Dear Stage Directions to Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof,

Two years ago, my husband and I decided our son should take piano lessons. We told him that if he didn't like them he could quit when he turned 13. Well, his 13th birthday is coming up, and I think he is leaning towards quitting. Should we force him to continue despite our agreement?

—Perplexed in Portsmouth

Dear Perplexed,

(As the curtain rises, someone is taking a shower in the bathroom, the door of which is half open. A pretty young woman, Margaret, with anxious lines in her face, enters the bedroom and crosses stage left towards the bathroom door. When she talks, it's as if the tone of her voice has the inflection of a beautiful bird, a lilting cadence that evokes a sense of innocence, but masks her true motivations. She speaks…)

Dear Stage Directions to Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof,

Apartment hunting can be a real drag. My roommates and I are looking to move, but one of them, let's call him Mr. J, doesn't make as much money as the rest of us. His lack of income is really limiting our search. Maybe it's time to part ways?

—Apartment Hunting in Annapolis

Dear Apartment Hunting,

(Brick, cool and detached as ever, takes his crutch and hobbles stage right to the liquor cabinet and begins fixing himself another drink. Margaret, still sobbing from their previous argument, crosses to the room's oval mirror but not before briefly glancing at her husband, a quick look that conveys a sense of confusion, certainty, sadness, happiness, anticipation, loneliness, devotion, neediness, a look that suggests she is still young, but knows her youth is fleeting, a glance so strong yet so weak that Brick takes notice and yet at the same time doesn't take notice, a look that could only be given by a women who grew up poor, but yearns to be wealthy, a brief look, the gravity of which penetrates her character's dialogue in this scene and throughout the play. Brick remains aloof. He is very handsome, and possibly a homosexual.)

Dear Stage Directions to Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof,

My 10-year high school reunion is coming up—I'm sure you can see where this is headed. Anyway, part of me wants to see my old friends, but another part of me is worried that if I fly all the way back to Connecticut, people will think that I'm really desperate to reconnect, which I'm not. I'm thinking I should just wait till the 20th. HELP!

—Mixed Up in Montana

Dear Mixed Up,

(Act I ends as the sound of croquet mallets hitting croquet balls is heard below.)

Dear Stage Directions to Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof,

When I go out to a Chinese restaurant with my boyfriend, he insists that we get two separate dishes and split them. The problem is he doesn't like the entrée that I generally really want because it's too spicy. Sure, I could get them to make it mild, but why should I have to settle?

—Sharing Sharon

Dear Sharing,

(Act II begins as Act I ended with no lapse of time and the characters in the same stage positions)

MARGARET (to Brick, animated, overdramatic):

BRICK (to Margaret, cool, detached):

MARGARET (animated, more overdramatic):

BRICK (cool, detached):

(Silence for five beats then…)

MARGARET (animated, melodramatic):

Dear Stage Directions to Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof,

Because of the stock market's recent tumble, I am in a financial rut. Should I reinvest in mutual funds, or should I stay with my old stocks and wait it out?

–Financially Fazed in Florida

Dear Financially Fazed,

(Different characters enter and exit. All of them talk in excited southern accents that may only exist in my plays. Big Daddy enters. He is big and southern. He crosses upstage to his son, Brick. Big Daddy shoots everyone else on stage a look suggesting, "Get out of here. I want to talk to my son." Everyone immediately exits stage left because people are typically intimidated by a character named Big Daddy. He speaks…)

BIG DADDY (in a tone conveying that he thinks his son is a homosexual):

BRICK (in a tone knowing that his father wants to ask him if he is a homosexual):

(Curtain. End of Act II.)

Confidential to Dejected in Denver:

(As the final curtain slowly descends, Brick glances at Margaret, this time the look is very, very, very cool and very, very, very detached, for this is the veneer he has adopted due to years of being a repressed homosexual. Margaret, once again, looks out to the audience with her signature expression of wide-eyed, devilish enthusiasm, which is used to overly sell to theatergoers the point that she is actually quite cunning, and that her main goal has always been to inherit Big Daddy's fortune. Hopefully these themes of repression and greed were explored fascinatingly enough to sustain interest over a three-hour period. Also, Margaret is like a cat on a hot tin roof because she is sexually unfulfilled. Curtain. THE END.)

The stage directions from Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is a syndicated columnist whose weekly advice column, Ask The stage directions to Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, appears in more than 250 newspapers nationwide.