An orally induced tattoo has consequences for the woman administering it
ANTHONY, a young American English teacher
QINGQING, his student, a senior English major
The foreign teachers’ guesthouse of a university in Beijing, China
The audience surrounds an apron stage in an intimate theater. Placed downstage center is a queen mattress with bedding but no frame, its head flush with the stage’s front edge. Upstage opposite is the bedroom door. A bathroom is outside the bedroom; only the hallway is visible to the audience when the door is open.
ANTHONY and QINGQING are on the bed embracing and kissing; he is naked and she is clothed. For the duration of the performance, psychedelic images (created by applying dyed oils to a microscope slide) are projected onto their bodies. The theater is plunged into absolute quiet so that their hushed voices are audible.
The dialogue does not proceed rapid-fire but is interspersed with frequent pauses as the two alternate between talking and making out. ANTHONY is gently struggling to remove QINGQING’s clothes, which gradually come off in the course of the action.
ANTHONY Cupcake, I’ve already seen you naked. Why can’t you take your clothes off now?
QINGQING I’m not comfortable on this bed.
ANTHONY Why not?
QINGQING It’s not a proper bed.
ANTHONY What do you mean? Because it’s on the floor?
ANTHONY But it’s better this way. You feel more grounded. Everyone I know back home sleeps like this. We use futons, like the Japanese.
QINGQING I don’t like it.
ANTHONY You’re just not used to it. Once you get used to it, you won’t go back to a normal bed.
QINGQING The sheets are dirty from touching the floor.
ANTHONY They’re not dirty. The floor is clean.
QINGQING Where’s the rest of the bed?
ANTHONY I took it apart. I lent the bottom mattress to a friend. He said the bed frames here are made so cheaply that he was having sex once and it collapsed and the mattress broke.
QINGQING It broke?
ANTHONY Yeah. It was just a wooden box without springs in it. Mine is the same.
QINGQING Where does he live?
ANTHONY Right next to me. On this floor.
QINGQING Put the bed back together.
QINGQING Get the mattress from him. Put this bed back together or I won’t take my clothes off.
ANTHONY Oh, Jesus. Please, Cupcake, I can’t do that. What’s wrong with the bed? It’s comfortable. And it won’t break. C’mon, kiss me.
ANTHONY Why not?
QINGQING I won’t sleep on the floor like an animal.
ANTHONY Okay, fine! We’ll go into the other room and just watch TV.
QINGQING (giggling) No. Put the bed back together.
ANTHONY Let me take you apart first, and then we’ll worry about putting the bed back together.
QINGQING Will it hurt?
ANTHONY Maybe a little. We can go slowly.
QINGQING How many girlfriends have you had?
ANTHONY A few.
QINGQING How many, exactly?
ANTHONY I can’t remember.
QINGQING Tell me.
ANTHONY I don’t want to talk about that.
QINGQING No, tell me! I want to know.
ANTHONY Maybe you’ll run away from me.
QINGQING I’ll run away from you if you don’t tell me.
ANTHONY Around five.
QINGQING I don’t believe you. It must be more. Tell me about each one of them.
ANTHONY Now? We’ll be talking here the whole night. I want to kiss you.
QINGQING You can kiss me when you’ve told me all about your girls. Everything.
ANTHONY Well, okay. I lost my virginity, or almost lost my virginity, after I had just turned eighteen to—
QINGQING So young!
ANTHONY a transvestite.
QINGQING What’s that?
ANTHONY I met a woman online, an older woman, but sexy. When she took her clothes off, she had a penis. She really had me convinced she was a woman. It was horrible.
QINGQING Tian na!
ANTHONY And next was—
QINGQING No! I won’t touch you there. You’re dirty.
ANTHONY But I showered this morning. I’m not dirty. You want me to shower again?
ANTHONY Okay, let’s take a shower together.
ANTHONY Why not?
QINGQING Girls can take a shower together. Not a boy and a girl.
ANTHONY It’s wonderful to take a shower together. It’s natural.
ANTHONY Okay, I’ll take a shower first, then you take one.
ANTHONY Why not?
