Tim Russell: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but on the twelfth floor of the Acme Building, one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions -- Guy Noir, Private Eye --


Garrison Keillor: It was February in St. Paul, it was colder than a witch's brass monkey - forty below, everything frozen solid - polar bears migrating south, and some bi-polar bears. The wind was brutal. You could see people in vestibules weeping. People trying to get their dogs to go outdoors alone.

Sue Scott (SOBBING): Please, Rex. Please. (DOG PANTING) Mommy's cold. You're a big dog now. Here's a Baggie and after you do it, you just-- you know-- you've seen me do it a thousand times. (DOG WHINE).

GK: I went to my men's group for support. It's called the Five Spot. The group leader wears an apron (AMBIENCE, FIVE SPOT) and he washes glasses in the sink.

TR (JIMMY): I was reading an article that said single guys like us have a 50% greater chance of hypothermia than married guys. I tell you, you need to find a girlfriend, Guy.
GK: I'm used merchandise, Jimmy. On the husband lot, I'm the '75 Dodge Dart with the rust spots.
TR (JIMMY): Try one of these dating services, Guy. They pick out the women whose profiles match your profile and the women call you up and you take it from there--
GK: A woman who matches my profile is not the woman I'm looking for pal.
TR (JIMMY): Hey, don't sell yourself short.
GK: There's just something about me, Jimmy. Women take one look and they say, 'Well-- Okay. Never mind.'
TR (JIMMY): You could meet some lady who's a lot of fun, you go out to eat -- da da da--la la la--a nice Pinot Noir and suddenly wham bang you're in love.
GK: They've got a new wine out for old guys. It's a diuretic. Called Pinot More.
TR (JIMMY): Never heard of it.
GK: Romance is all very nice for about six weeks, Jimmy, and then you forget to take your shoes off, or you leave a towel on the bathroom floor, or you put the salad spinner in the wrong place and they say 'that doesn't go there, you idiot, you imbecile, you heinous war criminal!' and pretty soon you're on your third martini and listening to country music again.
TR (JIMMY): My cousin Walt tried a dating service. Met a gorgeous woman from Costa Rica and now he's living on the beach and surfing every day. Here-- here's the number.
GK: So I called up the Whispering Palms Computer Dating Service and told them stuff about myself, not everything, some things -- And then I went to the Y and got on a treadmill to try to reach the weight I'd listed in the profile. I had a personal trainer named Dietrich.

Tom Keith: Don't stop. Keep going. (D.I. ROUTINE)

GK (PANTING): Could I stop and think about this? It's hard for me to have a thought while I'm doing this.

TK: There's no need for you to think. You can watch TV.

GK: I can't. My eyeballs are perspiring.
TK: Eyeballs don't perspire. (D.I. ROUTINE)

GK (PANTING): Maybe I'm crying then.

TK: You can't. You're a man. So act like one. (BRIDGE)

GK: I went and sat in the steam room (STEAM BURSTS) and there was one of those old tanned rich guys with the chest hair.

TR (Rich Guy): Market's doing pretty darn good this week. Futures look good. So do options. You in futures, by any chance?

GK: I used to be in futures. Now I'm in deciduous.

TR (Rich Guy): Oh. How's that?

GK: Falling.

TR (Rich Guy): Well, it'll come back.

GK: Yeah. I hope so. (BRIDGE) I stopped at the Appliance Barn on my way back to the office to pick up an exercycle and then for some reason I decided to get a CD player instead. A woman comes to your house on a date - you want music, don't you? (INDOOR SHOPPING AMBIENCE) The Appliance Barn covered about forty acres of stuff- Say?

TK (TEEN): Yeah?

GK: You a salesman?

TK (TEEN): I'm a sales associate.

GK: I see. Where are your CD players?

TK (TEEN): What's that?

GK: CDs. Little discs. You put em in a slot, it plays music.

TK (TEEN): Is that like an mp3?

