I Can't Sleep

Characters

Frank: College student (Wears his heart on his sleeve)

Julie: College student (Plain and simple)

Setting

Basement lounge in a dorm, 3am.

Frank enters, groggy as though he just woke-up. Julie sits, engrossed in the television. Jerry Maguire is on as Julie sits clenching her pillow, wrapped up in a blanket.

Frank: What are you still doing up?

Julie: Shhh!

Frank: [Mid-yawn] Sorry. Couldn't sleep. Hungry.

Julie: He's just about to tell her "she completes him!"

Frank: Oh God. How many minutes is it for popcorn?

Julie: SHUT-UP!

[We hear the famous quotes, "I love you. You... complete me," and "Shut up. Just shut up. You had me at "hello." Julie stifles tears.]

Frank: Oh right, popcorn button... Jerry Maguire, seriously?

Julie: You're lucky it's on commercial right now.

Frank: What is it with girls and chick flicks?

Julie: For your information, Jerry Maguire is a lot more than just a "chick flick." It is unfairly billed as such. It is an intellectual comedy about a sports agent and his struggle to keep his integrity in such a competitive profession. He just happens to find the love of his life along the way.

Frank: Uh huh.

Julie: It's got sports. Men like sports.

Frank: [Laughs] Look who's advancing stereotypes now!

Julie: Well, you're a guy. What's your favorite baseball team?

Frank: The Yankees. What's yours?

Julie: The Mets.

Frank: You just disproved your own stereotype!

Julie: No I didn't. I didn't say women don't like sports. I just said that men do. That's all.

Frank: Well, liking the Mets doesn't count as liking sports anyway.

Julie: What's that supposed to mean?

Frank: Do you know what Mets stands for? My Entire Team Sucks.

Julie: Ha. Ha. It takes more heart to like a team that's the underdog, than it does to like a team that wins all the time. Way to join the bandwagon.

Frank: I take offense to that. I've been a Yankees fan my whole life. My whole family likes the Yankees. I've been watching their games since before I even knew what baseball was.

Julie: Like I said, "Bandwagon." Ok, ok, it's back from commercial and your popcorn's been done for the past 10mins.

Frank: Yankees rule. Mets drool. And you just don't want to accept it!

Julie: Real mature. Movie!

Frank: Sorry, I forgot you are waiting to see the ever-so-charming (and insane) Tom Cruise win back the heart of the doe-eyed Renée Zellweger. Are Scientologists allowed to marry single mothers?

Julie: QUIET! [Raises the volume to block out Frank.]

Frank: [Popcorn in hand, sits beside Julie on the couch.] Seriously, how many times have you seen this movie?

Julie: I don't know.

Frank: I bet it's one of your favorites. Even though you have it on DVD, you still have to watch it whenever it's on TV. Right?

Julie: Are you still here? Don't you have an exam to study for or something?

Frank: Geez, I'll leave you alone. [Stops talking, but doesn't move.]

Julie: [Beat] I thought you were leaving.

Frank: What? Can't I enjoy an intellectually stimulating film at three o'clock in the morning, with my big bag of satisfying, freshly made popcorn?

Julie: Fine, but only if you share your popcorn. It's the end anyway.

Frank: Good.

Julie: And you can't talk.

Frank: Fine.

Julie: [Beat] What's with you tonight?

Frank: Jerry Maguire! Shhh!

Julie: Ugh.

[We hear the last quote of the movie, "Hey... I don't have all the answers. In life, to be honest, I have failed as much as I have succeeded. But I love my life. I love my wife. And I wish you my kind of success."]

It's over. What's up?

Frank: Credits! SHHH!

Julie: Ok, I get it. I'm a bitch when I watch chick flicks. I can't help it. Honestly, it doesn't matter what type of movie I watch, I hate being interrupted right at the end of it. I've been bonding with the characters for the past hour and a half, and right at the best part, someone brings me back to reality. And I'm the worst with chick flicks.

Frank: The first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one. Congratulations.

Julie: Thanks. I'm getting help.

Frank: Good for you.

Julie: So what's up? I usually have this lounge all to myself at this time of the night.

Frank: Nothing much. I can't sleep. Too hungry.

Julie: Uh huh. Ok. Well I needed an escape.

Frank: What's with girls and chick flicks anyway? Really. I want to know. Is it the whole "knight in shining armor" thing?

Julie: No. Not really. Ok, maybe. I don't know. It's different for different people. For me, they are an escape; an escape from the dull, boring, and uneventful. Plus, romance in the movies is a lot less awkward and uncomfortable than it is in real life. It can't be awkward when all the right moves are already scripted and planned out for you. All the hard work is already done. You just leave it up to the writers, and Prince Charming will be ready and waiting to sweep you off your feet.

