November 27, 2010
Cincinnati, Ohio


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Trees

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(PIANO. WINTER. EVENING. TRAFFIC PASSING)

TR (NARRATOR): This is a story about two Christmas trees who stood together in a tree lot in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, the weekend after Thanksgiving.

SS: Nice day today.

GK: It was.

SS: You look so nice. I've been meaning to tell you since yesterday. You're almost perfectly shaped. And I love your long needles.

GK: Thanks.

SS: I wish I had needles like yours. So green and glossy. Obviously you came from wonderful parents. 

GK: Yes, they were.

SS: How long were they with you?

GK: We were together in the forest for a couple years and then they were cut down.

SS: It's so sad when that happens.

GK: Well, we knew it was going to happen.

SS: I suppose. You're Norwegian, right?

GK: Right.

SS: Spruce?

GK: Norway pine.

SS: Ahhhh. Do you speak Norwegian?

GK: Yo. Naturligvis taler jeg norsk. Yo yo yo.

SS: It's a beautiful language.

GK: Yo. Dejlig sprog. And you're what?

SS: Just a red cedar. Nothing special about me at all.

GK: You look nice. Your cones are very attractive.

SS: You think so?

GK: They are.

SS: They're so small.

GK: I don't think so.

SS: You don't?

GK: No.

FN: Hi----- I'm over here on the other side. The name's Douglas. Douglas Fir. Came down from Canada last night with him.

TR (SCOTS): What are you two talking about?

GK: Just ignore him.

TR (SCOTS): Hey. You talking about me? You are, aren't you. I'm taller than both of you. I'll bet you I'm sold long before either of you shrimps.

SS: Who is he?

GK: Scotch pine. Big ugly guy.

SS: I don't want to be sold. I want to stay here with you, leaning against this wall.

GK: Here comes the guy. The tree man.

SS: Oh I hope he doesn't grab hold of me.

GK: He may.

SS: I hope he doesn't.

FN: This is a Norway pine down here. Nice shape to him.

TR: Uh huh.

FN: Nice long needles. Very handsome, very resilient tree. Big cones. You can make a nice Christmas centerpiece out of those.

SS: They're going to cut off your cones???

GK: Don't worry about it.

SS: That's going to be painful.

GK: It's okay. 

SS: You're so beautiful. You and your cones. I can't elieve they put me next to you. Me. The ugly one. I've got a big gap in my branches. Back here. I can feel it. 

GK: You're very elegant.

SS: But I've got these weird branches. A big bald spot. I'm not symmetrical like you.

GK: Symmetry isn't everything.

SS: I love your proportions. Your big cones. I could stand and look at you all day. Which is a good thing because I've been standing and looking at you all day.

TR: What's this one right here?

FN: Red cedar.

SS: I don't want him to touch me.

GK: Easy...

TR: How much?

FN: Fifty bucks but I'll give it to you for forty.

TR: Uh huh. Well, I think I'll look around some more.

FN: Make it thirty.

TR: I donno. It's got some sort of---

SS: He's going to touch me----- oh no------ no------(SHE SHUDDERS)

TR: Look. It's got a big bald spot here.

FN: Twenty-five.

TR: Let me think about it.

SS: Oh my gosh. Oh my--

GK: You okay?

SS: I don't want to leave you.

GK: It's all right.

SS: It just seems so brutal.

GK: It's what life is. Here today. Gone tomorrow.

SS: Thanks. I wish you could come over and give me a big hug.

GK: Do you want to hold my branch?

SS: Thanks. I'm just so confused right now. Those beautiful years in the forest with the family. And now this.

GK: I know but it means a lot---- to be with a family, with lights on you, and presents at your feet—

SS: But then what? You know? What happens then?

PP: They throw you to the curb, that's what happens. (SS GASP) You're garbage. Unless you're like me. Permanent.

GK: Don't listen to her. She's not one of us. She's an artificial tree. Look at her.

PP: I'd rather be artificial than one of you guys. I've seen a lot of Christmases. I know what's what. I've seen you greenies come and go. In and out like the tide. You're an object of adoration for a week or so and then you're trash. Into the gutter you go and men throw you into a truck and you go off to the landfill. Pffffffff.

