Transcript

35:

Fall Clearance Sale
Transcript

Originally aired 09.06.1996

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Full audio: http://tal.fm/35

Prologue.

Ira Glass

Okay, so I'm standing here on Navy Pier in Chicago. And could I just ask you to describe the outfit you're wearing?

Hazel

Just a pair of slacks, a knit top to go with it.

Ira Glass

And the color of the slacks?

Hazel

The slacks are white.

Ira Glass

White after Labor Day. There was a time this woman, Hazel, would not have dared wear white after Labor Day, she says. But that tradition of autumn is long dead, so long dead it's barely even worth commenting on. That's right. There's only one tradition anybody like Hazel still follows come September.

Hazel

Oh, yeah, I go to clearance sales, especially at the end of the summer when they've got all the winter clothes out. And you're looking for all the goodies that's left over. Oh, you can't miss that.

Ira Glass

Gotten anything this year like that?

Hazel

Yes, I did.

Ira Glass

You did?

Hazel

Uh-huh.

Ira Glass

What'd you get?

Hazel

I got a beautiful pink sport jacket at Carson's. Oh, I got a nice bargain on it.

Ira Glass

Well, from WBEZ in Chicago, it's This American Life. I'm Ira Glass. And today on our program, we clear out the inventory for fall and pass those savings on to you. Over the last six months, we have commissioned on our program a number of stories, and found a number of stories, that we on the little radio staff love, but have not been able to figure out a way to fit into any of the actual shows we've put on the air for you. That's the problem of working with a theme every week.

And so we just thought, we love these stories. You will love them. Let's just put them together and get them on the air.

In this hour, Act One. David Sedaris, In the Nude.

Act Two, Haiku at the Scrimmage Line. Stories from Scott Carrier, one of our favorite contributors.

Act Three, Animal Lover. That's a piece of found writing.

Act Four, Grandma and Easy.

I know, by the way, that some of you may have heard promos saying that our show today was going to be about a hot dog stand. And our program about the hot dog stand was not ready for you. It was not up to our standards.

And so we are bringing you the program that we had planned for next week, which is in good shape. It's tomorrow's stories today. Stay with us.

Act One. In the Nude.

Ira Glass

Act one, In the Nude. So we're going to kick things off with this story from David Sedaris. David is a sometimes commentator on NPR's Morning Edition, a frequent contributor to This American Life, author of the book Barrel Fever. And he's working on a new book of stories called Naked. And for the title story in that collection, he decided to spend a week at a nudist colony.

David is not somebody who likes being naked. As he's written, he doesn't even like walking around the house barefoot, much less nude. He doesn't sleep in the nude. And so this was his personal challenge to himself.

During the summer, he read a portion of this story with his sister Amy at a club called KGB in New York City. And as you're going to hear, these are just anecdotes from a larger story. It's not a complete story. But it's really funny and interesting and fun to listen to.

So before we start, a quick warning. There's no sex in this story. In fact, it's possibly the least sexy imaginable story. But there are references to specific body parts that might not be judged suitable for some children. So use your judgment.

David Sedaris

It is disconcerting to talk to someone on the phone and know that they are naked. Every now and then, I might call a friend who says, "You caught me on the way to the shower," but that's different. The man at the nudist colony sounded as though he had been naked for years. Even his voice was tanned.

"All right then. Have you ever visited us before? No? Well, you're in for a treat. I'd be happy to send you a brochure. Let me just get your information here."

In this afternoon's mail, I received my brochure, along with a pamphlet that reads "Body acceptance is the idea. Nude recreation is the way. Bring your towels and suntan lotion and relax with us. You will experience a freedom of movement that cannot be felt with clothes, the freedom to be yourself."

The brochure pictures a swimming pool, playground, sun deck, and the inevitable volleyball court, which leads me to wonder, what is it with these people and volleyball? The two go hand in hand. When I think nudist, I don't think penis. I think net.

Last night, I was in a foul mood and provoked Hugh into a fight, goading him until he fled the room, shouting, "You're a big, fat, hairy pig." Big is something I can live with. Fat is open to interpretation. But when coupled with hairy, it begins to form a mental picture which is brought into sharp focus when joined by the word "pig." A big, fat, hairy, pig. If I were nudist, Hugh's words wouldn't have hurt me, as I would've accepted myself for who I am.

I phoned the colony to make a reservation and spoke to the same fellow who had mailed me the brochure. This time, I could hear people in the background, splashing and yelling in merriment. The sound of them made me giddy, and I unbuttoned my slacks.

