Silver Lining
Saturday, June 20, 1998
Listen

(PIANO UNDER)

I remember the night in June, back when I was your age, it was graduation night and I had returned my gown to Miss Pfleider in the cafeteria and gotten my five dollar deposit back and I hung around on the school steps until my dream woman Wanda Johnson came out---- (EVENING AMBIENCE. FOOTSTEPS APPROACH)

SS: Oh---- hi.

GK: Hi. I ---- I just wanted to say goodbye, Wanda.

SS: Right. Guess our high school years are over. (SHE LAUGHS AWKWARDLY)

GK: Yes. Seems like it.

SS: Well. I guess we'll always have the memories, won't we.

GK: Yes. I know I will, anyway. Well, congratulations.

SS: Oh, thanks. You too.

GK: That's a nice dress.

SS: Thank you.

GK: It looks good on you.

SS: It's kind of small for me.

GK: It looks good. Small looks good on you.

SS: Thanks. Are you going to Patty's party?

GK: Patty Peterson?

SS: Yes.

GK: I didn't know there was one. Tonight?

SS: Maybe I shouldn't have said anything.

GK: Is that where everyone went?

SS: I guess----

GK: I was wondering. I was in the cafeteria and it seemed like the whole class---- just---- suddenly they were gone.

SS: Yeah. Well---- it's getting late.

GK: Right. I shouldn't keep you----

SS: Do you need a ride anywhere?

GK: Like where?

SS: I don't know. Wherever you're going.

GK: No, I'm fine.

SS: Are you sure?

GK: I'm fine. Have fun.

SS: You too.

GK: Sure. See you at the reunion.

SS: See you then. (MUSIC)

GK: It wasn't the first time I didn't get invited to a party. But that night I went home and looked at myself in the mirror, me in my highwater pants and big boats on my feet and the dorky glasses and the bad haircut and I vowed that (MUSIC BUILD) I would go into radio broadcasting and win the popularity and acceptance I could never achieve in real life ---- and I vowed that I would


Look for the silver lining
Whene'er a cloud appears in the blue,
Remember somewhere the sun is shining,
And so the best thing to do is let it shine on you....

 

GK: And it did shine on me, and I became a popular radio personality with shows like-----
(BLIZZARD, HOWL)

TR (OLD-TIME ANNOUNCER): WYLER OF THE NORTH! Struggling alone in the face of the storm to bring truth and beauty to the frozen tundra (BLIZZARD)

(TELEGRAPH KEY)

TR (ANNOUNCER): The Mutual Broadcasting Service presents.....Carson Wyler And The News....brought to you by Windham Baked Beans.....

(BIG BAND DANCE THEME)

TR (OLD-TIME ANNOUNCER): And now, from the Starlight Lounge of New York's famous Ansonia Hotel, it's Carson Wyler and his Melody Cats--- (FADING) brought to you by Hav-A-Ree----

GK: It was all to compensate for my having been such a geek in high school, and my career went well until just last week when--- I don't know if it's the medication or maybe I've been eating too much dairy product --- but last week's show was a real stink bomb. (LOW SAX & BASS NOTE) I knew it. Everybody knew it. I sat in the dressing room, asking myself, Why----- why did I sing "Volare" ---- why did I do all of those jokes about prosthetic devices? Why? And then Sue Scott came in and made a valiant attempt to lie to me, the way people in show business do.

SS: That was so--- original, what you did out there, so---- it had an emotional generosity that you don't get with technical gloss ---- sure, it was uneven, but it had an emotional resonance that, personally, I prefer to --- you know---- technical gloss.--- (QUIET SOBBING)--- Would you like some Jujubes?

(BRIDGE)

GK: The next day my boss Mr. Smythe stuck his head over the partition of my work cubicle----

TR: Carson----- how's it going?

GK: Fine, sir.

TR: Oh. Good. Mind if I sit down for a minute?

GK: No, of course not, sir.

TR: I tuned in the show last weekend.

GK: I see. I must say, it was----

TR: That Tom Keith is sure a funny guy, isn't he----

GK: Yes----

TR: He just wins your heart, doesn't he? And funny? The guy breaks me up. (HE CHUCKLES) I recorded him on cassette. Listen to this (TK MOOSE) Isn't that good? (

TR LAUGHS) I love that! I guess that's why we get so much mail about him.

GK: We do?

TR: People writing in, saying, "More Tom Keith." Sometimes they refer to him as "that guy with the smile in his voice". Listen to this (TK CHOPPER) I love it. Don't you? Listen. (TK WHINNY) Same guy. Can you believe it? Same guy.

GK: For a sound effects man, yes--- he's----

TR: Tom Keith tests very well with focus groups, Carson.

GK: You've been working with focus groups----?

TR: When we play a recording of Tom Keith to a focus group, their reaction is, "There is a guy who I wish my sons would have as a role model. A guy I'd lend my lawnmower to.

GK: Did you play tapes of me to focus groups?

TR: We did. When they heard you, they said, "This guy is under a great deal of stress. This guy is the sort of guy I was always afraid my sister might marry. This guy, if he got on a plane, I'd want his hand luggage searched very carefully."

GK: I see.

TR: Maybe you need to take some time off. Rest up. Try to get back your old spark.

