Transcript

11:

Enemies
Transcript

Originally aired 01.24.1996

Note: This American Life is produced for the ear and designed to be heard, not read. 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.

Full audio: http://tal.fm/11

Act One. Dave's Love.

Ira Glass

"I'll pour this pestilence into his ear. So will I make the net that will enmesh them all." It's an adult, Iago, who says that in Othello. And it's grownups that Machiavelli was writing about when he wrote The Prince, his book about manipulating others and seizing power. Notice he titled the book The Prince, not The Little Prince. The Little Prince is actually by somebody else, if you don't know that.

But in our American lives, the real era of intrigue and manipulation for most of us is not adulthood. It's adolescence, when our social circle is at its most constricting. Today on our program, a story of betrayal and of someone who holds David Koresh-like powers over others, and who is only in the seventh grade. From WBEZ in Chicago, it's Your Radio Playhouse. I'm Ira Glass.

But before we get into the body of our story, we will try, as adults, to manipulate you a little bit at Pledge Central. Let's check in with Pledge Central. Shirley Jahad.

Shirley Jahad

Hi, Ira Glass.

Ira Glass

Hi.

Shirley Jahad

We're trying to manipulate the Radio Playhouse listeners, are we?

Ira Glass

I guess "manipulate" has the tune of a negative connotation.

Shirley Jahad

Oh, encourage, cajole, lure, maybe?

Ira Glass

Yeah, and we have all these--

Shirley Jahad

Entice, how about?

Ira Glass

Entice. Entice is a very--

Shirley Jahad

Seduce?

Ira Glass

Keep going, baby. You're on a roll. You're on such a roll here. Sure.

Shirley Jahad

Well, let's seduce them with this phone number.

Ira Glass

What is the phone number?

Shirley Jahad

We've got to seduce them with this phone number. 312-832-3160. Stop the music dramatically as I say the number.

Ira Glass

Do it again.

Shirley Jahad

312-832-3160. Maybe a little radio hypnotism. 312-832-3160. Call that number to pledge your support.

Ira Glass

And I just want to say that we are so anxious to get you to call. We have very special premiums that we're offering during the coming hour that are available at no other time during the drive. We have three and a half or four, depending on how you count them. The very first one-- I'm going to play a little clip of these. These are all audio things. Well, how to begin with this?

Shirley Jahad

Explain it, Ira.

Ira Glass

Well, one of them is we have a cassette of recent work by David Sedaris, much of it heard here on Your Radio Playhouse, some of it heard on Morning Edition. This is all new work, including two radio dramas by the Pinetree Gang, which appear here on Your Radio Playhouse. That's one thing.

Another thing is we have this very odd CD called Shut Up, Little Man, which listeners to the show heard. It's a sort of audio verite of these two men recorded through the walls of their apartment as they argued with each other.

And finally, we have this thing. Two weeks ago, we had a show where Julia Sweeney told the story of getting cancer. And she told the story of herself getting cancer and of her brother getting cancer. And she told them as stand-up comedy. And she was telling this in a place called Un-Cabaret. It's a club in Los Angeles where essentially, comics come each week, and they tell what are basically comic diary versions of their week.

And Un-Cabaret has a CD that's really pretty wonderful with some well-known people and some not-so-well-known people. And here's a sample. They have about 10 minutes of Julia Sweeney's cancer stories. Here's a sample of that.

Julia Sweeney

OK, so we're in the doctor's office, and Mike, who's doing really great and is responding really well to the treatment. But he's had so many spinal taps that they can't get into his spinal column anymore. So the doctor comes in. My dad's reading about the plague in India, because that's a good diversion. And my mom is looking at the doctors and saying, "Now, he looks single."

And his doctor comes in. He says, "Michael, we can't get into your spinal column anymore, so we're thinking about putting a shunt in your head. And my brother goes, "What?" He goes, "A shunt?" And I go, "A shunt, like, an artificial opening to the brain." And Mike goes, "Well, where would this shunt be?" And the doctor goes, "Well, the best place we've found is to put it in the forehead."

And Mike goes, "If you think I am going to get a faucet put into my forehead. I'm already 90 pounds, and I have no hair. I'm not going to walk around for a year with a faucet sticking out of my forehead." And my mom goes, "No, I think it's more like a spigot."

Ira Glass

All right, so that's Julia Sweeney. If you want that and more-- and more diary entries from Janeane Garofalo and people who seem less well known. But there's Julia Sweeney, Janeane Garofalo, Beth Lapides, Bob Goldthwait, Taylor Negron, Dana Gould, other people. Ask for that when you call. 832-3160. Shirley, you're still there, right?

Shirley Jahad

832-3160, yeah.

Ira Glass

And, Shirley, what is the magic word? We haven't even gotten to the extra-special premium. What is the magic word?

Shirley Jahad

Oh, the extra-special $4.95-- for $4.95, you can super size it.

Ira Glass

You can super size it. That's right. If you make the $60 pledge and just say super size it, for another $4.95, you get--

Shirley Jahad

More "La Bamba" than you can handle.

Ira Glass

Here we go. I think I've got it. This one starts kind of slow. This is a punk "La Bamba." They have a little collection of all sorts of "La Bambas." It's one of the most covered songs in music. We have the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. We have punk versions. We have Neil Diamond. This is kind of a surf version. Again, we want you to pledge. We want to please you.

Shirley Jahad

We want you to pledge and then to super size it. 312-832-3160. Come on, go for extra fries and an extra large drink. 312-832-3160. Sorry, Ira.