The brochure had mentioned rental cabins, and I was wondering what it might cost to stay for a week. "You want a trailer for how long?" he asked. I re-fastened my pants. A trailer? I had pictured tree-shaded bungalows, paneled in knotty pine. That, to me, is the essence of the word "colony." This place, instead, was a nudist trailer park.

[LAUGHTER]

"We don't use the word 'colony' anymore, because it's too spooky. No, what we have are trailers. The smaller units run $30 a night. But if you want your own kitchen and bathroom, your only option is a double-wide, which will run you $10 more." He'd lost me way back. How was the word "colony" spooky, but not the word "trailer"?

[LAUGHTER]

Or even "nudist," for that matter. "I can let you have the front bedroom of the double-wide. That's not booked yet." Front bedroom suggested the evidence of a back bedroom, which I was told would be rented out separately. "You might have one roommate, or maybe it'll be a couple. Don't worry. You won't get lonely."

A roommate at a nudist trailer park. The combination of these elements presented a staggering tableau, made all the more incomprehensible when I heard the man shoulder the phone and raise his voice to shout, "Mom! Hey, mom! Where's the weekly price list for the two-bedroom rental trailer?" This person was not only standing naked in broad daylight. He was doing it with his mother. I made my reservations and planned to arrive in one week.

I called the park again today, and a woman answered. When asked if they provide sheets and pillows, she said--

Amy Sedaris

"Yes, but no towels. You'll have to bring your own towels, because we can't be doing that. Bedding yes, towels no."

David Sedaris

I asked if the trailer's kitchen was equipped. And she replied--

Amy Sedaris

"Eh, kind of."

David Sedaris

Seeing as I would be there for a week, I was hoping she might elaborate.

Amy Sedaris

"Well, it kind of has some things and not some others."

David Sedaris

"Does it kind of have a stove and refrigerator?"

Amy Sedaris

"Oh, sure. There's a sink up there and probably some pans and so forth, but definitely no towels. You'll have to pack your own, because we can't be running back and forth like that. We haven't got the time for that kind of thing."

David Sedaris

I told her I understood--

Amy Sedaris

"A lot of folks think we keep a nice, fluffy stack of towels up by the pool for their own private use, but we don't do that. Not here, we don't. Not anymore."

[LAUGHTER]

"Towels are personal things, and you'll have to bring your own."

David Sedaris

I truly had--

Amy Sedaris

"So sometimes, a person might come in for a day and leave their towel behind by accident. But we put that towel in the lost and found box, in case they come back looking for it. You can't use those towels, because they're not clean, and they don't belong to you.

That somebody might come back one day to claim that towel. And it wouldn't do for them to walk in and find you using it without their permission. It wouldn't be right.

Now if it was lotion, I might say, 'Oh go ahead. I'll do your back.' But it's not lotion. No, you'll have to bring your own."

David Sedaris

I underlined the word towels on my list of things to pack and placed question marks beside everything else. I arrived early on this cold and wet afternoon, the cab driver dumping me off in front of the clubhouse before squealing away. Something about the place seemed to make him nervous, and he couldn't wait to get back into town. I collected my bag and entered a low, clapboard building where five fully dressed senior citizens sat hugging themselves against the cold and watching the local news on a color television bolted to a high shelf. On the screen, a weatherman was pointing to a map studded with frowning clowns-- clouds.

[LAUGHTER]

On the screen, a weatherman was pointing to a map studded with frowning suns, his arms positioned as if he were drawing a heavy curtain. The inhabitants of the room leaned forward in their chairs, biting the ridges of their clenched fists and groaning when confronted with the words "cold front." They booed the weatherman. They cursed him, and then they pounded upon the table tops, much like prisoners unhappy with their food.

The room was filled with the rhythmic thuds of protest as I sat down my suitcase and approached the front desk. "He did this," a man said, pointing his crooked finger in my direction. "Brought this nastiness with him down from the lakes."

Amy Sedaris

"You from the lakes?"

David Sedaris

--the woman behind the counter asked. The corners of her mouth hung so low, they grazed the line of her jaw. She narrowed her eyes upon my suitcase, almost suspecting to find it blustering across the floor, packed as it was with storm clouds and unseasonable winds.

"I don't know anything about any lakes." There was a rising panic in my voice. "It was hot and sunny when I left this morning. Really, it was. It turned cold around Scranton, but I didn't even get off the bus. It's the truth. You can ask the driver." It was ridiculous to stand before a group of strangers, denying my responsibility for the weather. But at the moment, the charges seemed entirely plausible.

