A Night at the Prom
Saturday, June 3, 2000
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(GK: Garrison Keillor, SS: Sue Scott, TK: Tom Keith, TR: Tim Russell, MJ: Maria Jette)

(CHOR: I'M MR. BLUE, UNDER)

It's the night of the Spring Prom and even in this sensible little town, full of farmers and makers and fixers and doers, where we've all been brought up to shun frivolous display and expense and foolishness, there is a definite urge toward elegance and romance that you never would have suspected.

In the high school gym, card tables and chairs are arranged on one side of the floor, with white tablecloths and wine bottles holding candles, to suggest a Parisian sidewalk cafe. The basketball backboards have been redone as streetlights, and on the wall, the skyline --- the Eiffel tower and the Arc de Triomphe --- done in Magic Marker.

At one of the card tables, I sat in my rented tuxedo next to the crowded dance floor looking at a beautiful young woman in a shimmering green dress, floor-length, sitting across from me.

GK: You sure you don't want to dance?

MJ: I sprained my ankle. Sorry. I can't.

GK: Oh, right. You mentioned that. Volleyball.

MJ: Right. It was a very bad fall.

GK: Your right ankle?

MJ: Both ankles. If you want to dance with someone else----

GK: No, that's all right.

MJ: --- I don't mind at all.

GK: No, I'd rather sit here and---- talk.

MJ: Thanks.

GK: I don't dance all that well, to be honest. I'd just as soon sit and talk anyway.

(PUT YOUR HEAD ON MY SHOULDER. Chorus, then hum under.....)

GK: I must say, that's a nice dress.

MJ: You really think so?

GK: Yes.

MJ: Thanks. It's aquamarine.
I don't care for it. Everyone's wearing green
Or blue or aqua. I wanted black.
Saw a beautiful one, my size, on the rack.
My mother said, "No way. No how."
I thought she was going to have a cow.
I tried it on. The saleswoman said, "It's cute."
Mother said, "You look like a prostitute."
So we got green. So I wouldn't look immoral.
At least it's better than beige or coral.

GK: Anyway, it looks great. Nice perfume too.

MJ: I put it on just for you.
It's called Sea Breeze.
It comes from the Outer Hebrides.

GK: It has a very pleasant bouquet.

MJ: It's made from the foam of the ocean spray.

GK: Nice. Do you always speak in rhyme?

MJ: Most of the time.

(PUT YOUR HEAD ON MY SHOULDER (Chorus, then hum, under....)

GK: Nice song.

MJ: Yes. Isn't it.

GK: You're not having a good time, are you. I can tell.

MJ: I'm fine.

GK: I can tell. You're bored.

MJ: I'm not bored.

GK: I'm sorry, I'm not very good company.

MJ: You are. I like you. It's just---

GK: It's just that I have no idea what to talk to you about.

MJ: It's okay. We don't have to.

GK: I tried to think up stuff to talk about and now----

MJ: Don't worry about it.

GK: I can't think of a thing to say, and you want to know why?

MJ: Why?

GK: Because I'm stunned. I've never been with anyone as beautiful as you.

MJ: You're very sweet.

GK: It's true. I've been in love with you since you came to this school.

MJ: Last fall.

GK: Last fall. All winter, all spring, I've thought about you every day.

(I CAN'T HELP FALLING IN LOVE WITH YOU)

GK: I'm boring you, aren't I. I can tell by the look on your face. Do you want to go home? I'll go get my car and I'll take you home and that'll be the end of it. Really. I don't mind. I know I'm a big nothing.

MJ: I'm not bored at all. I'm in pain.
I hurt. I may be insane,
On my way to the psycho ward
But I'm not bored.
Believe me, I'm not.

GK: What have you got? What's wrong?

MJ: It's a long story. Much too long.

GK: You're crying. What can I do? Can I bring you ice?

MJ: No, not ice.

GK: Water?

MJ: That would be nice.
A bucket of water. With salt. About a cup.

GK: Salt water?

MJ: And as long as you're up---

GK: Yes? What else?

MJ: No, it's too odd.

GK: What? Tell me.

MJ: A fresh cod.
Raw. If possible, still alive.

GK: That's fine. I'll have to borrow
The car. I can leave tomorrow.
For the coast. I'll go to Seattle
Assuming my mom and dad'll
Let me, but I'm sure it's fine.
A living fish and a bucket of brine---
(MJ GASP OF PAIN)
What's wrong? Why are you so pale?

MJ: You stepped on my tail!

GK: I'm sorry.

