The Cause of Hades' Problems
Some time ago I was working on an article about mint. That which makes ice cream so wonderful. It was late, very late. I was getting giddy and full of coffee. Out of the blue I was struck with the idea to write a short play about mint, the origins of mint actually. I think I posted it to our former website, FoodWeb, and let it rip.
I reprint it here because I just came across the file and reread it, found it humorous, and thought, “What the heck. I’ll put it up on Clean Slate Farm and see what happens.
The Story of Mint – A Greek Tragedy in One Act
- Hades, Lord of the Underworld
- Menthe, the beautiful sea-nymph
- Persephone, Hades’ wife and daughter of Demeter, Goddess of fruit and fertility
SCENE: The Greek garden of the Gods. A semi-circle of columns surrounds a fountain, which sprays a gentle stream of water up and into a small pool. A footpath leads to the garden from the left. The sky is blue and spotted with puffy summer clouds on a perfect Greek summer day. We see Hades and Pluto, sitting on marble benches to the right having a grand old time. We come into the middle of their conversation.
(As the curtain rises)
HADES: …so then I tell Mercury if he thinks he’s slowing down in his old age maybe he should get some new sneakers…Nike’s! (Both break out into hysterical laughter. Pluto falls off his seat.)
PLUTO: Oh man, you bust my gut Hades. Hey, hey, tell the one about Prometheus again, when he stole fire and hid it in the fennel plant.
(Getting up he wipes the tears from his eyes and looks across the path to see Menthe approaching. Nodding in her direction.)
Wow, talk about fire. What about that hot little Menthe? Did Persephone find out about you two yet?
HADES: (in a hushed tone) Hey, quiet will ya. She finds out it’ll be the last time I leave the underworld without crutches. Sneaking her away from Demeter sure wasn’t my brightest plan. Man, I though I was a goner that day. Can those two hold a grudge or what? Just clam up on this one. It’ll be sorted out in a few days anyway.
MENTHE: (Walking up the path snapping chewing gum and trying to hide a heavy New York accent with her best dreamy voice.)
Helloooo, Haaades. (Snap, snap goes the gum. Pluto rolls his eyes and silently whistles.)
What’cha up to honey pie? (Snap, snap. She sees Pluto and her voice turns curt and snotty.)
Oh. Hi Pluto. What’re YOU doing here?
HADES: (Nervously looking in all directions.) He-he. Er…Menthe, I thought you went to Mount Olympus with the Minotaur?
MENTHE: I missed my sweetie Hades. Besides, Minotaur is such a bully. He keeps stompin’ his feet and snortin’ at anyone who even looks at me cross-eyed. A girl can’t even get a drink with him around.
(All stop talking and turn toward the path as a very angry voice comes booming toward them. It’s an angry sounding Persephone.)
PERSEPHONE: (At the top of her lungs.) HADES, THERE’S GOING TO BE HELL TO PAY WHEN I GET MY HANDS ON YOU. I”LL TURN YOU OVER TO MY MOTHER YET AND YOU”RE AS GOOD AS MORTAL WHEN SHE GETS HOLD OF YOU THIS TIME.
HADES: (to Menthe) Oh, man! Am-scray baby! It’s Persephone and she’s not on the happy train. (Pluto gets up, beating a hasty retreat through the columns and brush. Hades yells for him to stop.) Hey, Pluto, where you going? Park it! (Menthe plops down on his lap and throws her arms around his neck.) No, no, not you honey, get off me!
(Sheepish, nervous grin on his face he stands quickly and dumps Menthe off his lap. Menthe stands up and steps behind him, peeking over his shoulder.)
PERSEPHONE: (Enters the garden and sees Hades trying to push Menthe away from himself, but she’s resisting.) I knew it. Just going to see Pluto are you? Is she another one of your girl friends? (In a mocking, sneering tone she looks at Menthe) Oh Pluto, what a lovely toga you’re wearing. Versace? Oh, and your hair. Who did your makeover? (Gesturing now) You little tramp…get away from him!
HADES: I can explain everything darling, really, Pluto just ran off to get Neptune. We’re going to play some pinochle. (Pauses and sees Persephone isn’t buying the story.) Menthe…uhhh…she just stopped by to take some drink orders, really. Ain’t that right Menthe? (Menthe tries to hide behind Hades but he keeps stepping away from her.)
PERSOPHONE: Sure, I see what you ordered? (Looking at Menthe.) I said get away from him you little weed. I should…as a matter of fact…(Persephone gets a wild look in her eyes. The sky darkens and electricity crackles in the air.)
HADES: (Visibly rattled and frantically looking between the darkening sky and at Persephone.) Honey, wait, don’t do anything rash now. Nothing has ever happened. She’s just a sweet little…ah, she’s just a kid, yeah, just a kid.
MENTHE: (Leeringly.) Yeah, I’m just a sweet little kid and I ain’t done nuthin’.
(Persephone points an outstretched finger at Menthe and Hades tries to intervene.)
HADES: (Pleadingly) Honeeey, be careful now. Think what your doing. Easy, be easy.
PERSEPHONE: That does it! Get away from her. I’m going to turn that stringy little wench into a weed. Take this! (A bolt of lighting like energy coils from Persephone’s fingertip turning Menthe into a low-growing plant that starts spreading across the garden at an alarming rate.)
HADES: (Face smudged with soot, hair askew and smoldering from stray bolts of energy he watches amazed as the plant, mint, spreads around his feet.) Hey! Wha’dja do that for? Look what ya did do to her.
PERSEPHONE: (Satisfied smile on her face.) There’s your sweet little Menthe you jerk. Go ahead, brush up against her. Smell that sweet fragrance? Every time you touch that plant you’ll be reminded of your sweet little Menthe!
(Persephone turns on her heels and saunters away leaving a stunned Hades watching the mint plant growing all around him and throughout the garden.)
Pick up some milk and bread on the way home or I’ll hand you over to Mother.
PLUTO: (Stifling his laughter Pluto cautiously enters the garden again.)Wow. That was close. I thought she was–oooooh, that’s a nice smell. What is it?
HADES: Hey Pluto, bag it will ya!
(Curtain closes. End of play.)