The Importance of Being in Smallville.

by LaCasta

Feedback? Oh, yes, please?

A/N: All profuse apologies to Oscar Wilde, whom I hope would graciously forgive both my borrowing and the final pairing. Lines stolen directly from Wilde (or adapted) are noted with a double hash mark--they're also probably distinguishable by being better than all the rest!


The Importance of Being in Smallville

Lord Lex: [to himself] A corporate takeover is the most exquisite pleasure there is; it satisfies, and yet leaves you craving more. ##

Clark: [enters, perturbed] Lex, I've ruined my life.

Lex: Nonsense, that's what parents are for.

Clark: No, I mean it! I've just asked both Chloe and Lana to the prom.

Lex: Oh, delightful!

Clark: No, don't you understand? This is the end of my life! They'll both hate me now.

Lex: To be hated by a beautiful woman is, on the whole, far more satisfactory than being loved by one.

Clark: Don't you believe in love?

Lex: I believe in the tooth fairy, since there was some hint of solid evidence in that a tooth disappeared and a gift certificate for seven thousand dollars at Neiman Marcus appeared. As for love, the same evidence, however flimsy, does not exist.

Clark: [sighs] Sometimes I think you believe what you say.

Lex: [shocked] Clark, I thought you knew me better than to assume that anybody as clever as I would believe what I say.

Clark: Is that another of your paradoxes? But I really can't argue paradoxes with you now, I have to find out how to get out of this mess!

Lex: Why? This way, both of them will be unattainable when they discover the situation, and the unattainable is always more attractive than the attainable. That is the secret of a good marriage, never to be attainable to one's spouse, but attainable to all other spouses.

Clark: But I don't want to hurt either of their feelings?

Lex: Women get an exquisite pleasure out of having their feelings hurt; they enjoy forgiveness more than an Inquisitor enjoyed torturing, doubtless because women have fewer human feelings.

Clark: Are you going to spout witticisms or are you going to help me?

Lex: Any fool can help, but it takes rare talent to spout witticisms without appearing like a gushing fountain pen, leaving blots in the most unseemly places.

Clark: Then what am I to do?

Lex: [smiles] Leave it all to me.

Act One

A dress shop in Smallville.

[Lana is carrying an armful of dresses to a fitting room. Chloe enters, somewhat furtively.]

Chloe: Pink! Pink! Pink! Nothing but pink!

Sales clerk: There's baby blue and black.

Chloe: Perhaps the dress industry has failed to grasp the fact that while immature behavior takes place on prom night, it is a bit too subtle to dress the female participants in clothing whose colors are more suited to infants. As for black, those dresses have enough ruffles and frou-frous to suggest Charles Addams' wedding cake visiting the set of Gone with the Wind. This one [pointing] is shedding its beads so quickly that comparisons to rats leaving sinking ships are inevitable.

Lana: [returns from fitting room, looks at self in mirror, turns around and sees Chloe] Oh, hi, Chloe! Isn't it hard to choose?

Chloe: Positively excruciating.

Lana: How does this one look?

Chloe: They call them spaghetti straps, but I'd call them angel-hair pasta. It looks as though the dress wanted to be strapless but chickened out at the last minute.

Lana: There was another one I liked, could you tell me what you think? Just a second.

Chloe: [as Lana disappears] Channeling Nostradamus to get an idea of the color.

Lana: [returning] How's this?

Chloe: Hmm. Isn't lavendar a bit too daring and innovative?

Lana: You think so?

Chloe: Just a little.

Lana: [idly, as she looks in the mirror] So, are you and Pete excited?

Chloe: Yeah. He's taking Erica Fox.

Lana: Oh, I thought you were going with him.

Chloe: No, I'm going with Clark.

Lana: [thinks for a moment, then laughs] You had me going there for a moment. No, really, who are you going with?

Chloe: Huh? I'm going with Clark. He asked me just yesterday.

Lana: He asked me the day before yesterday. You must have made some kind of mistake.

