Full episode
Transcript

724: Personal Recount

Note: This American Life is produced for the ear and designed to be heard. If you are able, we strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that's not on the page. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

Prologue: Prologue

Ira Glass

OK, so here's a weird thing to happen at your temp job. A chunk of the country decides that you, personally, are trying to steal the election from the president of the United States. This actually happened to a guy. He's in this video that's been circulating online, retweeted by Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., viewed over 5 million times, of him.

He's this worker in the Georgia vote counting operation. In the video, you see him at a desk in short sleeves, people doing their jobs all around him. He picks up one piece of paper after another, puts them in a stack. And then, something happens. He flinches and he slams down a piece of paper kind of angrily-- or that's how it looks in the video. The sound on the video is somebody narrating who's not identified.

Man

This dude has a fit about something, flips off a ballot, and then crumples it up.

Ira Glass

That's more or less true. The guy gives a finger to something and then does crumple up some piece of paper and then drops it to the side. The narrator and so many commenters online for the video assume this is a Trump ballot. And this fits the mold of all the things the president has been saying about the election being stolen.

Man

If that's not voter fraud, I don't know what is.

Ira Glass

Fortunately for us at our program, this incident happened in Fulton County in Atlanta, where WABE reporter Johnny Kauffman has been embedded in the elections operation for months. He was able to track down the guy in the video.

Johnny Kauffman

His name is Lawrence Sloane. He's one of the dozens of people who were hired during the busy time around elections to help out.

Ira Glass

Has he done it before?

Johnny Kauffman

No, this is his first time working in the election.

Lawrence Sloane

Yeah, I mean, as soon as they called me about the opportunity, I was like, oh, sweet. I get paid. I get to help democracy. That's the most American thing. That's going to be awesome, you know?

Johnny Kauffman

Lawrence explained to me that the machine he's sitting at in the video, it's an envelope opener. Or the election workers, they call it a cutter. So Fulton County had about 150,000 mail-in ballots come in, so they were running nonstop. And Lawrence is one of the fastest people on the machines. He can tell, just by the sound, whether they're working correctly or not.

Lawrence Sloane

I know when there's going to be an error. You hear [CLICKING]. That's the letter landing in the dropping. [CLICKING] That's where it cuts along the side. [CLICKING] If you don't hear [CLICKING], it didn't work. You didn't hear [CLICKING] sink, you got no cut on both sides, all right?

Johnny Kauffman

Lawrence told me that people put all kinds of stuff in the envelopes, like weird stuff that they're not supposed to put in there.

Ira Glass

Like what?

Johnny Kauffman

Oh, like mean notes about Trump. Someone sent in a check.

Ira Glass

Oh, is this like a mistake? They put it in the wrong envelope?

Johnny Kauffman

Yeah, just a mistake.

Lawrence Sloane

Poems. People write poems, and they put them in there. Prayers.

Johnny Kauffman

What kind of poems?

Lawrence Sloane

Just, like, I don't-- bro, just not good ones.

Ira Glass

So did you watch the video with him?

Johnny Kauffman

Oh, yeah. He was very happy and excited to explain what actually happened in the video.

Lawrence Sloane

OK, so the machine-- yeah, you see them working the workflow. That's me separating. Boom, separate, take that one up. Boom, separate. Now it's running pretty good there. Oh, bam! It tries to eat my hand.

Ira Glass

Wait, what's happening there?

Johnny Kauffman

Yeah, so what's happening is the machine didn't cut the envelope quite right. And so Lawrence reached in his hand to save the ballot.

Lawrence Sloane

When it doesn't cut properly, it starts tearing them-- it starts tearing the ballots out. So it starts tearing the envelope. And then if it stays in there, it will tear the ballot apart. And we can't have it eat your ballot. That's why you see me throw those things.

Johnny Kauffman

So that's what the guy saw in the video. When Lawrence flinched, it wasn't him being upset about a Trump vote. It was the machine tweaked him when he was trying to reach into it and save a ballot. So then he flipped off the machine. He's not flipping off the ballot. He's flipping off the machine--

Ira Glass

Oh.

Johnny Kauffman

--because it had been giving him problems for hours.

Lawrence Sloane

Yeah, I flip off the machine. I'm like, you used to be cool, man. We used to do good work. Now I'm tired, too. Everybody in here is tired, but you need to quit with this shit, all right? You're the only person in here eating fingers. [LAUGHS]

Johnny Kauffman

So then the last thing in the video is Lawrence throwing aside this piece of paper. And Lawrence told me that that is not a ballot. It's one of these things that people put in the envelopes that is not supposed to be in the envelope.

Ira Glass

Oh.

Johnny Kauffman

In this case, it was the instructions actually for how to fill out the ballot. When Lawrence was talking about this, he couldn't help himself from giving a little public service announcement.

Lawrence Sloane

Stop putting the instructions in. I know it's too late now. For future reference, don't include the instructions in your voting thing. It just makes more work for us. And It's weird. So just stop it.

Ira Glass

OK, so the video was shot on Wednesday, the day after the election. It took off online the next morning. That's when Lawrence learned that lots of his fellow Americans thought that he was rigging the election. Again, here's Johnny Kaufman.

Johnny Kauffman

Someone sent it to him on Instagram. And he looked at it, and he's like, oh, this is going to be a problem. In the comments, people were saying, like, he should be identified and arrested, that he was mentally ill and homeless, like nasty, racist stuff.

Ira Glass

Lawrence, we should say, is Black. And was he at work when he learns this?

Johnny Kauffman

Yeah, he's in the middle of a 22-hour shift. So then he takes a break. He goes outside to get away from the TV cameras and reporters in the room. And at that point, he sees Trump supporters protesting.

Lawrence Sloane

I didn't know when the protest was about. Even if it's not about me, I'm standing outside, and they know what I look like. You know what I'm saying? And if any of them had seen this, every second that this goes by, more people are going to see this. Me just being here is automatically just not the best.

Johnny Kauffman

And how are you feeling in that moment?

Lawrence Sloane

Scared. It wasn't like a-- I'm shook. It's like, oh. Because fear is a real emotion. You're like, oh. And it isn't always like, heartbeat, boom boom boom. It's like, I am in danger. I should probably get the hell on.

Ira Glass

So at the end of day, he just sneaks away, past the protest?

