By Lynne Viti and Gay White
The Mercy Chronicles
By Lynne Viti and Gay White
Four girls sitting in a row, intently watching a television on a cart at front of classroom.
Narrator (imitating television commentator, probably Walter Cronkite on CBS):
And we can see the rockets lifting off the Sigma 7 capsule, with astronaut Wally Schirra
at the controls…liftoff is proceeding as expected. This exciting moment in America’s
history is the fifth Mercury flight, and the flight plan calls for Schirra to orbiting the
Earth six times in the capsule before touching down in the Pacific Ocean, where NASA
will have an aircraft carrier ready and waiting to take Schirra back to Houston for tests
and evaluation of this historic mission…
Girls jumping up and down in their seats, all together: 5, 4,3,2,1, ignition—blastoff!
Scene 2: Cuban Missile crisis, November 1962
Girls sitting at a lunch table.
#1: I’m scared. My father says that Castro’s got all those Russian missiles pointed right
at Washington DC and that Baltimore could be hit,too.
#2: My father said that President Kennedy will straighten this whole thing out fast and
make the Russians back down.
# 3: Then I’ll never get to see Artie again…What if the entire world blows up?
# 4. Maybe we should go to the chapel….
Voice: Good afternoon, girls. I have an important announcement. This afternoon in
Dallas, President Kennedy was shot (ALL SCREAM AS ANNOUNCER CONTINUES)
by an unknown assailant. Three shots were fired at President Kennedy’s
motorcade in downtown Dallas. The first reports say that President Kennedy has been
seriously wounded by this shooting. At this time, we will dismiss classes for the day…”
Girl # 2: Oh my God!
Girl #1: I’m scared.
Girl #4 Maybe we should go to the chapel…again.
Scene 4: 1964
A classroom . Four girls are gathered around a few desks in the music room. Loose leaf
notebooks are open on the desks, and a few hardbound text books are stacked up. The
desks are pulled into more or less a circle.
#1 (leaning over to # 2,who is sitting next to #1 and writing in a notebook with a
pencil, ): So if you subtract 8 on this side, you have to do the same thing on the other side
of the equation or else it’s –-look—scribbles something on #2’s notebook.
#2: Oh, I see! Swell, I get it right now but the test is next WEEK and I won’t remember it
by then. Besides, I’m screwed: I think Sister hates me.
#1: (sarcastically) Yeah, that Johannes is one mean nun. Boy oh boy!
#3: Hey, this math is killing me, too – if I get another C my mother will have a conniption
#4 (opens her handbag and pulls out a compact and lipstick, applies it carefully, looking
intently into the compact mirror): Forget math, girls–can’t wait till Tuesday. The Beatles
at the DC Stadium – and WE have TICKETS!
All sigh very audibly.
#3 (singing): “She was just seventeen, you know what I mean, and the way she looked
was way beyond compay-ah”
All five join in :”How could I dance with another…woooo –when I saw her standin’
#5 (to # 2) I can’t believe you only got four tickets.
#2: I told you, I bought them off that girl Mary Jane and I met in Bethany Beach an’ she
only HAD four an’ her mom wouldn’t let her go because she was afraid the girl’d be
stampeded in Beatlemania. Sor-RY. I wish you could come .
#1: (to # 5) Did you bring the record?
#5 pulls an LP from under the stack of books she is carrying.
(#1has taken the record out of the sleeve and is fiddling with the record player.)
[Music starts: The Beatles, singing “All My Lovin’” There’s a lot of dancing.
lot of swooning.
Enter a nun
Nun: (clapping hands) Girls! What on earth are you doing in Sister Mary Charlita’s music
room at this hour? It’s almost 4:30.
#1: Nothing, sister, I mean, we’re doing homework. Algebra.
(She holds up the math workbook. ) Equations, see? (smiles)
Nun: What’s this? [She picks up the album cover, which is lying on the top of the piano.]
Beatles. What a waste of your time. Those moptops will never amount to anything. Why,
in five years, no one will ever remember who they are! Now, girls, pack up and go home
–I have to lock up this room. And if I find you in here again after hours, I‘ll see that you
all get two days’ detention!
Quickly pack up books and leave, giggling.
Scene 5: June 1965
Girl # 1: I can’t believe this is it!
