Encyclopedia Salesman

May 11, 2009

[Scene: at the front door of the Burns’ house]

Charlie (book salesman): Good morning, madam.  If you would allow me two minutes…

Gracie: Shh!  Please, what’s your name?

Charlie: Jones.

Gracie: Shh!  What’s your first name?

Charles: Charles.

Gracie: Well, Charlie Jones!  Am I glad to see you again.

Charlie: What’s the idea?

Gracie: Well, if the neighbors see me talking to a stranger they gossip.

Charlie: What?

Gracie: Well, come on in, Charlie.

[Gracie shoves him in the door.  Without the hushed dialog it would obviously look like she was hoping that no one would notice.]

Charlie: Lovely home you have here.

Gracie: Oh, thank you.

Charlie: Well, madam, if you would allow me two minutes.

Gracie: Oh, Charlie, don’t be so formal.  Call me Gracie.  Now, let’s sit down.

Charlie: Well, thank you.

Gracie: Now, tell me all about your wife and children.

Charlie: Well, I haven’t any wife.

Gracie: Oh, well tell me about your children.

[that was a joke… it was a different world then…]

Charlie: Madam, this is Dr. Gumpert’s Encyclopedia and it belongs in your home.

Gracie: Oh, no.  If it’s Dr. Gumpert’s it belongs in his home.

Charlie: That’s just the name of it.  I’m selling these.  And a beautiful home like yours should have them.  Here.

Gracie: Oh, my goodness, nice and heavy [sits the book on Charlie’s hat].

Charlie: [reshaping his hat] As an intelligent, progressive woman you of course know that Dr. Gumpert’s Encyclopedia is more than just the world’s handiest reference guide.  It’s an essential part of your life, a necessity, a cultural asset which will lend dignity and distinction to your domicile.

Gracie: Yes.  Oh! [laughs]

Charlie:  Did I say something funny?

Gracie: Well, I don’t know but I’m not taking any chances.

Charlie: Seriously, madam, look at these illustrations.  [Hands the book to Gracie.]

Gracie: Oh, yes, yes, they’re very interesting. [Again sits the book on the salesman’s hat.]

Charlie: [Reshaping his hat…] You know, madam, these books would make a wonderful present for your father there [pointing to a photo].

Gracie: Oh, that’s not my father; that’s my husband.

Charlie: Oh, forgive me.

Gracie: Oh, that’s alright.  My father wouldn’t mind.  Although my father’s a much younger man.

Charlie: Younger than your husband?

Gracie: Oh, yes.  When I met my husband he was thirty, but when I met my father he was only 24.

Charlie: I see.  Well, madam, you need these books to be well-informed.  You know, most people can’t even remember what was in yesterday’s newspaper.

Gracie: Oh, I do: the garbage.  I wrapped it myself.

Charlie: Madam, let me show you these books.

Gracie: Oh, no.  I want to show you a couple of books.  Now, this is my very favorite.

Charlie: “A Report on the Sheep-Growing Industry”?  This is your favorite?

Gracie: Uh-huh.  Well, look inside.

Charlie: Oh, I see.  There are some flowers pressed in here.

Gracie: Uh-huh.  The first time my husband ever called on me he brought me those.

Charlie: How very sweet.

Gracie: Now look at this one.

Charlie: This one won’t open.

Gracie: He brought me candy, too.

Charlie: Thank you very much, madam.  Good bye, madam.  It’s been charming.  And if I ever pass your home again, I’ll be sure I do.

Gracie: Ah, now, that’s a promise.  Well, I’ll show you to the door.  Right this way.

[Gracie peeks out the door and slowly moves out…]

Charlie: Well, good bye, madam.

Gracie: [Grabbing Charlie in a hug.]  Good bye, Charlie.

[Gracie takes another gawk down the street before going back into the house.]

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