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The Zig-Zag Woman

by Steve Martin
In the beginning of something, its ending is foretold.
What would we not do for love? This is the tale of a young woman who wants to catch a certain beau's eye so she places herself in a magician's box that allows her middle to be separated from her head and feet - thus, the zig-zag woman. "Maybe now he'll notice me," she says.

Before we meet the object of her affection, we meet an older man, who tells her, "It's really nice the way your head is separated from your body like that." He imparts wisdom to the Zig-Zag Woman about his dearly departed wife, declaring that "love is a promise delivered already broken."

Next, we meet a middle-aged man, who brings his own sort of wisdom:
Tough debate. Married or single. Single brings a sadness, but sadness has its own perfection. Marriage brings a misery of a rare kind, the kind that loves company.
Finally, we meet the object of the Zig-Zag Woman's affection. He is a young man who has had a "brilliant flash of insight." He doesn't notice the Zig-Zag Woman but he tells the other men:
Every emotion is consumed by its opposite. Every ounce of pleasure is balanced by an equal amount of disaster. Generosity breeds contempt; power breeds weakness. Agony leads to a greater appreciation of bliss. You love your friends, they start dying; when your friends start dying, you take more chances with your own life. Every ache you feel makes its inverse more possible. And that is the ecology of joy and pain. 
Why do we constantly fall for the Hamlets of the world? I suppose there's something beautiful about pain.

With a little help from the aptly named "middle man," the young man does finally notice the Zig-Zag Woman. "How do you think they will end?" the middle man asks.

I hope the older man is right when he says, "Just when you think love is dead, it is waiting for you like a crouching panther."

Tomorrow's Play: Crave by Sarah Kane


Anonymous said...

You are an amazing woman, lauren Sowa..just happened on this

Anonymous said...

I certainly feel privileged to do a production of this 1 act as the middle man!


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