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In A Cafe

That age-old question: What to have for breakfast – bagel or croissant?

Sara Felder, a juggler living in San Francisco, puts a new spin on the issue of our conflicted ethnic/cosmopolitan identities. Felder has performed this piece in theaters and clubs in San Francisco. It is part of a full-length work called “Beyond Brooklyn.”

Then again, you, can always skip breakfast and leave the hard questions for lunch….

[Note: The narration to this piece1 is performed by Sara Felder in a neutral voice. The bagel speaks with an exaggerated Brooklyn accent, the croissant with an obviously fake French accent.]

Sara to audience: I guess it was about three weeks ago now, that I went into this cafe to get a bagel.

To counter person: “Good morning, I’d like a bagel please,…”

To audience: … when all of a sudden I noticed the tray of croissants sitting near the bagels.

To counter-person: “Actually, I changed my mind. I think I’d rather have a croissant.”

To audience: But while he is getting the croissant I look over again at the bagels, and remember the bagel store on Brighton Beach Avenue where for fourteen cents you could have the most delicious bagel in the world. “Huh?… (shaken from fantasy by the counter-person)

To counter-person:… ohhhh, um, I want to have the bagel after all, thank you.”

To audience: And then, while he is getting the bagel I look over at the croissants and I remember the first time I ever had one, when I moved to Berkeley from New York, and they just looked so good and even though I wasn’t sure I was pronouncing it right, I said, “I’d like to have a croysant please…!’ Oh, but it was worth the embarrassment^ because it was so soft and buttery and flaky.

To counter-person: “I’d like to have the croysant, I mean, croissant, please!’ (looks over at the bagels) “Actually, could you make it a bagel instead? Yeah, definitely, for here, with some cream cheese!’ (looks over at the croissants) “Look, did you cut it yet? Because I think I’d rather have the croissant. (yelling) Hey I don’t care if there is a line forming behind me. You don’t have to get indignant about it. I said I’d like to have a croissant, please! (pause … softly) Look, I don’t mean to give you any trouble, just give me the bagel and I’ll…

Responding to counter-person: “,. .oh, now that’s a good idea. I could buy both the bagel and the croissant. And then I could give away the bagel. Right, or the croissant. One of the two.”

To audience: And that’s what I did. I bought both the bagel and the croissant.

She receives a bagel and a croissant on a plate.

She is about to bite the croissant.

Bagel (on plate): Hey Sara.

Sara looks around to see where voice is coming from.

Bagel: Over here.

Surprised, she places croissant in her right shoulder, the plate under her left armpit and focuses attention on the bagel, which is now in her left hand.

Bagel: Remember when Aunt Jean used to come visit and your mother used to go and buy bagels and lox?

Sara: Yeah. Those were really happy times, weren’t they? Bagel nods in agreement.

Sara laughs and is about to bite the bagel when the croissant on her left shoulder interrupts.

Croissant: Sara! Mon cherie! Sara, don’t forget how you left New York to come to California to be an artiste! Real artistes eat les croissants. Remember Rodin! Remember Marcel! Don’t forget what Getrude said, “A croissant is a croissant is a croissant!’

As the croissant begins to talk, Sara transfers the bagel to her right armpit and the plate to her head and the croissant to her right hand.

Sara: Well, you can’t argue with that can you? (about to bite the croissant.)

The bagel emerges from armpit to left hand. With the bagel in the left hand and the croissant in the right, a sort of puppet show begins.

Bagel: Now listen pal, this girl was weaned on the Atlantic Ocean, on the D train, and on bagels, man.

Croissant: This may be true my friend, but now she drives a car, she enjoys les hot tubs, and she spends her days writing grants!

Sara: Okay you two, separate, now, separate. (They separate.)

Bagel: Hey Sara, remember your grandmother, man.

Croissant: Sara, don’t forget your art.

Sara to audience: I didn’t know what to do. (The objects fly into the air. They are being juggled.) And then I realized this is not a philosophical issue at all. It is simply a question of which I am hungrier for at the moment. So I had a bite of the croissant and that was good and then I had some of the bagel and that was good … (Eating and juggling at the same time… .finally catches the two objects on the plate.)

To audience: I feel so sick. I feel so full. I’m sick of this ancestry stuff (throws bagel remains into audience) and I’m sick of this present-day lifestyle crap (throws croissant). And yet I am so hungry (begins doing balance and object manipulations with the plate), I am so hungry to find the balance. (Plate has turned into a mirror. She looks into the mirror. Touches her face. Fade-out.)