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WANTED: A CHAPERON

Wilfrido Ma. Guerrero

 

 

 

To the memory of Amalia B. Reyes

 

First Performance: The Filipino Players, under the authorís direction, at St. Ceciliaís Hall, November 21, 1940

 

CHARACTERS:

 

DON FRANCISCO (the father)

DO—A PETRA (the mother)

NENA (their daughter)

ROBERTING (their son)

DO—A DOLORES

FRED (her son)

FRANCISCO (the servant)

PABLO (the mayordomo)

 

 

TIME : One Sunday morning, at about eleven.

SCENE: The living-room. Simply furnished. A window on the right. At the rear, a corridor. A door on the left Sofa, chairs, etc. at the discretion of the director.

 

When the curtain rises, DON FRANCISCO, about sixty, is seen sitting on the sofa, smoking a cigar He wears a nice-looking lounging robe. Presently ROBERTING, his twenty-year old son, good-looking, well-dressed, enters. He wants to ask some. thing from his father, but before he gathers enough courage, he maneuvers about the stage and clears his throat several times before he finally approaches him.

ROBERTING (Clearing his throat). Ehem-ehem-ehem!

FRANCISCO (Looking up briefly). Ehem

ROBERTING. -Father-

FRANCISCO (Without looking at him). What?

ROBERTING. Father-

FRANCISCO. Well?

ROBERTING. Father-

FRANCISCO. Again?

ROBERTING. Well, you see it's like this-

FRANCISCO. Like what?

ROBERTING. It's not easy to explain, Father

FRANCISCO. If it isn't then come back when I'm through with the paper

ROBERTING. Better now, Father. It's about-money.

FRANCISCO. Money! What money?

ROBERTING. Well, you see-

FRANCISCO (imitating his tone). Well, you see-I'm busy!

ROBERTING. I need money.

FRANCISCO (Dropping the paper). Need money! Aren't you working already?

ROBERTING. Yes, but-it isn't enough.

FRANCISCO. How much are you earning?

ROBERTING. Eight hundred, Father.

FRANCISCO. Eight hundred! Why, you're earning almost as much as your father!

ROBERTING. You don't understand, Father.

FRANCISCO. Humph! I don't understand!

ROBERTING. Don't misunderstand me, Father.

FRANCISCO. Aba! You just said I don't understand-that means I'm not capable of understanding. Now you say not to misunderstand you-meaning I'm capable of understanding pala. Make up your mind, Roberting!

ROBERTING. You see, Father, what I'm driving at I~ I want-er -I want-my old allowance.

FRANCISCO (jumping). Diablos! You want your old allowance! Youíre working and earning eight hundred, you don't pay me a single centavo for your board and lodging in my house-and now you re asking for your old allowance!

ROBERTING. I have so many expenses, Father.

FRANCISCO. How much have you got saved up in the bank?

ROBERTING. How can I save anything?

FRANCISCO. So you have nothing in the bank! What kind of gifts do you give your girl-friend?

ROBERTING (Embarrassed). I-I-

FRANCISCO. Flowers? (ROBERTING nods.) Twenty-or thirty-peso flowers? (ROBERTING nods again.) Que hombre este! When I was courting your mother I used to give her only mani or balut.

(DONA PETRA, about fifty-five,. enters and catches his last words.)

PETRA. Yes, I remember quite well, If you only knew what my mother used to say after you used to give me mani or balut. "Ka kuriput naman!" she'd say.

FRANCISCO. Pero, Petra, this son of ours is earning eight hundred. He doesn't give us a centavo for house expenses, and on top of that he's asking for his old allowance. Where in the world have you heard such a thing?

PETRA I know a place where the children work and don't give their-parents any money and still ask for their allowance.

FRANCISCO. Were?

PETRA. In the Philippines.

FRANCISCO. Aba! How ilustrada you are, Petra!

PETRA. (To ROBERTING). You're not going to get a centavo.

ROBERTING. But, Mother-

PETRA If you've no money to ride in a taxi, take a jeepney.

ROBERTING. Jeepney to visit a girl! Ay!

