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Full text of "The toothbrush : or, Castaways in the amusement park"

SWtET BRIAR COUKtUBRWY 
SWEET BRIAR. VA 24595 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

Lyrasis IVIembers and Sloan Foundation 



http://www.archive.org/details/toothbrushorcastOOda 



The Toothbrush 

or 

Castaways in the Amusement Park 

By Jorge Diaz 
Translated by Wendy Pressel 



Senior Honors Thesis in Spanish 

Final Copy 

April 29, 1991 

"I pledge^-^TTN 





The Toothbrush p. 1 

Introduction to The Toothbrush 

El cepillo de dientes (The Toothbrush)^ by Jorge Diaz was first published In 1961 (it 
was later revised in 1966) during the time when the Absurdist movement was gaining 
momentum in Spanish America. George Woodyard in his article, "The Theatre of the Absurd 
in Spanish America," says that there was "... a turn from the social problems of a Spanish 
American reality to universal metaphysical preoccupations. The absurdist playwrights explore 
the anguish and the helplessness of modem man in attempting to impose a rational order 
upon an incomprehensible world." The authors, particularly Diaz, were now more 
concerned with the dehumanization of man by society. In much of the absurdist literature, 
"[sjociety is insensitive to his [man's] needs; its effects are annihilating.""' Often, 
characters in absurdist works are reduced to subhuman beings by society, or are rendered 
incapable of carrying on "normal" human behavior. 

In Diaz's The Toothbrush, the impact that society has made on this middle class couple, 
HE and SHE, is more than obvious. While the effects of society do not exactly prove to be 
fatal, both characters suffer from them. Their marital bond has been weakened to the point 
where they can no longer effectively communicate with each other. Their language has been 
marred by the influence of television, radio, newspapers, magazines, etc, causing them to 
become alienated from one another. Everything that is said between the two of them, when 
not taken directly from the media, is a stereotype or cliche of some sort, most of which they 
misquote and confuse. Only when they are forced to drop their game, after the grotesque 
love scene, are they able to significantly connect with each other; but this lasts only for a 
brief moment. They are puppets of society who are trapped, performing the same story day 
after day. "The failure to recognize the true creative ability that they possess condemns them 
to a vicious circle of empty language and static games used to achieve precisely what that 
language and those games prevent."'* HE and SHE do, in the end, realize that they have 
lost control of their "game." In Act II of The Toothbrush SHE says, "I think our basic ideas 



^This work has been translated from the edition printed in the the following anthology: 
Diaz, Jorge. El cepillo de dientes: Teatro Contemporaneo . Ed. M. Aguilar. Mexico: 

AGUILAR, 1970. 427-98. 

2 
George W. Woodyard, "The Theatre of the Absurd in Spanish America," Comparative 

Drama 3 (1969): 186. 
Woodyard, Comparative Drama 184. 
Ronald D. Burgess, 'El cepillo de dientes: Empty Words. Empty Games?," Estreno 

9 Fall 1983: 29. 



The Toothbrush p. 2 

weren't bad, but we've made them so complicated that now they're all used up" (44). 
However, they are never able to break the cycle. Within minutes of this statement, both 
characters are back to arguing. This time, over which laundry detergent they like better; 
using, of course, the slogans from their respective commercials. They continuously go around 
and around with their "game," as if they were on the merry-go-round at an amusement 
park. ^ 

In addition to their struggle to communicate with each other, both characters are in 
search of their own sense of individuality (symbolized by the toothbrush). But because they 
have been brainwashed by the media, they have become unable to think for themselves. And 
as a result, "[t]he need to establish an individualized identity only produces two ridiculous 
figures who are identical in their mutual futility." They are in an impossible situation. 
Neither HE nor SHE has a sense of identity (thus their names), and neither character can 
turn to the other for comfort because they cannot communicate. "The conflict between their 
games, used to create unity, and their private codes, used to create a personal Identity, 
prevents them from achieving either goal." So, they are left to repeat the cycle; and take 
comfort in it, for it is the only thing they can truly call their own creation. 

The lack of compassion with which society treats the individual is also reflected in THEIR 
relationship in the form of verbal and physical violence. Diaz has created both characters to 
be stereotypes of Hispanic gender roles. Both HE and SHE are vibrant, physical, explosive 
characters, but are unable to cope with each other on any other level. "Where there ought to 
be love and understanding, selfishness and violence exist with apparent normalcy."^ 
Instead of having a well-balanced marriage where both partners work together, a battle of 
"domestic Darwinism" is being fought. At the beginning of the play, SHE tells the audience 
In her monologue about her plans to kill her husband by putting poison in his breakfast, and 
from then on their animosity towards one another continues to build until HE finally "kills" 
her at the end of Act I with the radio cord. SHE comes back in Act II dressed as the maid, 
"ANTONA," and their violent natures are temporarily put on hold. The energy that was 
violent has now become sexual energy, and HE proceeds to chase ANTONA around the 
apartment. This scene brings up another set of stereotypes. ANTONA is the dizzy maid who 
is supposed to be having an affair with HIM, the "man of the house." ANTONA is a role that 



^Other sources agree with this point. Among them are Ronald D. Burgess. Leon F Lyday. and 

George W. Woodyard. 
%urgess, Estreno 29. 

Burgess. Estreno 30. 

Tamara Holzapfel, "Jorge Diaz y la dinamica del absurdo teatral," Estreno 9 (1983): 32. 



The Toothbrush p. 3 

SHE has created in order to make some sort of cormection with her husband. And unlike the 
two "main characters" ANTONA has a name. This adds to the theme of dehumanization. In 
this play, "real people" are not given specific names, while "characters" are. Their newly 
created, stereotypical sexual energy reverts back once again to violence when they come 
together in a bizarre parody of a lovers' embrace which begins to destroy the world around 
them. The second act continues with HER "murder" of HIM, followed by the further 
destruction of the set. George Woodyard comments on Diaz's use of violence in his plays. 

While the violence In his plays at times seems gratuitous, it 
signals a lack of compassion or understanding in human 
relationships. For example, we need only think of £1 cepillo 
de dientes in which the "strangulation" of ERa and the 
"stabbing" of El are aspects of an elaborate orgasmic ritual the 
couple performs every day in order to tolerate one another.^ 

Their violent reactions to their situation seem only fitting. Their life has become 
exasperating because they can no longer communicate verbally. Instead, the only way they 
can cope with each other is to act out what they feel, which results in violence caused by 
frustration. 

While Diaz uses cliched language and violence to create a definite feeling of alienation in 
this play, he also employs other techniques often found in absurdist theatre. In fact, most of 
the techniques of Latin American Absurdist authors were developed and perfected in the 
1950s and early "BOs by such Absurdist authors as Pirandello, lonesco, Beckett and Albee. 
Many Latin American Absurdist playwrights employ such methods as "limiting themselves to 
two-character plays which allows for the closer study of the frustrated and desperate human 
animal; the use of anti-heroes; feelings of contempt, insult and hatred leading to physical 
violence; the disintegration of personality, with the same character assuming a new identity; 
the distortion of language; the distortion of time and space, and short, one-act plays are 
common. "^*^ Most of these are highly visible in Diaz's The Toothbrush. 

Thus the Absurdist movement in Spanish America began and ended a little later than the 
movement in Europe, its dates running roughly from the late 1950s to the late '60s. Among 
some of Its best-known authors are Egon Wolff, Osvaldo Dragun, and Rene Marques. George 
Woodyard gives an explanation for why the Theatre of the Absurd was delayed in Spanish 



George W. Woodyard, "Ritual as Reality in Diaz's Mata a tu prqjimo como a tl 

mismo.' Estreno 9 (1983): 13. 
^^V'oodyard, Comparative Drama 186. 



The Toothbrush p. 4 

America. He says that In Spanish America, "... in spite of whimsical politics, economic 
underdevelopment, and foreign exploitation, a generally optimistic attitude about progress 

and the chances for success . . . prevailed." Therefore, the absurdist opinion "that life. 

1 p 
after all, may not be worth the effort" did not hold true until Latin America developed 

more serious problems. Woodyard explains: 

With the Gross National Product barely keeping pace with the 
population explosion, the differential between Latin America 
and other technologically- oriented countries grows wider each 
year. The impact on foreign values through the various mass media 
has eroded many of the traditional family ties; the church's role 
as the panacea for all problems has been Increasingly challenged. 
Contemporary man in Spanish America is being asked to face up to 
life as it is by writers sensitive to this cultural evolution. "^ 

From this time, until the late 1960s, the Absurdist movement grew and flourished in Spanish 
America. Hispanic authors took a closer look at life around them, and made a significant 
contribution to the Theatre of the Absurd. 



Woodyard, Comparative Drama 190. 

1 2 
Woodyard, Comparative Drama 190. 

^ "Woodyard, Comparative Drama 190. 



The Toothbrush p. 5 

Act I 

When the lights in the room have been extinguished, but before the curtain goes up, 
melancholy harp music will be heard and should be reminiscent of music from a carousel. 
This music will be heard at various moments during the play. There should be a tender, 
simple, suggestive fragment. 

The curtains open. An eat-in breakfast room in a small, modem apartment 

The left half has antique furniture, Spanish in style, and the right half has Danish style 
furniture of ultra-niodem design. 

Among the furniture on the left, there is a rocking chair and an antique gramophone with 
an immense horn. On top of the furniture are old 78 rpm record albums. 

Among the furniture to the right there is a goatskin easy chair and a lamp with an 
aerodynamically shaped lampshade. 

Acting as a link between both sides is a round table, covered with a plush table cloth 
which falls to the ground completely covering the legs of the table. Two chairs. This is the 
neutral ground where the daily battle of married life at breakfast unfolds. A portable 
stereo ^"^ with an antenna sits conspicuously on the table. For a moment, the scene is 
unoccupied. A fragment of a soap opera is heard coming from the radio. 

Her Voice: 

Wake up my love! See how pretty it looks in the amusement park! What a beautiful day! 
His Voice: 

You are just as beautiful! (They kiss passionately.) 
Her Voice: 

Can we possibly survive? 
His Voice: 

What? 
Her Voice: 

This tremendous passion. 
His Voice: 

We're strong! 
Her Voice: 

Invulnerable! 
His Voice: 

Inseparable! 
(More passionate kisses. SHE enters. She is young and pretty. She is wearing silk pajamas 
and a dressing gown. She wears bedroom slippers. She is carrying a tray. Under her arm is 
a newspaper and a magazine. She leaves everything on the table. Upon doing so she 
carelessly drops a fork. She looks for another radio station. She leaves it a moment to listen 
to harp music. She continues until she finds an instrumental station. ^ ^ Satisfied, she 
follows the rhythm with her body and starts toward the kitchen. For a moment the scene is 
empty. New Age ^ ^ music is playing loudly. SHE returns. This time with the coffee pot and 

^"^The portable stereo was changed from a transistor radio to update the time period of the play. 
^ ^HER Jazz station has been changed to an "instrumental station" which plays New Age Music 
because Jazz and the music of Nat "King" Cole are similar. 



The Toothbrush p. 6 

the milk. She leaves them on the table. She puts the Jinal touches on the breakfast table. 
Only now does she realize that one of the two forks is on the floor. She picks it up and stares 
at it) 
SHE: 

Last night I dreamed about a fork. Well, it's not that strange. It's probably an unconscious 
sexual symbol . . . (She frowns.) But what is strange was that the fork said that it wanted to 
be a spoon. The poor thing had a spoon complex ... a teaspoon complex. 

I don't know why I am so complicated. Neither does my analyst. He told me that 
speaking out loud in the morning was good for my mental health. It serves to detoxify me 
after the night. "Imagine" - he told me - "that you are alone on a lighted stage in front of 
important people who listen to you, and to you nothing is important, nothing, nothing, 
nothing ..." 

(She addresses the audience with ease from the proscenium arch.) 'Your Excellency, most 
excellent Mr. President, most excellent Mr. Prime Minister, members of the Diplomatic 
Corps and of other corpses, Madame Sculptural Atache, Oh, Monseigneur ... (She 
genuflects. Suddenly she launches into a fragment from Madame Butterflu . FYom the 
bathroom the unmistakable noise of someone gargling is heard. She tries to silence the 
noise by singing more loudly and by casting furious glances toward the bathroom but. finally 
she stops, and makes a spiteful gesture toward the bedroom.) 

I live with a man. At least that's what people call that thing with big feet, who gargles at 
the most unexpected moments, his wedding night for example. 