Ira Glass

No, that's OK. So the idea is 60 bucks for one of the premia and $64.95 for one of the premia plus--

Shirley Jahad

90 minutes of "La Bamba." Take it on vacation with you, right? To the Caribbean.

Ira Glass

It makes a fine, fine summertime present for anyone.

Shirley Jahad

That's right. 312-832-3160. Call now to pledge your support for Your Radio Playhouse.

Ira Glass

OK, Shirley. I'll check back with you in a bit.

Shirley Jahad

Thanks, Ira.

Ira Glass

So let's get to today's story on this, our radio show. This is a story of enemies. But some of the bitterest enemies are people who used to be close friends. And our story begins with the friendship of these two boys named Bob and Dave. And today's program will be in four acts. Act One, Dave's Love.

Act Two, Dave's Hate.

Act Three, Dave Today.

Act Four, Another Dave. That another Dave is David Sedaris, actually. We have a story by David Sedaris coming up.

Act Two. Dave's Hate.

Ira Glass

So, Act One. Our story takes place in a small town somewhere on the East Coast.

Bob

Dave and I became friends in fourth grade, and we were friends through sixth grade. And I have to describe him physically because that's a huge part of his personality. He was-- and he still is-- an extremely wiry person. Very thin. He looks emaciated. And he also, his skin is like a jaundiced yellow color. He was always very acned. Just very pale, pasty, and he just looked sick.

I don't really know how we became friends. We were in class together in grade school. But as things progressed into fifth grade, it became pretty clear that our friendship was the most intense friendship in the class. We would talk on the phone at least once a day and for hours. We would just talk for hours and just make each other laugh so hard. And that was why we always got separated in class was just because we weren't troublemakers, we just made each other laugh a lot. We had very similar senses of humor.

The scatological jokes were the primary jokes. And I was just thinking about this today. I remembered this one thing that we used to do, which we did obsessively. It's embarrassing to say it, but we were obsessed with the words "poop" and "pee." And we made this little thing where I would say "poop" and he would say "pee," and then he would say "wee," and then I would say "gilly gee." And so it'd go kind of like, poop, pee, wee, gilly gee. And we said this over and over and over again. And we used to just take books and just insert the words "poop" and "pee" everywhere.

And "wee" was like the one word that was just, for some reason, that was like our rallying call. That was like our motto. We just said it all the time. Just "wee." Wee! We used to do that all the time. Wee!

Some of the other stuff that we had in common-- our favorite group was The Village People. And we used to listen to The Village People all the time and just totally obsess about them, having no idea what they were singing about at all. And the Dukes of Hazzard was another one, and Star Wars. Those were very big things. And sports.

I basically discovered sexuality through him. And we used to play spin the bottle in his room. And we would take off an article of clothing when it would land on us. And it was the first time we'd ever been naked in front of another person except for our parents. And it was petrifying, but it was also just this whole discovery period of seeing another man naked there.

And it became this whole game that we played often. And we would revel in the fact of standing there in front of each other totally naked, assuming these characters like, "Hi, Mr. Jones. How are you? Nice to meet you." Businessmen and everything, just standing there completely buck naked and so terrified that we were ever going to get caught, because his parents were always home. They were always in the house and everything, and we were just so afraid that someone was going to knock on the door.

The one time that was the biggest scare was he-- Dave basically could get anybody to do anything that he wanted them to do. And he had a camera and was-- these times when I'd go up to his house were fully documented events. He's very anal retentive. And he loved documenting everything was going on.

So he would have a camera and take a lot of pictures. And he wanted me to pull down my pants and take a picture of me with my pants down. And I was refusing to do it. I would not let it be caught on film. And he was just insisting, and he went through this entire-- I mean, he was trying to coax me for so long, telling me all these different things that he was going to do for me and saying, "Oh, nobody's going to see it." And he came up with this whole scheme of how nobody would see the film and everything and just these elaborate, elaborate plans on how nobody would see these pictures. And I just kept refusing and refusing and refusing.

And finally, at the end of it, he was like, "All right, just take down you pants anyway. I won't take a picture. I swear to you. I won't take a picture, I promise." And I still didn't believe him. And he was like, "Look, I promise. I promise. I promise," This went on for like an hour, of him trying to coax me to take my pants down. And he promised me, bottom of his heart, that he was not going to take a picture.

And so I was like, fine. So I like unbuckled my belt, and I unbuckled my pants. And I pulled down my zipper, and I whipped open my pants. And I had my underwear on. And then I put myself all back together again. And when I had my pants open, he took a picture. And I was like, "Ah!"

And I was terrified because when you're that age, when you're 11 and 12 years old, you can't go in and get your pictures developed yourself and pay for them and get them. And I thought, somebody is going to get these pictures developed, and somebody is going to see them.

So weeks later, I was going up to his house again. And in the car going up to his house-- his mother was driving-- he was like, "I got the pictures back." And I said, "Oh, my god." And he was like, "You're not going to believe what's on there." And I said, "But what can be? You didn't see anything." And he's like, "I know, but you have to see this because it's there." And I was like, "But it can't be because I didn't take my pants down." And he was like, "I know, but it's there. It's there. You have to see it."

He pulls out the pictures, and I looked at it. And my penis was hanging out there. And I was like, "But I didn't do it." And he was like, "You must've." And I said, "But I know I didn't. I know I just opened my pants." And he said, "You must've done it. Maybe it just fell out or something." And I said, "But it can't be." And we racked our brains just trying to figure out what had happened, because I knew that I hadn't pulled my underwear down.

