(GK: Garrison Keillor; SS: Sue Scott; TR: Tim Russell; FN: Fred Newman)

GK: It's mid-December, the time when college students come home for Christmas break and catch up on sleep. (YOUTHFUL SNORING) There is so much sex going on in the dorm and people tripping on drugs at all hours and that's at the church schools: the state universities are even worse. So Christmas is sack time. (SNORING CONTINUES) You don't know it, but your parents come in and look at you sleeping, just as they did when you were a new-born in the crib---- (SNORING UNDER--..)

SS: I don't mind orange hair. Not really. Not that much.

TR: It's festive.

SS: At least he's not a skinhead. And the earrings don't bother me either. How many are there? Oh, who's counting.

TR: He's getting into the cartilage, though ---- I wonder if that ever heals up ---

SS: That's no problem. The nail in the side of the head might be a problem.

TR: There does seem to be seepage there ----Maybe Listerine----

SS: Oh well, it's Christmas. Let's not make an issue of it.

TR: It's good to have him home.

SS: He's been home 24 hours and not once has he said, "I hate you, you ruined my life, I can't stand you." Not once.

TR: He's been asleep.

SS: He got up a couple times.

TR: I wish he'd clean out his room. You can't even see the rug. It looks like terrorists blew up the closet.

SS: Honey, there is no rug.

TR: There isn't? It feels like there is----

SS: That's compressed hairballs and composted clothing.

TR: Really----

SS: Nine years of not cleaning.

TR: Has it been that long?

SS: I told him, "You're 11 years old, you're old enough to clean your own room."

TR: I wondered where the smell was coming from----

SS: All I do is come in and fumigate. There used to be cockroaches in here the size of poodles.

TR: Well, you have to respect your children's lifestyle choices, but ---

SS: But what?

TR: Well, I'm just thinking about Jennifer ---- (STING)(MUSIC UNDER, THROBBING BASS)

GK: Jennifer. Your sister. The good child. The one whose room is clean and bright and decorated in Marimekko colors with clean Swedish furniture from IKEA, not spray painted with "Die Racist Pigs" in big black letters. Jennifer who is getting good grades and dating a nice guy. A guy who wears a shirt with buttons. Jennifer who converses at the dinner table and always buys nice Christmas presents ---- Jeff---- do you have a gift for your parents? Jeff? Don't you think you should? It's your last semester at Rutherford, Jeff, and next semester is your semester abroad, in Bermuda. (HEAVY METAL, FROM NEARBY HEADPHONES) In June, you graduate. Thank goodness you're in the interdisciplinary program. But don't you think you should give your parents something for Christmas? Jeff?

FN: Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

GK: Turn down the headphones, Jeff.

FN: Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?

GK: The headphones----

FN: What's the deal? (HEAVY METAL OFF)

GK: A Christmas gift for your parents----

FN: Get real. They've got everything, dude. What do they want from me?

GK: It's good to give.

FN: Besides, my credit card is totally maxed out, man. I mean, there is no way!

GK: You couldn't think about giving them a little gift?

FN: Actually I was thinking of asking them for a loan----

GK: Jeff, it's a time for giving, not a time for borrowing----

FN: Dude, I've gotta go to Aspen for break---- everyone's going to be there---- snowboarding----- do you understand the humiliation if I go back to college and I wasn't at Aspen????

GK: Jeff, you're going to Bermuda for your semester abroad---

FN: Listen up, yo. There is no snow-boarding in Bermuda, got that? I mean, to everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season---- okay? So I really need to go to Aspen----

GK: Jeff, do you see this watch that I'm swinging slowly back and forth in front of your eyes-----

FN: Yeah, I see the--- (HE GOES INTO HYPNOTIC TRANCE) watch---- swinging----back------and forth---------and back-------and forth----------and back------

GK: That's good, Jeff. We're going to give Mom and Dad a little present for Christmas. We're going to give them the sweet old Jeff they used to know----

FN: The sweet old Jeff they used to know-----

GK: That's right. First, we're going to cut off that hair, Jeff. (SHAVER WORKING QUICKLY, SOME SNIPPING) Cut off that big ponytail and give you a nice crewcut just like you used to have----

