Meet Me in the Lavatory, James Franco

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This is the first time in years I’ve had two layovers on a trip. I first flew from Birmingham to Atlanta. Now I’m on the Atlanta to LA leg and then it will be on to Salt Lake. I’ve just gotten back to my seat after spending about forty-five minutes in the galley with the flight attendants, visiting. We talked about politics and social issues, two of my favorite subjects. I don’t know why really because in talking about them I’m usually reminded of how far we are from where I would like us to be. I got messed up by my Christian upbringing. It somehow gave me the idea that we should be kind and generous to other people, especially those who are less fortunate and may not have had the opportunities afforded to most of us. I seem to be surrounded by people who are more interested in making sure that no one “gets one over on us” and in making sure that our enemies pay. I’ve had enough of it all. I want to go away somewhere where people aren’t like that. The only problem is is that I don’t know where that “somewhere” is. So I’m stuck here, left with the prospect of making things better or shutting the fuck up. The last thing in the world we need is one more person setting around whining about how shitty things are without doing anything to change it. But if I am going to get back to living the life I love (one packed with sociopolitical activism through theatre in its myriad forms), I’m going to have to get out of the place I’ve been in. The place of inactivity because of fear, distress, resentment, and self-pity.

INT. STAGE OF A THEATRE— AFTERNOON

Helen Mirren and Jeff sit at a table onstage. Worklights are on. There is no one else in the theatre. We join their conversation already in progress. 

JEFF: I don’t know, now when I read the goals, it’s like— I don’t know.

HELEN MIRREN: Well if you were someone who did know, what would it be?

JEFF: Huh?
HELEN MIRREN: It’s a little trick I play with myself. If I’m trying to sort through some problem and I feel like I’ve come to a place where I really am very unclear about some aspect of it— the place of “I don’t know,” I will often say to myself, “Now if I was someone who did know, what would the answer be?” It’s sort of like acting, like playing a character who has some answer that I don’t. Understand?

JEFF: I think so, yeah.

HELEN MIRREN: So there’s something going on with the goals.

JEFF: Yeah.

HELEN MIRREN: And if you were someone who knew what’s going on with the goals, what would it be?

JEFF: (spontaneous) I don’t give a shit about them.

HELEN MIRREN: Exactly!

JEFF: That can’t be true!

HELEN MIRREN: Can’t it? Let’s hear them.

Jeff reaches into his pocket and withdraws a wrinkled paper folded into a tiny square. He unfolds it and begins to read.

JEFF: Number one. I own a residence in New York City—

HELEN MIRREN: Stop. No actually, go on. I want to hear the list before I say anything.

JEFF: Number two. I weight two hundred and sixty pounds and have fifteen percent body fat ratio. (subtly rolls eyes). I lift or do CrossFit six days a week. Oh! That was number three. Number four. I write for four hours every day. Five. I have written twenty-five movies, twenty-five plays, and twenty-five TV shows.

HELEN MIRREN: Wow, that’s impressive I didn’t realize.

JEFF: Huh? Oh actually—

HELEN MIRREN: I know. I was making a joke.

JEFF: Oh. (unenthusiastically) ha ha. What number was I on?

HELEN MIRREN: I don’t know. The one about all the plays and TV shows you haven’t written.

JEFF: Stop busting my balls. (returning to the list) I’m— number six. I’m the man of my dreams and— God, this is awful.

HELEN MIRREN: Keep going.

JEFF: I’m the man of my dreams and I’m married to the right and perfect husband for me.

HELEN MIRREN: Cute.

JEFF: Come on, Helen.

Helen Stands and begins to move about the stage.

HELEN MIRREN: What?! You read them like you’re rolling an anvil uphill!

JEFF: Well I told you I don’t give a shit about them.

HELEM MIRREN: I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you not because—

JEFF: I mean I do— I did. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. It just all feels so— hard.

CUT TO:

INT. COMMERCIAL AIRCRAFT— NIGHT

On the flight from LAX to Salt Lake City, Jeff and James Franco sit close in an over-wing exit aisle. James Franco looks longingly at Jeff as Jeff finishes reading his goals list to Franco. 

JEFF: Seven. I head a successful production company. Eight. I make at least one hundred and ten thousand dollars per month every month.

James Franco whistles at the amount.

JEFF: (ribbing him) What? You make it! You think you’re more talented than me?

JAMES FRANCO: No! Just luckier.

James Franco punctuates this sentence with a kiss squarely on Jeff’s mouth. 

JEFF: I don’t believe in luck.

JAMES FRANCO: Then how do you explain it?

JEFF: Explain what?

JAMES FRANCO: That I’m rolling in doe and you’re broke.
JEFF: Don’t say I’m broke. You have to start thinking of me as wealthy! The collective consciousness is powerful.

JAMES FRANCO: Oh that’s right buddy. I forgot.

They kiss again, a little more passionately this time. A couple of other passengers notice, look annoyed. 

JEFF: Check them out.

JAMES FRANCO: Fuck ‘em. What else is on the list?

JEFF: I live off ten percent of my income and direct the rest to do good on the planet. That’s number nine. And the last one is number ten: I head a charitable foundation which provides help for post nine-eleven veterans by teaching them pure peer support techniques, offering creativity workshops, and paid internships inside the entertainment industry.

By the time Jeff finishes this last line, James Franco, finding Jeff completely irresistible is nibbling at his neck. 

JEFF: Are you even listening to me?

JAMES FRANCO: (still nibbling) mmm hmm. Ten Percent. Production company. Vet’s charity.

A woman exits the lavatory and Franco eyes the “vacant” sign.

JAMES FRANCO: (whispering in Jeff’s ear) Hey you wanna join the mile high club?

JEFF: I’m already in it.

JAMES FRANCO: What? You never told me!

JEFF: I joined it solo.

JAMES FRANCO: That totally doesn’t count! If that counted every guy I know would be in.

James Franco unlatches his seatbelt.

JAMES FRANCO: (with a devilish grin) Give me a minute and then come in. I’ll leave the door unlocked.

James Franco gets up and makes his way up the aisle. He turns to Jeff and winks just before going in the folding doors. 

Jeff sighs and looks out the window at the twinkling lights below. What is he ever going to do about his goals?

JEFF: (into camera) See y’all tomorrow.

Jeff unlatches his seatbelt and makes his way up the aisle to join James Franco in the airplane’s lavatory.


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