Tips

Characters

AMBER, an ambitious 18-year-old

who dreams of being a beautician.

ATTENDANT, a woman in her

late fifties who works as the

restroom attendant of a five-star

Italian restaurant.

MAN/RICHARD, a forty to fifty-

year-old man who pays young

AMBER to keep him company.

PREGNANT WOMAN

 

(A young woman around twenty, Amber, storms into the bathroom of what seems to be a gourmet restaurant. There is a restroom attendant leaning against the wall, she is in her early sixties. There is a cart next to the attendant with a jar labeled TIPS, a small bowl of mints, a stack of hand towels, the woman’s large purse, and an old picture frame with two newlyweds inside it. Amber slams down on the granite countertops before looking up at herself in the mirror. (All dialogue of AMBER, ATTENDANT, and MANAGER in a New York accent.))

 

AMBER

Shit.

(She turns on the sink and splashes some water on her face, then heads toward a paper towel dispenser near the attendant. The ATTENDANT sticks out her arms, offering up a linen towel.)

 

ATTENDANT

Here. Those paper towels from the dispensers? Rough as sandpaper. You’ll scratch that pretty face right up.

 

AMBER

Thanks.

                        (She blots her face with towel before handing it back to the attendant.)

 

ATTENDANT

                        (Pulling AMBER’s hand up to her face.)

Good God almighty! What a rock ya got there, huh? You got a real keeper on your hands.

 

AMBER

                        (Pulling away quickly and taking off the ring.)

You don’t know the half of it.

 

ATTENDANT

I guess I don’t.

AMBER

                        (She stares at the ring in her hands, proceeding to scratch it against the mirror.)

Of course.

 

ATTENDANT

What?

 

AMBER

It’s real. I knew it would be, I’m just lookin’ for a damn excuse at this point...

 

ATTENDANT

Are you tryin’ to tell me that you’re over here, hollerin’, because that thing is real? Never in my life,kid. Never in my life have I seen such a—

 

                                                                        AMBER

I don’t want it! I don’t want the ring, okay?

                        (Looking down. Long pause.)

                                                                       

ATTENDANT

You goin’ back out there anytime soon?

 

AMBER

No. I mean, I dunno. 

 

ATTENDANT

Well, it seems like it’s just you ‘n me then.

 

AMBER

So?

 

ATTENDANT

So nothin’ I guess.

                        (AMBER sits up on the bathroom calendar and picks at her nails.)

Mint?

                        (AMBER nods her head. ATTENDANT tosses her a mint from a small bowl on the cart next to her.)

 

AMBER

(Pointing to the picture on the cart.)

That you?

                                                                       

ATTENDANT

Me an’ my husband. Well, late.

                                                                       

AMBER

Oh. I’m real sorry, uh, I didn’t mean to--–

 

ATTENDANT

It’s not like ya knew.

(Looks down.)

 

AMBER

How long were you two together?

 

ATTENDANT

Long time kid, long time. ‘Bout 39 years.

 

AMBER

Wow.

 

ATTENDANT

Wow just ‘bout sums it up.

 

AMBER

I dunno if I could do it.

 

ATTENDANT

Do what?

 

 AMBER

Ya know, the whole thing. Bein’ with someone for that long. Just seems like you’d be sick of ‘em.

 

ATTENDANT

You got it all wrong there. Every day is somethin’ new, when you’re in love like that.

 

AMBER

Yea, I guess so.

 

ATTENDANT

(Pointing to AMBER’s ring.)

That why you’re throwin’ a fit over that thing? Scared you’re gonna get bored?

 

AMBER

I’m not just gonna dump all my baggage on you, lady.

 

ATTENDANT

Why not? I got nothin’ better to do. And if ya feel so inclined, throw a tip in my jar. We’ll call it even.

 

 AMBER

Ehhh I dunno.

 

ATTENDANT

C’mon, I’m old! Life’s boring when you’re old. Gimme somethin’ that’ll bring me back.

 

AMBER

Ya promise you won’t say a word ‘bout this? Not to anyone?

 

 ATTENDANT

Not a soul.

AMBER

Alright. Wait, no, you know what, forget it. It’s stupid and I’m not gonna bother ya with it.

                                                                                                                      

ATTENDANT

I’m sure it ain’t stupid if you’re this wound up ‘bout it.

                       (AMBER looks at her, unsure.)

Who would I have to tell anyway?

