(WESTERN THEME, W. CATTLE, WHOOPING, AND FADE FOR.....)
DD (ANNC): THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS.....brought to you by Chapparal Brand Short Starch.....When you're feeling tired in the saddle, maybe you're suffering from saggy shorts ---- time to put some starch in them with Chapparal (SPRAY, WHINNY, TK: MANLY CHUCKLE). ----Dusty and Lefty, on the run from the law, have made their way, as so many fugitives do, to the city of New York, and as we rejoin our heroes, we find them in the men's room of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue. (WATER, WASHING OF HANDS, REVERB IN MARBLE-LINED ROOM......DUSTY AND LEFTY AT SINKS, COMBING, ARRANGING THEMSELVES)
GK: Put more water on your hair. It's sticking up in back.
TR: It looks dumb like this. GK: And comb your eyebrows up so they're bushier. And here---- (RUSTLE OF TINY SLIPS OF PAPER) stick these slips of paper in your pocket. There. Maybe a few more of em. And put the pencil up behind your ear. And put your glasses on.
TR: I am not going to wear glasses. Not those glasses. I would rather die than wear black horn-rimmed glasses.
GK: Well, death is always an option, but first, just do what I say. Put em on.
TR: What if someone I know was to see me with those glasses on? They wouldn't believe it.
GK: That is the point exactly. Your best friends wouldn't know you. That's what a disguise is for, Dusty. Put em on.
TR: (GROANS) I can't bear to look.
GK: You look fine. Just like a librarian oughta look. You do. And now take off your glasses and let em hang on the chain.
TR: (MISERY) Me with glasses. On a chain. Next thing you know I'll be wearing bell-bottoms.
GK: We are librarians, Dusty, and glasses on a chain and your pocket full of slips of paper, that's part of the librarian look.
TR: (MOANING) Going around in beige clothes. Wearing Hush Puppies. A corduroy sport coat. Black horn-rimmed glasses. I knew people like this in high school. I was afraid they'd come up to me. And now I'm one of them.
GK: Here. (SHAKES CONTAINER, WITH POWDER)
TR: What are you putting on my hair?
GK: Talcum powder. To look like dandruff.
TR: (MOAN) I can't believe we ever got hired here. Librarians!
GK: I write a heckuva good resume, don't I.
TR: A good what?
TR: I thought that was pronounced "resume".
GK: All you need to remember is: University of Michigan School of Library Science. Class of 72. Okay? Remember the fight song?
TR: I'm trying to forget.
GK: We are facilitators, we retrieve data entries We deal in information, not just in books....rah rah rah.
TR: Got it. And my name is Durwood.
GK: Durward, correct.
TR: And you're Leon.
GK: Right. --- Do you think I ought to wear this red knit tie with this green plaid shirt?
TR: You're asking me? I'm a cowboy!
GK: Shhhhhhhh. Let's go.
TR: You go first.
GK: Take a deep breath.
TR: (BREATHES DEEPLY) I am scareder than a bachelor at a tea dance.
GK: Let's go. (DOOR OPEN. HUSHED LIBRARY AMBIENCE. SOFT FOOTSTEPS. ABOUT FIFTEEN FOOTSTEPS, UNCERTAIN.)
GK: Not that way. Over here----
GK: Don't howdy people. We're librarians. Just look kind of hangdog and preoccupied.
TR: There's people actually sleeping in here.
GK: Scholarship is very tiring work. Here. Here's the reference desk.
TR: What's the boss's name?
GK: Miss Frittata.
TR: The one with the bosom you could stack your cups and saucers on?
GK: Shhhhhh. Good morning, Miss Frittata. (FOOTSTEPS END, SOME RUSTLING, SHIFTING, AS THE BOYS COME AROUND BEHIND THE DESK).
DD: Good morning, Leon ---- Durward. Come, come. Around this way.--- That's right. ----- Patrons are on that side of the desk, librarians are on this side. That's how we tell them apart. (AN ARTIFICIAL LAUGH, AT HER OWN JOKE) You'll be at the reference desk this morning.....part of our User Services Team. All right? Mmmmmmm. I love your chain.
