A Play in One Act.
by A.G. Wallace
Narrator: In the early years of the 21st century, repentant free-love hippies took over the California legislature and put an end to the unregulated sexual behavior of their grandchildren, who were now students at University of California campuses across the state. Concerned about the rape pandemic sweeping through the culture, these New Puritan lawmakers passed the Affirmative Behavioral Consent Act for the Safety of Students. Now, only a few years later, we embark on our own sexual discovery of two young lovers at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
[Julia and Winston are cuddled up in front of Julia’s Apple MacBook Air watching Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life.” The smell of popcorn fills the college dormitory room as Professor Humphrey (John Cleese) instructs English schoolboys about sex.]
Prof. Humphrey: The purpose of foreplay is to cause the vagina to lubricate, so that the penis can penetrate more easily.
[Julia’s head is in Winston’s lap. She sucks popcorn salt from her fingers.]
Julia: Mmmm. That’s good.
Winston: Yeah, baby, yeah. [Laughs nervously.]
Julia: Do you want some?
Humphrey: And, of course, to cause the man’s penis to erect and har… DEN! Now, did I do vaginal juices last week?
[Winston moves Julia’s head from his lap and puts the popcorn bowl onto the floor. Julia pinches his ass.]
Julia: [Smiles suggestively.] Well?
Winston: Sure, babe. Just let me get …
[Winston reaches for the nightstand.]
Winston: … my cell phone.
Julia: Put it on speaker.
[Winston dials. We hear the ring on the other end.]
Sex Dispatcher: UC Santa Cruz Sex Dispatcher. What’s your pleasure? We monitor the activities of all 56 genders, including masturbation, couples, and group sex up to 10 participants. For more than 10, we require 30-days’ notice and a $1,000 non-refundable security deposit.
Humphrey: Nibbling the earlobe, uhh, kneading the buttocks, and so on and so forth.
Sex Dispatcher: Okay, got it. Anything else?
Winston: No, that was just the movie.
Sex Dispatcher: You need a movie? Hold on.
[Call-center chatter in the background, combined with sounds of a police dispatcher.]
Sex Dispatcher: Okay. We can do that.
Julia: We don’t need a movie. We’re watching one already.
Sex Dispatcher: [Sounds alarmed.] Have you touched each other yet?
Humphrey: Helen! Now, penetration and coitus —
Sex Dispatcher: Who’s that?
[More call center chatter in the background about potential violators, etc.]
Sex Dispatcher: Pursuant to Section 67386 to the Education Code, I must inform you…
Winston: Yes, we know. That’s why we’re calling.
Sex Dispatcher: … that there’s an extra fee for third parties.
Winston: No, thanks. It’s just the two of us. Can you send someone over?
Sex Dispatcher: You’re in College Ten?
Julia: Yes. Room 335.
Sex Dispatcher: I’ll have the observer there in 10 minutes.
Humphrey: Uh, the penis is now, as you will observe, more or less, fully erect.
Sex Dispatcher: Any type of sexual contact before official approval can result in fines or expulsion from…
Winston: Thank you, officer!
Humphrey: The man now starts making thrusting movements with his pelvic area –
[Winston hangs up the phone. Both begin to laugh. Julia, on the bottom, pulls Winston’s face toward hers and they kiss. Heavy breathing from Winston and Julia drowns out the movie. Julia reaches blindly to shut the lid of the laptop. They continue to make out until there’s a knock at the door.]
Sex Observer: [Muffled voice through the door.] This is a Section 67386 call. Sex Observer O’Brien reporting.
[Winston gets up to answer the door. Repositions his erection inside his pants.]
Winston: Thank you for coming.
O’Brien: Thank you for waiting to come. [Laughs lewdly. Winston and Julia, grossed out, exchange worried glances.]
O’Brien: I’ll set up over here. [Drops his black shoulder bag on the floor. Pulls out cameras, microphones, tablet computer, etc.]
Julia: [Whispering] Maybe we shouldn’t have called.
Winston: [Whispering] What if we’d been caught?
O’Brien: Which movie do you want? We have “Debbie Does DC” or “Binder Full of Women.”
Julia and Winston: We don’t want a movie.
O’Brien: [Shrugs.] Okay. Disco ball? Colored lights? Mirrors?
[Julia and Winston get more and more flabbergasted as O’Brien removes each new item from his gear bag. They shake their heads “no”.]
O’Brien: [Pulls out a stained brown paper bag and holds it up.] The Big Grab-Bag of Sex Toys, then? You each get one grope inside.
Winston and Julia: No!
Winston: We just want to make love!
O’Brien: [Shrugs and pulls out a clipboard.] That’s bit outdated. We usually encourage a less restricted approach. Form 27B-Stroke-6. Both of you initial here, here, here and here. Then sign here and we’ll get started.
