Quatre légumes pensifs (a one-act play)

It is late at night. Snow can be seen falling through the window. Melancholy music is playing and the air is thick with cigarette smoke. A large bottle of vodka stands almost empty on the kitchen table. The décor is distinctly, unmistakably Sovietic. Four vegetables are sitting in a tight corner, their backs to the wall, on a leather-upholstered bench that neatly conforms to the corners of the nook they are in.

Asparagus: (incongruously, enthusiastically) Let’s play a game!

Onion: (sighing theatrically) What’s the point?

Aubergine: (slurringly) Let’s all have sex!

Asparagus: (dismissively) Sure. Mm-hm.

Cauliflower: I feel nauseous. Can you please all stop talking nonsense?

Aubergine: Who’s talking nonsense? I feel perfectly in control of everything I say.

Onion: Sorry, what were you saying?

Cauliflower: I love you all but it is starting to feel like you’re hurting my freedom.

Aubergine: Stop banging on about freedom! There’s no such thing.

Cauliflower: Trust you to say that.

Aubergine: (indignantly) Have you forgotten about Kale?

Onion: I thought we’d agreed never to use the K-word…

Asparagus: Do we have any moonshine left?

Aubergine: (looking at Cauliflower) Go on, explain to me. What is this so-called freedom you keep obsessing over?

Onion: For me freedom is when you peel off all your layers until you are no more…

Asparagus: Are we playing a game? Where’s the moonshine? What’s going on?

Cauliflower: I think freedom is neither vegetable nor mineral.

Aubergine: (downing a shot) Soon you’ll be saying that freedom is to frolic naked in the fields.

Onion: Freedom is when you are sliced and diced until you are no more…

Cauliflower: I heard tale of a kitchen in a kingdom called Vilnius where vegetables are sacred.

Aubergine: It’s a fairy tale! It always ends the same for our kind – we get righteously consumed.

Onion: My mother got eaten but my father went bad and was tossed on the compost. He really flourished there…

Aubergine: I love you C but you have to give up on this mad goose chase of yours! Accept your lot! Embrace your vegetative fate!

Cauliflower: But there has to be more to life than this, doesn’t there?

Asparagus: My grandfather was used as a sexual prosthesis once.

Aubergine: Some idiot once tried to stuff me into a woman’s vagina! It was hilarious! I was way too MASSIVE!

Onion: No one never tries nothing like that with me…

Cauliflower: That’s because you make people cry, sweety.

Onion: I can’t help it!

Asparagus: My best friend growing up was Turnip but we weren’t allowed to mingle socially. That was why I turned to socialism.

Cauliflower: Whatism?

Asparagus: Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.

Onion: Ooh! Yes please!

Aubergine: My definition of freedom is to find a vagina that can accommodate my GIRTH!

Cauliflower: (to Asparagus) Why weren’t you allowed to mingle with Turnip?

Asparagus: (downing a shot of nail polish remover) Farmer Maxima considered him too lowly. He cruelly kept us apart from a storage point of view.

Onion: That’s a really sad story…

Aubergine: Does that qualify as a story?

Cauliflower: (to Asparagus) Your soshalism sounds liberating. Where can I get some?

Asparagus: I honestly don’t know. I heard about it from some Israeli avocados but none of the veggies round here want to hear about it. They say they just want to be left alone to grow in peace.

Aubergine: (downing a shot of antifreeze) You’re all deluding yourselves! You think Farmer Maxima gives a damn about your hopes and dreams? I heard he sold one head of cauliflower for €3.49. We are just cash cows as far as he is concerned!

Cauliflower: What’s a cauliflower?

Asparagus: It’s a cabbage of a variety which bears a large immature flower head of small creamy-white flower buds.

Cauliflower: Wow! How do you know so much?

Aubergine: (distractedly) I think there might be some potato ethanol lying around somewhere.

Cauliflower: I knew a tuber who killed himself.

Onion: HOW?

Cauliflower: He threw himself into a vat of boiling water. No, he got mashed. No, he got roasted. No, he got sautéed.

Aubergine: Which is it?

Cauliflower: I’m confused. The misery has gone to my head.

Asparagus: My biggest fear is being sent back to Germany. I have nightmares about it.

Aubergine: We’ll never let that happen.

Cauliflower: We’ll protect you.

Asparagus: I heard they have concentration farms there.

Cauliflower: Try to concentrate on the here and now!

Onion: (pouring everyone a shot of ethanol) Nu, to us!

Asparagus: Four peas in a pod!

Everyone: Cheers!

Aubergine: (bluefully) Life used to be better.

Cauliflower: (ruefully) I used to be freer.

Asparagus: It feels like the farm has spun out of control.

Onion: My folks used to sit around all day lolling in the sun…

Cauliflower: Sounds idyllic!

Aubergine: Whatever happened to Broccoli?

Asparagus: He did really well for himself. He became a producer over at a factory of Bond films.

Cauliflower: What about Leek?

Aubergine: I heard he had a massive blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

Onion: And Mushroom?

Asparagus: Last I heard he had his head in the clouds in North Korea.

Aubergine: What of Potato?

Cauliflower: He grew into a gay pop icon.

Aubergine: At least some of us made it!

Cauliflower: (singing quietly to herself) I’ve been looking for freedom…

Onion: Whose black-handled serrated chopping knife is this?

Cauliflower: I’ve been looking so long…

Onion: Makes me want to lob off my scape…

Cauliflower: I’ve been looking for freedom…

Onion: Makes me want to hack off my roots…

Cauliflower: Still the search goes on…

Asparagus: (downing a shot of ethanol) Do you think the washing-up liquid is potable?

Aubergine: God knows. It has a lovely colour though. Good consistency too.

Asparagus: It’s settled then! We’ll pretend it’s Crème de menthe!

Onion: (singing quietly to herself) I’ve been looking for freedom…

Lights fade. The audience half-heartedly applause. Most hurry off to retrieve their coats from the cloakroom. Where the attractive but frazzled-looking young attendant is frantically running from hook to hook. Everyone wants to split, bolt, flee. Because they are blessed to be free.

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