(We open in front of the bandstand. Butch is dancing with Jane.)

Butch: (Nods at the bandstand) Someday, I'm going to be up there, leading my own band. This time, as an adult.

Jane: I know you will

Butch: I'll be like those guys, having my own local orchestra, and you'll run your own accounting firm. You'll have five men under you and your own male secretary.

Jane: *nuzzles him* Beautiful, isn't it?

Butch: Only if your secretary is one of those really old guys. (Grins and nuzzles her back) I'm glad you're not freaking out about...us. Chuck even thinks about Rachel, and he goes insane.

Jane: *Grins* Rachel was doing something similar. *shrugs* This has been the only time I've seen her frazzled.

Butch: Chuck's been frazzled ever since I came back, at least. I wish he'd calm down.

Jane: *Frowns* It's a shame. He seems like such a nice guy, and Rachel's really crazy about him.

Butch: He is a nice guy, and he's crazy about her. There just has to be a way to get him to be more comfortable around her. (Grins) Short of getting Sach to whip up some kind of potion. I don't trust those. He's blown up more things in our apartment than I can count.

Jane: I wouldn't want to do that to anyone. Isn't there anything you fellas can do for him?

Butch: I just want him to have a good time at this party. Vivianne was so nice to invite us.

Jane: Yeah, she was. She certainly didn't have to.

Butch: I wonder if getting them to talk to Vivianne again would help. She seems like a really nice lady, and Chuck likes her.

Jane: It couldn't hurt, I suppose.

Butch: (He and Jane go to Rachel and Chuck as the music ends; Butch puts a hand on Chuck's shoulder) Hey, buddy?

Chuck: *Almost seems to jump a little* Oh, hi, Butch.

Butch: Why don't we go pick up Slip Astaire and Sally Rogers and say "hi" to your friend Vivianne?

Chuck: Um, okay, sure.

Butch: (Frowns as they all go over to Slip and Sally) What's with you? You should be having the time of your life! You look like you're going to a funeral instead!

Chuck: I don't know...but you're right.

Butch: Why don't you just try to calm down and enjoy yourself?

Chuck: I've been telling myself that all evening. It isn't working.

Vivianne: Hello, boys! (She comes up with a trio of older women in fancy gowns) These are some of the foremost romance novelists in America today. (Nods at the women, all older) Muffy Collings, Christina Calderman, and Doris McAvoy!

Ms. McAvoy: Charmed, I'm sure.

Vivianne: This is the nice young man I told you about and his friends.

Chuck: *Forces a smile and a nod* Nice to meet all of you.

Miss Collings: The one who thought you were in love with him? (Vivianne elbows her)

Butch: You have a great musical act here!

Miss McAvoy: These men? I told Viv to get something classier, but no, she had to have swing music.

Vivianne: Doris, this band is very popular in this area.

Butch: I don't see anything wrong with this music.

Miss Collings: It's so...common. It's not good for the soul.

Butch: I've been playing this music since I was five!

Miss Calderman: (Turns to Chuck) What is it that you write?

Vivianne: He told me he's interested in writing romances and for local newspapers.

Miss Calderman: That's wonderful! It's rare to see a man writing romance at all, much less one of your age.

Miss McAvoy: You don't look like the type who would be writing romance, but I guess there's no accounting for anything these days.

Miss Calderman: How did you get started writing romance?

Chuck: Um, well, I...sorta wrote about what I wanted.

Miss McAvoy: What was it that you wanted?

Vivianne: He needed help getting started with his career.

Miss McAvoy: My dear boy, you could talk to any romance magazine or publishing house in the city! They know us!

Chuck: I, well, uh...

Miss McAvoy: What kind of romance do you write? Are you into historical, like the Regencies? Or do you prefer modern domestic stories?

Chuck: Uh...modern, I guess...

Vivianne: He's written some very sweet modern boy-girl stories.

Miss McAvoy: I hope it's nothing too sexual!

*Chuck pulls at his collar. Is it hot in here?*

Miss Collings: You don't write about...those sorts of things, do you?

*Chuck shakes his head, slightly.*

Miss McAvoy: Then you're a rare little boy indeed. And you were in the army, too! And you still find the time to write romance!

Chuck: *makes a face* Little boy?

Miss McAvoy: And you're so cute, too! Where did Vivianne find you?

Vivianne: A very nice little soda shop in the Bowery.

Miss Collings: (Makes a face) The Bowery? You got out of your car there?

Butch: Hey, watch how you talk about our home!

Chuck: There's nothing wrong with the Bowery.

Miss Collings: It's dirty, peopled with some of the lowest forms of life, and crime-ridden.

