Ted runs into Liz during a blizzard at Squaw Valley. He, with his brother Oscar, owns the York Creek Vineyard in Napa. She is a journalist who has lost seven straight jobs as her small papers and giveaways around the San Francisco Bay area, including “S.F. LustVision”, have closed. What the couple don’t know, even after assignation and admission that they’re having a fling (which is, at first, all they want) is that she’s recently pregnant, and he’s long ago married, both conditions due to extenuating circumstances suddenly to be discovered.
When they arrive back at the York homestead after their fling in Carmel, they find – as usually happens – that events have moved quickly ahead of their expectations. Not only has Liz’s four-times divorced mother, Brenda arrived, but so has Ted’s wife Madeline, returned from Borneo. She has her own demented reasons for staying married to Ted that confuse Oscar, who has suppressed love and lust for her during the eight years of his brother’s unhappy but still extant marriage. On top of all that, Ooove, Liz’s unborn child’s father arrives, a stunning Danish god with language certainty as he slaughters English. He promises a lawyer and deputy sheriff are coming the next day with a restraining order to prevent Liz from doing anything rash, like marrying anyone else but the father of the child she carries – his.
That’s the set-up. Struggles, adjustments and crises careen along precipitously.
(The play is written in two acts, has a cast of six, and requires one set and a ski-shack Starbucks counter.)
A Scene from Single
(The front door opens and Ted leads Liz in. He carries a varnished blowfish and one of Brenda’s smaller bags.)
Call me Granny!
Mother, not yet!
(Slams the door shut.)
Why is everyone slamming…?
Hello, Ted. Nice fish.
Who’s this, dear?
That’s my brother.
Oh, that’s his wife.
Hello, Elizabeth. I’ve heard so much about you. Congratulations.
Mother! (To Ted) That’s your wife? Still?
She is that.
Hello! I’m Elizabeth’s mother. Are you Oscar’s older or younger brother?
I’m his only brother.
And you’re Oscar.
Are you sure?
What’s Mother been telling you?
About last year’s Super Bowl in Urdu.
Why “Granny,” Mrs. McWhirter?
Please, call me Brenda.
Brenda’s going to be a grandmother soon.
Oh. Congratulations. Liz, you didn’t tell me you had… You don’t have brothers or sisters.
And how was romantic Carmel, dear husband?
Were you in Carmel with…? Oh dear. (To Ted.) You can put that bag up in my room, if you’d be so kind. Oh dear.
Mother, why is it that following you anywhere is like moving behind a tank in a firefight?
I better finish my egg. Cholesterol might help me.
And I’m going to take a nap — in “our” room.
I’ll walk you up, Madeline. I have to hang up a few things. I always think best when I’m shaking out silk, and I have presents for everyone!
(They ascend, as Ted descends. Oscar goes into the kitchen.)
And this is your home!
Your mother is something!
So: You’re still married.
So, you’re somewhat pregnant.
I didn’t tell you because it was, well, I thought of us as having a fling, which I deserved, a last chance before motherhood changed my world. I thought our time would be over by now.
No, but a fling doesn’t last this long.
Agreed. What we have going is longer than a one-night stand, but shorter than an affair. We’re in courtship purgatory.
And you’re still married.
I didn’t tell you because my marriage doesn’t make any difference to us, no more than you’re three-week marriage does, or whatever you have going with whoever is the father. And I’m not asking.
Oh go ahead. I just met your wife.
After Carmel, I don’t need to know. Did you love him?
He needed me … to help him with his English. He’s Danish, as in blue. Yeah, “Ahh.” I’m a sucker for being needed, like I said. But I won’t do that with you, so don’t worry.
I won’t. I don’t need you, Liz. I just want you. This is a fling.
Or something. I think we’re safe.
You’re married to someone else, I’m pregnant by someone else. It seems we can keep knocking around in purgatory until decisions have to be made.
But your pregnancy and my wife — and the Danish whatever he is — will have nothing to do with those decisions. Okay?
(They embrace and kiss.)
I haven’t told Ooova yet – about being pregnant.
How do you spell that?
He spells it with an umlaut over a U, but I spell it with three Os because that’s how you say it, with three syllables: oo-oo-oo-vah!
When are you going to tell him?
I’m not sure. He’s very Danish, I mean he’s like a Viking god, and he has very old-fashioned ideas about family duty.
Couldn’t we say “Eureka” or something? “Ahh” what?
That’s probably where his name comes from, those Viking horns that they blow across the fjords to call for pillage and plunder:
(He bellows into an empty brass wood–bucket)
(Madeline and Brenda appear at the top of the stairs, Oscar from the kitchen, carrying a pan.)
I’m learning Danish!