TR: Oh. Thanks.
DD: Any questions you have ---- just ring the bell and I'll be back in a jiffy.
GK: Good. Got it.
(FOOTSTEPS AWAY, PAUSE)
TR: Do I look like someone who, if you had a question, you'd think I knew the answer? Do I?
GK: Some questions maybe I'd think you did.
TR: Like questions about horses and guns and cowboying and justice?
GK: No, you look more like an authority on stamps or antiques.
TR: That's what I was afraid of. Shhhhhh. Here comes one.
JB: You guys librarians?
JB: Cause I have a question.
GK: Go ahead.
JB: Don't bother to look this up, but ---- I'm wondering what is the HTML to access the online interactive tools to download the government digital orthophotoquads relating to Westchester County.
TR: Well, HTMLs----- funny you should mention it ---- my partner here is one of the top HTML men in the country. Old Leon here.
GK: Thanks a lot. ----You know, I can look up those orthophotopods for you in a moment, but right now our computer is down.
JB: Oh. I see. When will it be back up?
GK: Hard to tell. Check back in a few minutes.
JB: Okay. (FOOTSTEPS AWAY)
GK: Learned that one from an airline ticket agent. (PHONE RING. PICKUP) Reference Desk, Leon speaking---- (VOICE AT OTHER END) Just a moment, ma'am, let me turn you over to our childbirth authority. Here.
TR: I'm what?
GK: Answer the lady's question.
TR: Hello? (VOICE AT OTHER END) You what? your water broke? (VOICE) You talking about a dam of some kind? (VOICE) Where??? Your----- (VOICE) Oh my gosh, I had no idea. You better call your doctor, ma'am. Call him right away. Goodbye. (HANG UP)
GK: What was it?
TR: I'm not talking about it.
GK: You didn't know about a woman's water breaking?
TR: I don't care to discuss it.
DD: How's everything going?
TR: Just fine, Miss Omelet.
TR: Sorry, Miss Frittata.
DD: Call me Francine.
GK: Everything's fine, Francine.
DD: We still haven't gotten a response from that personal reference you gave us at the University of Michigan Library School. Your old teacher, Rita Book?
GK: Oh? Well, maybe you got the HTML wrong.
TR: Yes. Sometimes the ARB cancels out the HTML on those type of messages and it comes back MT.
DD: I'll try again. Thanks. (FOOTSTEPS)
TR: What do we do if she can't find our records in Michigan and she gets suspicious?
GK: Librarians, Dusty, possess a vast store of politeness. These are people who get asked regularly the dumbest questions on God's green earth. These people tolerate every kind of crank and eccentric and mouth-breather there is. I think we got three or four weeks before we even need to think about it.
TK: Excuse me.
GK: Yes sir----
TK: I'm trying to get online and access your food pornography news group----
GK: Food pornography!----
TK: Yeah. They got pictures you can download. Like this one here. (PAPER)
GK: Why----- it's a naked woman and people are mashing peas on her.
TK: Peas are my favorite but I also like squash and Brussels sprouts and---- kumquats.
TR: Naked people with kumquats on em?
GK: We don't have that type of thing here, mister.
TK: You do too! You got that and a lot more! And I want to see it, mister.
TR: Well, you just go take your filthy urges someplace else.
GK: This library is for decent people, mister ---- it ain't for the likes of you.
TK: I got a picture of a young lady and three quarts of raspberries.
GK: I suggest you leave, sir.
TR: Before we get rough with you.
TK: Oh yeah?
TK: Oh yeah?
TK: Yeah? (FOOTSTEPS APPROACH)
DD: What is going on here, Leon? Durward?
TR: I don't think you even want to know, ma'am----- this filthy degenerate is trying to come in here and ---- pursue his prurient interests regarding fruits.
GK: Food pornography. Naked people throwing food at each other.
TR: You run along, sir, before I sic the vice squad on you.