Amy Sedaris

"Well, it's supposed to clear up by tomorrow afternoon. But if it doesn't, I'll know where to find you. Right there, that's your trailer there, with the orange trim."

David Sedaris

"You mean, the one with the rust-colored band?"

Amy Sedaris

"You call it rust. I say it's orange. But you get the idea. It's the one with the picnic table in the front yard. Front bedroom, that's you.

I painted it myself, and the can said burnt orange. If it had said rust, I never would have bought it. It only looks rusty under those clouds you brought. Sunny day comes, and you'll see it's orange. I'm sorry I can't just rush out there and repaint it to meet your needs, your standards. But I've got other things to do."

David Sedaris

I asked where I might find a key to my trailer and heard a round of muffled laughter coming from the far corners of the room.

Amy Sedaris

"Shhhh. We don't believe in locked doors. Not here we don't, not anymore. Maybe where you come from, people barricade themselves behind closed doors. But here, we have no reason. We don't lock our doors, because we have nothing to hide."

David Sedaris

I walked up the gravel lane to my trailer, which had been sprayed with so much insecticide it curled the hairs in my nose. Raisin-sized flies lay gasping on the countertops, their upturned legs signing the words--

Amy Sedaris

"Get out of here fast while you still have a chance. Ugh."

David Sedaris

I set down my suitcase and fled, trotting past the clubhouse to the soggy volleyball court. The same pool I had seen in the brochure was now covered by a tarp, as was the hot tub. Even the flag was at half mast.

I woke this morning to a fog so thick I couldn't see the picnic table in my front yard. From the sky to the ground, everything was the exact same shade of gray. It was cold, too, maybe in the low 50s.

Late last night, my water shut off. And it didn't kick in again until 8 o'clock this morning. I got dressed and went to the clubhouse, where I spoke to the woman at the front desk, who wore a turtleneck sweatshirt and drank cocoa from a mug she held with both hands.

Amy Sedaris

"If you're here about the water, there's nothing I can do. We operate on wells, and sometimes they leak. It's a troublesome thing, a leaky well. So what we do, we shut down the pump around bedtime and turn it back on first thing in the morning.

Today, we got a late start. Most times, it's back on by 7:00, but Russell, handyman, didn't get back from his yoga class until close to 8 o'clock, on account of he threw out his shoulder doing some damn thing, whatever those people do tying themselves in knots in the presence of some yogi wearing a turban or god knows what, a loincloth-- I don't like to think about it while I'm drinking my cocoa."

David Sedaris

She reached beneath the counter and pulled out two marshmallows, which she stuffed into her mug.

Amy Sedaris

"If the water's out in your orange trailer, you can always use the bathroom in the clubhouse. Door's always open."

David Sedaris

The fog burned off slowly. By 6 o'clock, it was clear and sunny. And I looked out my window to see a naked couple strutting across the grounds with a pair of tennis racquets. The man wore his hair long in the back and carried himself as if he were dressed in a fine suit, his stride confident and purposeful, while the woman trotted behind him wearing a sun visor, knee socks, and sneakers.

These were the first active nudists I had seen. And I put on my pants and followed them, taking a seat beside the pavilion and pretending to read a book. The man had an ample stomach and a broad, dimpled ass which jiggled and swayed as he leapt about the court, attempting to return his partner's serves. They played for maybe five minutes before the man placed his hands on his knees, released a mouthful of bile onto the grass, and called it quits. They left the court, and I followed them into the clubhouse, where the man stepped into the bathroom, and the woman spoke to our hostess, who stood behind the counter, sorting change.

Amy Sedaris

"Oh, looks like you brought some nice weather with you. Tennis player, are you? Oh, that court doesn't get much use during the week. But come Saturday, you'll have lots of folks to play with, though none of them are as good as you.

I saw you through the window there. Haven't had a player like you in a long while. Why, you're a regular what's-her-name, the girl who got stabbed back a few years ago. Yeah, yeah. You're good. I hope you and your husband will be staying for a while, maybe come up to my place for supper and a game of cards."

David Sedaris

The women had always been so cold to me but fell over herself making sure the married couple found everything to their liking. I heard the toilet flush, and the man re-entered the room with a bright red ring around his ass. Here, I thought, was a real nudist. And I stared at him as though he had just stepped down from a flying saucer. There was a tuft of toilet paper, just slight, clinging to his bottom. And when his wife pointed it out, he ran his hand along his crack and casually shrugged, as though it were nothing more significant than a dab of mayonnaise on his lips.

