"She Takes the Cake"An opera buffo in the grand tradition of La Comédie Française, and in tribute to Victor Hugo, Moliére, Beaumarchais and Marivaux (aka “the boys”).
Woman (blonde bombshell, 35-ish) grabs wrong bag at Newark airport carousel and then nods at wrong limo driver holding sign with last name same as hers.
She drives off in not-her-car with not-her-luggage.
Man (salt & pepper, 55-ish) in terminal at baggage claim sees like-shaped black bag with name “Taylor” on tag. His name; not his bag. He wonders if someone else took his bag and left theirs behind. He sees limo driver standing nearby with name Taylor on sign, but from a different limo company than his. Her grabs not-his-bag and nods at not-his-driver.
He has not-his-driver call his real driver to arrange a rendez-vous to straighten all this out before they get too far afield. The two limos meet off-road. Mistakes acknowledged. Bags swapped. She gets into her car; he into his. Off they go, both into NYC.
He then discovers her dark glasses (very expensive brand) in his back seat. Mulls tracking her down again. Wonders if she left it on purpose, to get him to see her again. Wishful thinking?
Her driver says to her “He took the bait. Figured obvious mix-up. Saw me holding name sign and it all came together.” She replies, “You did very well, Charles. Did you drop the name of my hotel so he picked up on it?” Driver nods, “I let it slip out. He’ll remember.”
The woman smiles in the rear-view mirror and purrs, “There’s another C-note in it for you, my friend. I believe we’re going to see Mr. Taylor again soon.”
(She and Mr. Taylor sitting in a restaurant at her hotel.)
She: “I find it romantic to think my silly dark glasses were important enough to have you track me down… for the second time”.
He: “Your hotel is only two blocks from mine… how could I not?”
She: “Really, Mr. Taylor, I could be a private investigator hired by a wife to lure you to my hotel.”
He: “Why would some woman I’m no longer married to ask you to do that?”
She. “So you aren’t married.”
He: “My guess is you’re not either.”
She: “I’m not old enough to be married.”
(In the hotel bar, after dinner.)
She: “I hadn’t ever heard of Hine. Is it a brand many people know about?”
He: “Best cognac in the world. Thankfully, it’s a well kept secret.”
She: “I’ll bet you have many secrets.”
He smiles broadly.
She: “Well, I know I have a clear conscience. How clear is yours?”
He: “Now you sound like a former girlfriend.”
(Leaning over the bar piano, while the player performs a favorite.)
She: “I think it’s about time you tucked me in.”
He: “I’d like nothing better.”
(They stroll to the elevator, enter, and then arrive at her room.)
As she unlocks the door she turns and says,
“There’s something I want to show you.”
She reaches into her handbag and pulls out a picture.
“Do you remember this former girlfriend?”
(You see him squint and draw the photograph closer.)
She: “That’s my mother. And I am your daughter. And it’s about time you started loving me the way I deserve to be loved. Consider me tucked, go back to your own room, and we’ll meet in the morning for breakfast. We’re going to make up for a lot of lost time…Father! “ (Hugs him.)
. . . at breakfast next morning, her hotel
She: “Father, aren’t we glad I told you the news last night, rather than put it off until this morning?”
(He chokes on his orange juice.)
She: “Why don’t we celebrate by ordering Bloody Marys?”
He: (Coughs twice, clears his throat) “What a good idea!”
(The drinks are served and they toast each other.)
She: “And I want you to know of a decision I’ve made: I’m going to change my last name to Taylor — make it legal.”
He: “Frankly, I’m very touched by that. By all means, do that if it suits you. Some daughter I never knew I had!”
(They finish the Bloody Marys and order another round. He gazes at her approvingly.)
He: “Tell me, how is your mother? I haven’t seen or heard from her in…35 years.”
She: “Mother raised me all by herself and is very proud of the work she put into that. She works at the Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, as an administrator. Doing pretty well.”
He: “She never married?”
He: “And so tell me, just how did you orchestrate this rather creative rendez-vous with me?”
She: “I know a good limo company. Without their help, I can’t imagine how it could have worked. They are Perfect. Perfect Limo, that is.”
He: “Then call them right now. Perfect can take us to the opera tonight. I have tickets to Rigoletto, and we are going in style. Your father is paying.”
They kiss, on the cheek, for the first time.