I am his wife. So I should be feminine. Which isn't easy. There are rules which say 1 am 
to act helpless and bat my eyes to get Big Feet to protect me. 1 am also supposed to be 
attractive. I am not allowed to grow a mustache or let all my teeth fall out. I am supposed to 
remember that ravioli expands the hips and that asparagus reduces the bust. (Letting out a 
huge sigh.) But to tell you the truth, I am tired, terribly tired of being a feminine wife to that 
masculine animal who scratches himself, systematically loses his hair and sings ballads^ ^ 
which have long since gone out of style! (Dreamily) I would hke, 1 would like to get fat, 
smoke a cigar, and be painlessly and elegantly widowed. 

These monologues, like psychotherapy, also allow one to develop ideas, innocent ideas for 
becoming a widow without anaesthesia. Today, like every day, 1 have a few plans. To begin 
with, the coffee isn't coffee. No. It isn't instant coffee either. It's poison - poison that tastes 
like decaffeinated coffee. 

The toast looks like toast; no one would say that it's not. Well, in a way it is, but I toasted 
it with hydrogen, which produces fatal effects when it's digested. (Delighted) Oh, . . . and 
the sugar. The sugar has a bit of granulated rat poison in it. That was a stroke of genius 
which many will consider excessive, but it is in keeping with my sense of responsibility. 
(Humming is heard from the bedroom. With a sinister, feigned laugh.) It's time to act! 
(Shouting toward the room) My little baby boy, it's ready! (SHE sits and begins to butter 
her toast. Pause. Stronger.) It's reaaadyl 



16' 



Jazz music" has been changed to "New Age Music" for the same reason as given in the previous 
note. This choice also helps to update the play. 

^'Throughout the play, the word "tangos" has been changed to "ballads": Gardel has been replaced 
with Nat "King" Cole. 



The Toothbrush p. 7 

(HE enters carrying his Jacket in his hand. HE seems to be in a hurry. SHE raises the 
volume on the radio, which is still playing New Age Music. HE sits and opens his newspaper. 
The music is very loud. HE sets down the paper to speak with her, but only his lips are seen 
moving because the radio is so loud. This inaudible monologue goes on for a while. 
SHE: 

(Shouting) I can't hear you! What did you say? 
HE: 

(Shouting) Turn off the radio! 
SHE: 

(Shouting) Selfish! (She takes the headphones and connects them to the radio. The 
music stops. Now their voices are normal.) 
HE: 

The poison, please. (SHE doesn't hear him.) A little coffee, sweetheart. (SHE tries to 
shut him up with a gesture. Evidently she is concentrating on what she is listening to 
through the headphones. She is intrigued.) What is it? 
SHE: 

(Mysteriously) It's the forecast. 
HE: 

Of what? 
SHE: 

(Confidentially) Of the weather. 
HE: 

(A little irritatedj And what does it say? 
SHE: 

(Laughing first) "... partly cloudy for the rest of the area . . ." 
HE: 

(Amazed) Is that possible? 
SHE: 

It seems incredible, but it's so. 
HE: 

More coffee, dear? (SHE takes the coffee pot, but instead of serving him coffee, she 
begins to conduct the music, with an absorbed expression and a blank look in her eyes. HE, 
distracted by the newspaper, has not realized that he has not been served coffee yet. HE 
calmly stirs his empty cup.) What are you listening to? 
SHE: 

"Breakfast at home. " Advice to start the day. (She listens first, then speaks.) Today is 
the happy armiversary of the bloody October revolution . . . Let us begin the day's journey with 
optimism and energy. Take a deep breath. (SHE breathes deeply.) and say: "Today I will be 
able to do good for my fellow man." 
HE: 

(HE hasn't been listening.) Serve me my breakfast. 
SHE: 

"Thinking about others liberates us from our own preoccupations." (SHE rises to her feet 
and begins to move her head around and then throws her shoulders back and forth and 
moves her hands like an epileptic.) 



The Toothbrush p. 8 

HE: 

Are you okay? 
SHE: 

One . . . two . . . one . . . two . . . 
HE: 

(Hitting the table and shouting) The coffee! 
SHE: 

(Startled) Ah! - It's you who could use relaxation exercises. The best one is to roll 
around slowly on the floor, first on the left buttock, and then over to the right. It must be 
fun ... Do you want to try? 
HE: 

I want to try the coffee. Serve me now! I'm late. (SHE sighs and takes off the 
headphones.) 
SHE: 

Today I ought to do something good for my fellow man. Would you like milk, my little baby 
boy? 
HE: 

Don't call me your little baby boy! . . . And at the same time you offer me milk. It's 
repugnant. 
SHE: 

You used to like it. 
HE: 

Milk? ... Of course. 
SHE: 

(Displeased) You used to like it when I called you that. 
HE: 

That was years ago, when we were first married. Now I have grown up . . . and gotten old. 
SHE: 

What would you like me to call you now? 
HE: 

By my name. 
SHE: 

It's strange, but I've forgotten It. I could swear that it ended with an "o". . . I told you that 
you should write it down in the address book for me. (Suddenly she raises her eyes and 
looks at the audience. She is startled.) Close the curtains, they're watching us! 
HE: 

We like it. We're exhibitionists . . . and I am going to use this opportunity to say a few 
words . . . (Directly to the audience.) As the President of the United Christian Family Party, I 
have reiterated on many occasions that civic maturity must be expressed by repudiating 
professional demagogues. Only this way can our communal system, which is a reflection of 
individual and familial peace and equilibrium, become strong . . . 
SHE: 

(Interrupting him and reading a woman's m.agazine) "Apply new techniques to your 
marriage ..." 



The Toothbrush p. 9 

HE: 

(Indifferently) Erotic-scientific revelations? 
SHE: 

Capricorn. 
HE: 

What? 
SHE: 

Capricorn. 1^ It's the horoscope section. My sign is Capricorn. "Apply new techniques to 
your marriage. Marital love should not be blind. Lucidity never hurt any reasonable wife. 
Saturn, the ruler of your life, will be reinforcing Jupiter's powers. You are empowered to 
develop an active social interchange. The first day of the week you will be brilliant and 
imaginative ..." (Enchanted with the description.) Today I am brilliant and imaginative! 
HE: 

(Reading) "Traveling to a foreign country, am selling fine dining room furniture, almost- 
new, beds and mattresses." 
SHE: 

(Not raising her eyes from her magazine.) I didn't know you were going away, but I won't 
allow you to sell the mattresses for any reason. I don't care about the dining room furniture. 
HE: 

(Amused.) I don't either. We'll forget the mattresses. (Reacting) But I'm not going to 
travel! 
SHE: 

I thought you were leaving. 
HE: 

Why do you say that? 
SHE: 

Lately, you have been doing some suspicious things . . . For example, yesterday you cut 
your hair. 
HE: 

It was a mistake. 1 went in thinking it was a pharmacy. And the worst thing is that they 
left it way too short. 
SHE: 

(Without raising her glance from the magazine.) Let me see . . . No, I think it's just fine. 
HE: 

(Relieved) 1 feel so much better. (HE returns to engross himself in the paper.) 
SHE: 

What's your sign? 
HE: 

A little machine! How ingenious! "A little machine scarcely as large as a shoe box, to cut 
your fingernails without using scissors." 
SHE: 

Your astrological sign! -Oh, I know, Sagittarius, those bom between the first of January 
and the 31st of December . . . "You will be accused of being distant. It is a fact that the stars 
will not favor your feelings, but you can handle greater pessimism. It is a good week for 

1 ^Capricorn is the sign of the ram, which is often connected with cuckoldry. 



The Toothbrush p. 10 

settling undecided lawsuits. You will be obliged to accept an association with people who 
bore you and leave you unsatisfied. There exists the danger of spiritual superficiality, frivolity 
and vanity. Depressive thoughts darken your face ..." (Leaving the article.) Let me see you. 
(HE has his face buried entirely in the newspaper. SHE makes an effort to see his face.) I 
can't see you . . . Where are you? 
HE: 

(Reading the paper without showing his face.) "Massacre in Vietnam." 
SHE: 

What? 
HE: 

"Massacre in Vietnam." 
SHE: 

That film is a rerun and it's dreadfully dubbed. I love war movies! They're so educational. 
HE: 

(Lowering the paper and showing his face.) They give too much publicity to those films! 
And none of them really informs you about what's going on in the world. (Taking some 
butter.) Would you like some butter? 
SHE: 

You're just offering it to torture me. You know it makes me fat. 
HE: 

You don't eat scientifically. That's all. 
SHE: 

You always know everything. You eat scientifically, and yet your buttons snap off at your 
bulging belly. 
HE: 

Do you know which is the strongest and best fed animal? The hyena ... I suppose I will 
not have to teU you what it eats: it eats rotten meat along with the other beasts, because that 
way it is already half digested. It's a proven fact. That's how hyenas have been able to stay 
alive and keep smiling. 
SHE: 

And you think that all this has something to do with me? 
HE: 

It all depends on your point of view. 
SHE: 

(Reading her woman's magazine.) "Eggs and Your Liver", or 'The Importance of Eggs in a 
Woman's Life."^^ 

(Suddenly, HE, who has become engrossed in the newspaper, shouts an exclamation.) 
HE: 

At last! 
SHE: 

What's the matter? 
HE: 

(Reading.) 'Young foreign woman, French, seeks a furnished room with breakfast." (He 
rises quickly and goes toward the telephone.) 

l^In Spanish, the word "huevos" means eggs, but it also has a second meaning - testicles. 



The Toothbrush p. 11 

SHE: 

Do you know her? 
HE: 

(With the telephone in his hand.) No, but I thought we could rent the guest room. 
SHE: 

You know very well we don't have a guest room. 
HE: 

I could put a bed in my study. 
SHE: 

You know very well you don't have a study. 
HE: 

Then, in our bedroom, with a folding screen? 
SHE: 

It's too small. 
HE: 

In our bed? 
SHE: 

It's scarcely big enough to fit us. (HE hangs up the telephone and sits down again at the 
table.) 
HE: 

It's true. Although you can't deny that it would be a little extra income. But then you're 
always against cutting our expenses! (Dreamily.) Besides . . . she was French! 
SHE: 

So what if she's French? 
HE: 

(Confused.) Well . . . you know, France is - mysterious. It's what one has always dreamed 
about. The country of tom-toms, raw oysters, ■^^ and lotus blossoms. 
SHE: 

(Dryly.) She wouldn't fit in here. Our furniture is Danish-modem. 
HE: 

That's your furniture. Mine is Spanish-style. 
SHE: 

Archaic! 
HE: 

Antiseptic! 
SHE: 

Morbid! 
HE: 

Scandinavian! (Brief silence. He drinks his coffee.) 



^'^In the original, "oysters" are "las criadillas al jerez," or bull's testicles in a sherry sauce. This 
dish carries obvious sexual connotations, and has nothing whatsoever to do with France, as it is a 
Spanish dish. Likewise, the lotus blossoms are connected with the Far East. The closest English 
equivalent that could be found for this unusual food, which carries a sexual connotation are raw 
oysters. 



The Toothbrush p. 12 

SHE: 

(Sinister) The coffee is different today, isn't it? 
HE: 

(Dispirited.) Teresa, when you've Just gotten up you're frightening. Can't you at least 
wash your face? 
SHE: 

Please, let's not be romantic, dear. Remember, today is my day for mental lucidity - 
according to my horoscope. 
HE: 

Then perhaps it is time to speak frankly and without hypocrisy. 
SHE: 

Oh! . . . 
HE: 

(Decisively.) I'm going to tell you something that has been bothering me a lot. 
SHE: 

(Chewing with a full mouth and reading her magazine.) 1 am hanging on your every word. 
HE: 

It's been several days now and I haven't stopped thinking about it. Perhaps it's strange to 
confess it like this, but I am decided. 
SHE; 

Whatever it is, I'll forgive you. 
HE: 

(Looking for the words.) It's true that we are husband and wife and that I have grown 
accustomed to living with you. Everything seemed to be fine, but suddenly one day, 
something crosses your path and it upsets everything. Then your heart cools and you begin to 
see everything differently. Of course one fights and resists. Nothing ought to disturb the 
peace which one has attained, but now, toward the end, the feeling wins, and you find 
yourself trapped. (He has sat down in his rocking chair.) 
SHE: 

So tell me already. 
HE: 

I think . . . 
SHE: 

Yes? 
HE: 

I think I am beginning to fall in love. 
SHE: 

(Pitifully.) Poor thing. 
HE: 

Believe me, I resisted until the end. 
SHE: 

And with what slut, may I know? 
HE: 

Don't call her that! 



