Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Act One (Fun and Games)

Martha: (A little too loud...to cover) HI! Hi, there...c'mon in!

Honey and Nick: (ad lib) Hello, here we are...hi...etc.

George: (Very matter-of-factly) You must be our little guests.

Martha: Ha, ha, ha, Ha! Just ignore old sour-puss over there. C'mon in, kids...give your coats and stuff to sour-puss.

Nick: (Without expression) Well, now, perhaps we shouldn't have come...

Honey: Yes...it is late, and...

Martha: Late! Are you kidding? Throw your stuff down anywhere and c'mon in.

George: (Vaguely...walking away) Anywhere...furniture, floor... doesn't make any difference around this place.

Nick: (To Honey) I told you we shouldn't have come.

Martha: (Stentorian) I said c'mon in! Now c'mon!

Honey: (Giggling a little as she and Nick advance) Oh, dear.

George: (Imitating Honey's giggle) Hee, hee, hee, hee.

Martha: (Swinging on George) Look, muckmouth...you cut that out!

George: (Innocence and hurt) Martha! (To Honey and Nick) Martha's a devil with language; she really is.

Martha: Hey, kids...sit down.

Honey: (As she sits) Oh, isn't this lovely!

Nick: (Perfunctorily) Yes indeed...very handsome.

Martha: Well, thanks.

Nick: (Indicating the abstract painting) Who...who did the...?

Martha: That? Oh, that's by...

George: ...some Greek with a mustache Martha attacked one night in...

Honey: (To save the situation) Oh, ho, ho, ho, no.

Nick: It's got a...a....

George: A quiet intensity?

Nick: Well, no...a....

George: Oh. (Pause) Well, then, a certain noisy relaxed quality, maybe?

Nick: (Knows what George is doing, but stays grimly, cooly polite) No. What I meant was....

George: How about...uh...a quietly noisy relaxed intensity.

Honey: Dear! You're being joshed.

Nick: (Cold) I'm aware of that. (A brief, awkward silence)

George: (Truly) I am sorry. (Nick nods condescending forgiveness)

George: What it is, actually, is it's a pictorial representation of the order of Martha's mind.

Martha: Ha, ha, ha, Ha! Make the kids a drink, George. What do you want, kids? What do you want to drink, hunh?

Nick: Honey? What would you like?

Honey: I don't know, dear...A little brandy, maybe. "Never mix-never worry." (She giggles)

George: Brandy? Just brandy? Simple, simple. (Moves to the portable bar) What about you...uh....

Nick: Bourbon on the rocks, if you don't mind.

George: (As he makes drinks) Mind? No, I don't mind. I don't think I mind. Martha? Rubbing alcohol for you?

Martha: Sure. "Never mix-never worry."

George: Martha's tastes in liquor have come down...simplified over the years...crystallized. Back when I was courting Martha-well, I don't know if that's exactly the right word for it-but back when I was courting Martha....

Martha: (Cheerfully) Screw, sweetie!

George: (Returning with Honey and Nick's drinks) At any rate, back when I was courting Martha, she'd order the damnedest things! You wouldn't believe it! We'd go into a bar...you know, a bar...a whiskey, beer and bourbon bar...and what she'd do would be, she'd screw up her face, think real hard, and come up with...brandy Alexanders, creme de cacao frappes, gimlets, flaming punch bowls...seven-layer liqueur things.

Martha: They were good...I liked them.

George: Real lady-like little drinkies.

Martha: Hey, where's my rubbing alcohol?

George: (Returning to the portable bar)

But the years have brought to Martha a sense of essentials...the knowledge that cream is for coffee, lime juice for pies...and alcohol (Brings Martha her drink) pure and simple...here you are, angel...for the pure and simple. (Raises his glass) For the mind's blind eye, the heart's ease, and the liver's craw. Down the hatch, all.

Martha: (To them all) Cheers, dears. (They all drink) You have a poetic nature, George...a Dylan Thomas-y quality that gets me right where I live.

George: Vulgar girl! With guests here!

Martha: Ha, ha, ha, Ha! (To Honey and Nick) Hey; hey! (Sings conducts with her drink in her hand. Honey joins in toward the end) Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf, Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf.... (Martha and Honey laugh; Nick smiles)

Honey: Oh, wasn't that funny? That was so funny....

Nick: (Snapping to)

Yes...yes, it was.

Martha: I thought I'd bust a gut; I really did....I really thought I'd bust a gut laughing. George didn't like it....George didn't think it was funny at all.

George: Lord, Martha, do we have to go through this again?

Martha: I'm trying to shame you into a sense of humor, angel, that's all.

George: (Over-patiently, to Honey and Nick) Martha didn't think I laughed loud enough. Martha thinks that unless...as she demurely puts it...that unless you "bust a gut" you aren't amused. You know? Unless you carry on like a hyena you aren't having any fun.

Honey: Well, I certainly had fun...it was a wonderful party.

Nick: (Attempting enthusiasm) Yes...it certainly was.

Honey: (To Martha) And your father! Oh! He is so marvelous!

Martha: (Genuinely proud) He's quite a guy, isn't he? Quite a guy.

George: And you'd better believe it!

Honey: (Admonishing George) Ohhhhhhhhh! He's a wonderful man.

George: I'm not trying to tear him down. He's a God, we all know that.

Martha: You lay off my father!

George: Yes, love. (To Nick) All I mean is...when you've had as many of these faculty parties as I have....

Nick: (Killing the attempted rapport) I rather appreciated it. I mean, aside from enjoying it, I appreciated it. You know, when you're new at a place.... (George eyes him suspiciously) Meeting everyone, getting introduced around...getting to know the men....when I was teaching in Kansas....

Honey: You won't believe it, but we had to make our way all by ourselves...isn't that right, dear?

Nick: Yes, it is....We....

Honey: ...We had to make our own way....I had to go up to wives...in the library, or at the supermarket...and say, "Hello, I'm new here...you must be Mrs. So-and-so, Doctor So-and-so's wife." It really wasn't very nice at all.

Martha: Well, Daddy knows how to run things.

Nick: (Not enough enthusiasm)

Martha: You bet your sweet life.

George: (To Nick...a confidence, but not whispered) Let me tell you a secret, baby. There are easier things in the world, if you happen to be teaching at a university, there are easier things than being married to the daughter of the president of that university. There are easier things in this world.

Martha: (Loud...to no one in particular) It should be an extraordinary opportunity...for some men it would be the chance of a lifetime!

George: (To Nick...a solemn wink) There are, believe me, easier things in this world.

Nick: Well, I can understand how it might make for some...awkwardness, perhaps...conceivably, but...