(MUSIC)

GK: And that's why we came to Maine. I came here to try to put the music and the color back into my drab existence --- to get the inspiration that a person needs to go on living ---- and I came to the Rabindranath Janarandamahakrishnamurti Meditation Center and Fishing Camp at Lake Piscacadawadaquoddymoggin (LOON, AND OUTDOOR AMBIENCE)----(TR INDIAN: Welcome to our resort. Let me show you to your cabin.) ----

(MUSIC BRIDGE)

GK: And that's how I met Stephen King. He was there too. We went fishing.

TR (FLAT, DEEP VOICE): Hi. I'm Stephen King and I just wrote a book about a killer microwave that I sold for an advance of seven million dollars. You want to sit in the bow or the stern?

GK: Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates and Rabindranath Janarandamahakrishnamurti, the owner of the camp ---- all of us went out fishing one evening (AMBIENT NIGHT TIME SOUNDS) with Mr. King's dog, Blue Fang. (WOOF)

TR (DEEP FLAT VOICE): Beautiful night out tonight. (WATER, OAR SFX)

SS: Nice moon too. Almost full.

TR (INDIAN): Yes, indeed. Almost full, the moon. Tomorrow it should have complete fullness.

SS: Nice to have a clear sky.

GK: I sure envy you people your serenity.

TR (DEEP FLAT): I got a lot of serenity since I sold that book. Right, boy? (DOG WOOF)

GK: Why is that dog looking at me that way? And why is it smoking a cigarette?

TR (INDIAN): We must learn to practice serenity and to locate within ourselves the divine love that is at the center of all of nature.

(THE LAPPING OF WATER. A DISTANT LOON)

GK: What are you using for bait, Miss Oates?

SS: Croutons.

GK: Whole wheat?

SS: Sourdough.

GK: I'll bet there're big ones down there, aren't there.

TR (INDIAN): Oh my yes. Very very big ones down there.

SS: I'm using big croutons. (REEL PLAYING OUT)

TR (FLAT DEEP): I once had a giant marlin mounted on the wall of my study and I wrote a book about a stuffed fish that ate six people. Wrote it in three weeks. Over a thousand pages. It sold about sixteen million copies. One fish.

SS: Must be nice to have your kind of testosterone, Steve. It means never having to edit.

TR (INDIAN): Testosterone is all part of the love that is at the center of all of nature.

SS: Sure is guys' country up here in Maine. Must be nice. To be able to write your name in the snow nine months of the year.

GK: I thought I felt a bite.

SS: That's what being a guy is all about. The world is your urinal. Lots of testosterone toxicity up here, if you ask me. Guys in Maine go out and kill moose the size of a Buick and they never have to shave or worry about hurting anyone's feelings. Their phone conversations take about thirty seconds. And they pee everywhere.

TR (INDIAN): Oh my goodness---- look down there---- Do I see a fish--- Oh yes, I think I do. (SMALL SPLASH) Oh dear.

GK: What was that?

TR (INDIAN): I have just dropped my glasses in the lake. Oh goodness me.

GK: Oh oh.

TR (INDIAN): Oh my. Now I cannot see a thing. No. Now I must see with the inner eye of consciousness. Oh no----- (THRASHING IN WATER, WOOF)

SS: Something's on your line, Rabindranath Janarandamahakrishnamurti!

TR (INDIAN): Oh goodness, me--- (HE STRAINS) it is a very very big fish!

GK: It's a big one all right!

TR (INDIAN): Oh goodness. What if he tips the boat over?

SS: Sit down, Mr. Janarandamahakrishnamurti!

TR (INDIAN): I can't sit down or I will lose him ---- Ready with the net! (WOOF, THRASHING IN WATER) My O my, it is a big one, this fish. Yes, yes.

GK: It's huge! (FLOPPING FISH)

TR (FLAT DEEP): Look at those eyes. They're the color of tinfoil. (FLOPPING)

SS: I've got him in the net! ---- I think! (FLOPPING)

TR (FLAT DEEP): Hit him with an oar!

SS: Hit him with what?

TR (INDIAN): No, no---- you must not hit him. This is a very very special fish.

GK: He has a gun!

TR (FLAT DEEP): Stand back! (GUNSHOT, THEN ANOTHER) Got him! (WATER BUBBLING UP)

SS: You shot a hole in the bottom of the boat!

TR (INDIAN): Oh dear, I was afraid something like this might happen.

SS: Talk about testosterone poisoning!

TR (INDIAN): Help us! Please. Help!

GK: What are we going to do?

TR (FLAT DEEP): Luckily I brought several copies of my book along. My books, when soaked in water, expand to sixteen times their size and may be used as flotation devices. (MUSIC BRIDGE)

GK: We had to swim half a mile in the frigid waters clutching a waterlogged novel, and when we reached the Rabindranath Janarandamahakrishnamurti Meditation Center, all there was to eat was yoghurt and lentils, and in all the confusion, the fish was lost, a fish that I'd estimate to have been about two-hundred pounds, possibly some kind of freshwater dolphin, and, strangely, something else was lost too. My sadness was gone. I left it there in the cold waters of Lake Piscacadawadaquoddymoggin.

TR (FLAT, DEEP): I'm going to write a book about Rabindranath Janarandamahakrishnamurti except I'm going to make him a serial killer.

GK: I came out of that lake a hopeful guy, and what more do we need than hope---- hope and....

A heart filled with joy and gladness
Can always vanquish sadness and strife.
So always look for the silver lining
And try to find the sunny side of life.
(c) 1998 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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