The Toothbrush p. 13 

SHE: 

Why? Who have you fallen in love with? 
HE: 

(Waueringly and timidly.) With . . . you. 
SHE: 

What nonsense! 
HE: 

It's not nonsense! Every day while I read the newspaper during breakfast I think about 
you. When we go out I look at you out of the comer of my eye. It's completely absurd, but I 
like you a lot. 
SHE: 

You libertine! Aren't you ashamed to be in love with your wife? To stoop to this level! If 
you forget it, then I'll forget it. 

(SHE begins to rock him in the rocking chair. SHE sings a lullaby. "Rockabye Baby. "^^ 
HE acts like an invalid or a small child.) 
HE: 

(Sincerely) It will be hard to forget you. 
SHE: 

Think about something else, my little baby boy, think about something else. 
HE: 

(With a stupid expression) About what? 
SHE: 

About anything else . . . about our fat neighbor. 
HE: 

I already thought about her last night while I got undressed. I've already thought about 
everything we've talked about today. 
SHE: 

Think about cholesterol. 
HE: 

What's cholesterol? 
SHE: 

An insecticide. 
HE: 

An insecticide? But I thought it came in shampoo. 
SHE: 

If it comes in shampoo then it's for a headache. 
HE: 

(Concentrating) Cholesterol! Cholesterol! Cholesterol! Chol-es-ter-ol! . . . (Getting up 
from the rocking chair - discouraged.) It's useless. You are the only one. 1 know it. You 
mean more to me than cholesterol. You are different. You're not like the rest! 
SHE: 

(Reading from her woman's magazine.) "Are you like the rest .... lacking initiative? 
Follow the example of Dorothy Zimmer.22 Until recently, she was a humble employee in a 



21 



It is written that SHE sings HIM a lullaby. "Rockabye Baby" was chosen because it is a rather 



violent lullaby. 



The Toothbrush p. 14 

corset shop; today she earns twenty-thousand dollars a month as a biliary computation 
scientist. Our system enables you to progress and to become somebody. I have here a list of 
our courses: Mental Control, Vibratory Breathing, Sacred Eloquence, Artificial Insemination, 
Radical Personality, Elastic Shorthand, Tactile English, Hormonal Memory. And 35 feminine 
specialties! The future is for the independent woman! Register now! (Reflecting) I like the 
course on Mental Control. I really am good at concentrating. Yesterday 1 finished three 
crossword puzzles during High Mass. Now, you concentrate so that you can send your 
thoughts to me . . . (She closes her eyes like a medium. He. without warning, looks straight 
at the audience and speaks dejectedly.) 
HE: 

Mr. Director, for a long time 1 have wanted to talk you about how nervous and worried I 
get whenever 1 pass the amusement park, the area between the square and the station. I 
have observed with increasing fear that each day something disappears. Today it's the 
mailbox, tomorrow the manhole covers or a tree, but above all, Mr. Director, couples in love 
who serve as immoral examples are disappearing. It's a shame! 1 beg you to take my concern 
to the authorities. 
SHE: 

(Meanwhile, her eyes are still shut; she is speaking softly in a medium-like voice.) Schtt . . .! 
I will do what 1 can, I will do what I can. But 1 can't promise you anything. 
HE: 

(Returning to reality.) Give me more coffee. (SHE. having moved from her place, is now 
standing behind HIM and she puts her hands over his head - as though it were a crystal ball.) 
SHE: 

(Still with her eyes closed.) How repulsive! Now I see everything clearly. Yes, now I see 
why you wanted to have that French girl move in! 
HE: 

(Reading) Miniature monkey, very clever, good with children, for sale . . . We may have 
children, Constance. ^3 We may have to buy things for them. Imagine having a little monkey. 
We will have to think about this when we decide not to have children. 
SHE: 

(Indifferent) You know very well my name is not Constance. (Opening her eyes.) 1 
believe mind control is not my strong point. It tires me out. 1 will look for another type of 
correspondence course. (Leafing through the magazine looking for another course.) 
HE: 

More coffee, dear? 
SHE: 

With two lumps of sugar, please. 
HE: 

With cream or without? 
SHE: 

That's only in the movies, my love. 
HE: 

What? 



"^•^Dora Zamudio has been replaced by the more Anglicized - Dorothy Zimmer. 
■^^Consuelo has been Anglicized to Constance. 



The Toothbrush p. 15 

SHE: 

The cream. 
HE: 

What cream? 
SHE: 

The cream you just offered me. 
HE: 

I? What are you talking about? 
SHE: 

The cream. 
HE: 

Face cream? 
SHE: 

What face cream? I don't use face cream. 
HE: 

Me neither. 
SHE: 

What about shaving cream? 
HE: 

Oh, that's soap. 
SHE: 

But you do use it. 
HE: 

Well, it has its uses . . . like spiders in the garden. 
SHE: 

What are they good for? 
HE: 

They eat harmful insects. 
SHE: 

Oh, no one believes in that anjonore . . . it's like leeches. 
HE: 

What do leeches have to do wath the garden? 
SHE: 

Wait a minute . . . What were we talking about? 
HE: 

I don't know. (Both eat silently for a moment. Suddenly, SHE shouts.) 
SHE: 

It was about your shaving soap! 
HE: 

My what? 
SHE: 

What we were discussing. 
HE: 

I don't think so. That's a stupid topic. (A tense silence. SHE is into her magazine. HE is 
into his newspaper.) 



The Toothbrush p. 16 

SHE: 

(Reading) "New ideas for this week: what to do with that stuffy attic that no one uses. " 
(She gets up and casts a contemptuous glance at HIM and the comer where his Spanish-style 
furniture is.) 
HE: 

(Reading) "A unique opportunity. Must leave town . . . selling . . ." 
SHE: 

(Continuing with what she had before.) ". . . all you need is imagination, three rolls of 
paper and a small jar of enamel . . ." 
HE: 

(Looking at her furniture.) ". . . functional Scandinavian furniture, almost new . . ." 
SHE: 

"We begin by getting rid of the cobwebs ..." 
HE: 

"... a high frequency radio, a box of laundry detergent, and a dust mop." 
SHE: 

(Suddenly morose.) Dust we are and to dust mops we shall return! Do you have 
something serious hanging over your conscience? 
HE: 

(Without raising his gaze from the paper.) No, but I have here in "Dear Abbey" '^'* 
touching letters to "Afflicted Mother" and "WUdflower". "Do you want to live intensely with a 
tender soul? Write me at the Post Office - General Delivery. You should be independent, 
passionate, open minded, financially secure, and in good health. Totally serious and virtuous 
intentions. Signed, Joe." 
SHE: 

(Simply.) I always sign "Hopeful." 
HE: 

You're open minded, aren't you? 
SHE: 

Are you asking me with serious intentions? 
HE: 

(Sadly) I am a lonely Joe. 
SHE: 

For now I can't give you an answer. Write me a letter - General Delivery. 
HE: 

That's a good idea, I'd like to know you. 
SHE: 

Just send it to "Hopeful." 
HE: 

(Writing on a piece of paper.) "Dear Hopeful: Not knowing your name, I must imagine 
everything. Your letter has been like a ray of light in the middle of my gray routine. 1 have 
the impression that we will be eternally right for each other. If you have some visible defect 
or any invisible illness I beg you to let me know about it. You must send a photo. I am ugly 

■2'*The advice columnist "Dear Abbey has been substituted for "el Consultorio sentimental, " which 
is simply an advice column, because It Is more immediately recognizable to an American audience. 



The Toothbrush p. 17 

but they say I am nice and without commitments. Respectfully, and longingly yours. Lonely 
Joe." 

(They are both facing the audience. HE folds the letter and slides it over to HER 
surreptitiously, as though committing an immoral act. SHE takes the letter the same way. 
SHE reads it anxiously and then they converse without looking at each other, as if separated 
by a great distance.) 
SHE: 

I don't want affairs. I am looking for a soul-mate. 
HE: 

I am a foreign industrialist who wants to settle down. 
SHE: 

I promise understanding. 
HE: 

Let's meet soon. 
SHE: 

I'm not a one-night stand. 
HE: 

1 am almost as cultured as a college student. ^5 
SHE: 

There is so much deceit in this world. 
HE: 

In that regard 1 promise you absolute discretion. 
SHE: 

And how shall we meet? 
HE: 

I will be the one praying in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. 
SHE: 

(With anguish) And what if we never recognize each other? Let's have an unmistakable 
signal! I'll wear an orchid, which I'll chew on the sly. 
HE: 

(Enthusiastically) I'll park it in the wrong direction. 
SHE: 

Park what? 
HE: 

My paralized grandfather. 
SHE: 

(Intensely) Write me a letter - General Delivery! 
HE: 

(Intensely) Write me a letter - General Delivery! (After a pause and breaking the mood 
of romantic intensity. HE crumples up the page of his newspaper and throws it to the floor 
in desperation.) Everything's useless. The newspaper's not today's. It's from the day after 
tomorrow. 
SHE: 

(Crumpling up the letter and throwing it on the floor.) Ah, if only 1 had answered it 
yesterday! 



2^his line has been slightly altered from the original, from "someone who attended a university." 



The Toothbrush p. 18 

HE: 

Ah! If we could only rent the guest room to someone! 

(HE wanders happily around the set. HE encounters the gramophone and gently strokes 
the large horn. He hums almost to himself, the beginning of "Unforgettable."^^ " Bum, ba, 
bum, bum, bum,"and then he softly stngs two verses.) 

"Unforgettable, that's what you are . . ." 
(With an old record in his hand HE talks to HER.) Shall we dance^^ darling?. . . just for us. 
SHE: 

You're obscene! 
HE: 

Why? 
SHE: 

This-^® isn't a dance. It's something almost physiological. 
HE: 

Nat King Cole's dead. No one will be watching. 
SHE: 

Don't try to bury your conscience. There's a big eye watching us. 
HE: 

(Begging) Do it for me! 
SHE: 

The only thing I can do for you is to observe a moment of silence. 
HE: 

(Singing softly and as if disillusioned.) 

"Unforgettable, in every way 
And forever more, that's how you'll stay. 
That's why darling, it's incredible. 
That someone so unforgettable 
Thinks that 1 am unforgettable too." 
(He sits down again at the table. Long pause. SHE watches him intently.) 
SHE: 

(Very affectionately.) My little love. 
HE: 

Yes, my love? 
SHE: 

Please . . . 
HE: 

Yes? . . . 
SHE: 

Pay a little more attention. 

The song "Unforgettable" is being used instead of a Gardel tango because the American 
audience will be more familiar with it. and because at the present time It is being used on television 
as a commercial - which falls in with the theme of THEIR inability to communicate with one 
another. Also, because the lyrics need to be understood and recognizable. 
^^The original read - "Shall we dance a tango, darling?" The word "tango" was cut. 
■^°The word "tango" has once again been cut. 



The Toothbrush p. 19 

HE: 

To what? 
SHE: 

Don't dirty the tablecloth. 
HE: 

Don't tell me that all the time! 
SHE: 

(Raising her tone.) Don't make noises when you eat! ^ 

HE: 

Don't bang your teaspoon! 
SHE: 

Don't get the sugar wet! 
HE: 

Don't frown when you bite into your toast! 
SHE: 

Don't drag your feet! 
HE: 

(Shouting) Don't read at the table! 
SHE: 

(Shouting) Don't shout! 
HE: 

Don't spit on me! 
SHE: 

(HowUng) I am not going to allow such rudeness in my own house! 
HE: 

(HowUng) I will not allow you to humiliate me in front of the dog! 
(No one can understand them because they are shouting at the same time without taking a 
breath. They are almost barking. Suddenly they are both silent. Now. suddenly they begin to 
shout again at the same time and then are silent again. A silence charged with tension. Each 
one becomes engrossed in their reading. Reading.) "Single cages, the best and most 
recommendable, with water dispensers by "Rosatex"." 
SHE: 

(Bothered) We don't need that. 
HE: 

Perhaps we do. 
SHE: 

We do? 
HE: 

(Innocently) 1 thought it would be good if we had fresh eggs in the house. 
SHE: 

And what does that have to do with cages? 
HE: 

I've heard it said that eggs come from there. 
SHE: 

But my little baby boy, 1 believe that you . . . 