QINGQING Your bathroom is dirty. And I need my own soap and shampoo.
ANTHONY It’s not dirty.
QINGQING I don’t want to go into that bathroom again, after what happened.
ANTHONY So if I take a shower now myself, will you get naked with me?
QINGQING You just want to take a shower to have sex with me.
ANTHONY Oh, fuck. Yes, I want to make love with you. Is there something wrong with that?
QINGQING You don’t love me.
ANTHONY Yes, I do. Well, I mean, I still don’t know you very well, but I am in love with you.
QINGQING That’s not the same. I can’t sleep with a man who doesn’t love me.
ANTHONY Okay, I love you.
QINGQING If you truly loved me, you would already have said it. I shouldn’t have to ask.
ANTHONY Cupcake, you’re torturing me. I want to make love with you so badly.
QINGQING See? Now, you’re showing your real feelings. It’s just lust.
ANTHONY If I have no passion for you, that’s not love. You want to be with a guy who just wants to play cards or chess with you all the time? You think his love is so “true”? Maybe he can’t even get hard. That’s why he wants to play chess, to avoid the inevitable. That’s why he’s willing to save sex for marriage, and on the wedding night you find out he’s impotent and it’s too late.
QINGQING Anyway, I won’t take off the rest of my clothes until I take a shower.
ANTHONY So let’s take a shower.
QINGQING I can’t take a shower here.
ANTHONY How can we solve this then?
QINGQING I don’t know.
ANTHONY How about you go back to your dorm to take a shower and then come right back here?
QINGQING No. I will no longer be in the mood.
ANTHONY You’re barely in the mood?
QINGQING (giggling) I just want to lie here with you. I didn’t say you can’t embrace me.
ANTHONY Okay, now, that’s better. Oh, you’re so beautiful.
QINGQING What are you doing to me?
ANTHONY I love you.
ANTHONY We can go slow. You just sit on me like this and glide over me. When you feel ready, you can take me inside.
QINGQING Ayo! It hurts.
ANTHONY Relax and go slow. I like it like this with you on top of me.
QINGQING Ow! Is it inside?
ANTHONY Only a little bit.
QINGQING Ow! It hurts too much. I want to stop.
ANTHONY Oh, no. It feels so good.
QINGQING We can try again next month.
ANTHONY Next month!
QINGQING You’ve already torn me open. It will take weeks for me to feel comfortable again.
ANTHONY I’ve barely even entered you! Come on, baby, get back on top of me. Try some more.
QINGQING Am I no longer a virgin now?
ANTHONY No, not even close.
QINGQING I will die from the pain. It’s too terrible. You don’t know.
QINGQING Ow! Oh, no.
ANTHONY Oh, yeah, that’s a little better now.
ANTHONY What do you feel?
QINGQING It hurts. But it’s a little better.
ANTHONY I’m in further.
QINGQING Am I still a virgin?
ANTHONY Half a virgin.
QINGQING Do you still love me?
QINGQING It’s the last time you’ll say that. You will abandon me immediately after this.
ANTHONY Of course, I won’t.
QINGQING Yes, you will.
ANTHONY Let me kiss you now to show how much I love you.
QINGQING Oh, I think there’s blood.
ANTHONY There’s blood on the bed.
(QINGQING gets up and runs out of the room to the bathroom, trailing a stream of blood along the floor. (Menstrual or fake blood to be used if the actress is not a virgin.) After a few moments, she lets out a long, deep groan. ANTHONY runs into the bathroom.)
ANTHONY (backstage) What’s the matter? Are you okay? Talk to me! I had no idea there would be so much blood. Talk to me!
QINGQING (giggling, reemerging with ANTHONY and bearing a wet towel. They get back on the bed) You thought I was dying. Now I know you love me.
ANTHONY You’re messing with me.
QINGQING (rubbing the blood off the sheets) Do you really love me?
ANTHONY Yes, I told you I did.
QINGQING You won’t abandon me?
ANTHONY No, I won’t abandon you.
QINGQING You will.
ANTHONY No, I won’t. Cupcake, you don’t need to get all the blood off. I can wash the sheets later.
QINGQING I know you will.
