GK: The Inner Children's Theatre presents----the story of the Princess and the Pea!
GK: Once upon a time there was a man who had almost everything he ever wanted and yet he was sad. (ALL: Ohhhhhhhh)
TR: I have a beautiful glass home that has been featured in full-color in an architectural magazine. I own a luxury car, a 1997 Rotini, and it's equipped with its own juicer. I have a portfolio of blue-ribbon stocks that's appreciating like a house afire. I have a membership in public radio. And yet there is something missing --- an emptiness in my life. I wish --- I wish that I had a princess.
GK: A princess! Are you nuts?
TR: All my life I've wanted a princess!
GK: Have you ever gone shopping with a princess?
GK: You'll spend your life waiting. Have you ever gone to dinner with a princess?
GK: They order a salad and they spend the evening stealing food off your plate. Peasant women are so much more practical.
TR: No, thanks.
GK: Peasant women cook and clean and they never complain and they're not so long-legged so they can squat and pick potatoes more easily.
TR: I much prefer a princess.
GK: So he called up the princess agency----
TR: What do you have available in princesses? I'd like one with flaxen hair and a long nose and a neck like a swan and a beauty mark on her chin. (TK FEMALE VOICE ON OTHER END) Wonderful, send them over. (TK FEMALE VOICE ON OTHER END)
GK: And the next day, in came the first princess. Flaxen hair, long neck, beauty mark and all.
SS: Oh wow. Like cool. Love the house. Like, really. Nice car too. Far out.
TR: I'm sorry. Real princesses do not say "wow".
SS: They don't?
TR: No, they don't.
SS: Oh. Okay.
GK: And then in came the next princess.....
SS: Hi. I just want to say that I really really really appreciate your giving me this chance to talk to you about the possibility of my princessing for you, this is like a really wonderful wonderful opportunity for me, and if you choose me, I can tell you that--- what's wrong?
TR: A real princess does not fawn.
TR: No. They never fawn. Never truckle. Never cringe or beg. Sorry. (MUSIC)
GK: He was awfully sorry, the man who had almost everything he wanted. The agency had no more princesses to show him who had flaxen hair and a long nose and a neck like a swan and a beauty mark. And then one dark and stormy night (THUNDER, LIGHTNING), he heard a knock on his door (KNOCKS, SS PLEAS FOR HELP FROM OUTSIDE) and he opened it (DOOR CREAKING OPEN, THUNDER, LIGHTNING) and there was a young woman drenched, soaking wet, on the doorstep....
SS: Well? Invite me in!
TR: Please come in!
SS: That's better.
(FOOTSTEPS SQUISHING, DOOR CLOSE, DISTANT THUNDER. SQUISHING FOOTSTEPS)
GK: Her long flaxen hair was wet and water dripped from the end of her long nose and ran down her swanlike neck. And she had a beauty mark on her chin. She picked up the hem of her dress and wrung it out. (WATER POURING)
SS: I need two towels! very thick! all-cotton! no polyester! And a bathrobe! Blue, if possible.
TR: Yes, of course. I'll be right back. (FAST FOOTSTEPS)
SS: And tea! A pot of herbal tea! With no additives! (MUSIC)
GK: He brought her the towels and bathrobe.
SS: Turn around and close your eyes.
TR: Yes, of course. (WET PLOP OF DRESS HITTING FLOOR)
SS: All right!
GK: He turned around and she wore the bathrobe, a towel wrapped around her head, and she was looking at the tea.
SS: What a hideous teapot? where in the world did you get it?
TR: It was a gift from an old girlfriend.
SS: Oh dear. I'm afraid she didn't think much of you. And this china teacup? this from her too?
SS: Those stripes. It makes me nauseous just to look at it.
TR: Would you like a white one?
SS: Better. Yes.
TR: Good. (POURING TEA)
SS; Is that real herbal tea or does it only say "herbal" on the package?
TR: It's chamomile.
SS: Oh. Chamomile.
TR: You'd prefer something else?
SS: No, it's okay, I guess.
TR: Would you prefer mint?
SS: Do you have mint?
TR: Of course.
SS: Real mint?
SS: No additives?
TR: Absolutely not. Pure organic mint tea.
SS: Well, if it's not too much trouble----
TR: I'll be right back. (FOOTSTEPS OFF)
GK: She sat at the head of the table regal and handsome despite her wet hair----
SS: This bathrobe is driving me crazy, it's cotton, but it's a combed cotton polyester blend, do you have a 100% cotton bathrobe? white? unbleached? if it's not too much trouble?
TR (OFF): I think so, yes.
SS: And a rice cake would be nice---
TR (OFF): Coming right up----
SS: Whole rice? Non-dairy? Sodium-free? No glutens.
TR (OFF): I'll see what I can find---
SS: And before I can marry you, you'll have to throw all of those pillows away. They have goose down. I can't have goose down. I can only have pillows filled with the tail feathers of hummingbirds.
TR (OFF): Okay. I'll see what I can do.
SS: And I need to have the mattress elevated at the foot.
TR (OFF): Okay. Glad to do it.
SS: Put a pea under it.
TR (OFF): I'll get one right away.
GK: So she was a real princess and that was what he wanted. Because it's a man's goal in life to please a woman, of course, and if she's easy to please, then what sense of accomplishment do you get from that?
SS: This pea is too small. I need a bigger pea. My feet need to be elevated. This is a baby pea. I need a chick pea.
TR (OFF): Be right there, darling.
SS: And the mint in this tea--- I think it's from a plant that grew too close to the road. I taste dust on it.
TR (OFF): I'll get a new batch.
GK: But to please a princess: that is a task a man could devote a lifetime to.
TR: Are you happy, my love?
SS: I am almost happy.
TR: What can I do to make you completely happy?
SS: I don't know. Let me think.
TR: As soon as you think of it, tell me.
SS: I will. I will.
GK: We cannot coax someone to love us by being easy to be with.
Love has not much to do with things being easy.
SS: You know what would be so lovely in this tea?
TR: What is that?
SS: A thimbleful of cat's milk.
TR: Cat's milk? (CAT MEOW)
SS: Yes. Is that too much to ask?
TR: Certainly not. Here, kitty, kitty....(CAT MEOW)
SS: Before you do that, could you move the pea slightly to the left?
TR: Yes, of course.
SS: Just a little. ---No, the other way. ----A little more. ---- No, that's too much. (SHE CONTINUES)
GK: The Inner Children's Theater has presented....The Princess and the Pea. (TRUMPET FANFARE)
© 1997 by Garrison Keillor