Frank: You mean off your feet.

Julie: Ya. Off my feet. Nothing romantic ever happens in my life. So I live vicariously through the characters, but what girl doesn't? That's why Hollywood created the billion dollar industry.

Frank: Did you ever think that nothing romantic ever happens in your life because you never let it?

Julie: What do you mean?

Frank: I mean, you're probably just oblivious to it.

Julie: Oh come on! Me? All I do is watch chick flicks. I own both versions of Sabrina on VHS and 2 disc special edition DVD's. I can quote Pretty Woman and As Good As It Gets in my sleep. I think I'd be aware if I were having a romantic moment.

Frank: [He inches closer to her] You said it yourself. Romance doesn't happen like it does in the movies. I guarantee it'll be a lot less obvious when it does. Unlike you ladies, we guys don't typically say exactly what's on our minds, even when the time is right. Like you said, everything's easier (not to forget unrealistic) in the movies, because it is scripted. You'd be surprised, but a lot of guys wish they were as smooth as Richard Gere in An Officer and a Gentleman, you know, to be able to sweep you off your feet.

Julie: Off my feet?

Frank: Exactly.

Julie: [Beat] When did this become about me anyway? I thought I was trying to get to the bottom of why you are still awake. Don't tell me insomnia.

Frank: Julie, you are impossible. I'm going back to my room and getting some overdue sleep. Enjoy your fantasies.

Julie: Finally. Good night, Frank.

Frank: Sweet dreams, Julie.

[Frank Exits.]

[Julie resumes watching television, she flips through channels.]

Julie: Clueless! Perfect!

[After what seems like only a few minutes have gone by, Julie is once again engrossed in the television, Frank enters, unsatisfied. He returns to his spot next to her on the couch.]

Julie: [Seemingly unbothered] Back so soon?

Frank: [Yawning] Yup. Can't sleep. Need pills.

Julie: No you don't. Those things will only throw off your sleep cycle even more, making you dependent, and the side-effects are ridiculous. Plus, where are you going to get sleeping pills at four o'clock in the morning? Make yourself some chamomile tea. Works just the same.

Frank: And where am I going to get chamomile teat at four o'clock in the morning?

Julie: I have some in my room.

Frank: Really?

Julie: Ya, I have a smorgasbord up there of different herbal remedies for practically everything. I should open my own health food store on campus. Have a cold? Try some Echinacea. Need a laxative? Here's some fiber. Can't sleep? A nice, warm chamomile tea will do the trick. Who needs drugs? I can make you one if you want.

Frank: Aren't you watching TV? I don't want to disturb you and your fantasies. What is it this time? [Glances at the screen] Hmm… Alicia Silverstone. Must be Clueless.

[Under his breath] Appropriate.

Julie: What's that supposed to mean?

Frank: Nothing. That's the only good movie she ever made. Unless you count Batman and Robin, but nobody likes that movie. The "Governator" as Mr. Freeze just kills it.

Julie: I agree. But I didn't mean that. I meant that sly little aside you made.

Frank: [Indignant] What?

Julie: Why is it "appropriate" that I am watching Clueless?

Frank: Oh. It just is. [Changing subjects] Chamomile tea, huh? Ok, I'll try it. I'm desperate for some sleep.

Julie: Fine. I'll go get it. I could use a good cup of tea right now anyway. Plus, it's on commercial. Once again, you have perfect timing.

Frank: I know. I'm perfect. It's about time you noticed.

Julie: And modest too! I'll be right back. I'm gonna get my hotpot and the tea.
[She exits.]

[Frank waits impatiently for Julie's return. Clueless is back from commercial break. We hear the Alicia Silverstone character revealing to herself and the audience her feelings for Josh, her former step-brother. Frank is paying attention to the TV.]

Frank: [Talking to the television] Congratu-fucking-lations, Cher. It's nice to see someone around here is capable of figuring out what she wants. But I guess if it took you an entire school year to realize you had feelings for your used-to-be step-brother, what hope do I have that Julie will come to her senses? She just doesn't get that things don't happen as magically as they do in the movies. Sometimes, there needs to be some effort involved. Love won't happen if she doesn't let it. Josh doesn't know how good he has it.

[Julie enters, carrying a hotpot and two mugs with tea bags inside.]

Julie: Talking to the television, Frank? You do realize she can't hear you right?

Frank: [Startled] Oh! Hey! I… uh… was just… uh…

Julie: [Putting water to boil] You know, Frank, talking to the television in hopes of getting a reply is a sure sign of insanity. However, it may just be that you are sleep deprived. Give me five more minutes and our teas will be ready. Then, we can finally get some sleep.

Frank: Thanks. [Pause] Your movies back.