DD: Leon, no professional librarian in America would deny a patron the right to look at whatever material he or she wishes to look at.
GK: But, ma'am----
DD: We are not censors, Leon. We are information providers.
TR: But this is involving kumquats, ma'am.
DD: I don't care. I'm demoting you both to the shelving crew.
GK: Shelving----? you're sending us down into the stacks?
DD: Report immediately to Stack 41. Until I hear from Michigan. (MUSIC TRANSITION)
GK: Well, we shelved every book she gave us to shelve. May as well head for the elevator and go back up to the surface. (TWO PAIRS OF FOOTSTEPS) How far down in the stacks are we?
TR: About 3000 feet below the library right now.
GK: Looks like we're in the classics, huh.
TR: Looks like it. Look ---- that whole aisle there, that's all Plato.
GK: Cicero over here. (FOOTSTEPS CONTINUE) Homer. Aeschylus. Euripedes. Marcus Aurelius. Aristotle. Horace....Ovid. (FOOTSTEPS SLOW AS VOICES OF TK AND JB, LOVE-MAKING, COME INTO HEARING) Sounds like there's----
TR: Someone in there. We better turn around....
GK: Sorry, ma'am. (JB SCREAM) Sorry. Didn't know you were here. (A FLURRY OF GATHERING UP CLOTHES, JB & TK CONSTERNATION, BARE FEET RUN OFF) Didn't mean to interrupt. TR: Guess they thought they'd be safe in the classics, huh?
GK: Yeah. Look---- here's a Latin jokebook. (RUSTLE)
TR: Didn't know there was such a thing.
GK: (OPENS BRITTLE COVER, BLOWS DUST OFF) Looks like jokes. (TURNS PAGE) "Ventus putrefactus aliquando sonat facit ppppppppppp."
TR: They had fart jokes in Latin?
GK: That's where it all started. Bad taste didn't begin yesterday, you know. Listen to this: Heus, heus.
TR: Quis est?
TR: Wayne quis?
GK: Wayni Weedi Weeky. I'll bet people used to crack up over this stuff three thousand years ago. Still pretty funny, huh? Heus, heus.
TR: Quis est?
TR: Millie quis?
GK: Militat omnis amans.
TR: Kinda spooky down here, pardner. All these dark passages. What do you say we head up?
GK: Okay. You know, if Miss Frittata lets us stay, I think I might like to be a librarian, Dusty.
TR: Don't be ridiculous. You? A librarian?
GK: They're good people, librarians.
TR: What's that you got? (GUITAR STRUM) Oh no. I was afraid of that.
GK: Wrote a little song, Dusty.
Sitting alone in a library chair, I saw a librarian's silvery hair And I thought of angels as I saw her there, Sitting alone in a library chair.
Her tweed skirt was dusty, from books she had read, And the tips of her fingers were all stained with lead, And her blouse was tucked down into her underwear, Sitting alone in the library chair.
She's waiting for someone to ask for a book, And she'd find it no matter how long it took, No matter how specialized, obscure, or rare, Sitting along in her library chair.
She's waiting to serve you, waiting to share The wealth of data and literature there And yet her budget was radically cut, Sitting alone on her skinny old butt.
I looked at her and I thought, What a shame---- She gave up money and glamor and fame, To simply be useful to everyone there, Sitting alone in a library chair.
TR: You ready to head up now?
GK: I donno. Kind of peaceful down here.
TK (LARRY): Yeah. I like it too.
GK: Who's that?
TK (LARRY): The name is Larry. Who are you?
GK: We were just on our way out, Larry.
TK (LARRY): What's your big rush? Lots of room here. I'm a couple rows over in the Greek section.
TR: That's okay. We'll see you around, fella.
TK (LARRY): What's wrong? I'm perfectly normal.
TR: That's what we're afraid of.
DD: THE LIVES OF THE COWBOYS....brought to you by Old Santa Fe Brand Magic Fingers Saddle....(WHINNY) (MUSIC PLAY OFF)
©1997 By Garrison Keillor