Water is a novel by Jeff Rosenplot
The battle of the sexes just got interesting


Ben Murphy was left at the altar after a tumultuous five-year relationship. Devastated and heartbroken, he put up an online ad calling himself The Transitional Man. He wanted a commitment-free love life. He never wanted to get hurt again.

And then he met Alice.

After catching her fiance in bed with her best friend, Alice King was looking for something anonymous to blow off the steam.

And then she met Ben.

Ben and Alice might fall in love—if they can stop hating each other first.

The Transitional Man is a romantic stage comedy in two acts. For performance rights and information, send me an email at jeff@jeffrosenplot.com.

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ACT ONE, SCENE FOUR
"THE PHASES"


OPEN on park bench. ARTIE and BEN are sitting. BEN feeds pigeons from a brown paper bag.

ARTIE
So?

BEN
So what?

ARTIE
So how am I going to live vicariously through you if you don’t vicary?

BEN
It’s fine.

ARTIE
Fine is a grind of coffee. Look, if you’ve had, uh, “problems”, it’s ok. Happens to most guys once in a—

BEN
Not the case.

ARTIE
Last count was, what, twelve, thirteen?

BEN
Fifteen, but I’m not counting. And yeah, it’s everything a boy could dream.

ARTIE
So why no happy dance?

BEN
I’m talking to these women, gorgeous women, smart women, who should be confident and poised and instead they’re vacant and desperate.

ARTIE
Oh my God, you actually are listening to them. What part of the transitional man thing was unclear to you?

BEN
I know what I’m there to do. And I’ve got to admit, skipping phase one is a big time saver.

ARTIE
Phase one?

BEN
Romance. The dance. We both know what’s going to happen, the reason we’re there. There is no more dance. I’ve even started skipping the drinks and dinner.

ARTIE
Consolidating, sure.

BEN
But all I can think about is how damn sorry I am for them. And how angry I am at them for putting up with all that shit, and all the shit they do in return. Love makes you crazy. Absolutely shit-bonkers.

ARTIE
But you’re still boinking them?

BEN
Jesus, Artie, you’re not listening to a word I’m—

ARTIE
Yeah, Benny, I am. I’m listening to every goddam thing you say. And I’ve got to tell you, I’m a little disgusted. C’mon, you’ve got at best three people in the world who are going to give you the straight shit. And usually only one of those people actually likes you. I’m that person.

BEN
I’m listening.

ARTIE
When Carrie left you, you closed the door on feeling any emotional attachment. So you boycotted the first stage. Phase one, that’s what you called it? Well, phase two has replaced phase one as the starting point. Phase two—the forbidden land of steamy pig sex. But you, like a schmuck, aren’t satisfied with that. You don’t know where to go next. Because phase three is certainly not an option.

BEN
Phase three?

ARTIE
The relationship. You say you don’t want it. But it’s like the shining city on a hill. You see it like a mirage. Spend enough time wandering the desert, the relationship starts to look pretty refreshing.

BEN
I don’t want another relationship.

ARTIE
Of course you do. We all do. No matter how badly you’ve been hurt, no matter how damaged she is. You take a look over those ivy-covered walls and you see all these couples. The men are all dressed in khakis—women feel less threatened by khakis, I guess we’re less likely to run off if we look like we’re on safari—and there’s usually a polo shirt or some sort of ridiculous Cosby sweater involved. They’re in uniform. And all women recognize that. It’s like animals pissing on something to mark their territory. Only instead of piss it’s khakis and Cosby sweaters.

BEN
That’s phase three?

ARTIE
That’s only the beginning. The darker side is sex. Or, to be more specific, no sex. Oh, sure, phase three starts out with great sex. Incredible, National Geographic savannah sex. In the kitchen, in the bathroom, twice in her mother’s guest bedroom. But slowly she starts to wean you. You don’t notice it at first. It seems innocent enough. Headaches, periods, she’s bloated, she had a rough day. And then you start to notice that it’s been a week, maybe even two weeks. When you bring it up you’re some sort of sex pervert. That’s when the worst part of phase three happens.

BEN
Which is?

ARTIE
The sex schedule. You have to schedule time to screw. What used to be natural and spontaneous turns into something you program into your iPhone. The same as garbage day. Garbage day and sex day. God forbid they fall on the same day. Then you’re overscheduled.

BEN
Think you might be overplaying it a bit?

ARTIE
I’m only telling you what you told me. And Benny, none of this is the worst part. We accept it. Without a fight. We just roll over and play dead. Game over. Once a week schedule becomes the norm. Oh, sure, maybe we toss off in the shower sometimes, but full-on donkey-lovin’? Benny, it just doesn’t happen. Scheduled sex is like taking the train into work. When you take the same train all the time, you get to know the bounce in the track. Scheduled sex is the same sex, over and over again. Like the movie Groundhog Day. After a while, it becomes invisible.

BEN
You’re out of your mind.

ARTIE
Bill Fitzsimmons. Remember him?

BEN
Lived upstairs, right?

ARTIE
We used to hang out. He perfected phase two. Until you and your shenanigans, I thought Fitzy was the model. But a year ago he quietly slipped into phase three. Totally out of the blue. No consultation whatsoever. I passed a Pottery Barn and there he was—polo shirt and khakis, holding hands with this chick and nodding as she pointed at things like he actually gave a shit. You know they hold your hand because they can’t hold your balls. But it’s the same thing. So I met him for lunch and I said, “Fitzy, what in the name of sweet James Brown are you doing?” And he said, “I’m a guy who fell in love.” Just like that. Like he actually believed it.

BEN
Isn’t that the point of phase one and two? I mean, isn’t phase three the inevitable waste product?

ARTIE
That’s propaganda. I think Hallmark and Lifetime are behind it.

BEN
Total honesty now. You wouldn’t give it all up to have what Bill Fitzsimmons has? What I thought I had?

ARTIE
Would you?

BEN
What exactly would I be giving up? An apartment that feels like I’m coming back after work release? Single guy grocery shopping?

ARTIE
Casual sex with women you never have to see again?

BEN
What if I want to see them again? Not all of them, because frankly I’m seeing a whole new species of batshit crazy out there. But what if I genuinely like their company? What if I wanted something more?

ARTIE
More?

BEN
Deeper.

ARTIE
You’re speaking English, but I still don’t—

BEN
What if all these “phases” are just our way of hiding?

ARTIE
From what?

BEN
The meaning. Jesus, Artie, hiding from life. Why do so many guys get into relationships? And why do they stay in them?

ARTIE
Honestly? It’s hard to get your name off a joint bank account.

BEN
I think we might be lying to ourselves so well that we’re missing the important part of a relationship. Scheduled sex aside, maybe it’s about more than that. No matter how badly we’ve been hurt.

FADE.
excerpt from the play "The Transitional Man" ©2015 Jeff Rosenplot
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