A One Act Play
By G. L. Horton
copyright © 2004
GLORIA CLARK: early 30s. Her small business is part of
Eleganza Mommas chain.
PHYLLIS DIXON: late 30s. Assistant to Tad Kramer.
TAD KRAMER: somewhere between 30-55. Regional manager of the chain.
MEGAN JACKSON: 20s. Glorias heavily pregnant sales
SET: The back office of a maternity-wear shop, Eleganza
Mama. Gloria sits at her desk, reading a confidential memo
from headquarters. She may rise when it seems polite, but she
cant walk around because Phyllis visit catches Gloria
in her stocking feet with her medium heeled business pumps just
out of reach. Phyllis calls Glorias attention to the rating
Glorias store has received, and how it relates to the new
PHYLLIS: Your total is seventy four points. Seventy five is the
GLORIA: All these are closing? (referring to a list in the
PHYLLIS: If you make a few changes, youll wind up the only
franchise north of Connecticut.
GLORIA: Like optimize the window displays.
PHYLLIS: That should do it. Most of the stores were closing
are on account of location. Yours is good: 26 points out of a
GLORIA: I got 5 points just for the Starbucks next door.
PHYLLIS: Right! Location, Location. Good planning on your part.
GLORIA: Just luck. When I moved in this area was cheap.
PHYLLIS: Being in the right place at the right time. The guys
on top, they want you to think they plan: but 9/10ths of it is
luck, just like yours.
GLORIA: My bad, about the windows.
PHYLLIS: The windows can be fix! Once you re-orient to the new
business plan, you can not only raise your score to stay open,
GLORIA: My customers like twhat were doing. They buy whats
in the windows now.
PHYLLIS: Your customers are the problem They cant afford
you. Like it or not, there are huge changes in how the economy
works. Businesses that dont re-position are going to die.
GLORIA: I get a lot of repeat business. Teachers and social workers
who used to live around here. They come back to me when they have
a second baby.
PHYLLIS: How many, exactly? In the last 6 months?
GLORIA: A lot of people are postponing....
PHYLLIS: Old time Mom and Pop store mentality, thats sweet.
But look at the data in The Plan. Within a decade businesses like
ours will serve just the upper 6% of the demographic. The ones
with discretionary income!
GLORIA: When times are hard--
PHYLLIS: Families do without. Who needs maternity clothes, really?
Cleaning ladies can wear big floppy sweatshirts, Walmart has a
smock-- why add to the mountains of debt? The high end customer
is the one weve got to target. This is basic! You are on
board with this? I noticed you arent exactly enthusiastic
about our new signature exercise suit--
GLORIA: It just doesnt seem practical. At most, it would
fit till the fourth month, and she wont even need it till
PHYLLIS: Needs not the point! Its status, its
luxury. Most of our new stock is designed to be bought as gifts,
to hang in the Mom-to-Bes closet waiting for The Perfect
GLORIA: The perfect occasion? If youre pregnant, thats
staying home in your bathrobe with your feet up.
PHYLLIS: Banish that thought! We want to create a pink and blue
fog. In our new lines, we feature silk--
PHYLLIS: -- and natural organic fibers-- to flatter and coddle
Mom while protecting her against any environmental threats. Shell
buy our exercise suit after her first sonogram, and wear it before
her pregnancy shows. Wear it twice, maybe. To show off for her
peers at the gym, because she has this exciting new project.
PHYLLIS: Right, Project! Like- like The Big Dig! Its going
to cost a million bucks to raise an Ivy League kid, and if a womans
taken on that kind of a burden, doesnt she deserve pampering?
Your location is perfect for moving forward, but if you just dont
GLORIA: Sorry. It just takes time to----. (Megan looks in,
GLORIA: Im in a meeting, Megan.
MEGAN: Sorry. I dont want to interrupt, but--.
PHYLLIS: Its all right. Whats the problem?
MEGAN: I may be imagining this--
GLORIA: I trust your instincts, Meg. What is it?
MEGAN: Theres this man--.
GLORIA: Thats an alarm bell, all right.
MEGAN: When I asked if I could help him, he said he was just looking,
GLORIA: You think hes a thief?
MEGAN: If I did, Id have buzzed. Its more like --
PHYLLIS: A pervert?
MEGAN: Hes looking at underwear, those new thongs--
GLORIA: Maternity thongs are a real eye-catcher!
PHYLLIS: Has this happened before?
GLORIA: Not to me.
MEGAN: Me either.
