Friday, March 17, 2017

sixtynothing Episode 22 The Springs




FADE IN

HELEN IS PACKING ITEMS FROM HER KITCHEN INTO A BOX AND TALKING ON THE PHONE.  IAN SITS READING WITH MARVIN THE CAT ON HIS LAP.

HELEN
Yes Mandy.  I understand that you take care of all the doctor's billings.  I don't want to give you a hard time.  Really,  I just want to have a word with him.  I'm not usurping your authority or anything. Really. I just have a couple of questions.  Tell him that this crazy woman from California is making you insane and is being relentless to get him to call me.  Thanks so much.  You're a doll.

HELEN HANGS UP THE PHONE

HELEN
Sanctimonious twat...

IAN
Given our current financial stresses, maybe this trip to Palm Springs isn't the greatest idea.

HELEN
Marion's treating us all to the rental house. And we're cooking all of our meals at the house. 

IAN
You mean, YOU'LL be cooking all the meals.

HELEN
Don't mind.  I can stay on my diet that way. They're all having massages but I'll make some excuse to get out of it.  I won't say we can't afford it, I'll just say I don't want it.  Admitting I'm broke seems just as vulgar as bragging about being rich. 

IAN
No Irish "poor face" eh?

HELEN
Nope.   Don't talk about our bed or our bank account.  Though neither get a lot of action. You'll eat well at least. All of your meals are packed in Tupperware and labelled with heating instructions.  And don't throw out the vegetables.  And if you feed them to Fido she'll just fart all night.

IAN
I'll be a good boy.  But I don't get it about this girl's weekend thing.  I thought the point of it is to have a break from your respective partners so I don't see why both Barbara and Elena get to go.

HELEN
They're girls.

IAN
But they're a couple.

HELEN
You despise Palm Springs.

IAN
Loathe it.  But I don't see why lesbians get preferential treatment.  Theoretically.

HELEN
Do you really want to have this conversation?

IAN
Not particularly.  But you have to admit that I have a point.

HELEN
Yeah, a pointed head.

INEZ ENTERS

INEZ
Hi Ian.  Did she get all your food ready?

IAN
Yes.  Vegetables even.

INEZ
Are you almost ready Helen?  The traffic is starting to get heavy.

HELEN
Yeah.  Got my knives and all the kitchen stuff here.  I just have to grab my overnight bag from upstairs.

SFX-HELEN'S PHONE RINGS AND SHE CHECKS THE CALLER

HELEN
I gotta take this.

SHE ANSWERS PHONE

HELEN
Hi Doctor Morris.  Thanks for calling back. I really appreciate it.  My daughter Emma had surgery at Saratoga last month and I just got your bill.  It seems that you're not a preferred provider for United Healthcare....Yes, I understand that.  Look, my daughter was sick and scared.  They told her the hospital accepted our insurance and she signed away.  She didn't realize that they'd bring in an anesthesiologist who isn't on our plan.   Yes, I see.  I totally understand. Of course we're liable. Well, it seems that there's another anesthesiology practice, I think they're even in the same building as you, that is a preferred provider.  But you can't expect a terrified 21 year old who's in agonizing pain to do that kind of research.  They told her that she was covered and she believed it.  Yes, I totally get it.  Look, if you'd been preferred provider United Health would have paid you $1900.  Now they're just covering 60% so we're getting billed for $1000 plus the hundred dollar co-payment.  Yes, I understand that you don't have a relationship with United Health.  Yes, I see.  And based on my own experience I totally understand why you want nothing to do with them...Horrible company. I was just hoping we could get a little bit of a break.  United is covering $1800.  I was thinking maybe we could just let us pay the extra hundred United would have paid plus the co-payment.  Sure, I understand.  We're just in a little bit of a bind with this surprise bill.  Oh, Dr. Morris.  I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. I'll mail a check right away so you won't have credit card fees.  And tell Mandy that I'm sorry that I was such a pest. Yes, you have a nice weekend too.  Yeah, it's very sunny here.  I know you've been snowed in.  I sure hope it warms up for you.  Thanks again.  Bye.

