dan wants to tell you something about nice

This is the one that just about broke my heart.

I wrote this song — this entire scene, in fact — during a period of otherwise crippling inactivity quite some time ago. In an airport. In Philadelphia. Where I had driven to pick up a freelance interior decorator and drive her to a furniture store in rural Quaker country, where she was to give a seminar on home decorating to suburban women looking for tips on how to feng shui their Jesus candles next to their husband’s La-Z-Boys.

Yes, that was really my job then.

The show had already been conceptualized, considered, laughed at, forgotten, raised from the dead, forgotten, and forgotten, all somehow without being introduced to anyone besides Tracie and myself. This was a scene that kickstarted my Monica-writing process after it had lain dormant for going on a year, and made us think we could at least finish the first act. And, after a full year of writing, this was the first actual appearance that Monica’s character made in the show. Does anyone out there wonder why we’re still editing? Yeah, me neither.

Anyway, in the original script, Monica enters the show (on Page 36) and is immediately accosted by dozens of gorgeous women, all vying for one of the coveted intern positions in the nascent Clinton Administration. She’s out of place. She’s a stranger in a blah-blah land. She’s wearing shoulder pads. It’s going badly, and the WASPs want her to know.

Performed at the May 7th reading and ditched amongst a fair amount of (mostly my) protest shortly after, this song had a fully orchestrated demo version, a live performance, and at least six brilliant New York actresses who are now able to spit out the words as fast as they come. If every song is like a child and the other songs I’ve posted here so far are children that never got around to being born, this song is the child that turned thirteen and then ran away before anyone had a chance to see how pretty she might become.

Ladies and gentlemen…meet “Nice.”

Fuck it. Meet the whole scene.

(Just outside the Oval Office, a seemingly endless procession of beautiful, WASPy young women parade around confidently. They talk, they laugh, they pretend to kiss each other on one cheek and then the other. Each is decked out in the finest corporate formalwear DKDC has to offer, and the monochromatic black of their clothing is offset only
slightly by the vague flourishes — beige, brown, navy — of their giant leather-bound planners. Their model-esque, Stepford sameness is made only more bizarre by the fact that they all seem to know each other.)

WASP #1
So I said to him, “Oh, please. You just have to take a personal check. So what if it’s from Daddy’s account!” I mean, my God, it was only a Lexus. Something to tool around in. I mean, do they honestly expect me to show up at my Meals on Wheels route driving the Beamer? Seriously? It’s my responsibility — my civic duty, even — to show these poors that I can slum it, too. Those adorable dirty little heathen darlings.

(The action freezes as the lights go off, save for a spotlight that shines on MONICA LEWINSKY. She stumbles in from Stage Left, holding a giant clunky briefcase, one thin manila envelope, and two cups of Starbucks coffee in a container. Her tomato-red dress is very prom-like, and is accentuated by a confounding amount of frills and extremely conspicuous shoulder pads. She stands alone in a corner of the stage, alternately opening her manila folder and fanning herself with it. She sneezes the lights back on, and drops the manila folder when she does so. During the following sequence, then, MONICA is taking pains to recover her dropped papers, but she is still far away from the other girls, who are mostly concentrated on Stage Right. When the action begins again…)

WASP #2
So they just let you write a check?

WASP #1
They let me walk right out of the dealership. Like they wouldn’t honor Daddy’s account with me standing right there. They know Daddy’s good for the money. After all, girls. You know what it is they say…

ALL WASPS
You can always trust a trust fund girl!

WASP #3
I know! About the car thing I mean. Remember when I had Jacques drive me, Melissa, Mandy, Holly and Audrey to the ’92 Democratic Convention in the limo? Oh! I thought old Billy was going to have a fit!

WASP #2
Something about his volunteers needing to make him look like a down home member of the party.

WASP #1
Well, he can’t be too mad, else he’d never have asked us to apply for the position.

(The WASPS break. Meanwhile, still standing in the same spot, a nervous-looking MONICA surveys the situation. Among the milling of the other girls, she eventually approaches one of the WASPS, standing by herself quietly repeating the words, “Daddy said try to be a good girl,” under her breath, over and over and over again. MONICA advances, retreats, advances again, and finally taps the girl on the shoulder. The WASP turns around.)

WASP #4
Muffy, I told you not to…

(seeing MONICA)

Oh. Hello.

MONICA
Hi.

WASP #4
Oh my! Don’t we have on just the most delightful frock! Don’t we now?

MONICA
Well, um, thanks! I made it myself with a sewing pattern I cut out of the back of Reader’s Digest. Oh, um, sorry. Didn’t mean to brag. I also designed this handbag to go with it, which I sewed all by my…

WASP #4
(turning back to her WASP cohorts, her voice dripping with venom)
The part I thought couldn’t be any more gauche was when she wouldn’t stop
droning on and on…

MONICA
(stepping toward the girls and suddenly much less timid)
Hey, that wasn’t very nice.