# 2: High School Graduation—and the hottest day in June ever! Is my hair totally
# 3: Is my hair totally straight and flat? Ugh! Straight, flat hair will NEV#R, EVER be in
All three bend over, fluff out their hair. One sprays her hair with hair spray).
# 4 (Breathless, rushing up to meet them: We have to get in line. Sr. Michelle is crazed!
She says IND’s graduation is right after ours and if we run late she’ll give us a week’s
detention! Guess she doesn’t realize that we’re officially launched now…She’s also
checking for “extremes in hair style and /or color” and excessive eye makeup!
# 1 Penny, I told you not to wear that purple mascara! Let’s go, girls.
(They walk off humming Pomp and Circumstance.)
An apartment in Baltimore. Four young women sit around a kitchen table. #4 is
pregnant. Some wear headbands, hippie style.
Girl # 1: So my mother found out we were living together, and she and my father won’t
speak to me any more.
Girl # 2: Tell me about it. My mother thinks it’s 1940, so I don’t tell her anything any
Girl # 3: I can’t believe you are worried about trivial stuff like that when we are fighting
this useless war.
Girl # 4: You always were the political one.
# 3; Me? Look polls say over half the people in the country oppose LBJ’s dirty little war.
I can’t believe that boys have to worry about being drafted if they flunk out of college.
You remember Artie, the boy I went steady with in 8th grade?
#1 (interrupting) He was such a “hair”!
#3 Well, that “hair” went to Vietnam and never came back.
Silence from the group.
#3 I can’t believe that’s it’s almost 1970, we’re all together again, (pointing to herself and
the pregnant girl) we’re both married, YOU’RE expecting (pointing to the pregnant girl),
you’ve been teaching at St. Bernard’s for 5 years and you’re starting your master’s
program next year (pouring wine for everybody)–
#2 God, is the world falling apart?! Our parents are freaked out because we live with our
boyfriends. Our boyfriends are afraid they’re going to get drafted and sent to Nam and
get blown up. Lots of our girlfriends smoke pot. Or they go out to bars almost every
night, get wasted and go home with some strange guy. Or they get married and settle
down at 19 and have a baby at 20 -no offense, Janie. We are stuck in BAL-MER. And hey! I heard a rumor that Paul McCartney is dead!
(They all break in with screams of No! No way! That’s crazy!, etc.)
#4 (continues) And—worst of all—RICHARD NIXON IS PRESIDENT! (more groans
from the group).
#1 We thought JFK had kicked his butt for good in 1960 but heeeeeee’s baacccck!
#2 Yeah, like Dracula…
# 4:Hey, I’m starving. Can we order Chinese food?
# 2: Better yet – let’s go down to Mee Jung Lo for old times’ sake and order our old
# 1. Moo goo gai pan,
# 2. Shrimp toast!
#3 And Won tons! OK, girls, let’s go to dinner! We can solve the world’s problems later.
(All walk out, humming “you say you want a revolution, we-ell, you know, you don’t
need to change the world….”
Scene 7. 1974
# 4 is visibly pregnant again.
The television over the bar is airing Richard Nixon’s resignation speech.
(Narrator: ” I have never been a quitter. To leave office
before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as President, I
must put the interest of America first. America needs a full-time President and a full-time
Congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad.”)
# 4 : I’m completely speechless. I thought this would never happen. Thank God.
# 2: Good riddance.
# 3. Not that it will change much—Mark is still in Vietnam and I’m not sure when -or
IF- he’s coming home.
#1 At least I love my job. Grade four is definitely where I belong.
# 2. I guess maybe I’m a bit of a late bloomer. No husband. No job, no baby. But I should
be done with my masters soon, and maybe I’ll get a real job—NOT cleaning houses, I
mean—and anyway, why worry? We’re still a long way from 30.
All, in unison: Never trust anyone over 30!
#1 More like never trust ANYONE – I just heard that Sandy is getting a divorce from her
SECOND husband, by the way. She’s got 2 kids and no money.
#2 Another round of Natty Bo, girls?
# 3. I still have a little, thanks. And beside, I have to split: I’m taking the red eye back to
California and my cute lil’ apartment in Haight Ashbury and my cute new boyfriend. So
gorgeous- a cross between Paul McCartney and Sylvester Stallone. And he’s a surgeon!
#1Paul was always your favorite
#1 I wanted John
#2 My fave was always Ringo.