So that night, we were at a high school football game. And we were looking at the pictures again, just examining them. We were way up in the bleachers in a corner. And we took them out, and we were looking at them. And we were trying to explain what had happened. And finally, we figured out that it was the inside of my belt that looked like my penis.

And we're like, "Oh!" And so I was completely relieved, but I made him-- I watched him just tear up the picture into a thousand pieces and went through this whole elaborate method to bury the pieces in the bottom of a trash can at this football stadium. And I was still petrified that somebody was going to find them and piece them together.

The point that it started to change was, as we were going into sixth grade, we were constantly being separated in class. And that's around the time when people start to realize that there's a difference between someone who's straight and someone who's gay. And there was just grumblings happening. People were accusing us of being homosexual.

And we weren't in any way, but we also knew of all the things that we had done with each other in each other's presence. And I think when people started to think that we were gay, that just rose to the surface, and we realized that there was a cool thing and a not cool thing. And we were definitely not cool in the friendship that we were in.

And that's also around that time when-- in my town, at least, and I think in a lot of small towns-- is where sports just become the most important thing in your life. And I was not a good athlete then at all. Dave was a good athlete. And Dave organized a big football party one weekend where we were going to go out there and play football and have a sleepover and then the next day, play more football.

Dave just organized this thing unbelievably. He had jerseys printed up with numbers and names on them. He had teams with rosters. He had practice for his team with plays. There was a playbook. This is for a little football game, like three-on-three football or four-on-four football. Touch football.

And every single minute was decided upon beforehand by him as to what we would do, where we would be, what we would eat, the food we would eat, when we would play football. It was all timed out. He was so organized and anal retentive about it. I don't remember very well, but I can't imagine that I played tremendously well.

I was thinking about this today. I was trying to think of the moment when everything changed. And I'm almost positive it was that event. It was the football party. And immediately after that, he just totally stopped talking to me.

Ira Glass

How Dave turned the class against Bob, as our show continues.

Act Three. Dave Today.

Ira Glass

Well, it is Your Radio Playhouse. And we do want you to call 832-3160. Area code 312. Hey, Shirley Jahad, are you there?

Shirley Jahad

Hey, Ira Glass.

Ira Glass

Hey, honey.

Shirley Jahad

This is an intriguing little tale.

Ira Glass

Well, as we try to present here on this, our little Radio Playhouse radio show. Are people calling?

Shirley Jahad

People are calling. 312-832-3160. I don't have the exact count yet, but the phones are ringing. And people are super-sizing their pledges.

Ira Glass

Wait, you said the magic word, which means I have to get rid of this music and bring on-- here it is. Do you recognize this, Shirley?

Shirley Jahad

Could it be? It's a familiar yet foreign.

Ira Glass

This is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir version of "La Bamba," which appears to you when you say the word "super size."

Shirley Jahad

Super size your pledge for $4.95, and you get 90 minutes of "La Bamba."

Ira Glass

Blessing or a curse. And remember our three special premia. One is the Un-Cabaret CD, which is basically comics telling stories about their own lives. The second thing is the Shut Up, Little Man CD. And the third thing is David Sedaris, including lots of material heard on this program, but also, for example, the Christmas--

Shirley Jahad

SantaLand Diaries.

Ira Glass

No, I feel like we've given that away too many times. I'm sorry. But this year, David did a story for Morning Edition that we had to cut about three minutes out to fit it into a Morning Edition segment. People who buy the cassette will get the uncut version. And it's the story about how he was having a bad Christmas one year until his sister brought home a prostitute who she knew from work.

David Sedaris

"What were the prison guards really like?" Amy asked. "Which do you like better, spending the night with strange guys or working in a cafeteria?" Tiffany tried on Donna's shoes while Gretchen modeled her jacket.

Ira Glass

"Donna the Christmas Whore."

Shirley Jahad

Oh, my. Ho, ho, ho.

Ira Glass

Yeah, ho, ho, ho. And what's the number again?

Shirley Jahad

312-832-3160.

Ira Glass

A heart-warming story for the whole family.

Shirley Jahad

Like this one we're in the middle of. 312-832-3160. A slew of premiums. All kinds of great comedy and performance and storytelling and wonderful music. 90-minute cassette of "La Bamba" in many varieties. 312-832-3160. If you say "super size it," those volunteers will know what you mean.

Ira Glass

In fact, you can get any premium that the station is selling. Anything. Anything you've heard all day and that you're going to hear all week, and just say "super size it." Only during this show. At $4.95, you get that "La Bamba" tape.

Shirley Jahad

Your Radio Playhouse. 312-832-3160.

Ira Glass

Check back with you later, Shirley.

Shirley Jahad

Thanks, Ira.

Ira Glass

Act Two, Dave's Hatred. Dave and Bob were best friends. And now Dave started using all the tactics that adults use in political situations, in power situations, all the tactics one uses to turn people against one another. Whispering in ears, things like that. Bob, who's now a theater director in New York City, by the way, Bob tells the story.

Bob

I remember going into class in seventh grade on the first day of school and him not talking to me and everybody just wondering. The whole school was wondering why there was this big fight going on between Dave and Bob. And I remember not having an answer for anybody. I used to tell them to ask Dave. I had no idea. And I used to tell people that he just stopped talking to me. And I remember that he became completely bent on turning everyone against me. The whole school. And he did it very well because he's so organized and because he's so manipulative.

And I saw him. And I saw him telling people to say things to me. And he was one who formed the I Hate-- they used to call me [? Cooze ?] then. And he was the one who formed the I Hate [? Cooze ?] Club. He never did anything to me himself. He would never come up to me and make fun of me. He would never come up to me and hit me. He would never assault me personally. But he would just get everyone else to do it for him.