Martha: Some men would give their right arm for the chance!

George: (Quietly) Alas, Martha, in reality it works out that the sacrifice is usually of a somewhat more private portion of the anatomy.

Martha: (A snarl of dismissal and contempt) NYYYYAAAAHHHHH!

Honey: (Rising quickly) I wonder if you could show me where the...(Her voice trails off)

George: (To Martha, indicating Honey) Martha....

Nick: (To Honey) Are you all right?

Honey: Of course, dear. I want to...put some powder on my nose.

George: (As Martha is not getting up) Martha, won't you show her where we keep the...euphemism?

Martha: Hm? What? Oh! Sure! (Rises) I'm sorry, c'mon. I want to show you the house.

Honey: I think I'd like to....

Martha: ...wash up? Sure...c'mon with me. (Takes Honey by the arm. To the men) You two do some men talk for awhile.

Honey: (To Nick) We'll be back, dear.

Martha: (To George) Honestly, George, you burn me up!

George: (Happily) All right.

Martha: You really do, George.

George: O.K. Martha...O.K Just...trot along.

Martha: You really do.

George: Just don't shoot your mouth off...about...you-know what.

Martha: (Surprised vehement) I'll talk about any goddamn thing I want to, George!

George: O.K O.K Vanish.

Martha: Any goddamn thing I want to! (Practically dragging Honey out with her) C'mon....

George: Vanish. (The women have gone) So? What'll it be?

Nick: Oh, I don't know...I'll stick to bourbon, I guess.

George: (Takes Nick's glass, goes to portable bar) That what you were drinking over at Parnassus?

Nick: Over at....?

George: Parnassus.

Nick: I don't understand....

George: Skip it. (Hands him his drink) One bourbon.

Nick: Thanks.

George: It's just a private joke between li'l ol' Martha and me. (They sit) So? (Pause) So...you're in the math department, eh?

Nick: No...uh, no.

George: Martha said you were. I think that's what she said. (Not too friendly) What made you decide to be a teacher?

Nick: Oh...well, the same things that...uh...motivated you, I imagine.

George: What were they?

Nick: (Formal) Pardon?

George: I said, what were they? What were the things that motivated me?

Nick: (Laughing uneasily) Well...I'm sure I don't know.

George: You just finished saying that the things that motivated you were the same things that motivated me.

Nick: (With a little pique) I said I imagined they were.

George: Oh (Off-hand) Did you? (Pause) Well....(Pause) You like it here?

Nick: Yes...it's...it's fine.

George: I mean the University.

Nick: Oh....I thought you meant...

George: Yes...I can see you did. (Pause) I meant the University.

Nick: Well, I...I like it...fine. (As George just stares at him) Just fine. (Same) You...you've been here quite a long time, haven't you?

George: (Absently, as if he had not heard) What? Oh...yes. Ever since I married...uh, What's-her-name...uh, Martha. Even before that. (Pause) Forever. (To himself) Dashed hopes, and good intentions. Good, better, best, bested. (Back to Nick) How do you like that for a declension, young man? Eh?

Nick: Sir, I'm sorry if we....

George: (With an edge in his voice) You didn't answer my question.

Nick: Sir?

George: Don't you condescend to me!(Toying with him) I asked you how you liked that for a declension: Good; better; best; bested. Hm? Well?

Nick: (With some distaste) I really don't know what to say.

George: (Feigned incredulousness) You really don't know what to say?

Nick: (Snapping it out) All right...what do you want me to say? Do you want me to say it's funny, so you can contradict me and say it's sad? or do you want me to say it's sad so you can turn around and say no, it's funny. You can play that damn little game any way you want to, you know!

George: (Feigned awe) Very good! Very good!

Nick: (Even angrier than before) And when my wife comes back, I think we'll just....

George: (Sincere) Now, now...calm down, my boy. Just...calm...down. (Pause) All right? (Pause) You want another drink? Here, give me your glass.

Nick: I still have one. I do think when my wife comes down-stairs....

George: Here...I'll freshen it. Give me your glass. (Takes it)

Nick: What I mean is...you two...you and your wife...seem to be having some sort of a....

George: Martha and I are having...nothing. Martha and I are merely...exercising...that's all...we're merely walking what's left of our wits. Don't pay any attention to it.

Nick: (Undecided) Still....

George: (An abrupt change of pace) Well, now...let's sit down and talk, hunh?

Nick: (Cool again) It's just that I don't like to...become involved...(An afterthought) uh...in other people's affairs.

George: (Comforting a child) Well, you'll get over that...small college and all. Musical beds is the faculty sport around here.

Nick: Sir?

George: I said, musical beds is the faculty....Never mind. I wish you wouldn't go "Sir" like that...not with the question mark at the end of it. You know? Sir? I know it's meant to be a sign of respect for your (Winces) elders...but...uh...the way you do it...Uh...Sir?...Madam?

Nick: (With a small, noncommittal smile) No disrespect intended.

George: How old are you?

Nick: Twenty-eight.

George: I'm forty something. (Waits for reaction...gets none) Aren't you surprised? I mean...don't I look older? Doesn't this...gray quality suggest the fifties? Don't I sort of fade into backgrounds...get lost in the cigarette smoke? Hunh?

Nick: (Looking around for an ash tray) I think you look...fine.

George: I've always been lean...I haven't put on five pounds since I was your age. I don't have a paunch, either....What I've got...I've got this little distension just below the belt...but it's hard...It's not soft flesh. I use the handball courts. How much do you weigh?

Nick: I....

George: Hundred and fifty-five, sixty...something like that? Do you play handball?

Nick: Well, yes...no...I mean, not very well.

George: Well, then...we shall play some time. Martha is a hundred and eight...years old. She weighs somewhat more than that. How old is your wife?

Nick: (A little bewildered) She's twenty-six.

George: Martha is a remarkable woman. I would imagine she weighs around a hundred and ten.

Nick: Your...wife...weighs...?

George: No, no, my boy. Yours! Your wife. My wife is Martha.

Nick: Yes...I know.

George: If you were married to Martha you would know what it means. (Pause) But then, if I were married to your wife I would know what that means, too...wouldn't I?

Nick: (After a pause) Yes.

George: Martha says you're in the Math Department, or something>

Nick: (As if for the hundredth time) No...I'm not.

George: Martha is seldom mistaken...maybe you should be in the Math Department, or something.

Nick: I'm a biologist. I'm in the Biology Department.

George: (After a pause) Oh. (Then, as if remembering something) OH!

Nick: Sir?

George: You're the one! You're the one's going to make all that trouble...making everyone the same, rearranging the chromozones, or whatever it is. Isn't that right?

