Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Old Boyfriend for Lunch, Husband Included

The story is simple enough. Old acquaintances, let’s call them friends, maybe even one time lovers-of-a-sort reconnect through Facebook. Even though it begins as a tired cliché, unexpected connections slowly form. Living thousands of miles apart, their chances of meeting again are next to nil until a class reunion beckons one of them home once more.

Thus begins a play or a novel I haven’t written yet. The basic concept has been tugging at my curiosity, seeping into my consciousness for a while now. Relationships, even in their simplest form, can be complex, confusing and a puzzle for the mind, if one wants to go there.

A luncheon is arranged. Of course, the current husband would be included. How crass not to invite him along when it’s just an old boyfriend and nothing could possibly happen after fifty plus years. Or could it?

The old boyfriend is calm in his skin. The miles traveled and past emotions haven’t sublimated his curiosity because it’s held in check with a life well lived and future miles anticipated. The meeting will answer a few of those vexing questions that have arisen since their first e-mail re-connection. The current husband - not a problem. The old boyfriend is curious what her partner of 50 years is 'like'. He was the one who married her. He was the one who won her heart.

My treatment doesn’t have the humor of ‘Barefoot in the Park’ meets the drama of ‘Same time, Next Year’ yet but the intent is there. The reunion could go any number of ways. It could be a total bust, an embarrassment for everyone involved, a rekindling of old feelings, or unanswered questions still left unresolved. It’s anything but predictable. As the day of the encounter draws near, plans begin to unravel. At least that’s the premise of the play as it stands right now.

One scenario is a mix up in meetings, perhaps a time delay, and a change of plans. Suddenly that oft-anticipated meeting might not happen after all. Another scenario is that she decides to bail out at the last minute. One of the parties is relieved, the other not surprised that the meeting never took place in the first place.
I won’t reveal which scenario is edging for prominence in my mind. The parties involved already know. It’s the accumulation of a series of e-mails back and forth that only hinted of getting reacquainted. Perhaps it was never meant to be in the first place.

It’s like a who-done-it without villains or heroes. It’s a conclusion that many observers would have guessed correctly if left to their own devices. It’s reality that one of the parties hasn’t grasped yet. It’s the ‘real world’ minus its cloak of inquiring e-mails that hint of promises made.

It’s that often-asked yet seldom answered question of ‘whatever happened to?’ The emotions gone vapid down through the ages and the absent of warm eyes connecting have made any semblance of a real reunion a challenge at best. In the safe setting of salad and entree, true feelings are seldom shared or revealed. Welcome to the real world minus station breaks and advertisements.

There is still a lot of work left to flesh out my characters and give them depth and purpose. Reunions are always fun to write about. I loved writing ‘Club 210’ and thoroughly enjoyed its performances last summer at the Steeple Center in Rosemount. Maybe this treatment will become another play that explores relationships under the microscope of a theatrical performance. It’s made up drama under the guise of a play and only the audience gets to guess if it resembles real life or not.

Then again, perhaps nothing will happen to this idea after all. It might languish in my pile of unfinished manuscripts just begging for time to complete. The premise is a good one. The storyline is intriguing. The real question is whether I can come up with a scenario that people believe. I think I can, because the truth - in all of its unwashed accoutrements - is often more entertaining than fiction itself.

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