[door opens and closes, footsteps, desk clerk bell] Tim: Yessir, can I help you?
Ben: Yes, Iíd like to buy a canoe.
Tim: A canoe?
Ben: Yes. You know, those things that go in the water with a couple of paddles and then off you go merrily down the stream.
Tim: Yes, I know what a canoe is...but this is a bakery.
Ben: Should that be of some concern to one who is of a mind to make a purchase of a canoe?
Tim: Well, yes. We donít sell canoes here. We sell baked goods. You know,..creampuffs, pies, napoleons...things like that.
Ben: I see. Well, have you anything like a canoe?
Tim: I donít think youíll find...
Ben: Ah, excuse me...whatís that over there?
Tim: In the, um, case?
Ben: Right. Just under the bicycles.
Tim: Those are vise grips.
Ben: Are they anything like canoes?
Tim: Afraid not, Sir. Theyíre rather low on buoyancy. Youíd sink like a stone.
Ben: No, sinkingís not what I had in mind.
Tim: Um, have you tried the boathouse?
Ben: Is that like a canoe?
Tim: No, the boathouse down by the docks. They have boats there...and perhaps they have a canoe as well.
Ben: Well, Iíll certainly give Ďem a shot later...but as long as Iím here, I guess thereís no harm in looking, just to make sure.
Tim: As you wish, but I think...
Ben: Aha! There! Over there on the rear shelf. Whatís that then?
Tim: Oh. Thatís Frau Baumkahn, our pastry decorator. Sometimes she forgets where her work table is.
Ben: Is she...
Tim: She is certainly very unlike a canoe. [aside] Frau Baumkahn, your table is in the back room. You will please stay out of the bread trays, out of the dessert cases, and out of the refrigerator for the rest of today. Thank you!
[person climbing out of a dessert case] Ben: Perhaps she knows of a canoe nearby.
Tim: [curtly] Iím sorry but she speaks no English. Sheís Canadian.
Ben: Oh, sorry.
Tim: Canít be helped...itís a genetic imbalance.
Ben: Well, just a few more moments and then Iíll be off, I suppose. Um, whatís behind that door over there?
[game show music] Tim: [assuming game show host demeanor] Heís chosen Door Number Three!
[audience applause] Tim: That means heís giving up the opportunity to win the car, the swimming pool, the trip to Kansas City, the stereo system, the deluxe living room grouping...all for whatís behind Door Number Three!
[audience cheers] Tim: Now, letís find out what you passed up. Buzz?
Announcer/Buzz: Thanks, Tim.
[timpani roll] Buzz: Well, Ben, behind Door Number One was...
[curtain rises; audience ooos] Buzz: ...the complete set of the Crown Jewels from the emirate of Kuwait!
[audience applause] Buzz: Yes, Ben, you passed up a kingís ransom in gold, silver, rubies, diamonds and emeralds, the estimated value of which is...
[timpani roll] Buzz: ...one billion dollars!
[audience groans] Buzz: But Ben, you also passed up Door Number Two...
[curtain rises, audience ooos] Buzz: ...where you could have had your very own TV network, complete with fifteen affiliate stations. Yes, Ben, you couldíve been your own boss, programmed what you wanted to see, and broadcast it when you wanted to see it. And the estimated value of the TV network plus the fifteen affiliate stations is...
[timpani roll] Buzz: ...over two billion dollars!
[audience groans] Tim: And now, Ben, comes the moment of truth, the time when we all find out what youíve won...what, in fact, IS behind Door Number Three. Will it be that grand prize of $1000 a week for life, plus the added bonus of as many T-bone steaks as you can eat during October? Or, might it be the pile of dog biscuits that we saw earlier?
[excited audience murmuring] Ben: [confused] Iím just looking for a canoe.
[all background noises out] Tim: [initial voice] Well, it wouldnít be in there. Thatís just for storage. Besides, a canoe probably wouldnít even FIT in there.
Ben: Oh. Well, I suppose thatís it, then. No canoes?
Ben: Well, sorry to have troubled you.
Tim: [more animated] Oh, just a moment. You know, we donít like our contestants to go away empty-handed, so wonít you please accept this little comestible as a token of our thanks for being on the sho...uh, for coming in the shop.
Ben: Well, thank you. What is it?
Tim: Itís a lovely Italian confection made from the finest ricotta cheese, candied fruits, semi-sweet chocolate and pristine sugar, gently deep fat fried in only the highest quality deep fat! Itís...[calm again] itís a cannoli, Sir.
Ben: [brightly] A cannoli? Well, surely thatís quite like a canoe!
Tim: [resignedly] Yes. Quite. Will that be all for today then?
Ben: Yes, and thank you so much!
[footsteps, door opens and closes, frenetic activityólarge door is unbolted and opened, canoe is dragged across floor into back room, people rushing about and whispering harshly] Tim: [loud stage whisper] And get rid of it, this time! Quiet! Someone else is coming! Shh!
[door opens and closes, footsteps] Tim: Ahh, good afternoon, Sir. Can I help you?
Sir: Yes, perhaps. Iíd like to buy a nice pair of vise grips.
The Middle-Aged Hiker is Copyright ©1993-97,2002 by Dennis Báthory-Kitsz and David Gunn. All rights reserved.