Mr. Taylor and daughter step out of a limo at Lincoln Center, New York City.
She: “Rigoletto, in Italian, with my newly-found father,…I’m in Heaven!”
He: “Do you know the storyline to this opera?”
She: “I Googled it. Something sexist; old fashioned morality. Right up your alley, actually.”
He. (Shaking his head) “Just like your mother!”
She: “Kevin, our limo driver, was super don't you think? Perfect Limo has the best.”
He. “He really was.”
She: “Let’s have a glass of champagne during intermission. This evening is going to be the bomb!”
(Intermission. Sipping glasses of champagne.)
She: “Oh, Father! Or would you rather I call you Daddy?”
He: “Father is fine. I’m just getting used to it.”
She: “By some of the looks we’re getting, people possibly think you’re my Sugar Daddy.”
He: “Or that you’re my ‘niece’.”
She: “But that’s nothing new. We were playing it for real last night, as you’ll recall.”
He: “What a difference a day makes.”
(Back in limo heading to hotel.)
She: “That was really something! Is it just Italian men who are crazy, or is it all men?”
He: “That opera was written over 200 years ago. Times change…..or maybe not.”
She: “Change of subject: We are going to stay in close touch. Next time we hook up, what if I brought your former girlfriend with me? You haven’t seen her in 35 years. Agree?”
He: “You’ve now got me wrapped around your little finger. Agreed.”
She: “By the way, for tomorrow, I’ve called my friend Gina at Perfect Limo to arrange the pickups. You’re off to Mountain Lakes at noon. I’m off to Mahwah at eleven. Ahh, back to the joys of New Jersey!.”
“And Father, remember to give your driver an extra tip. It’ll be Raydell—he’s another good one.”
A month later at a restaurant in Park Ridge, NJ she enters with her mother, May. He rises to his feet and holds up his hands.
May: “God bless you Rex, I never would have believed it!”
Rex: “May! To think you were keeping such a secret from me all these years.”
She: “I’m not a secret any longer!”
(Dinner is served)
She: “Whenever I want a great steak, I come here. The Park Steakhouse has been here in Park Ridge as long as I can remember.”
May: “I believe the last time I saw Rex was at another steakhouse in New York City called Sparks.”
Rex: “That was before Sparks became famous for where ‘Big Paulie’ Castellano didn’t make it inside to his last meal.”
May: “Well, it was our last meal, I remember that.”
Rex: “I was so much older then…I’m younger than that now.”
She: “Father, are you really quoting Bob Dylan?”,br> May: (Shaking her head), “He was always putting someone else’s words in his mouth.”
Rex: “Did he really say that?”
Two months later, on a wine-tasting tour, in a stretch limo up the Hudson Valley.
She: (Singing the words) “We’re going up country, with May and Rex in tow!!! Hey Andrew, you get to party with us!”
Driver: “Thanks for including me. I’m the designated driver, but I am still considered the life of any party.”
Rex: “How good can the wine from upstate New York be?”
May: “I’ve heard they grow grapes as far north as the Finger Lakes. I’m all for it!”
She: “Father, you’ve told me you’ve never had a bad beer. Well I can attest to this: I’ve never had a bad bottle of wine.”
(In the Ladies room at the Benmarl Winery in Marlboro, NY)
May: “This isn’t working out so well. I’m not getting any sparks from him, because frankly I think he has a thing for you!”
She: “What kind of man do you think he is? Rex thinks of me as his daughter! This was your plan all along.”
May: “You sleaze! You’ve got something going with him. I’ll not be a dupe!”
She: “So go ahead…just pull the plug. Explain to Rex that you faked that pregnancy, never didn’t have an abortion, used me as a pawn to create an emotional connection, but still believe you deserve his love and devotion! Go ahead.”
May: “Here’s the plan now. I’m going to lose interest in him, and you’re going to give me back the $5,000 I invested in your pathetic acting talent.”
Six months later: She is in a stretch limo with Rex, a wedding ring on her finger and a red carnation in his lapel.
She: “You are very convincing, my lovely Rex Taylor!”
Rex: “You’re the one! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Any woman who deserves an Academy Award for Best Actress is my love for life.”
Raydell, the driver, looks in the rearview mirror, a big cigar in his mouth, unlit.
She: (sporting a new "look" and lease on life, eyes locked on Rex) “So who’s my Daddy now?”