Rachel: We live there, and we do just fine.

Vivianne: Ladies, I was fine when I was there, and I met these nice boys. Nothing happened.

Chuck: That's right. I fixed her tire, and she went on her way.

Miss Collings: You fixed her tire?

Miss McAvoy: You're a bit small for that, aren't you?

Chuck: Why are you all so interested in judging me and us in general?

Vivianne: Oh, they're just making small talk. (Glares at Miss McAvoy, who is the one closest to her)

Miss McAvoy: If you're going to write romance, you need to...

Butch: Be like all of you?

Rachel: I'd rather eat that tire he fixed.

Miss Collings: Well, I never!

Vivianne: You know, they're right. I'm starting to get annoyed, and this is my party.

Chuck: Vivianne invited us. So what if we don't fit your mold? We're ten times better people than you'll ever be because we don't judge people on where they come from or what they look like!

Butch: That's right!

Rachel: You're a bunch of snots!

Jane: Yeah, you're horrible people!

Miss Collings: I thought you said he was a well-mannered child! I've never heard such rudeness!

Vivianne: Muffy, you're acting much worse.

Chuck: Only when I'm around other well-mannered people. You three seem to have brought out the Mahoney in me.

Sally: What's going on here? (She and Slip join them, carrying plates of food. Sach is behind Slip.)

Vivianne: Nothing. These ladies were just leaving.

Miss Collings: And whom are you two?

Sally: I'm Sally Dumbrowski. (She takes Slip's arm) This is my man.

Slip: An' yer infinitive is dangling.

Miss McAvoy: I don't think that's quite what you mean, Mr...

Sally: He's Mahoney.

Vivianne: (Grins) Ahh, the much-talked-about older brother.

Slip: So what we got goin' on here? Chuck looks about ready to implode.

Miss Collings: The word is "explode." And you'd be wise to teach your younger brother to mind your elders, boy.

Sally: Don't bother trying to correct his words. I've been doing it for years.

Vivianne: I think their accent is colorful.

Miss Calderman: It's vulgar.

Butch: These snoots are being rude!

Slip: You wanna see vulgar?

Miss Calderman: Not especially.

Slip: Oh, no, allow me. *slides his jacket off and gives it to Sally*

Sally: Slip, what are you doing?

Slip: Just hold that while I show her what vulgar is.

Butch: Oh boy. I think I know.

Chuck: *Nods slowly* Yeah. I definitely know.

Butch: (Mutters to Chuck) It's not too late to grab the girls and run.

*Slip starts to undo his belt and turns around.*

Sally: (Her eyes widen) I didn't know you wore boxer shorts that brief.

(Vivianne's eyes widen...then she puts a hand over her mouth to hide her smile.)

Chuck: *Rolls his eyes* Why me?

Miss Calderman: (Shocked) Oh, my god! Young man!

Butch: Can I borrow those tomorrow?

Rachel: (Mutters to Chuck) Is your butt that cute, too? And do you have boxers that are as cute as that?

Chuck: *Slight smirk* Mine's cuter. *realizes what he said and blushes*

Rachel: I have no doubt.

Miss Collings: These young men are insane!

Vivianne: No, I think they're just showing you what vulgar is.

Sally: (We see her lean over to Slip's off-camera rear) My god, that's so firm.

Slip: There's more where that came from.

Miss Collings: Well, I never! I'm going home. Vivianne, if you think I'm going to help this young reprobate and his obnoxious friends, you can forget it! (She flounces off)

Miss Calderman: That goes double for me!

Miss McAvoy: Oh my... (She leans over off-camera, then turns to Sally) It is very firm, isn't it?

Sally: One of the best in town.

Miss McAvoy: Maybe I could consider you as the cover model for my next book...

Miss Collings: (Off-camera) Doris!

Slip: I might take ya up on that offer.

*The camera shot opens back up as Slip refastens his belt.*

Miss McAvoy: Think it over. (Looks up) Coming, Muffy! (Hurries off-camera)

Sally: (Grins at Slip) I'd be the first one in line to buy that book.

Vivianne: And I'd be second.

Slip: *Smirks knowingly* Nice ta know I'm depreciated.

Chuck: I can't believe you did that, Slip.

Sach: Hey Chief, why did ya take your pants off? (Looks around) Is it time to take a nap yet?

Vivianne: He was proving a point.

Slip: Damn right.

Sach: (Hands Slip his plate) Oh, good. I want to take a nap. Night! (He lays down on the floor and closes his eyes))

Slip: Ya couldn't at least leave me with the good food?

Sally: (Sighs) Who wants to wake up Sleeping Ugly down there?

Rachel: Would that require kissing him?

