We Don't Like Perfect People

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This (Particular) American Life

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Since I spend six hours a day working at a job where headphones are as common as book jackets, I’ve been listening to a lot of This American Life.  I’ve listened to at least eighty episodes since the beginning of the month, along with the occasional episode of Car Talk.  The ratio isn’t as even as I’d like it to be. Car Talk’s archives are pay-only, while TAL allows you to stream theirs from your computer for free.  As a result, I probably get one episode of Car Talk for every 25 of This American Life.

I have to hand it to the Magliozzi brothers for coming up with this scheme.  I know they came up with it, too, because it’s simultaneously brilliant and diabolical, plus you can hear it laughing and snorting if you listen very closely.  Here’s how they get you:  their weekly podcast is free, but all episodes posted prior to your subscription to the podcast are not.

Who did they get the idea from, drug dealers?  They give you just enough free stuff to get you hooked, then they crank the prices through the roof and bleed you dry.  At 95 cents a pop, they could easily get the entirety of my minimum-wage paycheck almost before it’s deposited.  Sometimes I’m tempted to do it, but then I remember I need things like gasoline and spending money during the long unemployed stretch of the school year, and I abstain.  But man, they really must need to make that boat payment.

It seems like an obvious choice:  to forgo Car Talk in favor of This American Life, which is equally entertaining at an infinitely kinder price.  And I will, but I don’t do it carelessly.  As the fifth straight hour of Ira Glass’s excessively thoughtful and morose narration draws to a close, I really miss Click and Clack.  I wish I hadn’t already listened to the week’s podcast, which I do first thing on Monday morning, to take the edge off.

It’s not that I don’t like This American Life.  I do, really, very much, despite the well-publicized opinions of The O.C.’s Summer on the matter.  It’s just that in real life I’d rather hang out with the Magliozzis.  Ira Glass and his crew would probably find me sweet, in the same way that one finds a spaniel sweet, and there’s nothing that pisses off twenty-year-old white girls more than finding them sweet in that way.  Most of us would rather you found us fat.

Tom and Ray, on the other hand, are more like my family members than anything else.  Replace “Italian” with “Southern” and “mechanics” with “truck drivers”, and you’ve got the Boland clan.  Sure, they’d probably find me sweet too, but being thought of that way by a pair of grandfathers is infinitely less galling.  My own grandfathers feel/felt that way about me.  It doesn’t prevent me from tossing out whatever crazy or stupid thing comes to mind in conversation with them.

I went to high school with kids who will grow up to be the types of people Ira Glass hosts on his show.  Even after two years of class three hours a day with them, just ten kids and a teacher in a room, things were still tense between us.  Part of it was the competition, and another big part was the premature development of overblown egos.  But still another part was that the more pretentious, elite clique found me lame.  And no wonder:  they cited Walter Benjamin, while I wrote about how much I love my cat.  I’m prone to awkward outbursts, making oversized gestures when I talk, and actual pratfalls.  I’m like Charlie Chaplin, if Charlie Chaplin’s jokes fell flat too.  Ira Glass would be as exasperated by this as Katie, Allen, Andrew, and Tori were, as his crew would have to spend hours editing my faux pas away.

But the Magliozzis are as lame as they come.  I think they’d be more forgiving of my shortcomings.

I only snort when I laugh REALLY hard.


Written by Estie

June 16, 2010 at 3:24 am