GK: An MP? You mean, a Military Policeman?

TK (TEEN): Lemme ask someone. Hey, Rex? (DOG PANTING, JINGLE) Where are the CD players? (WOOF) Yeah, they're over that way. (WOOF) Just follow Rex- (WOOFING FADES) (BRIDGE)

GK: I followed the sales dog to a far corner of the store and there was a display of about eighty CD players, some of them with keypads - I wanted to avoid that - I don't want to have to remember a PIN number to be able to listen to music - Rex? (WOOF) Is there one CD player that you recommend? (DOG THINKING, MUTTERING, THEN A SERIES OF WOOFS) This one here, huh? Looks kind of old. (WOOF) But it really works, huh? (WOOF) I don't want to buy some dog of a CD player- (DOG GROWL) Sorry- wrong metaphor. (BRIDGE) Because the dog felt bad, I bought the thing, not noticing that some assembly was required. I took it back to the office and after I assembled it I had three screws left over, and a brace and a green wire.
GK: I was about to call customer service when... (PHONE RING. PICK UP) Yeah? Guy Noir here.
SS (THROATY, OLD): Is this the Guy Noir who registered with the computer dating service?
GK: No, this is his son.
SS (THROATY, OLD): You sound old for a son. Is he home? Your dad?
GK: He's at the drugstore, getting his medications.
SS (THROATY, OLD): Oh. My name is Moira. But my friends call me "Duke."
GK: I'll have him call you.
SS (THROATY, OLD): You sound kind of sexy. You married?
GK: I am.
SS (THROATY, OLD): Happily?
GK: Yes, of course.
SS (THROATY, OLD): You and your wife both happy?
GK: Sure. Every week we go out to a romantic restaurant, have a candlelight dinner, some wine -- she goes on Fridays, I go on Tuesdays. (BRIDGE) I felt bad about lying to her, but I don't want to date older women. They look at romance with a jaundiced eye. I can jaundice a woman myself, I don't need her to be pre-jaundiced. (RING) (HE WAITS) (SECOND RING) -- (PICK UP) Ranch Pizza, this is Chip, may I take your order?
SS (OLD LADY): This is Evelyn calling -- you want to go to the Early Bird Country Buffet and then see a movie? Or would you rather come over here and -play Spin The Bottle of Mylanta?
GK: I'm sorry, this is a pizza parlor. Ranch Pizza.
SS (OLD LADY): The heck it is. I got Caller ID. This is Guy Noir. Let's go out and get sky high on rum-and-cokes and play my Tommy Dorsey records and turn em up real loud. What do you say? You ever dated an old broad before?
GK: Never intentionally, no.
SS (OLD LADY): We could snuggle on the couch and then hmm hmmm hmmm hmmmm, if you know what I mean.
GK: I don't want to know what you mean, Evelyn. (MUSIC)
GK: So I called the CD player customer service number on the package..., (PUSHBUTTON DIALING. PAUSE. RING).

SS (ELECTRONIC VOICE): Thank you for calling the Appliance Barn Customer service line. Some calls may be monitored for quality control purposes or by homeland security personnel in the case of electronics that could be used to set off bombs. If you are experiencing difficulty with an Appliance Barn product, despite the easy-to-follow instruction manual written at a third-grade reading level, press or say 1. (BEEP) If you wish to speak to a service representative, press or say 1. (CLICK)

TR (ON PHONE, ARABIC): My name is Rashid, how can I help?

GK: Well, it's about my new CD player.

TR (ON PHONE): What is the serial number?

GK: Where would I find that?

TR: On the bottom of the residual reservoir refill arm.

GK: Do you mind if I ask where you are? I'm curious.

TR: Where am I? I am in Uzbekhistan. In the village of (ARABIC NAME). I live in a mud hut with fourteen relatives and this computer.

GK: I've tried putting this together but I have some screws and a green wire and a plastic brace or something-

TR: I'm sorry but the camel has eaten my instruction book.