Johnny Kauffman

Yeah, he actually ran away. He said he ran to get away from the protesters. And then he hit out with some friends. He cut his beard off and dyed his hair so people wouldn't recognize him.

Ira Glass

Oh, wow.

Johnny Kauffman

That wasn't too big of a deal in the end because he said he really likes his new look. But he didn't feel safe going home for three nights.

Ira Glass

There are so many of these stories of voter fraud on the internet right now. I talked to this woman who founded a company that tracks disinformation on the internet, the Alethea Group. The woman's name is Lisa Kaplan. And she told me that Election Day was way calmer than they expected for disinformation. A limited number of false stories, most of them about Pennsylvania. But starting the next day, things sped up. And they really exploded once the president started spreading these stories in earnest.

Lisa Kaplan

Disinformation is continuing to grow exponentially. And the way it is now, it's much more diffuse. So it's not just on 8Kun or 4chan anymore. These are narratives that are being talked about on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram.

Ira Glass

How often are the stories true of voter fraud?

Lisa Kaplan

We have not found any. None of the narratives that we are tracking are backed up by facts.

Ira Glass

Lots of people now believe these stories of voter fraud. A survey by Politico in the Morning Consult found that 70% of Republicans think this year's election was not free and fair. And over half of Republicans think there was widespread voter fraud with mail-in ballots.

Driving through Aberdeen, Maryland the weekend after the election, I saw a few dozen Trump supporters gathering to do an impromptu car caravan supporting the president. Just the day before that, news organizations had called the election for Joe Biden. When I talked to this chatty, friendly woman named Kim Muhlenfeld and her friend and this kid, they, like most of this crowd, didn't buy it.

Kim Muhlenfeld

It was obviously the vote was stolen. And we can't let the media say who our president is going be. We just can't. I mean--

Ira Glass

Where'd you hear--

Kim Muhlenfeld

--they talk about a free and fair election at this point, not even so much Trump. But I have a video of CNN before the ribbon at the bottom catches up--

Ira Glass

Kim pointed me to a bunch of videos she says proves there's fraud. From her perspective, there are so many examples to choose from-- votes turning up unexplained in the middle of the night.

Kim Muhlenfeld

4:00 AM, no votes for Trump at all, just 132,000 Biden votes, that's it, at 4:00 AM.

Ira Glass

Kim's slightly misremembering those numbers, but what she's talking about is a story that the Alethea Group says is one of the most circulated bits of disinformation about this election, widely shared on right-wing bulletin boards and websites and one of the many stories that the president has retweeted.

It was on Fox News. It was a tweet with side by side maps of Michigan and vote counts, showing that early in the morning after Election Day, Michigan updated its election totals, added 138,000 votes to the vote count, and all the new votes, all of them, went to Joe Biden, none to Donald Trump, which does sound very suspicious.

But it's not what it seems. The person who made this happen was a Republican, the Republican official responsible for running elections in a Republican county in Michigan-- this woman.

Caroline Wilson

Caroline Wilson, Shiawasee County clerk.

Ira Glass

Feel free not to answer this question because I think it's a private thing, but did you vote for the president?

Caroline Wilson

I did.

Ira Glass

Both times?

Caroline Wilson

Yes. I stand by the values that the Republican Party holds. And that's what I support.

Ira Glass

Here's what happened with those 138,000 votes, according to Caroline. Morning after the election, 4:45, she and the elections clerk, Abby Bowen, were in her office, just the two of them, sending in election results to the state, using the computer that's set up with all the security measures on it. With each race--

Caroline Wilson

Abby reads the number to me. I type the number, repeating the number.

Ira Glass

But Caroline says, in filling out this form online, before she would actually type anything into a box, the number that was sitting there in the box as a place holder was zero. And usually she'll put the cursor in the box, and her new number would replace the zero. But as she was typing in Biden's number, the cursor landed in the box, but it didn't nuke the zero that was there.

Caroline Wilson

I must have had the cursor to the left of the zero. I didn't even see it. So I typed in 15, 371.

Ira Glass

That is 15,371 votes, Joe Biden's total for the county. But because the zero was there at the end of the number, it wasn't 15,000 and change. The number was 150,000 and change.

Caroline Wilson

We moved down to Donald Trump, his number. I would read the number back. I would go to the next person. We hit Submit, and we pretty much go home. It's been a long couple of days.

Ira Glass

It does not take long for somebody from the Bureau of Elections to notice this error. Caroline and Abby both get calls in 20 minutes. Caroline's already home. She lives seven minutes from her office. They get rid of 153,000 that Caroline typed in, replace it with 15,300.

The difference between those two numbers is the mysterious 138,000 votes, which-- this part is interesting-- didn't actually appear for Biden in the vote count. They disappeared for Biden to make it look like they mysteriously appeared. Our best guess is somebody must have intentionally switched the before and after pictures of the map with the vote totals.

Caroline Wilson

But it was corrected very quickly. So we just moved on. And lo and behold, our phone is blowing up and emails are blowing up. And even my family, they didn't know it was me, but they were joking about all these votes in Shiawasee County. Yeah, I might know a thing or two about that, but it was clearly a typo. We don't even have that many people in our county.

Ira Glass

So after I talked to Caroline, I found that woman that I met at the rally, Kim, who had been so convinced that 130-some thousand votes had appeared in middle of the night for Biden. I was curious to find out if she would believe Caroline's story. And I played her clips from my recording of Caroline, explaining point by point how it happened. And then they fixed it and made it the right numbers.

Kim Muhlenfeld

Right, but this has happened all over the country. And the video I sent you yesterday, you can see all the ways that this Dominion software, as well as others, can be-- what happens is, in that--

Ira Glass

Dominion is another one of those stories tweeted by the president and circulating on the internet. It's one of a bunch of stories about rigged software giving votes to Joe Biden. It has been dis-proven. Google Dominion if you're curious.

Ira Glass

But do you understand in this case, it's not Dominion software or the other software. It's just her typing in the number wrong.

Kim Muhlenfeld

Right, sure. Yeah, I mean, that's plausible. But she said she must have, so she doesn't know for sure, for one. But if it was just an isolated case, that would be one thing. But it's just too much. And maybe she really didn't make an error. Maybe they just changed it, and they caught the change like they caught the 6,000 in another county. So you don't really know what's happening. And it's just--

Ira Glass

And I just want to be sure.

