(GK: Garrison Keillor; SS: Sue Scott; TR: Tim Russell; TK: Tom Keith; AK: Arnie Kinsella)
GK: It's been so hot in Minnesota. (OUTDOOR AMBIENCE, SUMMER, CRICKETS) We sat in my backyard the other day...my sister Doreen and my brother-in-law Sonny and my best friend, Walt.
TR: Hot out.
SS: Care for iced tea?
GK: Sure. (POURING, WITH CUBES) Thanks. No sugar.
TR: So ---- you keeping busy?
GK: Yeah. You?
TR: Oh yeah. Doreen said you were arrested Tuesday.
TR: What happened?
SS: He groped a woman in public, Walt --- he touched her in a bad place, without permission. It was in the papers.
GK: It was an accident. We were on a bus. (SOME LIGHT PERCUSSION BEGINS HERE, AS OF PENCILS OR SPOON HANDLES ON TABLEWARE AND OTHER OBJECTS) It was crowded. She was sort of behind me. Honest.
TR: Why'd you do it?
GK: I didn't do it, it was just something that happened.
SS: You violated her privacy, you made her into a thing----
GK: I brushed against her accidentally.
SS: And that makes it okay, I suppose----
GK: We were packed in tight in this bus. We were standing. It was rush hour.
SS: She screamed and the bus driver pulled over to wait for the police and the bus occupied a handicapped parking spot for about forty-five minutes while some handicapped person was probably circling the block, in desperate need of a refill on their seizure medication, all because of you.
GK: It was hot on the bus and she turned toward me and my elbow brushed her ---
SS: Oh, she turned, did she? Now it's her fault. Blame the victim, would you.
GK: Frankly, I'd rather forget the whole thing.
SS: Yes, I suppose you would.
GK: WOULD YOU STOP THAT, PLEASE!!! (PERCUSSION STOPS) Thank you.
AK: Stop what?
GK: Stop your drumming. It makes me nervous. Don't do it.
SS: Sonny's a professional percussionist, it's what he does. What's your problem? He's one of the top percussionists in the business.
GK: I just would prefer if he could sit still. Not tap his feet and jiggle his leg ----
AK: (SINGS) "I got rhythm, I got music, I got my girl, who could ask for anything more?" (BA BA DUM)
SS: Did you know it's been twenty years since Sonny recorded the hoofbeats of the Budweiser horses and he's still getting checks for it?
GK: Yes, you keep telling me about it.
SS: I was talking to Walt.
TR: No, I didn't know that.
SS: Do the hoofbeats, Sonny. (HOOFBEATS) Ten seconds of clip-clops. He's earned about $90,000 a year in residuals ever since. Twenty years.
SS: We bought our lake cabin up north with that hoofbeat money. You should come up and see it, Walt. It's beautiful.
TR: Hey, I'd love to do that. (SOFT PERCUSSION STARTS)
GK: Gosh, it's warm. I feel all sweaty.
TR: Well, just because it's warm doesn't give a person an excuse to go around grabbing women.
GK: Gee, thanks. I thought you were my best friend.
TR: Just trying to be honest with you.
SS: Listen to Walt for once.
GK: I did not grab anybody. I brushed against her.
SS: You entered her space. You forced yourself on her.
GK: She turned and I brushed her.
TR: I don't know --- I don't want to be judge mental or anything, and it's your life, but I mean --- this is Minnesota, it isn't Louisiana, and just cause it's warm out doesn't mean we're suddenly in a Tennessee Williams play or something and indulging ourselves in a lot of sensual impulses and ripping each other's clothes off and stuff. That's all I'm saying. Take it for what it's worth.
SS: Listen to him----
TR: I mean, people got to keep some sense of self-control.
SS: What was the woman's name, by the way?
GK: I don't know.
SS: You didn't even bother to find out her name.
GK: I suppose she gave it to the police, I forget.
SS: So to you, she's just some nameless thing? Some anonymous piece of flesh?
