Guy Noir
Saturday, December 25, 1999
Listen

(GK: Garrison Keillor; TK: Tom Keith; AF: Al Franken; RB: Roy Blount)

(MUSIC)

GK:
It's Christmas Day, good tidings to you
Wherever, whoever you are,
I'm in my office on the twelfth floor
And my name.... Guy Noir.

Christmas Day here in the city that knows how to keep its secrets, and here I am with a new Millenium just ahead and I'm no closer to finding the answers to life's persistent questions than I was when I was thirteen, sitting in Mr. Hawley's math class ---

AF: Someday you people are going to wish you'd paid more attention to algebra and things like the multiplication of fractions because, take my word for it, the world is becoming more and more complex every year. By the year 2000, we'll be living in a totally different world --- we'll be living in domes
and wearing disposable clothing and our meals will come in the form of tablets and we'll drive solar-powered cars that fly, steered by gyroscopes. A person who doesn't know math will be utterly lost in the world of 2000, take my word for it. (BRIDGE)

GK: That was forty years ago, back when we referred to it as "The Year 2000". And now here it is. I ran into Mr. Hawley a couple years ago. At the airport. At a frozen yoghurt stand. He was behind the counter.

AF: What can I get for you, mister?

GK: I'd like the Double Dutch.

AF: You want the Tropical Hula or the Chocolate Whammy?

GK: You don't recognize me, do you.

AF: No, I don't.

GK: I was in your math class, Mr. Hawley. Years ago.

AF: Really. I retired in '89. Took early retirement. Got into the yoghurt business.

GK: Maybe you remember me. I was the guy with the pack of Luckies
tucked into the sleeve of my T-shirt. I was a greaser. Got a D in your class.

AF: I remember you. Noir, right? Sure. You sat in the back of the room and read girlie magazines. Didn't you wind up in some sort of correctional institution?

GK: No, I started my own company and recently sold it for six-hundred million dollars, Mr. Hawley.

AF: Ha!

GK: It's true. And I've just donated a new wing to my old high school. The Guy Noir Math & Science Learning Center.

AF: Hard to believe.

GK: Hope you'll come and be my guest for the dedication. I'll send you a plane ticket.

AF: You were the guy who put the tack on my chair, weren't you.

GK: Well, I---

AF: It still hurts when I sit.

GK: I'm sorry.

AF: You were the one who put itching powder in my pants. The one who let the air out of my tires.

GK: You were a very important person to me, Mr. Hawley. God bless you for all you did for others.

AF: When is the dedication?

GK: Soon, Mr. Hawley. Soon. (MUSIC)

The women ask, "Who's the man in the hat
Smoking that lovely cigar?
Who is that man who is looking at me?
Could it be....Guy Noir?"

The Twentieth Century is passing
The youth we used to know
And the beautiful women we took in our arms
In Paris so long ago.

RB: (QUIETLY, CALMLY) You were in Paris once. Twelve years ago. It was January. Your hotel was near the Musee d'Orsay. You were sick with the flu. You stayed in bed for three days. You were alone. No beautiful women around.

GK: I prefer my version. Who are you, mister?

RB: I'm Al. I'm your angel, Guy.

GK: My angel! You look more like my doorman.

RB: A similar line of work in many ways.

GK: I thought angels were supposed to be beautiful.

RB: I am. You don't think so?

GK: I mean, with Botticellian faces and long golden hair....

RB: You don't like my hair this way?

GK: It's fine. So you're the one who watches over me and keeps me out of trouble?

RB: I do my best.

GK: I wish you'd done a better job. So --- what brings you here? You're not the Spirit of Christmas Future, are you? You're not going to show me my tombstone?

RB: Nope. Just came by to wish you a happy New Year.

GK: Thank you ---- you're wishing me a happy new year?

RB: That's right.

GK: You don't know if it will be or not?

RB: I do know, yes.

GK: So will it be?

RB: Do you really want to know?

GK: You mean it's going to be bad?

RB: I didn't say that.

GK: I know, but did you mean that?

RB: Do you want to know the future?

GK: Do you think I'd enjoy knowing it?

RB: You might.

GK: Tell me something, Al. Is there going to be a time in the next year when I'm going to think to myself, "Darn, I wish I'd worked harder in math."

RB: No. That's not going to happen.

GK: Thanks, Al. (MUSIC)

The Twentieth Century is passing
Our youth, our dreams of romance,
And the beautiful women we took in our arms
At the VFW dance.

You've got to be brave, you got to be cool,
And believe in your lucky star.
And if you need help from an older guy,
Call on me....Guy Noir. (PHONE RING. PICK UP) Yeah? Noir here.

TK (ON PHONE): Is this Guy Noir?

GK: That's me, pal. What can I do for you?

TK (ON PHONE): Just feeling a little nervous about New Year's Eve. You know. Y2K and terrorism and everything.

GK: Uh huh. Where are you?

TK (ON PHONE): At home.

GK: Right, but---

TK (ON PHONE): I live in a dome and drive a solar-powered flying car and if my computer crashes, I don't know how I'm going to purchase more disposable clothing and meal tablets.

GK: Well, go to a church that has a soup kitchen and get supper and maybe they'll give you some clothes too.

TK (ON PHONE): How do I get there if the gyroscope on my car goes on the fritz?

GK: Walk.

TK (ON PHONE): Walk?

GK: Walk.

TK (ON PHONE): Okay. Thanks.

GK: May I ask you a question, sir?

TK (ON PHONE): Sure. What is it?

GK: Were you good at math?

TK (ON PHONE): Me? I teach math. I'm a mathematician.

GK: Thank you, sir. (MUSIC)

It's not what you know, it's what you dare
To dream that takes you far.
Happy 2000 and Auld Lang Syne
From me....Guy Noir.

 

(c) 1999 by Garrison Keillor

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