Kim Muhlenfeld

It's just terrible.

Ira Glass

I just want to be sure I'm clear. Kim, you're saying that she thinks that she did it as a typographical error, but you think maybe this--

Kim Muhlenfeld

I think when they send off the results, that's when the percentages are changed.

Ira Glass

Mm-hmm. But you're saying it might not even be true that she made a typographical error.

Kim Muhlenfeld

Right, I mean, there's just so many anomalies. And there's no way that Joe Biden got more votes than Donald Trump. No way possible.

Ira Glass

Kim said a few times that Caroline seems like a credible and honest person, but it's the sheer volume of other examples that's convincing to her that they really could be foul play. And even if this one example in this one Michigan county was caught, it doesn't change anything for her because she feels like she's seen so many other examples.

I asked Caroline Wilson, the Shiawasee County clerk, what she thinks of all the Republicans who don't believe the truth of what happened in her county.

Caroline Wilson

Shame on them. Shame on them. That attitude jeopardizes everything that we are supposed to stand for. I take an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, this state, and my county. And my job responsibilities are not partisan.

Ira Glass

Fact is, there's no convincing people-- usually. Something I read this year that really shaped how I've seen this whole election is Ezra Klein's book Why We're Polarized. He has this big section where he runs through all these studies that demonstrate how, when we encounter facts that don't fit into our worldview, that contradict what we believe, the normal thing, the thing that we all do most of the time is that we disregard those facts or explain them away.

Today on our program, in this moment when the president is not backing down from his unproven claim that the election was stolen from him, this moment when I know that when I call the president's tweets disinformation, there are a lot of you out there like him who think that I am part of the problem and not looking at the truth, we thought it might be nice to hear a few of the rare examples of people actually changing their minds. It doesn't happen often, God knows. But let's enjoy a few cases where it does and look at why it does in those special cases. From WBEZ Chicago, it's This American Life. I'm Ira Glass. Stay with us.

Act One: The Signs, They are a Changin’

Ira Glass

Act One, The Signs, They Are A-Changing. So Lizzie Johnson's grandpa recently surprised everybody in his life by changing his mind about something.

Lizzie Johnson

A month ago, I woke up to my cell phone pinging with text alerts. My family group chat was blowing up over a picture-- a huge Biden-Harris sign staked in my grandpa's field. He's 91 and a lifelong Republican. And until this sign, no one in my family knew he'd switched allegiances. It was shocking. The man doesn't change his mind about anything. But this year, he'd sent in his mail-in ballot for Biden. And for the first time in his life, he'd also voted a straight Democratic ticket. What had made him change his mind after so long?

[DIAL TONE]

Rose

So I think we need to give grandpa just a couple more minutes.

Lizzie Johnson

That's my mom Rose. I'd sent over my list of questions to him to look at before we talked because he's hard of hearing.

Rose

He wrote out all the answers, and I think he's back there re-copying them right now.

Louis Rosman

I'm not ready.

Lizzie Johnson

My grandpa's named Louis Rosman. He's pretty blustery and known for his quick temper. He lives by himself on his 500-acre corn and soybean farm in Harlan, Iowa. It's the same farm he grew up on. The area is conservative and rural.

Lizzie Johnson

Hi, grandpa.

Louis Rosman

Hi there.

Lizzie Johnson

How are you doing?

Louis Rosman

Not too good. [LAUGHS] I can't work under pressure.

Lizzie Johnson

[LAUGHS] So I heard that you had cut down all the overgrown grass, all the weeds, just so that everyone could see the sign better from the highway, which seems like a little risky. Do your neighbors on either side, do they have Trump signs on their fields?

Louis Rosman

Oh, yes, big signs. I've probably got a neighbor on each side of me that would tear it down, but I closed the gate up so they can't get in to do it.

Lizzie Johnson

He's really proud of this sign. He got it by calling up the leaders of the Democratic Party in his county. It turned out, one of them is a distant relative.

Louis Rosman

I told them they could not find a better display for their sign anywhere than down here on this highway. It's a busy highway.

Rose

Remember you asked them to bring you the biggest sign?

Louis Rosman

Yeah, I wanted a big one. And they only had a single one. I wanted a second one so we could put it back to back, you know, so you could see it both ways on the highway.

Lizzie Johnson

Highway 44 is a busy two-lane route that runs between Portsmouth and Harlan in western Iowa. There'd been another Biden-Harris sign in town, but a 92-year-old man defaced it. He spray painted it with a big red X. And then, the sign disappeared.

My grandpa Louis's neighbors are mostly farmers who voted for President Trump in 2016. His trade war with China ate into their profits, but then he bailed them out with subsidies. He's still popular with farmers. Back in 2016, my grandfather voted for him, too.

Louis Rosman

Because everybody wanted a change, and I just fell into place with them. I wanted something different.

Lizzie Johnson

What was it that you wanted to change?

Louis Rosman

I don't know. I have always voted Republican for the president, and that's probably the biggest reason. I didn't know any better.

Lizzie Johnson

My grandpa was a Republican by upbringing. His parents were Republican. Like most people, he absorbed his political beliefs by osmosis. Everyone belongs to the same Catholic church in town, St. Michael's. It's right next to where that other sign was defaced. Church was the only place my grandpa used to talk with his neighbors before the pandemic hit. Now his social life is a lot quieter. The farms are spread so far apart that he doesn't really run into people. The only other person he sees is a friend named Paul, who rents land from my grandpa. He's a Trump supporter.

Lizzie Johnson

Has Paul said anything about your sign?

Louis Rosman

No. He knows it's down here. But Paul naturally would not say anything. Because I can terminate his lease next year.

Lizzie Johnson

Oh. [LAUGHS] But do you guys talk about politics?

Louis Rosman

We don't talk about politics. We talk about engines that don't start and stuff like that.

Lizzie Johnson

But how did you find out that Paul was going to vote for Trump?

Louis Rosman

He just mentioned it. He was working at the lawn mower at the time, leaning over it. And he just said something about Sleepy Joe. He wouldn't vote for Sleepy Joe.

