The Linguist (Scene 7)

For reference, see character thumbnails.

[Nell’s childhood bedroom; night; NELL is pacing and mumbling agitatedly; she hears a knock at her door; she goes to answer it]

NELL:     [disbelieving]     William Farris is knocking. Now he’s in my room.

[WILL starts to come in but NELL makes to send him out]

WILL:     C’mon, Nell, don’t be like that. I just wanna talk.

NELL:     [pointing at a childishly written sign] No boys allowed.

WILL:     And whose rule is that? Yours? Or your mother’s?

NELL:     It does not matter. Rules are rules.

WILL:     Well, I’d hardly say I’m a ‘boy’ so I think we can bend this one.

[NELL, a devout rule follower, is stumped by this]

NELL:     Okay…what do you want to talk about?

WILL:     Well, for starters, how come we never got together? Back in high school.

NELL:     [goes to sit on the bed, avoiding the question]     You were already dating someone.

WILL:     [sitting on the edge of the bed in kind]     Who, Reese? We only dated for two months. In sophomore year.

[meanwhile, the pair begin to play cat and mouse as NELL moves farther back onto the bed in increments and WILL moves closer to her each time]

NELL:     She is my sister and the social convention clearly states that one does not under any circumstances date a friend’s ex-boyfriend. Especially when that friend is family. I believe the proverbial saying is ‘Blood runs thicker than water,’ correct?

WILL:     [smiling]     So is that all it was then?     [no answer]     ‘Cause you were always at the games.

NELL:     My mother told me I needed to support Reese.

WILL:     You were always reading.

NELL:     Cheerleading never held much allure for me, though I am told it has a certain uplifting effect on the football players. Hence how it derived—     [WILL listens attentively]     —from the Old French “chiere,” which means “face,” connoting expression or mood and later specifically a good mood…     [beat]     I apologize. I know it’s rude to bore others with etymologies.

WILL:     I like the way your forehead knits together when you’re remembering all that stuff.

NELL:     It’s not necessarily remembering, but knowing the root words.

WILL:     And other languages.

NELL:     It is easier to learn new languages once you break the barrier of your first.

WILL:     English must seem very boring.

NELL:     There are many emotions only German can express. The rest are so limited.

WILL:     Huh. I thought Germans were a grouchy sort.

NELL:     I don’t know about the people, just the language. That seems to always be my problem.

WILL:     [changing the subject]     Yeah, you never did notice the totally sick backflips I did in the end-zone.

NELL:     I always thought that was ill advised. You could have very easily hurt yourself.

WILL:     Guess it was worth it if I got you worrying though, wasn’t it?     [beat]     You know, I’ve learned a few new words since the infamous eighth grade spelling bee. Like the German “schadenfreude,” which I believe you experienced that day.

NELL:     You misspelled macaroni.

WILL:     Mac ‘n cheese was the first thing that came to mind! In my defense, I was very hungry.

NELL:     You were always hungry.

WILL:     I’m hungry now. Starving, actually.

NELL:     Oh, well if you would like I can go down to the kitchen and—

[he cuts her off with a kiss]

WILL:     That’s not really what I meant. Forgive my euphemism.

NELL:     I see. Will, this really is not appropriate. The social convention clearly dictates—

WILL:     Voulez vous coucher avec moi ce soir?

NELL:     [startled]     You speak French? C’est magnifique! Ca fait tellement longtemps! Je ne l’ai pas dit depuis des années, mais je suis heureux d’avoir trouvé quelqu’un à qui parler!     [translates to: “That’s wonderful! It’s been so long! I have not spoken it for years, but I’m glad I found someone to talk to!”]

WILL:     [sheepish]     Actually, I learned that from the Lady Marmalade song.

NELL:     Oh. Like the jam?

WILL:     I jam out to it, yeah.     [beat]     I still want an answer.

[NELL is torn]

WILL:     Here’s a word I know that you might not…

[WILL whispers something in her ear; NELL kisses him; the lights fade]

—End Scene—

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