Jack & Jill
A Key Exchange

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I'll Take ManNOTtan

"Duke, huh? That's in North Carolina, right?" Mikey asks, following Barto down a street twinkling with the perennial ManNOTtan X-mas lights. "Madison said he would personally recommend me, isn't that amazing?" Barto says. Mikey asks if this means Barto will be breaking up with Audrey, since three months is a long time to spend apart. "In dog years, maybe, but as an actual human couple I think we would still recognize each other afterward, yes." There's just one problem with that reasoning, and it lies in the "actual human" part -- but if Barto has yet to learn that denial ain't just a river in Egypt, who am I to tell him to get some Tampax and get on with his life? Mikey and Barto browse at what may be the most unrealistic magazine stand ever cobbled together for a throwaway scene on a doomed teledrama. "Besides, maybe she'd go to North Carolina with me," Barto mumbles. "It's the summer, she's not doing a show right now . . . it'd be like a vacation for her." They walk off, taking their magazines without paying -- because in ManNOTtan, stores run on the honor system.

All of a sudden: Times Square. And I'm sure Randi Mayem Singer thinks s/he's trumped me and manimal with this sudden location turnabout. But to her I say this: the only people who actually go to Times Square are tourists fresh off the plane from L.A.. Undaunted by this fact, Ferret and Elispa stroll idly past the neon Virgin Records billboard in two of the most unflattering hats I have ever seen. "Everything's starting to fall into place," Ferret says. "What, does that surprise you?" Elispa asks, in her maroon cloche hat and walrus hide topcoat. Ferret explains that everything's been so hard for so long that she's grown to expect "that kind of grind." Yes, the grueling days of glorified aerobics and languid stretching must come to a close. Who's been paying Ferret's rent all this time anyway, the SPCA? "You detherve this, Audrey," Elispa exhorts. Ferret grimaces amiably in a navy blue watch cap that emphasizes the freakish tininess of her head. "Barto must be flipping out though," Elispa adds. "If you do get this, you'll probably be in L.A. for a few months. You're probably gonna be gone a lot." The Ferret waxes Stanislavskian, saying, "It's part of the job." She shrugs and bobbles her little pin head. "Maybe Barto can come with me to L.A. -- if I get the part," she says. "It'd be fun, he'd have a great time -- it'd be like a vacation!" Elispa evinces congratulatory joviality -- mixed with a certain cautionary reticence.

Jack pesters Jill about how good their recent bout of sex was, still dressed like an ambulatory feather duster. "You want me to grade it?" Jill scoffs. "Okay, sure: on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the best, what would you say?" she asks. Jill looks befuddled and Jack says, "Okay, fine. Would you say it was -- the best sex you could ever imagine having?" Jill asks what's going on, and she says something to the effect that she wants to up her averages. "Because you want to do this professionally someday?" Jill asks. Jack alludes to great sex Jill might hypothetically have had before her. "Leave Barto out of this!" Jill says. Or maybe he said, "What's that supposed to mean?" -- I was putting the final touches on the noose at the time. "It means who the hell was Becky and what did she do to make you feel so much more friggin' free than you ever were before?" She executes several 360-degree circuits with her eyes during the utterance of the words "friggin' free." One thing leads to another and she admits that she "skimmed" his journal while looking for a pen. "I snooped," Jack simpers, trotting out the ever-popular baby whisper in recognition of the magnitude of her crime. "I didn't mean to," she says, as Jill drags his scrawny torso out of bed and starts preparing to retreat to the Bachelor Barn. "So this is what you do with my key?" he whines. "I tried not to," she says and he says snidely, "At least you tried." "It was only for a second!" she protests. "You went through my stuff, Jack." "I was out of line," she admits, and they trade more scintillating dialogue until he storms out. "Does this mean I don't make you feel free?" Jack screeches as the door closes behind him.

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Jack & Jill

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