Lizzie Johnson

He wanted to say something back, but told me he didn't think it was worth ruining his relationship with Paul over Trump. There is a stereotypical thing that happens in the Midwest, an aversion to direct conflict. People are so completely loud and aggressive with their signs. For example, down the road from my grandpa's house, there's a huge "Trump, fuck your feelings" sign posted in a neighbor's yard. But to each other's faces, everyone keeps it polite. They let their signs do the talking.

I have a theory about why he's going through this very late in life political awakening. He's been able to vote in 18 presidential elections. But this is the first time he's actually been engaged. Part of it is that as he's gotten older, he hasn't been able to do as much around the farm. He still rides around on his four-wheeler and fixes fences, but he's also started spending more time in front of the TV. He watches The View in the morning and Stephen Colbert at night. He also just finished reading a couple books on the Trumps.

Two of my grandpa's daughters, my mom and my Aunt Margaret, have probably influenced him the most. They're at his house a lot, checking on him, playing cards, and dropping off meals. Over the years, their politics have changed. They went from voting for both Bushes to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. And this year-- Biden.

Lizzie Johnson

How long did it take you to figure out that Trump was not that change that you wanted?

Louis Rosman

Well, this virus has really convinced me because he totally disregarded it and still does. He acts as if it don't exist. And all these people are dying, and he still thinks that's all you have to do, is just ignore it. And then he said, it'll be over with by Easter. It'll be over with by July. And it's always a bunch of damn lies. It scares the hell out of me. I ain't ready to die yet.

And then the deal the way they were handling those children down at the border, herding them around like a prisoner of war camp. 500-some are separated from their parents, and some of them are six months old.

Lizzie Johnson

It sounds like thinking about those kids without their parents has really stuck with you.

Louis Rosman

Well, why wouldn't it? With anybody, anybody with feeling. Trump has no feeling. Absolutely none. That's why I like Joe Biden, because he has a soft voice and he doesn't tell lies. I wanted someone who cares for someone or something besides himself.

Lizzie Johnson

Would you have thought I was crazy if, in 2016, I told you, hey, you would vote for a Democrat in 2020, straight down the ticket?

Louis Rosman

If you would have told me what was going on now back then, I wouldn't have believed this could happen.

Lizzie Johnson

Has been so vocal about supporting Biden hurt any of your relationships with family? Because I know that not everyone in our family is Democratic.

Louis Rosman

Oh, Kathy and Kirk in town.

Lizzie Johnson

Kathy's my aunt, and Kirk's her husband. They're Republican.

Louis Rosman

She was bringing my groceries out so that I didn't have to get out and expose myself. And somewhere along the line, I asked her point blank. I said, are you wearing a mask? And she said no. They're no good. They don't do you any good. You can get sick wearing them anyway. And I said, well, I will get my groceries myself after this. And she said, we can still bring the groceries out in the refrigerator. And I said, you won't come on the place-- on the farm without a mask. And she hung up, and I haven't heard from her since.

Lizzie Johnson

My grandpa was ecstatic when he heard the news that Biden won. Some of his neighbors have already taken down their Trump signs. But he has no plans to take his Biden-Harris sign down anytime soon. He wants to make sure all of his neighbors know he was on the winning side. He can see it from his living room window. And he checks on it often to make sure nobody has vandalized it or stolen it. He told me is going to decorate it with flowers and horseshoes and then keep it up, blaring there in his field until a new crop goes in next spring.

Ira Glass

Lizzie Johnson, she's a reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle.

Act Two: Puppy Love Triangle

Ira Glass

Act Two, Puppy Love Triangle. So next, we have a story about somebody very young trying to make up her mind about something about as far from politics as we could think of-- a crush on a boy. The way she went about it, though, surprised her mom a lot. The story actually starts back when school was in session last year, pre-virus, in-person school-- remember that? The little girl was in the second grade. Her mom, Emily Flake, explains.

Emily Flake

To understand why it was so surprising for me to find my seven-year-old in a state of romantic equivocation, I have to explain a bit of her relationship history first. Augustine-- we call her Tug for short-- fell in love for the first time at the age of four. She fell hard for a boy her age I'll call R to protect his identity. R was absurdly tall for his age. He had long, flaxen hair and looked like a tiny Norse god. Tug used to chase him around the basement of the church where we had a playgroup, announcing, "R! You're going to marry me, R! Right now!"

Now my husband and I were never the type to use words like "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" about little kids. The framing of children's friendships as romantic that I remember from when I was a child in the '80s feels creepy now. But we try to respect that those feelings are very real to her.

Tug was all R all the time, all through pre-K and kindergarten. Her pre-K teacher remarked often that she had to remind them to play with other kids, instead of remaining in their tight, little two-person club. But then, in first grade, completely out of the blue, her ardor shifted. All of a sudden, she was talking about some new boy. This boy, who we'll call B, lived catty-corner from us. He was a sweet-faced first-grader who looked a bit like a Cabbage Patch doll. I was shocked by this fickle change of heart so I asked her what happened. She said, evenly, "I am no longer interested in R."

I'd given Tug a journal to write her feelings in, and B showed up in there. In fact, she produced several reams of B content. She wrote a poem about him that included lines like, "I love your hair, as brown as a bear." She stayed full steam ahead on the B train until this past Valentine's Day, when something happens that surprised and confused us both. For the first time in her life, my daughter didn't know where her heart wanted to go.

The chaos factor was this. This year, a boy liked her first. This boy, who we'll call L, made his feelings toward Tug known with a note. We talked about it sitting on the floor in her room one afternoon.

Tug

So it was on Valentine's Day. And actually, he left a note at my table, but it was made out of a Post-It. So the first time, I thought it was just garbage. But then I opened it. And in it was "A plus L," and I think with a heart. And then, I was like, "Does that mean that you wanted to be my Valentine?" And he's like, "Maybe." I'm like, "Sure." And then, he runs up to his friend, and he's like, "She said yes! She said yes!"

Emily Flake

Being the pursued instead of the pursuer seemed to throw Tug for a loop. When she talked about it, she seemed fretful and confused and a little embarrassed. She told me at bedtime several nights in a row that she didn't know what to do.

Emily Flake

Before L gave you the note, what did you think of him?

Tug

I mostly thought of him as like a friend that I've had since pre-K. But I didn't think of him that much.

Emily Flake

So you knew him, but you didn't think of him liking you before?

