A LOVE SONG:
STEVIE EXPLAINS IT ALL TO YOU
A PLAY IN ONE ACT
The Setting: Wonderland, a childrens' restaurant with games and rides located in Yonkers, NY
Time period: The Present
Stevie Katz: Age 61
Natalie Katz: deceased
Selma Cohen: deceased
Janet Rubin: deceased
Mary Heyman: deceased
Sol Katz: deceased
"Mommy, can I go on the roller coaster." I asked anxiously.
"Finish your sandwich, and we'll see." she replied.
I knew what that meant. "We'll see" meant no.
"Let the kid go on the roller coaster," Aunt Selma urged. "What harm could it do?" Selma was working on her second piece of coconut cream pie. Aunt Selma loved pie."
"Tell you what," my Aunt Janet said excitedly, "I'll treat you. Here's a dollar. Go buy yourself some tickets."
My mother glared at her. "Janet Rubin, stay out of this. I'll tell my child what he can do." She stared at my aunt. "Just mind your own goddam business."
"Natalie," the kid is sixty-one years old. If you don't let go of him now, when?"
"He's mine goddamit," my mother retorted. "He's my kid."
" Natalie, he's not a kid," reminded my Aunt Janet. "He's sixty-one years old."
"Mommy," I asked, "Can I have a frankfurter?"
"No!" It's too close to your dinnertime." she replied.
"Listen to yourself! my Aunt Janet yelled. "Telling a sixty-one year old man he can't have a goddam frankfurter."
"You mind your own business, Janet Rubin. I've done a pretty damn good job raising my child."
"Your little son was a child, then he was a young man. Then he was a man, and now he is an old man. "When are you going to let go?"
My aunt turned to my father and the other relatives sitting at the picnic table under the umbrella. "What about all of you? Why didn't you speak up all these years? Why did you let her take control?"
"We were all afraid of her," My Aunt Selma replied. "Natalie doesn't forget when someone tells her what to do. We were all afraid to get involved."
"So you allowed Stevie's life to be ruined by this witch?" My Aunt Janet was not afraid of my mother. Probably because she was her in-law.
She turned to my mother. "You didn't allow him to marry. Made him struggle with his homosexuality, but was secretly relieved so you could have him all for yourself. You wanted him to become a teacher so that's the career he chose. That boy," she corrected herself,"...that man has never had to think for himself. You were always inside of him, running the show."
My mother just looked away.
"Me, " my father looked at me for the first time. "I let you down." he got down on one knee to speak with me." I saw what was happening." he began to cry." I just couldn't....just couldn't change things. She was so strong. And so mean. I'm so sorry."
All of this was not sinking in. I didn't know what was happening.
"Mommy," I asked again. Can I have a frankfuter?"
"Stevie, " my Aunt Janet answered for her. "You can have ten frankfurters. And ten sodas if you want. And ten ice creams. But all that food may make you sick," she warned, "this is a decision you must make for yourself. No one is going to decide this for you."
I began to understand.
"Natalie, I am taking him away from you now," my aunt said. "Say good-bye. You are going to leave him and not look back. From now on he will be making his own decisions."
My mother just glared at her sister-in-law.
My father grabbed my arm. He paused as if debating whether he should say more. There was a long silence. I could see from his facial expression that he had decided to tell me something. Something important. "Stevie, you have thirteen years left before you die." He smiled. But it's not so bad. "Let's just say before we see you again. Make the most out of these years. They're yours."
I suddenly knew what he was saying.
"Good-bye Daddy." I gave him a hug. He kissed me on the cheek.
"You'll always be my little boy. I love you, kid."
"Good-bye Aunt Selma,"
"Stevie" she said with a tear in her eye, "you were always be my favorite nephew. I love you so much. Remember when we used to take rides in that old Cadillac? Enjoy the rest of your life."
"Good-bye Aunt Mary,"
"Do you remember Stevie? Do you remember when we used to sit on the floor and play with the poker chips?," Aunt Mary asked, "we had such fun. I miss those days."
"Good-bye Grandma. I'll miss you most of all. You were so good to me."
"And you were so good to me. My last grandchild." she smiled and kissed me on the forehead. How could I forget you? Remember how we'd make ginger cake togther?"
"And you'd leave the nuts off of the top of some of the cake because I hated nuts," I reminded her.
" Stevie," my aunt took my hand, "These people aren't leaving you. They will always be in your heart." She turned to my mother. "They just won't be in your every thought anymore. You will have to trust yourself."
I had saved the best for last.
There was no answer.
I spoke louder, figuring the din of the crowd prevented her from hearing me say good-bye.
There was no response.
I turned to my father, My Aunt Selma, my Aunt Mary and my Grandma.
They all looked down on me with loving eyes.
"I think I'll get that frankfurter now," I decided. "I'll be right back."
I took two steps toward the concession stand and looked over my shoulder.
They were all gone.
Except my mother. She was sitting on the bench waiting for me.
"Don't get lost, " she warned.
"I won't," I promised.