Nick: (With that small smile) Not exactly: chromosomes.

George: I'm very mistrustful. Do you believe...(Shifting in his chair)...do you believe that people learn nothing from history? Not that there is nothing to learn, mind you, but that people learn nothing? I am in the History Department.

Nick: Well...

George: I am a Doctor.AB...M.A....PH.D....ABMAPHID! Abmaphid has been variously described as a wasting disease of the front lobes, and as a wonder drug. It is actually both. I'm really very mistrustful. Biology, hunh? (Nick does not answer...nods...looks) I read somewhere that science fiction is really not fiction at all...that you people are rearranging my genes, so that everyone will be like everyone else. Now, I won't have that! It would be a...shame. I mean...look at me! Is it really such a good idea...if everyone was forty something and looked fifty-five? You didn't answer my question about history.

Nick: This genetic business you're talking about....

George: Oh, that. (Dismisses it with a wave of his hand) That's very upsetting...very...disappointing. But history is a great deal more...disappointing. I am in the History Department.

Nick: Yes...you told me.

George: I know I told you...I shall probably tell you several more times. Martha tells me often, that I am in the Hisory Department...as opposed to being the History Department...in the sense of running the History Department. I do not run the History Department.

Nick: Well, I don't run the Biology Department.

George: You're twenty-one!

Nick: Twenty-eight.

George: Twenty-eight! Perhaps when you're forty something and look fifty-five, you will run the History Deparment....

Nick: ...Biology....

George: ...the Biology Department. I did run the History Department, for four years, during the war, but that was because everyone was away. Then...everybody came back...because nobody got killed. That's New England for you. Isn't that amazing? Not one single man in this whole place got his head shot off. That's pretty irrational. (Broods) Your wife doesn't have any hips...has she...does she?

Nick: What?

George: I don't mean to suggest that I'm hip-happy....I'm not one of those thirty-six, twenty-two, seventy-eight men. Nosiree...not me. Everything in proportion. I was implying that your wife is...slim-hipped.

Nick: Yes...she is.

George: (Looking at the ceiling) What are they doing up there? I assume that's where they are.

Nick: (False heartiness) You know women.

George: (Gives Nick a long stare, of feigned incredulity...then his attention moves) Not on son-of-a-bitch got killed. Of course, nobody bombed Washington. No...that's not fair. You have kids?

Nick: Uh...no...not yet. (Pause) You?

George: (A kind of challenge) That's for me to know and you to find out.

Nick: Indeed?

George: No kids, hunh?

Nick: Not yet.

George: People do...uh...have kids. That's what I meant about history. You people are going to make them in test tubes, aren't you? You biologists. Babies. Then the rest of us...them as wants to...can screw to their heart's content. What will happen to the tax deduction? Has anyone figured that out yet? (Nick, who can think of nothing better to do, laughs mildy) But you are going to have kids...anyway. In spite of history.

Nick: Yes...certainly. We...want to wait...a little...until we're settled.

George: And this...(With a handsweep taking in not only the room, the house, but the whole countryside)...this is your heart's content-Illyria...Penguin Island...Gomorrah....You think you're going to be happy here in New Carthage, eh?

Nick: (A little defensively) I hope we'll stay here.

George: And every definition has its boundaries, eh? Well, it isn't a bad college, I guess. I mean...it'll do. It isn't M.I.T....it isn't U.C.L.A....it isn't the Sorbonne...or Moscow U. either, for that matter.

Nick: I don't mean...forever.

George: Well, don't you let that get bandied about. The old man wouldn't like it. Martha's father expects loyalty and devotion out of his...staff. I was going to use another word. Martha's father expects his...staff...to cling to the walls of this place, like the ivy...to come here and grow old...to fall in the line of service. One man, a professor of Latin and Elocution, actually fell in the cafeteria line, one lunch. He was buried, as many of us have been, and as many more of us will be, under the shrubbery around the chapel. It is said...and I have not reason to doubt it...that we make excellent fertilizer. But the old man is not going to be buried under the shrubbery...the old man is not going to die. Martha's father has the staying power of one of those Micronesian tortoises. There are rumors...which you must not breathe in front of Martha, for she foams at the mouth...that the old man, her father, is over two hundred years old. There is probably an irony involved in this, but I am not drunk enough to figure out what it is. How many kids you going to have?

Nick: I...I don't know....My wife is....

George: Slim-hipped. (Rises) Have a drink.

Nick: Yes.

George: Martha! (No answer) Damn it! (To Nick) You asked me if I knew women....Well, one of the things I do not know about them is what they talk about while the men are talking. (Vaguely) I must find out some time.

Martha's Voice: WHADD'YA WANT?

George: (To Nick) Isn't that a wonderful sound? What I mean is...what do you think they really talk about...or don't you care?

Nick: Themselves, I would imagine.

Martha's Voice: GEORGE?

George (To Nick) Do you find women...puzzling?

Nick: Well...yes and no.

George: (With a knowing nod) Unh-hunh. (Moves toward the hall, almost bumps into Honey, re-entering) Oh! Well, here's one of you, at least. (Honey moves toward Nick. George goes to the hall)

Honey: (To George) She'll be right down. (To Nick) You must see this house, dear...this is such a wonderful old house.

Nick: Yes, I....

George: MARTHA!


Honey: (To George) She'll be right down...she's changing.

George: (Incredulous) She's what? She's changing?

Honey: Yes.

George: Her clothes?

Honey: Her dress.

George: (Suspicious) Why?

Honey: (With a nervous little laugh) Why, I imagine she wants to be...comfortable.

George: (With a threatening look toward the hall) Oh she does, does she?

Honey: Well, heavens, I should think....


Nick: (As Honey starts) You feel all right?

Honey: (Reassuring, but with the echo of a whine. A long practiced tone) Oh, yes, dear...perfectly fine.

George: (Fuming...to himself) So she wants to be comfortable, does she? Well, we'll see about that.

Honey: (To George, brightly) I didn't know until just a minute ago that you had a son.

George: (Wheeling, as if struck from behind) WHAT?

Honey: A son! I hadn't known.

Nick: You to know and me to find out. Well, he must be quite a big....

Honey: Twenty-one...twenty-one tomorrow...tomorrow's his birthday.

Nick: (A victorious smile) Well!

George: (To Honey) She told you about him?

Honey: (Flustered) Well, yes. Well, I mean...

George: (Nailing it down) She told you about him.

Honey: (A nervous giggle) Yes.

George: (Strangely) You say she's changing?

Honey: Yes....

George: And she mentioned...?

Honey: (Cheerful, but a little puzzled) ...your son's birthday...yes.

George: (More or less to himself) O.K., Martha...O.K.