Amy Sedaris

"Oh, yeah. The two of you should join us some night for nude bowling. Yeah, we rent out whole place and have ourself a tournament. Oh, I can't race around a tennis court the way you can, but hand me a bowling ball, and I'll mop the floor with you. Hold on just a moment, will you? We've got ourselves a complainer standing in the back of the room. Well, what do you want?"

David Sedaris

Looking out my bedroom window, I could see the clubhouse and its parking area. Earlier today, I watched as a large trailer pulled up, marked with Maryland plates and led by a four-door late-model car. This was someone arriving to park their trailer and stay for the summer.

The car door opened, and a man stepped out, completely naked. He'd been driving like that on the highway. I guess he just couldn't wait.

I spoke to a woman in the sauna who said--

Amy Sedaris

"Oh, you should've been here for last year's pudding toss."

David Sedaris

"I beg your pardon?" Pudding toss, I thought it must be some expression like "sock hop." "Pudding isn't conducive to being tossed, is it?"

Amy Sedaris

"Oh, no, you can toss it. You just can't catch it."

[LAUGHTER]

"Yeah, what we do is we make it up in five-gallon tubs and carry it out in the field, where we have a chocolate team against the vanillas. Then we just start pitching it at one another. And oh, it's a good time. Some good times, yeah. We can't do it this year. It attracted too many bees and files, which pretty much occupied the field for the next few months. But it was fun. I should let it go.

[LAUGHTER]

David Sedaris

This is Sunday, and looking out my window, I've noticed a lot of people come to the nudist park right after church. I watch as they stand beside their cars, removing their sober suits and stripping off their dresses. One of today's guests was a Presbyterian minister, a plump, freckle-faced man with Daffy Duck tattooed on his ass.

I've seen plenty of tattoos, but none I've wanted to kick quite like that duck. He wore it with a swagger, calling attention to a body part the Lord had clearly not blessed with muscle tone or unblemished skin. The duck's beak was distended, and he appeared to be picking at a rash of strawberries.

There are quite a few new faces today. A black man arrived in the company of two enormous white women, whose bodies were dual masses of rolling, dimpled flesh. Fat spilled over their knees, and their stomachs fell like heavy sacks of bird feed. Legs like tree trunks led straight into sandals, with no mention of ankle or discernible calf.

Amy Sedaris

"Jesus, who's that colored guy, and how come he's got two women? Jesus, you reckon he's one of those pimps that come down here from Syracuse?"

David Sedaris

This was the only black person I'd seen all week. And by the time he left, it had been decided that--

Amy Sedaris

"What he did was kidnap those girls. He's going to try to sell them as white slaves once he crosses the border into Canada, where the men will do anything to get their hands on a white woman."

[LAUGHTER]

David Sedaris

I've taken to joining the group of seniors who gather naked each evening to watch Wheel of Fortune on the clubhouse TV.

Amy Sedaris

"Ask for an E. Oh, I meant a C. Oh, she's smart, that one."

David Sedaris

It's an odd sensation, watching television this way. Because they are dressed, the people on TV seem even more remote than usual.

Amy Sedaris

"Oh, I wish this show was naked. It would be so much better that way, don't you think? They could take the money they spent on wardrobe and make the prizes bigger. I'd play the nude version and make enough money to build a big lake with lots of boats and tuna towers."

David Sedaris

I liked the idea of that, filming two separate versions of any given program, one clothed and one naked. "Do I have to?" Peter Jennings would ask.

Due to the pleasant weather, the tarp has been taken off the swimming pool, which is surround it by comfortable reclining chairs, several of them positioned beneath a sign reading Handicapped Parking. It is a posted rule that you have to be naked inside the pool area. And I was just getting used to the idea when I was approached by a man named Dusty, who had clothes-pinned a piece of shirt cardboard to the brim of his sun visor in order to extend its shading capacities.

The man was doubled over, stopped with osteoporosis, his back and shoulders burnished like fine Italian leather, and his belly white from lack of sun. He wore his thick, gray hair cut close to his head and favored mirrored sunglasses, which reflected the sight of my pale, fidgety nakedness. I asked him a question about the hot tub. And two hours later, he'd worked the subject around to the zoning ordinances of his hometown.