So he would send people to say things to me. I remember one time in the lunchroom Sam saying, have you ever been caught masturbating? And of course, either answer is-- you damn yourself if you answer yes or if you answer no. And I remember hearing Dave tell him to ask me that.

I used to just get made fun of horrendously by everyone. People would make fun of the way that I chewed at lunch. People would make fun of the way that I laughed. People would make fun of the way that I coughed, that I sneezed. People would make fun of the way that I walked. There was just this teasing. But that makes it even sound less violent than it was. It was just a mocking. It was a very pointed mocking on everyone's part.

I remember sitting alone at the lunch table with no one to talk to and just wanting so badly for no one to turn their attention to me because I knew that the attention would be negative. I remember not understanding what was going on. I had been in such a sweet position with this person. We had such a good friendship. And then, all of a sudden, everyone had just turned against me.

And he wasn't like a pied piper. He was so subtle, and he was so quiet. I don't think he ever had a friendship with people like he had with me. But he was just able to organize people into these different factions. He would just say, "Go over to [? Cooze ?] and just shove him into a locker." And they'd go do it.

That was the worst period, I think, of my entire life was that period. I used to go home from school and cry after school. I used to go to my dog and hug my dog and say, you are my only friend in the world.

Then he started to kind of needle me. I remember one thing that he did was there was this guy, Mike, in my class. And Mike was what we called in my hometown a scummer, which meant that he was on welfare. He perhaps didn't have a pair of pants for every day of the week. He was very smart, which was a strike against him at that age. And he just didn't fit in. He was a real geek. So Dave organized this fight between Mike and I-- a fist fight to prove who was the bigger faggot. Whoever would lose was the bigger faggot.

And he positioned us-- he spun it so there was no way I could not fight. If I didn't have this fight, then things would just get worse for me. Things would get worse. Mike was at the bottom of the barrel, and I was there with him. And Dave had to prove that I was below him. And so he organized this whole fight. And everyone in the class was like, "Are you going to fight Mike? Are you going to fight Mike?"

And I finally conceded. I conceded to fight him. Dave organized the whole event. It was to happen at this playground. And we went, and he tried to get this whole audience to come and see it. Unfortunately, nobody came but him-- well, I guess, fortunately. Nobody came but him and one other person.

So Mike and I went there. And neither of us wanted to fight each other. Neither of us had any reason in the world to fight each other. So I just remember standing there facing him, just laughing, just like, what are we supposed to do? We're standing here. We've been forced into this just to save our own souls. And now we have to inflict pain on each other. And we stood there for the longest time. And Dave kept trying to push us into fighting. He was saying, "Come on. Just throw a punch. Just throw a punch. Just start."

We waited for the longest time, and then finally, I was just like, this is ridiculous. So I went up, and I shoved him. And then we started to fight. We weren't really into fighting, but we had to do it then. And I pushed him at one point, and he fell backwards and he hurt his wrist. And I got on top of him. and I held his wrist. And I remember saying to him, "Do you give up?" And he wouldn't give up. And I was holding his wrist back.

And each time I kept asking if he was going to give up, and he kept saying no. And each time he'd say no, I'd bend his wrist back a little bit more. And he was crying in pain. And I kept saying, I'm going to bend it back. I'm going to bend it back. I'm going to bend it back, thinking, I don't want to break this person's wrist. I have no reason to break this person's wrist.

And I was faced at that moment with either giving up and getting kicked even more or going ahead with really hurting this person and hoping that it would save me in some way. And I broke his wrist. He came in the next day into school with a cast on. I don't know how his family paid for his cast. And everybody saw that and said, "You idiot, [? Cooze! ?] What did you do? You idiot!" And it made it even worse.

I just didn't understand. I didn't know what was going on. That's the most frustrating for me, even still today. I always thought it was me. I always thought it was something I was doing. I thought it was the way that I wore my clothes. I thought it was the shoes that I wore. I thought it was the way that I laughed. I remember.

And I remember I tried to change these things. I tried not to laugh so loud. I tried to cough differently. They made fun of the most minuscule things that are just human, like chewing. If they would've noticed the way that I breathed, they would have made fun of that. I remember I tried lifting weights. And it was impossible, because there was nothing I could do to make them change their minds. If I lifted weights, it was the way that I lifted weights. They would come up with something.

It was a no-win situation. And I guess I knew how smart he was, and I knew how well he knew me. And I guess, all of a sudden, I had thought that he had seen all these things in me that were just wrong, just so not cool.

I remember very clearly there was a moment that the clouds just cleared and everything became possible. I went to the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts in my junior year. The summer between my junior and senior year, that was when I met people who were actors, like I was, who were my age and who respected me.

And I remember very clearly, it was after lunch, and people who were in my theater class, we were going down to the cafeteria. And I had forgotten my bag in the cafeteria. And I said, "Oh, just wait for me one second. I just want to get my bag." And I went down to the cafeteria, and I got my bag. And I came back up, and they were still there waiting for me. And I remember so distinctly remembering, "Oh, my god. These people, they waited for me."

That meant so much to me, because I felt like I'm not this idiot. I'm not this geek. I'm not a person who everyone should hate. I'm actually a pretty good human being, and people like me.

Sometimes, I feel like there's some justice in the fact that I'm surrounded now by many people who love me and respect me. And I don't know how many people he has in his life. But the tables have turned in that way.