PETRA.. (imitating him). Ay what? (ROBERTING goes out mumbling.)

PETRA. (Calling). Francisco!

FRANCISCO. Ha?

PETRA. I'm calling the servant!

FRANCISCO. Demontres with that Servant! Having the same name as the owner of the house!

PETRA. I'm going to kick him out soon. He broke your plate again.

FRANCISCO. Again! I don't know why he always breaks my plates. He never breaks your plates, or Roberting's, or Nena's. No, he breaks only my plates?

(FRANCISCO, the servant, enters. He is a dark, tall, thin boy. He looks foolish and is. He has his mouth open all the time.)

SERVANT. Opo, senora.

PETRA. Did you make that sign I told you?

SERVANT. The one you told me to make?

PETRA. (Emphatically). Of course!

SERVANT. The one you told me to write: "Wanted: a Muchacho?"

PETRA. (irritated). Yes, Don Francisco!

FRANCISCO. Ha?

PETRA. I'm talking to the servant. Well, did you do it?

SERVANT. No, senora. I didn't make it yet.

PETRA. And why not?

SERVANT. I forgot how it should be worded. I suddenly remember now.,

PETRA. Que estupido! Hala, go out and make it immediately! (SERVANT goes out.)

FRANCISCO. Where's Nena?

PETRA. Asleep in her room.

FRANCISCO. At this time? It's eleven o'clock.

PETRA Anyhow it's Sunday.

FRANCISCO. Has she heard Mass?

PETRA. I suppose she did at four

FRANCISCO, And so Nena went to the party last night without a chaperon?

PETRA. It was the first time.

FRANCISCO. I hope nothing happened.

PETRA. What could have happened? We discussed this already yesterday.

FRANCISCO. Yes, I know, but imagine a Filipino girl going to a party without a chaperon.

PETRA. After all, she didn't go out with Fred alone. She went with her friends, Lolita and Luding.

FRANCISCO. Yes, those two girls, since they arrived from abroad, they've been trying to teach our daughter all the wrong things they learned from those places.

PETRA. Wrong things? Ay, you exaggerate, Francisco!

(FRANCISCO, the servant enters with a sign in his hands.)

PETRA. Are you through with that? So soon?

SERVANT. I finished it last night, senora.

PETRA. Last night!

SERVANT. Opo, seŮora, but I forgot where I placed it.

PETRA. Estupido itong taong ito! Let me see it. (She takes hold Of the sign, reads aloud.) Wanted: A Muchacho." All right, hang it out there at the window. (The SERVANT hangs it out side the window sill but with the sign facing inside.) I said outside-not inside!

FRANCISCO. Ay, Francisco, he had to be my namesake! (The SERVANT, after placing the sign, stays by the window, making signs and faces to somebody outside.)

PETRA. As I was saying. Francisco--

FRANCISCO. Were you talking to me, Petra, or to the servant?

PETRA (Addressing the SERVANT). Francisco! What are you still doing here? Go back to the kitchen! (SERVANT goes out.)

FRANCISCO. You were saying, Petra-

PETRA. As I was saying, I think you're being very unfair to Nena. After all, she's grown up

FRANCISCO. Petra, my dear, virtue is ageless.

PETRA. I know that, Francisco, but chaperoning is rather old-fashioned.

FRANCISCO. Old-fashioned, maybe, in some other civilized countries.

PETRA. But isn't the Philippines civilized?

FRANCISCO. In many ways, yes,-but in some ways it's uncivilized.

PETRA. Ay. Francisco, if Saturnino Balagtas, our great patriot, should hear you now!

FRANCISCO. Where did you get the idea that Balagtas' first name is Saturnino? You mean Francisco.

PETRA. Saturnino-Francisco-both end in o.

FRANCISCO. Yes, that's why when you call out my name, Francisco the muchacho rushes in.

PETRA. Anyhow our women can take care of themselves.,

FRANCISCO. Are you sure?

PETRA. Especially if they've received an education. For instance, our Nena is, in her senior year in education at the University of Santo Tomas. She's even taking some courses in home economics.

FRANCISCO. I suppose that makes her immune from any moral falls.