Nick: You look pale, Honey. Do you want a...?

Honey: Yes, dear...a little more brandy, maybe. Just a drop.

George: O.K., Martha.

Nick: May I use the...uh...bar?

George: Hm? Oh, yes...yes...by all means. Drink away...you'll need it as the years go on. (For MARTHA, as if she were in the room) You goddamn destructive....

Honey: (To cover) What time is it, dear?

Nick: Two-thirty.

Honey: Oh, it's so late...we should be getting home.

George: (Nastily, but he is so preoccupied he hardly notices his own tone) For what? You keeping the babysitter up, or something?

Nick: (Almost a warning) I told you we didn't have children.

George: Hm? (Realizing) Oh, I'm sorry. I wasn't even listening...or thinking...(With a flick of his hand)...whichever one applies.

Nick: (Softly, to Honey) We'll go in a little while.

George: (Driving) Oh no, now...you mustn't. Martha is changing...and Martha is not changing for me. Martha hasn't changed for me in years. If Martha is changing it means we'll be here for...days. You are being accorded an honor, and you must not forget that Martha is the daughter of our beloved boss. She is his...right ball, you might say.

Nick: You might not understand this...but I wish you wouldn't talk that way in front of my wife.

Honey: Oh, now....

George: (Incredulous) Really? Well, you're quite right....We'll leave that sort of talk to Martha.

Martha: (Entering) What sort of talk? (Martha has changed her clothes, and she looks, now, more comfortable and...and this is most important...most voluptuous)

George: There you are, my pet.

Nick: (Impressed; rising) Well, now....

George: Why, Martha...your Sunday chapel dress!

Honey: (Slightly disapproving) Oh, that's most attractive.

Martha: (Showing off) You like it? Good! (To George) What the hell do you mean screaming up the stairs at me like that?

George: We got lonely, darling...we got lonely for the soft purr of your little voice.

Martha: (Deciding not to rise to it) Oh. Well, then, you just trot over to the barie-poo...

George: (Taking the tone from her) ...and make your little mommy a gweat big dwink.

Martha: (Giggles) That's right. (To Nick) Well, did you two have a nice little talk? You men solve the problems of the world, as usual?

Nick: Well, no, we...

George: (Quickly)What we did, actually, if you really want to know, what we did actually is try to figure out what you two were talking about. (Honey giggles, Martha laughs)

Martha: (To Honey) Aren't they something? Aren't these...(Cheerfully disdainful)...men the absolute end? (To George) Why didn't you sneak upstairs and listen in?

George: Oh, I wouldn't have listened, Martha....I would have peeked. (Honey giggles, Martha laughs)

Nick: (To George, with false heartiness) It's a conspiracy.

George: And now we'll never know. Shucks!

Martha: (To Nick, as Honey beams) Hey, you must be quite a boy, getting your Masters when you were...what?...twelve? You hear that, George?

Nick: Twelve-and-a-half, actually. No, nineteen really. (To Honey) Honey, you needn't have mentioned that. It....

Honey: Ohhhh...I'm proud of you....

George: (Seriously, if sadly) That's very...impressive.

Martha: (Aggressively) You're damned right!

George: (Between his teeth) I said I was impressed, Martha. I'm beside myself with jealousy. What do you want me to do, throw up? (To Nick) That really is very impressive. (To Honey) You should be right proud.

Honey: (Coy) Oh, he's a pretty nice fella.

George: (To Nick) I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't take over the History Department one of these days.

Nick: The Biology Department.

George: The Bilology Department...of course. I seem preoccupied with history. Oh! What a remark. (He strikes a pose, his hand over his heart, his head raised, his voice stentorian) "I am preoccupied with history."

Martha: (As Honey and Nick chuckle)Ha, ha, ha,HA!

George: (With some disgust) I think I'll make myself a drink.

Martha: George is not preoccupied with history....George is preoccupied with the History Department. George is preoccupied with the History Department because....

George: ...because he is not the History Department, but is only in the History Department. We know, Martha...we went all through it while you were upstairs...getting up. There's no need to go through it again.

Martha: That's right, baby...keep it clean. (To the others) George is bogged down in the History Department. He's an old bog in the History Department, that's what George is. A bog...A fen...A.G.D. swamp. Ha, ha,ha HA! A swamp! Hey, swamp! Hey SWAMPY!

George: (With a great effort controls himself...then, as if she had said nothing more than "George, dear"....) Yes, Martha? Can I get you something?

Martha: (Amused at his game) Well...uh...sure, you can light my cigarette, if you're of a mind to.

George: (Considers, then moves off) No...there are limits. I mean, man can put up with only so much without he descends a rung or two on the old evolutionary ladder...(Now a quick aside to Nick)...which is up your line...(Then back to Martha)...sinks, Martha, and it's a funny ladder...you can't reverse yourself...start back up once you're descending. (Martha blows him an arrogant kiss) Now...I'll hold your hand when it's dark and you're afraid of the bogey man, and I'll tote your gin bottles out after midnight, so no one'll see...but I will not light your cigarette. And that, as they say, is that. (Brief silence) Martha: (Under her breath) Jesus! (Then, immediately, to Nick) Hey, you play football, hunh?

Honey: (As Nick seems sunk in thought) Dear....

Nick: Oh! Oh, yes...I was a...quarterback...but I was much more...adept...at boxing, really.

Martha: (With great enthusiasm) BOXING! You hear that, George?

George: (Resignedly) Yes, Martha.

Martha: (To Nick, with peculiar intenstiy and enthusiasm) You musta been pretty good at it...I mean, you don't look like you got hit in the face at all.

Honey: (Proudly) He was intercollegiate state middleweight champion.

Nick: (Embarrassed) Honey....

Honey: Well, you were.

Martha: You look like you still got a pretty good body now, too...is that right? Have you?

George: (Intensely) Martha...decency forbids....

Martha: (To George...still staring at Nick, though) SHUT UP! (Now, back to Nick) Well, have you? Have you kept your body?

Nick: (Unselfconscious...almost encouraging her) It's still pretty good. I work out.

Martha: (With a half-smile) Do you!

Nick: Yeah.

Honey: Oh, yes...he has a very...firm body.

Martha: (Still with that smile...a private communication with Nick) Have you! Oh, I think that's very nice.

Nick: (Narcissistic, but not directly for Martha) Well, you never know ...(shrugs)...you know...once you have it....

Martha: ...you never know when it's going to come in handy.

Nick: I was going to say...why give it up until you have to.

Martha: I couldn't agree with you more. (They both smile, and there is a rapport of some unformed sort, established) I couldn't agree with you more.

