Dec 7, 2015
The Single Ladies Dinner Party
Int. The private dining room of a fashionable and notably expensive New York restaurant, evening. Carrie Bradshaw-Big and a waitress are preparing for a dinner party. Seven places have been set at the long, candle-lit table.
Carrie: Everything has to be just perfect when the girls arrive. We haven’t gotten together in ages.
Waitress: I understand, Miss Bradshaw.
Carrie (with a forced lightness): Sweetie, it’s Mrs. now.
Waitress: Oh my god, Mrs. Big, of course. I just… always think of you as the consummate single girl.
Carrie (darkly): Make sure everything’s in order before the others get here.
Waitress exits hurriedly.
Cathy Guisteweite, a cartoon in her early 40’s, enters timidly.
Cathy: ACK, Carrie! You scared me! But you look great, so thin. What size is that dress?
Carrie: Haha, oh Cathy, it is so good to see you. How’s Irving?
Cathy: Married life is… well, you know, wonderful, of course. Irving’s so funny, he’s always making fun of me for my “chick talk” or obsessing about work or sports. Ha ha! Ha. How are you and Big?
Carrie: So good. Well, after he left me at the altar in front of all of New York, we finally did it. We got hitched! Then, of course, we briefly divorced, reunited, separated for a time, renewed our vows…
Carrie’s voice fades as a cartoon thought bubble appears above Cathy’s head. It flashes “ACK! INSECURITY! CHOCOLATE! PANIC! ” over and over in different combinations.
Carrie (continued, minutes later): …we ran into each other last week at the Central Park Boat House, each drinking a Manhattan, and KNEW we were meant-to-be. We’re happier than ever.
Real Jen Aniston enters, trailed closely by Tabloid Jen Aniston. She looks and dresses the same as Real Jen, but is crying.
Carrie: Jen! I was so Theroux-ly happy to hear about your recent nuptials. Justin time!
Real Jen: Thank you! I’m incredibly happy. And wealthy. And I have great hair.
Cathy: Tabby, honey, why are you crying?
Tabloid Jen Aniston (sobbing): It’s never going to work out! It’s probably all fake anyways. (hiccup) He’s probably gay. I’m probably still obsessed with Brad!
Tabloid Jen Aniston, having shocked herself with her own insight, stumbles backwards and grabs onto the long dinner table with one yoga-toned arm.
Real Jen: God, woman, I keep telling you we got over that smelly burnout a decade ago.
Tabloid Jen Aniston: What do you think Angelina’s doing right now?
Cathy puts her arm around Tabloid Jen Aniston; they both look scared.
Carrie: Oh phooey, Angelina, more like DevilMEANa, am I right? She’s not relatable. We’re the ones people are rooting for! And look how far we’ve come! Let’s take our seats, pop the champagne, and order a round of Cosmos. (In a stage whisper) I want to make a toast before the other girls get here.
The women sit; three seats remain open. The waitress enters, carrying a magnum of champagne. Placing Carrie’s Cosmo, she avoids eye contact, but looks starstruck by the other guests.
Waitress (pouring Tabloid Jen Aniston’s champagne, whispering): I loved you in Horrible Bosses 2.
Real Jen (sharply): That was me!
The waitress, spooked, leaves the magnum on the table and exits quickly.
Tabloid Jen Aniston (to Real Jen): You’re an actress?
Carrie taps her Cosmo with her fork.
Carrie: You know girls, when we started having these dinners, I thought we’d all stay iconically unmarried forever. But now that so many of us are happily wed–
Tabloid Jen Aniston downs her champagne and picks up the rest of the magnum.
Carrie (continued): I can’t help but wonder: were these single girls always meant to play doubles? To the unlikely men we love, and who love us.
Cathy: Hear, hear!
Real Jen: Right on, sister!
Tabloid Jen Aniston (swigging directly from the magnum): You’re fooling yourselves! Nothing works out for anyone!!
Miss Havisham storms in, torn wedding dress trailing behind her.
Carrie: Havy, look at you! You look just the same! Just exactly the same! I wasn’t sure you were coming, since we usually have to come to you…
Miss Havisham sits directly next to Real Jen, glaring at her while wrenching the champagne from Tabloid Jen Aniston’s grip.
Real Jen: Well, hello there… you know, I’m sorry, Havy, I just realized, I don’t think in all the years we’ve been getting together that I’ve ever learned your first name.
Miss Havisham (haunted): Honestly, I’ve forgotten. The days have worn it away. It’s just Miss. Miss, miss, ever-missing miss. Gnawed on and rotten. Oh that reminds me, I brought wedding cake!
Tabloid Jen Aniston (bursting into fresh tears): I sleep in the dress I married my Brad in.
Miss Havisham: That’s a start but it’s not enough. Now, do you know any children?
Miss Havisham grips Tabloid Jen Aniston’s hands tightly. They stay locked into each other’s eyes for a long moment.
Cathy: Irving says I’m a pain during bathing suit season!
The Waitress re-enters, with a tray of appetizers.
Miss Havisham: Oh, a female servant. I was hoping for a young, impressionable male.
Miss Havisham picks up one of the candles and follows the girl around the table, inspecting her, getting dangerously close.
Carrie: Havy, the fire, be careful!
