Nothing But the Truth: Scene 3

Scene 3 


MARILYN

I was reading through your intake questionnaire and I see you’re looking for a therapist with maternal qualities. Can you tell me about that, Rachel?

RACHEL

Well, yes; ones I missed out on.

MARILYN

What kinds of attributes?

RACHEL

Someone who understands me and…notices when I enter the room. A mother figure, I guess.

MARILYN

(placating) So how many mothers did you interview before me?

RACHEL

A few.

MARILYN

They didn’t make the grade?

RACHEL

Well, there was a therapist in Brooklyn who seemed hopeful, but then she said “so, you wannatellmeaboudit.” And there was a doctor on the west side, but I rode my bike there in the rain and she was all worried I’d stain her couch. (prattling) What’s the etiquette of returning a damp pink bath towel to your shrink at the end of a session that’s wet with muddy water from your butt? I would have offered to wash it but since I never wanted to see her again it seemed like too much of a commitment so…

MARILYN

Sounds like maybe there’s no perfect therapist out there? (beat) Tell me three things about your mom. (Rachel is at a loss.) Maybe something you loved doing together as a kid?

RACHEL

We used to play charades for hours on Saturday afternoons. It’s so ironic…

MARILYN

Why is that?

RACHEL

We understood each other best when we weren’t speaking. I think I would have had a happier childhood if we communicated by semaphore (mimics moving the flags).

MARILYN

What’s your earliest memory of your mother?

RACHEL

Hmmm…calling her upstairs to see this huge poop I made in our pink toilet.

MARILYN

How old were you?

RACHEL

Seventeen.  (laughter) Maybe four.

MARILYN

Well, Freud did say that a poop in the potty is a child’s first praiseworthy gift.

RACHEL

It’s probably the only one I ever gave her.  I remember being so proud and she was so…distant.

MARILYN

How did that make you feel?

RACHEL

Lonely. I remember once, I was maybe five, I picked my nose and it started bleeding. I went to her and she just glared and said, “you did it to yourself.” Instead of hugs she gave us a slap on the back, like a gym teacher.

MARILYN

What was your father like? Was he more affectionate?

RACHEL

(sardonically) You could put it that way.

MARILYN

Can you say more about that? (a weighted silence) Do you have any other fond memories of your mother?

RACHEL

I remember her taking me to the voting booth with her. That made me feel special… once every four years. What I recall most was her cancer.

MARILYN

Tell me about her illness.

RACHEL

We had to keep it a secret. We weren’t allowed to even tell my grandparents. My Jewish mother is wearing a bandana to hide her bald spots, and what do they think, she’s joined the rodeo? You have such beautiful hair.

MARILYN

So how did you feel about taking care of your hair while your mother lost hers?

RACHEL

That’s an interesting question. Actually I didn’t feel anything. I’ve had an ache for a different mother as long as I can remember. Does it…smell like nail polish in here? It reminds me of that antiseptic odor in the cancer ward.

MARILYN

I’m sorry, Rachel, I guess it does. Is it bothering you? I’ll crack the window.

RACHEL

No, I’ll live. But if I start hallucinating, it’s from the fumes, so don’t cart me off to the looney bin.

MARILYN

I don’t think you have to worry about that…do you? So, how would you feel if I was doing my nails in here?

RACHEL

It’s…strange. I mean, a patient’s sitting here sobbing, and then in the ten minutes between sessions you’re doing a manicure. If you’ve got a free hour, do you do a bikini wax?

MARILYN

Sounds like you don’t want to know that I’m a real person. That I paint my nails or shave my legs or deal with cancer like you do.

RACHEL

In a way you’re not. I mean, you’ll learn all of my secrets, and I don’t even know what your profile looks like.

MARILYN

Did you feel like your mother knew you growing up?

RACHEL

Only the parts she didn’t like. She used to berate me: “What’s wrong with you?” I had no friends; I was afraid of people. Actually, I was terrified of just about everything.

MARILYN

Like what?

RACHEL

Play dates, class trips, piano lessons; you name it. She always threatened to drop me off at this counseling center behind the library. I feared I’d end up reading Nancy Drew in a straightjacket in some hidden mental hospital inside the stacks.

MARILYN

During my graduate training I had an eight-year-old who came to a session with her psychotic older sister—she was glassy eyed, probably on Haldol, and the young girl got on her sister’s lap, picked up her arms and wrapped them right around herself. At what point did you give up asking for affection?

RACHEL

I didn’t. I just found a substitute mother instead.

MARILYN

What do you mean?

RACHEL

My math teacher in fifth grade, Jane. I used to stay after school doing my homework just to sit with her while she graded papers.

MARILYN

What was she like?

RACHEL

I remember the dimple in her left cheek and how her skirts were hemmed too tight. I knew where she was every second, passing me at the water fountain or behind my desk, and I felt this charge between us. She’d drive me home and I’d pretend I was her child. I wanted to hit every red light just to have an extra minute with her.

MARILYN

It sounds like she was really important to you.

RACHEL

After I switched schools, I kept my eyes peeled for her station wagon for years and I’d whirl around to see if it was her. My mother would bark at me: “What are you looking at?”  What could I say? The woman I wish you were? I still have that same ache for a mother now.

MARILYN

Can you describe it?

RACHEL

It’s a desperation, like hanging off the side of a cliff and clinging to Jane’s pant leg because I needed her to save me.

MARILYN

If we work together, I think you’ll be strong enough to save yourself.