George: Martha, your obscenity is more than....

Martha: George, here, doesn't cotten much to body talk...do you sweetheart? (No reply) George isn't too happy when we get to muscle. You know...flat bellies, pectorals....

George: (To Honey) Would you like to take a walk around the garden?

Honey: (Chiding) Oh, now....

George: (Incredulous) You're amused? (Shrugs) All right.

Martha: Paunchy over there isn't too happy when the conversation moves to muscle. How much do you weigh?

Nick: A hundred and fifty-five, a hundred and....

Martha: Still at the old middleweight limit, eh? That's pretty good. (Swings around) Hey George, tell 'em about the boxing match we had.

George: (Slamming his drink down, moving toward the hall) Christ!

Martha: George! Tell'em about it!

George: (With a sick look on his face) You tell them, Martha. You're good at it. (EXITS)

Honey: Is he...all right?

Martha: (Laughs) Him? Oh, sure. George and I had this boxing match...Oh, Lord, twenty years ago...a couple of years after we were married.

Nick: A boxing match? The two of you?

Honey: Really?

Martha: Yup...the two of us...really.

Honey: (With a little shivery giggle of anticipation) I can't imagine it.

Martha: Well, like I say, it was twenty years ago, and it wasn't in a ring, or anything like that, you know what I mean. It was wartime, and Daddy was on this physical fitness kick...Daddy's always admired physical fitness...says a man is only part brain...he has a body, too, and it's his responsibility to keep both of them up...you know?

Nick: Unh-hunh.

Martha: Says the brain can't work unless the body's working, too.

Nick: Well, that's not exactly so....

Martha: Well, maybe that isn't what he says...something like it. But...it was wartime, and Daddy got the idea all the men should learn how to box...self-defense. I suppose the idea was if the Germans landed on the coast, or something, the whole faculty'd go out punch'em to death....I don't know.

Nick: It was probably more the principle of the thing.

Martha: No kidding. Anyway, so Daddy had a couple of us over one Sunday and we went out in the back, and Daddy put on the gloves himself. Daddy's a strong man...Well, you know.

Nick: Yes...yes.

Martha: And he asked George to box with him. Aaaaannnnd...George didn't want to...probably something about not wanting to bloody-up his meal ticket...

Nick: Unh-hunh.

Martha: ...Anyway, George said he didn't want to, and Daddy was saying, "Come on, young man...what sort of son-in-law are you?"...and stuff like that.

Nick: Yeah.

Martha: So, while this was going on...I don't know why I did it...I got into a pair of gloves myself...you know, I didn't lace'em up, or anything...and I snuck up behind George, just kidding, and I yelled "Hey George!" and at the same time I let go sort of a roundhouse right...just kidding, you know?

Nick: Unh-hunh.

Martha: ...and George wheeled around real quick, and he caught it right in the jaw...POW! (Nick laughs) I hadn't meant it...honestly. Anyway...POW! Right in the jaw...and he was off balance...he must have been...and he stumbled back a few steps, and then, CRASH, he landed...flat...in a huckleberry bush! (Nick laughs. Honey goes tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk, and shakes her head) It was awful, really. It was funny, but it was awful.(She thinks, gives a muffled laugh in rueful contemplation of the incident) I think it's colored our whole life. Really I do! It's an excuse, anyway. (George enters now, his hands behind his back. No one sees him) It's what he uses for being bogged down, anyway...why he hasn't gone anywhere. (George advances. Honey sees him) Martha: And it was an accident...a real, goddamn accident! (George takes from behind his back a short-barreled shotgun, and calmly aims it at the back of Martha's head. Honey screams...rises. Nick rises, and, simultaneously, Martha turns her head to face George. George pulls the trigger)

George: POW!!! (Pop! From the barrel of the gun blossoms a large red and yellow Chinese parasol. Honey screams again, this time less, and mostly from relief and confusion) You're dead! Pow! You're dead!

Nick: (Laughing) Good Lord. (Honey is beside herself. Martha laughs too...almost breaks down, her great laugh booming. George joins in the general laughter and confusion. It dies, eventually)

Honey: Oh! My goodness!

Martha: (Joyously) Where'd you get that, you bastard?

Nick: (His hand out for the gun) Let me see that, will you? (George hands him the gun)

Honey: I've never been so frightened in my life! Never!

George: (A trifle abstracted) Oh, I've had it awhile. Did you like that?

Martha: (Giggling) You bastard.

Honey: (Wanting attention) I've never been so frightened...never.

Nick: This is quite a gadget.

George: (Leaning over Martha) You liked that, did you?

Martha: Yeah...that was pretty good. (Softer) C'mon...give me a kiss.

George: (Indicating Nick and Honey) Later, sweetie. (But Martha will not be dissuaded. They kiss, George standing, leaning over Martha's chair. She takes his hand, places it on her stage-side breast. He breaks away) Oh-ho! That's what you're after, is it? What are we going to have...blue games for the guests? Hunh? Hunh?

Martha: (Angry-hurt) You...prick!

George: (A Pyrrhic victory) Everything in it's place, Martha...everything in it's own good time.

Martha: (An unspoken epithet) You....

George: (Over to Nick, who still has the gun) Here, let me show you...it goes back in, like this. (Closes the parasol, reinserts it in the gun)

Nick: That's damn clever.

George: (Puts the gun down) Drinks now! Drinks for all! (Takes Nick's glass without question...goes to Martha)

Martha: (Still angry-hurt) I'm not finished.

Honey: (As George puts out his hand for her glass) Oh, I think I need something. (He takes her glass, moves back to the portable bar)

Nick: Is that Japanese?

George: Probably.

Honey: (To Martha) I was never so frightened in my life. Weren't you frightened? Just for a second?

Martha: (Smothering her rage at George) I don't remember.

Honey: Ohhhh, now...I bet you were.

George: Did you really think I was going to kill you, Martha?

Martha: (Dripping contempt) You?...Kill me?...That's a laugh.

George: Well, now, I might...some day.

Martha: Fat chance.

Nick: (As George hands him his drink) Where's ths john?

George: Through the hall there...and down to your left.

Honey: Don't you come back with any guns, or anything, now.

Nick: (Laughs) Oh, no.

Martha: You don't need any props, do you, baby?

Nick: Unh-unh.

Martha: (Suggestive) I'll bet not. No fake Jap gun for you, eh?

Nick: (Smiles at Martha. Then, to George, indicating a side table near the hall) May I leave my drink here?

George: (As Nick exits without waiting for a reply) Yeah...sure...why not? We've got half-filled glasses everywhere in the house, wherever Martha forgets she's left them...in the linen closet, on the edge of the bathtub....I even found one in the freezer, once.

