GK: .....coming up later on many of these same public radio stations, it's....(PIANO CHORDS)
TR (ADENOIDAL ANNOUNCER): American Family Reunion.....
GK: The show that reunites family members who've been separated for many years.
TK (WEEPING): Wendy....my little Wendy...
SS (STUFFED UP GIRL): Hi Daddy....
TK (WEEPING): Daddy's missed you so much. (NOSE HONK)
SS: Hey. Cool.
GK: Tonight on American Family Reunion....a brother and sister who were separated thirty-six years ago when the family had stopped at a gas station to use the rest room and the parents asked the sister if her brother was in the back seat and she said yes and so they drove away and left him there in the Phillips 66 in Wahoo, Nebraska ---- Tammy and Tommy WILDEBEEMER! (FANFARE)
TR: Hi, Sis.
SS (WEEPY): Oh Tom----- it's so fantastic to see you---- you look wonderful---- Oh Tom---- are you okay? You look fantastic. I love you, Tommy. I love you so much. I'm sorry---- I'm getting your shirt front all wet. I've felt so terrible all these years. So guilty. I kept hoping I'd meet you. Are you okay? You look great. Are you okay? I'm so sorry. I've gone through such guilt from this. All these years, I hoped that somehow we'd meet again ---- that's all I prayed for ---- to see you again ----- I've looked everywhere---- where did you go, Tom?
TR: You didn't bother looking in Wahoo, Nebraska, that's for sure.
SS: You're still there? in Nebraska?
TR: Got a job at the Phillips 66 station. Been pumping gas for thirty years. Never married. Never made friends. Live out back in a camper. Just me and my dog. He's the only one I've ever been able to trust.
SS: Oh Tom----how can I ever make it up to you?
TR: I don't know.....Give it your best shot. (MUSIC)
GK: Also tonight.....the reunion of Sheilah and Sheldon Davis, who haven't seen each other in twenty-six years since their bitter divorce in East Orange, N.J.
SS: You're kidding. Him? Hatchet Head?
TR: Hi Sheilah. What a thrill, huh?
SS: This is some kind of cruel joke.
TR: Think of how I feel.
SS: You? Feel? Ha.
TR: Haven't changed much, have you.
SS: What am I supposed to do? Smile and jump up and down?
TR: I wouldn't do that if I were you. Your facelift might come loose.
SS: Get him out of here!------ (THEY STRUGGLE, THEY SLAP EACH OTHER) (MUSIC)
GK: That's American Family Reunion.....tonight on many of these public radio stations....heartwarming stories of family ties that years of separation could not break.....such as 28-year-old Buddy who hasn't seen his Mom since he was 6 and he ran away from home and took up a life of crime. You may remember Buddy as the older brother of the famous Iowa septuplets----
TR: I hope they're not here, are they?
GK: They're not here, Buddy.
TR: Better not be. If I see seven people in identical outfits come through that curtain, I'm gonna hurl my lunch, I mean it.
GK: Your famous septuplet siblings are not here, Buddy ---- but your Mom is---- how about giving her a big hug, huh?
(WOMAN'S FOOTSTEPS APPROACH AND STOP)
SS: Hi Buddy. We missed you.
TR: Ha! Real funny, Ma. You missing me. It'd be like the Barnum & Bailey Circus missing an usher.
SS: I'm sorry if you felt overlooked in our family, Buddy.
TR: Oh sure. Right.
GK: You seem a little bitter, Buddy.
TR: You ever have septuplets born in your family, mister?
GK: No, but I can imagine it's hard.
TR: Hard. Listen to him. You're a kid in a little Iowa town, and the next thing you know your mother is as big as a garage and she goes away for a few weeks and nobody tells you a thing and when she comes home, she's got seven screaming monsters in her arms, and five-hundred reporters and TV crews camped on the lawn--- and your home is like a feed lot operation, people rushing around to feed em and clean em and you're standing there like the trombonist in the Juilliard String Quartet, non-existent--- so you run away and become a skinhead and get tattoos all over and you knock over gas stations and fill up your truck with semi-automatic weapons and you join the White Aryan Nation in northern Idaho.
GK: Well, I'm sure you and your Mom have a lot to talk about, Buddy.
TR: I want to talk about how the United Nations is infiltrating our society through these genetically-engineered multiple births, that's what I want to talk about-----
GK: So we'll let you go off and have some quality time alone, and that's all coming up tonight on----
TR (ANNOUNCER): AMERICAN FAMILY REUNION. GK: On many of these public radio stations. (MUSIC OFF)
© 1997 Garrison Keillor