PETRA. Moral falls, Francisco! Ay, que exagerada naman tu! No,. what I mean is that Nena is better educated and more enlightened to take care of herself.

FRANCISCO. (Annoyed). This Petra naman! You don't see the point. Education, even a university education, with all the letters of the alphabet after a graduate's name AB, BSE LLB, PhD, is not moral education. Training the mind is not training the heart.

PETRA. But if the mind is trained, why, the heart will be ruled by the mind.

FRANCISCO. No, Petra, if a person is intellectual, it doesn't ipso facto make' him moral.

PETRA. Ipso facto. That's very. deep for me naman, Francisco.

FRANCISCO. Very deep! Our daughter Nena will fall in deep water if you don't watch out!

PETRA (Exaggeratedly, just like a woman). Ay, you're so apprehensive, Francisco,. (The SERVANT rushes in.)

SERVANT. Did you call me, senora?

FRANCISCO. Hoy- you!

SERVANT. Yes, senorito.

FRANCISCO. I'm married to the senora, therefore I'm not the senorito anymore, but the senor, understand?

SERVANT. Opo, senorito.

FRANCISCO. I'm going to change your name. From now on you'll be called Francis.

SERVANT. Francis, po?

FRANCISCO. Yes, Francis, understand?

SERVANT. Why not Paquito, senor? Or Paco or Francisquito?

FRANCISCO. Because I don't want it! Now get out!

(SERVANT goes out. ROBERTING comes in.)

ROBERTING. Father, I couldn't get a taxi.

FRANCISCO. Your mother told you to take a jeepney.

ROBERTING. But I'm visiting my girl-friend.

FRANCISCO. Visiting girls at this time of the day? It's nearly lunch time

ROBERTING. She called me up. She says I must see her, right away. It's very important.

FRANCISCO. Roberting, you went to the party last night?

ROBERTING. Yes, Father, with Lia.

FRANCISCO. You went to the party unchaperoned?

PETRA. Does Roberting need a chaperon?

FRANCISCO. I'm not talking about Roberting! I'm talking about the girl he took out!

PETRA. Well, if you're going to lose your temper, I might as well be in the kitchen. (She goes out.)

ROBERTING. Yes, Father.

FRANCISCO. Yes, what?

ROBERTING. I took Lia to the party alone.

FRANCISCO. You young modern people. Do you realize that in my time when I was courting your mother, her father, her mother, her three sisters, her young brother., her grandmother, five first cousins and two distant relatives sat in the sala with us?

ROBERTING. But why so many, Father?

FRANCISCO, Because in those days we were more careful about a woman's reputation.

ROBERTING. But in those days-

FRANCISCO. Don't tell me those days were different. Outward things change, like the styles of women's dresses and men's ties, but the human heart remains the same.

ROBERTING. But in other countries, Father-

FRANCISCO. There you go, in other countries. The Philippines is different, my son. Our climate, our traditions, our innate psychology-- all these make our people different from foreigners.

ROBERTING. But my girl friend has studied abroad-- Columbia University pa. Filipino girls who have studied in other countries acquire the outward customs and mannerisms of people with traditions and temperament different from ours. But a Filipino girl can't easily change her temperament. It is inborn. (A knock is heard.)

FRANCISCO. Somebody's at the door. Francisc-er-Francis! Francis!

ROBERTING. Who's Francis?

FRANCISCO. The servant. I gave him a new name. (Calling again.) Paquito! (No answer) Francisquito! (The SERVANT tip pears. FRANCISCO stares at him.)

SERVANT. Yes, senorito.

FRANCISCO. No, no, my son Roberting here is the senorito, but I'm the senor! See who is knocking. Tell him to sit down.

(SERVANT goes out. ROBERTING and FRANCISCO go to their rooms. Presently SERVANT comes in, followed by PABLO. He is a fat, dark fellow. He is all dressed up-- wears a tie and everything He smokes a cigar. PABLO and the SERVANT stare at each other, the SERVANT open-mouthed as usual.)

SERVANT. what do you want?

PABLO What do I want? Haven't you got any manners?

SERVANT. I said whom do you want to we?

