James Tierney

    "Friendship is a social expedient, like upholstery or the distribution
    of garbage buckets."  --Samuel Beckett, channeling Proust

set: two massage tables, parallel, about an arm's length apart, lengthwise from stage front to stage back; they are in a semi-tropical setting and yet a desert environment, perhaps shades of a tiki-hut, torches, grass roof, cacti, geckos, sand, bright light, etc.

two athletic men, Lance and Tony, in early thirties face down on tables naked but for skimpy white towels over their butts; their chins are up so that their faces are beaming out at the audience as they speak; Lance is stage left, Tony stage right

two masseuses; Lance's masseuse, a woman, is young, beautiful, made-up, and sexy; throughout she is administering a rather sensual massage to Lance, sometimes doing entirely inappropriate things, having a good time; Tony's is in great contrast to this visually and in demeanor, perhaps a burly Russian, man or woman, doing an over-emphatic, painful-looking massage, or a small child standing on a stool which s/he constantly has to move around the table, and who is doing a completely ridiculous hack-job of a massage

*the dialogue is not intended to sound anything like a dialogue spoken by the real Lance Armstrong and Tony Hawk; the only thing that identifies them as these two men are their appearance and the fact that they say they are Lance Armstrong and Tony Hawk; the diction should be clear, intelligent, and well-spoken but not affected in any way, nearly deadpan but with bright, friendly, cheerful, and above all, confident demeanors; they are always earnest and never ironic; the actors should never try to be Lance Armstrong or Tony Hawk

music (loud): Surfer Joe & Moe the Sleaze (Neil Young) [track 1, 30 seconds]

[fade music to silence, then dialogue begins]

lance: hi, i'm lance armstrong

tony: [incredulous, interested] really?

lance: yes, don't you recognize me?

tony: not in the least. do you live around here?

lance: not yet, but i'm going to. i have my heart set on it.

tony: well you can do anything you want, you're lance armstrong, remember? [counts the following off on his fingers, one by one] [one finger] you've overcome testicular cancer and [two finger, without pause] won five tours of france on your bike. [three finger] you've separated from your wife and two young children but under the best possible circumstances, and everyone, even your old wife, says you're a great father. if you do not win the tour this year it will almost certainly be on account of the sacrifices you have made for your family. [gives him a long meaningful look meant to be encouraging] [four finger] you've met scandalous, spurious blood-doping allegations head on without breaking stride, the sort of scandal that would crush weaker athletes, and in the course of all of this you have even managed to get the French shrug of approval. you can do it all, Lance. not to mention number five [five finger] [big smile]: you're from god blessed fucking Texas.

[high five between tables]

lance: yes, that's all true, but don't think it means everything's just going to fall into place for me. that is absolutely not the case. i've got much more to do, and i'm going to have to work harder at this next stage of my life than I've ever worked before.

tony: hm. how can it be? and what's all this about a next stage, Lance? are things changing yet again for you?

lance: you bet, things are always changing in my life, and always at the most rapid pace.

tony: like twisting through a small village in the massif centrale, ?a ?'est ta vie, eh?

lance: precisely! are you a writer?

tony: well, actually...

lance: I knew it. are you famous as well?

tony: I mean actually, no, I'm not a writer at all. I'm Tony Hawk, I've been riding skateboards for a million years, and making bank, truth to tell.

lance: nice to meet you tony [they try to shake hands]. [looks him over] come to think of it, you are looking rather too fit to be a writer. [they laugh] well I guess we're cut something from the same cloth after all, aren't we?

tony: I think that's right, Lance, I think that really is how I would put it as well. we are like two peas in a pod, great legends of our respective sports, the best, maybe, there will ever be. and yet, in the end, maybe a little under-appreciated in spite of what laurels we have gathered both on our heads and at our feet.

lance: for instance, we did not recognize one another!

tony: exactly! now, if it were MJ or LT, or Wilt or Ali, spread out over there, I don't think I would have mistaken them for someone else. whereas in your case, when I first looked over, I thought it was possible, even likely, that you were the dandy husband of Posh Spice.

lance: right, the soccer player. david...buckingham.

tony: exactly! buckingham. I thought you were david buckingham.