PHYLLIS: Let me deal with it. I have a sixth sense about perverts.
(exits to shop)
MEGAN: Whats the verdict?
GLORIA: Its touch and go.
MEGAN: Oh, my God. Whatll we do.
GLORIA: (retrieving shoes) Right now wed better get
out there and protect the thongs.
MEGAN: Must be a pervert, if he can look at those and not bust
GLORIA: Thongs are a magic charm. They make pregnancy sexy, and
slim! Get used to it-- if we want to stay in business, thats
what well be selling.
MEGAN: Can we go out together? He gives me the creeps.
GLORIA: Now that Ive got my shoes on. (PHYLLIS enters
MEGAN: (mouths it, whispering) Thats him!
PHYLLIS: This is Tad Kramer, from Eleganzas home office.
GLORIA: And this is Megan, my sales assistant.
MEGAN: Uh-- how do you do? Sir.
KRAMER: Mrs. Clark--
PHYLLIS: I told Tad about our meeting, Gloria, and he seems to
think that were all on the same page. Except for the little
misunderstanding about his interest in underwear..
GLORIA: You made Megan a little nervous, Mr. Kramer.
KRAMER: Call me Tad.
MEG: The only men Ive seen here before are the plumber and
GLORIA: You cant blame Meg for being suspicious.
KRAMER: Yes, well. We have another matter to discuss, Mrs. Clark.
PHYLLIS: To discuss privately.
GLORIA: Will you excuse us, Meg?
MEGAN: Of course. I should be out on the floor anyway.
GLORIA: What is it, Tad?
KRAMER: Just a moment. (signals PHYLLIS to look out
toward the shop floor. PHYLLIS does, then signals that
MEGAN has moved out of hearing range)
That girl is impossible.
KRAMER: Whatever her name is. Get rid of her.
GLORIA: What do you mean?
KRAMER: What do you mean, What do I mean?
PHYLLIS: He means fire her!
GLORIA: But, why?
KRAMER: Shes a disgrace.
GLORIA: But-- ?
PHYLLIS: Whats the problem?
GLORIA: Thats what Im asking: Whats the problem?
KRAMER: Look at her!
GLORIA: You think her condition is interfering with her ability
to do the job--?
KRAMER: Do you even understand what the job IS?
GLORIA: Megs a sales assistant.
KRAMER: Damn right, shes supposed to be.
GLORIA: Shes my best.
KRAMER: Then Id hate to see the rest of them!
PHYLLIS: When you consider the reactions of the customers--
GLORIA: Megan is friendly, shes helpful, she puts customers
KRAMER: Shes gross!
GLORIA: Because shes pregnant?
PHYLLIS: Itd be one thing if she were in the stockroom,
but shoppers see her!
GLORIA: But shoppers come here FOR her. They ask for Meg by name.
PHYLLIS: What about new customers? Better customers?
KRAMER: They look at the elegant models in the window, and then
in the background they see this grotesque thing.
GLORIA: It seems to me that a pregnant saleswomans a plus
for a maternity shop, Mr. Kramer. Megans big, sure, but
PHYLLIS: Hers is the last kind of image we want to put out
KRAMER: Its like a neon sign, Look here, women-- this
is the Ghost of Pregnancy Future.
GLORIA: Well, it is! Megans strong and healthy, thats
KRAMER: Shes fat and ugly. Theyll think shes
contagious! Come through our door and turn into a gunny
sack, a disgusting bag of garbage.
PHYLLIS: Bags under her eyes, no make up-- clumping around in
KRAMER: Like a gorilla. When I walked in she was sitting down,
picking at her toes!
GLORIA: Her feet are swollen. If has to get off them once in awhile--.
PHYLLIS: What about overtime? The new Plan includes opening evenings
and Sundays, with no extra hires. That girls not physically
KRAMER: Youll replace her after she drops the kid, anyway.
Doing it now saves time and money.
GLORIA: Once Megan goes on Maternity leave...
KRAMER: The company doesnt allow Maternity. Read your contract.
GLORIA: But its the law!
KRAMER: When you dump her, tell her to sue.
PHYLLIS: Every hour that girls in here we lose customers,
I guarantee it. Our most important, most style-conscious customers.
KRAMER: Now I understand why this stores numbers are falling.
GLORIA: Im sorry Mr. Kramer, but if--If sales are falling--
and I dont believe they are, my numbers dont agree--
its because were in a recession.
PHYLLIS: For some people, its a recession.
