Excerpt from Zebra

The following excerpt is from early on in the play when Kenn's best friend, Peter Hawes, offers his views on Kenn Zeller and gay life:


(facing audience)

You know, Kenn Zeller was a nice guy. In fact, he was the best friend a man could have -- even a gay man. But he just didn't know how to party, as the boys in the back room would say. Gay life was not his element. He was one of those guys who got everything wrong that really counts in life. He had the worst taste in clothing, in music, in home furnishings ...

(looks over at Kenneth)

In hair styles. Culturally speaking, he was a walking disaster. And as a gay man that is absolutely the worst. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not a suburbs-basher. But we all know it's easier to get away with bad taste when you live in the middle of it.


Picture this: you're doing some emergency shopping at Honest Ed's, clutching your basket of five-for-a- dollar kitchen utensils and pink plastic sink scrubbers and those cheap little tea cups with the gold ring around the edge that don't even cause a spark in the microwave when suddenly...!

(the Arch Rival walks nonchalantly across stage toward Peter)

... you spot her coming towards you one-hundred-and-eighty degrees north- -north-west. Your arch rival!

(Peter and the Arch Rival eye each other)

She looks at you. You look at her. And you want to die of shame! You almost drop your forbidden basket of contrabande on some poor immigrant woman's foot. Of all places to be caught alive! Your reputation is lying crushed and broken on Ed's kitsch tile floor.


When suddenly, it dawns on you. How can she laugh at you when she's in there, too?

(Peter snaps the Arch Rival out of sight)

It's kill or be killed. That's why gay life is always on the cutting edge. You can't slip up for a moment or you are dead. Passť. Out. Over. The victim of social decline.

But in suburbia it's a whole new ball game. Have you ever made that horrible mistake of closing your eyes on the subway and woken up to find you'd missed your stop? You look up and there it is: SUBURBIA. An absolute wasteland. Total cultural decline. Nose bleed time. Don't get me wrong. There's nothing wrong with it. It's just ... different. But if you've ever had an inkling of what the big picture is all about, you know it's not suburbia. Land of bad perms and ugly ski-jackets. But where else can all those cute, balding men with pot- bellies go?


It's like when your mother sends you a snapshot of you and all your brothers and sisters when you were young and you think, "What's wrong with this picture?" Well, darling, what's wrong with it is that you're in it. Kenn was one of those people who never figured out what was wrong with the picture -- so he stayed in it. Though I tried, God help me, I tried.

© Jeffrey Round 1992


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