GK: I'm sorry. I don't remember her name. ---- WOULD YOU MIND? (PERCUSSION STOPS)
AK: (SHRUGS) Sorry. Just laying down a little beat----
GK: Well, lay it down someplace else.
AK: Trying to make people happy.
GK: Make somebody happy somewhere else.
SS: Did you know that, twenty years ago, Sonny did a few seconds of mambo for a Chiquita Banana commercial. Do that Chiquita thing, Sonny. Listen to this. (MAMBO) Isn't that something? Ten seconds of work and $50,000 a year he gets from that. For the past twenty years. Fifty-thousand times twenty. You do the math.
TR: That's incredible. Man. Fifty grand a year. That is something. Did you hear that?
GK: I did, yes.
TR: So what happened after you were arrested?
GK: I was not arrested. I was given a summons.
SS: Lucky you.
GK: It's a law I didn't even know about. They passed it last year, I guess. The Right To Refuse Intimacy Act. It prohibits crowding. You can't bunch up in Minnesota anymore because it makes it impossible for people in the crowd to avoid physical contact.
TR: Sure makes sense to me.
GK: They changed all the maximum occupancy signs. Bars and restaurants, elevators --- elevators that used to have a limit of eight people, now have a limit of three.
TR: Makes sense in this hot weather. So where'd you grab her?
GK: I didn't grab her, Walt. She turned and my shoulder brushed against her in the chest area and she said, "I'm tired of putting up with people like you."
SS: Tell Walt what you said to her then. Tell him.
GK: I'd rather not, Doreen.
SS: Tell him. Listen to this, Walt.
GK: She said, "I'm tired of putting up with people like you." And I said, "Sorry, babes."
TR: You said what?
GK: It just came out.
TR: You said, "Sorry, babes" to a woman whose chest you just fondled?
GK: She brushed against me, Walt. Honest.
SS: "Sorry, Babes." He forces intimacy on her and then he infantilizes her.
GK: Anyway she called the Transit Police on her cellphone and they came and now I have to attend fifteen hours of a course entitled, "Their Bodies, Themselves". (PERCUSSION BEGINS AGAIN SOFTLY)
SS: Did you know that Sonny was recently named among the top ten jazz tympanists in the country by Rimshot Magazine? Did you? Huh?
GK: No, I didn't.
SS: He was ranked in the top ten in tom-toms too.
TR: That is truly an accomplishment. Congratulations.
SS: And did you hear ---- he just recorded a drum roll for the NBC Evening News with Tom Brokaw. Took him two minutes to do it, and they paid him $65, 000. Isn't that something? Almost as much as he got for doing the Avon Lady doorbells.
GK: He did the doorbells?
SS: Fifteen years ago. A big check for one little ding-dong.
GK: I'll say.
SS: So you attend this course and then what?
GK: I do fifty hours of community service at a daycare center for children who've been declared rotten and evil by the courts.
SS: Well, that ought to teach you something.
GK: Sonny, visualize a rest, a musical rest: you know what a rest looks like?
GK: Visualize a rest. Okay? You see it?
AK: I see it. How long is it?
GK: 134 bars. Then it repeats.
GK: Rest. (PERCUSSION STOPS) Good.
SS: Sure is a scorcher today. You care for iced tea, Sonny?
AK: Sure. (POURING, WITH CUBES) Thanks, doll.
TR: None for me or I'd be floating. It's up to my eyeballs right now. Speaking of money, your sister was saying you lost quite a bit in the stock market.
GK: I did, yes. Amalgamated Elevators, that was down. Consolidated Comforters, that's down too. And the Scuba Corporation. That took a dive.
SS: Sonny put his Chiquita Banana money into the company that manufactures Viagara. Boy----
TR: Went up, huh?
SS: Shot right up.
(GLASS WITH ICED TEA, SHAKEN SLIGHTLY, RHYTHMICALLY)
GK: Don't do that.
AK: You don't like it?
GK: Don't do it.
AK: Okay. Sorry, babes. (MUSIC BUTTON)
© Garrison Keillor 2002