INEZ
Helen is in the wrong business.  You should start a service called "Rent a Jew."

HELEN
Oh, stop it.  Can you imagine a less educated person navigating health insurance?  Probably put two grand on a credit card and then end up paying eight thousand in interest. Or declaring bankruptcy or some shit.

INEZ
Like I said, "Rent a Jew."

HELEN
Like Bernie said, single payer healthcare...

INEZ
Like I said, let the Jews handle everything.

CUT TO

HELEN, INEZ AND MARION PULL UP IN THE DRIVEWAY OF A BEAUTIFULLY MAINTAINED MID-CENTURY HOME.   A BRAND NEW MERCEDES IS PARKED IN THE DRIVEWAY.

CUT TO
THE WOMEN ENTER THE HOUSE.

HELEN
Yo hoo!

ELENA COMES FROM ONE OF THE BEDROOMS

INEZ
Gorgeous new wheels!

ELENA (sourly)
Yeah,  Barb came home with it today.  A surprise impulse buy.  

MARION
We're down at the spa for massages at four. Helen, are you sure you don't want to?

HELEN
Yeah.  Totally sure.  I'm gonna go see that painting I like at the museum.  It's free admission day.  And then I'll go to Jensen's and pick up a few things for dinner.

INEZ
Oh, I think they have that Margarita Zinfandel I love there.  Pick up a half a dozen bottles.

MARION
Oh, And get a white too. Like a Sancerre.  Maison Delaporte is good if they have it. You know, they discount on a case.  We can take what we don't drink home.

HELEN
Ok.  What do you guys feel like eating?  I brought some herbs and vegetables but no protein.

ELENA
Steaks?

INEZ
Yeah, let's have steak one night.  And you know Helen makes this amazing shrimp with mushrooms and chilies. We can have that tomorrow night.  And I brought some very special chocolate truffles so everything will taste super delicious.

MARION
Gosh, I haven't gotten high in decades.  But it's legal now so what the hell?

CUT TO
HELEN STANDS AT THE MUSEUM LOOKING A PHOTOREALIST PAINTING OF TWO WOMEN DRINKING COCKTAILS BESIDES A POOL.

CUT TO
HELEN PUSHES A SHOPPING CART.  SHE SELECTS MUSHROOMS, WEIGHS THEM AND WINCES AT A SIGN THAT SAYS $8.99 A POUND.  

CUT TO
HELEN STANDS AT THE CHECKOUT LINE WATCHING THE PRICES SCAN.  STEAK $65
SHRIMP $50, BOTTLES OF WINE AT $32.  HELEN RUMMAGES IN HER WALLET TRYING TO DECIDE WHAT CREDIT CARD TO PAY WITH.

CUT TO
INEZ AND MARION SIT ON STOOLS AT THE KITCHEN COUNTER DRINKING WINE. HELEN, IN HER APRON, CHOPS ONIONS.

INEZ
Helen, are you sure you don't want one of these truffles?  They're so good.

HELEN
Yeah,  I'm sure.

MARION
And you're not drinking?

HELEN
Nope.  I'm trying to get back into my decent clothes before Emmy's graduation.

SFX-BARB AND ELENA ARE HEARD ARGUING FROM THEIR BEDROOM

ELENA
I cannot fucking believe you didn't ask me.

BARB
I thought you'd be happy.  It's so beautiful. You said you were sick of driving a stereotypical Subaru.

ELENA
Which did not mean buying a fifty thousand dollar automobile without asking me.

BARB
It was my money.

ELENA
We're married now. Remember?  It's OUR money. And I don't like fancy cars.  I thought you knew that.

BARB
I thought you deserved it.  I thought you'd be happy.

CUT TO ALL OF THE WOMEN SEATED AROUND DINING TABLE LADEN WITH DELICIOUS FOOD THAT HELEN'S PREPARED.  HELEN NIBBLES ON A SMALL SALAD. BARB AND ELENA GLOWER AT EACH OTHER.

MARION
Gee.  I don't feel anything at all from that truffle yet.  Nezzy, maybe I should have another.  