PABLO. Why don't you speak more dearly?.

SERVANT. What shall I tell the owner of the hour?

PABLO. Who's the owner of the house?

SERVANT. The senora, of course.

PABLO. Why, is she a widow?

SERVANT. Not yet.

PABLO. Tell your senora I want to see her.

SERVANT. Which senora?

PABLO. How many senoras do you have In this home?

SERVANT. There's senora Petra, senorita Nena-

PABLO. Gago! Call senora Petra then.

SERVANT. Opo. Sit down. Here are some cigars (SERVANT goes out. PABLO, looking about, gets one cigar-then a second--when about to get a third, PETRA comes in.)

PETRA. Yes?

PABLO. Good morning.

PETRA. Good morning.

PABLO. I saw that sign at the window.

PETRA. Yes?

PABLO. It says "Wanted: A Muchacho."

PETRA. Why, yes. Are you by any chance a detective?

PABLO. (Giggling). You flatter me, senora! A girl told me mw that I am very good-looking.

PETRA. Really? That is very interesting.

PABLO Women sometimes tell the sweetest lies.

PETRA. Do you mind if-

PABLO. Of course I don't mind. Go ahead and ask any questions

PETRA. Do you mind if I ask what I can do you Ė

PABLO (Blushing). I'm applying-

PETRA. Applying for what?

PABLO (After mustering enough courage). Iím applying for the job!

PETRA. What job?

PABLO (Pointing at the sign outside, significantly). That.

PETRA (Looking towards the sign and at PABLO. Incredulous). You mean-

PABLO (Joyfully). Yes, I'm offering my services

PETRA. You mean-you wish to be a muchacho?

PABLO. I wish you wouldn't be so insulting, senora, but I want to be what they call in Europe a mayordomo.

PETRA. A what?

PABLO. A mayordomo. You know-

PETRA. Oh. You mean-?

PABLO. Yes, that's what I mean.

PETRA (After giving him a dirty look). Well, for a minute I mistook you for an hacendero or a movie actor.

PABLO. That's right. I don't look like a muchacho~ er-mayordomo My mother always used to say I would amount to something. (Cupping his hand towards PETRA's ears.) Confidentially, my mother wanted me to marry one of the President's daughters.

PETRA. President's daughters? You mean the President of the Philippines?

PABLO. Yes, why not? Is there anything wrong in that?

PETRA. And you wish to work here as a-er-as a mayordomo?

PABLO. That's it!

PETRA. What can you do?

PABLO. I can watch the house when you're out, accompany the children, if you've any, to the movies or to parties.

PETRA. What else?

PABLO. I can do many other things. I can even sing.

PETRA. Never mind your social accomplishments. What's your name?

PABLO. I was baptized Marcelino, but my mother calls me Pablo because I remind her of her brother who spent two years jail. But my friends that is, my intimate friends. call me Paul.

PETRA. I'll pay you eighty pesos. including board and lodging.

PABLO (Jumping). I'll take the job! (PETRA stands up and looks at him frigidly.)

PETRA. Good. You Can start by washing the dishes.

PABLO. The dishes! But it's time for lunch. Haven't the dishes you used for breakfast been washed yet?

PETRA. No, because our servant Francisco always breaks the plates. So I told him this morning after breakfast not to wash them yet.

PABLO. I wish I had come after the dishes had been washed.

PETRA. All right, ask Francisco for instructions.

(PETRA goes out. PABLO lights a cigar and throughout the following scene drops the ashes everywhere. FRANCISCO enters.)

FRANCISCO. Oh, good morning. Have you been waiting long?

PABLO Staring at him insolently). No, I just talked to the senora.

FRANCISCO. Oh, yes. why don't you sit down?

PABLO. I will. (And PABLO sprawls Cleopatra-like on the sofa.)

FRANCISCO. Did you come on some business?

PABLO. Business? Oh, business of a sort.

FRANCISCO. That's good.

PABLO. That's a nice lounging robe you're wearing.

FRANCISCO. You like it?

PABLO. I certainly am going to buy one exactly like that

FRANCISCO. Thank you. Imitation, they say, is the subtlest form of flattery.