 

AMBER

(Sitting herself up on the countertop.)

Alright. So I’m tryi’n’ to put myself through cosmetology school cause I’m real good at makeup and hair and all, but my parents refuse to drop a dime on it. They say it’s a ‘waste of my potential’. Bull. I ain’t never been good at anything else, but hair and makeup? That’s all me.

 

ATTENDANT

Ya got a nice face, kid, no need for any ‘a that makeup.

 

AMBER

Well, thanks a lot. But that’s not the point. Point is, I’m puttin’ myself through school on my own, so I need money, right? And my roommate, she told me ‘bout this ‘escort’ service. She said all I had to do was go out to dinner with this one guy, keep him company, and I could make a couple hundred bucks.

 

 ATTENDANT

Uh, oh.

 

AMBER

So I’m out with this guy, and he’s like 40, maybe 50. Real nice fella, good at keepin’ conversation ‘n all. We finish up eatin’ and he asks me how much I charge on the hour. And I says a hundred on the hour and ya know what he says?

 

ATTENDANT

What’s he say?

 

AMBER

He says, “You’re worth a lot more than that, sweetheart.”

 

ATTENDANT

Oh you’re really in trouble now.

AMBER

But I needed the money! And he kept payin’ me more ‘n more every time I went out with him and then one day I told him ‘bout my school and how I gotta pay for it all by myself and the guy just writes me a check! And ya know he says?

 

ATTENDANT

What’s he say?

 

AMBER

He says, “There’s more where that came from.”

 

ATTENDANT

You really got yourself into a mess now didn’t ya.

 

AMBER

Yeah.

 (Beat.)

 

ATTENDANT

So that ring’s from him?

 (AMBER nods.)

You gonna go through with it?

AMBER

I dunno.

 

ATTENDANT

Do ya love him?

 

AMBER

What?

 

ATTENDANT

You heard me, I said do ya love him?

 

AMBER

Course not.

 

ATTENDANT

Well then what else is there to know?

 

AMBER

He’s payin’ for my school. And my rent, too. If tell him no, he’s gonna cut me—

 (Knocks on the bathroom door.)

 

MAN’S VOICE

Amber, darling, are you in there? What’s taking you so long?

 (AMBER looks wide-eyed at the attendant.)

 

ATTENDANT

Uh, yea sir, she’s feelin’ a little under the weather. Somethin’ to do with her food, we think. Uhhh, ya see, there are lots of people gettin’ sick ‘round here lately and—

 

MAN’S VOICE

But we didn’t even begin our meal. There’s no way she could’ve gotten sick.

 

ATTENDANT

(Whispering.)

He didn’t even buy you somethin’ to eat yet?

(AMBER shakes her head.)

A drink?

(AMBER shakes her head.)

 

ATTENDANT

Jesus H.

 

MAN’S VOICE

What was that?

 

AMBER

I’ll be out soon. I’m just feelin’ sick that’s all. Go ‘head back to the table, hon.

 

MAN’S VOICE

Alright well, hurry back. We’ve got big plans to discuss!

 

ATTENDANT

Seems nice to me.

 

AMBER

He is! I’m tellin’ ya, he’s a good guy, he, I, I just—

 

ATTENDANT

Don’t love him?

 

AMBER

No. But the money…

 

ATTENDANT

Look, kid, ya just gotta figure out what makes ya happy.

 

AMBER

Beauty school. That’s it; it’s where I wanna be. It’s where I’m meant to be. I mean, I can just feel it, I know I’m good enough I really do.

 

ATTENDANT

Then what’s stoppin’ ya? Go on back to school and forget about this guy! He’s grown man for God’s sake– he can handle it.

 

AMBER

No, but I can’t! I gotta pay for school and I already quit my old job cleanin’ apartments and there’s just no way I could–

 

ATTENDANT

Did you say cleanin’?

 

AMBER

Yeah? Why what’s it to ya? I needed quick cash, alright.

 

ATTENDANT

And I’m one to judge? Do you see what I’m workin’ as?

 

AMBER

Oh, right. Wait, so why do ya care?

 

ATTENDANT

I got an idea kid, and I think it could work.

 

AMBER

What is it?

 

ATTENDANT

So what if—

(A pregnant woman walks into the bathroom, glances at AMBER and ATTENDANT, and walks into a stall. AMBER and ATTENDANT awkwardly wait for the woman to finish using the bathroom and wash her hands. ATTENDANT picks up the bowl of mints and puts them in front of the woman.)

