(GK: Garrison Keillor, TR: Tim Russell, SS: Sue Scott, TK: Tom Keith)

...brought to you by the Ketchup Advisory Board.

SS: These are the good years for Jim and me; we refinanced our home and what we're saving on interest payments we put into a monthly snow-shoveling service and Jim's back is feeling so much better we've been able to take up folk dancing again and last week while doing a Hungarian hopping dance who should I meet but my old boss who invited me to come back to Federated Grindstone at a big increase in salary which means we can think about going to Texas in February for a little vacation. And on top of that, as of January 15th it's been a whole year since one of our relatives has been on a morning TV talk show talking about their romance with their therapist or plumber or personal banker. And then, just the other day I came home to find Jim sitting in the kitchen reading a book of poems about winter. ----Oh Jim, I wish you wouldn't. You know how poems get you all moody and weepy. What's wrong?

TR: I'm just kicking myself for not attending my class's 40th reunion, Barb.

SS: You wanted to go to western North Dakota to stand around in a Ramada Inn and drink wine spritzers with a bunch of wheat farmers?

TR: Barb, for your information, my graduating class --- 32 people --- produced three CEOs of major corporations, two former members of presidential cabinets, eleven people on the boards of Fortune 500 companies, a major general and two colonels, and one manager of a public radio station.

SS: That's incredible.

TR: Not really. We learned the virtues of hard work, Barb. And the school was four miles from town and we had no bus. Out there you had 70-below wind chill for five months of the year, and in the summer the ground was hard as concrete. Only thing that changed was that some years the snow was eight feet deep and some years there was just ice. The people were gloomy and embittered and resented children. Discipline in the schools was based on shame and fear. All winter we shoveled, and in the summer we worked in the fields, picking potatoes. So when we grew up and went out in the world we found that life suddenly got easier. It was like getting off gravel and getting on the Interstate. Kids who grew up picking potatoes went off and became millionaires, rose through the ranks, cut a wide swathe, set the world on fire.

SS: So, Jim---- I don't mean this to sound carping or critical or belittling but----

TR: What happened??

SS: Yes. What happened? The others rose to positions of prominence and here you are in your bathrobe.

TR: I wasn't like the others, Barb. I wasn't driven by a deep inner need for validation---- and when I found you, I had all I needed in life.

SS: Oh, Jim.

TR: And through you, I discovered ketchup. The natural mellowing agents in ketchup have saved me from the corporate treadmill and the petty struggles for personal advantage that go with it. Made me content to sit here and look outside and think, "That man out there is shoveling my walk and I'm not." I think I might write a poem about him.

SS: I think you should, Jim.


A new day is dawning, it's April almost
The seagulls are flying, up and down the coast
Life is flowing, like ketchup on your toast.
GK: Ketchup....for the good times.

RD: Ketchup, ketchup, ketchup.

(c) 2001 by Garrison Keillor