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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

If Garrison Keillor were, like Larry King, a sex freak

For whatever reason, the news that Larry King's kids' little league coach disclosed that Larry is 'a sex freak' made me wonder about Garrison Keillor. It probably should not have.

It was a fine day in Lake Wobegon, the sun peeking between young Helga Cardigan's ample breasts as she lay there on the, the soft quilt my grandmother had made for me out of cuttings from blouses and pant-suits collected, year after year, hanging in Grandma's closet like an army of Bea Arthurs. Helga lay on this quilt, given to me one Christmas, and there was nothing around her, you see, nothing around Helga but a field of emptiness, a vast plane of plain, empty Minnesota plain.

[inexplicable chuckling from audience]

I was there too. I was an accessory to quilt, see. [more inexplicable chuckling] I was resting my head, the heavy one, on the slope of her stomach, and thinking to myself [huff into microphone] 'This is Minnesota nice, is what this is.' Because I was watching the sun set over two large mountains, slide down between two curvilinear peaks, and I didn't even have to travel to Cook County. I could just be in the middle of a flat plain less than a mile out of town, you understand. I just needed Helga Cardigan to take her top off and spread out on the quilt my grandmother had made from the scraps of wardrobe's past, you understand. To get that moment--watching the sun slip between Helga's mountainous breasts--I'd needed both Helga and my grandmother to disrobe.

[inexplicable chuckling from the audience]

That's why the 'g' in 'quilt' has turned around, you see. That 'g' doesn't want to watch what's going on ontop of it.

[inexplicable etc. from the audience]

Now, Helga was a chaste girl, you understand. Took me four years of lugubrious felicitations to convince her to spread herself out topless on that quilt, as I'd mournfully note to myself the wondrous Eagle Mountain quality of her upper shelf, and then sheepishly state out loud what a pity it was she was forced to walk about with that shelf covered up so completely. Covered up so completely. [oddly timed huff into microphone] For you see Helga was one of those charming but inscrutable members of the fairer sex who preferred to button her blouse all the way to the top, just under the soft gentle outward curve of her neck towards the chin, no matter how much material--increasingly a lot, in Helga's case--was required to keep her upper half concealed.

I'd see her at Mr. Corduroy's Soda Shoppe (the extra 'p' was to warn customers of what they'd be doing later) [inexplicable etc., audience clearly starved of entertainment], sitting on a stool with her friends--the lovely but somewhat below-sea-level Irma Burberry, the Russia-stepped Agnes Polyester--and I'd always find an adequate excuse to lean onto the counter beside her and remark how confining the silk of her blouse seemed. "Even the buttons seem to want to give some relief to the silk," I'd say, or, "My goodness, Helga, you look as if you're about to pass out from an inability to breathe."

Helga and her friends would titter [predictable laughs from the audience] in the way only young, young women can, and Helga would blush, and Mr. Corduroy would shove a malted in front of me and tell me to reconsider my existence, but one day Helga, not blushing, turned to me and said, "Mr. Latex, you might be right."

[sudden, heavy breathing into the microphone]

[peculiar, uncomfortable silence from audience]

The soda shoppe was not, you understand, a place where a woman undid the top button of her blouse. Mr. Corduroy, Irma Burberry, Agnes Polyester and I watched as Helga brought one unadorned, moisturized hand up to the top button of her silk-and-cotton lightning-blue shirt, and using merely a thumb and a forefinger, slipped the button out of its confining hole.

[pause; heavy breath through the nose into microphone]

Four years later, in a field a mile from our comfortable, buttoned-up little town, I'd managed to convince Helga to slip that last button from its hole, and we lay on my guilty quilt, and I ruined my favorite pair of tweed pants.

[stunned silence from audience]

That's the news from Lake Wobegon, even though it isn't actually news since it occurred 58 years ago, but is really the only thing I ever think about, and is the reason I continue to write obsessively about that dreadful place, where all the women are strong if somewhat lacking in breasts, all the men are good-looking except me, and all the children are average.

[slow clapping from audience]

1 comment:

Nan said...

pretty darn brilliant

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