Julie: I know. I've seen it five thousand times. It's fine.

Frank: Oh. Not one of your favorites? Or just not as intellectually stimulating as Jerry Maguire?

Julie: Neither actually. I just… I want my tea, so I can get some sleep.

[A moment passes. Frank leaves the couch and approaches Julie who has now stationed herself over by the microwave.]

Frank: What are you afraid of, Julie?

Julie: What are you talking about?

Frank: What are you afraid of? Why aren't you sitting with me on the couch any more?

Julie: I told you, I want my tea.

Frank: Julie, "A watched pot never boils."

Julie: Shut-up, Frank. No need for age old adages.

Frank: It's true. And it's true in life, as well.

Julie: What the hell are you talking about now?!

Frank: Julie, why are you being so nice to me all of the sudden? Ignoring your precious television? Making me tea?

Julie: Don't think I'm doing this all for you! I'm tired too. I have class tomorrow morning and I haven't slept in the past week either! It's stressful being a transfer student, having to get adjusted to a whole new environment; a whole new class structure; a whole new group of people and set of social regulations. Sometimes, I just want to be by myself and enjoy something familiar, comfortable, and not have to worry about anything or anyone judging me. It's just me and my movies and relationships that are planned and scripted to turn out well. And even when you fear something is going to go wrong, like Julia Roberts won't take Hugh Grant back at the end of Notting Hill, you take solace in remembering that the one thousand other times you saw the movie she did. Every single time. I get so sick of trying to be liked and understood. And when I feel like no one I know really gets me, can get me, or will ever get me, I retreat down here in the middle of the night, to the closest thing to my own private grotto that I can get in a college environment, where I can be with people, fictitious as they may be, whom I can identify with and whom I understand and who would, I hope, understand me. [We see steam rising from the kettle.] The water is ready.

Frank: Great, but you still haven't answered my question. Why are you being so nice to me?

Julie: I just exposed my every insecurity to you and all you can say is, "Great"?!

Frank: "Great" was in regards to the tea. As for your insecurities, look we all feel that way sometimes. I don't mean to belittle your feelings or anything, but it's true. I'm sure even your Romeo, Hugh Grant, has at one point or another wanted to be liked and understood. [He moves towards her.] But how can you ever feel understood if you never let anyone get close enough to really see inside you? See what a beautiful person you are. Take a leap of faith, Julie, or at least answer my question, "Why are you being so nice to me all of the sudden?"

Julie: I… I don't know. It's not like we're not friends. I figured I was rude before, and I do watch Clueless a lot. The least I can do is help you out. Plus, I can't sleep either, so I might as well take advantage of the interruption.

Frank: An interruption? That's it?

Julie: I mean, a good interruption. I don't know! What is with you tonight?! Is this why you came down here? All that "I need sleeping pills" bullshit was just an excuse to agitate me? To put me on the spot and make me feel even more hopeless and uncomfortable than I already do?

Frank: No, actually. I legitimately couldn't sleep. See because unlike you, when something is troubling me to the point where it races around my mind whenever I get a moment to myself, thus rendering me incapable of a peaceful night's rest, I do something about it. I take action. You on the other hand, sit there and think of possible solutions without ever doing anything about them. You are not the only one who is unsure of herself and feels disconnected. I've felt that way, too.

Julie: When have you ever felt the way I do? When you're out on stage playing your guitar and all the girls are sitting front row screaming your name? When you're in history class answering every question right on that damn midterm exam? Or when you're with your buddies hanging out, grabbing a few ice cold brews, belching and watching the game? It's more than just feeling disconnected. It's being unsure of your every move because you don't have a clue what you want. And even if you thought you did, the wrong choice could change things drastically, and you're not ready for that. You are lost and confused in a world where everyone else seems to get it. They all received the memo on how to achieve their dreams, took Life Lessons 101, and know exactly what they want and the proper way to get it. When have you ever felt that insecure?

Frank: You want to know when I feel my most insecure, Julie? Do you? Because you will never guess, not in a million years. Never, I should just tell you…

Julie: When?

Frank: EVERY GOD DAMN MINUTE I'M AROUND YOU, THAT'S WHEN!

Julie: [Flabbergasted] What?

Frank: [Suddenly embarrassed] You heard me. Don't make me repeat myself.

Julie: I… I don't know what to say.

Frank: Don't say anything. It's fine. I understand. You are too insecure and frightened to let some one else in, and to let yourself maybe, even, potentially feel what could possibly resemble what the people in your wonderful movies feel. You are impossible and I have no idea why I bother caring sometimes, but I do. I continue waiting in hopes that one day you will wake-up from your day dreams and actually live for once. I love you, and I can't help myself! But if you won't take the chance that's right in front of you, there's nothing I can do about it.