PABLO. Of course mine will be more expensive.

FRANCISCO. Undoubtedly. You must be a man of means.

PABLO. Of means? Well, sort of- Hm, I wonder what's delaying Francisco.

FRANCISCO. Francisco? I am Francisco.

PABLO (Laughing). You are Francisco?

FRANCISCO. Yes.

PABLO. Well, if you're Francisco, the senora told me to ask you for the instructions.

FRANCISCO. Instructions? What kind of instructions?

PABLO. I suppose she meant the instructions for washing the dishes and all that sort of thing

FRANCISCO (Puzzled). Dishes-all that sort of thing? What do you mean?

PABLO. Aren't you the servant here?

FRANCISCO (Flabbergasted). Servant! I am the owner of the house!

PABLO (Jumping). Oh-the owner! Excuse me! (Gliding away.) I suppose this is the way to the kitchen! (He runs out to the kitchen)

FRANCISCO. Petra! Petra! (He exits, PETRA enters and arranges the chairs. NENA comes in. NENA is about eighteen, and she's wearing a nice-looking Pair of slacks. She obviously has just risen from bed for she keeps yawning atrociously.)

NENA. Whereís the Sunday paper?

PETRA. Oh, so you're awake. How was the party last night?

NENA. (Sitting on sofa). So-so. Mother, where's the movie page?

PETRA. Probably your brother Roberting is looking at it. -(FRANCISCO enters.)

FRANCISCO. You're awake at last. Have you had breakfast?

PETRA. Breakfast when it's nearly twelve?

FRANCISCO. How was the party?

NENA. So-so. (FRANCISCO looks for some cigars on the table.)

FRANCISCO. Aba! Where are the cigars, Petra?

PETRA. Why, I placed half a dozen there this morning!

FRANCISCO. Half a dozen! I've smoked only one s6 far!

PETRA. I wonder.

FRANCISCO. Hm- I'm wondering, too!

NENA. (Standing and yawning). I'm still sleepy.

FRANCISCO. Wait a minute, Nena. Sit down.

NENA. What is it, Father?

FRANCISCO. So you went to the party alone last night?

PETRA. This Francisco naman! I told you she was out with Fred.

FRANCISCO. Anyhow I hope thatís the first and last time you go to a party unchaperoned.

NENA. But there's nothing wrong, Father. After all Iím an educated girl. (NENA yawns so desperately that she looks like an acrobat. PETRA and FRANCISCO stare at each other.)

PETRA. Yes, Francisco. She can take care of herself. Can't you see she's educated? (FRANCISCO gulps and wonders if his wife is crazy. ROBERTING enters.)

ROBERTING. (To NENA.) So you're awake! How was the party last night?

NENA. So-so.

FRANCISCO. Why are you here?

ROBERTING. I couldn't hire a taxi. No money.

PETRA. I told you to take a jeepney.

ROBERTIlNG. Anyhow I can see her this afternoon. Incidentally I met Fred's mother a short while ago.

NENA. Fred's mother?

ROBERTING. She was near Martini's taxi station.

PETRA. What were you doing at the taxi station?

FRANCISCO. Trying to get a taxi on credit, I suppose.

ROBERTING. Anyhow Fred's mother-

NENA. What about her?

ROBERTING. She said she was coming today.

PETRA. What for?

ROBERTING. She didn't tell me.

FRANCISCO. Fred's mother? You mean the young fellow Nena went out with last night?

ROBERTING Yes, Father.

NENA Did she say why she was coming?

ROBERTING. No.. But she seemed sore at me. In fact she seemed sort at you, too, Father.

FRANCISCO. At me?

ROBERTING (Imitating Dolores' voice) . She said, "Tell your father Kiko I'm going to see him!"

FRANCISCO. She called me Kiko?

ROBERTING. Yesó

FRANCISCO. Didn't she say Don Kiko at least?

ROBERTING. No. She simply said Kiko.

FRANCISCO. Aba! (PABLO's head is seen sticking out by the door)

PABLO (Shouting at the top of his lungs). Dinner is served!