And when I go back home and I see people looking at me the way that they looked at me in high school, I think there is some justice in this, because those people are probably-- some of those people, I've heard, are in bad situations with their families. They've got wives they don't love. They've been through divorces. They don't have any friends. They're in the same bar they were in four or five years ago, drinking the same beer they drank. And their gut is a little bigger, and their nose is a little redder. And they just look tired. And I feel like my life is in pretty good shape, and I'm happy. And that's the sweetest revenge. And last Christmas, I ran into him at a mall. And he looked more jaundiced and more sickly than ever.

Ira Glass

Bob says that it was because Dave made him an outcast in junior high school that he ended up spending a lot of time with the theater teacher. Because the other kids wouldn't talk to him. And this teacher put him in plays and took him to plays in New York City, showing him that there was a bigger world outside their hometown.

Bob

If it weren't for Dave, I would not be doing what I'm doing right now. There's no way. I don't know what I would have been doing, but because of what he did to me, I found theater, and it's been a really good life so far.

Ira Glass

Bob's a director in Manhattan. Dave gives his version of the story in Act Three of Your Radio Playhouse.

Hey, Shirley Jahad?

Shirley Jahad

Yeah, Ira, man?

Ira Glass

I love when he says, "I'm going to shoot my buddy."

Shirley Jahad

They're just like, yeah!

Ira Glass

The band just goes, like, yeah! They get so excited What a weird moment.

Shirley Jahad

Some parts of it are painful, Ira, to listen to. I bet some people have memories of difficulties in their youth.

Ira Glass

I think if you want to share, we're going to have to set aside more time--

Shirley Jahad

Well, I'm not going to share. Don't worry. I won't.

Ira Glass

Well, it's OK.

Shirley Jahad

You can call 312-832-3160, and you'll feel absolved of a lot of things. 312-832-3160.

Ira Glass

And what's that magic word? I keep forgetting it.

Shirley Jahad

And the magic word, once you call that number, and all the volunteers in that pledge room will know when you say "super size it."

Ira Glass

It's the disco version of "La Bamba," Shirley.

Shirley Jahad

And all of the volunteers are dirty dancing right now, just so you know.

Ira Glass

That's right. If you say the thing about "La Bamba"-- if you say "super size it" for $4.95 extra, any premium this radio station has, including our three special premia tonight-- the Un-Cabaret CD, the David Sedaris tape, and the Shut Up, Little Man CD, they will throw in 90 minutes of various "La Bambas." on top of it.

Shirley Jahad

A variety of "La Bambas." 312-832-3160, the number to call to support Your Radio Playhouse. We are looking for new members here on WBEZ in Chicago. And what better place to look than a new program, Your Radio Playhouse, a fantastic new addition to WBEZ's lineup. 312-832-3160. If you've been catching the program the last few shows and enjoying it, then give us a call now. 312-832-3160.

Ira Glass

And, Shirley, let me play another sample from this Un-Cabaret CD. Again, it's this unusual forum, which isn't exactly stand-up comedy. The comics come and tell stories about their own lives, every week in Los Angeles. If you were to fly to Los Angeles and go to this club, it would cost you hundreds and hundreds of dollars. But for just a $60 pledge, we're going to give you a CD, and for $64.95, a CD plus this fabulous music. And here's a sample of one of the bits. I'll just play it quick so people know what they're getting. This is a guy named Terry Sweeney. No relation to Julia Sweeney.

Terry Sweeney

I used to go to things like The Mine Shaft, which was in New York-- when I lived in New York-- which was much too hardcore for me. And people would be really dressed in these leather harnesses and leather caps and dog collars and totally done up. And I'd have tried to put on a black cardigan or something.

[LAUGHTER]

Terry Sweeney

And a mock turtleneck. I thought, "I'll show you. I can do the scene." And I saw these two men. They were just so hardcore. And one had the other one on a leash. Nipples were pinched, and things were hanging in all kinds of apparatus I couldn't even identify. And so I inch close to them because I go, I want to hear what these two are talking about. And I inch behind them, and this guy said, "I just loved that angel cake. It was so moist. Can I have the recipe?" "Well, mother has it on a card. I will write mother and have her send it."

Ira Glass

832-3160.

Shirley Jahad

832-3160. 312-832-3160, the number to call. Pledge your support for Your Radio Playhouse, WBEZ's brand new, groovy Friday evening show. 312-832-3160.

Ira Glass

Again, these are premia-- some of these-- that are only being offered tonight. Shirley, we'll check back with you in a couple minutes.

Shirley Jahad

Thanks, Ira.

Ira Glass

Call. Please call. Please call. We are trying to figure out stuff that you might enjoy, now as ever.

Act Four. Another Dave.

Ira Glass

Well, Act Three, Dave's Response. It's an odd thing, actually, as a reporter, calling a stranger on the phone and asking him to defend things he did 15 years before as a teenager. Who amongst us wants to get that call? So I reached Dave at his parents' house, where he still lives. And he's a devout Christian now. He writes and edits a Christian magazine for young people. And he says he's never been happier.

No, he does not really think about Bob very often. No, Bob is not a big figure in his life. No, he does not remember the fight with Mike. Yes, he remembers being enemies with Bob in the seventh grade. But no, he wasn't sure why. The best that he could remember, Bob was to blame. Bob, by becoming friends with someone else.

Dave

And they were doing these other things. I got really mad and everything, and it was like going from best friends to worst. I'm trying to remember this.

Ira Glass

And he remembers-- is this also accurate or do you remember this as well? He remembers you turning other people against him. He says that at one point, there was actually a "I Hate [? Cooze ?] Club" that you started.

