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How I Learned to Drive

by Paula Vogel

Re-reading this play made me so happy. It is even better than I remember. I used to do a monologue from it that I really enjoyed, but turns out people don't really like to hear about sexual abuse when they first meet you, fictional or otherwise. Weird, huh?

Hands down my favorite monologue in the show belongs to the "mother" chorus member (my additions in red):

A Mother's Guide to Social Drinking: 
A lady never gets sloppy - she may, however, get tipsy and a little gay. 
Never drink on an empty stomach. Avail yourself of the bread basket and generous portions of butter. Slather the butter on your bread.
Sip your drink, slowly, let the beverage linger in your mouth - interspersed with interesting, fascinating conversation. Sip, never ... slurp or gulp. Your glass should always be three-quarters full when his glass is empty. (sounds about right for me)
Stay away from ladies' drinks: drinks like pink ladies, slow gin fizzes, daiquiris, gold cadillacs, Long Island iced teas, margaritas, pina coladas, mai tais, planters punch, white Russians, black Russians, red russians, melon balls, blue balls (?), hummingbirds, hemorrhages and hurricanes. In short, avoid anything with sugar, or anything with an umbrella. Get your vitamin C from fruit (yeah!). Don't order anything with Voodoo or Vixen in the title or sexual positions in the name like Dead Man Screw or the Missionary.
Drink, instead, like a man: straight up or on the rocks, with plenty of water in between.
Oh, yes. And never mix your drinks. Stay with one all night long, like the man you came in with (:)): bourbon, gin, or tequila till dawn, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

She sounds like a pretty cool mom. Or maybe a drunk.

This play made me think a lot about how vulnerable we are as we are growing up. How the idea of "normal" is so relative and so much of who we become as adults is due to sheer chance - where you're raised, who your family is, the country into which you were born. It's not until Lil Bit goes away to college that she realizes there's anything wrong with the relationship she has with her uncle. Once she experiences life outside her bubble, the views of others change her. The love is deeply rooted and not easily forgotten, but that outside influence shifts her thinking. It allows her to come to peace with her past and move towards to a happier, healthier future.

My heart goes out to all those for whom this play hits a little too close. 

Tomorrow's Play: God by Woody Allen

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