELF] Thank you, Christ, our Lord and Savior, Amen.

AARON: Like I said, I didn't want to be rude.

MAX: Aww. So polite. [Pause] Aaron, Son, you know I call it like it is. I don't sugar coat things.

AARON: Yes, I know.

MAX: Then let me say just say, from one smokin' hot guy to another, that incredibly fake girl, on multiple levels, just wanted your cock, Son. She wanted a taste of your rooster. She was looking to score a little KFC. [Pause] She was not interested in your personality, as thoughtful as you may be. Understand?

CONNIE: Let's face it, Aaron, you're a doormat.

RUTH: [Mid donut] A pushover.

AARON: [With sarcasm] Gee, thanks, guys.

MAX: And unbelievably oblivious. I'm just going to rip off the bandage, here. [Pause] Ready? Ready? No? Too bad. [Pause, briefly.] Grace is wholeheartedly, one thousand percent, deliriously in love with you, Son. Like, since your very first interaction in drama club, all those years ago. [Beat] I rarely give advice. So, you know I mean it when I say: Go catch yourself some tail that has some actual substance to it. For once. [Aside] Yeah, that made sense.

AARON: [Falls back into a chair.] WOA?! Wait, what?!

MAX: You heard me. [Pause] Please don't make me repeat myself. That is so annoying.

CONNIE: [Interjecting] Grace is in love with you, Aaron. [Pause] And we've waited years to tell you.

AARON: In love with me? For years? [Pause] So okay, I thought, yeah, she likes me. But, in love with me?!

CONNIE: Yes, like to the moon and back, and all those other cheesy movie cliches you love.

MAX: Well, I've said my peace. [Grabs the flat box from the table.] Give me those donuts.

RUTH: HEY!

MAX: It's been real, kiddos. [From HIS pocket] Connie, here is that twenty I owe you for letting me drop the A-Bomb on our good friend Aaron, here.

CONNIE: Thank you!

MAX: [Laughs] A-Bomb, get it? I made a pun. [Pause] Anywho. [Pause] I came. I saw. I conquered. [Pause, with HIS hand on AARON's back] There is only so much I can do for you, Son. As our great leader G.I. Joe once said: Now, you know!

AARON: [Finishes the quote] And knowing is half the battle.

MAX: Exactly. My job here is done. [Bites into a donut] Got to get back to deFalco's. He misses me if I've been gone for too long. [Pause] Meatheads, go figure! [Pause] PEACE!

AARON: Later.

MAX: One more thing, Killer, tell me what happens after you confront Grace about it! Lates!

[Exit Max]

AARON: [Blown away] After I do what now?!

CONNIE: Confront her. [To offstage] Bye, Max!

RUTH: [To offstage] Jerk! [Pause] You're right, he can be such as ass sometimes.

CONNIE: I have some supermarket donuts in the kitchen, if you want them, Ruthy.

RUTH: Don't call the me that!

CONNIE: Sorry, Ruth. Force of habit.

RUTH: Kids should never go by family nicknames in school. Then, they never outgrow them! [Beat] Ugh, store-bought donuts are gross.

AARON: Oh, so that is your level of disgust? Supermarket donuts?

RUTH: What?

AARON: [Rolling HIS eyes] Nothing, Ruth. Not a thing.

RUTH: What? I have a sensitive palette!

AARON: Oh, of course.

CONNIE: [Break] Ruth, hello, back to the point! Aaron and Grace, remember?

RUTH: [As Igor] Yes, yes, Master. [Beat] Okay, I'm tired of playing Igor. [Takes a seat. Beat] Yes, Aaron. Grace loves you. That's what we wanted to tell you, since like, the turn of the Millennium, okay?

AARON: It's been for that long?

CONNIE: Basically, yes.

AARON: I thought you were going to say that since she and I are both single now, and we have been friends for so long, that like yeah… Of course. Grace has started to consider me boyfriend material. [Pause] But I did not think she has been in love with me this whole time. [Pause] Why hasn't Grace said anything?

CONNIE: [Takes a seat.] Good question. [Pause] Ruth and I don't exactly know. Grace talks about you all the time, but she doesn't exactly let us into her inner world. She just talks about the stuff you two do together. Things like, we watched this movie together, he took me to that concert, we went out to eat there. That stuff.

AARON: Then, how do you know she is in love with me?

