Water by the Spoonful

by

Quiara Alegría Hughes

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Orangutan is a member of the recovery forum, a 31-year-old Japanese American woman who has recently moved to Japan to teach English. Orangutan is fundamentally a passive individual—a self-described “looker,” rather than a participant in the world around her. However, after Orangutan moves to Japan and has three months of sobriety, she realizes that she is still isolated from anyone except the other members of the forum. Although she has had a consistent online friendship with Chutes&Ladders for three years, she discovers that online relationships are safe and anonymous and cannot take the place of actual human connection, which though risky, is also rewarding and fulfilling and gives life purpose. To this end, Orangutan asks Chutes&Ladders to come be with her in Japan. Although he is fearfully hesitant, he eventually joins her and they end the play locked in each other’s embrace, no longer alone in the world, presumably starting life anew in the company of another living breathing human being.

Orangutan / Madeleine Mays Quotes in Water by the Spoonful

The Water by the Spoonful quotes below are all either spoken by Orangutan / Madeleine Mays or refer to Orangutan / Madeleine Mays . 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 Six Quotes

ORANGUTAN: Everything in this country makes sense but me. The noodles in the soup makes sense. The woodpecker outside my window every evening? Completely logical. The girls getting out of school in their miniskirts and shy smiles? Perfectly natural. I’m floating. I’m a cloud. My existence is one sustained out-of-body experience. It doesn’t matter if I change my shoes, there’s not a pair I’ve ever been able to fill. I’m a baby in a basket on an endless river. Wherever I go I don’t make sense there.

Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

ORANGUTAN: Maybe we could hang out and have a relationship that has very little to do with crack or addiction or history. We could watch DVDs and microwave popcorn and take walks on the waterfront while we gossip about celebrities. It could be the land of the living.

CHUTES&LADDERS: Stay in the box. Keep things in their place. It’s a simple, effective recipe for ten clean years.

ORANGUTAN: Forget simple. I want a goddamn challenge.

Related Characters: Orangutan / Madeleine Mays (speaker), Chutes&Ladders / Clayton Wilkie (speaker)
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Eight Quotes

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 Nine Quotes

CHUTES&LADDERS: Live in the past, follow your ass.

ORANGUTAN: Don’t you have the slightest ambition?

CHUTES&LADDERS: Yes, and I achieve it every day: Don’t use and don’t hurt anyone. Two things I used to do on a daily basis. I don’t do them anymore. Done. Dream realized. No more dreaming.

Related Characters: Orangutan / Madeleine Mays (speaker), Chutes&Ladders / Clayton Wilkie (speaker)
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

ORANGUTAN: You mean, gasp, I’ll actually FEEL something?

CHUTES&LADDERS: What are you going to do if the address is wrong? What if the building’s been bulldozed? What if some other tenant lives there? What if the woman who gave you birth then gave you away answers the door?

ORANGUTAN: I DON’T KNOW! A concept you clearly avoid at all costs. Learn how to live, that’s all I’m goddamn trying to do!

Related Characters: Orangutan / Madeleine Mays (speaker), Chutes&Ladders / Clayton Wilkie (speaker)
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:
Scene Fifteen Quotes

CHUTES&LADDERS: I got sick on the flight. Totally embarrassing. I had a panic attack as the plane landed and I started tossing into the doggy bag right next to this nice old lady. I’ve been sitting on the bathroom floor emptying my stomach. Then I had to find a toothbrush and toothpaste and mouthwash because I didn’t want to greet you with bad breath and all.

Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:
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Orangutan / Madeleine Mays Character Timeline in Water by the Spoonful

The timeline below shows where the character Orangutan / Madeleine Mays 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
...as Haikumom. She writes a morning greeting and then composes a haiku about planting flowers. Orangutan logs on and announces, “Ninety-one days.” Chutes&Ladders also logs on, and both he and Haikumom... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
However, Orangutan tells them that she moved from Maine to Japan to take a teaching job and... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Orangutan mentions that from the Hokkaido café she sits in, she can see the ocean. When... (full context)
Scene Four
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Freedom, Identity, and Dissonance Theme Icon
Orangutan and Chutes&Ladders ruthlessly mock and ridicule Fountainhead’s introduction for its arrogance and half-hearted admission of... (full context)
Scene Six
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Orangutan and Chutes&Ladders are logged on to the forum. It’s past 2 a.m. for Orangutan and... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Although Orangutan has known Chutes&Ladders for three years on the forum, she asks him what he does... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
...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 already manic-depressive. Chutes&Ladders is... (full context)
Scene Eight
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
On the forum, Orangutan and Chutes&Ladders are talking as Chutes&Ladders works up the nerve to call his son. He... (full context)
Scene Nine
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Chutes&Ladders chats with Orangutan on the forum while talking to a woman on the phone from his work desk.... (full context)
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Orangutan is angry at Chutes&Ladders, having anticipated her trip and looked forward to sharing every detail... (full context)
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
However, Orangutan is still furious with Chutes&Ladders, calling him a coward who is afraid to live. When... (full context)
Scene Ten
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...a spoon, pouring the water onto the floor, spoonful by spoonful. At the same time, Orangutan stands on a Japanese train platform in Sapporo. Although the final boarding call comes over... (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... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
In Sapporo, a policeman shines a bright light at Orangutan lying on the floor and tells her she cannot sleep there and that she must... (full context)
Scene Thirteen
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
In the forum, Chutes&Ladders asks if anyone is online. Orangutan eventually answers; the first time she has shown herself in three days. She is depressed,... (full context)
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...emergency contact, so he is there with her. Nobody else has come to see her. Orangutan is floored, almost angry that she relapsed. Chutes&Ladders, however, tells Fountainhead that he has to... (full context)
Scene Fifteen
Substance Addiction Theme Icon
Internet Communities and Human Connection Theme Icon
In a Japanese airport, Orangutan sits alone on floor, dejected, and gets up to leave when Chutes&Ladders arrives with his... (full context)