#4 And ever since George came to Mercy that day he’s been my all-time favorite
Beatle! How ‘bout a toast, girls? To Mercy High School and our 10th reunion next
# 2 And Beatles Forever!
# 3 And to Sister Frederick. Do you remember freshman year when she told us to take
that salt map of Odysseus’ adventures over to the Maps and Charts room? We thought it
was some unmarked room -after all, the school was brand new. It took us 45 minutes of
frantic searching to figure out that there WAS no Maps and Charts room! To Sister
#1 And to Janie’s new baby girl -Mercy class of ‘92!
They clink glasses and toast.
#2 Bye bye Tricky Dick. And let’s bring the boys home….
(They clink glasses and toast again.)
Scene 8: 1980’s
#1,2, # 3 and are present.
#2: And then I said to Caitlyn, you’ve GOT to be kidding: take off that eye shadow,
young lady, it makes you look like a tramp. And you’re not going to the mall. I don’t
CARE if all the other girls are going. And I told you to turn off that MTV!
#3: What’s MTV?
#1/ Music television.
#3. Like Buddy Deane?
#1 No, like videos of bands. You know, Michael Jackson, moonwalk.
#1 Forget it.
Enter # 4: Sorry, girls, had to drop off Jamie at Kinder-Tot ballet, bake 4 dozen cupcakes
for Stevie’s 2nd grade Montessori class -which, btw, he told me about at 6 this morning! pick
up Frankie, Jr. at soccer practice, and then I had to buy PAC-man for my husband’s
#2 OK, OK, Janie, enough already! Look, we’re supposed to be planning our 35th
birthday celebration at Ocean City over Fourth of July, so let’s get busy.
#1 God, I hope I can get into my bathing suit from last year.
#3 Don’t even talk about it.
#4 (sheepishly)Uh, girls, speaking of bathing suits…… guess who’s expecting
Scene ends with cries of OMG, Not again! Holy crap, Janie! Is this # 4 or 5?
Scene 9: 1990’s
(Again, # 1 is pregnant)
Enter # 1, with pillow, again.
They all just look at her and shrug their shoulders—big shrug, very overdone.
#1 Honestly, Janie, you’re such a CATHOLIC. You’ll probably be the only one at
our 30th reunion in a maternity dress.
#4 Girls, that’s not all: my daughter Jennifer -Class of ’92, mind you- just told me
(unison singing) “well she was just 17, you know what I mean…” all break into
Scene 10: 2010
the 5 girls again.
2 So who’s coming to this reunion?
3. I dunno…the usual suspects probably.
4. Know who I’d really like to see?
Enter # 1, not pregnant.
2. Glad to see you finally got your waistline back, girl.
3. I’d like to see Kate K, but she said she has to be up early tomorrow for the first
hunt of the season. English riding saddle, all that.
4. I’d like to see Diana.
1. Nancy .
2. Pat !
The nun— to audience–rushing in clicking the clicker—now, girls, before we end, we want to thank you all for joining us today, and we’d like to let you know some of the reasons the rest of our classmates aren’t here:
Girl 1: Hip replacement two weeks before—can’t drive yet
Girl 2: Two hours is too far to drive
Girl 3: I’m not the same person I was in high school
Girl 4: Can’t leave the dogs.
Girl 1:Would have preferred a dinner dance with spouses or partners.
Girl 2: Husband’s family reunion is that weekend, in upstate New York.
Girl 3: I’ll wait for the 50th.
Girl 1 :Work is too busy.
Girl 4: Can’t leave the dogs!
Girl 1: I have a board meeting in Ocean City that day.
Girl 3 I’m running a fundraiser for a charity that day
Girl 2: Going on a cruise.
Girl 1: Going to Rome and Egypt.
Girl 2: It’s too expensive for me to fly there.
Girl 4 : Can’t leave the cats!
Girl 1: I’m babysitting the grandchildren…
Girl 2: The last reunion I came to was so depressing…
Girl 3 Going to a wedding in New Jersey and it would be too much of a rush to get to Reunion by Saturday afternoon.
Girl 1 : My daughter’s first baby’s due date is October 2nd, and she lives in LA
Girl 4: Can’t leave the dogs!
Nun: (interrupts): Now, girls !(clapping hands) You’re late for your ownReunion.Now get out of here and go get a glass of wine before it’s all gone!
© 2010 Lynne Spigelmire Viti and Gay Johnson White
All rights reserved