Friday, August 2, 2013

Mary Worth 1,642

The Desert Gull

A Play

By Anton Chekhov

(translation from original Russian by Karen Moy)

Setting: The Pax Wellness Resort and Spa is located in the desert, where the infirm come for the restorative qualities of the dry air and the pure agua.

JUNE, a pretty young widow, sits quietly weeping at her table. MARY, a matriarch, approaches her.

MARY: Hello, could you use some company?

JUNE: Yes... I could.

MARY: The beauty of the area seems to bring out deep EMOTIONS in everyone. What brings you to Pax Wellness Resort, June?

JUNE: I lost my husband seven months ago. And I hoped I could heal here.

MARY: I'm sorry for your loss. If you're looking for healing, this place does seem restorative. I just arrived this morning, and already I feel better!

JUNE: I've been here for two days so far. This place IS beautiful. But I find it difficult to be present. Grief is hard to shake.

MARY: (taking her hand) Give yourself time. It is an individual process and cannot be rushed.

JUNE: It's been months since I lost Charlie, and I STILL haven't been able to touch any of his things! Why haven't I been able to move forward in my life? It's like I'm stuck.

MARY: June, just the fact that you're HERE shows that you want to heal and move forward... a good sign! I'm going to take a walk after lunch. Would you like to join me?

JUNE: I'd like that, Mary.

MARY: Come then... Let us enjoy the BEAUTY this place has to offer! (They walk in the desert)

MARY: It's been said... Tears are the silent language of grief. (Sotto voce:) And for some things there are no words. (Seagulls circle over the desert sands, looking for water.)

Mary: William Wordsworth once said, "Come forth into the light of things. Let nature be your teacher." I've always believed we can learn from all people... AND all things.

JUNE: Charlie's things are untouched in the closet... and in drawers! Why can't I move forward?... Why can't I bring myself to touch any of his things?

MARY: June, your being here at Pax Wellness Resort shows that you ARE moving forward... and that you WANT to move past your grief. There's something restorative about being around the beauty of nature. I remember when I became a widow... it seems like only yesterday. Jack was my best friend. I understand your loss.

JUNE: I joined the club no one wants to belong to... and I'm sorry for YOUR loss, but it does help me feel not so alone. Thank you. Were you and Jack married long?

MARY: Not long enough. We met when we were in school... When the possibilities for the future seemed endless.

JUNE: I fell in love with Charlie when we were young, too. Losing him feels like losing my own youth.

MARY: I know what you mean, June. When I look back on my college days... I see Jack.

JUNE: You said you were able to move on after you lost him. How did you do it, Mary?... What's the secret to MY moving on after Charlie? (she weeps)

MARY: I took some much needed time to mourn. It's different for everyone... but take the time.

JUNE: That's why I'm here.

MARY: Take what you can from your experiences here. The atmosphere is beneficial.

JUNE: There is something healing about being around the BEAUTY OF NATURE.

MARY: I view Jack's passing as a lesson... as everything is in life. What can I learn from it?

JUNE: What DID you learn from it?

MARY: I want to be remembered well after I'm gone, as Jack is. I do my best to make it so.

JUNE: I can only try, and hopefully... it's enough.

MARY: I kept busy after Jack died. I realized I was needed in a different capacity.

JUNE: Sometimes it's hard to look beyond myself.

MARY: You're mourning. That's understandable.

JUNE: Maybe after my stay at this resort... I'll feel well enough to do my best work.

MARY: Hallmark once said, "Although it's difficult today, to see beyond the sorrow, may looking back in memory help comfort you tomorrow." I can sympathize with you... because I've been there. I UNDERSTAND. I lost Jack a long time ago... but I never really lost him. I try to remember the LOVE we shared... and it HELPS me. After a period of mourning, I felt guilty for moving on. But Jack would want me to live my best life while I can. I know I'll see him again someday. As a widow I know the pain of losing a partner. It helps me be EMPATHETIC toward others.

JUNE (grinning): Like me.

MARY: Like you... who are going through something similar.

JUNE: I get the feeling you help many.

MARY: People tell me I help them through my counsel and friendship.

JUNE: Which you are able to do because you've been in their shoes.

MARY: Who knows the purpose of painful experience? I only know it's helped me HELP OTHERS with their pain.

JUNE: Mary, I'll take what you say to heart... and I'll try to move forward in my life.

MARY: I believe you can and you will, June. Being surrounded by the desert reminds me that LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL. Like anything, to see requires stopping the chaos... outside AND inside yourself.

JUNE: I understand what you mean. I have a class to attend, Mary. Thanks for giving me a shoulder to cry on... and encouragement after Charlie's gone.

MARY: My pleasure, June. Take care of yourself...

[JOAN exits.]



Nance said...

This is genius. "As Hallmark once said..." was a triumph.

The Final Panel today--Mary's breakout as a rap star?

And I'll do the SAME
When helping others in PAIN
You climb into the ABYSS
And then have to climb out aGAIN

Yahoonski said...

After you climb into the abyss, do you then plunge to the peak of joy?

Gina said...

Mary climbed into the abyss? Did we miss it? I guess she had to do it off-panel, or the strip might have gotten -- heaven forbid -- interesting!

Bravo, Wanders!

Chester the Dog said...

I love it! Off Broadway, here we come! May I play the seagull?

Muscato said...

I'm thinking maybe Angela Lansbury in the plum leading role of MARY, with maybe a rising younger player like Julianne Moore as JUNE. When it transfers to the West End, the London production will be headed by Helen Mirren, supported by Kate Winslet.