Mint?

 

PREGNANT WOMAN

Uh, no thank you.

(ATTENDANT swaps mint bowl for tip jar, extends the tip jar and smiles cheesily. PREGNANT WOMAN sneers and exits.)

 

AMBER

My God, did ya catch the bump on that lady?

 

ATTENDANT

That thing was ‘bout the size of Manhattan itself!

 

AMBER

(Laughing lightly.)

Yeah, it was, wasn’t it?

(Her smile fades into a troubled expression as she looks down.)

Do you, I mean, have you… ever?     

 

ATTENDANT

No.

 

AMBER

How come?

 

ATTENDANT

Couldn’t. Just wasn’t made up like that I guess.

 

AMBER

Oh. Sorry.

 

ATTENDANT

Yeah.

 (Beat.)

You alright kid?                                                               

 

AMBER

(Clearing her throat.)

Yeah, yeah. I’m fine.

 

ATTENDANT

Don’t seem fine to me.

 (AMBER reaches into her pocket and pulls out the ring, fiddling with it.)

Ya know, Daddy Warbucks is still out there waitin’ for ya.

 

AMBER

Ya think? At this point he mighta just left.

(Puts the ring back into her pocket.)

 

ATTENDANT

Maybe. Maybe not, though. Only way to find out is to go out there yourself.

 

MAN’S VOICE

(Knocks heavily.)

Amber? Amber, darling, how are you feeling? I’m getting quite worried about you.

(AMBER and ATTENDANT make eye contact, ATTENDANT shrugs.)

Amber? Are you even in there? Hello! I’m coming in there right this-

 

AMBER

(Walks over and swings open the door.)

Hi.

 

MAN

Oh, hello. I was so terribly worried that you had run off, or were sick, or that you couldn’t find our table, or maybe that-

 

AMBER

I’m all good and fine. Now, let’s go back out there and order somethin’ to eat, I’m starvin’.

 

MAN

That sounds just wonder- wait. Did you take off your ring?

 

AMBER

Oh it’s right here I just–

                       

MAN

But why would you take it off at all? Does it not fit? Is it too big? I told the man you were a lean seven, not a six and a half!

 

                                                                        AMBER

No, no it fits fine I just–

 

MAN

Then what is it? Have you changed your mind already?

 

AMBER

I can explain–

 

ATTENDANT

No. I can explain.

 

MAN

Mind your own business, maid.

 

ATTENDANT

(To AMBER.)

And you think he’s nice?

 

MAN

(To AMBER.)

What?

 

AMBER

I–

 

ATTENDANT                                                        

No, ya know what sir last time I checked you’re some poor excuse of a man, and this is the ladies room, so if you could so kindly get the hell outta here that would be just great.

 

MAN

What gives you the audacity to–

(To AMBER.)

Do you know her?

 

AMBER

Yeah, well, no, I mean–

 

ATTENDANT

Excuse me, sir, I don’t think you heard me the first time. Get outta my restroom. Now.

 

MAN

(Grabbing AMBER’s arm aggressively.)

Come on, Amber, we’re going.

 

ATTENDANT

(Grabbing MAN’s arm with both of hers.)

Hey, hands off, buddy!

 

MAN

Would you calm the hell down!

 

ATTENDANT

(To AMBER)

Ya know what, kid, I don’t care how stuffed this guy’s pockets are I can’t let you go with him.        

 

AMBER

I’m sorry, what?

 

ATTENDANT

You heard me you’re stayin’ here. Sir, I’m gonna ask you to leave and this is the last damn time I’ll do it, so I would suggest that you get that rear of yours moving before I take this to the manag–

 

AMBER

I’m not stayin’.

 

ATTENDANT

Don’t worry ‘bout the money kid, I got a way I can take care of it. Just tell this jerk to make his way out the-

 

AMBER

I SAID, I’m not stayin’.

 

ATTENDANT

You’re not seriously gonna entertain this guy are you? Kid, you’re young! You, you… you got a future ahead ‘a ya! And time, too!

           

MAN

I told you, she’s not staying. She told you she’s not staying. How many people have to tell you she’s not staying for you to understand the concept that she is not– 

 

AMBER

My God, would you can it, Richard!

 

RICHARD

Excuse me?

 

AMBER

I told you to quit talkin’! Did ya hear me this time?