INEZ
Sometimes they catch up with you but go ahead.  You don't have anywhere to go for forty eight hours.


CUT TO
THE FIVE WOMEN STAND AND WATCH A DESERT SUNSET.

CUT TO
THE WOMEN PLAY SCRABLE

CUT TO
THE WOMEN PASS AROUND A GALLON OF ICE CREAM AND A LARGE SPOON.  HELEN EATS A PEAR

CUT TO
INEZ, MARION, AND HELEN SOAK IN THE JACUZZI. INEZ AND MARION ARE NAKED. HELEN WEARS AN OLD LADY BATHING SUIT.  MARION IS VERY OBVIOUSLY IN AN ALTERED STATE  OF CONSCIOUSNESS.  BARB SITS AT ONE END OF THE YARD READING A MAGAZINE AND ELENA AT THE OTHER LOOKING AT HER PHONE.

MARION
Isn't it weird about toilets?

INEZ
What about them Marion?

MARION
Why can't we just pee and crap?   Dogs pee and crap.  All animals do.  It's a natural animal thing. We're animals. Isn't it weird that we have to find a toilet?

HELEN
You shouldn't have let her eat that second truffle.

INEZ
Do you need to pee Marion?

MARION
Maybe I do.

INEZ (to HELEN)
Let's help her.

MARION
So you expect me to use the toilet?  I don't see why we can't just pee when we have to pee.

HELEN
Marion, please don't pee in the Jacuzzi.

CUT TO
INEZ IS IN A KING SIZE BED.  HELEN'S OPENS HER SUITCASE AND FINDS A FOLDED NOTE, OPENS IT AND READS.

HELEN
Ah.  Ian left me a little note.  He can be real sweet.

INEZ
What does it say?

HELEN
"I wish I were a lesbian."  Don't ask.

SFX PASSIONATE MOANS AND SIGHS FROM THE ROOM NEXT DOOR.

HELEN
Speaking of which...

INEZ
Make up sex.

HELEN STARTS MAKING SMOOCHING NOISES, JUMPS ON INEZ AND PINS HER DOWN.

HELEN (IN A MOCK SIMPERING VOICE)
Oh Nezy Nezy.  I love you so.  Let's never fight again.

INEZ
Get off of me you perv.

CUT TO
THE NEXT MORNING HELEN AND INEZ EXIT THE BEDROOM BLEARY EYED IN THEIR NIGHTGOWNS. THEY PASS THE PATIO DOOR.

HELEN
Oh shit!  Look!

MARION, FAST ASLEEP, LIES NAKED ON THE LAWN.

HELEN
You shouldn't have given her that second truffle.

INEZ
Should we wake her up?

HELEN
Nah.  She looks very peaceful.  I imagine it will be a while before she gets high again though. Can you imagine what the Enquirer would pay for a picture of that?

CUT TO
HELEN IS IN THE KITCHEN PACKING THINGS UP AND SIPPING FROM A CAN OF SLIMFAST.

CUT TO
INEZ, MARION, BARB AND ELENA ARE SITTING ON THE PATIO EATING THE ELABORATE BREAKFAST THAT HELEN HAS PREPARED


BARB
I really wish Helen would open another restaurant.

INEZ
She'd blow her brains out first.  By the way, we've gotta pay her back for the food.  I saw the Jensen's receipt.   It was almost four hundred dollars plus she brought a lot of stuff from home.

BARB
How much should we give her?  If it's too much I'm afraid she'll feel like a paid cook.

INEZ
I wouldn't worry about that.

ELENA
Well, Marion shouldn't have to chip in.  She paid for the house.

MARION
No, this is a gift.  Of course I'll pay my part for the food and booze.  But, Nezzy, do you have any more of those truffles?


CUT TO
IAN, MARVIN AND FIDO LIE ON THE BED WHILE HELEN UNPACKS

IAN
Were you in the kitchen the whole weekend?

HELEN
Not at all.  We had fun. Marion ate too many pot truffles and slept the night naked on the grass.  Boy, the tabloids would go crazy with that one. Could pay off our mortgage.