Tug

No, not really.

Emily Flake

OK.

Tug

When he wrote that note, I started paying more attention to him, kind of, and started to-- thought about him more.

Emily Flake

So if L had never given you a Valentine note, do you think you would have gotten a crush on him or liked him?

Tug

Probably not because the note kind of made everything just happen.

Emily Flake

She hid her face in the blankets a lot as we talked. She said now that he brought it up, she guessed she could like him? As the days went on, when I checked on her journal, I saw she'd gone full scorched earth on her past. She'd gone back to the pages about B in her diary and edited them mercilessly. Next to "I love B so much," she wrote "Not anymore."

Next to every heart she'd drawn, she wrote the word "no." It was like she was trying to edit her emotions by editing the evidence of them. I tried to explain that she didn't have to erase the past or all the things she wrote and drew to make room for this person in her emotional space. She disregarded my note and went right on striking through.

Emily Flake

Can you tell me why you felt like you wanted to do that?

Tug

I don't really know exactly why. I just did it.

Emily Flake

So did you feel like you couldn't like B anymore because L liked you?

Tug

I don't really know.

Emily Flake

And do you feel like you needed to like L back because he liked you?

Tug

Again, I still don't really know. Do I have to explain how love works?

Emily Flake

Of course my daughter can't explain how love works, and neither can I. I wanted to talk to her more about this to make sure that her burgeoning feelings for L and abandonment of feelings for B were coming from her own will. But when I wanted to talk to her about her emotions, she kept deflecting to his.

Tug

I don't really know what he felt. But I know that he probably felt excited.

Emily Flake

Well, how did you feel?

Tug

I don't really remember. And I felt really happy for him because he seemed like he was super excited.

Emily Flake

Hearing her express this sense of romantic obligation felt like somebody had copy-pasted my entire adolescence onto my second-grader. I knew that feeling very, very well. I was an unlovely and unlikable child. By the time I was in sixth grade, I had completely assimilated the idea that I was not allowed to turn down affection from anyone if it ever happened to come my way.

I remembered being liked by a moody boy when I was 12 and going out on what passed for a double date with him and our respective best friends. We all went for ice cream at the decaying strip mall in town. My friend and I tried to make conversation, while the boy who liked me glowered and muttered under his breath, while the boy who liked my friend got chocolate ice cream all over his face.

It was an awkward disaster, but it was also my first official date. The boy's affections made me feel shame and an exciting threat of degradation. But what was I going to do, turn him down? I knew I was looking down the barrel of a lifetime of making the best of things as far as dating was concerned.

I thought I had avoided constructing a landscape that would encourage those kinds of feelings to grow in my daughter. Had I somehow already infected her with this idea that she'd better find a way to accept anyone that would have her? As Tug sorted through her feelings, she turned once more to writing, crafting a note she planned to give to L at school.

Emily Flake

So can we talk about the note that you wrote him? What did it say?

Tug

Dear L-- [GIGGLES] I was thrilled when you asked me to be your Valentine. I just want to say you are kind and-- you are so kind and sweet and nice. And you are a great person.

I was going to put cute, but I forgot.

Emily Flake

I couldn't tell if she was genuinely seeing L through new eyes or if she was bending her emotions to fit the situation. But I was interested to see where she was going with this. She held onto the note for a few days, going back and forth, and decided at last to seal the deal and deliver the note to him in school. But she never got the chance. This was last March. While she dithered, the pandemic spread. And by the time she'd made up her mind, her school closed. Her decision was rendered moot.

For a few weeks, she talked about him at bedtime. But to a kid her age, out of sight is out of mind. Now her obsession lies where she conducts most of her social life-- Roblox and other online platforms. In a world where there are fly-ride albino bats, there doesn't seem to be a lot of room for crushes. Like so many other things in our lives now, her heart will have to live in limbo.

Ira Glass

Emily Flake, she's a writer and cartoonist for The New Yorker. Coming up, can a macho TV talk show host on daytime TV in Argentina really, really become a feminist? That is in a minute from Chicago Public Radio when our program continues.

Act Three: The All-Too-Real Housewives of Argentina

Ira Glass

It's This American Life. I'm Ira Glass. Today's program, Personal Recount. In this tense and exhausted post-election moment, we thought it would be refreshing to have stories of that very rare thing, that very hopeful thing-- human beings actually changing their minds. We've arrived at act three of our program. Act Three, The All Too Real Housewives of Argentina.

So this is a story about people changing their attitude about the world in a very significant way. And they're doing it in a setting where you really don't see that kind of thing very often-- daytime television. Jasmine Garsd grew up in Argentina and has this story about daytime TV there. We first broadcast this story a couple years ago.

Jasmine Garsd

I watched a lot of television when I was a kid. My grandmother, Iaia, would pick me up at school and bring me back to her place. Her apartment was dark and humid. It smelled like French bread and the exhaust from the buses on the avenue down below. My grandfather was never around.

Iaia would make tea, and then we would go to her bedroom and turn the TV on. And suddenly, colors, sound, and sex would pour into the world. It was the early afternoon. It was time for the talk shows.

Man

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

Argentine talk shows are extreme, even for Latin American television. The women are pumped up with silicone and Botox and sometimes show up wearing almost nothing. The conversation is not just double entendres, but straight up entendres, full-on vulgar language. When I was growing up, it was a parade of pasties, stilettos, feather boas.

One of the most popular shows back then was hosted by a guy named Jorge Rial. He's still on TV. He's kind of the Argentine everyman-- charming and a little bit of a hustler. These days, his TV show is called Intrusos, or Intruders. It takes place on a set that is just seizure inducing-- neon colors, walls lined with giant video screens. Jorge Rial likes to stir up fights among his voluptuous guests. Every time something shocking is said, ominous music rolls out.

Woman

[SPANISH]

[OMINOUS MUSIC]

Jasmine Garsd

Once in a while, a woman is so sexy that Jorge Rial bites his lower lip and mugs for the camera. This has been Rial's style for years. Back in the day, Iaia would bring the tea and cookies and lie down next to me in her patent leather platform shoes, which she never took off, not even in bed.