The Toothbrush p. 20 

HE: 

(Shouting furiously) Never call me " your little baby boy" again or I'll pee right here on 
the floor! 
SHE: 

(Angry) You should buy one of those cages for yourself. 
HE: 

(Angry) It would most certainly be occupied by your mother, who desperately needs one. 
SHE: 

(Furiously) You pig! Wash out your mouth before you talk about my mother! 
HE: 

Yes, well that's exactly what I would do, but after having spoken about your mother, 
except that this morning I couldn't find my toothbrush. 
SHE: 

(Smiling automatically.) "If your gums are in decay . . . Brush with Dentall every 
day . . ."•^^ 
HE: 

(Automatically) 'The toothpaste that tastes like Scotch!" 
SHE: 

"I'm Martha Raye and I, like thousands of Hollywood stars, wear dentures. So remember, 
Polident Green gets your dentures clean!"30 

(HE and SHE sing a Jingle together) "I Love To See You Smde." - Colgate. "^^ 
"I was bom to make you happy. 
I think you're Just my style. 
E^^erywhere I go, 
Tellin' you what I know, 

I love to see you smile." (Repeat last line 2x's.) 
"Because your smile was meant to last a lifetime." 
HE: 

(Reacting) 1 only said 1 couldn't brush my teeth this morning. 
SHE: 

You are so slovenly. (She opens her woman's magazine and reads.) I see where the Avon 
lady,32 your face's best friend, says . . ." (Reading) The skin, the hair, the teeth, whatever 
might be our most beautiful trait, we begin from now on to give it that extra touch that 
enchants. Above all, keep your teeth free of tartar, nicotine, and particularly of pork and 
codfish by means of the constant use of baking soda. Then, your lover will say . . ." 



29The "Are your gums in decay?" line has been slightly altered English so the line would rhjTne In 
English. 

It was necessary to Americanize the original commercial, and the Polident commercial Is very 
similar to the original. 

3 1 

The original jingle has been replaced by Colgate's latest jingle which uses the song "/ Lone to 

See You Smile." This again, has been done to Americanize the play. And at the same time, it also 

illustrates the point that they can communicate effectively only through words which someone else 

has written for them. 

■^•^ "Miss Helen" has been changed to the Avon Lady. 



The Toothbrush p. 21 

HE: 

(Like a fascinated lover) You possess something undefinable that attracts me! (Reacting) 
Enough! The Avon lady doesn't say what to do when one's toothbrush gets lost. 
SHE: 

(Innocently) We'll have to ask her about it. I'll write to the Avon lady. She even restores 
virginity. 
HE: 

No! I want you to tell me where my toothbrush is. 
SHE: 

(Sweetly, condescendingly) But darling, where should it be? In the same place it always 
is: wherever you tossed it. 
HE: 

It wasn't there today. 
SHE: 

Did it ever occur to you that it might be in the toothbrush holder? 
HE: 

No! . . . But it wasn't there either. 
SHE: 

That's strange. You couldn't have taken it to the office? 
HE: 

What for? 
SHE: 

To use on the typewriter. 
HE: 

I have another one there for that. 
SHE: 

Then I don't understand. Do you want me to go look for it? 
HE: 

That will be useless. It's gone too far when my only personal object, the refuge of my 
individuality, has also disappeared. 
SHE: 

I'll take a look. In the meantime, gargle with salt. (She throws water and salt in a glass 
and exits. He begins to gargle. Suddenly she enters shouting. HE is surprised, chokes on 
the water and coughs.) I found it! 1 found it! Here it is! (With a remorseful expression she 
holds up a toothbrush rendered unuseable by white shoe polish.) 
HE: 

No! 
SHE: 

(Timidly) Yes, I used it to polish my shoes. 
HE: 

(Astonished) What? 
SHE: 

(Confused) My shoes . . . my white shoes desperately needed a touch-up with something 
and . . . 



The Toothbrush p. 22 

HE: 

And you couldn't find anything better to ruin than my toothbrush! 
SHE: 

No. First I tried to use your shaving brush, but all it did was foam. 
HE: 

(Furious) I'm the one who's going to foam - at the mouth! 
SHE: 

But you only gargled with salt. 
HE: 

(Pathetically) This is the hideous reality. There is no toothbrush in my house. It seems 
absolutely incredible, but it's true. (While HE is speaking to the audience, wallowing in self- 
pity. SHE has gone into the bathroom for a moment.) I want to perform my duties in a 
Christian manner, but, no . . . My toothbrush has been lost! I work all day like a fiend and at 
the end of the day, I come home looking for some kind of enjoyment, to brush my teeth or do 
a little knitting . . . Nothing . . . it's not possible! Either they have used your toothbrush or 
they have hidden your knitting. I understand that not everything in life is fun. No. It's not as 
though I tried to brush my teeth every day. No, no ... ! 

But a holiday is a holiday and even Trappist monks allow themselves a bit of recreation. 
But for me, no. For me it's not allowed. 1 should swallow salt water and shamefully hide my 
teeth ... It is almost a problem of human dignity! Even hyenas smile without fear! (SHE has 
entered looking triumphant and carrying another toothbrush.) 
SHE: 

(Excited by the idea.) Look, there is a toothbrush! 
HE: 

Which one, if I might ask? 
SHE: 

(Triumphantly) It's mine. It was a wedding gift from my father. 
HE: 

You are not suggesting that I should brush my teeth with your toothbrush?! 
SHE: 

What's wrong with that? We're married. 
HE: 

That has nothing to do with it. Stop sajmig stupid things. 
SHE: 

I am not being stupid. That's marriage. Sharing everything: pain, anguish, happiness and 
toothbrushes! . . . Don't we love each other? 
HE: 

Not that much! 
SHE: 

(Crying) That's the last thing I thought I'd hear you say! (To the audience.) Of course, 
he can share our bedroom with some French girl, but he can't share a harmless domestic 
utensil with his wife! 
HE: 

I want my own harmless domestic utensil. 



The Toothbrush p. 23 

SHE: 

You didn't say that when we were newlyweds. 
HE: 

(To the audience.) I never promised to share her toothbrush when we were newlyweds. 
SHE: 

You would have. You loved me. 
HE: 

It has nothing to do with that. It's a matter of hygiene. 
SHE: 

(Pitifully) When I hurt my finger you didn't think about hygiene. You sucked on it and 
said: "Daddy'll kiss it and make it better."^-^ 
HE: 

I am tired. I am tired of hearing you, Mercedes. (Desperate, HE hides underneath the 
table until he is completely hidden by the table cloth. SHE comes toward the table and 
pounds on it with her fists.) 
SHE: 

I forbid you to call me Mercedes ... I forbid you to call me anything 
HE: 

(Speaking from under the table without being seen.) I can fix it so I cannot see you. but I 
have to hear you. It's true that you have your headphones34 and I have my old 78s. but 
through it all, I hear you! The only place that I can find any peace and quiet is the bathroom. 
There the deodorant and talcum powder reIgn supreme. Everything is functional, necessary. 
There, you cannot enter . . . but you have entered and you have stolen my toothbrush! 
SHE: 

(Suddenly looking toward the audience.) Close the curtains, they're listening to 
everything! 
HE: 

(Raising his head from below the tablecloth.) I don't give a damn if they hear everything. 
That's what they paid for! 
SHE: 

If you want peace and quiet, stay in your beloved bathroom. I'm going to my mother's 
house! 
HE: 

Don't be so melodramatic. You know perfectly well your mother lives with us. 
SHE: 

(Shouting) I can't stand any more of this! I hate you. I am tired of putting up with your 
brand of cigarettes and the noise of your intestines when you drink Coke! Get out of my sight! 
We can never live like we did before! 
HE: 

Hysterical little broad. 
SHE: 

Sadist! 



33 

There is no direct translation for "Sana, sana culito de rana . . ." in English. The most 

appropriate subsUtute was found to be the phrase: "Daddy'U kiss it and make it better." 

In the original, the word "earphones' is used. "Headphones" is just a more modern word. 



The Toothbrush p. 24 

HE: 

Organic! 
SHE: 

Mistletoe! 
HE: 

Mandrake root! 
SHE: 

Venomous!*^ 
HE: 

Crustacean! 
SHE: 

I am going to start shouting! 
HE: 

Shout and go to hell! . . . (SHE begins to shout like a crazy person. HE gets out from 
underneath the table and stamps his foot furiously.) Shut up, Martha! (He is close to her. 
He takes the radio from the table and with one rapid movement pulls the cord around her 
neck. While he strangles her. he murmurs:) Hopeful. (Then he begins to tighten it until 
she is silent She falls to the floor and he looks at her for a moment He is panting. Then he 
takes her by the armpits and drags her with difficulty toward the bedroom. For a moment, 
the set is empty. HE appears. Now he's not panting. He whistles a ballad. He carries a 
black tie in his hand. He looks at it pensively and takes off the colored one he's wearing and 
puts on the one for mourning. He whistles a tune. He sits down and serves himself more 
coffee. While he drinks it he reads aloud the headlines from a tabloid.) 
HE: 

"Female High School Student Humiliated By A Sinister Physical Education Teacher," 'Two 
Actors Violently Attack Our Theatre Critic," "Woman Strangled With . . ." (Paying close 
attention to this last headline and continuing to read.) "Woman Strangled With Radio Cord 
By Furious Husband." The corpse of a beautiful woman, a victim of cowardly abuse, was 
discovered yesterday. There was clear evidence that she had been strangled with a radio 
cord. 36 Despite the apparent simplicity of this case, it is baffling. These are the facts: at 
8:30 a.m. the cleaning woman for the apartment, who says her name is Antona, rang the 
doorbell repeatedly. When no one answered, she used her own key and entered. She called 
to see if anyone was home so she wouldn't intrude, and she heard a voice say: "Come in, 
Antona." She saw the man, who was making toast, and in the bedroom she found the body of 
the poor woman. The statement the husband gave to the police was very confused . . ." 

(He puts down the paper and speaks directly to the audience. He loosens his shirt and 
tie and adopts the fatigued attitude of someone who is being accused in a police inquiry.) 

Yes, I killed her. The person who is laid out in the bedroom is the one I killed. And I 
know very well why I did it. You would've done the same thing, if you discovered some 
stranger taking over your house from your pajamas to your toothbrush. Do you know what I 

35 

The word Toxico" has been slightly altered to "Venomous" in English. This maintains the 

original sense of rhythm. The third syllable from the last (el acento esdrujulo) in this section, 

match up as they do In the original Spanish text. 

'^^ "Radio cord" was originally a ""leather radio strap. " It has been changed because radio straps are 

not as common anymore. 



The Toothbrush p. 25 

mean? . . . She was everywhere. She would mysteriously appear at the breakfast table, eating 
my toast; in the mirror, while 1 was shaving, I found her face putting on cream or plucking 
her eyebrows. I would catch her in the bathtub. I would wake up at night and find her in my 
bed. It was somewhat irritating. But, ladies and gentlemen . . . Whom did I kill? The woman 
in the mirror? The mystery woman I sometimes found in my bed, or the woman I married 
five years ago? The woman with the radio? The woman with whom I was falling in love? Or 
maybe it was "Hopeful." to whom I had written c/o General Delivery. I don't know. 

Strange things frighten me. Promiscuity horrifies me, and that's what was happening. 
Finding my false teeth in an unknown woman's bedroom slippers every morning was Just too 
much for me to handle. 

You have seen it: my Nat "King" Cole records covered with dust because she refused to 
dance. ^^ I can cry for hours on end just listening to them. But not her, no. She could only 
cry to Andreas Vollenweider.^® What can you do when a piano'-'^ makes one of you 
nostalgic, but the other one only likes the electric harp?^^ ... If two people can't cry 
together over the same things, what else can they do together? . . . You decide, ladies and 
gentlemen. But remember that everyone, everyone has a toothbrush! 

(He sits back down and ties his tie. He is almost smiling. He picks up the paper and 
reads aloud indifferently.) 

"That was his confession. The police see it as a typical crime of passion. They are 
searching for a third person, possibly French. Tomorrow we will have more information." 
(He puts the paper down.) 

Bah! As usual! . . . This sensational tabloid puts everything so morbidly. It poisons people. 
In reality, life is much more boring. 

(He spreads Jam on his toast. The doorbell rings. Silence. The doorbell rings again. 
Silence. A key is heard turning in the lock and then the creaking of the opening door is 
heard. Steps.) 
A VOICE: 

May 1 come in? 
HE: 

Come in, Antona, the corpse is in its usual place . . . 



(The curtains close.) 



The words "a tango'" have been edited out. 

OQ 

Because SHE is now listening to New Age Music, The Modem Jazz Quartet has been changed to 
Andreas Vollenweider, a prominent musician whose specialty is the electric harp. 

39 

"Accordion"" has been changed to "piano." "Trumpet" has been changed to "electric harp." 



