(GK: Garrison Keillor; SS: Sue Scott; TR: Tim Russell; TK: Tom Keitha)
(COLONIAL DRUM CADENCE, AND FADE)
(MEN'S VOICES, BROUHAHA)
TR: So---- Mr. Hancock ---- what do you think of this---- this little thing Jefferson wrote?
TK: (JOHN HANCOCK) You mean, this---- Manifesto of Aloneness?
TR: Is that what he's calling it? I heard somebody refer to it as The Pledge of Isolation.
SS: (BAR MAID) What can I bring you gents? You care for a pint of ale? Nut-brown ale?
TR: We're celebrating this thing Congress passed---
SS: What's that?
TR: Excellent document. I thought of calling it, "The Assertion of Separation"----
TK: Naw. It's a manifesto. (DOOR OPENS, FOOTSTEPS, DOOR CLOSES) Well, looky who's here. It's Mr. Thomas Jefferson himself. How you doin, Mr. J. ? Why the long face?
GK: I'm tired. And my wig itches.
TK: It's a day to celebrate, man! Bring him a Madeira!!!
TR: You look vexed, Mr. Jefferson.
GK: Oh, I just ---- I don't know ----- all those changes in my "Avowal of Individuality" ---- I mean, I slaved over that and then people make these ridiculous changes---- "unalienable" rights ---- what is that? I wrote "Inalienable" rights. And "purfuit of happiness" ---- what is "purfuit" supposed to mean? There is no such word. Look it up. "Purfuit".
TR: Did I hear you refer to the document as the "Avowal of Individuality," Mr. Jefferson?
GK: Yes. Why, Mr. Franklin?
TR: It simply strkes me that when you say "Avowal of Individuality," they'll wonder if you mean A, E, I, O, or U.
GK: Oh. (PAUSE A BEAT)
TR: What about Manifesto of Aloneness?
GK: Sounds like a Spanish folk song.
TK: Sarah had an idea. Sarah--- come here, and tell him what you told me. Come on----
SS: Begging your pardon, sir, I'm only a bar maid, but I don't think what you're going for is Solitude or Individuality or Loneliness or anything of that sort but just plain old Independence. The right to make your own choices. Like when people come in and order chips or French fries or onion rings---- it's up to them.
GK: French fries?
SS: Fried potatoes. Cut in strips and fried in deep fat.
GK: Never heard of it.
SS: It's new.
GK: So you think the word is Independence, huh? The Statement of Independence. The Assertion of Independence. I still like Avowal.
TR: Avowal rhymes with bowel. That might cause a problem when you come to teach it in the schools. You know how kids are--
GK: What else could we call it? A proclamation?
TR: A proclamation is when you're announcing that June is Wooden False Teeth Month or something.
TK: Sarah here was thinking "Declaration".
GK: Huh. I donno.
TK: Declaration of Independence. Good strong title. No?
TR: It's feisty!
GK: Seems like a lot of syllables.
SS: While you're thinking about it, try one of these hamburgers.
GK: Hamburgers? From Hamburg?
SS: It's a ground beef sandwich.
SS: Named for the Earl of Sandwich.
GK: We're eating French potatoes with a German food named for an English nobleman on a day when we celebrate American independence?
SS: Care for a Pilsener?
GK: So today would be called Independence Day? I sort of prefer Individuality Day myself.
TR: You know, you set aside a day as Individuality Day and teenagers are just going to go around with their underwear outside their clothes and paint their fingernails black.
GK: What are teenagers?
TK: We think Independence Day has a good solid ring to it. Here's to Independence!
GK: And Individuality.
SS: (SOTTO VOCE) And here's to the day we get some women in that Continental Congress----
TK: Hip hip (ALL: HOORAY)
Hip hip HOORAY
Hip hip HOORAY
GK: What's that?
SS: Rockets, sir. From China.
GK: They're awfully noisy. And what are those people doing out there? Look---
SS: They're roasting little sausages over a fire----
GK: They put the sausages on a sharp stick?? And what's the white gooey stuff?
SS: They're roasting marshmallows too.
GK: It's disgusting. (STOCK CARS GO BY, FAST, CLUSTERS OF THEM) What is that?
SS: It's a stock car race.
GK: It's hideous. (MORE STOCK CARS GO BY) Do you really think it's a good idea to give up our Englishness?
TR: Too late for that, Mr. Jefferson.
GK: One thing I'll say for being English, we enjoyed a quiet July afternoon, drinking tea and reading Shakespeare aloud in the garden and later we played minuets on our lute and ate cucumber sandwiches. Do we want to trade that for this? (MORE STOCK CARS GO BY)
TR: It's independence, Mr. Jefferson.
GK: I could rewrite it as a Declaration of Standards of Good Taste.
TR: What's done is done, Mr. Jefferson. Nothing left but for you and me to live our lives and enjoy our liberty and purfue happiness.
GK: I fuppose you're right. (MUSIC OUT)
© Garrison Keillor 2002