Martha: (Amused in spite of herself) You did not!

George: Yes I did.

Martha: (Ibid) You did not!

George: (Giving Honey her brandy) Yes I did. (To Honey) Brandy doesn't give you a hangover?

Honey: I never mix. And then, I don't drink very much, either.

George: (Grimaces behind her back) Oh...that's good. Your...your husband was telling me about the ...chromosomes.

Martha: (Ugly) The What?

George: The chromosomes, Martha...the genes, or whatever they are. (To Honey) You've got quite a ...terrifying husband.

Honey: (As if she's being joshed) Ohhhhhhhhh....

George: No, really. He's quite terrifying, with his chromosomes, and all.

Martha: He's in the Math Department.

George: No, Martha...he's a biologist.

Martha: (Her voice rising) He's in the Math Department!

Honey: (Timidly) Uh...biology.

Martha: (Unconvinced) Are you sure?

Honey: (With a little giggle) Well, I ought to. (Then as an afterthought) Be.

Martha: (Grumpy) I suppose so. I don't know who said he was in the Math Department.

George: You did, Martha.

Martha: (By way of irritable explanation) Well, I can't be expected to remember everything. I meet fifteen new teachers and their goddamn wives...present company outlawed, of course...(Honey nods, smiles sillily)...and I'm supposed to remember everything. (Pause) So? He's a biologist. Good for him. Biology's even better. It's less...abstruse.

George: Abstract.

Martha: ABSTRUSE! In the sense of recondite. (Sticks her tongue out at George) Don't you tell me words. Biology's even better. It's...right at the meat of things. (Nick Reenters) You're right at the meat of things, baby.

Nick: (Taking his drink from the side table) Oh?

Honey: (With that giggle) They thought you were in the Math Department.

Nick: Well, maybe I ought to be.

Martha: You stay right where you are...you stay right at the...meat of things.

George: You're obsessed with that phrase, Martha....It's ugly.

Martha: (Ignoring George...to Nick) You stay right there. (Laughs) Hell, you can take over the History Department just as easy from there as anywhere else. God knows, somebody's going to take over the History Department, some day, and it ain't going to be Georgie-boy, there...that's for sure. Are ya, swampy...are ya, Hunh?

George: In my mind, Martha, you are buried in cement, right up to your neck. (Martha giggles) No...right up to your nose...that's much quieter.

Martha: (To Nick) Georgie-boy, here, says you're terrifying. Why are you terrifying?

Nick: (With a small smile) I didn't know I was.

Honey: (A little thickly) It's because of your chromosomes, dear.

Nick: Oh, the chromosome business....

Martha: (To Nick) What's all this about chromosomes?

Nick: Well, chromosomes are....

Martha: I know what chromosomes are, sweetie, I love'em.

Nick: Oh....Well, then.

George: Martha eats them...for breakfast...she sprinkles them on her cereal. (To Martha, now) It's very simple, Martha, this young man is working on a system whereby chromosomes can be altered...well not all by himself-he probably has one or two co-conspirators-the genetic makeup of a sperm cell changed, reordered...to order, actually...for hair and eye color, stature, potency...I imagine...hairiness, features, health...and mind. Most important...Mind. All imbalances will be corrected, sifted out...propensity for various diseases will be gone, longevity assured. We will have a race of men...test-tube-bred...incubator-born...superb and sublime.

Martha: (Impressed) Hunh!

Honey: How exciting!

George: But! Everyone will tend to be rather the same....Alike. Everyone...and I'm sure I'm not wrong here...will tend to look like this young man here.

Martha: That's not a bad idea.

Nick: (Impatient) All right, now....

George: It will, on the surface of it, be all rather pretty...quite jolly. But of course there will be a dank side to it, too. A certain amount of regulation will be necessary...uh...for the experiment to succeed. A certain number of sperm tubes will have to be cut.

Martha: Hunh!...

George: Millions upon millions of them...millions of tiny little slicing operations that will leave just the smallest scar, on the underside of the scrotum (Martha laughs) but which will assure the sterility of the imperfect...the ugly, the stupid...the...unfit.

Nick: (Grimly) Now look...!

George: ...with this, we will have, in time, a race of glorious men.

Martha: Hunh!

George: I suspect we will not have much music, much painting, but we will have a civilization of men, smooth, blond, and right at the middleweight limit.

Martha: Awww....

George: ...a race of scientists and mathematicians, each dedicatedd to the working for the greater glory of the super-civilization.

Martha: Goody.

George: There will be a certain...loss of liberty, I imagine, as a result of this experiment...but diversity will no longer be the goal. Culture and races will eventually vanish...the ants will take over the world.

Nick: Are you finished?

George: (Ignoring him) And I, naturally, am rather opposed to all this. History, which is my field...history, of which I am one of the most famous bogs...

Martha: Ha, ha, HA!

George: ...will lose its glorious variety and unpredictability. I, and with me the...the surprise, the multiplexity, the sea-changing rhythm of...history, will be eliminated. There will be order and constancy...and I am unalterably opposed to it. I will not give up Berlin!

Martha: You'll give up Berlin, sweetheart. You going to defend it with your paunch?

Honey: I don't see what Berlin has to do with anything.

George: There is a saloon in West Berlin where the barstools are five feet high. And the earth...the floor...is...so...far...below you. I will not give up things like that. No...I won't. I will fight you, young man...one hand on my scrotum, to be sure...but with my free hand I will battle you to the death.

Martha: (Mocking, laughing) Bravo!

Nick: (To George) That's right. And I am going to be the wave of the future.

Martha: You bet you are, baby.

Honey: (Quite drunk-to Nick) I don't see why you want to do all those things, dear. You never told me.

Nick: (Angry) Oh for God's sake!

Honey: (Shocked) OH!

George: The most profound indication of a social malignancy...no sense of humor. None of the monoliths could take a joke. Read history. I know something about history.

Nick: (To George, trying to make light of it all) You...you don't know much about science, do you?

George: I know something about history. I know when I'm being threatened.

Martha: (Salaciously-to Nick) So, everyone's going to look like you, eh?

Nick: Oh, sure. I'm going to be a personal screwing machine!

Martha: Isn't that nice.

Honey: (Her hands over her ears) Dear, you mustn't...you mustn't...you mustn't.

Nick: (Impatiently) I'm sorry, Honey.

Honey: Such language. It's....

Nick: I'm sorry. All right?

Honey: (Pouting) Well...all right. (Suddenly she giggles insanely, subsides. To George)...when is your son? (Giggles again)

George: What?

Nick: (Distastefully) Something about your son.

George: SON!