The Toothbrush p. 26 



Act n 



The second act begins at the same moment the first act ended. HE is frozen in his last 
gesture with a piece of toast and Jam in his mouth. The set has been reversed; that is. it has 
been turned 180 degrees on an imaginanj axis. Everything that was seen on the lefi is on the 
right and vice verscu The doorbell is heard. Silence. Again the doorbell rings. Silence. The 
door opens and steps are heard. 

A VOICE: 

May I come in? 
HE: 

Come in, Antona, the corpse is in its usual place! (Antona enters. It is SHE. only she is 
wearing a cheap dress, a wig and earrings. In her hands she carries a cleaning bucket, a 
dishrag. drop cloths, and a whisk broom. Antona is determined and energetic, but very 
naive. She leaves the bucket on the floor and puts a drop cloth around her waist like an 
apron.) 

SHE: 

Good morning, sir. 
HE: 

Good morning, Antona. 
ANTONA: 

Nothing good about it for me, sir. What a morning! All I need now is to find a body 
underneath the carpet! 
HE: 

(Startled) Why do you say that. Antona? 
ANTONA: 

Because there are mornings when one doesn't know which would be better: to take an 
aspirin or to cut off one's head. 
HE: 

(Indifferent) There's no doubt about it. Cut off your head. 
ANTONA: 

I started with apartment 18 and the man greeted me at the door stark naked. "Cover 
yoursein" I said to him and he shouted at me - "Keep your false piety to yourself, I have a devil 
of a hangover today and I smell like hell!" 
HE: 

(Perplexed) Antona, tell me ... Do I smell like hell? 
ANTONA: 

(Distracted) Yes, sir. 
HE: 

Thank you. 
ANTONA: 

Then in number 25 I shorted out the vacuum cleaner, slipped on the soap and broke a 
mirror. The woman got hysterical. 



The Toothbrush p. 27 

HE: 

But then, thank God you came here. (Antona frantically cleans the Jloor with the whisk 
broom.) 
ANTONA: 

Yes. As I was going up the stairs. I began thinking, "Finally I get to go to a decent, 
peaceful home where that couple lives like a pair of lovebirds." 
HE: 

Are you sure that's how lovebirds live? 
ANTONA: 

Working for genteel and distinguished people brings my soul back into my body. 
HE: 

How do you get your soul back into your body? 
(HE has remained inim.obile, staring in the direction of the bedroom.) 
ANTONA: 

Do you feel all right, sir? 
HE: 

(Reacting) I feel wonderful, Antona. Completely purified. It's strange. This morning I 
feel like I'm as single a widower as Henry VIII.'* 
ANTONA: 

And your wife? 
HE: 

"Requiescat in pace." 
ANTONA: 

What? 
HE: 

She's sleeping like the dead. 
ANTONA: 

Don't say that, it brings bad luck. Sometimes horrible things happen. An uncle of mine, 
poor dear, fell asleep singing . . . and he woke up totally mute. (Putting some things on a 
tray.) Are you done with your breakfast, sir? 
HE: 

Yes. For some reason I've lost my appetite. 
ANTONA: 

Then I am going to take your wife her breakfast. (She starts ojf toward the bedroom. He 
gets up and stands between her and the bedroom.) 
HE: 

Don't bother her now. You won't get her to eat anything. (Gently taking the tray from her 
hands.) You are going to ruin everything with your hurrying. That's why you slip on soap and 
break mirrors . . . (Moving much closer to her.) It seems like you're running away from 
something. The worst thing a person can do is run away, even if he killed someone. Don't 
run around all day, Antona. That just raises your blood pressure. There is plenty of time for 

In Diaz's version, the line reads 'This morning I feel like I'm as single a widower as Cardinal 
pychelleu." The joke Is funnier In Spanish because the majority of Spanish -speaking people are 
Catholic, and Diaz Is having fun with the Church. In order to retain the joke. "Cardinal Filchelleu" 
has been changed to "Henry VIII." 



The Toothbrush p. 28 

everything. (He puts his hand on her waist) I liked it when you said 'living like lovebirds." 

Say it again, will you? (Antona pulls away from him.) 

ANTONA: 

(In a low voice) Come on, don't do that - your wife could come in! 
HE: 

No she won't. 
ANTONA: 

Sure, you always say that. She'd have to be dead not to hear me running and shouting 
every morning trying to get away from your pawing. 
HE: 

Antona, you are so silly. But you do have a certain animal charm. 
ANTONA: 

(Happily) Really? 
HE: 

I swear. Are you in love? 
ANTONA: 

What do you mean? 
HE: 

You mean you've never heard of love? 
ANTONA: 

(Perplexed) It sounds familiar to me. 
HE: 

That's not possible. 
ANTONA: 

Honestly. 
HE: 

But Antona, it is so important - even more important than hairspray, suppositories and 
discount coupons. 
ANTONA: 

Really? 
HE: 

Of course. They teach you that in kindergarten. 
ANTONA: 

I never went to school. 
HE: 

Just open any encyclopedia! Everyone knows about it. (He moves toward a low piece of 
frimiture and picks up a huge book.) Let's see . . . love . . . love: "A feeling through which a 
man searches for real happiness." . . . And don't get it confused Antona, because there are 
other definitions. Pay attention: "a game of guessing the number of fingers held up in a quick 
movement of the hand." Or this one: "A kind of thin silk stuff, formerly used when in 
mourning" . . . and watch out for "a form of euchre" and "in scoring in various games, as 
tennis, rackets, etc: no score, nothing.'"* ^ 



'*^The definitions of 'amor" have been changed to the definitions of "love" from The Oxford 
English Dictionary. 



The Toothbrush p. 29 

ANTONA: 

You have no morals. 
HE: 

42 
Morel, morel. "A small edible mushroom of the genus Morcella". 

ANTONA: 

You ought to be ashamed of yourself. 
HE: 

(Consulting the dictionary.) Ashamed . . . ashamed: "A disturbance of the spirit that turns 
the face red." One may also say "to cover up your shame" referring to the private parts of men 
and women. 
ANTONA: 

I don't know anything about those kinds of things. 
HE: 

You ought to at least know that love relationships are classified according to their intensity 
and their circumstances as in: conditional, consecutive, continuative, disjunctive, defective, 
dubitative, distributive and copulative. 
ANTONA: 

My God! What can 1 do? I'm illiterate! (He takes her by the waist again and tries to pull 
her towards him.) 
HE: 

Antona, have you had any lovers? 
ANTONA: 

Here comes the same old song! 
HE: 

I won't let you go until you tell me the truth. 
ANTONA: 

And how is a girl to know if she's had a lover? That's what 1 say! A binge here, a 
wallowing there, a struggle in a doorway, that's all. I don't understand this business about 
lovers. 
HE: 

But a woman always knows! When she actually does or doesn't. 
ANTONA: 

1 don't, I swear! It doesn't mean anything to me. When I'm Just figuring out what's going 
on, they're already zipping up their flies! 
HE: 

You are a totally insensitive moron! 
ANTONA: 

It's because I was raised on ass's milk. I must say it was a dirty trick. I agree with my 
uncle, who said that with a woman around, who needs she-asses? 
HE: 

Don't worry about it, Antona. I think that, in spite of everything, you'd still take the prize 
at the state fair. 
ANTONA: 

That's what my mother used to tell me. "Antona, no one can call you a bad woman, and 

^■^This is also a different definition from the Oxford Dictionary. 



The Toothbrush p. 30 

that's sajnng a lot, but you are a bit of a slut." 
HE: 

Wise and affectionate words. 
ANTONA: 

I'm going to wake up the Mrs. (He tries to grab her by the arm and hold her.) 
HE: 

No, no, wait! ... I have to talk to you . . . Some things have happened . . . 
ANTONA; 

Leave me alone. You have a story for everything. (He instantly begins to tell a story in a 
fatherly tone of voice. Antona listens, fascinated.) 
HE: 

You don't know this story. It is the story of King Abdula, who lost his armor: "Once upon a 
time there was a king who had the bad habit of biting his fingernails. One day he discovered 
that his wife, the queen, was sleeping with an anarchist inside his own armor, underneath his 
own bed. From that day on, he stopped biting his fingernails and began biting his horns." 
ANTONA: 

(Fascinated) Oh! And what about the prince? 
HE: 

What prince? 
ANTONA: 

There's always a prince. 
HE: 

1 didn't want to tell you about him because of the delicacy of the situation, because this 
prince had a secret vice: he dragged his tongue all over the palace. 
ANTONA: 

Why? 
HE: 

He was a stamp collector! 
ANTONA: 

(With admiration) My God, you know so many things! I'm so lacking in ignorance.'*^ 
(She tries again to go into the bedroom. He stops her again.) 
HE: 

Don't go into the bedroom! 
ANTONA: 

Why? 
HE: 

It's very messy. There are things thrown all over the floor: my dirty clothes, my wife . . ., 
in short, you know, it's Just like every day. 



'^'^Antona's line "I'm so lacking in ignorance." may sound strange but it is in keeping with her 
character. She is supposed to be slow of mind and have a very limited vocabulary. However, there is 
some inconsistency in Antona's vocabulary. Later on in the play, she use such phrases as "suffering 
from congenital splnsterhood" and says that she Is a"Homeopath. " This could be one of the author's 
clues that Antona is Just a poorly constructed facade that SHE has created, and not a real character 
at all. 



The Toothbrush p. 31 

ANTONA; 

That's my job. 
HE: 

I forbid you to do it, Antona. 
ANTONA: 

I'm beginning to think you're hiding something. 
HE: 

How did you guess? 
ANTONA: 

What? 
HE: 

It's true. I am hiding something and I have to tell you about it. 
ANTONA: 

It's about time! 
HE: 

It's difficult to explain. Sit down. 
ANTONA: 

Another story? Oh, no. I'm going to find out for myself. 
HE: 

(With a shout) Antona, listen to me! (Before she gets to the bedroom, she turns toward 
him.) 
ANTONA: 

What? 
HE: 

I . . . I . . . 
ANTONA: 

You what? 
HE: 

I have known for about half an hour. I am not the same. 
ANTONA: 

I don't understand. 
HE: 

But it's so obvious! 
ANTONA: 

What is? 
HE: 

All this time I have been hinting at it, in a very delicate way, and you deny being able to 
understand ... is it possible that you haven't realized? 
ANTONA: 

Realized what? (Pause. She is moved by htm.) 
HE: 

(Without being able to restrain himself.) I am going to be a mother. 
ANTONA: 

Say that again? 



The Toothbrush p. 32 

HE: 

I am going to have a baby. 
ANTONA: 

That's impossible! 
HE: 

A baby that is the fruit of your irresponsibility and selfishness! 
ANTONA: 

So you want to blame the baby on me? 
HE: 

(Pitifully) Antona, you can't deny it. You can't be so unnatural! 
ANTONA: 

But all we've done is a little pinching and feeling In the kitchen. 
HE: 

(Modestly) Well, that's Nature for you. (Looking up.) I'm going to have a baby. 
ANTONA: 

I don't believe it. 
HE: 

(Dignified and sujferingly) Antona, don't ask me for proof! It would be too painful for me! 
You. better that anyone, know all there has been between us. I swear that you were the first! 
ANTONA: 

(Confused) All of this is a trick. I Just come here to clean the floor, not to pull your 
chestnuts out of the fire. (She has forgotten the bedroom and is in the middle of the room.) 
HE: 

(Pouting) Of course, for you this means nothing, not even a twinge of remorse. But for 
me . . . (His voice breaks.) Oh, I will never be able to tell my mother! 
ANTONA: 

Your mother? What in the hell does she have to do with all this? 
HE: 

She will disown me. 
ANTONA: 

And what will your wife say - that's what I want to know? 
HE: 

(With dignity) I hope she will give the baby her name. 
ANTONA: 

Whatever you are plotting or scheming, I have nothing to do with it. 
HE: 

Antona, don't turn your back on me now, not after you've taken advantage of me. Oh . . . 
(swoons). 
ANTONA: 

(Alarmed) What's the matter? Sit down and don't think about this nonsense. It's 
nothing unusual. We all go through these things. I'll get you a glass of water. (She drags htm 
to a chair and runs to get a glass in the kitchen. From there she shouts) Don't worry! This 
only happens during the first months! (She appears again and gives him a glass of water. He 
drinks it and them bursts into sobs.) 