IAN
So, other than potentially sabotaging your good friend's career, what did you do?

HELEN
We went for walks.  I won three Scrabble games.  We Jacuzzied.

HELEN FINDS AN ENVELOPE WITH HER NAME ON IT IN HER SUITCASE.  SHE OPENS IT TO FIND A STACK OF BILLS.  SHE SMILES, RELIEVED.

IAN
I ate all my vegetables.

HELEN
If Fido starts farting I know you're a liar.

FADE OUT






Friday, March 10, 2017

sixtysomething Episode 21 Reparations

FADE IN
HELEN READS A MAGAZINE WHILE WAITING AT THE NAIL SALON FOR A MANICURE. MARION ELLIS, A STRIKINGLY BEAUTIFUL 60 SOMETHING AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN ENTERS.

MARION
Helen!

HELEN
Oh my God!

HELEN JUMPS UP AND THEY EMBRACE

MARION
I missed you and Nezzy so much. I've been so excited about our lunch tomorrow.

THEY SIT

HELEN
I'll bring those blackberry bars that you like.

MARION
If I could cook like you, I'd weigh three hundred pounds.

HELEN POINTS TO HER STOMACH

HELEN
Working on it.  I know that the first thing people notice when they haven't seen me for a while is that I've gained weight.  And then they lie about how great I look.

MARION
Well, you do look great.  I won't lie Baby. I can tell you're up a few pounds...

HELEN
Way more than a few.

MARION
Believe me, if I weren't in front of a camera I wouldn't give a rat's ass.  And your face looks lovely.  A few extra pounds have that advantage at our age at least.

HELEN
Well, I'm sort of back on the wagon.  Cutting down on sugar.  Walking now that it's not raining every day.

MARION
Good for you.  I know how hard it's been since you lost Pete.  Has it been a year?

HELEN
Almost eighteen months.

MARION
You know, I was thinking about him the other day.  I remember how you guys used to scream at each other.  It was so unbridled.  And all of your inside jokes.  They way the two of you could laugh. You could just so seamlessly be yourselves. Such a great friendship. 

HELEN STARTS TO TEAR UP.  MARION PUTS HER ARM AROUND HER.

MARION
Oh Jesus Helen.  I made you cry.  I'm so sorry.

HELEN
No it's fine.  Once in a while I realize I've gone a whole day, or even two, without thinking about him.  And then I feel remarkably guilty.  Like I'm disrespecting his memory.  

MARION
He wouldn't want you to keep grieving.

HELEN
Oh, yeah.  He would.  

HELEN EXAMINES MARION'S FACE

HELEN
You've had work!

HELEN PULLS BACK MARION'S EAR TO LOOK FOR SCARS

MARION
Yeah.  But not that.  You know, cutting isn't that great for black girls.  Keloids. There's this amazing dermatologist in Manhattan.  Had a bit of Thermage.  Some micro lippo.  A tad of fat transfer.  A couple peels. Sort of painful and gross but not too rad.

HELEN
Gorgeous.  You know, ten years ago, if I'd had any extra dough, I wouldn't have hesitated a minute.  Now I couldn't care less.  When does the show start up again? You must be exhausted.

MARION
I go for some costume fittings next week but the first table read isn't until April. I'm gonna finish the Elena Ferrante books and binge watch HBO.  And of course, hang with you and Nezzy.

HELEN
Yeah.  Nezzy can tell you all about her boyfriend.

MARION
Is she still seeing that guy she met in Indiana?

HELEN
Yup.  He was here for New Years and he's coming for spring break in two weeks.  She's being a real bitch about letting me meet him. I promised to be on good behavior but she doesn't trust me.

MARION
Gosh.  I wonder why...

HELEN
I'm so misunderstood.  Was the show fun? How's Cillian Murphy?  He seems so intense.

MARION
I love him.  Couldn't be nicer.  Wonderful to work with.  But it's been twenty years since I've done a show.  I don't have the stamina I used to.  When I did Rent back in the 90s I went out every night after the show.  I had a blast.  Now, I'd fall asleep the minute I sat down in the Uber. Matinee days were just killer. 

