Tonsil script
Saturday, January 7, 2006


Sue Scott: Come in.

Garrison Keillor: Thank you. (SIX SHORT SLOW FOOTSTEPS, SIT ON CHAIR)

SS: You comfortable there?

GK: What do you mean?

SS: You could sit on the couch if you like.

GK: No, this is fine.

SS: Kleenex?

GK: No. I'm fine.

SS: So— how was your week?

GK: It was okay.

SS: Okay. Any thing unusual? Anything troubling?

GK: I don't think so.

SS: You look ashen. Haunted.

GK: Oh. That. Well — my daughter had her tonsillectomy on Monday.

SS: I see. And your daughter is —

GK: She's seven years old.

SS: And how was that?

GK: Well, we'd scheduled it weeks ago so we prepared her for it by — well, by lying to her about how it wouldn't be that bad. We read her a book called Tommy and His Tonsils that essentially made the whole thing seem like a fun experience. So when we took her to the hospital, I think she was expecting to see clowns. We got her undressed and we put her little green surgical gown on and the green stockings and then my wife decided she might faint so I was the parent who had to take the little girl by the hand down the hall to the operating room. It was a long walk. I remembered the scene in A Tale of Two Cities when the royal children walk to the guillotine. But I had to do it. I had to lift her up on the table and coax her to put on the clear plastic mask and breathe the anesthesia.

SS: And she was okay with that?

GK: You see these fingernail marks on my hand?

SS: She wasn't okay with that—

GK: No. She gave me a baleful look just as she drifted away and when she came out of anesthesia, after they'd cut her — (WEEPY) after they cut my child's flesh with a sharp knife — I'm sorry.

SS: That's all right. Here—

GK: Thanks.


GK: When she came out of anesthesia, she looked at me and she stuck out her tongue and she said, in her tiny wounded voice, "I don't like you anymore."

SS: "I don't like you anymore."

GK: Yes.

SS: And how did that make you feel?

GK: Like John Wilkes Booth.

SS: Just for having her tonsils taken out???

GK: I felt like a heinous criminal.

SS: And where was your wife through all this?

GK: Hospitals make her queasy, so she stood across the street and waved a white hanky and held up a sign that said, I Love You, Honey, You're A Good Girl.

SS: I see.

GK: She became the distant beloved parent and I became the war criminal. I was the one who had to pin my daughter's arms so nurses could force the wretched medicine down her throat —

SS: She didn't' want to swallow it?

GK: You see these scorch marks on my face?

SS: Oh.

GK: That's where she looked at me.

SS: But she got better?

GK: Slowly. For a couple days, it was like the Death of Little Nell. I could hear cellos playing, the weeping of the old family retainers.

SS: But she's home now.

GK: Yes. She is.

SS: And you?

GK: I'm staying at the Motel 6 east of St. Paul. I'm wearing pajamas I made out of a burlap bag and I'm not sleeping on the bed, I'm sleeping on the tile floor, and I'm fasting and I put ashes in my mouth and in my hair.

SS: I noticed that.

GK: When am I going to get over this, Doctor? When does the pain and the guilt let up and when do I start having fun being a father?

SS: Well, our time is up. We've raised some interesting issues and we'll have to take them up next week. All right? Care for some more Kleenex?

GK: Thank you.

SS: Take the box.


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).

Available now»

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