Miss Havisham: Oh, I can handle a little flame, Mrs. Big. I’ve carried one for years.
Real Jen: Really, honey, you should watch out, remember how in the book you burn–
Carrie (cutting her off): With the passion of a thousand suns! In the book… of life, your passion burns so brightly. (Through gritted teeth) Have some respect for the fictional, Aniston — not all of our lives are scripted by sympathetic publicists.
Real Jen (gesturing to Tabloid Jen Aniston): Uh!
Tabloid Jen Aniston (through tears): I’M AS REAL AS YOU ARE.
Miss Havisham (ignoring them/her fate): C’mere girly, how do you feel about beautiful women?
Waitress (fearfully): Something to get you ladies started, a tray of deviled eggs.
Tabloid Jen Aniston: Oh Carrie, how could you. You and your goddamn puns.
Real Jen: We’re not barren, we’re busy! Don’t you remember when we had John Mayer’s abortion??
Tabloid Jen Aniston: We did? I didn’t… That’s juicy. (Takes her phone out of her purse.)
Real Jen (to Tabloid Jen Aniston): Who are you texting? Is it OK? InTouch? Give me that.
As Real Jen and Tabloid Jen Aniston wrestle over the phone, Nina Simone enters.
Carrie: Nina! You came! You’ve never come before!
Nina looks at the Anistons, locked in a death grip but attempting to look relaxed, as if hiding a big spill on Monica’s rug.
Nina: …I figure I’ve been dead a dozen or so years now, it’s as good a time as any to start accepting invitations.
Carrie: Oh, god, I didn’t know you were dead. I’m dying… of embarrassment. I didn’t mean that.
Carrie clasps both hands over her mouth and gawks at her dinner companions, eyes wide, completely unembarrassed.
Nina (looking around): I was under the impression there was another member of this club. Is she coming?
Cathy: Oh, you know how busy and important she is.
Tabloid Jen Aniston (from the floor): Oh yeah, sooooo important.
Real Jen (releasing Tabloid Jen Aniston from her grip): Amen, sister.
Carrie: She said she might Skype in later. She and Gayle are in Africa!
Carrie gestures to a large TV, previously unseen, set up in front of one of the two remaining plates.
Miss Havisham: You know, you can say you’re helping all the African children you want, but I actually adopted a child.
Cathy: Nina! Where are you living these days?
Nina: Well, my ashes were scattered across several African countries..
Cathy (expectantly): So… alone?
Nina (guardedly): I suppose.
Tabloid Jen Aniston: Do the walls ever talk back to you?
Nina: Oh, no.
Tabloid Jen Aniston (picking up a candle stick to use as a microphone, singing): “I live alone”
Nina (angrily): Is this why you wanted me here?
Cathy, Tabloid Jen Aniston: “That hasn’t always been easy to do/ For just a single woman”
Nina: I didn’t even write that song.
Cathy, Tabloid Jen Aniston, Carrie: “Sometimes at night, the walls talk back to me”
Miss Havisham begins to twirl, holding one of the candles as a dance partner.
Cathy, Tabloid Jen Aniston, Carrie, Real Jen: “They seem to say, ‘Wasn’t yesterday a better day?’”
Nina: It was written by a man!
Cathy, Tabloid Jen Aniston, Carrie, Real Jen: “Always alone at home or in a crowd/ A single woman out on a private cloud”
Tabloid Jen Aniston takes her candle mic and attempts to waltz with Miss Havisham.
Cathy, Tabloid Jen Aniston, Carrie, Real Jen: “Caught in a world few people understand/ I am what I am, only one single woman”
Nina (leaving): I had a prolonged affair with the Prime Minister of Barbados, for fuck’s sake. I don’t need this.
Cathy, Tabloid Jen Aniston, Carrie, Real Jen: “There was a time, I can’t remember when/ The house was full of love”
At this, Cathy bursts into tears, which freeze in place next to her face. A thought bubble showing scenes of Irving’s disinterest hangs over her cartoon head.
Tabloid Jen Aniston, Carrie, Real Jen: “But then again it might have been imaginations plan/ Just to help along, one single woman.”
Carrie, inspired, takes her laptop out of her Birkin. Real Jen, practiced at comforting her unhinged doppelganger, pats Cathy’s arm sympathetically. Tabloid Jen Aniston and Miss Havisham, exhausted and elated from the dance, hug. Simultaneously, they light one another’s dresses on fire.
Carrie (typing): “Watching my friends sing and laugh, I understood: in a group of single ladies, we’re never really alone.”
Miss Havisham and Tabloid Jen Aniston feel their respective fires and begin to scream.
Tabloid Jen Aniston (tearing at her flaming skin): WE ALL DIE ALONE.
Carrie, Real Jen and Cathy notice that their companions are engulfed in flames and race to extinguish them. Cathy’s thought bubble catches on fire. Real Jen pours what’s left of the magnum on Tabloid Jen Aniston, while Carrie chokes on the smell of Miss Havisham’s rotten, burning gown.
The television flickers briefly. Oprah and Gayle appear, survey the damage, give one another a look that is more than knowing. The feed cuts out.
Meredith Haggerty is an editor at Racked. Follow her on Twitter.
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