So a few years ago, I did a playwriting workshop/residency in London. It was a pretty great experience. I blogged about it pretty extensively on my old myspace blog. As I get to work here in Chicago, I’m reminded of one of my favorite posts from that trip–so I decided to repost it here. I think it gives you a pretty good sense of what kind of work I’m needing to do to get my play up on its feet.
Of course, circumstances are slightly different this time around. The butcher this time around doesn’t have quite as pretty eyes (no offense, ET). And I’m not butchering the baby for a single showing–I’m butchering the baby because the baby is FAT. We’re over two hours right now, and that is way, way, way too long for this play (although when we finished the reading today, I joked “Hey, August: Osage County is three and a half hours, right?). I feel good about the process.
But here’s the thing: I’ve spent a good few hours tonight, chopping without mercy, or so it feels–and I’ve lost exactly ONE page. This really isn’t easy.
Anyway. Here’s the parable:
Butchering My Baby–A Parable.
Not butchering like botching. Butchering in the truest sense, like being a butcher with a butcher’s knife and cutting my baby into pieces for human consumption.
So my baby weighs 97 pounds.
A doctor came to see my baby, and pronounced the baby in good health.
The baby was in such good health in fact that the doctor and his team chose to parade my baby before a host of doctors and other baby experts.
Not babies who are experts. Experts on babies.
So the doctor gets me and my baby ready for viewing and says “we don’t exactly think your baby is overweight–but these doctors really are only used to seeing babies of a certain weight.”
And the doctor, he suggests that my baby drop a few pounds.
And I’m cool with that, because contrary to what the doctor and his team originally believed, I wanted my baby to get a few of its chichos (watch how bad I’m butchering–botching–that word) off its cute baby body.
So I’m thinking we’ve got 7, maybe 8 pounds of baby fat to trim.
We could go to one of the Gymboree joints or something.
Or watch that bizarre Dora spinoff with Diego where they make kids dance like birds and flap their wings in English AND Spanish.
It’s all good–baby diet time.
And the doctor suggest the baby should weigh–
–only for the showing, mind you–
–only because these doctors like to see babies of a certain weight, mind you–
–the baby–my baby–
(for the record, read Chuck Palahniuk’s Diary to see where I’m stealing this style from)
–the baby should weigh 70 pounds.
27 pounds to lose.
And how does a baby lose 27 pounds?
Not Baby Jazzercise.
Not Sweating to the Infant Oldies.
(Which could be hosted by the kid from Billy Elliot, by the way)
The baby loses 27 pounds by being chopped up.
Chopped to pieces.
You have to remove some of the inessential baby parts to make weight.
You keep the head, you keep the neck, you keep the fingers.
Well, most of the fingers. You don’t need pinkies.
You definitely don’t need pinkie toes.
The belly of course goes, but so does some of the ass, and the head gets shaved.
If my baby wasn’t already circumsized, that would go for sure.
It’s a trip to the butcher.
Luckily, I have a very lovely butcher, who has a reassuring way and pretty eyes that serve to talk me off the ledge.
And I’ve made my peace with the butchering, knowing that it’s just for one showing, one viewing, one trip to the conference of baby experts who will all say “quite a baby, you’ve got there. I’m not sure we can do anything for your baby at this time, but here’s my card.”
And it’s not a butchering in the bad way–it’s actually really helpful. It’s teaching me how to trim those seven pounds–they should just melt away.
But here’s the realest question of all.
The original team of doctors.
The folks who help me exhibit said baby.
When they look at this sliced up, slightly deformed but altogether more streamlined and smooth and svelte baby…are they going to have enough of a sense of what the doctor and his team originally saw and loved about the baby?
Will they be able to appreciate and value the baby on any kind of semblence of the scale they would if they saw the baby in the baby’s truest, seven pounds chubby self?