Chloe: Well, obviously he changed his mind. Sorry, Lana, but don't despair. The math team is getting out now, you might hang around them and look alluring, almost none of them have dates, so your chances are...well, not bad.

Lana: Poor Clark, he tries so hard to be nice to people he's sorry for. He probably just asked if you were going. Chloe, I do hope you'll get over your disappointment soon, oh, in a few years.

Chloe: Lana, it is so like you to be...worried about me. Alarmed, even. But unless he was trying to share my gum while I was using it, if you follow my meaning, he was fairly intent on going with me. He probably asked you to get up the courage to ask me, and was horrified when you accepted.

Lana: Horrified was not the word that I would choose for his reaction, unless I were, say, a newspaper editor with a shaky grasp of vocabulary aside from synonyms for the word "weird."

Chloe: Speaking of weird, did you know that a team of archaeologists wrote asking if there were lost civilizations under your makeup?

Lana: That's a horrible thing to say to a girl who lost her parents.

Chloe: To lose one parent is misfortune, to lose both seems a sign of carelessness. ##

Lana: [recovering after a moment] I am known for the gentleness of my disposition and the extraordinary sweetness of my nature##, so I can understand that since you have so many misfortunes in your face, figure, and social standing, you feel a need to attack my single misfortune.

Chloe: Single is precisely the word for your misfortune, Lana, dear, as I am going to the prom with Clark.

Lana: Your strange flights of imagination are becoming more and more delusional, which suggests that your choice of a career in journalism is appropriate.

Sales clerk: Are you ladies finding everything you need?

Chloe: Lana is taking this lavendar dress in a...size...oh, sixteen should do it.

Lana: Chloe won't be taking anything today, in quite a break with her usual habits.

Chloe: Your attempts at wit make your father seem to surpass Oscar Wilde.

Lana: Wait. I see Clark. He presumably has at least a voice, if not a final decision, in the matter.

[Both Chloe and Lana go to the doorway.]

Chloe: How extraordinary. It's as though he's avoiding you.

Lana: Or perhaps he finally realized that you fail to grasp the difference between a perfume and a marinade, something he could do from quite a distance.

[They go out and return a moment later.]

Lana: I suggest that we forget our many differences, particularly those of relative beauty, charm, and wit, as they are all in my favor, track Clark down, and demand an explanation.

Chloe: Though I find your company as distasteful as any rational being would, I agree. [They leave.]

Act Three

Lex and Clark, outside, conversing

Lex: My dear Clark, the truth isn't quite the sort of thing one tells to a sweet girl or to an intelligent one.## The sweet girl would be appalled and the intelligent one dubious, at best. The truth is to be preserved for those rare occasions when all else has failed.

Clark: But I saw them both in the dress shop as I passed by. They were conversing and smiling so nicely at one another that even I knew that something terrible was happening.

Lex: Ah, yes, that smile that serves as the equivalent of a rattlesnake's rattle, warning that something sharp and venomous is about to happen. The business equivalent is a hearty handshake and a sincere look in the eyes.

Clark: How can you talk about it so calmly? Do you have a plan?

Lex: Oddly enough, Sun-Tsu, Lives of the Caesars, and Machiavelli are equally inappropriate. Remarkably few instances of inviting two opponents to a war and explaining that one is unintentional. [pauses] Clark, have you even decided which one you would like to take?

Clark: [long, uncomfortable silence] Uhm, I thought, uhm, whichever one...

Lex: [aside] If he ever asks me to find his biological parents, I'll begin with investigating Mormons.

Lex: So you haven't decided.

Clark: I didn't think it quite the gentlemanly thing to do.

Lex: No, but it might they come.

Clark: Lex, for pity's sake, stop looking so entertained and run!

Lex: Run? I'd hardly do such a sartorially unbecoming thing. Besides, a fleeing victim always arouses the predator's most excited instincts.

Clark: Did you have to use those words? [groans as Chloe and Lana arrive]

Chloe: [aside] I've seen headlines with smaller type than the word "Guilty" on his face.

Lana: [aside] Why, he's positively petrified. I do hope maternal feelings are not fashionable because I'm feeling absolutely none.

