Las Vegas, NV
May 20, 2020
Garrison Keillor hits Las Vegas with a new solo show!
April 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor comes to the Rochester Civic Theatre for a night of stories, songs, poetry, and humor. Tickets $50 and up
February 19, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 2 of 2. Tickets $30+
February 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 1 of 2. Tickets $30+
Friday was a dark day though we didn’t talk about it because we had dinner with two young newlyweds and a friend who recently lost her husband, so we kept it light, nonetheless I could see the motorcade coming around the corner, the motorcycle cops, the woman in the pink suit, but there was no need to go there.
It was a happy dinner party. The young wife is French and we got talking about American colloquialisms and she was fascinated by “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” and “easy as pie” for which she offered “mettre les doigts dans le nez,” (sticking fingers up the nose), meaning: no big deal, nothing to brag about. Or “pisser dans un violon” (urinating in a violin), which means something similar. She was quite struck by “up fecal creek without a paddle” and “defecate or get off the pot.” And she was rather taken aback by “brown nose.”
Our friend Ellie is fluent in French and her husband, Ira, who died, was a retired judge who had married the young couple in our apartment so the French woman could get her green card. It was his last official act so they are sort of a memorial to him. I had had dinner with him and Ellie two days before he died. He was in poor health but good spirits and he managed to grill the steaks under the broiler and enjoy a glass of wine and keep up his end of the conversation. He was a joyful man and was very much with us Friday night and we didn’t need to talk about him. We just tossed idioms back and forth.
The young French woman understood “icing on the cake” (though the French would put a cherry on it) and “you can’t tell a book by its cover — the French would say “L’habit ne fait pas le moine” (the cassock does not make a monk) — but she was puzzled by “the birds and the bees” and “wash your mouth out with soap” and then her American husband said that his grandma had actually done it. “No!” we cried. “Yes!” he said. “I was smarting off and she told me to stick out my tongue and she scrubbed it with soap.”
It was a lively cultural exchange and so much fun, we served two desserts, some light French pastries and then apple pie, which nothing is more American than.
I didn’t mention 1963 though the day is clear in my mind. I was 21, walking across the University of Minnesota campus, and a man ran by saying something weird about the president, and I went in the back door of Eddy Hall where KUOM had an AP teletype and there it was, clattering away, typing bulletins in incomplete sentences. He was dead in Dallas.
It was a visceral tragedy, a graceful young leader and war hero picked off by a sniper in public view, and it hit everyone hard, a kick in the solar plexus. In the years since, despite a truckload of books about him and November 22, the day makes no sense. It’s a boulder that fell out of the sky. Like 9/11. Two days after that boulder fell, Ellie and Ira and I went down to Greenwich Village for supper. The air was full of dust from the towers and trucks roared past carrying debris, and we never spoke of the catastrophe or death, we talked about travel and children, everything other than the catastrophe downtown. All around us we saw New Yorkers doing the same thing. An act of resistance, to go about your business as if the obscene violence had not occurred.
The beauty of Friday night was the presence of the young that closes the door to the vast ghostly galleries of the past, particularly the parts that make no sense. They are water under the bridge. Brooding accomplishes nothing: you may as well stick your finger up your nose. So we talked about Thanksgiving. The young French wife is looking forward to her husband making turkey and dressing and cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. They’re happy as two peas in a pod. Long ago, we got kicked in the stomach. Why bring it up now and rain on their parade and be a wet blanket? That’s putting the cart before the horse. So I didn’t. But you are remembered, President Kennedy. Still waters run deep.