GK: The camel ate it.

TR: Yes, but try this- turn the CD player off. Leave the room.

GK: Leave the room.

TR: Come back in the room.

GK: Listen- I know you're doing your best, and I appreciate it, but - could you switch me over to someone who might be able to help me?

TR: Just one moment, sir- (CLICK, PAUSE)

SS (CARING, ON PHONE): Hello. I'm Debra - I am your customer service specialist. I want to work with you to make this CD player a successful CD player and I really feel that together we can do that, but first I must have your complete trust. I am here for you. I have no other agenda but to make you completely happy.

GK: Debra--

SS (CARING, ON PHONE): Tell me what's happening, Guy.

GK: You know my name--
SS (CARING ON PHONE): Of course I do.

GK: I have a couple screws left over and some wire-

SS (CARING ON PHONE): No - I want to know what's happening with you, Guy. In your life. How you are?

GK: I'm terribly alone, Debra.

SS (CARING ON PHONE): Oh my god...

GK: Nothing is happening, that's my problem.

SS (CARING ON PHONE): Then I think we should start there--

GK: But this is going to take a long time, Debra-You have better things to do than listen to some customer talk about the black hole in the middle of his life.

SS (CARING ON PHONE): You're not just "some customer". You're you. And I'm here. For as long as you need me.

GK: Something tells me that you're a Democrat, Debra...

SS (CARING ON PHONE): How did you know?

GK: I just got that feeling...

SS (CARING ON PHONE): I just feel that this CD malfunction, coming on top of your own personal problems -- it's unjust. Let's call it by its name. It's unjust.

GK: So this is more than a job to you-

SS (CARING ON PHONE): Justice is my job, Guy. And standing up for the consumer against this enormous heartless money-sucking corporation I work for.

GK: Listen. Debra-- this call may be monitored right now-- you could get in trouble for saying this--

SS (CARING ON PHONE): (WEEPY) That is so beautiful.

GK: I mean it.

SS (CARING ON PHONE): (WEEPY) Your CD player turns out to be a piece of crap and what do you do? You worry about my job security--

GK: Well, you probably have a family to think about--


GK: You're not married--

SS (CARING ON PHONE): I'm not. Listen. Take this piece of junk back to the store for a refund.

GK: I don't care about the refund. I care about you, Debra.
SS (CARING ON PHONE): I think I'm going to cry.

GK: Let me give you my phone number-

SS (CARING ON PHONE): I already have your phone number. You live in St. Paul-

GK: I do, yes.

SS (CARING ON PHONE): St. Paul - I've dreamed of seeing it for years. The city on the river. It's Winter Carnival there now, isn't it?

GK: Yes. The ice sculptures are out, people are skating in the streets, Snow White is here, the Ice Maidens are dancing--
SS (ON PHONE): It must be beautiful.
GK: When you're tired of St. Paul, you're tired of life, that's what we say. (CLICK) Hello? Hello? Debra?

SS (HARD, OLDER): This is Virginia, your customer service supervisor. I've been monitoring this call and now I am taking over, Mr. Noyer.
GK: Where's Debra?

SS (HARD, OLDER): Debra has been taken into custody. Give me the serial number of your CD player, Mr. Noyer.

GK: My name is pronounced Noir. It's Noir.

SS (HARD, OLDER): Who gives a rip? Give me your serial number.

GK: Where is it?