FRANCISCO. Hay! Don't shout that loud! (PABLO exits.)

ROBERTING. Who's he, Mother?

PETRA. The new mayordomo.

ROBERTING. Mayor what?

PETRA. He's the new servant!

(They all go out. But NENA lingers for a. while, and there's an expression of worry on her face. Then she exits. PABLO and the SERVANT come in.)

SERVANT. Hoy!

PABLO. What do you mean hay? My name is Pablo. You may call me Paul.

SERVANT. My name is Francisca The senor calls me Francis, but I prefer Paquito. I once had another amo who used to call me Frankie.

PABLO. What do you. want?

SERVANT. The senora wants you in the dining room

PABLO. What for?

SERVANT. To serve the dishes.

PABLO. That's your job. I'm not a muchacho! I'm a mayordomo!

SERVANT. Didn't you. answer that sign over there at the window-"Wanted: A Muchacho"?

PABLO. Yet why?

SERVANT. Then you're a muchacho, like me!

PABLO. (Threatening him with his fist) I want you to understand that I am not a muchacho!

SERVANT. Hal You look like a common muchacho to me

PABLO. (Threatening him with the cigar he holds) Don't let me catch you using that word again!

SERVANT. Soplado! (PETRA enters.)

PETRA. What are you two doing here? Don't you know we're already eating? (PABLO and SERVANT go out. Presently NENA comes in and goes to the window She sees somebody coming, and runs out. Several knocks are heard. PABLO is seen crossing the corridor Then PABLO enters first trying to cover his face, followed by DONA DOLORES, a fat arrogant woman of forty, wearing the Filipina dress and sporting more jewels than a pawn shop. Her twenty-year-old son FRED follows hen FRED is so dumb 'and as dumb-looking nobody would believe it. PABLO is still trying to hide his face.)

DOLORES (Fanning herself vigorously). Where's Dona Petra?

PABLO. She's eating. Sit down.

DOLORES. Call the senora-and 'mind your own business! (Recognizing him.) Che! So it's you! You-you! Working here! How much are you earning?

PABLO (Insolently). Why?

DOLORES. After treating you so well at home as a muchacho, now you come to work here without even leaving me a farewell note. Che!

PABLO (With arms akimbo). I'm not a muchacho! I am a mayordomo!

DOLORES. Mayordomo! Mayor tonto! Che! i(PABLO, who is now all sprinkled with DOLORES' saliva, gets his handkerchief. PETRA and FRANCISCO enter)

PETRA. You may go, Paul.

DOLORES. Paul? (PABLO leaves.)

PETRA. Good morning.

FRANCISCO. You wanted to see me?

DOLORES. Yes! You and Petra!

PETRA. Won't you sit down?

DOLORES. I'd rather remain standing! Che?

FRANCISCO. This-this is your son Fred, I imagine.

DOLORES. Don't imagine-He is my son!

PETRA. Ah! So he is your son!

DOLORES. Supposing he is- what's that to you?

FRANCISCO. I was just thinking he doesn't look a bit like you.

DOLORES. Certainly not. He's the spitting image of my third husband!

PETRA. Do sit down.

DOLORES. Are you trying to insult me by implying I've no chairs at home? Che!

FRANCISCO. What can we do for you?

DOLORES (Pointing to FRED). Ask him!

PETRA What is it, Fred?

FRED (Pointing to his mother). Ask her!

FRANCISCO. Speak up; my son!

DOLORES. Your son!. Your son, eh? So you and your daughter Nena have designs on my son, eh? Well, you won't hook him!

PETRA. What are you. talking about?

FRANCISCO. Call Nena! (Aloud) Nena! Nena! (ROBERTING appears.) Roberting, call Nena! (ROBERTING goes out.)

FRANCISCO. If you don't mind, I will sit down.

PETRA I will sit down, too. I'm tired. (FRED tries to sit down too but his mother yanks him out of the chain. NENA, wearing a sports dress, comes in; followed by ROBERTING)

FRANCISCO. Nena, this lad? wants to talk to you.

DOLORES (Nudging FRED). Tell her!

FRED Ten: her what?