(At the sound of this word, all WASPS turn to face her.)

WASP #1
Nice?

ALL WASPS
Ha!

WASP #1
Nice, darling, doesn’t put the gas in the Porsche in this town.

WASP #2
Nice, sweetheart, doesn’t put the brioche on the table in this town.

WASP #3
Nice, pookie, doesn’t put a chicken in every uninhaled pot in this town.

WASP #4
Nice, honey, doesn’t get you the job of intern to the 42nd President of the United States of America, Mr. William Jefferson Clinton. In this town.

WASP #1
Sister? Lemme tell you something about “nice.”

SONG: NICE

WASP #1
WELL YOU GOT YOUR “PARENTS PUT IT TOGETHER” DRESS
AND YOUR FEATHERY FARAH FAWCETT HAIR
YOU’VE PERFECTED YOUR DOWN-HOME FARM GIRL ROUTINE
AND YOUR SOMEBODY-PLEASE-LOVE-ME PUPPY DOG STARE

WASP #2
YOU’VE GOT YOUR COMPLIMENTARY REVLON GIFT SET MAKEUP
FREE WITH ANY PURCHASE
AND YOUR CLOTHES THAT ARE WASH AND WEAR
BUT IF YOU LACK THE ITCH TO ACT THE BITCH
IN THIS TOWN THEY WON’T CARE

WASP #1 AND WASP #2
‘CAUSE IF YOU WANT NICE WELL HERE’S A HINT
YOU’LL PAY MORE OF A PRICE THAN THE WASHINGTON MINT
IN YOUR EYES, CRUELTY’S VICE, THERE’S NOT EVEN A GLINT
THEY WON’T LOOK AT YOU TWICE IF YOU TRY AND STAY NICE

WASP #3
THE SO-CALLED “FRIENDS” YOU’RE MAKING ARE REALLY
YOUR CORPORATE LADDER CLIMBING COMPETITION
BUZZING AROUND YOU LIKE A SWARM OF BEES
SO DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME TRYIN’ TO IMPRESS ‘ROUND HERE
WITH A POINTLESS “THANK YOU” OR EVEN “PLEASE”

WASP #4
DROP THAT GOOD GIRL ROUTINE YOU’RE CLEARLY FAKING
FILLED WITH INNOCENT “SHUCKS” AND “AW GEES”
‘CAUSE IF YOU’VE GOT THE WILL TO SATISFY BILL
YOU’D BETTER GET DOWN ON YOUR KNEES

WASP #3 AND WASP #4
‘CAUSE IF YOU WANT NICE WELL HERE’S A HINT
YOU’LL PAY MORE OF A PRICE THAN THE WASHINGTON MINT
IN YOUR EYES, CRUELTY’S VICE, THERE’S NOT EVEN A GLINT
THEY WON’T LOOK AT YOU TWICE IF YOU TRY AND STAY NICE

WASP #1
SO I THINK YOU’D BETTER UNDERSTAND, GIRL
BEFORE WE SET YOU OUT ON YOUR OWN

WASP #2
YOU’LL GO LESS FAR WITH A WAN SMILE
THAN YOU WILL WITH A WAIL OR A GROAN

WASP #3
YOU’D DO YOURSELF A FAVOR
IF YOU’LL TRY ONCE THIS CATTY BITCH TONE

WASP #4
‘CAUSE IF YOU AIN’T CORRUPT WHEN YOUR BOSS GETS IT UP

ALL WASPS
WHAT YOU DO WHEN HE THROWS YOU A BONE?
(big chorus, now)
‘CAUSE IF YOU WANT NICE WELL HERE’S A HINT
YOU’LL PAY MORE OF A PRICE THAN THE WASHINGTON MINT
IN YOUR EYES, CRUELTY’S VICE, THERE’S NOT EVEN A GLINT
YES WE’LL TELL YOU IT TWICE, GIRL, DON’T EVEN TRY NICE
OH YOU’RE FREE TO ENTICE THIS I NEED TO IMPRINT
OF YOUR COY SAD DEVICE, THOUGH, WE ALL GET THE HINT
YOU’LL BE SWATTED LIKE MICE, BRUSHED AWAY LIKE STRAY LINT
THEY WON’T LOOK AT YOU TWICE IF YOU TRY AND STAY NICE
(A singular chord is held during the following, spoken speech.)

MONICA
Hey, thanks for the tips, gals! I really appreciate everything you’ve told me.

(then, suspiciously)

But say, why on Earth would you choose to tell me all this?

(lighting up again)

You know what I think? I think you try to act all tough, but deep down you
really want to help each other out. I bet deep down you girls are all, like,
mint. And whatever. I mean, why else would you have chosen to help me out with
your super advice?

WASP #1
Because sister…you don’t have a prayer.

(A final chord for “Nice” and the WASPS exit.)

Nice stuff, eh, Pamie?