[there is a long pause during which the two masseuses do a silent, synchronized dance routine; lights dimmed with spotlights on these two; the dance should be simple and earnest, it can be classy, high-energy, bizarre, etc., lasting exactly twenty seconds, ending with a spin out of which they go right back into their massage routines]

tony: so...what brings you to LA, and, I might add, if I'm not being too forward, to Sheryl Crow's backyard beach cabana private masseuse parlor and spa?

lance: well I might ask you the same, tony. it seems we're in a rather awkward position here.

tony: to say the least. I really thought, when Sheryl said come on over, that I would have the place to myself, but that's cool, I'm here with lance

lance: funny we haven't met here before

tony: yeah, funny [chuckles uneasily]

[exit masseuses; Lance's gives him a little pinch on the butt and a wink over her shoulder as she goes, stage left (don't belabor it, she's quick and well-practiced with her flirtations); Tony's masseuse, standing at his side, winds up and gives him one sharp karate chop to the lower back which makes him yelp; and then very professionally takes up his/her stool (if it is the diminutive), or lotions, rags, whatever (if it is the burly one), and carries it off stage right]

[lights slightly lower, as if almost evening; Lance and Tony sit up on the massage tables facing one another; Tony is concentrating on a thought and Lance is busy fiddling with a bottle of lotion, or water bottle; the conversation takes a more serious tone]

tony: [staring intently at lance, very grave] lance, I don't want to judge you.

lance: [freezes, looks up, lotion on his hand/or bottle in his mouth; speaks slowly, unsure of himself] well, tony, I appreciate that... [applies lotion/continues drinking, averting eyes, but still paying very close attention]

tony: I'm not sure you do, lance. I think you want nothing more than for me to pass judgment on you, and to do so favorably. but you have to understand, once we cross that line, it may not in the long run work out in your favor. one is always reevaluating. while I certainly think the best of you right now, this is only our first meeting.

lance: what are you saying tony?

tony: [keen and assertive] only this: I don't think our friendship is going to last the night. I think you will find that my offer of friendship is of no use to you, given my intentions, and you'll be on your way, lost, at least to these eyes, in the bright lights of tinseltown.

lance: this is what I'm hearing...[deep in thought, finally declares] okay, it's like this: that you, tony, do not think that I, lance armstrong, have the...the...the lung capacity, as it were, to make use of the vast cavity of friendship you can offer me...and...

tony: and in your shame, you will desert me.

lance: [ashamed] I see.

tony: [with an air of detached wisdom, speaks as he gets down from table, not looking at Lance] they say that in the desert the wind blows in all four directions, doing exactly as it pleases, but don't believe them, lance armstrong, [stops on his way off stage and looks at Lance; this next part should become more passionate and animated, large gestures] in the desert the wind is driven to and fro by the wretched heat; it is only fire that does just what it pleases; it is the wind that howls, hopeless and forlorn, empty, chased through the night, with no refuge...

[long pause, they hold their positions]

lance: [with total and complete bitterness, almost a bark] well fuck you, tony hawk

tony: [with an air of superiority and composure] no, lance armstrong, I think it is fuck you


[blackout, during which a voice-over, as of a radio sports announcer, doing a play-by-play, in French, of the tour de france (this can be heavily accented nonsense-French, or it can be authentic) and/or with intermittent large sports crowd applause and cheers]

[lights up; Tony is wearing board shorts and a bandanna tied around his head, no shirt; he is standing in an action stance on his skateboard; Lance is decked out in cycling gear (shorts, jersey, helmet, the more encumbered he is the betteröno sunglasses) and is mounted on his bicycle; Lance is not pedaling and Tony is not rolling, so these props should be stabilized in some way, particularly the bike, so that Lance can be seated on it and not have to support it himself with his foot; both are pantomiming their sport, Tony balancing, bending, ducking, grabbing the board, etc., and Lance intensely staring ahead, shifting (his torso only) side to side like a struggling cyclist, arms very tense on the handlebars; most importantly, Tony is free and happy, big smile, very animated, and Lance is absolutely miserable, deep frown, frustration, maybe even tears; complete silence as this goes on for exactly thirty seconds; then, cut all lights to black and cue music]

music (loud): If it makes you happy... (Sheryl Crow) [track 2, 30-60 seconds, as you please]

     (written for and performed at the 24-hour Plays Festival,
     Marfa, Texas, Arts Festival, summer 2004)