Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian script
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Listen

Tim Russell (ANNC): And now- we take you to the hushed reading room of the Herndon County Library...for the adventures of Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian.

(SS HUMS, SEVERAL BEATS)

Sue Scott: Stop tapping your foot, Trent. You're driving me crazy. You've been sitting there tapping and tapping for about an hour now.

Tom Keith: Sorry. ——I have ADHD, you know.

SS: I know that, Trent. You've told me often.

TK: Maybe I should take my pills.

SS: You just took some pills fifteen minutes ago.

TK: I did?

SS: Why don't you take the day off, Trent. You seem so agitated.

TK: Really? I can leave? You don't need me to reshelve?

SS: You reshelved yesterday.

TK: I don't mind doing it again.

SS: Take the day off, Trent. Please.

TK: OK, Miss Harrison. See you tomorrow. — (DOOR OPENS, CLOSES). (SHE DRAWS A SIGH OF RELIEF) (FOOTSTEPS) At last. I'm alone. Free. Free to work on my novel. Broken Bindings. (FOOTSTEPS, CUPBOARD DOOR OPENS, GLASS IS SET ON TABLE. LIQUID IS POURED IN. RUTH SIPS FROM IT. SHE SIGHS.) Oh my, that surely hits the spot.

TR (BRIT LADY): You should lock the library door, Ruth.

SS: (GASP) It's — it's the picture of Jane Austen on the wall — and her lips are moving.

TR (BRIT LADY): Of course they're moving, Ruth. I'm talking to you. Pour me some of that sherry.

SS: Sherry??? Miss Austen— I can't believe you're saying that.

TR (BRIT LADY): When I wrote "Pride and Prejudice," I was higher than a kite. Good and tanked up on port wine. I drank it by the pitcher.

SS: By the pitcher???

TR (BRIT LADY): In the unexpurgated version, Mr. Darcy had the body of a young elk and we cavorted together. An editor took out the cavorting. That's what killed me. Not consumption.

SS: Miss Austen, this is so unlike you—

TR (BRIT LADY): What do you mean? You expected me to be all buttoned-up just because I'm a spinster?? Wearing a frumpy dress with high necklines and a bonnet? Ha. This is the real me. (ZIP, PLOP)

SS: Oh my gosh—

TR (BRIT LADY): This red satin blouse too much for you, Ruth?

SS: You forgot to button it, Miss Austen.

TR (BRIT LADY): I like it like that. And the leopardskin pillbox hat.

SS: So is platinum blonde your real hair color ?

TR (BRIT LADY): Today it is. I'm my own woman, Ruth. And you are, too. You just have to be strong. Just be strong, Ruth. Be strong.....(DISSOLVING DREAMSTATE)

SS (DREAMY): Be strong....be strong.....be strong.

GK: Excuse me.

SS (STARTLED): Oh. My goodness. Sorry, I didn't see you standing there--(GASP) Why....you're the famous author, Raymond Como.

Garrison Keillor: You recognized me—

SS: Of course. I adored your book, Mr. Como. I've read it a dozen times.

GK: The Perfect Egg—

SS: Yes.

GK: I wrote that book 30 years ago.....

SS: I can't wait to read your next one. The Perfect Egg. A cult classic. About the origins of life and also about breakfast. And only 35 pages long.

GK: Well, I'm trying to move on. I'm writing a history of St. Paul.

SS: St. Paul.

GK: Yes. I found myself drawn to it, somehow. The steamboats, the Great Northern railroad, Frogtown, Swede Hollow, the West Side— the more I find out, the more I want to know. I've been researching it for twenty years.

SS: And are you almost finished with it?

GK: With the writing?

SS: Yes.

GK: I tell you this in strict confidence, Miss Harrison.

SS: Of course.

GK: I have approximately 500 cubic feet of research and I haven't started writing it yet.

SS: Twenty years — you haven't started writing?

GK: I've written thousands of words, but nothing worth keeping. I want it to be good.

SS: After a masterpiece like The Perfect Egg— you must be under unbelievable pressure.

GK: I try not to obsess about it. Anyway— I'm doing research on Exchange Avenue. Did you know that there is a trading post there?

SS: Now?

GK: Yes. It's a lamppost at the end of the block. People come and trade clothing. Shirts. Jackets. Even shoes.

SS: I had no idea.

GK: You start doing research and it's an endless process. You keep finding out more and more. Cedar Street. I thought it was named for the tree.

SS: It's not?

GK: It's supposed to be spelled s-e-d-e-r.

SS: The Passover feast?

GK: St. Paul was settled by Jewish carpet salesmen.

SS: How did it get the name St. Paul?

GK: The original name was Sample.

SS: Sample. They kept their carpet samples here.

GK: Right.

SS: Fascinating.

GK: So I came here to continue my research. Mind if I take a look in your stacks—

SS: Take a look in my what? — Oh— the stacks. — Yes, of course. (TO HERSELF) Oh be still my beating heart. The Perfect Egg indeed. (TIME PASSAGE MUSIC)

TK: Miss Harrison? (FOOTSTEPS) Miss Harrison, are you here? (FOOTSTEPS) Oh my gosh— boy O boy.

SS: Put your eyes back in your head, Trent. It's a two-piece bathing suit that I made from plastic protective jacket covers. I'm a woman. Get used to it.

TK: I donno— you better be careful. If somebody from the Library Board comes in—

SS: The erotic is at the heart of great literature, Trent. You may not have known that.

TK: You look sort of flushed, Miss Harrison. Are you okay?

SS: I'm fine, Trent. I've had some sherry and I'm a little excited.

TK: You keep looking behind you. What's going on? Who's back there?

SS: An author, Trent. A great author named Raymond Como. He's doing research.

TK: Oh. So are you two like, involved or something?

SS: What? Involved? (UNCOMFORTABLE LAUGHTER) I don't know what you're talking about, Trent. How perfectly ridiculous.

TK: Are you sure you're okay?

SS: I'll be fine, Trent. I'm a professional librarian. Someone could come through that door any minute needing to know about Portugal or porches or important portrait painters of Portage, Wisconsin. I'm here. I'm ready.

(THEME)

TR (ANNC): Join us again, for another exciting episode of: Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian.

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»

American Public Media © |   Terms and Conditions   |   Privacy Policy