SS (HARD, OLDER): Listen, dummy -- next time you call, make sure you have the serial number and your sales receipt and your credit card in front of you? You hear me, clown? I don't have all day. (CLICK)

GK: She hung up on me and the moment she did, there was a knock on the door. (KNOCKS ON DOOR) Yeah, come in. (DOOR OPENS, FOOTSTEPS)
TR (WOMAN): Mr. Noir, I'm Leonora. I got your profile from the dating service. How old did you say you are?
GK: I'm in my extremely late fifties.
TR (WOMAN): Open your mouth, let me see your teeth.
TR (WOMAN): These are old nickel alloy fillings, mister. These go back to the Fifties. Stand up and cough.
GK: Cough?
TR (WOMAN): Cough.
GK: (COUGHS) Okay?
TR (WOMAN): I think you're going to need some hernia repair-- how much do you weigh?
GK: I'm trying to lose some weight.
TR (WOMAN): I think that's a good idea.
GK: Oh.
TR (WOMAN): I think you oughta do something about your hair, too.
GK: Like what?
TR (WOMAN): Combing wouldn't hurt. Look at me and smile.
GK: Okay. (SMILES)
TR (WOMAN): Don't grimace. Smile.
GK: I'm trying.
TR (WOMAN): Let me be frank with you, Mr. Noir. I'm looking for a husband and I need to find one right away so I have somebody to go to Florida with next week. And frankly, you don't turn me on.
GK: No?
TR (WOMAN): No, you don't steam up my glasses, Mr. Noir.
GK: Well, we just met.
TR (WOMAN): I'm sorry. But I've got to run. I've got six more profiles I have to go see--
GK: Six?
TR (WOMAN): At my age, there's no time to waste.
GK: Hey Jimmy -- it's a cold one out there.
TR (JIMMY): That's for sure. So how's the dating, Guy?
GK: Not so good.
TR (JIMMY): You haven't met anybody you care for?
GK: I don't know. Everybody's in such a rush. You meet someone new and they look at you for thirty seconds and you can see disappointment written all over their face. And then they look over your shoulder to see who else is here. What ever happened to courtship?
TR (JIMMY): It's still around. You just have to meet the right person.
GK: Last night, I had the shock of being with an old lady who's ugly as a mud fence and she looked at me and told me that I didn't turn her on.
TR (JIMMY): Yeah. It's hard to be the rejectee.
GK: Face it, Jimmy. I'm at that stage in life where your options are slim or none. It's like elephants and fleas. I used to be an elephant and now I'm a flea. An elephant can have fleas but a flea can't have elephants.

TR (JIMMY): I'm not sure I follow you--

GK: It's like the guy who's looking for the meaning of life, and he goes to India to find a guru, and he climbs the mountain, and there on the top in his cave, sitting cross-legged, is the guru, and the man says, "I've come from America to ask you the meaning of life." The guru says, "Ah yes, the meaning of life. The meaning of life is a rutabaga." The guy says, "A rutabaga? I came all the way from America to discover the meaning of life, and you tell me it's a rutabaga!" The guru says. "So maybe it's broccoli?"

TR (JIMMY): What exactly are you saying, Guy?

GK: And on his way down the mountain the guy falls off a cliff and he manages to hang onto a shrub on his way down and he's hanging there and down below is a one-thousand foot drop and he looks up and he cries out, "God, help me, please, help me." And the clouds part and there's a voice from on high: "I, the Lord God, am here. Let go of the shrub and I will save you." The guy thinks about it and then he says, "Is there anyone else up there?"

TR (JIMMY): What's your point? I don't get it.

GK: It's like the kid who never said a word for six years. His parents took him to speech therapists but the kid never spoke. And then one morning at breakfast, he looked up from his bowl of cereal and said, "The milk is sour." The parents were so happy. They said, "You talk perfectly. Why did you wait so long ?" He said, "Up until now everything's been okay."
TR (JIMMY): How about I get you a martini, Guy?
GK: They say a martini is the most fattening drink, about 700 calories each, but if you drink enough of them, the calories are zero.

TR (JIMMY): What's your point, Guy?

GK: Life is a joke, pal. That's the meaning of life. It's a rutabaga. The reason I didn't talk was that everything up to this point was okay. So play it for laughs. Play it for laughs. Tragedy is just a joke that we haven't figured out yet.
TR: A dark night in a city that keeps its secrets, and there on the twelfth floor of the Acme Building is a guy still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions...Guy Noir, private eye.