PETRA What is all the mystery about?

DOLORES (Ominously). My son-and your daughter-.

FRANCISCO. They went to the patty last night, didn't they?.

DOLORES. Of course they went to the party. But how did they go?

FRANCISCO. Has your son a car? Maybe they went in his ear.

DOLORES. My son has a car, and it's all paid for. But that isn't the point!

FRANCISCO. What's the point then?

DOLORES. That's what I came to find out!

PETRA. Nena, what happened?

NENA. Happened?

DOLORES. Yes, last night!

NENA. What happened?

DOLORES. I'm asking you!

PETRA. What happened, Nena?

NENA. Why. nothing, Mother

PETRA. Nothing?

NENA. Nothing, Mother

DOLORES. Nothing. che! A girl going to a party unchaperoned and nothing happened!

PETRA. What really happened, Nena?

NENA (Approaching DOLORES and practically screaming at her). Nothing happened and you know it!

DOLORES. Che! How dare you shout at mc!

FRED. Don't talk to my mother like that, Nena!

NENA (Approaching FRED). Bobo! Estupido! Standing there like a statue!

FRED. Statue? What statue?

NENA. The statue of a dumb-bell, dumb bell!

FRED. Gaga!

ROBERTING. (Approaching FRED and holding him by the neck) Hey, you! Don't start calling my sister names!

FRED. She started it!

PETRA (Approaching DOLORES). Your son took my daughter out to the party last night

DOLORES. Why do you allow your daughter to go out alone?

FRED. Nena insisted there was nothing wrong! But my intuition told me it might be wrong.

DOLORES. Shut up, Fred!

FRED. Why, mama?

DOLORES. (To PETRA). Why do you allow your daughter to go out alone with my respectable son?

NENA. What's respectable about him? (DOLORES gives her a poisonous look.)

DOLORES. People saw them come and go unchaperoned. Yes, unchaperoned! Imagine-imagine a girl going to a party alone!

FRANCISCO. (Advancing). She was with your son, wasn't she?

DOLORES. Unfortunately!

FRANCISCO. Then if my daughter was with your son, what danger was there?

DOLORES. People are talking about last night-

PETRA. But what happened?

DOLORES. (To FRED). What happened, Fred dear?

FRED (Tearfully). Nothing, mama!

                    DOLORES. Try to think! Something must have happened!

FRED. Nothing. nothing! (DOLORES notices that the group's hostile eyes are fastened on her)

DOLORES (Pinching FRED, but hard). Torpe!

FRED. (Twisting with pain). Aruy!

DOLORES. You-you-you son of my third husband! Why didn't you tell me nothing happened?

FRED. Iíve been trying to tell you since this morning, but you gave me no chance.

(Embarrassed, DOLORES tries hard to regain her dignity.)

FRANCISCO. (Approaching DOLORES). You mean to tell me you came here and raised all this rumpus when nothing, absolutely nothing, happened?

DOLORES. Well! I wouldn't be too sure about absolutely nothing! Besides, I have to be careful- yes, very careful-about my beloved son's upbringing.

FRANCISCO. Your son! Your Son is very stupid!

FRED. What!

DOLORES. My son stupid!

PETRA (Shouting). And definitely!

FRANCISCO. As stupid as you are!

DOLORES. As me!

PETRA. And positively!

FRED. (Approaching NENA). It's your fault!

NENA. What do you mean my fault, dumbbell!

FRED. I'd slap your face if I weren't a gentleman; (ROBERTING flies across the stage and faces FRED.)

ROBERTING. I'll slap you even if Mother says I'm no gentleman at times!

DOLORES. (To ROBERTING). Don't you dare touch my son! Che!

NENA. (To DOLORES). You can have that human jellyfish! Coming here to say what might have happened! (NENA grunts so savagely that DOLORES retreats in terror.)

DOLORES. (To FRANCISCO). You should advise your daughter to stop going to parties unchaperoned! People gossip and include my son!

FRANCISCO. Mind your own business! (Raising his fist to her head) Tell your son to stop looking dumb!

DOLORES. Che! I never saw such people, che!