My grandmother was the target audience for Rial's show, what's commonly known as a [SPANISH], a housewife. She loved to hate the show, to look disapprovingly at the women and comment how much surgery she's had. [SPANISH], a prostitute. [SPANISH]. And they give her expensive gifts-- cars, vacations. And I'd look around me at my grandmother's lonely apartment and think to myself, wow, that sounds pretty amazing. I knew I didn't want to be a [SPANISH] when I grew up.

When I was a teenager, I moved to the US and eventually became a journalist. I've lived here for 15 years. Sometimes when I get homesick, I stream Intrusos on YouTube. I leave it on when I cook and clean. When I watch it, I'm not 5,000 miles away. Iaia is alive. Nothing has changed much. Nothing ever changes on Argentine daytime TV. Until suddenly, a few months ago, it did.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Man

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

One night in February, I was at home in New York cleaning my kitchen. Intrusos was on in the background, and I heard this woman with a raspy Lauren Bacall voice. I turned around, soapy sponge in hand, and squinted at the screen-- a tattooed, heavyset woman wearing sneakers.

I recognized this woman, a comedian named Senorita Bimbo. The stage name, Bimbo, is ironic. She's anything but. In fact, the very next thing she did was look directly into the camera and offer a statistic about illegal abortion.

Senorita Bimbo

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

"500,000 women in Argentina have illegal abortions every year," she said. She was wearing a bright green handkerchief around her neck, a provocative symbol everyone in Argentina knows, a symbol of the fight to legalize abortion. For years, activists have been pushing to get Congress to vote on it. When I was growing up, abortion was something you just didn't talk about in Argentina, a Catholic country. It's still not something that comes up on daytime TV. Reproductive rights? That's just not Intrusos source material, though here was Jorge Rial, the host, looking intently at Senorita Bimbo.

A few hours later, one of my best friends texted me, "Did you watch Intrusos today?" I sat down at my laptop and started scrolling through the descriptions of the last few episodes. The guests were names I knew-- academics, writers, comedians. What they had in common was they were all feminists, people who have been on the fringes for years criticizing sexism in Argentina and demanding women's rights.

I started binge watching. In each episode, there was a nuanced conversation about feminism. Rial looked kind of meek, but not in his usual, I've been overpowered by sexy ladies, way. He kept delivering these really impassioned monologues, saying I don't want to be a misogynist, a [SPANISH]. I'm a recovering [SPANISH].

Jorge Rial

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

The Argentine everyman now appeared to be an earnest feminist. This was not the Rial I grew up with. This was not the TV I grew up with. What happened? Could this possibly be sincere? I flew to Argentina to find out.

As soon as I got there, I went to the studios where Intrusos is taped. I met Ana Laura Guevara, one of the show's executive producers.

Ana Laura Guevara

[SPANISH]

Interpreter

Being live involves a lot of adrenaline. I really, really love the adrenaline there.

Jasmine Garsd

To be honest, I wasn't expecting an Intrusos executive producer to be a woman, especially not one like Ana Laura, a self-proclaimed feminist. I had a really hard time wrapping my head around the fact that for 18 years, she had been behind this totally trashy and objectifying show. Ana Laura told me, it's just the job, one she's good at. It's intensely competitive.

In the control room, her face shines from the light of the monitor she's hunched over, like in a casino. A monitor that, minute by minute, tracks the ratings for Intrusos and every other show that's on the air at the same time. I had no idea this was possible. Right now on Intrusos, there's a fight between a former cabaret dancer and a potential candidate for president.

Jasmine Garsd

This skyrocketed. The ratings are going up with this segment. It went from 4.0 to 4.6. This is doing better than the news.

Next segment, a fashion model from the '80s says she has her suspicions about a designer's recent death.

Jasmine Garsd

It dipped to 3.4.

The ratings plummet, nobody cares. Ana Laura orders them to end the segment early. Interest lags for an instant, and Intrusos moves on.

The story of how the feminists intruded into Intrusos is its own soap opera. There are a gazillion gossip shows in Argentina. It's like this whole universe. Back in January, one of the shows interviewed this famous singer, a leathery guy in a tropical shirt. In the middle of the interview, the singer casually repeats this awful saying I used to hear as a kid. "If someone wants to rape you, relax and enjoy it."

Singer

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

The first time I heard that was when I was nine years old. I was in the locker room, and a girl blurted it out. I thought it was advice. A lot of my friends did, too. So the singer says this offensive thing. A few days later, on another talk show, a soap opera star blows up about it. Her name is Araceli Gonzalez. When I was a kid, her soap opera was huge. She played a mute. A hunk with feathered hair would talk at her while she listened tearfully. But now she wasn't mute. She said the singer's remark made her sick.

Araceli Gonzales

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

It was kind of beautiful seeing her get angry after so many years of playing a character literally defined by silence. Ana Laura from Intrusos saw the fight happening on TV, and she wanted to get a piece of it. She booked Araceli to come on the show.

Man

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

It was a typical day on Intrusos. Jorge Rial talked about how much granny panties used to turn him on as a kid. Two former showgirls argued. And then it was Araceli's turn. And just because Araceli had gotten mad about the rape comment, one of the panelists introduces her as a feminist. As soon as Araceli got a chance, she corrected him.

Araceli Gonzales

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

She says, "I heard you refer to me as a feminist just now, and I am not a feminist." She's vehemently wagging her finger as she says this.

Araceli Gonzales

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

"I have a wonderful husband and a lovely son whom I love very much, and I respect men." This set off another firestorm. Here's Ana Laura.

Ana Laura Guevara

[SPANISH]

Interpreter

So people started tweeting about it and we saw that feminists started to respond.

Ana Laura Guevara

[SPANISH]

Interpreter

So everything exploded.

Jasmine Garsd

There were the kinds of tweets you would expect like, quote, "What the fuck does loving your husband and son have to do with being a feminist, you moron?" And here it was, feminist versus the soap opera star, a fight made for daytime television. And Ana Laura knew it. And she also knew Jorge Rial, the host of the show, something had been changing with him lately. He'd been saying to anyone who would listen--

Ana Laura Guevara

[SPANISH]

Interpreter

I am a [SPANISH] in recovery. I'm trying to find myself.

Jasmine Garsd

So she approached him in the dressing room. And they started talking. Maybe we should have a feminist on the show to explain what feminism is.