HELEN
The review in the New Yorker was astounding. They said your Lady Macbeth was "remarkably nuanced." I wish I'd seen it. I saw the photo spread in Vanity Fair.  The sets and costumes were exquisite.  Just a tiny hint of Trump Tower.  Subtle and not over the top.  

MARION
Yeah, they did some tiny tweaks after the election.  

A YOUNG WOMAN APPROACHES MARION.

YOUNG WOMAN
Excuse me Ms. Ellis.  I hate to bother you but my Grandma loves Beltway.  Could I please take a we-fie.

MARION (RISING)
Of course dear.

MARION MOVES CLOSE TO THE GIRL WHO HOLDS HER PHONE UP TO SNAP A WE-FIE.

YOUNG WOMAN
Thanks so much.  Granny will be so excited.

THE GIRL EXITS AND MARION SITS.

HELEN (SARCASTICALLY)
Oh...Granny will be SO thrilled.

MARION
And you wonder why Nezzy won't let you meet her beau?

A MANICURIST APPROACHES THE SOFA

MANICURIST
Ms. Ellis, Sally's ready for your mani pedi.

MARION
Can Helen sit next to me?

HELEN
Nah.  I'm just having a mani.  I'm gonna be in the cheap seats on the other side but we'll see you manana.

THE HUG AND KISS.  MARION EXITS WITH MANICURIST.  HELEN RETURNS TO HER MAGAZINE.  

CUT TO
HELEN SITS ACROSS FROM NICKY, HER MANICURIST, WHO FILES HER NAILS.

NICKY
Your nails don't look bad at all.

HELEN
Work's slow so I'm not messing 'em up too much.

NICKY
Are you friends with Marion Ellis?

HELEN
Oh yeah.  For ages.  Her boy Alex was in nursery school with Hannah.  They're still great friends.  He's a spectacular kid.  He's in Oxford England now, a Rhodes Scholar. It's like the most prestigious scholarship there is.  He graduated from Yale.  Got a free ride.

NICKY
You mean he didn't have to pay anything for college?

HELEN
Yep.

NICKY
But isn't she rich?

HELEN
Oh for sure.  Beltway has gone into syndication so I'm sure she's getting va-va-voom checks.  Plus, Dave, her husband produces the show and about a dozen others.

NICKY
Then why should he get free college?

HELEN
Well, he's extremely smart and worked really hard in high school.  And he's African American.

NICKY
Don't your girls owe a ton of money for college?

HELEN
Oh yeah.  So do Ian and I.  We had to take out some chunky loans.

NICKY
That doesn't seem fair.

HELEN
A lot of people feel that way Nicky, but I get it. If wealth were distributed more fairly in this country every kid would get free college.  I hope it's that way by the time your Jack starts college.   I was reading this article that scientists have discovered that trauma can be passed through generations though DNA.  I probably inherited trauma from the Russian pogroms and The Holocaust.  I'm sure you've got some Vietnam War stuff etched on your being.  

NICKY
So we should get scholarships too.

HELEN
The thing is Nicky, your people and my people for sure suffered but the big diff is that our ancestors made the choice to come to America.  Most of the African Americans in the U.S. are descended from slaves.  No choice. Every once in a while there's talk about making financial reparations for slavery but I don't think it's a money thing. I think it's OK for us to make psychic reparations whenever we can.  And as far as Marion goes, even if that weren't the case she totally deserves everything on a silver platter.  

NICKY (APPLYING POLISH THE HELEN'S NAILS)
I'm gonna do this deep lilac for you today. It's nice for spring.

HELEN
You know best.  Have you seen Marion's show? Beltway?

NICKY
Yeah, I watched it a couple of times.  She's a senator.

HELEN
She started out as a model.  She was one of the first black models in Playboy magazine.

NICKY
Nude you mean?

