A Kitchen in Italy: a play in three acts

ACT 1, SCENE 1 (The curtain opens on an empty apartment; the floor has just been put in – look at that snazzy fake-wood tile! – and the doors windows are all hanging in position but lacking frames. The main character is industriously setting up what appears to be a small classroom or art studio in one corner of the room, while her partner flits about holding a measuring tape up against various items in the room, equally industrious. The materials the main character is setting up include two sets of cabinet and countertop sample cards, a stack of photocopied kitchen plans, and an assortment of colored pens and highlighters.)

MAIN CHARACTER (in a satisfied tone): Okay, I think we have everything! Want to come over and start looking at the samples while we wait for [best friend]?

PARTNER (in Italian): Sure! Why don’t you get started – I just have a couple more measurements to take for the… (trails off into something only semi-intelligible in which the main character is only marginally interested anyway. He likes measuring and building; she likes making interminable lists and complex flow charts.)

The MAIN CHARACTER commences flipping through the decks of cabinet samples and meticulously noting all possible combinations. It seems that current trends in Italy dictate one color for the bottom cabinets, one color for the top cabinets, one color for the countertop, and potentially one of the above repeated as an accent color somewhere. This appeals to her because being able to include three to four colors means eliminating fewer of them and thus easier decision making. In theory. Some minutes pass.

MAIN CHARACTER’S PARTNER makes the tactical error of wandering back into the main room, where his girlfriend is using four different colors of pen to draw lines between series of numbers.

MAIN CHARACTER: Want to come over here and fill out a possible kitchen? She hands him a blank photocopy of their kitchen plan, which was created by an old friend of PARTNER’s family. You can just flip through, and note down the numbers of the colors you like in the different parts of the kitchen, so we can remember them for the final round of decisions.

PARTNER knows her well enough not to argue or ask what the final round might entail, or how many preliminary rounds there might be. He takes a pen and a deck of samples and flips through.

MAIN CHARACTER knows herself well enough not to insist that PARTNER color code his choices, even though it would be so much easier to keep them straight that way. She fills out another three hypothetical kitchen plans to his one.

BEST FRIEND (from outside the scene, cheerfully and enthusiastically – this is Saturday afternoon entertainment in pandemic times, after all): Hellooooo!

MAIN CHARACTER: Hi [best friend]! We’re in here! (Somewhat unnecessarily – where else would they be?)

PARTNER (relieved): Hi [best friend]! Well, great, I’ll just leave you girls to it, then…

BEST FRIEND and MAIN CHARACTER chat for a while, catching up on life. All the while, MAIN CHARACTER is flipping busily through the sample cards, holding them together and apart and up against the wall and near the window and near the door in various combinations. BEST FRIEND indulgently fills out two or three sample kitchens (using multiple pen colors, as advised). She patiently observes MAIN CHARACTER’s manipulations of the sample cards, responding noncommittally to various solicitations for her opinion.

As the sun starts to go down and a chill comes over the room, BEST FRIEND gently takes control of the sample cards.

BEST FRIEND: Want me to help you a bit?

MAIN CHARACTER nods enthusiastically: God, yes. It’s getting cold and also I have to pee and I have at least four different kitchens I like. Maybe I should buy another house?? Or go into business designing people’s kitchens!

BEST FRIEND: Definitely not. Focus. Okay, so, all these shiny ones? You don’t like shiny stuff. You might think they look fresh and fun because you don’t usually choose this type of stuff, but you don’t actually like them for your own house.

MAIN CHARACTER (slowly, pensively): That’s true…

BEST FRIEND: Same for these with a bit of glitter in them. I like them. [Partner] might even not be opposed, but you probably don’t like them.

MAIN CHARACTER: Yeah, definitely no glitter.

BEST FRIEND: These colors are too dark for you, because you already said you want light colors to brighten up the room. (Flipping past a whole series of dark colors that comprise at least a third of the samples.) You already said you don’t want fake wood-effect, because you have that on the floor and it would be too busy, or this weird concrete effect because it’s just ugly. (Another third of the samples go by.) So actually, you only have to consider these three or four light colors.

MAIN CHARACTER: And I think I want to stick with my original plan to have white on the top cabinets…

BEST FRIEND: See? Progress! So you actually only have three or so colors to choose from, and you can put one on the counter and one on the bottom cabinets and you’re done!

MAIN CHARACTER (nodding enthusiastically): So we’re basically done! Great! Want to come get a coffee with us?

BEST FRIEND: No, dude, we can’t: we’re in lockdown. And anyway, you need to go home and obsess over those three colors for a few hours so you can choose your kitchen before you move in this summer.

MAIN CHARACTER nods sagely (no sense denying it – that’s definitely what will happen). PARTNER has only grasped about thirty percent of the rapid-fire English between the two women, but the fact that they are standing up and dusting the grout-dust off their bottoms seems an excellent indication that they will be able to go home soon. He sends a silent grateful look to BEST FRIEND and makes a mental note to thank her later.

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