SS: You're all blue and sparkly and you've got foam on you.

PP: Looks cool, doesn't it. Snow that never melts. Chemistry is a beautiful thing.

GK: You're not a real tree, you shouldn't even be here.

PP: Envy. It's not a pretty thing. Seventeen years I've been doing this. I've seen it all, sister. The bright lights, the family arguments, the cats crapping at my feet, the candles, the envy of other species. I live in basements most of the year. Down where people keep their guns. Dirty laundry. Piles of junk. And then in December, VAVAVOOM. Show business! See how my lights twinkle when I shake my hips (SHIMMY) ---

GK: What are you doing here?

PP: I was a trade-in. The wife wanted something quote-natural-unquote so they brought me here and got ten bucks off on one of you guys. A greenie.

SS: So what's it like? Christmas-----

PP: Big disappointment for most people. But for me---- it's a job. (SHE SINGS)
O CHRISTMAS TREE, O THAT IS ME
HOW LUMINOUS MY NEEDLES
I'M FLASHING LIGHTS AND NEON BLUE
BUBBLE LIGHTS --- GOT A FEW
I REVOLVE, PLAY MUSIC TOO
I'M SAFE FROM WORMS AND BEETLES I
Hey. Gotta go. Good luck. Ciao.

SS: Wow. One big week and you die. She was right, wasn't she.

GK: Don't think about that.

SS: Here come some more shoppers. We could go at any time. I bet you'll go first. You're so big-----

GK: But I drop needles. People don't like that.

SS: Look, it's snowing.

GK: So it is. 

SS: Maybe they'll take us together. Does that ever happen? One house, two trees?

GK: Very unlikely.

TR (RICH GUY): Hmmm. Do we want short needles or long needles?

FN: You like the big one?

TR (RICH GUY): How much?

FN: 150.

TR (RICH GUY): 150?!?

FN: Hey. You get what you pay for.

TR (WOMAN): What about that little one next to it?

FN: The little scrubby one? The red cedar? Tell you what---you get the big one, I'll throw this one in for free. Big one for your living room, and one for out in the yard. You've got your show tree here, and this little one, just turn it around and put the bald spot to the wall---

SS: I am so embarrassed right now...I'm a defective tree, is what I am.

TR (RICH GUY): Oh what the heck. We'll take it.  We'll take them both.

FN: Excellent. 150. (HANDING OVER BILLS) Great. I'll go get the twine. 

TR (RICH MAN):  I'll go get the van then. 

(FOOTSTEPS OFF)

SS: Well. That's it then.

GK: We're going together.

SS: You for 150, me as a free bonus. You'll have presents under you. I'll have to stand there and let dogs go to the bathroom on me. 

GK: Don't think about it.

SS: I can't wait to see you in lights.

GK: And you in lights too. 

FN: (FOOTSTEPS APPROACH) Okay. (EFFORT) Tie these two together.

SS: Oh my gosh. We're so close. I can hardly breathe.

FN: (EFFORT AS HE TIGHTENS TWINE)

GK: You feel so good. Your branches in mine. Our trunks almost touching.

SS: I've never been this close to anyone before.

GK: Nor I.

SS: I wish we could stay like this.

GK: I wish we could, too. (PIANO)

GK: This is something I never thought I'd experience----

SS: I don't know. Im perfectly happy being right here where I am. Entwined in your branches.

GK: Are you? You don't wish you'd found someone else?

SS: Right here is where I want to be. What is that dog doing?

GK: Where?

SS: Right behind you. (DOG SNIFFING) Uh oh.

GK: I feel moisture. Warm moisture.

SS: (HISSES) Beat it. Go away.

GK: It's all right. With you in my arms, it doesn't matter what anyone does to me. I'm happy

SS: Me too.

TR (OFF): Sorry, mister. I changed my mind.

FN: What??

TR (OFF): The wife wants a balsam.

FN: Aww. Whatever.

GK: Guess we're staying. Where'd he go?

SS: The tree man? He's turning out the lights and going home.

GK: We get to spend the night together---

SS: Oh wow.

GK: You cold?

SS: Not now. Is it possible for trees to love each other?

GK: I think so.

SS: Then I do.

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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