Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Apollo of Hérouxville (1)

(One of France's more extraordinary playwrights is Jean Giraudoux, author of such works as The Madwoman of Chaillot, Ondine, and The Enchanted. What follows is an adaptation of one of his one-acts, The Apollo of Bellac, reconstituted a bit so that we learn how Doc and Ray first met and what brought these two seemingly incompatible people together. I hope you enjoy it.)

“So. Your first time?”

The kid looked up. “Huh?”

The older man grinned. “Your first time in a gay bar?”

“Oh! Uh, not.… well, yeah.”

The older man gently swirled the ice in his drink. “Not surprised. You have that… innocent look about you. That can work, you know, depending on what you’re into.”

The kid smiled. “I don’t know what I’m into.”

“We can correct that, if you like.”

“I don’t think I… I’m sorry. I don’t mean to — “

“Yeah, yeah, I get that a lot. Don’t act all indulgent, okay? You’re not my type,” the older man added with a wink. “Got that?”

The boy smiled, a little more easily now. 

“Good. Glad we got that worked out. What’s your name?”

The boy extended his hand. “Raymond. Well, my friends call me Ray. I’m… Ray.”

The man shook it. “Ray it is then.”

“… And yours?”

The man waved him off. “In due time, Ray. In due time. So, what’re you looking for tonight?”

The boy shrugged. “I’m not sure.”

“A date?”

“I don’t… well, I’m not…”

“A pick up?”

“No! I mean…”

The man looked at him, mock aghast. “Ray, you’re not… a virgin, are you?”


“Well, that was emphatic enough.” The man signaled the bartender. “Ellie? Another? And one for my friend here… Okay, Ray, so we’ve established that you’re looking for companionship… of some form or another. How’s it all going for you thus far?”

The boy laughed nervously. “Not very well.”

“I see. Well. Wanna know the secret?”

“A secret?”

“Not just any old secret. The secret. The secret to getting laid. The one that guarantees getting a man in your bed. No matter who he is. No matter how good looking he might be… or not, if that’s what you’re into. I make no judgment calls here on that point. But this is all immaterial to the subject at hand. You want to know the secret?”

“The secret.”

The man lifted his newly-refreshed drink in toast. “The secret, my little friend. It can get you anything from twenty minutes in the alleyway to twenty years of wedded bliss. All up to you.”

“Sure. Who wouldnt want to know that?”

“You’d be surprised.”

“Has it worked for you?”

“… Ray. Honestly.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…”

“Of course you did. And you’re wise to be suspicious. A gift like this, one with such enormous power… it shouldn’t be taken lightly.”


“Don’t smirk at me, young man. Did no one tell you to respect your elders?”

“Yes… sir.”

The man nodded. “Better. So. You want to know the secret?”


The man leaned closer and whispered. “Tell him he’s hot.” He settled back on his chair with a knowing smile.

“Huh? That’s it?”

“All you need to say, trust me. And not in that phony, breathy Paris Hilton kind of way. Just say it, straight out.”

The boy looked at him, hoping his dismissiveness didn’t show. “All I have to do is tell some guy he’s hot, and that’s it.”


“He’ll be all over me. I just tell him what a great dresser he is, how well built he is — “

“His clothes and his gym membership are irrelevant. All you have to do is tell him he’s hot. That’s it.”

“Just blurt it out, just like that.”

The man nodded.

“I couldn’t… I’ve never… I can’t just walk up to some guy and say that.”

“Why not?”

“Well… what if he isn’t?”

The man laughed. “I gather you wouldn’t be saying it to him then, would you?”

“That’s not what I meant!”

The man smiled. “I know. But I still get the impression that you still need some practice with the concept. Am I right?... Yes, I thought as much. “

“But what if he doesn’t believe me?”

“He will. Trust me. He will because every man secretly thinks he is.”

“And all I have to do is tell him so.”


“Even the gorgeous ones?”

“Even the gorgeous ones. Actually, the gorgeous ones need it the most. They live in absolute fear that it might not be true, so they need to the constant repetition to assure them that it might — might, you understand — might be true.”

“C’mon,” the boy laughed. “It can’t be that easy.”

The man looked about the room, then pointed. “See that guy over there? The one with the Superman t-shirt?”

The kid nodded.

“Shouldn’t be wearing it, should he.”

“… Probably not.”

“And yet he is — because, deep inside, in a place he alone goes, he wishes he really were Superman. Muscular, handsome, tight in all the right places. And because he wishes he were, part of him believes he is. And those two little words — “ 

“You’re. Hot.”

The man nodded. “Those two little words make the rest of him believe, if only for a moment, that he is Superman.”

“But he’s not.”

“He isn’t? Why not?”

“… Well, just look at him.”


The boy laughed. “Superman doesn’t look like that!”

The man nodded. “But his secret identity might.”

“Okay… but I’ve never… I don’t know how to — “

The man sighed. "All right, let's start on something non-threatening. Here." He held up a cheap plastic lighter. “Try it with this. Just tell it it’s hot.”

The kid giggled. “But it is.”

“Not till you turn it on.” He held the lighter out to the kid. “Come on. Do it.”

The boy giggled once more. “This is ridiculous…. Fine.” He took the lighter and studied it for a moment. “Just talk to it, right?” The man nodded. “Okay… well, hello there. Aren’t you just the hottest thing going. So smooth, so… long and round.” The kid moved his fingers up and down the lighter. “Oh yeah, I bet a hot stud like you likes that, huh. I — “ His fingers fumbled, and the lighter seemed to jump from his hand, then dropped to the floor.

The man frowned as he picked it up. “You’re making it too complicated. Think simple, Ray.” He lifted it to eye level. “All you have to do is press that one little button — you’re hot.” With a click!, the lighter blazed with a sudden joyful radiance. The man looked at the boy through the flame. “See? It’s that easy.”

(to be continued)

1 comment:

  1. All these years, and THAT was all it took???