FRANCISCO. Get out of here before I call the police!

FRED. The police! Mama, the police!

DOLORES. We're going, che!

PETRA. Paul! Paul!

FRANCISCO. Who's Paul, Petra? (PABLO appears.)

PABLO. Yes, Don Francisco?

PETRA. Paul, kindly escort these-- these people to the door!

FRANCISCO. Roughly, Paul, roughly!

DOLORES. (Facing PABLO). Canalla! (To PETRA.) I suppose you enticed my muchacho to come here!

PABLO (Touching DOLORES on the shoulder). Hoy, I am no muchacho! I'm a mayordomo! Furthermore, Dona Petra gives me eighty pesos a month while you used to give me fifty pesos only!

DOLORES. Eighty a month! Where will they get that much!

PETRA. Dona Dolores! Dolores de cabeza!

DOLORES. Eighty a month! Che! (Going to the door.) Che! (Turning again.) Che! (She comes back to recover her son who has remained like a statue.)

PETRA. Can you imagine! The insolence! Che! (Everybody stares at her.)

FRANCISCO. That's what Nena got for going out unchaperoned. I was already telling you, Petra-

PETRA. How could I, know this Dolores would make all that awful fuss?

ROBERTING. You want me to break Fred's neck?

FRANCISCO. You should -have done that when he was here. Your muscle reflexes are tardy in working, my son.

ROBERTING (Unconsciously). Che!, (They all look at him. NENA has sat on the so/a and begins to cry.)

PETRA. Don't cry, Nena. Itís over.

NENA (Between sobs). Making all that fuss for nothing! The truth is that I quarreled with Fred during the party and left him.

PETRA. Left him! Where did you go?

NENA. I came home with Luding and Lolita. Fred's mother had been trying to interest me in her son-that's why-he told his mother-andó

FRANCISCO. Ay, hija mia, go in now and let this be a lesson to you.

NENA (As she's near the door-unconsciously) Che! (They all stare at her and at each other.)

PETRA. Finish eating. Roberting.

FRANCISCO. Incidentally, Roberting, I hope nothing happened with you last night.

ROBERTING. Last night?

FRANCISCO. You went out with Lia, didn't you?

ROBERTJNG. Yes, but nothing happened-- I think.

PETRA. You think! (PABLO comes in, smoking a cigar.)

PABLO. I escorted them out already. senora. What do I do now?

PETRA. You may wash more dishes.

PABLO. Ha? (He is about to go.)

FRANCISCO. Hoy! Where did you get that cigar?

PABLO. Ha? Er-why, somebody gave it to me.

FRANCISCO. Who?

PABLO. Francis, senor.

FRANCISCO. So! Mayordomo smokes owner's cigars. Owner kicks mayordomo out. (He makes a gesture of kicking PABLO, but the latter runs outside into the street. The SERVANT is seen coming in from the corridor. He disappears and comes back with a coat which he throws out of the window.)

SERVANT. Hoy-- your coat! Mayordomo-mayor yabang!

PETRA. Get back to the kitchen, Francis!

SERVANT. Am I still the servant here, senora?

PETRA. Yes, I suppose we'll have to bear with you for a while.

SERVANT. I won't have to put out the sign anymore-"Wanted A Muchacho"?

FRANCISCO. No! Make another and put "Wanted: A Chaperon"!

PETRA. Wanted a Chaperon?

FRANCISCO. Yes, for our daughter Nena.

PETRA. Que verguenza! I, her mother, will chaperon Nena (She stares out the window. She sees somebody coming.) Roberting! Roberting! (ROBERTING appears.)

ROBERTING. What is it, Mother?

PETRA (Pointing outside). Isn't that your girl-friend Lia?

ROBERTING. Why, yes?

PETRA. And who is that old man along with her?

ROBERTING (Swallowing). That's-er-that's her father!

PETRA. And he's carrying something!

ROBERTING. Yes-yes! He's Carrying-a gun!! (Running outside.) Tell them I'm out!

FRANCISCO. Ay, Petra! We need two chaperons! Che! (PETRA stares at him.)

 

CURTAIN

 

 

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