"I don't think that legally, you're allowed to build a grocery store in my neighborhood, because it's not zoned for that. Oh, there used to be a little mom and pop operation where you could buy bread and soda and so forth, but that's been closed down and turned into a little church for the snake handlers. You might could put up an apartment building in my area, but first you'd have to check with the city council, because I'm not sure it's zoned for that. How big of a place did you want to put up?"

Had I mistakenly introduced myself as a real estate speculator? What was all this talk about building permits and zoning ordinances? "Course, down in the city, I guess you could build yourself an eight-story concrete beehive, just so long as you had the moolah to pay everybody off. That's the way it goes down where you come from, anything for a dollar. Then you come up here with your blueprints and steam shovels, thinking we're all a bunch of stupid hicks."

He mugged, widening his face into a loopy, exaggerated grin, and running the tip of his tongue around the track of his lips. "We just a group of bumpkins, are we?" His attitude was both playful and hostile, and was shared by many of the people I met during my stay. Something about New York seemed to rub people the wrong way. This was a family campground. And New York was, to many of them, the place where wholesome families are shot down for sport.

Tonight was a scheduled hobo slumgullion, and we were instructed to bring our canned vegetables to the pavilion by noon. I took the only canned good in my pantry and carried it down the hill, where I found two naked women wearing chef's hats and stirring a cauldron of ground beef and water.

Amy Sedaris

"Just pray nobody brings any more corn. We got it coming out of our goddamned [BLEEP] holes."

David Sedaris

I set down my can of corn and asked what they meant by hobo slumgullion.

Amy Sedaris

"Jesus, it's a stew. This here is the base. And we add whatever people bring, which in your case, Jesus, I don't even have to look, corn. Come 5 o'clock, we'll all gather together and dress like hobos and eat out of tin cans. It's fun. You'll see."

David Sedaris

It struck me as an odd choice for a theme party. You hardly ever hear the word "hobo" anymore. To me, it always carried a romantic connotation. But now, it's been replaced by the word "homeless."

Amy Sedaris

"Fine, then. Dress like a homeless person. But be here by 5 o'clock, because this [BLEEP]'s going to go fast."

David Sedaris

I returned to the pavilion at the scheduled time, where 50 people sat eating out of cans. One man had smeared some charcoal on his cheeks. He wore a tie against this bare chest and carried a stick, onto which he had fastened a plastic grocery bag. Everyone else was naked, so he won the prize.

Ira Glass

David Sedaris is the author of the book Barrel Fever. This was an excerpt from a story in his upcoming book, Naked. Amy Sedaris appears on stage and television.

Act Two. Haiku at the Scrimmage Line

Ira Glass

Act Two. Well, this is our fall clearance program. And the next item that we are pulling off the shelves for you is this set of stories by Scott Carrier. He's a writer and radio producer living in Salt Lake City.

And he sent us these little stories that are really hard to classify. They're vignettes with this-- they have this very special and particular attitude to them. He records them sitting in his backyard in Salt Lake City.

Because they're so anecdotal, it's actually been hard to figure out how to program them into one of our regular shows. But the radio staff and I, we love these very much and thought you would find them interesting. And it's the perfect time to play them.

Scott Carrier

It was between plays. The coach was talking to the offense in the huddle, drawing on his sketch board, reprimanding somebody for screwing up the last play. We were standing around, waiting. We were the defense, and we had no coach. We had three or four formations we'd run, but we'd never made a call until the last minute.

I remember, because I made the calls. I was the monster man, the free safety, the captain of the defense. And I'd often call one formation as the offense broke huddle, and then stand back and wait until everyone was set, the quarterback going through his count, and then call another formation, just so everything would change shape right before the ball was snapped.

This added the elements of surprise and chaos to our attack. It made the offense respect and fear us. And often, their plays crumbled under the disorder we caused. I realize now I must have learned this strategy from my mother, who was at that time going crazy from a painful divorce.

But there was this day, this practice I was talking about before, when the coach was in the offensive huddle. The sun was going down, and the practice was coasting to an end. We, the Highland Mighty Mite defense, were standing around quietly, minds empty, like 12-year-old desperadoes, waiting for a train. I was standing there, spacing out with everyone else.

And then, I had this new feeling. I was conscious of being inside a shell, my by helmet and shoulder pads, looking out at the world, like my uniform and even my body were just protective packaging. I felt weightless. I was in love with the air, the smell of the grass, the warm light and the cottonwood trees at the edge of the field.