RUTH: Uh, well. [Pause] When she first met you, she said you were, "The One."

AARON: She did?

CONNIE: Yes, she did.

RUTH: After that, Grace just talked about you all the time, like Connie said. [Beat] And then the other day, we read her private online diary, so there. [Pause] I said it.

AARON: You did what?!

CONNIE: When Grace slept-over last week, she and I worked on our big final group project for theatre class, but then she desperately had to write something on the computer. She said she had to write down something you said, or she might forget. [Pause] Unfortunately, she did forget to log out from her private online diary, where she was writing.

RUTH: The next day, I came over, also to work on the project, and to watch Hamtaro…

CONNIE: [Rolling HER eyes] Yes, yes, Hamtaro.

RUTH: What? Well, we did… [Pause] When I checked my email on Connie's computer, I found Grace's blog, and we sort of, kind of, maybe spent the whole night reading it. [Pause] Grace has written so much about you; once a week, or more, for several years! [Pause] She calls you, "My Sweet Aaron."

AARON: [Beat, blank] I don't even know what to say.

RUTH: Grace also mentioned how you being a guitar player is her "Achilles' Heel." [Pause] If that means anything to you.

AARON: It does, but still! [Beat] What you are telling me here is like a felony level of an invasion of privacy. [Pause] Of course, you haven't told Grace this happened, yet?

CONNIE: So, it's interesting you asked. [Pause] We actually figured we would tell you. And then, like Max said, when you confront Grace about it, you can tell her for us. That way, she's not mad at us when you go to talk to her.

AARON: No, but she will get mad at me after I tell her. [Pause] Wait, okay, so Max knew?

RUTH: Yeah, apparently Max and Grace are closer than we think. [Pause] According to her blog, it's "strictly platonic" between them, but they secretly gossip all the time.

AARON: Oh, I see. [Beat] Ruth, you are disgusting. Honestly.

RUTH: What? Are my gums bleeding, again? [Aside] I hate it when they do that.

AARON: Ruth, you memorized Grace's private, personal blog entries. There is such a huge mistrust here.

RUTH: Are you going to call the F.B.I. on us?!

CONNIE: RUTH!

AARON: Of course, not. [Aside] The N.S.A., maybe.

CONNIE: [Break] You're missing the point, Aaron. We were going to tell you for what feels like decades, already. [Pause] You've made such bad choices, dating fast girls like skank ho Barbara. We do not want you to keep getting hurt, and miss the beautiful relationship that is right in front of you. [Pause] Grace's heart is in the right place. She is a such a good person, and you deserve to be with a good person, Aaron.

AARON: [Sarcastically] Gee, thank you so much for thinking of me, Connie. I am so grateful I have friends like you who care enough to take my love life, and their best friend's love life, into their own hands. [Pause] Don't you think I would rather hear it from Grace herself, how she feels? Why didn't you encourage her, instead of you know, spoiling the surprise for me?

CONNIE: Ruth, you want to answer this one?

RUTH: [Pause] I am terrible at keeping secrets.

CONNIE: Nice one, Ruth.

RUTH: What? It's the truth!

CONNIE: We just thought, if you were the one to talk to Grace about her feelings, that it would be more romantic for her, coming from you directly.

AARON: [Pause] Of course, I am going to talk to her. [Beat] How did you even figure that I have feelings for Grace, anyway? [Pause] I never said anything, to you, nor to anybody. [Pause] Don't tell me, Ruth rummaged through my bag, found my poetry journal, and read the whole thing aloud at Open Mic Night.

RUTH: No, I don't do the extra curriculars at our school. [Aside] Community college, bah humbug!

CONNIE: Right, Ruth. [Pause] C'mon, Aaron, we are Grace's best friends.

RUTH: Female friends, don't forget about Max! [Grumbling] Donut hog!

AARON: Seriously? [Beat] What does that even mean, Connie?

CONNIE: Love is a two-way street, right Aaron? [Pause] The way you and Grace are always together. The way you look at her. The way she lights up like a firework when she talks about you. [Pause] We're not blind, Aaron. Obviously, there is a deep connection there. [Pause] And unlike you and me, Aaron, you and Grace don't clash.

RUTH: You are both looking for serious relationships. So, why not take the plunge?

CONNIE: Look, you even opened up Ruth's dark, disturbed little heart to the idea of True Love.

RUTH: [As Igor, again] Yes, yes. Indeed.

