Hannah Pitt walks through New York City, carrying her bags. She sees a homeless woman sitting in the street, and she asks Hannah if she can help her. Hannah explains that she’s arrived from Salt Lake City, and is trying to find Pineapple Street, Brooklyn. Hannah says that her son, Joe, was supposed to pick her up from the airport, but he didn’t show up. The woman tells Hannah that she’s in the Bronx, not Brooklyn.
Hannah Pitt’s outsider status in New York is obvious from the very beginning. She doesn’t even know what part of New York she’s standing in.
The homeless woman begins yelling at herself, saying, “Shut up!” She then makes grotesque slurping noises, and tells Hannah a strange joke about the Polish. She asks Hannah if she’s heard of Nostradamus, the prophet. Hannah angrily tells the homeless woman to stop and tell her how to get to Brooklyn. The woman pauses for a long time, then admits that she has no idea how to get to Brooklyn. She offers Hannah some soup.
Allusions to prophecies abound in this play—here, for example, the homeless woman mentions Nostradamus, who is famous for prophesizing things. The woman, like other characters in the play, seems insane or delusional on one level, but also strangely insightful and prophetic on another.
Hannah mentions that she’s trying to get to the Mormon Visitors’ Center in Manhattan. To her amazement, the homeless woman tells Hannah exactly how to get there—the woman goes there all the time. As Hannah walks away, the woman whispers, “In the new century, I think we will all be insane.”
The homeless woman’s parting words are chilling but also strangely exciting—we’ve been given so many different ideas of what the future looks like (conservative, liberal, hot, cold, crazy, sane), that these ideas are starting to blend together.