HELEN
Yeah.  She was a knockout.  But her bible thumper family wasn't real down with it. She went through a lot of crap.  Then she started getting little acting parts.  Before she landed Beltway she did a little Broadway but mainly worked for years doing maids and crack 'ho's.  She just did a Shakespeare play on Broadway. Macbeth.  Do you know Shakespeare?

NICKY
Romeo and Juliet.  Leonardo DiCaprio.  

HELEN
Macbeth is perfect for these times. All about treachery.  Marion played Lady Macbeth.  She eggs her husband on to murder the king in a big power grab. But unlike now, she's finally stricken by her conscious and ends up committing suicide. Fabulous part and her reviews were just great.  

NICKY
Yeah.  I don't think Trump is ever gonna feel sorry.

HELEN
But he didn't expect to be president and I don't think he's gonna stand up to scrutiny. That'll make him sorry. I read something this week about his hotel in Azerbaijan. Very nasty business.  I imagine that he won't last and I'm looking forward to watching the rats desert the sinking ship.  

NICKY
You know a lot of the Vietnamese love Trump. Even my parents think he's OK.  We just don't talk about him.

HELEN
I assume that you and Stephen didn't vote for him.

NICKY
Nah.  Of course not.

HELEN
How's Jack?

NICKY
Oh, he's a pain in the butt.  But I drive home in traffic every day.  I'm tired and in a bad mood usually.  I walk in the door and he runs and hugs me and nothing else matters. It's what I look forward to all day.

HELEN
God, I miss that.

NICKY
How are the girls?

HELEN
I had to go to New York a couple of weeks ago.  Emma's had an emergency appendectomy. She's fine now.  Finishing her thesis so she can graduate in May.

NICKY
Is she still with the bad boyfriend?

HELEN
You know Nic, he's OK.  He was going through a hard time when I first met him but I see how good he is for Em.  He's not as squishy as George, but I think that they're well matched.

NICKY
What's she gonna do after she graduates?

HELEN
Well, I've manipulated her to come back to L.A. and work for me, at least for the summer.

NICKY
Is she a good cook?

HELEN
Yeah, pretty good.  But I'm gonna have her do some social media stuff for me. I haven't done anything with Twitter or Facebook or Instagram.  I can't even take a food picture that's in focus.  I know that's why business is slow. But I don't think Em will stay beyond the summer.  Boyfriend's going to grad school in New York so it's likely she'll end up there. I guess I'm sort of getting used to the girls leaving, leaving, leaving.  

NICKY
You have your husband.

HELEN
Yeah.  I dis him a lot but he's an incredible comfort, in his quiet, undemonstrative, pathologically rigid way. And you know Nic, he's never boring.

NICKY
Stephen and I just had our 5th anniversary.

HELEN
Congratulations.  He doesn't sound boring either. I know he's a good guy. You're lucky. It must be real hard to live with your wife's parents.

NICKY
He's so patient. But one good thing is that the neighbor bugged them to go to the San Gabriel senior center.  They have a free lunch there and all sorts of social stuff. I've been trying to get them to go forever but of course they ignore me.  Turns out that my parents love it.  They're actually meeting people.  They even went out for dinner with two other couples last weekend. And remember how my mom freaked out when I said we were gonna put Jack in nursery school?

HELEN
Yeah.  But you gotta do that to get him ready for kindergarten.

NICKY
For sure.  The other day my mom said that Jack was making her a little tired and that maybe he should go to school.

HELEN
Hallelujah!  But sometimes I'm real jealous of your culture where families stick together so tightly.  

NICKY
And I'm jealous of yours...where kids are free to have their own lives.

HELEN
I'm getting into the groove of appreciating my daughters from afar.  When my best friend and business partner died last year it was a real setback.  And then with the election, I completely fell apart. Roughest patch I'd had since my early twenties. 

NICKY
You seem good now.  Less sad.

HELEN
Less sad.  Yeah. I'm watching less CNN.  I walk every day.  Just me and Fido. It helps. It's so beautiful after the wet winter. There are poppies and lupine covering the hills. The loquats are ripening and the sky's been crystal blue.  It all looks fake almost. It's like the universe is offering a gift...

NICKY
Reparations?

HELEN
Exactly.