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An excerpt from: JAPANESE DEMONS (AND HOW TO DATE THEM) a play By Kirk Shimano

JAPANESE DEMONS (AND HOW TO DATE THEM) character list AKIRA: male, Asian, late 20’s / early 30’s HEATHER: female, contemporary of Akira BIKER DATE: male, physically imposing

(AKIRA has just finished telling HEATHER an ancient Japanese folktale that makes him realize his life has stagnated. He glows with a newfound resolve.) AKIRA If I don’t want to be alone, then I need to do something about it! HEATHER And that’s why you’re going to make an online dating profile! ( HEATHER wheels out a laptop ) AKIRA Huh? I mean online dating…that’s for really desperate people, isn’t it? HEATHER You are really desperate. AKIRA Fuck you. ( beat ) So how does this work? HEATHER Well, first you just need to fill out a few simple questions. Height, weight, hair color, eye color, job, salary, hobbies, activities, favorite food, favorite hangout, favorite travel destination, favorite movie, favorite book, favorite person, fondest memory, grandest dream, greatest fear, darkest secret, and shoe size. AKIRA Shoe size? HEATHER There are a lot of foot fetishes out there. AKIRA Can’t I just write a paragraph or something?

HEATHER Oh you get to do that too. Describe your ideal match in five hundred words or less. AKIRA Well if I knew that, I wouldn’t be doing this. HEATHER That’s ten words. Four hundred and ninety left to go. AKIRA Hey hey, hold up a sec. Just let me think. ( beat ) My ideal boyfriend is warm. HEATHER As in not quite hot? AKIRA As in he really cares about things. I mean people. I mean me. He likes to cuddle, but the word “cuddle” makes him roll his eyes a bit. And he knows that irony might be ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife, but it is never, ever rain on your wedding day. And he knows who his senator is. And he has really nice calves, but doesn’t know it. But mostly…well actually, all he needs is to like me. That’s all. HEATHER Okay! And now we start searching for eligible young suitors. AKIRA Actually, I’m not sure if I can deal with this. Look, maybe we can leave my profile up and see who comes to me? HEATHER But Akira, you’ve come this far and – AKIRA If it’s really meant to be, then they’ll like my profile enough to message me right? HEATHER Well I suppose – AKIRA So I’ll wait.

HEATHER Fair enough. ( HEATHER leaves )

AKIRA ( to audience ) I mean it seems like a reasonable strategy, right? I’ve put myself out there, so now I just have to see who bites. Wait, that’s totally a mixed metaphor. But a week passes by. Then two. ( HEATHER returns in a different costume ) HEATHER How many weeks has it been? AKIRA Two weeks, three days, and four hours. Not that I’m counting. HEATHER Have you ever wondered if... Well, if maybe your profile isn’t the best it could be? AKIRA It’s accurate. HEATHER Yes. But maybe accuracy isn’t the best strategy. AKIRA Are you suggesting I change it? HEATHER Well… AKIRA ( to audience ) There’s a Japanese folk tale called Sanmai no Ofuda. The three…er…the three ofudas. Ofudas are like charms or something. The story’s about this boy apprentice whose master gives him three charms so that he can protect himself when he goes out into the mountains. The boy gets

lost and trapped by a witch and he uses the three charms to escape. But that’s not the interesting part. HEATHER …you know, there are a lot of ways of presenting the truth. Like you can stretch things. But still be you. If you want a boyfriend…

AKIRA The witch chases the apprentice back home. The cowardly little boy hides in a stone jar. The witch turns to the apprentice’s old master and says ( AKIRA and HEATHER quickly throw on robes. AKIRA assumes the personality of THE WITCH ) WHERE IS THE BOY! I SAW HIM COME HERE! HEATHER ( as THE OLD MASTER ) I KNOW NOTHING OF THIS BOY THAT YOU CLAIM. AKIRA ( as THE WITCH ) IT IS NO MATTER BECAUSE IF I CANNOT EAT THE BOY, THEN I WILL EAT YOU. HEATHER IF IT IS YOUR INTENTION TO CHALLENGE ME, LET US BEGIN WITH A TEST OF TRANSFORMATION. IT IS MY BELIEF THAT YOU CANNOT MAKE YOURSELF AS HIGH AS THE CEILING. AKIRA IT IS OF NO CONSEQUENCE. And the witch became as high as the ceiling. HEATHER I dunno, maybe you can make yourself seem, like, a little more sporty? I mean you’re not unathletic, right? AKIRA Yeah, maybe. HEATHER BUT OH MALEVOLENT WITCH, CAN YOU MAKE YOURSELF AS TALL AS A MOUNTAIN?

AKIRA IT IS OF NO CONSEQUENCE. And suddenly the witch was as tall as a mountain. HEATHER And all of these movie references. It’s just too geeky. I mean they’re fine because I know you, but come on! AKIRA Yeah, I guess. HEATHER MALEVOLENT WITCH, YOU HAVE PROVEN THAT YOU CAN GROW AS TALL AS A MOUNTAIN, BUT IT IS MY BELIEF THAT YOU CANNOT SHRINK YOURSELF TO THE SIZE OF A BEAN! AKIRA IT IS OF NO CONSEQUENCE, OLD FOOL. And the witch became as small as a bean. HEATHER AND NOW IT’S MY TURN. And the old man picked up the beansized witch, stuffed her into a rice cake, and ate her. ( With a great CHOMP, HEATHER exits ) AKIRA I used to think that story was about the dangers of unbridled egotism. But now I wonder if it’s about how if you change yourself too many times…you get swallowed up. ( AKIRA affixes a bike helmet and begins to pedal furiously. Throughout the next scene he is constantly out of breath, as if giving birth to two fat babies ) ( BIKER DATE zooms in, positively glowing with health and virility ) AKIRA You…said…it…was….how….long….to……li….t…..t…..o? BIKER DATE Well, just over that hill – AKIRA

FINALLY! BIKER DATE Just over that hill is the Golden Gate Bridge. We cross that, go down the other hill, detour through downtown, then it’s just a mile or so to the ferry. AKIRA Oh….kay. BIKER DATE Are you feeling alright? Normally I’d just do coffee on a first meet-up but in your profile you seemed pretty – AKIRA YEAH! NO! I…always. I mean…every…one. But…this! A…bike…date. BIKER DATE Oh, I don’t know if I’d call it a date. AKIRA Oh…can we…like…rest? BIKER DATE Sure, why don’t you just wait here and I’ll just…I’ll just bike on ahead a bit. ( AKIRA collapses on the ground. HEATHER wanders in, munching something absentmindedly. ) AKIRA This is hopeless. HEATHER Just because your first date was mildly catastrophic doesn’t mean that you should give up. AKIRA It wasn’t even a date. HEATHER Even better! Then your dating record is spotless. AKIRA This is pointless. I don’t know why I’m even trying.

HEATHER You just need to have guts. There must be some Japanese fairytale about being brave. Like – AKIRA Well, there is Tawara Toda...