I remember looking out at Bruce Seymour, our big defensive end who had already reached puberty. He had his helmet tipped up, and his hair was all sweaty. And he was gnawing on his mouthpiece. He turned and looked at me.

And I wanted to say to him, "Do you feel it?" But I didn't know what "it" was. I didn't know how to explain what I was feeling.

I called a huddle and said, "We're going to do something different this time. We'll line up in a regular 6-3 formation. But as they get set, I'm going to say a haiku. And I want you guys to start moving around. Dance around. Stand on your head. Do whatever you want. We'll kill them."

The offense came out of their huddle, and we went into a 6-3. And just as the quarterback started his count, I yelled, "The wind brings dry leaves, enough to build a fire." And my defense stood up and looked at each other, and then looked at me, and didn't do anything.

It was so weird that the offense stood up, too. And then the coach blew his whistle and yelled, "What's going on? What's the problem?" Nobody spoke. He looked at me and said, "Carrier, what are you doing?"

I said, "We're running a haiku." He said, "A what?" "A haiku," I said. "We learned it today in school. 'The wind brings dry leaves, enough to build a fire.'"

He said, "Oh, right. Uh, a haiku. Just run a 6-3, OK?" So we ran a 6-3. And I don't remember what happened after that.

They've come down from the mountain, and they're not talking to each other. In the pole tent in base camp, below Alpamayo, the water is boiling for dinner. I'm making noodle soup and coca tea, as this is all the food we have left. Jenkins, Wyatt, and Mitsunaga are reading. My brother wants me to teach him some Spanish.

"Huesos del condor, los quiero huesos del condor." I'm telling him "bones of the condor," trying to make it simple. "Donde esta?" Over there is "A ya," usually with a hand signal. "En las montanas," up in the mountains, "a selva," the jungle, "oriental." He's paying attention, repeating, trying to memorize.

The've come down from the mountain, and they didn't get to the top. For two days, they tried the northwest ridge, and then spent the third day out on the north face, where Mitsunaga fell 50 feet, cartwheeling down a [UNINTELLIGIBLE], and Jenkins held him without a [? belay. ?] It was very steep on snow, rock, and ice. They were all scared and decided to bivouac in a snow cave.

That evening, my brother watched a condor ride a thermal up the face of the mountain. He was looking down on it for 5,000 vertical feet. And when it was at the same level, they looked each other in the eye. Then we watched it from below as it went up another 1,000 feet and flew off over the top of the mountain.

The next morning, they decided to come back to base camp to get some more food. But there is no more food in base camp. And they're so hungry and mean-spirited, they think I ate everything. But really, they took the good stuff, the sardines, the sugar, and the butter, and ate it while they were climbing.

To get even, I tell them the story of the best meal I've ever had. I was hitchhiking through Montreal, coming from Alaska, going to Miami. And this woman driving a Mercedes picked me up and asked me if she could cook dinner for me. She said her husband was on call at the hospital, and she didn't like to eat alone. She was in her late 40s or early 50s, with the face of a falcon, quick, delicate eyes. She had a hypnotic voice, a Scandinavian accent, and her left hand had a knife scar running sideways across all her fingers.

We went to her house, and she asked me to cut up the vegetables. She got out some pans, and lit a cigarette, and made some coffee. She stood really close to me and asked me where I was from and where I was going. She wanted to know everything. And then I was peeling potatoes. She put her arms around my waist, put her head on my shoulder, and smelled my hair and my sweater.

The first course was potato salad with parsley and vinegar, then sliced tomatoes with grated Parmesan, white wine, then shrimp and salmon with lemon and red wine, and then prime rib with a sweet barbecue sauce, followed by a beaker of cognac. After dinner, she showed me where I could sleep in a bedroom in the attic and said goodnight. But sometime in the middle of the night, she came into my room, naked. I opened my eyes and saw her standing there in the dark.

She got into bed and whispered in German while we made love. Jenkins says, "You made that up." I say, "Maybe some of it."

The next day, we leave base camp and walk down to a village at 12,000 feet. We buy canned sardines at the little store and spend the evening drinking its beer, lying on the grass outside, watching the old matron as she bakes bread of us in an adobe oven shaped like a beehive. As it gets dark, the light from the fire coming out the door of the oven is the only light in the village. We lie back, looking at the stars, which in the Andes, are all as bright as planets.