[There is a long pause as Frank cools down and Julie tries to formulate a response.]

Julie: [Beat]Frank?

Frank: [Calmer] Yes, Julie?

Julie: [Hesitant] Do you really think I'm beautiful?

Frank: What?

Julie: Before, after the first time I told you all my insecurities, you said I was "beautiful." Did you really mean that?

Frank: I said you were a "beautiful person." I never said you were "beautiful."

Julie: Oh…

Frank: [Tenderly] I'm kidding. Of course I think you're beautiful. You are stunning. I can't help but stare at you in class, even when I'm supposed to be taking notes. In fact, I often find your beauty intimidating.

Julie: Really? Me, intimidating?

Frank: Earlier this semester, before we talked in history class, I didn't think I'd ever be able to approach you. You seemed so far away, above it all.

Julie: I'm sorry.

Frank: [Laughs] Don't apologize. It made you all the more appealing. You were a mystery. I said to myself, "One way or another, I have to get to know that girl! See what she's really about, if her mind is equal to her looks."

Julie: And?

Frank: Ehh…. [Upon Julie's reaction]… Oh come on! Do I have to tell you again I think you are a creative, witty, intelligent woman who can kick my ass in useless pop culture trivia any day?

Julie: That was the first time.

Frank: Now you are just fishing for compliments… Fine. Do I have to tell you for the first time that you are all the aforementioned things and more?

Julie: No. I already heard you say it once tonight.

Frank. [Rolls eyes] Do you want your tea? It's going to get cold.

Julie: Sure. I thought this was my job?

Frank: You were taking too long.

Julie: Oh. Well, if someone hadn't just proclaimed their undying love for me…

Frank: Ha! What buffoon did that?

Julie: I thought you just did.

Frank: Oh. Right. Here's your tea.

Julie: Thanks. [She takes a sip.] It's hot.

Frank: No kidding.

Julie: Hey, Frank?

Frank: Yes?

Julie: Thanks.

Frank: You already thanked me.

Julie: Not for the tea. For tonight. Even if you didn't mean all those things you said, they were definitely a comfort to hear. I think I might actually get some sleep tonight… at [checks the time] 5:15 in the morning.

Frank: You still don't believe me, do you Julie? I'm just going to have to prove it you.

Julie: Prove what?

Frank: Julie. [He moves in to her.]

Julie: [Apprehensive.]Frank?

Frank: [He leans in, intimately.] Would you mind if I did one more little thing before we go our separate ways?

Julie: [Flustered and expectant] Are you… are you gonna kiss me?

Frank: [Pause] Well… I might have. Way to ruin the moment!

Julie: [Laughs] It's not my fault you were being really clichéd.

Frank: [Frustrated, but not angry]Fine. How's this for clichéd? [Frank sits on the counter drinking his tea.]

Julie: So now you're not going to kiss me? I see how it is.

[Frank finishes his tea, rinses the mug in the sink and places it on the counter next to Julie. He heads towards the stairs. Still no kiss.]

Frank, I'm sorry I ruined the moment! If you weren't even going to kiss me, that's ok. Please don't leave just yet. I'm not done with my tea! Please! Come back! I'm sorry. Really. I know I'm a pain, but I do care about you. I do! You were right! I'm just scared. Please come back! Let's not end the night like this!

Frank: [Without turning around, but smiling.] Not until you stop apologizing.

Julie: Ok, done.

[He faces her, takes a step towards her.]

Frank: And admit that you have feelings for me.

Julie: You know I do!

Frank: [He moves forward another step] And accept that you are a vision to behold and very desirable, especially to me.

Julie: Ok, done. Whatever you say.

[He takes another step]

Frank: Say it. I want to hear you say it. "I am a vision to behold and very desirable, especially to the equally handsome and lovable Frank Punicelli."

Julie: Ha. Ha.

Frank: [He begins to walk backwards toward the stairs.] Say it! And mean it! Or I'm gone!

Julie: [Pause] "I am a vision to behold and very desirable especially to the equally handsome and lovable Frank Punicelli." There. I said it. Now come back!

[He takes a final step towards her. He is now invading her personal space.]

Frank: One more thing.

Julie: What? Anything!

Frank: I want to hear you say, "The New York Yankees are better than the New York Mets any day of the year and Derek Jeter is God."

Julie: Never!

[Before she can finish saying "Never!" He kisses her, square on the lips.]

Julie: Wow. That was… wow.

Frank: [Determined] Hmmm… Let's try that again.

[He takes her gently in his arms and kisses her softly at first, intensity increases as she accepts him.]

Julie: You know, that was As Good As it Gets just now.

Frank: Oh trust me, it gets better.

[Black out.]