Mariella Mosthof plays Becky in More Than a Four Letter Word's upcoming mainstage What "Flood" Means in Football. She was approached by RAL Productions to, in honor of Becky, who's an English MFA student, write a blog related to the festival's themes, and playwright Alex Rubin's works. Hopefully, she doesn't get fired.
MONKEY BUSINESS: Guest Post by Mariella Mosthof (Writer/Editor)
So, love in your 20s. It's tricky, yeah? Oftentimes, at this point, it's easier to recognize love by how much it hurts rather than by how good it makes you feel. And that trickiness is largely dismissed because it doesn't suck as hard as love in your teens or love in your 30s. I mean, I get it — I'm supposed to be reveling in my state of mid-20s flux, presumably more self-assured than I was in my teens, but still free of the responsibilities that marriage and babies will bring in my 30s. Right. But it still sucks. (Aren't you glad they picked me to write the love blog, you guys?!)
Relax; as firmly rooted as I am in my cynicism desire to skip the rest of my 20s and jump straight to 45, I do harbor a pool of romanticism deep in my belly. And that pool's source is hideously embarrassing. Luckily, discretion is not my forte, and I possess the ability, rather shamelessly, to wear my heart upon my sleeve for daws to peck at. (A ha! The real reason I was recruited comes out!)
So the pool's source: television. I confess, here on my knee, before high heaven and you that before you, and next unto high heaven, I focus each and every example of romantic love I experience through the lens of fictional TV relationships. To a lesser extent, movies and theater come into play (eg., I firmly believe that the only acceptable manner in which to ask for oral sex mid-foreplay is to quote Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Scene v, Line 103). BUT, typically it's TV relationships that I fall back upon.
Now, don't mistake what I use fictional romances for; by no means do I try to manipulate my relationship to make it fit within a fictional one while it's playing out in reality. Only the likes of such such foolhardy and deluded romantics as Dawson Leary would attempt such feats. No, I allow my relationship to play out between two real people, grappling with real scenarios, in the real world. But, in my unspeakably desperate need to find a sense of order post-breakup, often when there's no rationale or logic behind it in the first place (oh hai, 20s! Thanks for being a hot mess!), I'll use a fictional relationship to close my chapter.
Am I absolutely fucking neurotic and ridiculous? Of course I am. I'm a 24 year old actress living in New York who writes to pay the bills. Hi.
But it helps! Seeing my failed relationship mirrored in the heightened circumstances of a scripted drama helps me discover the truths I seek to find. And, the neat, tidy conclusions that a series finale by definition and necessitymust provide function as my crystal ball. Ross and Rachel were okay in the end. So it's not going to be the end of the world if I don't live in the adorable apartment with my best friend, raising my unconventionally conceived child with babydaddy who lives across the street. Sometimes, you wind up on the plane. And Ross winds up at JFK.
In my teen years, thanks to that blight on the mid-2000s known as The OC, all I wanted was a Seth Cohen. If only my future self could have appeared to inform my 15 year old self that, in five-to-seven years, I'd be living in Nihilist Mecca during The Hipster Golden Age, where Seth Cohens would run so rampantly that I'd find myself beyond bored with them before I hit 25. If only I knew during my obsessive teen pining that Seth Cohen would be the sensitive, artsy type I craved, sure, but also whiny and boring. Also, self, I'd say to myself, fair warning: those sensitive types provide universally vanilla sex, and you know yourself well enough by this point to know that's not going to be any fun for you. As much you want a gentle soul with whom to explore the world, once you've found one, the appeal of a domineering, corporate type will make itself so abundantly clear to you that you'll have no idea why you abhorred them so in the first place. For example, they have jobs, and thus, they can pay for stuff! Also, their high-powered career positions make them really good at calling the shots, so you won't have to feel like their mother. Yes, banjos and mountain man beards and gentle, androgynous vocals seem like a good idea now. But you're young and naive, self. Worry not; you'll learn.
Eventually, my pining gave way to something real. Real and totally the opposite of what I was pining for. In high school, I dated Tim Riggins for the briefest of moments (ie., as long as Tim Riggins relationships typically last). As a high school sophomore, he lacked the body that a fully developed Taylor Kitch boasted on Friday Night Lights, but, he was sexy enough that, if I had asked him to sarcastically snarl "Texas Forever" in a cowboy accent, I'm pretty sure I still would have become instantaneously pregnant.
Then, he cheated on my with my best friend, which, in hindsight, is a very Tim Riggins thing to do. But, at the time, it still crushed me with such force that I wouldn't entertain the idea of entering a serious relationship again for the next four years. I lacked Tyra Collette's rack body sex appeal wherewithal to bounce back.
However, some combination of bagging a Tim Riggins in high school, and subsequently closing myself off to relationships where I knew I wouldn't get back what I put in, resulted in an iron-clad self-assuredness (bordering on narcissism). Knowing that whatever I was bringing to the table, in terms of physical appearance, intelligence, humor, and other feminine wiles, was enough score me a Tim Riggins — even if only for a few months — bought me a college career free of insecurities and shitty self-image. And for that, having seen the way those hang-ups destroyed some of the women around me, I am grateful for Tim Riggins. That beautiful prick.
I'm not in high school anymore, but I still have a boy down the creek, and I sure as shit don't wanna wait for my life to be over OR to have to obliquely serenade him with "On My Own" in a beauty pageant to get him to see me.
After one particularly complex breakup, I marathoned Sex and the City, and spent a long time wrestling with whether my lost love was a broke Big or a just a shitty Steve. Then, Girls premiered on HBO and I realized that A — we were too young, and B — SATC was too dated for us to fit into Candace Bushnell's (stupid fucking) world.
My own personal conspiracy theory here is that Lena Dunham must also have dated this person, and then used him as inspiration for the character of Adam. There's simply no way any fictionalized person could otherwise resemble said ex in such spot-on a manner. I can't help but wonder sometimes if, since Girls exploded, he's been gleefully fucking his way through 20-something Brooklyn, making the fantasies of all the other ladies who fancy themselves Lena Dunham's soultwin come true. I bet Girls gets him mad laid. Good for him.
In another universe, there exists a Bobby to my Joanne — a quirky relationship as anomalous in my love life as a musical non-romance showing up in my TV pairings is.
You get the idea.
Alex Rubin's characters find this fictional romantic groundedness, too. Kathryn fancies herself the Imogen to Jacob Jr.'s Leonatus in First Love. And if What "Flood" Means In Football's Chaz and Becky aren't the Will and Grace of Generation Y, except without the heavy-handed name punning, then I don't know who is.
As satisfying as it is for an actor to fill the profane inner life of a character with imagined histories, spun from bits of one's own experience, mixed with something universally human and impossibly darker, oftentimes, my wounds are better lanced as a spectator. If you find yourself racing through your particular set of circumstances while pulled in a hundred different directions, I encourage you to sit through the chaos of What "Flood" Means in Football, (breathe through the panic), and recall how grounding love can be. If you're suffering a particularly nasty breakup and need to step away from your chick flick marathon, First Love will actually work to restore your faith in the power and simplicity of love. I won't disclose any nitty gritty spoilers, but rest assured that Alex by no means makes it easy in these two plays for her characters to love and be loved. She provides unbelievably fucking difficult circumstances, in fact. But life is the hard part. Love, when it's real, and when it's right, sees you through the shitstorm.
Tickets to More Than a Four Letter Word's mainstage productions, First Love, and What Flood Means In Football can be purchased here.
Mariella Mosthof is a contributing writer for Wetpaint Entertainment and Associate Editor of The Braiser.