[Winston feverishly signs the form and hands it to Julia, who begins reading carefully.]
Winston: Can’t you just sign it?
Julia: My mother taught me to read a contract before signing. Do you even know what it says?
Winston: [Agitated.] What? You think it’s a tool of socialist oppression? It’s only meant to ensure our equality.
Julia: [Gives Winston the evil eye.] Oh. So you’ve signed this form before?
Winston: [Looks sheepish.] No! That’s just what I heard.
O’Brien: It’s a standard sex contract. “An affirmative, unambiguous, and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. Consent is informed, freely given, and voluntary.”
Julia: [Reading.] “Consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual encounter and can be revoked at any time.”
O’Brien: [Looking over Julia’s shoulder and pointing at the form.] Right. That’s why I have the cameras.
Winston: [Indignant.] You have more than one?
O’Brien: How many would you like? There’s a $20 fee for each one after three.
Julia: I’m sure two will be enough. We’re not doing anything special.
[Winston looks hurt.]
Julia: What’s this about second degree rape?
O’Brien: Don’t worry. It’s just the standard disclaimer. I’m here to prevent that. [O’Brien snaps on a pair of blue rubber gloves and turns on the cameras.] Ready when you are!
[Split screen. One camera zooms in on the pen in Julia’s hand, hovering over the blank line which requires her signature. Another camera takes a close-up of Winston’s sweating face. A third focuses on O’Brien. Dramatic music.]
Winston: Oh, come on!
O’Brien: [Wags a blue-gloved finger.] No, no, no! Coercion voids the contract. You want me to start packing up?
Julia: [Brings the document close to her face and struggles to read.] Wait a second. What’s this small print at the bottom? “The Regents of the University of California will only use data collected from Section 67386 calls to meet specific needs.” What does that mean?
O’Brien: [Looks shifty.] Standard disclaimer. Is it hot in here?
Julia: Okay. [Signs the document.]
[Perspective switches to the cameras O’Brien has set up. Winston and Julia take off their clothes, glancing occasionally at the cameras.]
O’Brien: [Stands in the corner, texting on his iPhone.] Just pretend I’m not here.
[From the quality of the images, it is clear that O’Brien’s cameras are not of the highest quality.]
O’Brien: [Alarmed. Leans over the bed. His head fills the frame.] Is he raping you?
O’Brien: Is she raping you?
Winston: What? No!
[The bed covers rustle. O’Brien goes back to the corner and plays with the disco ball.]
Julia: That’s better.
Winston: Is it good?
Julia: Mmm hmmm.
O’Brien: For the record, that means it’s not good. You can revoke your consent any time, you know.
Julia: [Exasperated.] I know that!
O’Brien: Just doing my job, ma’am. You kids want that movie now? Sounds like you need it.
[Accelerated movements under the covers. A foot appears, and the covers recede to show Julia’s calf, knee, and then thigh. O’Brien turns on his iPhone video cam. Winston’s bobbing head appears near the headboard. Heavy breathing.]
Winston: [Confused.] What? Wait? Ohhhhhhhh.
O’Brien: Do both of you still consent?
[The covers stop moving. Winston breathes hard.]
Julia: [Angry.] You came without me!
Julia: Sorry doesn’t cut it. I revoke my consent.
O’Brien: [Speaking urgently into his iPhone.] Consent revoked! College Ten! Room 335!
Winston: [Still confused.] What? We’re finished! You can’t revoke consent after it’s over!
O’Brien: Section 12, Subsection 5, Paragraph 7. “Participants are not relieved of their respective affirmative consent behavior until both parties agree that the sexual act has been completed.” Has the sexual act been completed?
[The sound of pounding feet from the hallway.]
Megaphone: This is the Department of Education SWAT Team. We’re coming in.
Winston: No! Stop! I’m done!
[Armored men break down the door and surround the bed, automatic weapons ready.]
O’Brien: Sex Observer O’Brien here. I called in the violation.
SWAT Commander: Winston Smith, you are under arrest for second degree rape. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law…
[Winston begins to cry. Julia pushes him out of bed and the SWAT team escorts him out of the room. O’Brien begins to pack up the equipment.]
O’Brien: [Whistling a happy tune.] And that’s a wrap! You want a copy of the video? It’s only $20.
Julia: No. But can I keep the disco ball?
[The camera backs out the door into the hallway.]
Narrator: And so ends our little play, full of sounds and a woman’s fury, signifying the end of … nothing? Did the hippie lawmakers ever believe in the utopian vision of a society free of oppression by the man? Was love ever free? No matter. The wheel has come full circle. And we are here.