Sweet Bird of Youth
by Tennessee Williams
Excerpt from Act I, Scene i: Princess Kosmonopolis a.k.a. Alexandra del Lago
Put this away. And your leaky fountain pen… When monster meets monster, one
monster has to give way, AND IT WILL NEVER BE ME. I’m an older hand at it… with much more natural aptitude at it than you have… Now then, you put the cart a little in front of the horse. Signed checks are payment, delivery comes first. Certainly I can afford it, I could deduct you, as my caretaker, Chance, remember that I was a star before big taxes… and had a husband who was a great merchant prince. He taught me to deal with money… Now, Chance, please pay close attention while I tell you the very special conditions under which I will keep you in my employment… after this miscalculation… Forget the legend that I was and the ruin of that legend. Whether or not I do have a disease of the heart that places an early terminal date on my life, no mention of that, no reference to it ever. No mention of death, never, never a word on that odious subject. I’ve been accused of having a death wish but I think it’s life that I wish for, terribly, shamelessly, on any terms whatsoever. When I say now, the answer must not be later. I have only one way to forget these things I don’t want to remember and that’s through the act of love-making. That’s the only dependable distraction so when I say now, because I need that distraction, it has to be now, not later.