The Toothbrush p. 33 

HE: 

For one moment of pleasure I become an outcast. I have been dishonored. 
ANTONA: 

Don't be stupid. Today's society is much more open-minded than before. On the other 
hand, in my town, my grandfather was so puritanical that when his mare gave birth, he 
searched aU over for the guilty stallion and when he caught him, he castrated him. 
HE: 

(Frightened) Why did he do that? 
ANTONA: 

Because he said that it was a bad example for my mother, who was single. [HE. upon 
hearing the story bursts into sobs again.) What's the matter now? 
HE: 

(Pouting) I'm afraid of your puritanical grandfather. 
ANTONA: 

Don't be afraid. He's buried in the village. 
HE: 

I was bom in a village, too. I was always very ignorant of these things and now I'm paying 
for my ignorance. I believed that babies were made by mixing 2 parts flour, 3 of milk, and a 
pinch of yeast. 
ANTONA: 

So why don't you go home to the country for a while? No one there will find out, and 
country babies grow up healthy. 
HE: 

The tjqjical reaction. Get rid of me. Now you don't even mention marriage. 
ANTONA: 

I never promised to marry you. Besides, you're already married. You ought to confess 
everything to your wife. She should be aware of your situation ... I will tell her myself! If she 
doesn't have a heart attack, it's a sign that she will end up acknowledging the baby. (She 
heads for the bedroom, but HE stops her with a shout.) 
HE: 

(Like a madman) If you go in that bedroom I'll kill myselfl I will eat the newspaper until 
I die! (He ferociously bites the newspaper. Antona, frightened, tries to take it away. They 
completely shred the newspaper. HE pathetically:) You will have to explain this to the 
world: First dishonor, then death by tabloid poisoning. The autopsy will reveal everything! 
(Antona moves back a few steps.) 
ANTONA: 

You are a dangerous man. 
HE: 

I am a victim. 
ANTONA: 

''An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 
HE: 

A friend in need is a friend indeed. 
ANTONA: 

Seeing is believing. 



The Toothbrush p. 34 

HE: 

The sooner the better. (Rises and comes toward her.) 
ANTONA; 

(To audience) His bark is worse than his bite. 
HE: 

(HE grabs her by the waist and pulls her to him.) Some like it hot, some like it cold, 
some like it in the pot nine days old. 
ANTONA: 

(Pulling away) Haste makes waste. 
HE: 

(Following) Birds of a feather, flock together. 
ANTONA: 

Spare the rod and spoil the child. (Slaps his face) 
HE: 

(Undaunted) Finders keepers, losers weepers. 
ANTONA: 

Man proposes, God disposes. 
HE: 

Antona, Antona, if you haven't seen her, you haven't known her.'*^ (Antona begins to 
sadly take the petals ojja rose in a ixise.) 
ANTONA: 

He loves me a lot ... a little . . . not at all . . . 
HE: 

Never despair, Antona. You would be presentable enough if it weren't for that scar from 
your appendix operation. 
ANTONA: 

(Disillusioned) I'm in a decline. It must be congenital spinsterhood. It's unavoidable. I'll 
get fat and wrinkled, and one of these days - poof! I'll be as useless and passe as a whalebone 
corset. 
HE: 

Don't lose your hope of marrying, Antona. You still have time to choose some slimeball 
who's hanging around somewhere. 
ANTONA: 

No, it's already way too late. I'm everybody's dishrag. Who's going to want me for anything 
more than making a good Spanish omelet? 
HE: 

What ideas you have, Antona! 

Beginning with the asterisk on page 33, was a section of Spanish refranes (sayings). All of them 
rhjmied, and most of them were untranslatable. Those that were, made little or no sense in English. 
The refranes that were chosen by Diaz have a tendency to drift off into nonsense, but they also have 
very sexual connotations; and in some places it seems as though HE is making advances toward 
ANTONA. Thus, the creation beginning with the line "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of 
cure," and ending at the footnote. The stage directions were also added. 

■^^ "Antona, Antona, if you haven't seen her. you haven't known her."" is not part of the refranes. but 
the original does not translate well, and it also rhymes, so the line was slightly altered. 



The Toothbrush p. 35 

ANTONA: 

Sure, when a girl tastes like Drano,'*^ they take advantage of her. 
HE: 

There are many men who would like to get to know you, to trade stamps and old 
magazines. In that sense you are truly attractive. 
ANTONA: 

I've tried everything. I even wrote to an advice column. I signed it "Hopeful" and the only 
response I got was from a drooling idiot who must be married and fat. I didn't understand a 
word of it. He signed it "Lonely Joe." He must be a sex maniac. 
HE: 

(Dumbfounded) Then . . . you are "Hopeful"? 
ANTONA: 

Yes. I know you are going to laugh at me. 
HE: 

(To himself) So it was you who was searching for a soul-mate. 
ANTONA: 

(With pride) Yes, I heard that term on "All My Children Live In Another World". 47 
HE: 

On what? 
ANTONA: 

You don't watch "All My Children . . . ?" 
HE: 

No. 
ANTONA: 

It's terribly touching. First, stirring music that gives you goose pimples, and then the 
gentle voice of an effeminate announcer who says: "We know that Fibronylon caresses us! 
Mercerized Fibronylon, your nylon for confidence, the nylon that is almost a confessor! 
Presents . . . "All My Children Live In Another World" . . . Just thinking about it, I get the 
shivers. 
HE: 

(To himself) "Hopeful, I have the impression that we will not be eternally right for each 
other. If you have some visible defect or any invisible illness, consult a specialist. Don't 
bother sending a photo. I am rather ugly, but they say that I am a hopeless neurotic. I say 
hello and goodbye forever, Joseph." 
ANTONA: 

I don't know what you mean, but it's time for me to finish my work. (She heads for the 
bedroom, without hesitation.) 
HE: 

No, not yet! 



'*°The word "lye" has been replaced by the brand name "Drano. " It sounds better than just "lye" 

and is more easily recognizable by an American audience. It Is also in keeping with Diaz's use of 

commercials. 

4'The name of the soap opera Antona listens to had to be Americanized. It is now "All My 

Children Live in Another World." Because the original commercial for "Fibronylon pantyhose"" has 

been retained, and is most likely not a real commercial, the name of the soap opera needed to be 

created. They are names of two real soap operas, which have been combined together to make one. 



The Toothbrush p. 36 

ANTONA; 

I'm going to wake up your wife. 
HE: 

You'll need trumpets from the Judgment Day. 
ANTONA: 

I don't want to answer any more riddles, and if you keep making it difficult for me I will 
go far, far away. There are plenty of domestic jobs out there! 
HE: 

(Impressed) Oh, never that! No! Anything but that, Antona. You know we are good 
people, with no prior convictions . . . (Imploring her) Hopeful, Antona, Tona, Tony . . . What 
did they call you when you were a baby? 
ANTONA: 

"Sweetums'"*® but I don't know what that has to do with anything. 
HE: 

(Passionately) Sweetums! Sweetums! . . . We will do anything for you. We will marry you 
to my boss. He's an alcoholic. Or to my neighbor's son, who is a coin collector, or to my 
guru. 49 who's a Lutheran pastor, or if we get desperate ... to me! Anything to keep from 
losing you! 
ANTONA: 

And will your wife agree? 
HE: 

To what? 
ANTONA: 

This sudden wedding. 
HE: 

Her? Of course. She won't say a thing. You'll only have to dust her off a little bit with the 
featherduster, water her from time to time and that's it! (Tenderly) The three of us will 
grow old together sitting in front of the television. 
ANTONA: 

Could I wear your wife's clothes, too? 
HE: 

Of course. You can even use her toothbrush. 
ANTONA: 

I'll think about it. In any case, bring me your references, recommendations, and X-rays. 
HE: 

(Begging) Sweetums, Sweetums, I have the best bank statements. If you want I'll learn 
German so you'll feel like you're living abroad. I am capable of anything. But don't go! 
ANTONA: 

I don't think it's possible for me to marry you right now. It's not that I'm a prude, but it 
would seem funny to me. for your wife, you and I . . . You understand what I'm saying, don't 
you? There are morals and good manners. One can sink pretty low. but sharing the 
television with a bigamist is revolting. 



4°Antona's nickname of "Cuqui" has been changed to "Sweetums." 
'*^"Spiritual director" has been changed to the more commonly used "guru." 



The Toothbrush p. 37 

HE: 

Yes, but it has a certain forbidden charm. 
ANTONA: 

Fantasies have limits. Don't force Nature. 
HE: 

Exceed your limits, Antona! 
ANTONA: 

Don't you have anything more to offer me? Is that all? 
HE: 

I wUl make you a member of the Listeners' Club. 
ANTONA: 

I'm not interested. 
HE: 

I will take out an insurance policy for you. 
ANTONA: 

It's useless. (She is about to enter the bedroom.) 
HE: 

Listen! For you I will make the ultimate sacrifice. We'll dance ^^ every day! 
ANTONA: 

(Entranced) Oh, my God! You'll do that? (He puts a Nat "King" Cole record on the old 
gramophone. The song is "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons".^ ^ Antona throws the 
dishrag and wash bucket into the air.) 
HE: 

Sweetums, this is our dance! In this this horrible cloister, a dance, ^-^ after eight years of 
silence! (They dance passionately. They seem to be transported. Almost at the end of the 
dance, the record begins to skip. He separates him.self from her and goes toward the 
gramophone. Antona, m.eanwhile, smooths her apron and goes into the bedroom talking 
between nervous giggles.) 
ANTONA: 

Ma'am . . . Don't think anything bad ... I would rather be dead than lose my respect for 
you. (She stops. From inside the bedroom comes a penetrating scream from Antona. 
Antona enters again staggering from what she has seen. He, lost in thought, seems almost 
happy. Piano music is playing for his song.) My God! What has happened? 
HE: 

(Singing "Answer Me, My Love,"^-^ a well-known song by Nat "King" Cole) 



^^^The word "tango" has been left out. 

^^The song, "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons" replaces an unnamed tango which ANTONA 

and HE dance to. This song was chosen because the Ijrrics are appropriate to the moment, as well 

as to the play as a whole. (The lyrics to all three of the Nat "King" Cole songs are enclosed.) 

^^The last two marked "dances ' used to be "tangos'. 

S'^Unfortunately, Gardel's tango had to be replaced. It is unfortunate because the song is so 

perfect for the piece. It tied all aspects of the play together. However, Nat "King" Cole's "Ansu;er 

Me, My Love" helps to bring out the desperation that HE feels in trying to communicate with HER. 

It brings out the feeling that HE Is lost in the world that they have created "Won't you tell me 

where I've gone astray?" It can also be read to hint that he needs to be reassured that they will be 



The Toothbrush p. 38 

"Answer me, oh my love 

Just what sin have I been guilty of? 

Tell me how 1 came to lose your love 

Please answer me. sweetheart . . ." 
ANTONA: 

(Astonished to see his insensitivity singing at a time like this.) Have you gone crazy? 
Have you forgotten that your wife is laid out in the bedroom? Don't you feel compassion for 
anybody? 
HE: 

(Singing) 

"You were mine yesterday 

I believed that love was here to stay 

Won't you tell me where I've gone astray? 

Please answer me, my love." 
ANTONA: 

(Wringing her hands.) Why did you do it? Why? 
HE: 

"If you're happier without me 

I'll try not to care. 

But if you still think about me 

Please listen to my prayer ..." 
ANTONA: 

You will pay a big price for this! The police will be here any minute! 
HE: 

"You must know I've been true. 

Won't you say that we can start Einew?" 
ANTONA: 

They will make you tell the truth! I'll be able to testify to the truth. 
HE: 

"In my sorrow now I turn to you. 

Please answer me, my love." 
ANTONA: 

Don't kid yourself. Don't hope that this will go unpunished. 
HE: 

(Chorus and music.) "If you're happier without me 
I'll try not to care ..." 
(HE) "But if you still think about me. 
Please listen to my prayer ..." 
ANTONA: 

I'll open the windows and scream like a maniac to the people on the street! 
HE: 

"Answer me, my love!" 



able to create a new amusement park tomorrow "Won't you say that we can start anew? " Therefore, 
it works very well as a substitute. 



