It was a big week, what with Stanford beating USC in football, of all things, and with a second-string quarterback starting his first college game, and on the same day political riots in Bern complete with rock throwing and tear gas -- the Swiss! Acting up in the streets! -- and on the very same October day it was 85 degrees and muggy in Minnesota. One jolt to our belief system after another.
And then Cosmopolitan magazine offered to show us how to achieve the "blended orgasm" -- I had no idea there was one! And what if there are more? A whole hierarchy of orgasms beyond the simple projectile one that men have always known -- the turbo orgasm, the phase-change orgasm, the dynamic two-stroke orgasm, the hybrid orgasm. Miraculous new orgasms developed at Stanford that make a man writhe in ecstasy and make sharp cries like a curlew and also throw a football with accuracy.
Suddenly I felt dissatisfied with my life. Although I certainly have seen my share of miracles -- the high-speed dental drill, e-mail, the amnesia-inducing drug Versed: They give it to you before a colonoscopy and it wraps the experience in a warm golden haze; you remember taking off your trousers and nothing after that.
The gang of Republicans running for president is hoping to induce amnesia -- Old Fred and the cross-dressing thrice-married ex-mayor and the bomb-bomb-bomb-Iran man, the handsome one with the 43 grandparents, the Southern gov who lost all that weight, Sen. Brownbutt, and others -- they need some miracle to make people forget what happened the past seven years. They are out there bloviating about personal responsibility, the sanctity of marriage, the need for balanced budgets, the bravery of our men in uniform, the treachery of Democrats, and meanwhile there are huge steaming heaps of elephant dung in the room that they studiously ignore. Their party inflicted on this country an idiot for a president (remember Harriet Miers?) and a monumentally corrupt Congress that abandoned its constitutional responsibilities, and now they hope for a miracle, some huge distraction, like maybe a married gay couple driving a Volvo with Kerry/Edwards bumper stickers and a suitcase full of liquids and gels and enough hairspray to blow up Grant's Tomb -- something dramatic.
Mr. Giuliani's campaign is running on pure helium. The man is a big hero, a living statue, wherever he goes except among the police and firemen of New York City. He took over City Hall after the World Trade Center bombing of 1993 and had eight years in which to improve security, failed to modernize radio communications between police and fire departments, put his emergency control center in the WTC complex, and then, because he was coherent in the hours after the 9/11 attacks, he became a hero and founded a security business and got rich giving lectures on leadership. The man has reason to believe in miracles.
So did I when I was a child. I put Miracle Whip on my Jell-O and watched "Miracle on 34th Street" and believed in the parable of the loaves and the fishes and considered myself to be a miraculous event, a visitation in the midst of war. My parents were beautiful ignorant people and one day I appeared out of a cloud to complete their lives in a wonderful way.
And that is exactly how it happens. I am one of those grandpa daddies who sits with his old jowly friends with thinning hair as they reminisce about the '60s, and on my lap sits a little girl with her arms around my neck. She was not conceived in the time-honored way by excited people in the back seat of a car, but rather in a doctor's office. I had gone along for years imagining that my sperm were good swimmers, but it turned out not to be so. Thus, the miracle. The nurse handed me a plastic cup and said, "If you need them, there are magazines in the bottom drawer." Nurses are very matter-of-fact about sacred things. The magazines had pictures of tan blond women with breasts like artillery shells. Soon after, a technician named Ron fertilized some souped-up eggs he had extracted from Madame and after 48 hours two of them looked pretty good and were put back in the mother and one of them became my daughter and the other one, I don't know what happened to it.
And that's how I became a daddy and borderline paranoid suffering from sleep deprivation and intensely confused. In our house, Stanford beat USC a long time ago and has been whipping them ever since.
(Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" can be heard Saturday nights on public radio stations across the country.)
© 2007 by Garrison Keillor. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.