You keep comin' up here with this lame country dream life with chickens and vegetables and I can't stand any of it.
Throughout the years Eddie has continuously presented May with the hope of fulfilling his dream of living together in their trailer. May has tried this life with Eddie and it never rises to Eddie's expectations. May sees the harsh reality within the fantasy of Eddie's dream. She would rather work hard, make an honest living, and prove her independence. May would rather have someone by her side whom she can trust will stay with her than have Eddie some of the time. Her dream is more concrete and reality driven whereas Eddie, who believes in the fantasy that he can have May and the Countess at the same time wants to believe that if May and Eddie just followed his dream, everything would work out well. Eddie left May alone the last time they lived in the trailer. Eddie sees the dream of subsistent farming as a fulfilling way to prove his manhood by providing for May. However, his fantasy is simply that. Eddie would not really be content living alone with May in the country.
I thought you were supposed to be a fantasist, right? Isn't that basically the deal with you? You dream things up. Isn't that true?
The Old Man sounds the way one might imagine Sam Shepard's own father asking him about his career. As a playwright and actor, Shepard took a very different path than his Air Force retired, and later, farmer father. Shepard's artistic path might be perceived as unpractical by his father's generation. The Old Man expresses this sentiment to Eddie. Perhaps the Old Man has been far away from Eddie for some time and has heard through word of mouth or by letter or phone call what Eddie has been up to lately. The only indication of Eddie's occupation is when May calls him a stuntman. Whether or not Eddie is indeed a stuntman or if that is just a name May calls him to describe his risk taking and love for rodeo and ranch activities is not important.
The Old Man describes Eddie as a "fantasist" that applies to Eddie in the way he lives his life and views the world. Eddie has a hard time living in reality. He enjoys living in the moment like when he decided to drive thousands of miles because he missed May's neck, but he cannot live with the truth. He denies his affair with the Countess even when she shows up at May's motel room. Eddie does not let the fact that he and May are siblings bother him or stop him in his pursuit of her as his lover. He also perceives his actions in the past with a silver lining instead of the way May sees them—as reprehensible and hurtful. Eddie says that lies are not lies if you believe in them. His perception of his life is an illusion. He decides for himself what is moral, what is true, and what is possible. This idealism is somewhat charming in Eddie, but also prevents him from facing his reality which includes the feelings of others including May.
I get sick every time you come around. Then I get sick when you leave. You're like a disease to me. Besides, you got no right being jealous of me after all the bullshit I've been through with you.
May cannot live with or without Eddie. She is caught in his cycle of abandonment and returning. She cannot completely let go of her feelings for Eddie because a part of her still desires him when he arrives. When Eddie leaves, May is devastated, hurt and angry. She knows she cannot transform Eddie into a committed man but she also knows she cannot find another man about whom she feels more passionate. Eddie effects May so much that he feels like something inside of her. She is consumed by his love when things between them are well and she is consumed by the emptiness when he leaves. She is trapped unless she makes a decision to never see Eddie anymore. This is a decision May has made to get over Eddie once and for all. She hopes this diminishing of her feelings for Eddie will allow her to be free from his control. When Eddie arrives at the beginning of the play May tries her hardest to push him away and to stay closed to her feelings for him. Eddie reopens a wound in May that she has worked so hard to heal. Eddie also hurts May by denying his affair with the Countess. On top of this denial, Eddie has the gall to be jealous of May for preparing to go on a first date. May's speech here represents the vicious cycle she and Eddie find themselves in. The sickness and disease similes and metaphors she uses reflect her feelings of self-disgust for herself and hatred for Eddie that is caused by his lack of commitment and the incestuous nature of their relationship. The back and forth power struggle that the play's structure of exits and entrances suggests and Eddie and May's conversations express are also summarized here in her paradoxical explanation of her feelings for Eddie.
And it turns out, there we were, standin' smack in the middle of a goddamn herd of cattle. Well, you never heard a baby pipe down so fast in your life.
The Old Man tells a story to May about a time when she was a baby. Because the Old Man's story takes place before May could possibly remember it, the story reveals some insight into May that she could not know herself. He tells the story to May when she is crying, overcome with the sadness of her torn emotions for Eddie. The Old Man seems to riff off of the idea of crying by telling her a story about one time when she cried as a baby and would not stop. Neither May's mother nor her father, the Old Man, could stop her from crying but a loud noise in the middle of a pitch black field that turns out to be the mooing of cows shut her up for the rest of their car trip. The Old Man takes great pleasure in telling May this story and enjoys this punch line so much it is as if he does not know the ending until he tells it. The comment about May piping down fast foreshadows her abrupt change in her disposition to Eddie. After crying all around the room during the Old Man's story, May abruptly stops crying when Eddie returns to the room from outside. The story reveals some compassion that the Old Man has and once had for May. It is probably the most fatherly he ever behaved toward her that she knows of. The story forms a bond in the audience's mind between May and the Old Man though at this point in the play the audience probably will not yet know the nature of their relationship.
Don't pretend you don't know her. That's the kind of car a countess drives. That's the kind of car I always pictured her in.
May chastises Eddie for lying to her about his affair with the Countess. When a black Mercedes Benz pulls up outside her motel room, May knows the woman sitting inside is the Countess—the woman Eddie's been sleeping with behind May's back. The grandeur and ostentatious model of the car inflates May's jealousy. Though Eddie will not admit to it and May ahs not spoken to the woman, May knows that the woman is the Countess though she does not have any concrete evidence. May uses her intuition and even her fantasy of the Countess as her proof. This way of concluding the matter by proving her suspicion from her imagination lends a dream-like quality to the play and a surreal, illusion filled quality to the scene. Many times we dream about things we are fixated on, for instance, a jealous reaction to something or someone might appear in our dreams. May has undoubtedly dreamed about the Countess who she suspects is dating her ex-lover, Eddie and in her dream or daydream the Countess drove the type of car she sees before her eyes. This causes the audience to perceive a blurred line between the reality and illusion of what is before them on stage.