Ana Laura Guevara

[SPANISH]

Interpreter

We hadn't discussed that beforehand, but this day, in the dressing room, I think that he was really into it.

Jasmine Garsd

They decided on a well-known feminist academic, Flor Freijo. And even she'll tell you, she's a safe bet for a show like Intrusos. She's thin and blonde. So Flor gets invited to Intrusos, and the very first question Jorge Rial asks her is, what is feminism?

Jorge Rial

[SPANISH]

Flor Freijo

[SPANISH]

I didn't prepare anything. I didn't prepare a speech. I didn't have time. So I went open to listen to the questions and explain things just as I do to my students in a class.

Jasmine Garsd

Of all the strange things I've seen on Argentine TV, this might be one of the oddest. Against a neon fizz background, Flor Freijo does a feminism 101. At the bottom of the screen, a banner in bold letters reads, "Feminism-- it's a movement for women's rights." Flor starts explaining, feminism is a movement for women's rights. It started in the 19th century. It has to do with the division of labor, child rearing.

Jorge Rial is listening, completely mesmerized, his little eyebrows furrowed, scratching his beard. And while all this is happening, Ana Laura is sitting in the control room upstairs, watching everything, of course, and also keeping her eye on the ratings monitor. The control room is usually a chaotic mess of yelling, but now, with Flor speaking--

Ana Laura Guevara

[SPANISH]

Interpreter

And when we were watching her talking, Flor, the control room went quiet. We were all paying attention to what she was saying. But we were all quiet. We weren really silently watching and learning from her.

Jasmine Garsd

And then the spell is broken because the phone rings in the control room. It's Araceli, the soap opera star, who's the whole reason Flor is here. She wants to talk to Flor live right now. Everyone in the control room is geared up for a good old-fashioned Intrusos spat.

Araceli Gonzales

[SPANISH]

Man

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

Flor was kind of shocked.

Flor Freijo

[SPANISH]

I didn't know that Araceli was going to call. I had no idea of what was going to happen.

Jasmine Garsd

But it wasn't an ambush. Araceli wasn't calling to fight. Instead, she tells Flor, I've been listening really well to what you're saying, and she wanted the audience to know that she didn't know what feminism was until just now, when she was watching TV and saw Flor explain it.

She starts telling the story of her life through various generations of women, her own single mother and herself. She talks about how she'd been sexually abused as a child and emotionally abused as an adult. And Araceli told Flor, "I know what you're talking about, and I agree with you. If this means being a feminist, then I'm a feminist."

Araceli Gonzales

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

Flor nods and gives a thumbs up. By the way, this is never how Intrusos finishes. People don't just listen to each other and change their minds. And the ratings, Ana Laura says the ratings were great, strong enough that she decided, let's do this again tomorrow. And so it began.

[OMINOUS MUSIC]

Over the next few days, some of the most famous feminists in Argentina came on to Intrusos-- comedians, authors, professors. Audiences were stunned. Someone tweeted, "My ideology is starting to converge with Jorge Rial's, and that terrifies me." It was pretty strange for everyone. This very misogynistic show had suddenly become like the public town hall on feminism in Argentina.

And the ratings were not just good. Ana Laura says they were higher than normal. She was delighted that she could keep this going.

Ana Laura Guevara

[SPANISH]

Interpreter

There is a journalist called Luciana Baker. She is also very important in feminism. And she is an old friend from college. And she came to our show. And when we met backstage, we were like, not even in our wildest dreams we could have dreamed about this, you being here in this type of show.

Jasmine Garsd

Midway through all of this is when I tuned down, when I started streaming in New York. The show was going through hundreds of years of feminism in a couple of days. They passed through topics like LGBT rights, workplace harassment, income inequality, and then the most taboo thing of all-- abortion.

Jorge Rial tied the green handkerchief around his wrist, the one activists who want to legalize abortion wear. And then he invited the large woman with the gravelly voice who I saw at home in New York City-- Senorita Bimbo. Right off the bat, she said, the fact that there is a fat girl on Argentine TV is already a victory.

Senorita Bimbo

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

She told me she was actually pretty nervous.

Senorita Bimbo

[SPANISH]

Interpreter

The first thing I thought was, what they're all going to say is like, what is this fat girl doing here, this fat girl feminazi?

Jasmine Garsd

But she powered through. She had a mission.

Senorita Bimbo

[SPANISH]

Interpreter

I knew I wanted to talk about abortion. My plan was to at least mention it. And I just sat down and started talking. I felt like I was going to battle where I had to use words as arrows because abortion is something that you don't see. It's something that you talk about in hushed tones if you have one.

Senorita Bimbo

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

On Intrusos, Senorita Bimbo talked about how abortion is so taboo, you don't even talk about it in fiction. In Argentine TV and film, unwanted pregnancy is solved by a villain pushing you down the stairs and causing you to miscarry.

Senorita Bimbo

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

And then, about 30 seconds before they cut to commercial and moved to the next guest, Senorita Bimbo said something about abortion that surprised even her.

Senorita Bimbo

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

Misoprostol. She says, "I want girls to know about misoprostol." This is a really big deal. Officially, misoprostol is a drug used to treat stomach ulcers, but it can also be used to induce labor. So in a continent where abortion is mostly banned, women take it if they want to miscarry. People call it the DIY abortion.

She's talking about doing something illegal on one of the most popular daytime talk shows, watched by housewives. That same day, misoprostol was one of the most googled words in the country. I think you're underestimating your audience, Senorita Bimbo said on the show. The [SPANISH] is dead. The [SPANISH], that stereotypical Argentine housewife.

Senorita Bimbo

[SPANISH]

Interpreter

So the woman that is in front of the TV and who needs her world to be explained to her through daytime TV, she just doesn't exist anymore.

Jasmine Garsd

Of course, none of this would have happened on Intrusos if the ratings had been bad. And the ratings were great, for reasons that Jorge Rial and Ana Laura can claim no credit for at all. Feminism has been gaining critical mass in Argentina for the last couple of years.

The movement was triggered by these brutal murders of young women, often by boyfriends, husbands, and fathers. Women started protesting. A whole crusade was born. It was called Ni Una Menos, not one less woman. And since 2015, this has grown to the point where it's impossible to ignore and has expanded to abortion rights, street harassment, and equal pay. It's young people on social media, comedians on YouTube, pop stars on Instagram, gigantic demonstrations. It just wasn't a topic for daytime talk shows until Jorge, Ana Laura, and Intrusos.

