By: Margie Semilof
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Andy – male, super nerdy software programmer, any race, age.
Tam – attractive transgender female, any race, age.
At the airport baggage carousel.
Andy and Tam connect while waiting for their bags to come off of a flight.
ANDY enters and faces the audience. He checks his phone impatiently.
TAM enters, looks up and then at Andy.
TAM: Excuse me. Did you come in on Flight 105?
ANDY: (nodding and points) Yup. Bag carousel number three.
TAM: Great. Thanks.
ANDY: At least that’s what the board says. Sometimes it’s wrong.
TAM: Just another reason to hate flying.
ANDY: I know, right?
They’re both impatient. Shifting their feet, looking at phones.
ANDY: And why does it take so long to bring the bags out? You know they’re pawing through our stuff.
TAM: You can’t trust anybody.
ANDY: Well, SOME people you can trust.
TAM: I’m just talking about air travel. What doesn’t suck about flying? Security? Sucks. The food? Sucks. Airplane seats? They suck most of all.
ANDY: Oh! And then you get off the plane and have to deal with – this!
___(points to carousel)
TAM: Why does everyone have to block the carousel? They’ve got their whole damn family up there looking for the bags. No one else can see!
ANDY: They should send just one person to get the bags.
TAM: I also hate when they let their kids play with the carts. They use ‘em to smash into your ankles.
ANDY: See, that’s the kind of shit that happens. No one pays attention to anything anymore.
TAM: I totally agree. We live in a rude and uncaring society.
ANDY: Live here or just visiting?
TAM: I moved here last month.
ANDY: New job or something?
TAM: Just making some big changes in my life.
ANDY: I get it. Turning the page.
TAM: Sort of.
She checks her phone. Another awkward pause.
TAM: What about you? You back from a vacation?
ANDY: Just visited the family for a weekend. That’s enough for me.
TAM: So you don’t get along with your family either?
ANDY: Everybody’s into sports except me. My dad wanted me to be a star athlete, because, you know, he was.
TAM: People need to be who they are.
TAM: In my case, I have to defend everything. Every lock of hair, the way I walk, even the shoes I put on my feet.
ANDY: Well, I’m glad I live here. This is a very broad-minded city.
TAM: I hope that’s true.
ANDY: It IS true! There is so much going on. More diversity. I mean, look at all the different kinds of restaurants.
TAM: If ethnic food is your idea of diversity….
ANDY: Well, it’s just one example.
TAM: I think people are lying when they say they like diversity. They’re saying what they think other people want to hear.
ANDY: I don’t think that’s true.
TAM: It IS true. You know that expression about birds of a feather flocking together?
ANDY: I guess I hit a nerve.
TAM: I’m sick of phonies!
Awkward pause, they look around and check their phones.
TAM: What sort of work do you do?
ANDY: I’m a programmer.
TAM: Ah, you guys are like rock stars, getting all kinds of free stuff. Food, dry cleaning, people even walk your dog.
ANDY: I wish. I just baby sit an old mainframe. I make sure it doesn’t crash.
TAM: Ah. Well.
Speaking of diversity, aren’t most programmers white guys? What’s up with that?
ANDY: We’ve hired some women. But they never fit in.
TAM: Why not?
ANDY: Who knows? Maybe it’s a culture thing.
But what about you? What do you do?
TAM: I’m between gigs. I’ve got a restaurant job to pay the bills.
ANDY: Yeah? Which restaurant?
TAM: Well it’s a bar, really. Downtown. Near the city hospital.
ANDY: Wow, I know that part of town. You’ve got to be careful. I hope someone walks you to your car or the bus or something.
TAM: I look out for myself.
ANDY: Still, it can get pretty rough when the bars get out. Especially for women walking alone. Attractive women.
TAM: Well, I’m not always alone.
ANDY: Of course. Your husband walks you home, I guess.
TAM: I’m not married.
ANDY: You’re not? Me neither.
The two look at the carousel.
TAM: Are you sure this is the right carousel?
ANDY: The screen says carousel three.
Are you in a rush?
TAM: I thought I’d watch the rest of the game.
ANDY: Say, I have an idea. When the bags come, we can go to one of the restaurants here in the airport. One with a TV.
TAM: I thought you hated sports?
ANDY: I’ll make an exception.
My name’s Andy.
He reaches his hand out to shake Tam’s. She reaches back.
TAM: I’m Tam.
ANDY: Tam. Is that short for Tammy? Tamara?
TAM: Nope. Just Tam.
ANDY: We can watch the game together. There’s a sushi place upstairs. Good beer list, too.
TAM: Thank you. Not today.
ANDY: You’ve got plans. I get it. I just thought I’d ask.
TAM: Well. No. It’s just that…
ANDY: I’m so bad at this. Everything is so, you know, swipe left or swipe right. Hey, look.
___(hands her his phone)
Find yourself on Insta and I’ll add you.