(RICHARD and ATTENDANT stare blankly at AMBER.)

Could you, give me a minute, please?

 

ATTENDANT

You heard the girl, get outta here.

 

AMBER

Both of you.

 

ATTENDANT

What?

 

AMBER

Now, please.

 

RICHARD

Amber, I don’t understand the meaning of this.

 

AMBER

Please. I needa be alone.

 

RICHARD

(Under his breath.)

With all I do for you.

(Exits restroom.)

 

ATTENDANT

Glad we finally got rid of that shmuck.

 

AMBER

I said both of you!

 

ATTENDANT

Fine, fine. Make this quick, kid. I gotta job to do.

(ATTENDANT exits. AMBER sits up on the counter and leans over, placing her hands on her face. She begins to cry. After a minute or so, she gets up and paces around the bathroom, still crying. She then approaches the counter and looks at herself in the mirror blankly, before pulling a cell phone out of her pocket. She dials a number and puts the phone to her ear as it rings.)

                       

AMBER

Hi, it’s me...Yeah, I know, I know...Please, Ma, just listen to me!...I know it’s been a while but just hear me out, please...I’m in trouble and I– uh, I dunno what to do... I was short on money and I, I joined this thing some ‘a my friends were doin’... No, Ma. I’m not sellin’ drugs… I’m an escort… An escort… I’ve been hangin’ out with this guy who’s a little older ‘n he pays me for it… No, Ma, it ain’t like that!... No not even once!... I know, I know… It’s just that he’s the only way I’ve been payin’ my bills ‘n if I cut him off I’ll have to drop out and I’ll lose my apartment…

 

RICHARD

(From offstage.)

Amber, would you come out here please?

 

AMBER

(Struggling to get the words up.)

Um, just a second, I– um, I need, uh, a little more time, okay? Ma.... Ma!... He asked to marry him...Yeah… I don’t wanna but I think I might have to and, and I just need your help...

(AMBER falls back into tears.)

I don’t love him, Ma, I don’t… You think so ‘cause I sure don’t… Well I love you too… Really?... You really mean that?... Thank you, Ma, thank you… No, no I understand… I’ll come home tonight. I just gotta get my stuff… Okay… I love you, too. Bye.

(She slides the phone back into her pocket and slumps against the counter with a deep breath.)

 

RICHARD

(From offstage.)

Are you alright? You sound upset and I didn’t mean to upset you, you were just being dull–

 

ATTENDANT

(From offstage.)

Dull? Who you callin’ dull, moron?

                                   

AMBER

(Opening the door.)

I’m alright now, you can come in.

 

RICHARD

Can we go now, sweetheart? I think it’s about time we put this night to rest.

 

AMBER

Yeah. Take me home. Go have the valet pull up the car and I’ll meet ya out front.

 

ATTENDANT

What? You’ve gotta be kidding.                                 

 

RICHARD

I knew you would come around. I’ll see you out front.

(Exits.)

 

ATTENDANT

You can’t be serious with this guy, kid! What in the Lord’s name are ya thinkin’?

 

AMBER

Look, I called my ma. Her and my pop agreed to pay for my school if I can cover my rent so I can stop all this. I’m just gonna have Richard bring me home so I can get my stuff, and then I’ll take a cab out to my parents’ place as soon as he leaves. As long as I can get a job, I think everything is gonna be alright.

 

ATTENDANT

Wow, kid. Good for you.

 

AMBER

Thanks. And thanks for your help tonight. It was, uh, nice meetin’ ya.

(AMBER hugs the ATTENDANT.)

 

ATTENDANT

Glad I could help. That is my job, ya know. And hey, if you’re lookin’ for work, you should apply here. They could use a few extra hands for cleanin’ and the pay ain’t bad.

 

AMBER

Thanks. I’ll think about it.

 

ATTENDANT

Well, goodnight. And good luck, too.

 

AMBER

‘Night.

(AMBER exits the bathroom, leaving a few coins in the tip jar on her way out and throwing a smile to the ATTENDANT.)

 

*BLACKOUT*

  Olivia Hunt is in eleventh grade at Downingtown East high school. She is an avid writer and aspires to study screenwriting. Her dream is to write her own television sitcom, or to become a writer on Saturday Night Live. Olivia loves live music and concerts, going to the coffee shop down the street to write, and soaking up every beautiful moment of life.