During that week on Intrusos, there was this explosion of tweets from young girls, perplexed but ecstatic to see feminism on daytime TV. This one girl, Anita Ocampo, tweeted, "I showed my dad the Intrusos episode with Senorita Bimbo." I dropped by her house, and she told me these feminists were explaining to Jorge Rial all the things she tried to explain, but couldn't get her parents to understand. So one night, she approached her dad.

Anita Ocampo

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

And she told him, "If you watch this episode of Intrusos on YouTube with me, I'll massage your feet." She ended up getting the whole family to watch. She showed them Senorita Bimbo. She pointed to Jorge Rial wearing the same green handkerchief she wears and said, "Look, it's just like mine."

Anita Ocampo

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

It opened up a conversation, which she says they've been having ever since. Anita's mom says she saw Jorge Rial talk about how he's a recovering chauvinist. And she says, so is she.

Anita's Mom

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

"I'm not like 70% feminism," she says. "I still have 30% left to go."

During my week in Argentina, I kept trying to talk to Jorge Rial, and he kept blowing me off. Had he really converted to feminism? Everyone I asked rolled their eyes and pointed to the last few decades of his career. They pointed to his recent vicious public fight with one of his daughters. They pointed to how late he is to the whole feminism thing. He's a Johnny come lately. He's only doing this because it'll make him more popular.

After days of giving me the runaround, he told me to just send my questions. And finally, on my very last night in Argentina, my phone lit up. It was voice memos from Jorge Rial.

Jorge Rial

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

"What happened to me?" Rial says. "What made me bring all these feminists onto Intrusos?"

Jorge Rial

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

He talks about his 18-year-old daughter, Rosio, and how she's a feminist. "We have these very interesting talks over dinner," he says. "And she started opening this world up to me. I am 56 years old. I was raised in a completely sexist culture. I didn't get it. That's why I say I'm a recovering chauvinist, thanks to my daughter. My daughter made me change."

Jorge Rial

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

Jorge Rial knows that I think Intrusos is stupid. He knows most people do. That's the show's superpower.

Jorge Rial

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

"Frivolo--" we're frivolous. We're a show about show biz. No one suspected that this is where feminism could win. We eluded the firewalls that kept feminism off of TV. There was this wall. You couldn't talk about these things on TV. And suddenly it happened on Intrusos. But to be honest, he said, it's all because of feminists. They knew any place is good if you have a strong message.

Jorge Rial

[SPANISH]

Jasmine Garsd

After the week of feminism, Intrusos was left with a split personality. These days, it's a mix of fighting starlets and women's rights activists. Jorge Rial's social media is a mix of World Cup woes, celebrity gossip, and then these really earnest feminist tweets, like this one a few weeks ago. "They came to make things better for the coming generations for our daughters and their daughters and also for men. The men who come after us must be better than us. We did everything wrong."

The day after he tweeted that on June 14th, Argentina's lower house of Congress approved a bill to legalize abortion. After an all night debate, it barely passed by only four votes. And it yet has to pass the upper house. Still, outside Congress, thousands of women and activists who'd gathered to wait for the results celebrated wildly.

[CHEERING]

Every time I spoke to those women about what role television like Intrusos played in all this, they got uncomfortable. On my last day in Argentina, I grabbed a coffee with an old friend from high school, Jordana Timmerman. She recently wrote an op-ed for The New York Times about the push to legalize abortion in Argentina. And we talked about the role pop culture played in that.

Jordana Timmerman

You need to have people like Rial or pop culture, dona rosa, understanding that this is a necessary right because if not, it's not going to happen.

Jasmine Garsd

In other words, the message needs to go into homes in the most remote locations of the country. And TV is one of the only ways to do that. Jordana was saying Intrusos helped. But when I asked her about whether we should thank Jorge Rial, she just laughs.

Jordana Timmerman

I'm not going on record with that. Are you crazy? I have a name.

Jasmine Garsd

I know what she means. After so many years of awful television and this guy's shenanigans, I just don't want to tip my hat to him. And maybe that's part of his penance. He did something good, and no one will ever thank him for it.

Ira Glass

Jasmine Garsd. She's a senior reporter at Marketplace. This story was co-produced with Marianne McCune as part of a collaboration with the NPR podcast, Rough Translation, which you can find whenever you get your podcasts.

So we first put this story out in 2018. And the changes in Jorge Rial, they didn't exactly stick. Rial's show went back to its original content in the year since. And he recently said he is not a feminist and that, quote, "It was all a mistake, having those feminists on the show." He does still describe himself as a recovering misogynist, however. And as far as the country of Argentina, abortion is still very restricted there. The Senate ended up rejecting the bill mentioned in the story.

[MUSIC - "I CAN CHANGE" BY LCD SOUNDSYSTEM]

Credits

Ira Glass

Our program was produced today by Aviva DeKornfeld. The people who put together today's show include Bim Adewunmi, Susan Burton, Ben Calhoun, Dana Chivvis, Sean Cole, Noor Gill, Damian Grave, Michelle Harris, Chana Joffe-Walt, Seth Lind, Stowe Nelson, Katherine Rae Mondo, Nadia Reiman, Robyn Semien, Alyssa Shipp, Christopher Swetala, Matt Tierney, Julie Whitaker, and Diane Wu.

Our managing editor is Sarah Abdurrahman. Our senior editor is David Kestenbaum. Our executive editor is Emanuele Berry. Special thanks today to Paul Bresnahan, Matt Fuller, Chris Crawford, and Cecil Ranieri.

Our website, ThisAmericanLife.org. This American Life is delivered to public radio stations by PRX, the Public Radio Exchange. Thanks, as always, to our program's co-founder, Mr. Torey Malatia. You know, he just called President Trump, telling him to concede, but not just to concede. Torey gave him some proposed language. He was like, OK, listen. This is what you should say to Joe Biden. Just put it exactly like this.

Tug

I just want to say you are kind and-- you are so kind, and sweet, and nice. And you are a great person.

Ira Glass

I'm Ira Glass. Back next week with more stories of This American Life.

[MUSIC - "I CAN CHANGE" BY LCD SOUNDSYSTEM]