CONNIE: Looks like Igor is back.

RUTH: Is he? [Pause] Oh well, he comes and goes.

AARON: [Break] Look, I don't approve of what you two did. Nor do I approve of you conspiring with Max to tell me about it. [Beat. Standing.] I am going to tell Grace what happened, that you both read her private, online diary. [Pause] And then, who knows what feelings will emerge from that revelation. [Pause] What happens between Grace and me, stays between Grace and me, until she and I are ready to share it with you guys. [Pause] Is that understood?

CONNNIE: [Standing] Yes, understood.

RUTH: [Standing] Understood. [Pause] Tell Grace, I'm really sorry.

AARON: [Pause] If you were so sorry, Ruth, you wouldn't have read Grace's whole diary in the first place.

RUTH: I know, but c'mon, Aaron. You said so yourself, I'm Ruth! I don't abide by societal norms. [Pause] I don't want to lose my friends because I like to read. [Pause] You and Grace, you're both my friends.

AARON: [Pause] Relax, okay. I will talk to Grace. [Pause] Just pray for a Happily-Ever-After, or this final group project for acting class is terminated. [Pause] I will not hesitate to ask for new partners. Grace, the same. [Pause] I mean, I should think Grace would feel the same. [Pause] God, what if she hates me?

CONNIE: See, it all makes sense! [Pause] Just forget about any thoughts of rejection, and focus instead on how Ruth and I are scumbags. [Pause] You'll be fine.

RUTH: HEY! [Pause] I really resent all these hurtful comments being thrown my way, today.

CONNIE: Ruth, get over yourself, already. I called myself a "scumbag," too.

RUTH: I mean, if the shoe fits…

CONNIE: Right. Same to you. [Beat, to AARON] So, are you going to call Grace? She should be back soon from volunteering at the Food Bank. [Pause] Not lying, we kind of chose this day on purpose to tell you about what we read. [Pause] We knew Grace was volunteering, today, yet you were coming over to work on our final theatre project, anyway.

AARON: Cunning.

CONNNIE: [Pause] C'mon, Aaron. Consider it us giving you a push towards True Love. [To Ruth] We're really doing God's work, when you look at it.

RUTH: Totally, if I believed in God.

AARON: [Beat] And on that note, I am going to go. Hopefully, I can get a hold of Grace later on, and we will be able to talk.

CONNIE: Godspeed, Bro.

RUTH: Please, tell Grace I'm sorry. Don't forget, okay?

CONNIE: Same, I'm sorry, too.

AARON: Okay, sure. [Pause] There is a lot I can't forget to say to Grace.

CONNIE: Including how you feel about her!

RUTH: That you think she is the bee's knees, and the cat's meow!

AARON: [Grabs HIS backpack] The two of you better not be wrong, or I could fall flat on my face.

CONNIE: Happy thoughts, Aaron, happy thoughts!

RUTH: And don't forget to kiss her!

AARON: Kiss her?! [Pause] That's up to her, don't you think?!

RUTH: It won't be romantic, if you don't kiss her!

CONNIE: No pressure, Aaron.

AARON: [Pause] You two are so lucky you have each other.

CONNIE: What? Ruth and I aren't dating. [Aside] She is not my type.

RUTH: [Whimsically] I don't know, I'm down if you are. Might be fun!

CONNIE: Ruth, you're like my sister. My annoying, nutty little sister.

RUTH: [Disappointed] Fine. I see how it is.

AARON: I meant, in general. Not that you two are dating. [Pause] Whatever. I have to go.

CONNIE: Keep us posted.

AARON: I will tell you if we can still all work on the theatre project together, and nothing else.

CONNIE: Okay, okay.

RUTH: Tell us how good the kiss is!

AARON: [Smiles] Bye, Ruth. Bye, Connie.

[Exit AARON]

RUTH: Bye! [Blows AARON multiple kisses.] Muah! Muah! Muah!

CONNIE: Ruth, seriously!

RUTH: What?!

[BLACKOUT]

SCENE II

Lights up, later that same day. There is a blanket laid out across the grass on the field at THEIR local elementary school. A pizza box, 2 cans of cola, and fresh strawberries in their container sit next to AARON's backpack on the blanket, leaning against a large leafy tree. Holding an acoustic guitar, AARON stands. Enter GRACE.

GRACE: Hey, Aaron!

AARON: Hey, Grace!

