Water by the Spoonful

by

Quiara Alegría Hughes

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Haikumom / Odessa Ortiz Character Analysis

Odessa is Elliot’s biological mom, though she is only 39. She is also Yaz’s aunt and Mami Ginny’s sister. Odessa is a North Philadelphia custodian who isolates herself from most of the world, save for an internet crack recovery forum, which she moderates and runs under the moniker “Haikumom,” occupying a gentle motherly role. Haikumom’s role as a mother is ironic: After her crack addiction caused her to be so negligent as to cause her own daughter’s death, Odessa gave up Elliot and has been largely estranged from him for over a decade. Odessa was addicted to crack for seven years and has been clean for six, until Elliot takes her computer and tells John (another member of the recovery forum) about her daughter’s death, sending her into such a depressive spiral that she relapses and overdoses, nearly killing herself. Estranged from her family, Odessa lists John as her emergency contact and he becomes her caretaker after she is discharged from the hospital, thus ending the play in a weakened, humbled state—but also in the physical company of another human being, which she has not had for many years. Odessa serves primarily to show the destructive impacts of substance addiction on oneself as well as the people around them, especially children.

Haikumom / Odessa Ortiz Quotes in Water by the Spoonful

The Water by the Spoonful quotes below are all either spoken by Haikumom / Odessa Ortiz or refer to Haikumom / Odessa Ortiz . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Theatre Communications Group edition of Water by the Spoonful published in 2017.
Scene Two Quotes

ORANGUTAN: The ocean reminds me of Maine. Cold water, very quiet, fisherman, boats, the breeze. I wouldn’t try swimming. I was never one to actually have an experience.

Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Four Quotes

HAIKUMOM: So unless someone gets that desperate they don’t deserve our noble company? “Suffer like me, or you ain’t legit?”

ORANGUTAN: Haikumom’s growing claws.

HAIKUMOM: Just don’t act entitled because you got so low.

Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Seven Quotes

JOHN: I lied in my first post. I’ve been smoking crack for two years. I’ve tried quitting hundreds of times. Day two? Please, I’m in the seven-hundredth day of hell.

ODESSA: You got it out of your system. Most people lie at one time or another on the site. The good news is, two years in, there’s still time.

Related Characters: Haikumom / Odessa Ortiz (speaker), Fountainhead / John (speaker)
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Eight Quotes

ELLIOT: Let’s not act like this is some heroic sacrifice. Like this makes her the world’s martyr.

YAZ: We’re not going to get more than fifteen bucks for it.

ELLIOT: Symbols matter, Yaz. This isn’t about the money. This is shaking hands. This is tipping your hat. This is holding the door open. This is the bare minimum. The least effort possible to earn the label “person.”

Related Characters: Elliot Ortiz (speaker), Yaz / Yazmin Ortiz (speaker), Haikumom / Odessa Ortiz
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

YAZ: Why wouldn’t you ask me for help? Why would you deal with that alone?

ELLIOT: The opposite of alone. I seen barracks that looked like dope houses. It was four months in my life, it’s over. We’ve chopped up a lot of shit together, Yaz, but we ain’t gonna chop this up. This shit stays in the vault. You got me?

YAZ: No!

ELLIOT: Yaz. Please. Please.

Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Twelve Quotes

ELLIOT: Titi, Odessa fucking OD’d and she’s dying on her living room floor and I can’t take this anymore! COME GET US before I walk off and leave her on the sofa.

YAZ: If you need to, go. No guilt. I got this.

ELLIOT: She’s my mom. Can I be angry? Can you let me be angry?

Related Characters: Elliot Ortiz (speaker), Yaz / Yazmin Ortiz (speaker), Haikumom / Odessa Ortiz
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Thirteen Quotes

CHUTES&LADDERS: Why are you there? Were you using with her?

FOUNTAINHEAD: No.

CHUTES&LADDERS: Did you sell her the stuff?

FOUNTAINHEAD: No, Jesus, of course not. She gave them my number. I’m her emergency contact. Why, I have no idea, we’re practically strangers.

Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Fourteen Quotes

YAZ: […] I wrote a list [of achievements] on a piece of paper and dug a hole in Fairmount Park and put it in the ground and said, “When I turn thirty, I’ll dig it up and cross it all off.” And I promise you I’ll never have the courage to go to that spot with a shovel and face my list full of crumbs, decoys, and bandaids.

Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Fifteen Quotes

ELLIOT: I wanted Mami Odessa to relapse, Yaz. I wanted her to pick up that needle. I knew precisely what to do, what buttons to push, I engineered that shit, I might as well have pushed the thing into her vein. Because I thought, Why would God take the good one? Yo, take the bad mom instead! I was like, Why wouldn’t you take the bad fucking mom? If I stay in Philly, I’m gonna turn into it. I’m gonna become one of them. I’m already hallway there. You’ve got armor, you’ve got ideas, but I don’t.

YAZ: Go. Go and don’t you ever, ever look back.

Related Characters: Elliot Ortiz (speaker), Yaz / Yazmin Ortiz (speaker), Haikumom / Odessa Ortiz
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Water by the Spoonful LitChart as a printable PDF.
Water by the Spoonful PDF

Haikumom / Odessa Ortiz Character Timeline in Water by the Spoonful

The timeline below shows where the character Haikumom / Odessa Ortiz appears in Water by the Spoonful. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Scene Two
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Odessa sits in her apartment making coffee, computer on. On a screen, the audience sees that... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...mentions that from the Hokkaido café she sits in, she can see the ocean. When Haikumom asks if she ever goes swimming, Orangutan answers, “I’m just a looker. I was never... (full context)
Scene Four
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
...its arrogance and half-hearted admission of using crack buried amongst his list of personal accomplishments. Haikumom tries to hold the other two members back and censor their frequent. She offers a... (full context)
Scene Five
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...blew off some steam at a boxing gym before showing up. When Yaz asks if Odessa has called him yet, Elliot answers that she keeps herself shut away from the rest... (full context)
Scene Six
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Haikumom appears on the forum and tells Chutes&Ladders that all Orangutan is asking for is to... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
...he broke down and smoked crack in his car. He’s disappointed by his failure, and Haikumom is sympathetic. However, Orangutan tells him he needs to tell his wife even though she’s... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...distance away, watching him, repeating the same Arabic phrase. As the forum members are chatting, Haikumom sees a picture of Mami Ginny, her sister. At first she is excited, until she... (full context)
Scene Seven
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
Odessa and John (Fountainhead) sit together in-person in a café booth, chatting about religion, family, addiction.... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Odessa tells John about several therapy and rehab options until John admits that he lied in... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Yaz and Elliot enter and find Odessa, whom Elliot reveals to be his biological mom, though he was raised by Mami Ginny.... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
However, before John can leave, Elliot asks if he knows what happened to Odessa’s daughter. Odessa is pained and angry, but resigned to what is about to happen. Yaz... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Despite how sick Elliot is, Odessa’s tenderness and the attention she is paying his sister and him feel wonderful. He loves... (full context)
Scene Eight
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...off. Orangutan is annoyed that he jumped off the forum so quickly and asks if Haikumom is online yet. (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
In Odessa’s living room, Elliot and Yaz look at Odessa’s “stone age” computer. Yaz remarks that the... (full context)
Scene Eleven
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Chutes&Ladders sits in his office with the water wing Haikumom sent sitting on his desk in front of him, inflated. He speaks to someone on... (full context)
Scene Twelve
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Orangutan lies asleep on the train platform in Sapporo. At Odessa’s house, Yaz and Elliot yell for her outside her locked door. When she does not... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...her that she needs to hurry and get here before he walks away and leaves Odessa to die on the couch. Yaz tells Elliot he can leave if he needs to,... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
...and tells her she cannot sleep there and that she must leave. Orangutan complies. In Odessa’s house, as Yaz is sitting with her body, that same beaming light shines down from... (full context)
Scene Thirteen
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...in the forum, saying that he is on a hospital computer, and tells them that Haikumom overdosed. Although he is not certain why, Odessa listed Fountainhead as her emergency contact, so... (full context)
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
...one of his recovery still, but finally agrees. Before he logs off, he mentions that Haikumom, while she was briefly awake, asked that someone else take over as the forum’s administrator.... (full context)
Scene Fourteen
Family Theme Icon
Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
...Freedom&Noise and asking if they will let her be the new administrator in place of Haikumom. She admits that she does not have any drug history or experience with chat rooms,... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
Elliot thinks those goals sound okay, but Yaz denies it, especially compared to what Odessa did for other addicts and Ginny did for their community. She wasn’t around to stop... (full context)
Scene Fifteen
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
In Odessa’s bathroom, John gently helps her bathe, lifting each arm to sponge her off. Odessa is... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
Elliot confesses to Yaz that he wanted Odessa to relapse and overdose, and that he knew exactly which buttons to press to overwhelm... (full context)