Dave

Oh, gosh. Again, I don't even remember that. But now that you say it, gosh, what a terrible person I must've been, because that's horrible. Oh, man, I actually kind of remember that now. That's pretty lame.

Ira Glass

What do you remember of it?

Dave

I don't. That's just it. When you said the name, it's like, oh, my gosh, did I really do that? I have no idea.

Ira Glass

When he describes you during that period, he felt like you had a kind of David Koresh-like power over others.

Dave

Well, I mean, we were in high school. I'm trying to think of--

Ira Glass

Can you imagine yourself being seen in that light?

Dave

No, not really at all. Looking back now, I feel like I was always the one that was really, totally at the bottom of the social level, or whatever you want to call it, in school. And I'm thinking, I wonder what caused me to do something like that. Obviously, to make myself look better or something, because-- I don't know, but that's pretty bad.

Ira Glass

I'll tell you the way that Bob remembers and interprets what happened between the two of you. He doesn't remember it as being the kind of thing where he became friends with somebody else. He says that you guys were really, really close-- really close friends. And then, when everybody hit adolescence, a really typical thing happened to you, and that is that other boys started accusing you of being gay. And that you publicly wanted to put a stop to it.

Dave

Gosh, honestly, I cannot even remember this. He has a much better memory than me. I know we were close and everything, but I don't ever remember any accusations like that. No. And I'm trying to think, too. I'm sitting here trying to drag it out of my memory as to why did we start fighting in the first place? And I'm thinking, but jeez.

Ira Glass

Actually, the thing that it's making me think about is, in the case of a story like this, I think it's easier for a person who was the injured person-- or believes they were the injured person-- to remember something than the person who did something hurtful. Because I think it's so much more embarrassing to remember yourself as being someone who did something hurtful.

Dave

Right. Now I work with kids that are about that age. And they get in their little spats sometimes. And we just always go to the Bible together. And I try to say, well, look, this person's your friend. We just had an incident like this last week. This one girl, her friends, all of a sudden, just wouldn't talk to her. I felt really bad for this person because she's always one of the gang. I'm thinking, man, I've got to get a hold of her and see what's wrong and everything and get all these people back together, because this isn't good.

[TELEPHONE RINGING]

Bob

Hello?

Ira Glass

Hi, is Bob there?

Bob

This is Bob.

Ira Glass

So after I spoke with Dave, I called Bob. I guess you could figure that out for yourself, huh?

Ira Glass

You describe him going and whispering in people's ear, Iago-like, saying, go do this, go do that, walk up to Bob and say this to him, push him in the locker. And he remembers none of that.

Bob

I remember that very clearly.

Ira Glass

Well, he remembers none of it.

Bob

I remember it very clearly. That is stuff that scarred me for years and years and years. And it's no surprise that I remember it and he doesn't.

Ira Glass

Thinking about what happened to you, just thinking about it over the last few days, it's really made me think about what it means to love somebody. You know how when you love somebody, you're always more aware of what they do in the room than anybody else?

And because you guys really loved each other, anything that he would do in a room would be something that would be more apparent to you than what anybody else was doing and would seem more important. So if somebody else were just as influential over other kids in the class, you would always be more aware of what Dave did.

Bob

Yeah, I would say all of his activities were illuminated more to me than to anyone else because of that. But I do know that he was the focal point for all this antagonism against me throughout those years. No doubt. He generated it. It didn't just come from nowhere.

Ira Glass

It's an odd thing to have a profound experience with somebody else, a really intimate experience, and you remember every detail. And the other person remembers none of it. And so you're left there alone. When I talked to Bob, I asked him about this over and over and over again because I thought it was such a particular kind of moment for him. But he didn't really take it that way.

Bob

I don't know, I have no reason to feel lonely about this. I don't expect Dave to remember it. What you're saying sounds like I should have animosity toward him because of what he did to me.

Ira Glass

No, I don't mean animosity at all. Actually, in fact, just the opposite. Simply someone else to confirm that it happened. That it happened and that it had a meaning.

Bob

Yeah. Yeah, you may be right. Now I feel alone. [LAUGHS] I mean, yeah, I can see myself saying, "But, Dave, don't you remember?" This was a massive event in my life.

Ira Glass

As you were talking, I was thinking this is the Gabriel Garcia Marquez part of the story where, like, is memory lost? Does memory last? Does it mean anything if an entire nation forgets what it was? Or does it mean anything if we are the only one who remembers an experience and then we are lost, and so that experience is never remembered? Does it mean anything? And you're saying, really, no. Maybe it meant something to me, but no, not really.

Bob

And I can assure you that I am like-- I'm going to pronounce his name wrong, it's Jorge Luis Borges. Like he says, I'm remembering the last time I remembered it, which was a memory of the last time I remembered it, which is a memory of the last time I remembered it. It increasingly gets more and more dramatic, and the moment gets refined down to-- it gets distilled down into something which becomes very palatable and very understandable.

Ira Glass

One loose end in the whole thing, of course, was the friend, the mysterious friend. Remember, Dave said that Bob was to blame for them becoming enemies in the seventh grade by making friends with a guy who, we were told, is named Mike, though not the Mike whose wrist Bob later broke.

Bob

I can sort of understand that. I know which Mike you're referring to, and I know that we did start to become friends then. But the friendship that I had with Dave was always the strongest friendship that I ever had up until probably five years ago when I met the person who I consider my best friend now. He always used to use the term "false friend" in seventh and eighth grade. I remember that clearly. He used to always say I was his "false friend."

Ira Glass

Meaning what?