The Toothbrush p. 39 

ANTONA: 

(Frantically) Why? . . . Why? (He stares at her for a moment, almost painfully and then 
he explodes.) 
HE: 

Because! Because I wear a size 1 1 shoe and she wears a 7 and a half;^'* because I have 5 
million red corpuscles and she only has 4 million, two hundred; because her hormones are 
enemies of mine; because I smoke Marlboros and she smokes Virginia Slims; because 
lentils make her swell up and make me deflate; because I like women and she likes men; 
because she believes in God and so do I; because we are as different as two drops of water, 
and especially, because, because! 
ANTONA: 

(Recovering little by little) The poor thing was so good! E^very Ash Wednesday she gave 
me her stockings with runs in them. My God, how could you . . . What are you still doing 
here? Surely you want to make me an accomplice, you want to get me involved in this 
nightmare . . . But I will tell the truth! They will believe me! They have to believe me ... I 
don't know anymore. I don't know anything! (Screaming) I don't know anything! (Almost 
all of the lights are turned down until the stage is tn darkness. He focuses a powerful 
flashlight on Antona's face. The harsh light from the flashlight falls directly on Antona's 
frightened face. He speaks from the darkness. Antona is immobilized. The dialogue is dry 
and rapid.) 
HE: 

Name? 
ANTONA: 

Antona at work, but Sweetums to my friends. 
HE: 

Age? 
ANTONA: 

Who knows? 
HE: 

Address? 
ANTONA: 

In the back, to the right. 
HE: 

Profession? 
ANTONA: 

Whatever. 
HE: 

Religion? 
ANTONA: 

Homeopath. 



^Mhe original reads "Because I wear a size 42 shoe and she wears a 37 . . ." American shoe sizes 
have been substituted, 
^he brand names Marlboro and Virginia Slims are being used because In the original It says that 
" . . . yo fumo negro y ella fuma rubio . . ." which does not translate Into English. 



The Toothbrush p. 40 

HE: 

Marital status? 
ANTONA: 

Some days yes, others, no. 
HE: 

The victim? 
ANTONA: 

The woman in apartment 36. A saint! 
HE: 

The murder weapon? 
ANTONA: 

A high Infidelity, battery-driven radio. 
HE: 

Motive for this lugubrious event? 
ANTONA: 

Watch your language with a decent woman! 
HE: 

Is there any evidence of robbery with desecration of the corpse? 
ANTONA: 

(Whining) I am wearing her clothing because she gave it to me. 1 took a small ring and a 
small gold chain from the body so I could have them to remember her . . . She was like a 
mother to me! Mamaaaaa! 
HE: 

Enough! (The whining stops.) Do you have an alibi? 
ANTONA: 

What? 
HE: 

Be precise! What were you doing on the night of July 25th? 
ANTONA: 

What my body required, Mr. Commissioner. 
HE: 

Are you going to confess then? 
ANTONA: 

I am as innocent as a newborn babe. I can prove that when the crime was committed, I 
was making love to her husband, and at the same time 1 was watching a game show on TV and 
eating a sandwich. That's the way 1 like it . . . see? 

(The regular light for the scene comes back up. He changes to a game show host, using the 
Jlashlight as a microphone. Antona is acting nervous and smiling like a game show 
contestant Both of them speak directly to the audience. He asks the questions in a brilliant 
and sickening m^anner, the way all game show hosts talk on TV.) 
HE: 

1 am going to give you one last chance! If you don't answer my questions you will lose the 
Grand Prize courtesy of Craftmatic Adjustable Beds. ^^ Who strangled the battery driven 



^^Craftmatic Adjustable Beds replaces a product called "Microlene" in order to help Americanize 
the play. 



The Toothbrush p. 41 

wife? 
ANTONA: 

The hunchback of Notre Dame?^^ 
HE: 

You're getting warm . . . warm . . . Who was the guilty party? 
ANTONA: 

Ben-Hur! 
HE: 

Almost, almost . . . Try again! Remember that one-hundred fifty million folks out there in 
TV-land are watching. Who killed the French houseguest? 
ANTONA: 

Joan of Arc? 
HE: 

No, not that I know of. 
ANTONA: 

Cain! 
HE: 

No. 
ANTONA: 

The woman with the bunch of roses? 
HE: 

No. 
ANTONA: 

My uncle Oliver. ^^ 
HE: 

Think, think . . . 
ANTONA: 

(Thinking uenj hard.) Mmmmmmmm . . . 
HE: 

Another try! 
ANTONA: 

(She keeps thinking hard.) Mmmmmmmm . . . 
HE: 

Stop - don't force it - "Craftmatic eases your tension away."^^ 
ANTONA: 

Give me one more chance. 
HE: 

Very well: for the last time, who killed the woman in apartment 36? 
ANTONA: 

Umm ... I have it on the tip of my tongue . . . 



57 

"El manco de Lepanto" has been replaced by the Hunchback of Notre Dame because it is more 

recognizable to American audiences. 

^°Uncle Onofre has been Anglicized to Uncle Oliver. 

^^^Where there used to be a plug for Microlene, there is now one for Craftmatic. 



The Toothbrush p. 42 

HE: 

Say it. 
ANTONA: 

(Triumphantly) Butane gas! 
HE: 

No, I'm sorry. 
ANTONA: 

(Smiling roguishly) I know . . . But it was so easy. 
HE: 

Who was It? 
ANTONA: 

(Pushing him) You! 
HE: 

Unfortunately, you have lost your last chance. The jury tells me that the answer to the 
question is: St. Innocent Abbott, who lived from 1234 -1305! (He sits down hurriedly and 
speaks with a serious and priest-like tone of voice. His eyes lower. His hands fall to his lap. 
Antona kneels down next to him. He speaks as though he were Father Abbott.) Do you have 
anything more to tell me, my child? 
ANTONA: 

(Contrite and shamefully) I don't know ... I don't believe so. Father Abbott. 
HE: 

Are you sure, my child. Nothing more? 
ANTONA: 

(With great shame) Yes, Father Abbott. I left out the worst part. I cannot avoid telling 
you. The young master pinches me every day. We take great pains not to sin, of course. He 
even picks the least sinful parts of my body - my elbows, for example, but even this is 
completely demoralizing. Have you ever been pinched. Father? 
HE: 

Yes. 
ANTONA: 

It's terrible, isn't it? It makes me lose control. It leaves me completely defenseless. I 
have gone through life like a martyr, from pinch to pinch. 
HE: 

(He starts out with an inquisitorial tone of voice which becomes progressively more lewd) 
Guilty of High Cupidity . . . Cupidity . . . Cupidity . . . Cupidity. (He is caressing Antona's chin.) 
Njonphomaniac . . . nymphomaniac . . . nymphomaniac . . . nymphomaniac . . . (Antona reacts 
by biting his finger and standing up.) 
ANTONA: 

I refuse to continue this farce, sir. It's all well and good that I am ignorant and a little 
diabetic, but asking me to look after your beloved corpses under the bed is going too far. 
HE: 

(Lewdly) Sweetums, don't get so scrupulous. 
ANTONA: 

I'll call the police. I know a retired general who comes running whenever I give a whistle. 



The Toothbrush p. 43 

HE: 

Do it! I simply adore retired generals! (Antona puts two fingers in her mouth and 
whistles loudly.) 
ANTONA: 

He always breaks in through the window. 
HE: 

We have very little time then. (There is a noise of glass breaking off stage. He 
approaches Antona passionately.) Antona, take me to the gallows if you wish, but before you 
do, listen to me! The smell of your dishrag moves me, exalts me, rejuvenates me. Just let me 
watch you through the keyhole and I will be happy. If you let me examine your cleavage with a 
wide-angle, 1.5 millimeter, zoom lens I will die of pure ecstasy. (Antona undoes herself from 
his embrace.) 
ANTONA: 

Don't be so obnoxious, sir. Your wife's body might catch us. (He continues, more intense 
and passionate than before.) 
HE: 

Antona, tie my hands together if you must! Mutilate me! Disfigure me! Mark me for 
life! . . . but let me remove that sleeper from your eye! 
ANTONA: 

(Giving up) Enough! 1 cannot resist! I cannot . . . ^^(She has weakened) Lust, lust, 
here I am! 
HE: 

And may the world turn to dust around us! (They draw toward each other and begin a 
grotesque parody of a passionate approach or an amorous embrace. The entire pantomime 
of grotesque physical isolation is accompanied by distorted music. It would be better to use 
"acoustic" music and not electronic music. It creates a nightmarish feeling. This type of 
absurd lovers' battle follows a progression which will end with the destruction of objects. 
Jars, chairs, paintings, fall to the floor. One wall wUlfall backwards. Various objects fall from 
the ceiling and break on the froor. The couple are not conscious of all this. Together, they 
breathlessly roll around the floor and then separate. Neither of them can speak for a minute. 
ANTONA has difficulty getting to her feet. After a moment, she changes her mannerisms and 
her voice back to HER, the wife in Act I. Neither of them seems to notice the destruction 
around them.) 
HE: 

Constance, Martha, Beatrice, Mercedes, Sarah ^^ ... Is it absolutely necessary that we do 
this every morning? 
SHE: 

What are you talking about, dear? 
HE: 

You know perfectly well what I'm talking about. It's exhausting. 



°*^'This sentence is different in the version found in the following text: Diaz. Jorge. El cepillo de 
dientes. Teatro Contemporaneo . Ed. Elena Paz and Gloria F. Waldman. Boston: Heinle and 
Heinle, Inc. 194. The line in this edition reads: Yo tambien soy de came y hueso. ' 'I, too, am 
of flesh and blood." 
The name Soledad has been Anglicized to Sarah. 



The Toothbrush p. 44 

SHE: 

My job isn't easy either. You could at least come up with something new. 
HE: 

That's what scares me. Just to make love, we're going have to hire a consultant. 
SHE: 

That's not a bad idea. 
HE: 

What if we just ate breakfast like everyone else? And what if we loved each other like 
everyone else? 
SHE: 

For us "that" would be a perversion. E>erjrthing we do is unspeakable, but it is still human. 
HE: 

It's true that if I didn't strangle you every day, you wouldn't be so calm. 
SHE: 

Well, of course . . . What decent wife doesn't want to be strangled from time to time? 
HE: 

I don't blame you. It makes you happy. But don't scold me for my weaknesses. 
SHE: 

I'm not scolding you. but I can't understand why you aren't just satisfied with Antona. 
HE: 

It has occurred to me. So long as Antona would be willing to pretend to be you. 
SHE: 

I think our basic ideas weren't bad, but we've made them so complicated that now they're 
all used up. 
HE: 

What can we do? 
SHE: 

Nothing. (Silence.) 
HE: 

What if we try to make love in Latin? 
SHE: 

It's a dead language. 
HE: 

In Sanskrit? 
SHE: 

In what? 
HE: 

In Sanskrit. I think it's the language of deaf-mutes or something like that. 
SHE: 

I don't know. 
HE: 

You should have told me that you didn't know Sanskrit before we got married. 
SHE: 

I didn't dare. 



The Toothbrush p. 45 

HE: 

That's that! Now you've really done it. 
SHE: 

I know a few words in Aramaic. 
HE: 

And I know a few propaganda slogans in Chekoslovakian. 
SHE: 

(Passionately) "Cravina el Mutara." 
HE: 

(Passionately) "Eskoliava prinka Voj." 
SHE: 

"Alaba del Tamara jain." 
HE: 

"Mimakova elbemia kol." (Silence.) 
SHE: 

Was it good for you? 
HE: 

No. 
SHE: 

Are you sure? 
HE: 

Yes. 
SHE: 

Me neither. 
HE: 

It's horrible. 
SHE: 

What is? 
HE: 

Everything. 
SHE: 

I didn't know. 
HE: 

But that's the way it is. 
SHE: 

Let's not be stupid, my love. It's true that your embalmed mother gave us a little trouble, 
that you're losing your hair and that cabbage gives me gas, but in fact, we manage quite well. 
We have our little apartment next to the amusement park. Every night we have roulette, 
target shooting, and the tunnel of love at our fingertips . . . What more could you ask for? 
(HE nears HER and embraces her gently, burying his face in her collar.) 
HE: 

Perhaps you're right. (HE kisses her neck. Harp music begins to play. It is similar to 
carousel music.) 
SHE: 

Do you hear that? It's music from the carousel! It's starting to turn. The rides are open! 