The old woman is standing in front of the oven, staying warm, watching the bread. And my brother walks over and stands next to her. He stands there for a minute and then turns and says,

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

"Como?" she says. My brother says it again, and again she says, "Como?" "Huesos del condor," he says. "I want to find some condor bones." "No," she shakes her head. "No."

The hunt begins at dawn, my brother pulling me out of bed onto the floor. "Come on, come on." I'm tying my shoes, and he's out the door. Outside, the fog is lifting off the grass.

I'm looking for my brother, but I can't even see the car in the driveway. Then he comes running from the backyard. I run and catch up with him across the street in the Manders' backyard.

And he says, "Some animals sleep in the daytime and go out at night to eat. If we hurry, we can catch them before they go back in the ground." I believe him. I have no idea how he knows these things, but he does. He goes out and runs through our neighbor's yards and catches wild animals with his bare hands, mainly lizards, turtles, and snakes. Then he wraps them in his shirt and brings them back to the cages in our room so he can study them.

I'm running along behind him. And when I lose him in the fog, I follow the tracks he leaves in the dew on the grass. I catch up to him, and he's down on his hands and knees, crawling through the juniper bushes in front of the Gooch's house. He says, "There's a garter snake in here. I saw it. It went right in front of me."

He's crawling around, breaking branches. And I hear the front door open. And there's our neighbor, Daisy Gooch, in her bathrobe.

She looks 10 feet tall and 900 years old, and says, "What's going on out here?" I say, "There's a snake in there." She says, "There's no snake in there. You boys get out of here, now." And she starts for us with her broom.

We take off running. We don't need to run that far. It's not like she's going to come after us. But we keep running anyway. We jump the fence at Gerholt's house, and we're on the golf course, heading towards the gully.

My brother says, "I think I figured out a way to run and not get tired. It's all in how you breathe. Yesterday, I ran over to the gully and down to the river and back, and I didn't get out of breath. I can run as far as I want." "Like the Indians," I say. "Yeah, like the Indians."

My brother and I are of a savage mind, running down the fourth fairway. Never has the golf course been hunted by two so brave. We have everything we need. The wilderness is unfolding in front of us.

Ira Glass

Scott Carrier lives in Salt Lake City. Musical interludes during that story by Jenny Magnus here in Chicago. Coming up, loving animals, really loving them. And loving somebody who your family hates. That's in a minute when our program continues.

It's This American Life. I'm Ira Glass. Each week on our program, we choose a theme, invite a variety of writers and performers, reporters, and documentary producers to do a variety of different kinds of stories on that theme. But this week, for a change, we're playing some of the stories that we have found or commissioned and have not been able to figure out a way to work into some theme. Or sometimes shows got so crowded, because we got so much material we liked, we squeezed it out and said, "Well, we'll run this sometime."

The future has arrived. It is sometime. In short, it is our fall clearance sale, where we are clearing the inventory off the shelves and passing the big radio values on to you. That's right, you.

Before we go any further, some of you may recall a few weeks ago, we played you some of the work of Greg Whitehead, of the Institute for Scream Studies. Whitehead is gathering the sound of people screaming, stories about people screaming, thoughts about the meaning of various screams. It is his belief that screams, that we take them as a unit, that we take all screams as being the same, that screams have more meaning than we generally understand.

And he's gathering these from around the world. And we invited you to contribute to his research by calling a special phone number and leaving your thoughts and screams. And so far, many of you have responded.

Oliver

Hi, my name is Oliver, and I'm going to leave my scream.

[SCREAM]

Man

Hi. I'm the lead singer in a band called Hate Wave and the lyrics are all screaming. So I'll give you the first verse from a song called [UNINTELLIGIBLE] Ghosts.

[SCREAMING]

Woman

For eight-plus years, I have been unable to express an emotion so devastating. When I learned about this scream line, I felt it may be an opportunity to free my spirit from the bondage of the trauma that catapulted me into the void of insanity. Someone said, "I think you hit something. I think you hit a kid." This is impossible, because I saw no one. I stopped the bus, all the while knowing that in order to hit anything, something had to be there."

Ira Glass

If you have not called our line yet, we urge you to call the line. The number is 312-832-3326. And we want screams, thoughts about screams, stories about screams. Don't put this off. Do it today or tomorrow. If Greg Whitehead gets enough of these, he'll put together another full story in a future edition of our program. Again, the number, 312-832-3326, a little radio experiment.

Act Three. Animal Lover.