Bob

Well, what is it? I don't know. What does it mean? It means you were friends, but now it's fake or it's--

Ira Glass

See, to me, false friend means that he thinks that you betrayed him.

Bob

Could be. It could be. God, wouldn't that be awful if it all boiled down to one event where he felt like me and Mike were becoming friends, and it could've been cleared up in one conversation?

Ira Glass

That it was a complete misunderstanding.

Bob

That it was just a total tiny misunderstanding that could have been cleared up?

Ira Glass

Happens all the time.

Bob

Boy, I would just love to see what my life would have been like if that would have happened.

Ira Glass

In Act Four, another perspective on the whole thing from David Sedaris. But first, let's go to Pledge Central. Shirley Jahad.

Shirley Jahad

Ira Glass.

Ira Glass

Hi, honey.

Shirley Jahad

Hi, sweetie.

Ira Glass

I understand that we're having problems with the phones.

Shirley Jahad

We have demons, demons on the pledge lines. Maybe Bob or somebody has infiltrated here. Anyway, the number is 312-832-3160. If you're having trouble getting through, please be patient and do not give up on us. 312-832-3160 to pledge your support for Your Radio Playhouse. on WBEZ Chicago. Now, I understand some people are calling and it's ringing, but we're not hearing it ring here. And eventually we do hear it ring, but that's after several minutes.

Ira Glass

So if you're having trouble getting through, and if you don't get through until the exact moment when our show ends, and you want some of the premia from this hour and the phones aren't working, ask for them and we'll give them to you.

Shirley Jahad

That's right. 312-832-3160.

Ira Glass

Here we go. Here's something we haven't played yet. Again, we have special premia. One is the Un-Cabaret CD. One is the Shut Up, Little Man CD, which maybe I'll just play a little clip of that real fast. It's a very odd CD-- these two guys who would fight all the time. And it's sort of audio verite recorded by their neighbors next door as these two men would scream at each other. Here we go.

Man

--cut your toenails, so why would I worry about it? For god's sakes, shut up, little man. I don't want to watch you cut your toenails. I would liked to have eaten tonight also, but I can't because of you talking about toenails.

Ira Glass

Now, I should say the music in there is actually from our little mix that we did on the show. And this is one of those things that it's hard to get a sense of just in a brief little clip. Another thing we're giving away is recent work by beloved NPR commentator David Sedaris. And that includes work that he's done here on Your Radio Playhouse, that is, some of the radio plays he's done with his sister, Amy, and other actors. And this piece, this half-hour hitchhiking story that he told. Here's one little brief, brief episode from that story.

David Sedaris

I got an interminable ride with a pantyhose salesman who spent six hours saying "You just take and take, don't you? Don't you? Out there with your thumb in the air, not a care in the world, grabbing whatever you can get. Yes, sir, you take and you take until you're ready to burst. But what about giving? Did you ever think about that? Of course not. You're too busy taking.

Me, I'm what you call a taxpayer. Tax, it's a tariff that working people have to pay so that someone like you can enjoy a life of leisure. I give, and I give until I've got nothing left. Then I turn right around, and I give some more. I give and give to all of Uncle Sam's little takers. And I've been thinking that maybe it's about time I get a little something in return. Yes, indeed. Maybe it's time we try that shoe on the other foot for a change. You, my young friend, are going to wash my car, inside and out, and you're going to pay for it."

Ira Glass

Anyway, again, the number if you want this very odd collection of stories from David Sedaris, 832-3160. The collection includes the story that we're going to hear at the end of this evening's show.

Shirley Jahad

312-832-3160. Call now to pledge your support for Your Radio Playhouse, a place where you hear David Sedaris' stories in their entirety, the uncut versions you will get on that cassette that you can get for a $60 pledge. 312-832-3160. Be patient, and let that phone ring, and we will get to you as soon as we can.

Ira Glass

We put a lot of effort into this show to bring you unusual stories that you will not hear anywhere else. And we want your support. We want your support. And we were trying to find premia that you would enjoy and could get nowhere else. So please, please call. Please call and join our fun little party here. And I guess that's it. 832-3160.

Shirley Jahad

312-832-3160. And take it, Ira. I guess we'll go on.

Act 4.

Ira Glass

Well, Act Four. Act Four of this evening's program is called Another Dave. And this story by David Sedaris, frequent Morning Edition commentator, member of the Pinetree Gang, contributor to this program. And this is a story of ultimate Machiavellian scheming. It's kind of an endpoint as to how far you can go. It's called "The Last Time You'll Ever Hear from Me." It's a story, and it's read by Sarah Thyre.

Sarah Thyre

Dear friends and family, by the time you receive this letter, I will be dead. Those of you attending this service are sitting quietly holding a beautiful paperweight, a gift from the collection which, in life, had been my pride and joy. You turn the paperweight over in your hands, look deep inside at the object embedded in the glass, be it a rose or a scorpion, whatever. And through your tears, you ask, what is death like?

By this time, I certainly know the answer to that question, but I'm unable to give details. Know only that I will one day meet you upon the grassy plains of heaven where, with the exception of Randy Sykes and Annette Kelper, I will be tickled to embrace you and catch up on all the news.

If my instructions were followed the way I wanted them to be-- see attached instruction envelope number one-- this letter is being read to you from the pulpit of the Simple Shepherd Church of Christ by my best friend, Eileen Mickey-- hi, Eileen-- who is wearing the long-sleeve Lisa Montino designer dress I left behind that always looked so good on me.

Eileen, I hope you either lost some weight or took it out some on the sides, or you're not going to be able to breathe. Also remember, it needs to be dry cleaned. I know how you and your family love to skimp. But please, don't listen to what anyone says about Woolite. Dry clean.