Clark: Uhm. Hi. What's up?

Chloe: I think the rat population in Smallville is up. By one. But a remarkably large rat.

Clark: Oh, really? Did you put it on the Wall of Weird? [gets her point] Oh.

Chloe: I'm considering nailing it there.

Lana: Now is it true that you asked both of us to the prom?

Clark: Er.

Lex: He certainly did.

Lana: [turning to Chloe, with sincere sympathy] Oh, poor Chloe, how could he do that to you?

Chloe: [similarly] I can't believe somebody would be that heartless towards you! [they embrace]

Lex: [aside] Oh, dear. True friendship can be profoundly tiresome at times. Honestly, it calls for as much sacrifice as paying bills does. [clears his throat] His intentions were good.

Chloe: Ah, so the Kents are contracting the pavement of the path to Hell?

Lex: [looks puzzled] I believe my father has exclusives on anything to do with...oh, I beg your pardon, you were being facetious. No, in fact, he was aware that I am currently without feminine companionship, despite all my remarkable qualities. He decided that he would extend an invitation on my behalf but without telling anybody until the last moment. He told me only now.

Clark: [gaping] I did? I mean, I did that. Anything to help a friend.

Chloe and Lana: How sweet of you, Clark! [both embrace him, and then both embrace Lex. When they realize the latter, they look bewildered while Clark, who was at first beaming, is now sulking.]

Lex: [aside] What a shame that my mantra is "women"--the thought is not at all soothing at this moment.

Chloe and Lana: [simultaneously] But which one of us?

Chloe: [sees Clark reach into his pocket] Don't you dare flip a coin!

Clark: I...I wouldn't! I...I wanted to give you the tickets now. [all watch as he digs through his wallet. He pulls out two tickets, regards them sadly, and hesitates. Tension builds. He finally hands both to Lex.]

Lex: [aside] While I've been accused of narcissism, it would be beyond even my powers of eccentricity to go as my own date. [smiles maliciously, hands a ticket back to Clark] You do the honors.

Clark: I couldn't possibly. I'm notably diffident, modest, and shy. All my admirers say so.

Lex: So did Gilbert and Sullivan. [A/N: The phrase "diffident, modest, and shy" is from Gilber and Sullivan's Ruddigore. They just hopped nicely into place and I didn't have the heart to kick them out.]

Lana: I agree with Chloe that it would be grossly rude for Clark to toss a coin. I suggest, then...

Chloe: that we do. [Lana provides one.] Heads, Lana goes with Clark, tails, Lana goes with Lex. [she tosses it into the air. All four hold their breath.] It went into the gutter. Bad omen.

Clark: I hate it when there's foreshadowing. It seems so...

Lex: obvious?

Chloe: Well, it's obvious that this won't settle things but will instead further unsettle our nerves. I suggest instead that we use blindfolds.

Lex: [happily] I do have several, including rare Guatemalan Silver-Crested Lizard leather. [the others share looks]

Chloe: [repressively] Not even before a first date. Perhaps if we just close our eyes and grope. [even more repressively as Lex smirks] Not like that.

Lex: I do believe that the school curriculum here is tailored to say "Just say no to Lex Luthor." But very well.

Lana: All right.

Clark: Okay. [All close their eyes--somewhat. Much covert checking to see if others are peeking. Each person avoids getting caught. Clark tries to demonstrate how well he is keeping his eyes close by grabbing a lampost] My, you've lost weight...oh, sorry, I was talking to the lampost, which I stumbled into while keeping my eyes firmly closed. [Lana begins to look increasingly exasperated in a sweet and perky fashion. She manoeuvers herself behind Chloe and shoves her into Lex, then firmly grabs Clark.]

Lana: Do we each have somebody? [sounds of agreement] Then let's open our eyes. Clark! What a surprise!

Lex: Chloe! Just what I was hoping for!

Chloe: Lex! Just what I was hoping for!

Clark: Lana! Just what I was hoping for!

The end

Audience: Just what we were hoping for!

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