GRACE: Nice spread!

AARON! Thanks, and thanks for meeting me, here.

GRACE: No problem! Can we sit?

AARON: [Nervous] Sure, obviously. [Carefully, HE sits.]

GRACE: [SHE sits.] So, what's up? [Pause] We usually meet at someone's house to work on our project.

AARON: Yeah, I know. I just came from Connie's house. I'm not really feeling our final project, today.

GRACE: Oh, yeah. Sorry. I had to fulfill my Community Service requirement for school at the Food Bank.

AARON: That's cool. How'd that go?

GRACE: You know, I just organized groceries, labeled shelves, stuff like that.

AARON: You didn't ladle soup into anyone's empty bowls?

GRACE: Not today, no.

AARON: Oh. Because that's what I did for my Community Service requirement.

GRACE: Sounds like fun.

AARON: It was. Sad, but fun.

GRACE: I'm sure.

AARON: [Beat] Hungry? I've got pizza and fresh strawberries.

GRACE: I see! [Pause] I'd love a slice of pizza, thanks!

AARON: Help yourself! [Pause] There is another cola for you, too, if you're thirsty.

GRACE: Thanks. [Pause, opens a cola] Aren't you hungry?

AARON: Yes, but I'll eat later.

GRACE: [Puts down the cola] What's going on? It's not like you to deny yourself pizza.

AARON: Oh, I'm definitely going to eat that pizza. I just wanted to talk to you, first.

GRACE: Okay, you're scaring me. What's up?

AARON: Wait, no. Hold on. Okay, I meant talk to you about good things. [Pause] Okay, mostly good things.

GRACE: Aaron, you know I hate it when you beat around the bush.

AARON: Just building up the drama. [Breaks the fourth wall, winks. Beat.] Have a strawberry, Grace. [Pause] I'll have one, too. [Grabs the strawberry container] They're organic. And they're clean. I washed them before I left the house. [Bites a strawberry] Mmm! So fresh! Try one!

GRACE: [Bites a strawberry] You're right! They're delicious! [Pause] Thanks, Aaron! [Pause] Strawberries are my favorite. I'm so happy you remembered.

AARON: I remember lots of stuff about you, Grace.

GRACE: Like, what?

AARON: [Pause] Like, your favorite color is aqua, your favorite flower is the stargazer lily, your favorite car is the Dodge Charger, your favorite book is The Old Man And The Sea, and your favorite musician is me.

GRACE: Um, yes, to like, pretty much that whole list. Sure.

AARON: [With a smile, cheesy.] Grace, I can't believe, you've been right in front of me this whole time. And only now, do I see you clearly. [Pause] I want to play a song for you.

GRACE: What song?

AARON: You'll see. [Pause] Make yourself comfy. [Acoustic guitar in hand, HE sits, HIS back against the tree. HE plays a few chords. HE sings a verse and a chorus.] "I remember you driving to my house in the middle of the night. I'm the one who makes you laugh, when you know you're about to cry. I know your favorite songs, and you tell me about your dreams. Think I know where you belong, think I know it's with me. [Pause] If you could see that I'm the one who understands you. Been here all along. So, why can't you see. So, why can't you see. Why can't you see you belong with me?" [Beat, with a goofy grin] What do you think?

GRACE: Um, that was Taylor Swift, wasn't it?

AARON: Yeah, "You Belong With Me," a classic!

GRACE: Taylor Swift, really?

AARON: What's wrong with TayTay? [Pause] Didn't you like the lyrics I chose?

GRACE: Yes, I mean, sure.

AARON: Hold on, I can play more of that song for you. [HE picks at the guitar strings.]

GRACE: Aaron. [Pause] Aaron! [Pause] AARON!

AARON: [Focused on HIS guitar] Hold on, hold on. I have to find the right chords, again. I got this!

GRACE: Aaron, Taylor Swift, seriously?

AARON: [HE stops playing.] It is a really catchy song, and it fits us like a glove, I thought.

GRACE: But like, she's a girl. That song is from the girl's perspective.

AARON: [Aside] I didn't think I'd get this reaction. [Pause] That's kind of the point, actually. [Carefully] I thought I'd pick a song that tells your side of the story. [Pause] To show you that I get it.

GRACE: You get what?

AARON: I get how you feel about me.

GRACE: [Flabbergasted] Excuse me?!