MJ: (SHUDDER OF PAIN) It's not your fault.
But please. Hurry. The water. And don't forget the salt.

(BLUE MOON......part one)

GK: Here's the water.

MJ: Thanks. Oh my.
I had no idea I was so dry.
Oh that feels good. Utterly divine.
Simply divine.

GK: Could I get you some calamine
Or some other lotion?

MJ: All I need is the ocean.

GK: I take it the Midwest is not your home.

MJ: Mermaids come from the sea foam
And for someone with a tail and fins
To walk on ground is like walking on pins
Or walking on broken glass.

GK: So that's why you skipped phy ed class.

MJ: All year I've kept it a mystery:
My personal history.
Not one student, not one teacher,
Guessed I was an ocean creature.
How my father sent me from the sea
To get a sense of geography.
He felt that his daughter
Needed to get her head above the water
And go ashore and look around
So this has been my semester aground.
One day I was mythological, a sort of fairy.
The next day I'm here on the prairie
Going through a series of crises
On account of being half girl and half pisces.

(BLUE MOON.....2nd part, falsetto....)

GK: Are you feeling better?

MJ: I'm chilled.

GK: I'll get a sweater.

MJ: No. Put your arms around me. Like that. Good.

GK: I wanted to all night and didn't know if I should.

MJ: I wanted you to.

GK: Good. I'm glad.

MJ: You don't think I smell bad?

GK: No, not at all.

MJ: Please. You can be frank.
You don't find me mildewed or dank
Or clammy to your touch?

GK: No, not that much.

MJ: And what about my breath? I just ate a sardine.

GK: You smell good. Very clean.
I'm not kidding. I wouldn't rib ya.
I've always been attracted to amphibia.
Marry me.

MJ: You want me to stay?

GK: Yes. Love can find a way.
I know it's not simple. It wouldn't be easy
To be in love with another specie
But don't you think we could try?

MJ: I'd die.

GK: You would?

MJ: It would be sheer death.
Already, it hurts when I draw a breath.
And my feet are bleeding. They're one big bruise.

GK: What if we made you a pair of shoes?

MJ: My dear, you can't make shoes for a mermaid.

GK: Maybe not, but what if they were made,
Would you be willing to try them for awhile?
See if they made you more mobile?

MJ: My darling, you don't understand.
Mermaids are not meant for land.
It's not a problem to be solved.
Somehow it's not how we evolved.

 

I love you and I'm going away.
You can see me in the ocean spray
You can hear me in the dolphin's cry
Like the sirens or the Lorelei
You can find me in the pale moonbeams.
I'll see you in your dreams.

 

I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS (Chorus, then under....)

GK: There'll never be anyone like you.

MJ: This is true.

GK: Never another night like tonight.

MJ: I think you're right.

GK: I can't bear that you're going away.
Would you like to go to a cafe?
There's Mexican. Italian. Thai.

MJ: Is there a sushi bar nearby?

GK: No. I don't think so.

MJ: Goodnight, then. It's time to go.

GK: Maybe we'll meet again someday.

 

MJ: Terrific.
I'm at 10,000 feet in the south Pacific.
In the Mindanao trench south of Hawaii.

GK: Ten thousand feet. Ai yi yi yii.
That's pretty deep. That's way down below.

CHO: GOOD NIGHT SWEETHEART

GK: Would you like a ride? You can't walk.

MJ: I ordered a cab for ten o'clock.

GK: So after ten, probably I'll never see you again
As long as I'm alive.

MJ: Only if you scuba dive.

GK: Take care of yourself.

MJ: I will. You too.

GK: Bon voyage. Farewell.

MJ: Adieu.
Adios. Aloha. Ciao.
Auf wiedersehen.

GK: Goodbye now.

MJ: Arrivederci. Cheerio.

GK: It's getting late.

MJ: I'd better go.

CHO: GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART

MJ: A love forever unfulfilled.

GK: No lawn to mow,
No house to build.

MJ: I'll always hold you in my mind.

GK: And I in mine.

MJ: You're very kind.

GK: Those lovely bubbles when you speak,
That nestle gently on your cheek.

MJ: Those aren't bubbles-you've made me cry.

GK: Goodnight, my love. Goodbye.

CHO: GOODNIGHT SWEETHEART

I gave her a hand and helped her out the door and there was a taxi waiting and she got in and I kissed her one last kiss and the car pulled away and I watched the taillights disappear around the corner. The love of my life, gone forever. And the tears rolled down my cheeks. Salt tears, one last bond between us.

CHO: GOOD NIGHT SWEETHEART

 

(c) 2000 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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