ANTHONY Stop rubbing the sheets and lie with me.
QINGQING You have to promise me you won’t abandon me.
ANTHONY Will you relax?
QINGQING You’re a foreigner. You can leave China any time you get tired of me.
ANTHONY (grabbing the towel and throwing it across the room) I will abandon you if you keep this up, dammit!
QINGQING (turning away from him) Hmff!
ANTHONY I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell at you.
QINGQING Now I really know you’ll leave me.
ANTHONY Oh, my god. Will you please chill out? Come here, lie next to me.
QINGQING Will you marry me?
ANTHONY What? Marry you? Now? We can’t marry now.
QINGQING (giggling) I scared you.
ANTHONY Yes, you did. Come back on top of me.
ANTHONY Why not?
QINGQING It hurts.
ANTHONY I’m not finished. Help me finish.
QINGQING Like this? (guiding her hand over his penis)
(He ejaculates. She wipes his semen up in her fingers and examines it. She then examines her pussy. She runs off to the bathroom again. ANTHONY fetches the towel from the floor and wipes himself off. Suddenly he looks toward the bedroom door, as if listening. He moves over to the door and peers out toward the bathroom, pulling his head back in when QINGQING returns.)
ANTHONY Are you still bleeding?
QINGQING A little.
ANTHONY Did you wash your hands just now?
ANTHONY You should wash your pussy. You touched it with your fingers a minute ago.
QINGQING I wiped it off with the toilet paper. I don’t want to wash it yet. It’s still bleeding.
ANTHONY You could make yourself pregnant.
QINGQING It’s okay. I didn’t put my fingers inside.
ANTHONY You know, sperm can crawl inside and find their way to your egg.
QINGQING Really? No, that won’t happen.
ANTHONY Go wash yourself, just to be safe. I don’t want to worry about it.
QINGQING I don’t want to wash in your shower.
ANTHONY But this is dangerous.
QINGQING It’s not dangerous.
ANTHONY You seem careless. Just go wash yourself off with some water in the sink.
QINGQING You should trust me, Anthony.
ANTHONY (grabbing the towel) Come in the bathroom with me and let me wash you off.
QINGQING No. I don’t want to use that towel. It’s dirty.
ANTHONY (standing over her, trembling) Cupcake, you have to wash yourself now!
QINGQING Okay, okay. I’ll do it myself. I know how to wash myself. I don’t need your help.
(She goes to the bathroom, followed in by ANTHONY. They are heard talking offstage. Soon she returns, playfully leading him by the hand. She pulls him onto the bed with a plop and wraps her legs around him, laughing.)
ANTHONY (wiggling away) No, Cupcake, you’ll get me on you again.
QINGQING Are you still angry with me?
QINGQING Let me kiss you, then. Every part of your body I kiss belongs to me. (she pecks him on his cheeks, working her way down his neck, at one point sucking on his neck and giggling)
ANTHONY (laughing and pushing her head away) Oh, no you don’t. You can’t give me a hickey.
QINGQING Why not? It will look so cute in class.
ANTHONY I don’t like hickeys.
QINGQING Please. Just one.
QINGQING Just let me have one and I will never ask you again.
ANTHONY No, not a hickey.
QINGQING (resting her lips on his cheek) I’ve given so much of myself to you these past two days. You owe me a hickey.
ANTHONY (nudging her face away from his neck) Anything but a hickey. I can’t deal with hickeys.
QINGQING (kissing his neck again) Why are you so stubborn? It’s only a little thing.
ANTHONY (pulling his neck away) Cupcake, no!
QINGQING (baring her teeth) I didn’t tell you before that I’m actually a vampire.
ANTHONY That’s what I’m afraid of. (she clamps her mouth on his neck and sucks) No! Don’t do that!
(They both sit up on the bed, startled. ANTHONY punches QINGQING in the face with such force it knocks her off the bed and the stage and into the front row, where members of the audience break her fall. (Actors disguised as theatergoers can be employed for this purpose.))
ANTHONY Oh, my god, what have I done!
* * *
Like this play? Buy the book (see contents):
The Exact Unknown and Other Tales of Modern China
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