KRAMER: For everybody, its Evolution.
GLORIA: When times get better--
KRAMER: They wont! No more better times! Phyllis
showed you The Plan.
Dont you understand?
GLORIA: Im trying to, but--
KRAMER: Are you as stupid as that cow out there? Its Malthus.
Its Evolution in action--
GLORIA: (to PHYLLIS) Is he really in charge? It
PHYLLIS: Call it what you want, but its how the world works.
A growing population is competing in a game where the rules keep
KRAMER: Not all the rules. Fat cows will always lose.
(MEGAN enters, drawn by the raised voices, and listens)
Statistically, the difference between being relatively secure
and being one lost job or one hospitalized illness away from bankruptcy
is -- guess what? One itty bitty baby! Lucky for us, lots of women
cant think straight. They operate out of primitive emotion.
Be fruitful and multiply. All you need is Love. But the Middle
Class Dream Baby is a luxury, now. The poor are going to tend
the children of the rich, and send their own kids to Boot Camp,
where theyre training to compete for scut work--
MEGAN: Gloria, why is he yelling like that?
KRAMER: Because Im trying to get it through this womans
thick skull that we cant afford to have somebody like you
waddling around out there! You're fired!
MEGAN: Can he do that? Gloria?
GLORIA: Of course not. This is my store.
PHYLLIS: This is your store as long as Tad passes on it. Otherwise,
youll be closed.
KRAMER: (makes note on the rating memo) Twenty points
subtracted till that girls gone.
MEGAN: But what have I done?
GLORIA: You got pregnant.
MEGAN: But were in the maternity business.
GLORIA: Serving mothers-to-be.
MEGAN: So, why?
KRAMER: Youre a negative. Youve got to go.
MEGAN: But what about Gloria? When she starts to show?
KRAMER: Youre pregnant too? (points to Glorias
tummy) I knew you were hiding something!
GLORIA: Not that its any of your business.
KRAMER: (expansive gesture encompassing the shop and...)
Its all my business!
GLORIA: I leased this shop it. I run it in the black.
PHYLLIS: If Tad says No! youre out, and sos
MEGAN: He cant do that, can he? Its discrimination--
KRAMER: Theyre both out. No way Gloria can do the job we
need done, here.
GLORIA: Well file with the Commission.
KRAMER: Not a chance. Managers dont work when its
convenient, they work when and where theyre needed. You
cant do that and have a kid.
GLORIA: Why not? Men do it.
KRAMER: Men have wives.
PHYLLIS: Less every year. If it werent for immigration,
our birthrate would be minus.
KRAMER: Some middle class fools still act as if they can afford
kids, raise them like prize orchids- but they cant. Thats
why were changing our business. 80% cant afford what
we sell, another 10% dont want it. The middle class is kaput.
GLORIA: The entire middle class--?
KRAMER: Extinct. After the race to the bottom, well be like
Argentina. The well-off and the peons. Period. Think about that,
as you throw away your one chance to work your way up. Phyllis
-- tell Ms. Gloria here how many hours a week you work.
PHYLLIS: About 80.
GLORIA: I work 70.
KRAMER: How many days a month do you sleep in your own home bed,
PHYLLIS: Maybe seven.
KRAMER: And when do you figure youll be able to start a
PHYLLIS: Probably, I wont.
KRAMER: Whys that?
PHYLLIS: Because there are 1000 qualified people who want my job.
I only get to keep it if my boss cant even fantasize that
there might be somebody better. I cant afford a full time
live in nanny. Or vacations, or sick days, or female trouble or
GLORIA: Thats not a life!
MEGAN: People cant live like that.
PHYLLIS: Its better than yours is going to be. This is a
crap job, Megan, but once that kid is out and running around,
a woman loses whatever bargaining power she had. Minimum wage
can be a life sentence. You want to grovel to get even that? Ask
Tad for a reference.
KRAMER: Last chance, Gloria. I like this location, and in spite
of your foolishness I could even like you. You remind me of a
young Phyllis. Prove to me that you can do what needs to be done,
and Ill see that you get a second chance.
MEGAN: Did that man just order you to get an abortion?
GLORIA: Never mind, Megan. I have a plan. Im going to get
a good lawyer.
KRAMER: (laughing) Sue? Are you crazy? Thats the only path
to bankruptcy thats quicker than cancer, or having a kid!
Lose, you pay the lawyer. Win, and the government taxes it all
away! (opens the door, motions them to exit) Have fun,
ladies. Ill see you in court.