AARON: It's okay, Grace. [Pause] Connie and Ruth told me you've been in love with me this whole time.

GRACE: They did WHAT?!

AARON: It's totally cool, no need to feel embarrassed. I love you, too. [Pause] It's kind of what I was trying to show you by playing that Taylor Swift song, just now.

GRACE: [SHE stands, SHE sits, SHE stands, SHE paces, SHE sits.] How? Why? What the fuck?

AARON: Uh. Well. Do you want me answer those questions?

GRACE: Yes. No. Maybe. I don't know. [SHE grabs HIS backpack, and breathes into it.] That doesn't work. You don't by any chance have a paper bag on you, do you?

AARON: If I did, it'd be in that backpack.

GRACE: Damnit!

AARON: Take a sip of cola. The caffeine usually helps with my nerves.

GRACE: Good idea! [SHE takes a sip of cola, chugs the whole thing. Pause.] That helped. Thanks!

AARON: [Astonished] No problem! [Beat] But did you manage to hear what I said? [Pause] I love you, too, Grace. [Pause] I always have.

GRACE: [Break] What exactly did Connie and Ruth tell you?

AARON: [Pause] Well, that's the thing. [Pause] They sort of did a bad thing.

GRACE: [Pause] What bad thing?

AARON: Brace yourself. It's going to hurt.

GRACE: How badly? [Pause] On scale from one to ten.

AARON: Uh, about a seven, maybe even eight or close to nine. [Pause] I don't know, exactly, but I was pretty pissed.

GRACE: Okay. [Takes a deep breath] Just slap me across the face with it, then.

AARON: [Laughs] Sorry. [Pause. Clears Throat.] They, uh, they read your PRIVATE online diary; beginning, middle, and end. Or, er, uh… Until your latest entry, I mean.

GRACE: Are you kidding me? How? [Beat] Wait, don't tell me. [Pause] I was still logged in at Connie's house, wasn't I?

AARON: [Gently] Yes. And then Ruth saw it the next day. And you know Ruth.

GRACE: Oh. My. God. [Ashamed] They read the whole thing?!

AARON: [Softly] Yes.

GRACE: [Exasperated] Didn't they realize that is a huge invasion of privacy?

AARON: That's what I told them! [Pause] They wanted to me to apologize on their behalf. [Pause] They are very sorry for what they did. [Pause] However, I understand if you can't finish the theatre project with them. [Pause] With, uh, us?

GRACE: You? You didn't do anything wrong. They are the ones who, who, who… I can't even put into words what they did. [Pause] And then they told you?! [Pause] I mean it's one thing to just read my private, personal thoughts and feelings. But to tell the person who… Who… Who…

AARON: [Compassionately, HE finishes HER sentence.] Who those thoughts and feelings are all about?

GRACE: [Sobbing. Beat.] You probably think I am nuts, after reading what I wrote.

AARON: What? No. I didn't read any of it. They did. That was all them. [Pause] Actually, they barely even told me much of what they read. [Pause] Just that you've been into me since Day One. [Pause] Actually, they think we'd make a cute couple. [Pause] Can you believe crabby Connie and wacky Ruth are totally on board with us hooking-up?! [Beat] Honestly, Grace. It's okay. [HE extends HIS hand for HER to grab.]

GRACE: [STILL sobbing, SHE grabs HIS hand, beat.] There is so much in my diary that I've wanted to say to you. It's just been easier for me to write it out than to say it directly to your face. [Pause] I mean, like I have this whole list that I put together of your coolest hats alone, and one about all our…

AARON: [Cutting HER off, HE kisses HER hand.] Grace, it's cool. You can tell me all about your lists, later. Come here, sit with me.

GRACE: [Wrapped in AARON's arms, SHE is still sobbing. Beat.] Aaron, I uh, yeah, I love you, okay?

AARON: Like I said, I love you, too. [Pause, with a smile.] Shocker!

GRACE: [Beat. Calmer.] Okay, so question.

AARON: Answer.

GRACE: [Pause] So why did you date that skank ho Barbara?

AARON: Because I was stupid, a doormat, and blind. [Pause] You know, that's what Max said.

GRACE: Max was there? You didn't mention Max was there.

AARON: [Pause] Well, he was like Harry S. Truman. He is the one that dropped the bombshell. [Pause] And then he just left. [Pause] Although, it wasn't without illustrating Barbara being easy, first.