For the inevitable movie? Why, Streep of course, with the daring casting touch of having Lindsay Lohan play the somewhat rethought JUNE part (now she won't just be a widow, but also a porn-star/junkie). Nathan Lane will take on the third role (the script having been opened up a little) as WILBUR, who is at Pax to recover from losing Dawn to Jim.

duckduckgoose said...

What Gina said. Yep.

Thorpnotized said...

And now, on to Mary's next unsuspecting "project".

No wait... we'll have to summarize this week somehow in Sunday's strip. Will Mary have flashbacks, or will she call Toby and relate her exciting adventure to her?

Yoda said...

Wise is Mary Worth. Strong within her is the force.

Delilah said...

Muscato @ 11:21AM - Brilliant!

Shmoopie said...

Oh my goodness! Slogging through this strip every day is often torturous, but the sheer madness of Moy's writing really shines when the script of a story is read in one go. Thank you (?) Wanders for summarizing it.

I am really and truly wondering whether Moy speaks any human language at all. Is she perhaps a very smart computer program?

Limber Joe said...

Classic southwestern architecture indeed! I absolutely LOVE the "Expand-O-Top" structures at PAX! Kind of like a "Pop-Up" camper!

Dave in Parma said...

Unfortunately Mary left the plot, and us, in the abysss.

A little help here? Anyone?

Peggy Olson said...

Thanks, Wanders, but that's not Chekov - it's Beckett. I'm still waiting for Godot (and a less absurd storyline).

Mary's waiting for her next victim - er - confidante.

Meteor, Don't Fail Me Now! said...

Joan Rivers once said, "When Satan plays his records backwards, he hears Yoko Ono". Substitute records for comics, Yoko for Karen Moy, and there you have it.

Robin in DC said...

Thanks Wanders! LOL Somehow I suspect that there is either a small theater company somewhere that is about to produce this or two people that will put this on Youtube.

So does Mary go home now or does she continue to "help" others by dragging them through the desert until they can get away from her?

Sandi Ego said...

You really can't enjoy the true Beauty of Mary Worth comics without seeing weeks of dialogue strung together like that. Brilliant, Wanders!

Imogene said...


What is clear to me now is that if one starts with a brilliant but obscure Russian drama, computer-translates it into Chinese, and from there into English, one produces the magic that is Mary Worth!

Not worthy said...

The west coasters get to see the Saturday strip early.

Unbelievable. Could be strip of the year. Such Drama!

duckduckgoose said...

Mary cries
not because she's weak
(take a look at those deltoids)
it's because she's been strong
for too

Butterfly stroke, I think.

dryman said...

Excellent libretto Wanders. When filmed for Lifetime it will be retitled "Into The Abyss: Let Me Tell You a Story".

I just realized I've never seen anyone post a link to the following sublime live-action reenactment of MW's "Dudley Ford" storyline from May-June 1998. A link to this definitely deserves prominent pride of place on this site!

The cast faithfully replicates the blocking and phrasing as indicated by Saunders and Giella so they can be experienced exactly as the authors intended. Watch Toby seethe as Ford (a self-described "billionaire byte baby") inexplicably refers to her as B. B. Shell.

Wanders don't you work in theater? I would love to see you produce a few scenes from some of the recent storylines =]

Nance said...


Mary, this is a Kleenex.

meg said...

It has been said, by Smokey Robinson and The English Beat:
"Well, there's some sad things known to man,

But ain't too much sadder than

The tears of a crone

(do, do dip do dip do dip do do)
When she's from Charterstone.

daniel pike said...

Forget the old bag crying I can't wait to see Mary in a thong bikini.

daniel pike said...

Watch out Mary three Giant Clams are sneaking up on her next to the cabin.

Robin in DC said...

Wouldn't it be great if Mary were to meet someone at the pool that is now going to meddle Mary? On second thought, someone with that much meddling power is way too scary for the comics pages.

Shmoopie said...

Mary cries watery tears? I always assumed her pain (any pain) was so deep, she would cry blood. The colorists probably got that one wrong.

Nance said...


Mary! Get out of that pool!


Robin in DC said...

So much to comment about today's post:

Mary in a bathing suit
Mary's hair doesn't get wet when she swims
Mary is so sad that she literally turns blue in one panel
Algae sticking to Mary's shoulder
An unexpected sunrise at the end of the day

Overall, I think Oscar Wilde would be appalled

KitKat said...


We've been subjected to so many Charterstone pool parties, and NOT ONCE did we ever see Mary in the pool. Now we're expected to believe that she swims? Pax Wellness Resort is introducing us to a whole new Mary. Apart from the swimming, who knew that Mary has been grieving for Jack for all these years? She's done such a good job of hiding her sorrow, everyone (including Dr. Jeff) forgot that she's a widow.

QuakerJohn said...

Today's panel 5: looks like one of those pesky desert gulls "bombed" Mary right on the shoulder, yuck!

Dawn Weston's Evil Twin said...

Sunday's strip: How could Mary be so callous as to forget Dr. Jeff Cory, who is surely pining away for her back at Charterstone? Also, I was expecting that a fashion maven like Mary would put on a really chic bathing cap. A double disappointment today.

Thorpnotized said...

Why does the terrain look so different between the two setting sun scenes (panels 1 and 7)?

Peggy Olson said...

MONDAY: Kit Kat, you're right. Mary never enters the Charterstone pool - and now we know why.

In Panel 1, Mary is either attempting an odd synchronized swimming routine or waving wildly for the lifeguard to rescue her.

Too late, it seems. In Panel 2, the algae-infested quicksand is dragging her down. Could this be the end of our Mary?

Nance said...



Thorpnotized said...

Panel 1: "Aye aye, Captain!"