The Toothbrush p. 46 

(She kisses him.) 
HE: 

You smell so good! 
SHE: 

(Coquettishly) I know it drives you crazy. It's giant size superdetergent "Klean-All."^^ 
HE: 

(Affectionately) Don't talk nonsense, dear. I have already told you that 1 only get aroused 
by "Sanlscrub" - "which makes your kitchen shine like the sun." 
SHE: 

(Impatiently) Don't be so stubborn . . . Only "Klean-All" smells like "Klean-All". 
HE: 

"I have made my choice: I insist on "Sanlscrub". 
SHE: 

(Bothered) "Klean-All is whiter and contains Fenol 32"! 
HE: 

(Irritated) "But Sanlscrub offers coupons for a TV!" 
SHE: 

(Angry with him) "Klean-All is the only one. It is the purest and the biggest!" 
HE: 

(Infuriated with her) You idiot! "Sanlscrub is not a substitute - it is the definitive 
detergent." 
SHE: 

You ignorant moose! "Klean-All is the German formula for the world's whites!" 
HE: 

(Shouting) "Sanlscrub makes whites brighter!" 
SHE: 

(Shouting) "Klean-All makes millionaires and eliminates scrubbing!" 
HE: 

(Howling) "Sanlscrub is the life of your home!" 
SHE: 

(Howling) "Klean-All is gentle to your hands!" 
HE: 

(Howling right in her face) Sanlscrub! 
SHE: 

(Howling right in his face) Klean-All! (Both of them shout the names of their respective 
products at each other a few more times. Suddenly, SHE takes a fork from the table. HE 
instinctively gets a knife. They are wild. They stare at each other, each naming their favorite 
detergents at each other in low voices. They attack each other savagely - as though they 
were fighting to the death. HE makes one false move and SHE takes advantage of it and 
drives the fork into his stomach. HE doubles over. SHE, still hysterical, stabs him a few 
more times repeating:) Klean-All! Klean-All! Klean-All! (HE falls heavily onto the floor. 
SHE drags him toward the bedroom. SHE returns almost immediately from there with the 
bloodied fork in her hand. She stares at it for a moment, stopping in the middle of the set.) 



"^"Klean-All" was changed from "Blmpo," and "Sanlscrub" was changed from 'Tersol". They were 
changed because these names sound better in English. 



The Toothbrush p. 47 

Last night I dreamed about a fork. Well, that's not strange because I dream about a fork every 
night . . . (She cleans the fork carefully with a napkin. She sits down at the table and fixes 
herself toast and Jam. The doorbell rings. She pays no attention to it It rings again.) 
ms VOICE: 

May I come In? 
SHE: 

Yes. The corpse is in its usual place! . . . (Pause. HE staggers in. His white shirt is 
soaked with blood. He clutches his stomach convulsively with one of his hands.) 
HE: 

No, the corpse is not in its usual place! 
SHE: 

(Rising) Father! 
HE: 

Isabel, I must say a few words before I die. The world has got to hear us! (His knees give 
way and he falls to the ground, but he still has enough strength to drag himself closer to the 
footlights. SHE is horrified and runs toward him. He is agonizing.) Amelia, Amelia, listen to 
me . . . before it's too late. (SHE kneels and lays his head in her lap.) 
SHE: 

(Her voice is breaking) Oh . . . What have we done? How far have we carried our 
selfishness? 
HE: 

(Forcefully) I forgive you, Elvira . . . We have looked for happiness in the wrong place. 
We have destroyed ourselves . . . 
SHE: 

(She moans) Yes, we have destroyed ourselves . . . Why do we always have to kill what we 
love the most? 
HE: 

Only . . . love . . . abounds. 
SHE: 

What will become of us? 
HE: 

No matter what anyone says ... we will rise up . . . from our own ashes. 
SHE: 

(Pathetically) Only now, when it's too late, 1 can plainly see the truth: isolation . . ., 
isolation . . ., is produced by bad atmospheric conditions! 
HE: 

(On the brink of death) My last word . . . is . . . 
SHE: 

(Anxiously waiting) Yes? 
HE: 



(Dying) End . . . End! 



63 



^■^10 the original, HIS last dying words were "paz" and "paciencia". This does not work with the 
English word "peace", so it was changed to "end" and "endurance", both of which fit in well with the 
major theme of the play. 



The Toothbrush p. 48 

SHE: 

(Stoically holding back her tears) I will engrave it into my heart so I will never forget it! - 
end! End! 
HE: 

Walt . . . you haven't let me finish ... My last word is en-durance! 
SHE: 

Oh! It's so simple. - endurance. It's a word - as sweet as a gag, and as bearable as a 
festering sore. 
HE: 

(Whispering) Eleanor. ^'^ 
SHE: 

(Without looking at him) I said sore. 
HE: 

Good-bye . . . Eleanor. 
SHE: 

(Continuing) Sore, sore, sore. (She rises and is carried away by her emotion.) Thank 
you for the sacrifice of your life! I swear to you It will not be in vain. (To the audience - in a 
profound tone.) If each one of us carries a war within our own hearts - how will we ever 
avoid world destruction? 
HE: 

(Losing his dying tone) Eleanor! 
SHE: 

(Advancing toward the audience with great emotion) When, in the secret realm of our 
intimacy not a single word of aggression is heard - the world will be saved! 
HE: 

(Lifting his head and howling) Eleanor! 
SHE: 

(Returning to normal) What? 
HE: 

(After a pause and falling down dead) Good-bye. (Now the walls that make up the set 
begin to move and disappear - some raising up and others toward the sides. They are slowly 
moved off. Only the furniture remains. In the background you will see a wall which is 
stained, and unfinished scenery. The furniture and the two actors seem to float in 
incongruent and absurd surroundings. She looks around disconcertedly.) 
SHE: 

This is the limit! We're not finished yet! 
HE: 

(Sitting up) What's going on? 
SHE: 

They are tearing down our Amusement Park. 
HE: 

(On his feet) Every day it's the same thing! (Shouting toward the wings) Leave 
everything the way it is! We're not done! (Silence. The last piece of scenery is removed.) 



^'^The name "Eleanor" was changed from "Josefina. " It was changed because In the original, 
"Josefina" and "espina" rhyme, but in English "Eleanor" rhymes with "sore". 



The Toothbrush p. 49 

SHE: 

You ought to do something. 
HE: 

What? 
SHE: 

Complain to someone. 
HE: 

One of these days I will. 
SHE: 

(Discouraged) It's useless. Besides, now that I think about it. it couldn't last. 
HE: 

Why not? 
SHE: 

It was too much fun. That's not good. 
HE: 

What's not good? 
SHE: 

To enjoy yourself with no regrets. 
HE: 

We weren't finished . . . That's what's important. 
SHE: 

I've never seen anything more finished than us. 
HE: 

At least they won't take my record player or my records. (He goes over to the table and 
picks up the huge horn. His appearance holding the gramophone is grotesque.) 
SHE: 

I will not let them take my china lamp with the ricepaper shade. (She picks up the 
paper globe which hangs to the side. Both of them remain in the m^iddle of the room without 
knowing where to go with their belongings. They stare at each other.) 
HE: 

You look ridiculous. 
SHE: 

You look grotesque. (A few lights go out.) The campfires on our battlefield are being 
extinguished. 
HE: 

(Shouting toward the back of the living room) Don't turn off the lights - we're not done 
yet! 
SHE: 

They can't hear you. (Almost all of the lights go out.) In a minute we'll be in the dark. 
HE: 

As usual. (The rest of the lights go out except one in the middle of the set.) I almost feel 
better like this, here in the dark and surrounded by nothing. 
SHE: 

At least it's a new sensation which we hadn't thought of. I'm going. 



The Toothbrush p. 50 

HE: 

Stay with me for just a minute. It's important. 
SHE: 

What for? 
HE: 

Put down your absurd lamp somewhere and give me your hand. 
SHE: 

You'll have to let go of that dreadful vlctrola. (They both leave their things on the floor.) 
So ... ? 
HE: 

I was thinking maybe it wouldn't be so hard . . . 
SHE: 

What? 
HE: 

E>verything. 
SHE: 

What do you mean? 
HE: 

Maybe it was all about just saying one word. A word simple enough to explain and fix 
everything. One appropriate word at the appropriate moment . . . 
SHE: 

One word? 
HE: 

Yes, and I am going to tell it to you! 
SHE: 

(Sincerely) Yes - Tell me please! (They Join at center stage beneath the beam from a 
single light. Their hands are about to touch.) 
HE: 

WeU ... I . . . (The last light goes out. Complete darkness. A long, pregnant pause.) 
SHE: 

(Eagerly) Say it, say it - please! 
HE: 

(Howling in the darkness) Shit! Give us a little light! (A long, pause in complete 
darkness.) 
SHE: 

(Whispering in the darkness) Give me your hand. I'm afraid. 
HE: 

(Whispering) It's impossible. 1 can't see you. Where are you? 
SHE: 

Very close to you. 
HE: 

It's as though you weren't there at all. 
SHE: 

Maybe we can light a match. 



The Toothbrush p. 51 

HE: 

Or the candles from the last wake. 
SHE: 

We could try. (Together they light a match and they light funeral home candelabras 
which hadn't been seen on the set before, but are now on the floor. The bare set is 
illuminated by the weak and flickering candlelight. SHE takes the harp which has been seen 
during the play in a comer, and HE takes up the unfinished knitting. With it in his hands, he 
sits down in the rocking chair. She begins to play the harp. The "leitmotif of the work, the 
suggestive and reiterative theme of the carousel in the Amusement Park is heard. HE, 
without any inhibitions or Joking, begins to knit, rocking. Together, they smile beatifically. 
SHE smiles without leaving her harp.) The day has been wonderful! Hasn't it? We have had 
fun together! 
HE: 

But there's nothing left of the Amusement Park. 
SHE: 

At least untU tomorrow, when we invent another one. 
HE: 

We never get bored . . . Each day is a delicious surprise - a long tunnel of love. 
SHE: 

Really . . . How can we possibly survive? 
HE: 

What? 
SHE: 

This incredible passion. 
HE: 

We're strong! 
SHE: 

Invulnerable! 
HE: 

Inseparable! 
SHE: 

Intolerable! 
HE: 

Intolerable! 



(The curtains close as HE is knitting and rocking and SHE is playing her harp.) 



The Toothbrush 



p. 52 



Props Listing: The Toothbrush 



2 toothbrushes 


Cleaning supplies 


1 distressed 


Dictionary 


1 new 


Large flashlight 


Vase with rose 


Whistle 


Radio (small box) 


Stage blood 


Walkman headphones 


Candelabras 


Radio cord 


Candles (partially melted) 


Floor-length table cloth 


Matches 


Newspaper 


Knitting w/ needles attached 


Tabloid (Enquirer) 


A harp 


Magazines (Feminist) 




Mop 




Box of laundry detergent 




Cigarettes (Marlboros and Virginia Slims) 




Ashtray 


Food stuffs 


Dishes: 


butter 


tr^ 


toast 


coffee pot 


coffee 


2 place settings 


sugar 


2 glasses 


jam 


pitcher for water 


cereal (LIFE) 


glass of water (offstage) 


milk 


sugar bowl 




creamer 




butter dish 




butter knife 




salt and pepper 




2 napkins 




Stationery 




Pen 




Telephone 




Nat "King" Cole records 




Gramophone (record player) 




Aerodynamlcally shaped lamp 




White shoe polish 




White shoes 




Washing bucket 




Rags 




Drop clothes 




Broom 





The Toothbrush p. 53 

Nat 'TOng" Cole Songs 

"UNFORGETTABLE" 

Unforgettable, that's what you are 

Unforgettable, though near or far. 

Like a song of love that clings to me 

How the thought of you does things to me. 

Never before. 

Has someone been more 

Unforgettable, in every way 

And forever more 

That's how you'll stay. 

That's why darling, it's incredible 

That someone so unforgettable 

Thinks that I am unforgettable too. 

Music. 

Repeat from "Unforgettable, in every way ..." 

"(I LOVE YOU) FOR SENTIMENTAL REASONS" 

I love you, for sentimental reasons 

I hope you do believe me 

I'll give you my heart. 

I love you, and you alone were meant for me. 

Please give your loving heart to me 

And say we'll never part. 

I think of every morning 
Dream of you every night 
Darling, I'm never lonely 
Whenever you are in sight. 

I love you for sentimental reasons 
I hope you do believe me, 
I've given you my heart. 
(Interlude - Repeat Ix) 

"ANSWER ME, MY LOVE" 
Answer me. Oh my love 
Just what sin have I been guilty of? 
Tell me how 1 came to lose you love. 
Please answer me, sweetheart. 

You were mine yesterday 
I believed that love was here to stay 
Won't you tell me where I've gone astray? 
Please answer me, my love. 

If you're happier without me 
I'll try not to care 



The Toothbrush p. 54 



But if you still think about me. 
Please listen to my prayer. 
You must know, IVe been true. 
Won't you say that we can start a new? 
In my sorrow I now turn to you 
Please answer me, my love. 
Music - Chorus 
Answer me, my love! 



*A11 of these songs have been taken from the album Unforgettable by Nat "King" Cole. 
Manufactured by Capitol Records, Inc., a subsidiary of Capitol Industries-EMI, Inc., HoUjrwood 
and Vine Streets, Hollywood, CA. 





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