FN: A crewcut just like I used to have----

GK: Now, we're going to snip off those earrings (TWELVE QUICK SNIPS)---- get the left ear----- and the right ear------- and get the tongue plug (FN MOUTH OPEN, TONGUE, POP)--- good ----- and the nose plug (POP) --- and the pin in your lower lip (POP)----- take out the little tiny barbell in your eyebrow (POP) ---- and the nail in the side of your head---- (GK STRAINS, SQUEAK, THEN BIG POP) ----- good ----- put some alcohol on the wound---- (FN SHARP INTAKE OF BREATH)----that does not hurt, Jeff---

FN: That does not hurt.

GK: The nail is out and you feel no pain.

FN: I feel no pain.

GK: Now we're going to take these ugly ripped black clothes off you, Jeff (QUICK RIPS) and we're going to hose you down (WATER) ----- there ---- and now climb into the dryer, Jeff---

FN: Climb into the dryer. (CLUNKS) (REVERB) I'm in the dryer.

GK: Okay. Don't hold on, Jeff. Let yourself tumble.

FN: Nice and dry and fluffy and warm.

GK: Now we're going to put on this nice pair of white pants, Jeff.

FN: Nice white pants.

GK: And this blue and green striped pullover polo shirt---

FN: No---- not a polo shirt----- no-----

GK: You see the watch swinging back and forth, Jeff---

FN: I see--- the watch---- swinging back and forth----

GK: Good. Put on the polo shirt.

FN: I am putting on the polo shirt.

GK: And now the nice blue socks. And the moccasins.

FN: No black boots?

GK: Moccasins with little tassels, Jeff.

FN: Moccasins with tassels.

GK: And now we're going to spray you with the cologne Mom gave you last Christmas---- (SPRAY)

FN: Cologne----

GK: And we're going to do some laser surgery and remove the swastika tattoo from your forehead---- (LASER)

FN: No more tattoo----

GK: And we're going to clean your room, Jeff. Come in, men---- (WORK CREW ENTERS, VOICES, JACKHAMMER, CRANE, SHOVELING DEBRIS, HIGH-POWERED HOSE, POWERFUL VACUUM) ---- there, all clean. And now we're going to put a different CD on your CD player, Jeff---

FN: A new CD----

GK: It's Bach, Jeff. (BACH: QUARTET)

FN: Beck?

GK: Bach. You like Bach, Jeff.

FN: I do?

GK: Look at the watch, Jeff. Back and forth---

FN: Bach and forth, bach and forth----

GK: You love Bach, Jeff.

FN: I do?

GK: You do.

FN: Bach.

GK: People who listen to Bach and enjoy Bach tend to have more disposable income than people who listen to Guns 'N Roses.

FN: Income.

GK: More income. People who listen to Bach have more money. Not including musicians and choir members, of course.

FN: More money.

GK: There is a greater sense of order and harmony in Bach that promotes social interaction and logical thinking.

FN: Logic.

GK: There's a greater sense of logic and balance in Bach. And there's less hearing loss.

FN: I hear you.

GK: That's good. Heavy metal leads to hearing loss and it makes you stupid.

FN: Oh.

GK: Deafness and dumbness is a bad combination, Jeff.

FN: I hear you.

GK: Do you hear me?

FN: I hear you, dude.

GK: Folks---- come in and meet somebody----

SS: Oh? What is it---- Jeffie!

TR: (CHOKED UP) It's our old Jeff. Hi old buddy. Good to see you again.

FN: I'm applying for business school, Dad.

TR: Acme Business College? The one above the drugstore?

FN: No. Harvard. I'm going to get in and earn my MBA and monetize a scalable supply chain and maximize the asset churn so I can exit the base resource core and pursue other avenues of revenue. But let's not project too far over the horizon. Let's just say I'm going to work hard and make you both proud, Mom and Dad.

SS: Oh honey. You've made us the happiest people in the world.

TR: Merry Christmas, son.

FN: Right.

TR: What's this music you're playing?

FN: Bach.

SS: Oh. And this is what you listen to now?

FN: Of course. (MUSIC OUT)

© Garrison Keillor 2002