Honey: When is...where is your son...coming home? (Giggles)

George: Ohhhh. (Too formal) Martha? When is our son coming home?

Martha: Never mind.

George: No, no...I want to know...you brought it out into the open. When is he coming home, Martha?

Martha: I said never mind. I'm sorry I brought it up.

George: Him up...not it. You brought him up. Well, more or less. When's the little bugger going to appear, hunh? I mean isn't tomorrow meant to be his birthday, or something?

Martha: I don't want to talk about it!

George: (Falsely innocent) But Martha...


George: I'll bet you don't. (To Honey and Nick) Martha does not want to talk about it...him. Martha is sorry she brought it up...him.

Honey: (Idiotically) When's the little bugger coming home? (Giggles)

George: Yes, Martha...since you had the bad taste to bring the matter up in the first place...when is the little bugger coming home?

Nick: Honey, do you think you...?

Martha: George talks disparagingly about the little bugger because...well, because he has problems.

George: The little bugger has problems? What problems has the little bugger got?

Martha: Not the little bugger...stop calling him that! You! You've got problems.

George: (Feigned disdain) I've never heard of anything more ridiculous in my life.

Honey: Neither have I!

Nick: Honey....

Martha: George's biggest problem about the little...ha, ha, ha, HA!...about our son, about our great big son, is that deep down in the private-most pit of his gut, he's not completely sure it's his own kid.

George: (Deeply serious) My God, you're a wicked woman.

Martha: And I've told you a million times, baby...I wouldn't conceive with anyone but you...you know that, baby.

George: A deeply wicked person.

Honey: (Deep in drunken grief) My, my, my, my. Oh, my.

Nick: I'm not sure that this is a subject for....

George: Martha's lying. I want you to know that, right now. Martha's lying. (Martha laughs) There are very few things in this world that I am sure of...national boundaries, the level of the ocean, political allegiances, practical morality...none of these would I stake my stick on any more...but the one thing in this whole sinking world that I am sure of is my partnership, my chromosomological partnership in the...creation of our...blond-eyed, blue-haired...son.

Honey: Oh, I'm so glad!

Martha: That was a very pretty speech, George.

George: Thank you, Martha.

Martha: You rose to the occasion...good. Real good.

Honey: Well...real well.

Nick: Honey....

George: Martha knows...she knows better.

Martha: (Proudly) I know better. I been to college like everybody else.

George: Martha been to college. Martha been to a convent when she were a little twig of a thing, too.

Martha: And I was an atheist. (Uncertainly) I still am.

George: Not an atheist, Martha...a pagan. (To Honey and Nick) Martha is the only true pagan on the eastern seaboard. (Martha laughs)

Honey: Oh, that's nice. Isn't that nice, dear?

Nick: (Humoring her) Yes...wonderful.

George: And Martha paints blue circles around her things.

Nick: You do?

Martha: (Defensively, for the joke's sake) Sometimes. (Beckoning) You wanna see?

George: (Admonishing) Tut, tut, tut.

Martha: Tut, tut yourself...you old floozie!

Honey: He's not a floozie...he can't be a floozie...you're a floozie. (Giggles)

Martha: (Shaking a finger at Honey) Now you watch yourself!

Honey: (Cheerfully) All right. I'd like a nipper of brandy, please.

Nick: Honey, I think you've had enough, now....

George: Nonsense! Everybody's ready, I think. (Takes glasses, etc.)

Honey: (Echoing George) Nonesense.

Nick: (Shrugging) O.K.

Martha: (To George) Our son does not have blue hair...or blue eyes, for that matter. He has green eyes...like me.

George: He has blue eyes, Martha.

Martha: (Determined) Green.

George: (Patronizing) Blue, Martha.

Martha: (Ugly) GREEN! (To Honey and Nick) He has the loveliest green eyes...they aren't all flaked with brown and gray, you know...hazel...they're real green...deep, pure green eyes...like mine.

Nick: (Peers) Your eyes are...brown, aren't they?

Martha: (A little too fast) Well, in some lights they look brown, but they're green. Not green like his...more hazel. George has watery blue eyes...milky blue.

George: Make up your mind, Martha.

Martha: I was giving you the benefit of the doubt. (Now back to the others) Daddy has green eyes, too.

George: He does not! Your father has tiny red eyes...like a white mouse. In fact, he is a white mouse.

Martha: You wouldn't dare say a thing like that if he was here! You're a coward!

George: (To Honey and Nick) You know...that great shock of white hair, and those little beady eyes...a great big white mouse.

Martha: George hates Daddy...not for anything Daddy's done to him, but for his own....

George: (Nodding...finishing it for her) ...inadequacies.

Martha: (Cheerfully) That's right. You hit it...right on the snout. (Seeing George Exiting) Where do you think you're going?

George: We need some more booze, angel.

Martha: Oh. (Pause) So, go.

George: (Exiting) Thank you.

Martha: (Seeing that George has gone) He's a good bartender...a good bar nurse. The S.O.B., he hates my father. You know that?

Nick: (Trying to make light of it) Oh, come on.

Martha: (Offended) You think I'm kidding? You think I'm joking? I never joke...I don't have a sense of humor. (Almost pouting) I have a fine sense of the ridiculous, but no sense of humor. (Affirmatively) I have no sense of humor!

Honey: (Happily) I haven't, either.

Nick: (Half-heartedly) Yes, you have, Honey...a quiet one.

Honey: (Proudly) Thank you.

Martha: You want to know why the S.O.B hates my father? You want me to tell you? All right...I will now tell you why the S.O.B hates my father.

Honey: (Swinging to some sort of attention) Oh, good!

Martha: (Sternly, to Honey) Some people feed on the calamities of others.

Honey:(Offended) They do not!

Nick: Honey....

Martha: All right! Shut up! Both of you! (Pause) All right, now. Mommy died early, see, and I sort of grew up with Daddy. (Pause-thinks)...I went away to school, and stuff, but I more or less grew up with him. Jesus, I admired that guy! I worshipped him...I absolutely worshipped him. I still do. And he was pretty fond of me, too...you know? We had a real...rapport going...a real rapport.

Nick: Yeah, yeah.

Martha: And Daddy built this college...I mean, he built it up from what it was...it's his whole life. He is the college.

Nick: Unh-hunh.

Martha: The college is him. You know what the endowment was when he took over, and what it is now? You look it up some time.

Nick: I know...I read about it...

