The Princess and the Pea
Saturday, May 24, 1997
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(TRUMPET FANFARE)

 

GK: The Inner Children's Theatre presents----the story of the Princess and the Pea!

 

(TRUMPET FANFARE)

 

GK: Once upon a time there was a man who had almost everything he ever wanted and yet he was sad. (ALL: Ohhhhhhhh)

 

TR: I have a beautiful glass home that has been featured in full-color in an architectural magazine. I own a luxury car, a 1997 Rotini, and it's equipped with its own juicer. I have a portfolio of blue-ribbon stocks that's appreciating like a house afire. I have a membership in public radio. And yet there is something missing --- an emptiness in my life. I wish --- I wish that I had a princess.

 

GK: A princess! Are you nuts?

 

TR: All my life I've wanted a princess!

 

GK: Have you ever gone shopping with a princess?

 

TR: No.

 

GK: You'll spend your life waiting. Have you ever gone to dinner with a princess?

 

TR: No.

 

GK: They order a salad and they spend the evening stealing food off your plate. Peasant women are so much more practical.

 

TR: No, thanks.

 

GK: Peasant women cook and clean and they never complain and they're not so long-legged so they can squat and pick potatoes more easily.

 

TR: I much prefer a princess.

 

GK: So he called up the princess agency----

 

TR: What do you have available in princesses? I'd like one with flaxen hair and a long nose and a neck like a swan and a beauty mark on her chin. (TK FEMALE VOICE ON OTHER END) Wonderful, send them over. (TK FEMALE VOICE ON OTHER END)

 

GK: And the next day, in came the first princess. Flaxen hair, long neck, beauty mark and all.

 

SS: Oh wow. Like cool. Love the house. Like, really. Nice car too. Far out.

 

TR: I'm sorry. Real princesses do not say "wow".

 

SS: They don't?

 

TR: No, they don't.

 

SS: Oh. Okay.

 

GK: And then in came the next princess.....

 

SS: Hi. I just want to say that I really really really appreciate your giving me this chance to talk to you about the possibility of my princessing for you, this is like a really wonderful wonderful opportunity for me, and if you choose me, I can tell you that--- what's wrong?

 

TR: A real princess does not fawn.

 

SS: No?

 

TR: No. They never fawn. Never truckle. Never cringe or beg. Sorry. (MUSIC)

 

 

GK: He was awfully sorry, the man who had almost everything he wanted. The agency had no more princesses to show him who had flaxen hair and a long nose and a neck like a swan and a beauty mark. And then one dark and stormy night (THUNDER, LIGHTNING), he heard a knock on his door (KNOCKS, SS PLEAS FOR HELP FROM OUTSIDE) and he opened it (DOOR CREAKING OPEN, THUNDER, LIGHTNING) and there was a young woman drenched, soaking wet, on the doorstep....

 

SS: Well? Invite me in!

 

TR: Please come in!

 

SS: That's better.

 

(FOOTSTEPS SQUISHING, DOOR CLOSE, DISTANT THUNDER. SQUISHING FOOTSTEPS)

 

GK: Her long flaxen hair was wet and water dripped from the end of her long nose and ran down her swanlike neck. And she had a beauty mark on her chin. She picked up the hem of her dress and wrung it out. (WATER POURING)

 

SS: I need two towels! very thick! all-cotton! no polyester! And a bathrobe! Blue, if possible.

 

TR: Yes, of course. I'll be right back. (FAST FOOTSTEPS)

 

SS: And tea! A pot of herbal tea! With no additives! (MUSIC)

 

GK: He brought her the towels and bathrobe.

 

(FAST FOOTSTEPS)

 

TR: Here.

 

SS: Turn around and close your eyes.

 

TR: Yes, of course. (WET PLOP OF DRESS HITTING FLOOR)

 

SS: All right!

 

GK: He turned around and she wore the bathrobe, a towel wrapped around her head, and she was looking at the tea.

 

SS: What a hideous teapot? where in the world did you get it?

 

TR: It was a gift from an old girlfriend.

 

SS: Oh dear. I'm afraid she didn't think much of you. And this china teacup? this from her too?

 

TR: Yes----

 

SS: Those stripes. It makes me nauseous just to look at it.

 

TR: Would you like a white one?

 

SS: Better. Yes.

 

TR: Good. (POURING TEA)

 

SS; Is that real herbal tea or does it only say "herbal" on the package?

 

TR: It's chamomile.

 

SS: Oh. Chamomile.

 

TR: You'd prefer something else?

 

SS: No, it's okay, I guess.

 

TR: Would you prefer mint?

 

SS: Do you have mint?

 

TR: Of course.

 

SS: Real mint?

 

TR: Yes.

 

SS: No additives?

 

TR: Absolutely not. Pure organic mint tea.

 

SS: Well, if it's not too much trouble----

 

TR: I'll be right back. (FOOTSTEPS OFF)

 

GK: She sat at the head of the table regal and handsome despite her wet hair----

 

SS: This bathrobe is driving me crazy, it's cotton, but it's a combed cotton polyester blend, do you have a 100% cotton bathrobe? white? unbleached? if it's not too much trouble?

 

TR (OFF): I think so, yes.

 

SS: And a rice cake would be nice---

 

TR (OFF): Coming right up----

 

SS: Whole rice? Non-dairy? Sodium-free? No glutens.

 

TR (OFF): I'll see what I can find---

 

SS: And before I can marry you, you'll have to throw all of those pillows away. They have goose down. I can't have goose down. I can only have pillows filled with the tail feathers of hummingbirds.

 

TR (OFF): Okay. I'll see what I can do.

 

SS: And I need to have the mattress elevated at the foot.

 

TR (OFF): Okay. Glad to do it.

 

SS: Put a pea under it.

 

TR (OFF): I'll get one right away.

 

(MUSIC)

 

GK: So she was a real princess and that was what he wanted. Because it's a man's goal in life to please a woman, of course, and if she's easy to please, then what sense of accomplishment do you get from that?

SS: This pea is too small. I need a bigger pea. My feet need to be elevated. This is a baby pea. I need a chick pea.

TR (OFF): Be right there, darling.

SS: And the mint in this tea--- I think it's from a plant that grew too close to the road. I taste dust on it.

TR (OFF): I'll get a new batch.

GK: But to please a princess: that is a task a man could devote a lifetime to.

TR: Are you happy, my love?

SS: I am almost happy.

TR: What can I do to make you completely happy?

SS: I don't know. Let me think.

TR: As soon as you think of it, tell me.

SS: I will. I will.

GK: We cannot coax someone to love us by being easy to be with.
Love has not much to do with things being easy.

SS: You know what would be so lovely in this tea?

TR: What is that?

SS: A thimbleful of cat's milk.

TR: Cat's milk? (CAT MEOW)

SS: Yes. Is that too much to ask?

TR: Certainly not. Here, kitty, kitty....(CAT MEOW)

SS: Before you do that, could you move the pea slightly to the left?

TR: Yes, of course.

SS: Just a little. ---No, the other way. ----A little more. ---- No, that's too much. (SHE CONTINUES)

GK: The Inner Children's Theater has presented....The Princess and the Pea. (TRUMPET FANFARE)

© 1997 by Garrison Keillor

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

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