Most of you are probably wondering why I did it. You're whispering, "Why, Lord? Why take Trish Moody? Trish was a ray of bright sunshine, always so up and perky and full of love. Pretty, too. Just as smart and sweet and pretty as they come."

You're probably shaking your heads and thinking there's plenty of people a lot worse than Trish Moody. There's her former excuse for a boyfriend, Randy Sykes, for example. The boyfriend who, after Trish accidentally backed her car over his dog, practically beat her senseless. He beat her with words, but still, it might as well have been with his fists. He struck her again and again with words and names such as "manipulative," "jealous," "childish," and others I wouldn't justify in print. The dog's death was a tragic accident, but perhaps also a blessing in disguise, as Randy tended to spend entirely too much time with it.

What did Trish's mother say when her daughter, heartbroken over her breakup with Randy, came to her in search of love and understanding? If you're looking for sympathy, you can find it between "sob story" and "syphilis" in the dictionary. Perhaps my mother can live with slogans such as this. I know I can't.

Neither can I live surrounded by friends such as Annette Kelper. Poor, chubby Annette Kelper, who desperately tries to pretend that nobody notices the fact that she's balding on top of her head. That's right. Look closely. Balding, just like a man.

Perhaps Randy feels sorry for chrome-dome Annette. Maybe that's why he was seen twice in her company in a single five-day period. Seen standing together in the parking lot of the Burger Tabernacle-- her home away from home-- and seen huddled together, laughing on the escalator of the Crabtree Valley Mall. Annette, my supposed best friend, who secretly wanted and coveted everything I owned. Is everyone on earth as two-faced as Annette Kelper? Is everyone as cruel as Randy Sykes? I think not.

Most of you, the loved ones I left behind, are simple, devoted people. I urge you now to take a look around the room. Are Randy Sykes and Annette sitting in the audience? Are they shifting uncomfortably in the pew, shielding their faces with the 8 and 1/2 by 11 photograph of me I had reproduced to serve as a memento of this occasion?

Eileen, read this part real fast before they have a chance to leave. Randy Sykes' drip is the size of my little finger, and that's when it's hard. And I'm not counting the nail-- just the finger. He had sex two times with a boy at Camp Ticonderoga when he was in junior high school. Maybe that explains why he loves it with somebody sticks their finger up his [? couvade. ?] He used to beg me to do that, but I refused. I said, "No way, Randy." He used to do it to himself all the time. That's why I never held hands with him. His hands stink.

He secretly thinks he looks like Marlon Brando, but take a good look. A young Marlin Perkins is more like it. Maybe that's what he sees in Annette Kelper. He's an animal lover. She used to come to my house crying. Her breath smelled a mile off, like her uncle's drip. She said he forced her, but that's a lie, because you don't force whores. And that's what she is, a whore.

Annette and Randy deserve each other. Drip-Breath and Stinky-Finger, riding up and down the escalator at Crabtree Valley, up and down, up and down. Fancy little shuck-cutlets. Look at them. Take a good, hard look at them. It's their fault I'm dead. They are to blame.

I urge you now to take those paperweights and stone them. Release your anger. The Bible says it's all right to cast the first stone if someone dead is telling you do it. And I'm telling you now. Pretend the paperweights are stones and cast them upon the guilty. I put aside my savings to pay for the damages to the walls and windows. It's money I was saving for my wedding, and there's plenty of it. So throw. Hurt them the way they hurt me. Kill them! Nobody will hold you responsible. Kill them!

Eileen, I'm going to allow a few minutes here because it might take a while for certain people to get into the swing of it. Pop in the cassette marked "Stoning," and wait until both Randy and Annette are lifeless. Wait until everyone is finished with their paperweights. And then I want you to hand the microphone over to my mother. Watch the way she trembles and stutters, and remember every gesture as if you were me.

Credits.

Ira Glass

832-3160. Shirley Jahad? Well, I guess you're not there.

Shirley Jahad

I'm here, Ira.

Ira Glass

You are?

Shirley Jahad

You know, our volunteers are so resourceful.

Ira Glass

And are they getting phone calls in?

Shirley Jahad

They are taking your phone calls now. 312-832-3160.

Ira Glass

OK, you can get that story, which was from David Sedaris' book Barrel Fever, read by Sarah Thyre, plus also lots of other David Sedaris work, a 90-minute cassette full of all sorts of stuff.

Shirley Jahad

For just $60. 312-832-3160.

Ira Glass

Or the two CDs that we've been plugging all hour. I should also mention that David is going to be here in Chicago, live this coming Saturday night at the Park West for Milly's Orchid Show. You might want to go see him there.

Shirley Jahad

Cool.

Ira Glass

Yeah.

Shirley Jahad

312-832-3160. Call now and what, Ira?

Ira Glass

And pledge your support. Remember, this is the only time you're going to get during the drive to get most of these premia and super size it.

Shirley Jahad

Super size it.

[FUNDING CREDITS]

Ira Glass

Today's program was produced by Peter Clowney and myself with Dolores Wilber, Alix Spiegel, and Nancy Updike, contributing editors Jack Hitt, Margy Rochlin, and Paul Tough. Paul Tough did the fabulous original interview with Bob featured in the first half of this program. WBEZ management oversight by Torey Malatia.

[ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS]

To buy a tape of this or other Playhouse shows, call us at WBEZ, 832-3380, or email us, radio@well.com. We broadcast proudly from WBEZ Chicago. We'll be back next week with more stories of This American Life. See you then.