The play begins with Bill approaching Betty in a café, asking "Is this chair taken?" To which she replies "Yes." The bell rings and Bill repeats his question to which Betty says, "No, but I'm expecting somebody in a minute." The bell rings again, and Bill poses his question again. This process continues until Bill is finally allowed to take a seat. The bell acts as a buffer against all topics of conversation that are potentially negative to building their relationship, allowing them to try another line. By the end of the play, their initial differences in opinion (i.e. literature, movie tastes, romance) have reversed to become perfect companions. Both of them finally agree to fall in love and cherish the other forever.
Ives takes away any words or beliefs that could be offensive, whether they be sexist remarks or political affiliations. As with Bill's line:
- “I believe a man is what he is. (Bell) A person is what he is. (Bell) A person is ... what they are.”
As Martin Andrucki (Professor of Theater, Bates College) wrote: "In effect words create, and re-create, his [Bill] future as he goes along. Thus, language itself takes on the power to determine the lives of Bill and Betty."