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


TR (BIG PRETENTIOUS): How My Week Was Spent----an essay in sound by the beloved uncle of the airwaves, the golden-voiced boy orator of the plains, the poor man's Proust, the Maupassant of the Upper Mississippi----

GK: All right, all right, all right------ (PIANO) I came down with a case of the whoops this week. It started Tuesday, I was trying to put my daughter to sleep by reading her a story----- Dear Pig are you willing to sell for one shilling your ring, said the Piggie I WHOOP so they took it away and were married next day by the WHOOP who lives on the hill. They WHOOP on mince and slices of quince which they ate with a runcible spoon, and WHOOP ----

SS: You really need to go see somebody about that.

GK: Maybe it'll just go away. WHOOP.

SS: It's like whooping cough but without the cough. (GK WHOOP) Maybe you've got the yips.

GK: What are the yips? WHOOP

SS: The yips are related to the jim-jams and the heebie-jeebies. You get them when you golf and you're trying to make a long putt. Or even a short putt. You get them when you're trying to take a very important math test that'll determine whether you go to Princeton or go to the vo-tech for a two-year degree in motel cleaning. You get them when you're lying to a grand jury about where you were last Wednesday. (GK WHOOP) It's called the yips. Go see somebody. (BRIDGE)

GK: So I went to a neurologist.

TR (GERMAN): There is something very TIC strange about your eyes. TIC. Follow my finger with your TIC eyes. Up here. Down there. Over here. TIC. Okay. Now stand on one foot with your eyes closed. (GK WHOOP) Was that you or me? You. Good. TIC. Close your eyes and go rrrrrrrrmmm rrrrrrrrmmmm.


TR (GERMAN): No, go rrrrrrrrrrrrrrmmm rrrrrrrrrrrrrrmmm. TIC

GK: Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmm. Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrmmmmmm. TIC.

TR (GERMAN): Just as I thought. We'll send you in for an MRI. (BRIDGE)

GK: So I went in for an MRI, a Mental Resources Inventory. You put on a hospital gown and go into a room with a machine the size of a mini-bus. (FOOTSTEPS, BIG STEEL DOOR CLANGS SHUT) And they have you lie down on a narrow steel bed which then retracts into a narrow tunnel in the machine, like the tongue of a frog going back into the mouth and you are the bug.

SS (ON TINNY INTERCOM): Can you hear me?


SS (ON TINNY INTERCOM): I need you to be perfectly still for the next half-hour, okay?

GK (REVERB): Okay.

SS (ON TINNY INTERCOM): Lie perfectly still.

GK (REVERB): Okay.

SS (INTERCOM): We do the M.R.I. by taking a scan of your brain using sound waves, and you'll hear several series of sounds that will sound like drum solos. Okay?

GK (REVERB): Fine.

SS (INTERCOM): And we need you go stay perfectly still.

GK (REVERB): Can I breathe?

SS (INTERCOM): If you need to, yes. Here comes the first series.


GK (NO REVERB): I lay there on my narrow bed inside the steel tube and I couldn't help but think of torture.

TR (NAZI): You will talk. We have ways of making you talk. We will slide you into a slender metal drum and you will stay there unable to move and we will subject you to a drum solo---

SS (INTERCOM): Okay. We're ready for the next scan. How are we doing?


SS (INTERCOM): Are you doing okay?

GK (REVERB): Fine.

SS (INTERCOM): Here's the next series of sound waves now.


GK (NO REVERB): I imagined that I was a child trapped in a tunnel, in a cave-in.

TR (FATUOUS TV ANCHOR): This is Chuck Clifford Channel Five Eyewitness News live from the scene where 11-year-old Timmy Thompson is trapped in the storm sewer and rescue teams are working round the clock to rescue him. Here's Timmy's mom here ---- Mrs. Thompson, what feelings are going through your mind right now, knowing that your son is 250 feet down below the ground trapped in a tiny space, undoubtedly experiencing panic to a degree unknown to most of us, hungry, thirsty, cold --- what are your thoughts at this point? (SS SOBBING) This is Chuck Clifford, Channel Five Eyewitness News, and now back to you, Jim and Trish.

GK (NO REVERB): I had so many thoughts lying there inside the M.R.I. machine. Thoughts of being a human cannonball in the circus. For a moment I imagined that I was on a submarine.

TR: (SONAR PINGS) Periscope up. (WHINE OF PERISCOPE RAISING. THUNK) It's a German destroyer. Passing directly overhead. Engines off! (REPEAT COMMAND) Periscope down! (PERISCOPE DOWN) We're going to have to sit here while he passes overhead and I don't want anybody to move a muscle. Don't even breathe. Or we're all dead men. (FAINTLY, BOAT ENGINE PASSES OVERHEAD, THEN PASSES AGAIN) He's dropping depth charges. (BIG BOOMS) (CREAK OF METAL STRAIN, DRIPPING) Easy, men. Easy. (MORE DRIPPING)

GK: And then I imagined that I was a human sperm waiting inside the tube. One guy in an army of millions of sperm getting ready to make the charge.

SS: Okay, men, let me tell you how it's going to be. There's going to be a lot of motion and bouncing around and it may get fairly violent so hang onto each other, and you may hear loud cries, but don't worry. It won't last long. It'll be all over in about 30 seconds and then you'll feel a tremendous whoosh, and all of you will shoot out in about four or five waves, and that's when I need you to start swimming. Kick those tails of yours, that's what they're for, and don't give up. Don't give up. Other sperm will be giving up all around you, guys will be falling by the wayside, but you keep going as long as you can. Aim for the egg. You'll see it up ahead, all shiny and white ---- put your head down and aim for the egg! (FADING) Aim for the egg! Aim for the egg!

GK: I'd never gotten the chance to lie in a long narrow tube before. It was a first for me. And then there was one more drum solo--..


SS (INTERCOM): Good. We're all done.


GK: And out I came. A fascinating experience. The Mental Resources Inventory. If you ever have the chance to get an M.R.I., take it, you'll learn a lot about yourself and about claustrophobia. As for the test results, they looked at the brain scan and didn't find anything, and my case of the whoops was cleared up by personal counseling from a lady named Evelyn.

SS: Okay, you listen to me, you spoiled little snot. The only reason you're whooping is to get attention. Isn't it? Yes, it is. And now if you know what's good for you, you're going to just plain stop. And I mean it. You whoop once more, I'll whup you one and give you something to whoop about, believe you me. You just cut it out. You understand?

GK: I understand.

SS: You sure?

GK: I'm sure.

SS: Good. Now go home and don't let me find you coming back here, okay?

GK: Okay. Anyway, that's how----


© Garrison Keillor 2003