By Kellie Powell
Dogface is a play about growing up ugly. The title character is attacked by a dog when she is seven, which causes the other children at school to provide her derogatory nickname - an identity she never fully escapes from. She alternates between describing the experience and re-living it.
This is how it happens: One minute, you're just another awkward second-grader. And then your mom takes you and your brother to her friend's house, out in the country. You get out of the car, and there's a big yellow dog wagging his tail at you. And your mom and your brother go to ring the doorbell, and you get down on your knees in front of this friendly dog, and you're petting him... And then, suddenly, the dog snaps his jaws. And your life as you know it... ends.
It happens so fast... You're not even sure what happened. It feels like a very sharp pinch, and then it's spreading, fast through your whole face. There's blood. There's a lot of blood. You yell for your mom, you run towards her. She turns, and when she sees you, she gasps in horror and she covers your brother's eyes, and she screams to him, "Don't look!"
That's how these things happen, I guess. Anyway, that's how it happened to me.
The dog never barked, never growled. He followed after me, still friendly and playful. Blood pouring from the holes in my face... and he's looking at me, wagging his tail. My mother grabbed my jacket from the car, and told me to hold it tight against my face. I was crying. I was so panicked I felt like I was choking.
At the hospital, nurses were coming in, mopping up blood and asking questions and trying to establish how much of my face was still there, whether the nerve endings were alive. My face felt puffy and I was light-headed. The nurses were friendly, they wanted me to trust them. And I did. I believed them when they said that doctors would be able to fix me.
My father didn't - he couldn't - look directly at me. He kept staring at a space on the wall above me. He kept saying, "You're being very brave." I didn't feel brave. I was still crying, but quietly. I was pressing cotton against my face, just wanting it to be over. I just wanted to go home.
And then, I was lying on a table, squinting into a bright light above me. I can't feel the stitches, but if I look out of the corner of my right eye, I can see it, the silver needle, moving up and down. So I don't look. They keep talking to me. Half the time I don't know what they're saying, the other half of the time, they're telling me how brave I am, but that's only because they don't know how afraid I feel. You're not allowed to cry or they might mess up your stitches. You can't move at all. They keep saying, "It will all be over soon."
They lied. I was conscious the entire time. I was awake while they sewed my face back together. What I remember most is the bright light, and the strangely disembodied voices of my parents and the doctors, trying to keep the patient calm.
When they finally let me see myself, when they gave me a mirror, I had prepared myself for a Halloween mask, for a horror movie, for a nightmare. But the blood had been cleaned away. It was just neat rows of stitches. I was actually relieved.
But then I went back to school. And then the real trauma began.
In this monologue, Dogface, now 23, confronts her friend, Ethan. They recently slept together, which she thought implied that their relationship was moving to a new level, but Ethan has instead been ignoring her and pretending that nothing happened.
I don't want to get all Hallmark card on you, but you're my best friend. We've been through so much together. You know me better than I have ever let anyone know me. You're the first person I've ever met who understands me, who thinks the way I do, who gets me. Am I crazy? Am I wrong? Because... you're important to me.
If you just aren't attracted to me... I could understand that. I know you can't choose who you want, you can't control those feelings. The heart wants what the heart wants. If we could choose... then I could stop wanting you. I know it doesn't work like that. So, if you just don't like me that way... but, you do, don't you? You must. I mean, at least a little? You can't find me too repulsive, you're the one who kissed me...
Did I do something wrong? I mean, was I not... good? Was I too easy? Was I supposed to play hard to get? I don't know how to be coy and play games. No one ever explained the rules to me. All I know how to do is be honest. And you said that was something you loved about me.
Is it... are you ashamed? Is that why you're pretending like it didn't happen? That's it, isn't it. You're ashamed. Right. I mean, who wouldn't be ashamed to be with me? I'm Dogface. You can fuck Dogface behind closed doors, but you can't introduce her to your friends. You can't bring her home to meet your mom.
You said... you're not ready. Is anyone ever ready for their life to change? How do you expect to learn anything? We'll make all kinds of stupid mistakes and feel like idiots and - welcome to the human condition! Trial and error, it's the only way to learn. No one's ever ready.
You said... you don't want to get serious. But how am I supposed to act casual about something this intense, this rare? You're the first person to see me - how can that not be a big deal? Look at me. How many chances am I going to have in life? I think I could love you. I think you could have loved me.
And if I'm crazy, then I'm crazy. If I'm wrong, then, okay, I'm wrong. But if I'm right, and you're just too chickenshit to deal with the possibility of something real and rare and dangerous and life-altering, then... then I'm not even sure I would want to love someone so stupid!
I think I finally understand why they say that you "lose" your virginity. I always thought that was a dumb expression. It makes it sounded like your virginity was this special, sacred thing you were supposed to guard with your life. When to me... the fact that I'd never had sex was like... a flashing neon sign saying, "Ugly loser" hanging over my head. I was trying to "lose" it. Hell, for a couple of years there, I was trying to throw it at anyone who gave me a second look.
But now, I mean... I do feel like I have lost something. Not my purity or innocence or any of that... dogmatic bullshit. I've lost... the walls I built to protect myself from feeling... this. I've lost the ability to distance myself from the rest of the lowly humans... my position of self-deprecating superiority that let me live without hope for all those years...
I lost my isolation. I let you in. And I gave you the power to hurt me.
See, I want to be a cat. Because... most cats are very independent creatures. They can be domesticated, but, for the most part, they don't really act like pets as much as they act like caged predators. They fend for themselves. And sometimes, sometimes, when they want you to give them a little affection, they crawl into your lap, and they purr, and they let you pet them, and love them. And then, after a little while, they get sick of you, and they scratch you, and they jump up and they run away. Cats are fierce. Cats get what they need from you, and then they just move on.
I'm not a cat. I'm a dog. Dogs are not independent. Dogs love you, pretty much unconditionally. They are so loyal, it defies all logic. Dogs need you, and they let you know that they need you. They need you to love them. They cry when you leave in the morning, and they jump for joy when you come home at night. They always want your attention. They can't get enough of your love.
I don't want to be a dog. But I am. I think I always will be.
These monologues are from the full-length play Dogface by Kellie Powell. If you would like to read the entire play, you can purchase an electronic (PDF) copy of the script for $7.00.
Video Playlist - Watch other actors performing monologues from Dogface on YouTube. Post comments, or upload a video of your own to add to the list.
These monologues are brought to you by The Monologue Database and These Aren't My Shoes Productions.