Posted on May 22, 2012 at 2:42 am

The Schmuel Song

Their second Christmas together.
JAMIE hits a switch and the lights on “the Christmas tree” are illuminated.
JAMIE has a small gift-wrapped box in his hand.
He puts it out towards Catherine, then mischievously takes it back.

Ah!  First, a story.  New and unpublished. A little Christmas story.  I call it “The Story of Schmuel, Tailor of Klimovich.”  Merry Christmas.

He pulls a pad out of his back pocket – it is absolutely covered with scribbles
and would be completely indecipherable to anyone but Jamie himself.
He clears his throat melodramatically and begins to read.

Schmuel would work ‘til half-past ten at his tailor shop in Klimovich,
Get up at dawn and start again with the hems and pins and twist.
Forty-one years had come and gone at his tailor shop in Klimovich.
Watching the winters soldier on, there was one thing Schmuel missed.

“If I only had time,” old Schmuel said,
“I would build the dress that’s in my head,
A dress to fire
The mad desire
Of girls from here to Minsk,
But I have no more hours left to sew.”
Then the clock upon the wall began to glow…

And the clock said:
“Na na na na, na na na,
Oh Schmuel, you’ll get to be happy!
Na na na na, na na na,
I give you unlimited time!
Na na na na, na na na,
So Schmuel, go sew and be happy!”
But Schmuel said, “No, no, it’s not my lot –
I’ve gotta make do with the time I’ve got.”

Schmuel was done at half-past ten and he said, “Good night, old Klimovich,”
Put on his coat to go, but then the clock cried, “Wait!  Not yet!
Even though you’re not wise or rich, you’re the finest man in Klimovich!
Listen up, Schmuel – Make one stitch and you’ll see what you can get!”

But Schmuel said, “Clock, it’s much too late.
I’m at peace with life, I accept my fate…”
But the clock said, “Schmuel!
One stitch and you will
Unlock the dreams you’ve lost!”

So Schmuel, with reluctance, took his thread.
He pulled a bolt of velvet and he said:
“I should take out my teeth and go to bed,
I’m sitting here with talking clocks instead!”

And the clock said:
“Na na na na, na na na,
Oh Schmuel, you’ll get to be happy!
Na na na na, na na na,
I give you unlimited time!
Na na na na, na na na,
Just do it and you can be happy!”

So Schmuel put the thread through the needle’s eye
And the moon stared down from a starless sky,
And he pushed the thread through the velvet black
And he looked, and the clock was turning … back!

So he grabbed his shears and he cut some lace
As the hands moved left on the old clock’s face!
And his fingers flew and the fabric swirled –
It was nine-fifteen all around the world!

Ev’ry cut and stitch was a perfect fit,
As if God Himself were controlling it!
And Schmuel cried, through a rush of tears,
“Take me back!  Take me back all forty-one years!”

And on it went, down that silent street,
‘Til Schmuel’s dress was at last complete,
And he stretched his arms, and he closed his eyes,
And the morning sun finally started to rise.

And the dress he made on that endless night
Was a dress that would make any soul take flight!
Not a swatch, not a skein had gone to waste –
Ev’ry ribbon and button ideally placed,
And sewn into the seams
Were forty-one seasons of dreams
Dreams that you could feel
Coming real.

And that very dress, so the papers swore,
Was the dress a girl in Odessa wore
On the day she promised forevermore
To love a young man named Schmuel
Who only one day before
Had knocked at her kitchen door.

Finished with the story, he puts the pad back in his pocket and takes out the little box again.

Plenty have hoped and dreamed and prayed, but they can’t get out of Klimovich.
If Schmuel had been a cute Goyishe maid, he’d’ve looked a lot like you.
Maybe it’s just that you’re afraid to go out on to a limb-ovich.
Maybe your heart’s completely swayed, but your head can’t follow through.

But shouldn’t I want the world to see
The brilliant girl who inspires me?
Don’t you think that now’s a good time to be
The ambitious freak you are?
Say goodbye to wiping ashtrays at the bar!
Say hello to Cathy Hiatt, big-time star!
‘Cause I say:
Na na na na na na na na
Cathy, you get to be happy!
Na na na na na na na
I give you unlimited time!
Na na na na na na na
Stop temping and go and be happy!

He pulls a magazine and a business card from his back pocket.

Here’s a headshot guy and a new BackStage,
Where you’re right for something on ev’ry page –
Take a breath,
Take a step,
Take a chance…

And now he opens the top half of the little box and takes out a lovely watch.

Take your time.

Have I mentioned today
How lucky I am
To be in love with you?

The lights fade.