GRACE: Max just left?

AARON: Yeah, he told me Barbara was a huge mistake. He told me you've been in love with me from the very first moment we shared. And then he said I should catch me "some tail with substance." Whatever that means. [Pause] Yeah, and then he just left. He had to get back to deFalco's for Monday Night Raw.

GRACE: [Laughs] Classic Max!

AARON: [Laughs] Clearly! [Pause] Max knows how you feel about me?

GRACE: [Pause] Uh, yeah. Max and I are super tight. I mean, it's platonic. But, we're super tight. [Pause] He's uh, like a gossip girl, to me.

AARON: I see.

GRACE: I mean, don't get jealous!

AARON: Jealous? Me? [Pause] Wouldn't I have to be in love with you, first?

GRACE: [Abruptly getting up from HIS arms, SHE stands.] Wait? Hold up? Are you in love with me? [Pause] Aaron Lucas Delvechio, if you think you can just play with my feelings now that you know what they are, you have another thing coming, entirely!

AARON: [HE stands.] Grace, I am in love with you. [Pause] Honestly, if you want to know the truth, I don't approve of how I found out about your feelings, but I am VERY glad that I did! [Pause] I thought I was alone in my feelings for you. [Pause] What I mean is, I didn't think you felt the same way as me. [Pause] It's why I dated that "skank ho" Barbara, and any of those other girls in between, honestly. [Pause] I just kind of waited, wondering if it was worth exploring my other options. [Pause] Obviously, it wasn't. [Pause] But yes, I really do want to hear, NOT read, all about your diary. Your many lists. Your hopes, dreams, thoughts, feelings, bad poetry… All of it.

GRACE: Bad poetry? Who says my poetry is bad?

AARON: [Laughs] Grace, even I write bad poetry, and I've been writing song lyrics since I was in diapers. [Pause] Do you want to see my poetry notebook. The one you see me writing in, from time to time?

GRACE: Yes. No. Maybe so.

AARON: [Rummages in HIS bag.] Here! [Hands HER HIS notebook.] Look through it. [Pause] They're all about you, Grace. Honestly.

GRACE: [SHE flips through HIS notebook, reading certain passages. A long beat.] Are you trying to make me cry, again?

AARON: Which one did you read?

GRACE: Does it matter? They're all so good.

AARON: I'm curious. [Pause] Which one struck a chord with you just now?

GRACE: "Pearl Diver."

AARON: Oh yeah, I was kind of in a dark place when I wrote that one.

GRACE: It's bittersweet, but I love your vivid imagery. And the metaphor you chose. [Pause] You are so talented! [Beat] Aaron, thank you. Thank you so very much. [Pause] I don't even know. [SHE spontaneously hugs HIM. Another long beat.]

AARON: [Unraveling THEIR hug] I told you, they're all about you. Honestly, Grace. I'm not joking.

GRACE: I know. I've read your poetry before, but I just finally got it.

AARON: Well, that's what happens when you put all your cards on the table. You see everything you've got. You compare hands. And then someone wins the pot.

GRACE: Pot? As in marijuana?

AARON: You don't smoke, Grace.

GRACE: I know, I'm just being young and rebellious. [Pause] Isn't the possibility of me being a stoner, hot?

AARON: No? Why do you ask?

GRACE: Because, I still don't get why you dated that skank ho Barbara. She wasn't just easy, she was also a total druggie.

AARON: I found out all about her at the same time you did. [Pause] She was just some girl that asked me out from my Sociology class. [Pause] I didn't think it would lead to a marriage proposal.

GRACE: [Pause] You almost lost the whole pot, gambling that way.

AARON: Don't I know it! [Beat] Listen, I know Connie and Ruth did an awful thing. [Pause] But they are your best friends, for better or worse. [Pause] Or at least, they meant well. [Pause] Honestly, Grace, I was fuming after they told me what they did. But now, as I talk to you, I am actually really grateful for that sort of "intervention" they just gave me. [Beat] Like I said, I've been stupid, and blind, and who knows how far down that destructive path I would have gone, if they hadn't pointed out… If they hadn't told me… If they weren't pushy, nosy busybodies who…

GRACE: [Cutting HIM off, with a smile] Read my diary, and told you that I love you… Romantically.

AARON: Yes, romantically. [Pause] You know, I love how we're not mad at Max for anything, when he's the one who actually spilled the beans.