Butch: God, I hope not.

Slip: I wouldn't do that ta nobody. *yells* SAAAAACH!

Sach: Night, Mommy... (Sticks his thumb in his mouth)

Slip: I'm gonna eat yer food, Sach.

Sach: (Jumps up) Don't eat all of it! Save me some!

Butch: That'll do it.

Slip: *Hands him the plate* Here.

Sach: Thank you! (He hands him an eclair) Want one? They're really good.

Slip: *Shrugs* Gimme one.

Sach: Sure! (He aims it like he's gonna throw it) Catch, Chief! Go long!

Slip: I'm open!

Sach: Ok Chief, here comes the forward pass! (He throws the eclair...but it misses him and hits Muffy Collings in the back of her spangled evening gown!)

Sach: Uh oh.

Slip: *Turns; his eyes widen* I think I got intercepted!

Sally: If you guys throw anything else...

Rachel: (As Muffy Collings storms over) I think we'd better get out of here. This party was a little boring anyway. (Grabs Chuck) Maybe we'd better find a place away from the action.

Chuck: *As she pulls him along* Rachel...

Miss Collings: (She storms over to Sach) Did you throw that eclair at me, young man?

Sach: Did I? (Looks at Slip) Didn't that eclair throw itself? It really wanted to get to know this lady.

Slip: It did throw itself. *grins like an angel sprouting devil horns* I saw it.

Miss Collings: Eclairs don't just throw themselves! You threw it!

Vivianne: Muffy, they didn't do it on purpose!

Sach: Wanna see it again? (He throws it again...and this time, it lands right in the punch bowl, splashing several guests, including Muffy.)

Sach: Hey! My eclair! (He goes right into the punch bowl and fishes around for it)

Slip: You fergot yer fishin' line, Sach!

Louie: Boys! (He runs over to them) What on Earth are you doing?

Sach: I lost my eclair in here!

Butch: I think Sach has the right idea. (He hits Muffy in the face with a petit four)

Louie: Boys, not here! I need to finish talking to those nice restaurant critics...

Marsha: As long as my dress doesn't get messy, it could be fun!

Vivianne: I needed to go to the bathroom, anyway. (She leans over Slip and says) You may begin the food fight sequence.

Slip: *Grins* Gladly. *throws another eclair at Miss Collings*

Miss Collings: (Screams as it hits her square in the face) You vulgar little brat! (Throws a dish of chocolate mousse at him)

Slip: *Wipes mousse from his face and tastes it* Not bad.

*We cut to a dark room...*

Chuck: Rachel? *uneasy* What...

Rachel: We're in a closet. I figured we could at least save our attire.

Chuck: A closet?

Rachel: Yeah. You know. Warm, dark, dry, and eclair-proof. I don't want custard all over this outfit. I borrowed it from a friend.

Chuck: Rachel... *one of his hands finds her waist*

Rachel: Yes?

Chuck: *Pulls her to him* I was afraid...

Rachel: Yeah. Me too.

Chuck: I'm still afraid...

Chuck: I don't...I just, I...

Rachel: So am I. I guess we're both afraid.

Chuck: I don't feel like I'm ready for...this, but my body seems to think otherwise. *pauses* I don't mean us, well, I do...sort of...

Rachel: I...I....that's kinda how I feel, too. I want it, but I know I'm not ready mentally.

Chuck: *Looks away* God, this is so frickin' confusing.

Rachel: I guess...love is confusing. If it wasn't, all those ladies out there and your friend Vivianne wouldn't have much to write about.

Chuck: *Still looking away* I can't write this stuff. I can't even live it.

Rachel: I can't, either. No one's perfect, Chuck. Even love.

Chuck: At least you know the right things to say.

Rachel: Not always. (Blushes) I...I...was worried about tonight, too. I didn't know how to, well, say that I'm ready to kiss but not to take anything off...

Chuck: Really? *finally looks at her*

Rachel: (Nods, her blush visible even in the dark) Yeah.

Chuck: *His fingers become lighter on her waist* Rachel... *his eyes search hers*

Rachel: Uh huh?

Chuck: I'm going to need a very long and very cold shower when I get home.

Rachel: Me too.

Chuck: Can I be honest?

Rachel: Uh, yeah.

Chuck: Rachel...I want you... *shakes his head* but neither of us is ready...

Rachel: I want you, too. But I'll wait.

Chuck: *Nods* Yeah... *leans in and kisses her gently*

Rachel: Oooh.... (Pulls him closer)

Chuck: Rachel... *nuzzles her* I think...we oughta...get outa here...

Rachel: Yeah...

(The two finally break apart and leave the closet, still blushing.)