NEW YEAR’S NIGHT
Act I, Scene I
(There is a ding as an elevator rises and opens. VANESSA, an extremely pretty, dreamy girl in her early 20s, runs into it and rapidly presses the buttons, a half-empty glass of champagne sloshing around in her hand. She wears a coquettish white dress with a wine stain splattered all over it. CARTER, also early 20s, a server, hurries after and slips into the elevator, carrying a half-empty tray of crab rangoon.)
CARTER: I wanted to apologize to you for what happened.
CARTER: What happened. With the wine and your dress. It was an accident.
VANESSA: Oh, that’s not your fault. Can I have one?
(She takes a crab rangoon without waiting for his response.)
CARTER: You’re not mad? I mean, I was the one who spilled it. I ran into you.
VANESSA: Oh, sure, you were the instrument of destruction. But you weren’t the one who conspired against me.
CARTER: You’re the president’s daughter. No one’s conspiring against you.
VANESSA: The stars were. In their infinite cruelty.
CODY: Infinite cruelty?
VANESSA: They blinded you to my presence. They made you knock into me and spill the wine on my dress and now I’m going to miss Clarence because this stupid elevator is stuck.
(She takes another crab rangoon.)
(He begins pressing the buttons, trying to elicit some sort of response.)
CARTER (cont.) This can’t be happening.
VANESSA: Do you have somewhere to be?
CARTER: Yeah, my job. You know, the job I need to support my family.
VANESSA: I guess you’re stuck with my unfortunate destiny. I don’t get to meet Clarence, you don’t get to go to your job.
VANESSA: My true love. Tonight we were going to meet. And then we were going to have our first kiss. A New Year’s first kiss.
CARTER: Wait…this true love of yours is someone you haven’t met yet?
VANESSA: Not on this Earth. But somewhere we have.
CARTER: If you’ve never even met this Clarence of yours, how do you know he’s here?
VANESSA: Because he is.
CARTER: Oh, of course he is. Totally. Did you see him?
(She sips her champagne dramatically before speaking.)
No. I did even better. I felt him. We were just on the verge of finding each other. Then the stars intervened.
CARTER: No, they didn’t. I knocked the glass of wine over on purpose.
CARTER: I wanted you to get mad at me.
VANESSA: Mad at you? Why?
CARTER: So everyone would see what a selfish, pretentious, spoiled little brat you are.
(He takes the rest of the champagne and pours it on VANESSA’s head. She laughs.)
CARTER (cont.): What’s so funny?
VANESSA: You’re in love with me.
CARTER: I am most definitely not in love with you.
VANESSA: I’ve done nothing to you. Why else would you want to publicly shame me?
CARTER: Because you’re a privileged petty prig who’s never had to work a day in her life. Your precious daddy has driven up taxes on the poor while actually lowering them on the rich! Explain to me how that makes any sense. And do you know how hard it is to support a family of five when 10% of everything you make is taxed? Not that you would care.
VANESSA: My father’s an asshole. I’m sorry. Although, if we’re being honest, that kind of tax hike requires Congressional approval. So really, not his fault. And there’s not a whole lot I can do.
CARTER: You actually knew?
VANESSA: I went to Harvard.
CARTER: What did you study?
CARTER: You’re going to be a lawyer?
That’s the plan
CARTER: You’re going to be a lawyer, and you still believe in all this New Year’s kiss true love fairy tale princess shit?
VANESSA: Yes. Do you have a problem with that?
CARTER: You can’t live in both reality and fairy tales.
VANESSA: Who are you to stop me?
CARTER: Someone who’s not delusional.
VANESSA: I’m not delusional. I’m imaginative. It’s different.
CARTER: There’s no room for imagination in law.
VANESSA: Law is the practice of placing imaginary boundaries around actions. It’s entirely imagination.
CARTER: Imagination is just another name for insanity.
VANESSA: So is love.
CARTER: I’m not in love with you.
VANESSA: Don’t be so sure.
(She knocks the tray of crab rangoon over.)
CARTER: I’m not picking those up.
VANESSA: Clarence would.
CARTER; Why are you so obsessed with this Clarence?
VANESSA: I told you. I love him.
CARTER; What if he’s not who he seems to be?
VANESSA: That’s life.
CARTER; I was right all along. You’re a foolish young girl, and someone’s going to use that against you.
VANESSA: I’m just being foolish tonight. It’s New Year’s Eve. Anything can happen on New Year’s Eve. I mean, it’s the beginning of a whole new year.
CARTER: New Year’s Eve is no different than any other night except that there are a lot more people drunk on champagne and false hope. Like the hope that you’re ever going to be taken seriously as a lawyer.
VANESSA: No. Tonight’s glitter and fireworks and unexpected kisses.
CARTER: Tonight is just like any other night.
VANESSA: Tonight there’s magic.
CARTER: You should know better than to think the world is magical.
VANESSA: Tonight I’m going to meet Clarence.
CARTER: Clarence isn’t real! He’s a fantasy!
VANESSA: Fantasy becomes reality tonight.
(Midnight begins to strike.)
VANESSA: You knocked that glass over on purpose because you’re in love with me.
CARTER: I wouldn’t fool myself, like you do. I’m not delusional.
(VANESSA begins to passionately kiss him. He pulls away.)
VANESSA: What are you so afraid of?
VANESSA: Then you’ll never fall in love.
(She kisses him again. His hesitancy turns into passion.)
VANESSA (cont.): Happy New Year’s, Clarence.
(CARTER kisses her back. Lights fade into blackout.)