GRACE: [Laughs] I know, right? That's Max for you. It's hard to get mad at that guy.

AARON: [Laughs] Sure. [Beat] Before I start crying, too, I've got another song I want to play for you. [Pause] Okay, that rhymed!

GRACE: Potential song lyric?

AARON: You know, you're not wrong. [HE takes out HIS notebook, scribbles.] Thanks!

GRACE: No problem! [SHE sits on the blanket.]

AARON: [HE picks up the acoustic guitar, and sits back down on the blanket, HIS back against the tree.] Here, it's not Taylor Swift, this time. [Again, HE plays a few chords, then begins to sing.] "But of all these friends and lovers, there is no one that compares with you. And these memories lose their meaning, when I think of love as something new. Though I know I'll never lose affection for people and things that went before. I know I'll often stop and think about them, but in my life, I love you more. In my life, I love you more." [Beat] There. [Pause] That one should have hit the spot!

GRACE: [Beaming] "In My Life," my all-time favorite Beatles song, EVER; I should think!

AARON: Okay, good! [Beat. HE moves HIS guitar. Properly.] Permission to kiss you, now, Grace?

GRACE: Permission granted. [Pause] I'll come to you. [SHE crawls on all fours to HIM. Pause.] Hi!

AARON: Hi! [Pause] Come here. [Pause] Closer. [Pause] Closer, still. [Pause, nose to nose] Okay!

[HE takes HER face in HIS hands. THEY close THEIR eyes. HE looks for HER lips. HE kisses HER.]

GRACE: [Pause, transfixed] So, okay, I've waited my whole life to be kissed that way.

AARON: [Pause, triumphant] And, how was it? Did it live up to your expectations?

GRACE: [Pause, unexpectedly] No.

AARON: Oh!

GRACE: [Pause, dreamily] It completely exceeded them.

AARON: [Pause, the same] Me too, Grace. Honestly.

GRACE: [Beat] So okay, we've sorted out our feelings. [Pause] We've kissed. [Pause] There's only one thing left to do.

AARON: I got you. [HE stands, HE helps GRACE to HER feet. HE kneels, and grabs HER hand.] Grace Geraldine Grisholm, will you be my girlfriend?

GRACE: I mean, yes? [Beat] I was going to say we can finally eat that pizza you brought.

AARON: Oh!

GRACE: [Laughs] Of course, I'll be your girlfriend. You dingbat! It's only EVERYTHING I've ever wanted in life, and then some. [Pause] Was that too much? I never know. [Beat] I am so high on life right now. Between the sound of your acoustic guitar, the taste of your lips, and the smell of that pizza… I might not even be able to drive home.

AARON: [Laughs] Life is good. [Beat] You know, despite being somewhat evil, I think those guys are actually pretty good friends of yours.

GRACE: They did bring us together, didn't they?

AARON: Yes. Yes, they did. [Beat] It looks as though we can finish working on that final theatre scene with them, after all. [Pause] I told them, that was the only news I would relay back.

GRACE: Well, I mean, they are my best friends.

AARON: You know, Ruth wants us to title our project, "Bloody Mary," and make the bartender a vampire.

GRACE: A vampire? No way! She would!

AARON: Seriously! [Beat] Okay, so do we wait before we tell them we're dating?

GRACE: [Break] Actually, I've got an idea!

AARON: Oh yeah, what's that? I'm all ears!

GRACE: Let's just pretend like nothing happened. You didn't tell me what they did. We never had this confrontation. [Pause] Confrontation? Is that what happened here?

AARON: Basically. Yes. Confronting an issue is a not a bad thing. In fact, it is usually the healthiest path to take. [Pause] Just do it from a place of compassion, though, and not anger nor punishment.

GRACE: True. Nice soapboxing there, Aaron.

AARON: Of course!

GRACE: [Laughs] Okay, so as I was saying, we pretend like nothing happened. Then, when we announce that we're dating, it all seems natural, and like it had nothing to do with them.

AARON: You don't want them to know they helped us?

GRACE: Not really, no. I mean, think about it? I don't want them to break my trust like that again, and if they know what they did was a good thing, they might get more ideas.

AARON: Maybe we need them to get more ideas. Maybe that's their gift to us. Meddling.

GRACE: Okay, fine. [Pause] I see your point. But, we tell them after…

AARON: [Interjecting] After we set a date?