Martha: Shut up and listen...(As an afterthought)...cutie. So after I got done with college and stuff, I came back here and sort of...sat around, for a while. I wasn't married, or anything. Wellllll, I'd been married...sort of...for a week, my sophmore year at Miss Muff's Academy for Young Ladies...college. A kind of junior Lady Chatterly arrangement, as it turned out...the marriage. (Nick laughs) He mowed the lawn at Miss Muff's, sitting up there, all naked, on a big power mower, mowing away. But Daddy and Miss Muff got together and put an end to that...real quick...annulled...which is a laugh...because theoretically you can't get an annullment if there's entrance. Ha! Anyway, so I was revirginized, finished at Miss Muff's...where they had one less gardener's boy, and a real shame, that was...and I came back here and sort of sat around for a while. I was hostess for Daddy and I took care of him...and it was...nice. It was very nice.

Nick: Yes...yes.

Martha: What do you mean, yes, yes? How would you know? (Nick shrugs helplessly) Lover. (Nick smiles a little) And I got the idea, about then, that I'd marry into the college...which didn't seem to be quite as stupid as it turned out. I mean, Daddy had a sense of history...of ...continuation...Why don't you come over here and sit by me?

Nick: (Indicating Honey, who is barely with it) I ...don't think I ...should....I....

Martha: Suit yourself. A sense of continuation...history...and he'd always had it in the back of his mind to...groom someone to take over...some time, when he quit. A succession...you know what I mean?

Nick: Yes, I do.

Martha: Which is natural enough. When you've made something, you want to pass it on, to somebody. So, I was sort of on the lookout, for...prospects with the new men. An heir-apparent. (Laughs) It wasn't Daddy's idea that I had to necessarily marry the guy. I mean, I wasn't the albatross...you didn't have to take me to get the prize, or anything like that. It was something I had in the back of my mind. And a lot of the new men were married...naturally.

Nick: Sure.

Martha: (With a strange smile) Like you, baby.

Honey: (A mindless echo) Like you, baby.

Martha: (Ironically) But then George came along...along come George.

George: (Reentering, with liquor) And along came George, bearing hooch. What are you doing now, Martha?

Martha: (Unfazed) I'm telling a story. Sit down...you'll learn something.

George: (Stays standing. Puts the liquor on the portable bar) All rightie.

Honey: You've come back!

George: That's right.

Honey: Dear! He's come back!

Nick: Yes, I see...I see.

Martha: Where was I?

Honey: I'm so glad.

Nick: Shhhhh.

Honey: (Imitating him) Shhhhh.

Martha: Oh yeah. And along came George. That's right. Who was young...intelligent...and...bushy-tailed, and...sort of cute...if you can imagine it....

George: ...and younger than you....

Martha: ...and younger than me....

George: ...by six years....

Martha: ...by six years...It doesn't bother me, George....And along he came, bright-eyed, into the History Department. And you know what I did, dumb cluck that I am? You know what I did? I fell for him.

Honey: (Dreamy) Oh, that's nice.

George: Yes, she did. You should have seen it. She'd sit outside of my room, on the lawn, at night, and she'd howl and claw at the turf...I couldn't work.

Martha: (Laughs, really amused) I actually fell for him...it...that, there.

George: Martha's a Romantic at heart.

Martha: That I am. So, I actually fell for him. And the match seemed...practical, too. You know, Daddy was looking for someone to....

George: Just a minute, Martha....

Martha: ...take over, some time, when he was ready to....

George: (Stony) Just a minute, Martha.

Martha: ...retire, and so I thought....


Martha: (Irritated) Whadda you want?

George: (Too patiently) I'd thought you were telling the story of our courtship, Martha...I didn't know you were going to start in on the other business.

Martha: (So-thereish) Well, I am!

George: I wouldn't, if I were you.

Martha: Oh...you wouldn't? Well, you're not!

George: Now, you've already sprung a leak about you-know-what.

Martha: (A duck) What? What?

George: ...about the apple of our eye...the sprout...the little bugger...(spits it out)...out son...and if you start in on this other business, I warn you, Martha, it's going to make me angry.

Martha: (Laughing at him) Oh, it is, is it?

George: I warn you.

Martha: (Incredulous) You what?

George: (Very quietly) I warn you.

Nick: Do you really think we have to go through...?

Martha: I stand warned! (Pause...then, to Honey and Nick) So, anyway, I married the S.O.B., and I had it all planned out....He was the groom...he was going to be groomed. He'd take over some day...first, he'd take over the History Department, and then, when Daddy retired, he'd take over the college...you know? That's the way it wsa supposed to be. (To George, who is at the portable bar with his back to her) You getting angry, baby? Hunh? (Now back) That's the way it was supposed to be. Very simple. And Daddy seemed to think it was a pretty good idea, too. For a while. Until he watched for a couple of years! (To George again) You getting angrier? (Now back) Until he watched for a couple of years and started thinking maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all...that maybe Georgie-boy didn't have the stuff...that he didn't have it in him!

George: (Still with his back to them all) Stop it, Martha.

Martha: (Viciously triumphant) The hell I will! You see, George didn't have much...push...he wasn't particularly...aggressive. In fact he was sort of a ...(Spits the word at George's back)...a FLOP! A great...big...fat...FLOP! (CRASH! Immediately after FLOP! George breaks a bottle against the portable bar and stands there, still with his back to them all, holding the remains of the bottle by the neck. There is a silence, with everyone frozen. Then....)

George: (Almost crying) I said stop, Martha.

Martha: (After considering what course to take) I hope that was an empty bottle, George. You don't want to waste good liquor...not on your salary. (George drops the broken bottle on the floor, not moving) Not on an Associate Professor's salary. (To Nick and Honey) I mean, he'd be...no good...at trustees' dinners, fund raising. He didn't have any...personality, you know what I mean? Which was disappointing to Daddy, as you can imagine. So, here I am, stuck with this flop...

George: (Turning around) ...don't go on, Martha....

Martha: ...this BOG in the History Department....

George: ...don't, Martha, don't....

George and Martha speak at the same time with their next two lines

Martha: (Her voice rising to match his) ...who's married to the president's daughter, who's expected to be somebody, not just some nobody, some bookworm, somebody who's so damn...contemplative, he can't make anything out of himself, somebody without the guts to make anybody proud of him...ALL RIGHT, GEORGE!

George: (Under her, then covering, to drown her) I said, don't. All right...all right: (Sings) Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf, Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf, early in the morning.

George and Honey: (Who joins him drunkenly) Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf, Virginia Woolf...(etc.)

Martha: STOP IT! (A brief silence)

Honey: (Rising, moving toward the hall) I'm going to be sick...I'm going to be sick...I'm going to vomit. (Exits)

Nick: (Going after her) Oh, for God's sake! (Exits)

Martha: (Going after them, looks back at George, contemptuously) Jesus! (Exits. George is alone on stage)

End of Act I