Tam declines the phone. Andy, embarrassed, puts it away.
TAM: I don’t want to mislead you.
ANDY: What are you in some witness protection program or something? I thought we kind of connected. I’m sorry.
TAM: Don’t be sorry.
I wish those bags would show up.
ANDY: I hope I didn’t offend you.
TAM: Of course not! You seem like a really nice person.
ANDY: I find it hard to make new friends. And you are so open. I thought maybe just this once…
TAM: Here’s how it is.
ANDY: I hate Tinder. The old way—to find a connection like this
___(motions between them both)
is so much better.
TAM: Listen. Andy.
ANDY: It’s because I’m a dork. And I’ve gained some weight since college. But how would you know that? You just met me.
TAM: It’s nothing to do with you. It’s me!
ANDY: That’s so lame. It’s not you. It’s me. Just say I’m not your type.
TAM: I don’t have a type.
ANDY: Girls always reject me. I mean, look at me. It’s easy to say no to someone like me.
TAM: Andy! Stop! You’re fine.
ANDY: We were having such a good conversation.
TAM: Andy. I don’t think you realize this. I’m trans.
ANDY: Trans? What?
Andy searches Tam’s face. Suddenly it dawns on him what she’s talking about and his color drains.
ANDY: What? Oh. Oh wow. I get it. So yeah. Yeah.
___(pauses to look at Tam)
Are you sure?
TAM: (laughing) I’m sure.
ANDY: I feel so stupid.
TAM: What for?
Flustered and uncomfortable, Andy looks at the mouth of the carousel.
ANDY: What are they doing back there?
TAM: Now, would you still have asked me to dinner?
ANDY: (still fixating) You look good. I mean, you really can’t tell. You’re very attractive.
TAM: Umm. Okay.
ANDY: Did I say a bad thing? Commenting about how you look?
TAM: I don’t think so. It’s actually nice to hear compared with some of the other things people have said to me.
ANDY: Well, like what?
TAM: I don’t really want to talk about it.
ANDY: At least people talk to you. I get ignored. Tell me what’s worse? People who know you exist and abuse you, or people who look right through you like you’re not there.
TAM: Well, you’re not invisible.
ANDY: My dad bought football tickets last weekend. I hate football. He knows it.
TAM: Maybe there is something else you can do together?
ANDY: Everything is planned around sports. It’s like I don’t exist. They think I’m a freak.
TAM: I get that too. Some of my best friends from high school never seem to be home when I drop by.
ANDY: Well, maybe you shocked them.
ANDY: People have an idea in their head. It’s hard to change.
TAM: Screw them. I’m creating friends and family right here.
Tam takes out a pen and writes on Andy’s hand before Andy can react.
TAM: Here’s my contact. I don’t do social media. It’s too depressing. But maybe we can get together and, you know, talk sometime?
ANDY: Yeah, uh, sure.
The carousel begins to hum.
TAM: Looks like something’s happening back there.
TAM: I’m sick of trying to teach people how to be without them thinking I’m some kind of freak.
ANDY: (uncomfortable and growing more distant) Yeah, okay. Sure.
TAM: I’m glad you get it. You know what, Andy? You’re all right.
ANDY: Here come the bags. Mine is the first one off.
TAM: And mine is right there too. You know, Andy, I changed my mind. I really am hungry. Does the offer still stand?
ANDY: Uh, maybe some other time. It’s getting late. I suppose I should head home.
ANDY: And I’ve got morning deadlines.
TAM: Here we go. I knew this would happen.
ANDY: So, maybe see you around?
Andy puts his hand out to shake Tam’s. She ignores it.
TAM: I just spent an entire weekend with people just like you. Why did I think that you might be different?
Andy takes his bag and starts to walk away.
ANDY: Look I’m just not sure about this. (motions between them)
TAM: (interrupts) It was just sushi and a beer!
Tam takes her bag and heads in the other direction. She turns and yells to him.
TAM: The baggage always shows up sooner or later, doesn’t it, Andy?
She exits. Andy stops. He looks at his hand (keeps it open) and thinks, then turns back to Tam, who is gone.
ANDY: Hey Tam. I don’t know. Look, I…
He continues looking after Tam, as he grows angry at himself.
ANDY: (anguished) Ugh. I did it again.
Andy closes his hand. Gives it a little shake like he’s holding onto something he’s afraid he might lose, and walks off.
END OF PLAY
Margie Semilof is a Boston-based playwright. Her short plays have been produced in numerous regional and national festivals, such as The Group Rep, in LA, Theatre East, in New York, Firehouse Center for the Arts, Newburyport, Mass., at Greenbrier Valley Theatre New Voices, Lewisburg, WV., and the Weathervane 8×10 in Akron, Ohio, to name a few. She has recently completed an old-style, full-length comedy, Queen of the Coast. She is vice president of Playwrights Platform, a playwright cooperative in Boston.