GRACE: [Gasps] Marriage, Sir, already?! Surely, you must be joking!

AARON: I am not, Madame. And don't call me "Shirley." [Beat] Okay, name that movie!

GRACE: Airplane! [Pause] Silly, I referenced to it first!

AARON: [Beat] We do make a really cute couple, don't we?

GRACE: The absolute cutest!

AARON: [Beat] What took us so long?

GRACE: [Pause] You had to sow your wild oats, first. [Beat] I wrote all about it in my blog. [Pause] If you had read it with them, you would know!

AARON: [Pause] That just goes to show you, I did not read your blog. [Beat] I know Connie, Ruth, and Max gave me the huge push I needed to talk to you, today. Just, you have to know, I would have made a move like this one a long, long time ago if I had the confidence to believe I deserved you. [Pause] That's what Connie said. She told me I deserved to be with a good person, like you.

GRACE: You do. [Pause] Aaron, you are such a good person, too. [Beat] You know, I am glad they see me that way. [Beat] Aren't I suppose to be pissed at them?

AARON: Trust me, I was pissed at them enough for the both of us.

GRACE: [Break. THEY sit.] My stomach is growling, Aaron.

AARON: Then, let's eat! [With napkins from AARON's bag used as paper plates, HE distributes the pizza.]

GRACE: [Beat] So, since when do you listen to Taylor Swift?

AARON: Since I needed to impress my girlfriend.

GRACE: Who? That skank ho Barbara?

AARON: [Takes a bite of HIS pizza] Excuse me? Pardon me? Did you say something, GIRLFRIEND?

GRACE: [Takes a bite of HER pizza] Nope, just checking!

AARON: [Chewing] Awesome!

GRACE: [Beat] This moment definitely goes down in the annals of my blog as one of my Top 5 Favorite Moments Between Us, EVER!

AARON: I'm thinking, your Top 5 Favorite Dates With My Sweet Aaron, EVER!

GRACE: "My Sweet Aaron"?! [Pause] So, you did read my blog!

AARON: Not one word. [Pause] Ruth told me. [Pause] You know, Ruth.

GRACE: At least it wasn't Connie. [Pause] Or Max. [Pause] Oh God, I don't want Max reading my blog!

AARON: Isn't he like, one of your besties, too?

GRACE: Yeah. [Pause] I'm joking. [Pause] He already reads it.

AARON: I thought it was private.

GRACE: Mostly. Max has special permission to read it. [Pause] He lets me read his.

AARON: [Pause] Should I be friends with this Max, then?

GRACE: I would. [Pause] He's a handful, but he's also a good egg.

AARON: [Beat] Anything else I should know, as your boyfriend, Grace?

GRACE: [Pause] Um, I have a third nipple.

AARON: YOU DO?! Can I see it?!

GRACE: [Laughs] Okay, I just learned you can be incredibly gullible.

AARON: If I hadn't been somewhat gullible, then I wouldn't have believed you loved me the way you do!

GRACE: Good point!

AARON: [Pause] So no third nipple, then?

GRACE: Aaron, that was a reference to Mallrats. [Pause] Way to miss your shot!

AARON: Who me? Never! [Beat] Come here, I want to kiss those pizza lips!

GRACE: You'll have to work for it!

AARON: How?

GRACE: Another song on your guitar?

AARON: Any requests?

GRACE: Just one. [Pause] "Free Bird."

AARON: Ha. Ha. Nice joke, Grace!

GRACE: I'm serious!

AARON: I don't know if I have that kind of dexterity.

GRACE: Try!

AARON: [Beat] Grace, if you don't kiss me right now, I might explode!

GRACE: Okay, then! [SHE leans in, HE holds HER, THEY kiss passionately.]

AARON: [Pause] You are such a good kisser! [Beat] "Free Bird" is one of the most difficult guitar solos in music history, but for you, I will try anything.

GRACE: Thank you, Aaron. [Pause] And thank you, Connie, Ruth, and Max.

AARON: You know what, I'm going to go out on a limb, and thank God, too.

GRACE: Thank you, God. Miracles do happen. I'm a believer!

AARON: Oh, good song! [Pause] Can I please play that one, instead?

GRACE: Sure, Aaron!

AARON: Good, give me some time to learn "Free Bird." Okay? At least, most of it.

GRACE: We've got the rest of our lives.

AARON: And the rest of this pizza.

[BLACKOUT]