Garrison Keillor: Hello?

Sue Scott (MIDWESTERN, ON PHONE): Hello? It's your mother. Remember?

GK: Hi mom.

SS: Is this an ok time to call? You're not just about to run out the door to work, are you, Duane? I can call back later--

GK: It's fine, mom.

SS: Didn't expect to find you home in the middle of the day. Are you sick? Were you fired?

GK: I took the day off, Mom.

SS: Oh, Duane. You still working at your clown job?

GK: It's a balloon delivery service, Mother. And it's just temporary, while I finish up my book and take it around to agents.

SS: Oh. I didn't know you were still doing that. A book about what, Duane?

GK: It's just a book. Don't worry about it.

SS: Well, what's it about?

GK: All sorts of things.

SS: Doesn't it have a title? A book has to have a title, doesn't it?

GK: It's called "Recalling Minnesota".

SS: Oh. I remember when those Pinto cars were recalled. You know they were defective. If you just touched the bumper they would explode.

GK: Right.

SS: Oh! Well. That's nice. (PAUSE) Remind me: what was the last thing you had published?

GK: Mom--

SS: Was it six years ago? I forget. I clip out all of your little stories and put them in a scrapbook, you know. Anyway, they say it takes ten years for a writer to make it in New York City. How many years have you been out there now?


GK: Is there a reason you called, Mom?

SS: I just wanted to find out when you're coming for Christmas, Duane. So we can pick you up at the airport.

GK: Well, I've been meaning to call and talk to you about Christmas--

SS: What about it?

GK: I have a story that an agent is interested in and -- I think it has motion picture possibilities -- and if she should want to meet with me, I ought to be here.

SS: And spend Christmas there-- in that tiny walk-up with those roommates of yours-- I worry myself sick about you living with people like them--

GK: Mom, this story could be a breakthrough for me.

SS: You don't want to come home for Christmas?

GK: Mom. Getting to see an agent, actually getting into her office and being offered coffee and having her glance at something I've written-- this is a huge step forward. And I won't know until next week or the week after if it's going to happen...

SS: Your aunt Sylvia is looking forward to you coming home. She keeps mentioning it.

GK: Mother.

SS: We're going to get her out of the home and bring her here, wheelchair and all. This may be her last time with us, honey.

GK: Mother.

SS: You're her favorite grand-nephew, you know. This would mean so much.

GK: I just feel that if I can meet with her and if she likes me, it can lead to a book contract or something -- One thing leads to another. You can spend years in a holding pattern and then you run into somebody and they give you their business card and that's it, you're in.

SS: How much does that balloon job pay, anyway? I know I shouldn't ask. I'm just curious.

GK: Mom.

SS: If you want to deliver balloons, you could probably find a job doing that right here in Minneapolis.

GK: Mother. I don't think you're listening.

SS: And you wouldn't have to live with roommates. You could live right here at home. Your room's all ready for you.

GK: Let's not talk about it, okay?

SS: A lot of young people are doing that. Moving back temporarily with their parents. It's a trend. Nothing to worry about. I know you're sixty-four years old but to me, you're still my little boy. You know that.

GK: I'm not going to, so don't bring it up, okay?

SS: It's not Julie, is it? That's her name, isn't it? Is she telling you not to come home?

GK: Her name is Janice, Mom. And we broke up. A week ago. So -- no, it's not her.

SS: So what happened?

GK: We broke up, that's what happened.

SS: She left you? -- You can tell me. I'm your mother.

GK: It just wasn't happening for us, okay? It was very friendly...

SS: You were together for fifteen years. You spent fifteen years on that woman and it took her until now to figure out that it wasn't "happening'?

GK: It's all in the past, Mom. We just soldier on...keep going...how're you? How's Dad?

SS: Well, she had a very serious problem with body proportion anyway.

GK: Mother.

SS: It's just too bad you can't hang on to a girlfriend out there, son. I mean, there's an 8-to-1 ratio of women to men in New York City. You'd think you could find someone who would stick with you. Even though you don't have a job and you live in a fifth-floor walkup with weird people who stay up until all hours.

GK: Mother.

SS: Do you want to talk to your father? Here he is.

Tim Russell (MIDWESTERN): Hello, son.

GK: Hi dad.

TR (MIDWESTERN): Good talking to you. See you real soon.

GK: Bye dad.

SS: That was your dad.

GK: I know mom. He sounds good.

SS: Well, he's doing fine, considering.

GK: Considering what?

SS: Your sister didn't tell you?

GK: Tell me what?

SS: Oh, it's nothing, Duane. I don't want to upset you.

GK: Just tell me. What, is he sick? Have you been to the doctor?

SS: I've been and I don't want to talk about it.

GK: What do you mean you don't want to talk about it? We are talking about it. This is us talking.

SS: It's nothing. A little growth, that's all.

GK: A growth! What kind of growth?

SS: On your father's chest.

GK: What is it? Is it malignant?

SS: They don't know. They don't think so.

GK: In his lungs?

SS: No, not in his lungs. On his chest.

GK: A tumor?

SS: No, it's hair. A growth of hair. He never had hair on his chest. And now suddenly he does. We saw the doctor about it and he may have to go back for tests. They suspect hormones. It's not a problem. Let's not talk about it. Okay? We're doing the best we can. I have a big surprise for you. Want to know what it is?

GK: I don't know if I do or not.

SS: We bought your plane tickets home, Duane.

GK: You did what?!?

SS: Just for five days. You come on that Thursday night and you go home Tuesday.

GK: I don't think you understand, mother. I want to get in to see this agent and it takes years to get in the door and when you do, you can't just leave town for the holidays. You have to be here. I've got this book, "Recalling Minnesota" -- and -- I've been working on it for years and -- this is important to me.

SS: This isn't one of those memoirs, is it? Huh? One of those trashy little books where some high-falutin writer goes and dumps on his family? Huh? Makes them sound dull and ugly and makes it like he's the only one with a brain in his head? One of those show-off memoirs?

GK: It is a memoir, but it's not---

SS: Why do you hate us? Huh? Tell me why.

GK: Oh no. Here we go.

SS: You hate us, and you never want to see us again. And pretty soon I'm going to be gone, and I bet you won't even come to my funeral. Will you-- you'll probably be too busy.

GK: Mother.

SS: What did we do that was so bad? That you hate us, and run off to New York to become a balloon clown? What are you punishing us for?

GK: Mother, please.

SS: Why not just take us into the back yard, and strangle us with a piano wire? Wouldn't that be more merciful? Well, we did the best we could. And if that's not good enough for you I don't know what is. (SOBBING)

GK: Mother. Calm down. I'll come home.

SS: You will?

GK: If it would make you happy, I will.

SS: Well, I don't want to get in the way of your career. This is not about me. It's about what you want to do.

GK: Yes mother.

SS: I just want you to be happy, son. It's all I care about.

GK: I'm happy. I'm very, very happy.

SS: That's good. And we'll be happy to see you the Thursday before Christmas.

GK: Thank you.
SS: And I'll bring your warm clothes to the airport so you don't need to worry about that. You can just go into a men's room and change.

GK: Mom, I have clothes.

SS: And I'm going to put a check in the mail for cabfare to the airport, okay?

GK: Mom-- I can take the bus.

SS: We'll see you in a few weeks. Goodbye. And thank you, Duane.