Ira Glass

And while we have the lab coats on, we might as well move on to act three, Everyday Anthropology. This is a posting from a Usenet group on the internet. It's one of these places where people post messages to each other. And this is from, I believe, the zoophilia group. And one of the things I should make a distinction about right up front is-- well, even before we make that distinction, let me just say right up front, some of this material might not be suitable for some of our younger listeners. Again, use your discretion.

All right, now on to the subject at hand. Apparently, there's a difference between zoophilia and bestiality. If that doesn't make scared parents turn off their radios, I don't know what will.

There's a difference. Apparently, people who are into bestiality want to-- how to say this-- want to physically love an animal. And people who are into zoophilia actually fall in love. They actually fall in love with the animal. Anyway, somebody posted this to one of these groups.

"The first time I ever heard of bestiality was in 12th grade. My future husband told me that he had sexual fantasies involving animals. At the time, I was intrigued. My curiosity was piqued. I wrote in my journal, 'I want to know what he wants to do, and with what species.' That was all the thought I ever gave it. I knew that fantasies were just that, fantasies, in which anything could happen.

Over the next several years, as we attended university, moved in together, eventually got married, he spoke frequently about animals, particularly horses, which he had always loved. I did not find this strange, his love, as I love cats. I know people who are dog-crazy or whatever.

The sexual aspect never once occurred to me, despite what he had told me in high school. He loved to look at pictures of them, would practically run us off the road to stare at a 'horsey,' in quotes, loved watching nature shows, particularly the ones that showed real matings between almost any sort of animal. I didn't find this odd, as I am a bit prurient myself, sometimes."

This thing goes on. It's really this very odd human document, both of her denial and of what happens. "As we grew closer, he revealed other dreams and fantasies he had. Some, like the dream of us being lions and mating together, were wonderful turn-ons for me. I don't judge people's dreams. They can't control what their mind does when they're asleep. Others, like a fantasy of us being horses, struck me as odd, but not totally insane. Even the fact that he wanted to have sex with me on horseback didn't seem too strange to me. Impractical, uncomfortable, yes. Strange, no.

He asked me if I thought having sex with an animal would constitute adultery. This should've clued me in, but perhaps I was blind to something that was so out of the question. I thought what most people think, that only desperate people would ever have to resort to an animal. I figured horny teenagers with no other outlet, or really gruesome-looking adults.

I could not figure out why he was asking. He just said he was curious. We have hypothetical conversations like that from time to time, so I did not think this was anything special.

I never thought it was odd that he would spend hours just visiting friends who own horses, or going to the race track just to look at them, or going to the races but never betting, or biking for miles just to go to a farm on the far side of the bay. When he said he couldn't sleep at night--" Hold on. I'm going to queue up some more music here. Let's see about this music right here. You guys hear that? We're having a technical problem here with our music. All right, go to this music again.

"When he said he couldn't sleep at night and would go for walks until 2:00 in the morning, I worried about him, but never once thought he was going to fence-hop at the track and make a stallion his new boyfriend. I just though he was worried about school or work or us."

Anyway, then she talks about how they got an internet connection. And he starts signing onto these groups where they discuss this stuff on the net. And she says, "I didn't care in the least what he read, but he started getting very paranoid every time I walked by the computer. He'd stay up late at night, downloading pictures I never got to see, reading stories I never got to read.

We began snapping at each other. I was angry that he was always on the net, ignoring me. He was angry because I wouldn't give him any, quote, 'privacy.'"

Anyway, it goes on and on. And finally he tells her. She confronts him. She says, "Don't hide this from me." "And then he said the sentence that changed our lives," she wrote.

"'I mean, I haven't done half of what some of those people have done.' 'Done?' I asked. 'Oh my god. Open mouth, insert foot.' He laughed at himself, then hung his head, looking totally lost and defeated. 'I didn't mean to tell you that yet.' He started to cry.

My thoughts came flooding, all mostly gibberish. No wonder I have to convince him to make love. Doesn't he love me? Why? Why? Why?"

Then she goes on explaining about zoophilia and all she's learned, and how she tried to comfort him. And then she says, in a way, people who go through other experiences have these kinds of things. She said, "I wanted to cry. I felt so close to him because of what he told me. I felt I finally knew him."

She says that she wrote him a letter. Anyway, she goes on to say how she's come to peace with it by talking about other people, by talking to other people who have these desires. She says, "It took me a while to realize there was so much diversity in the world. I am very glad I had the opportunity to find out. I've also abandoned the idea that he breaks his wedding vows every time he's with an animal. It's not as if he would ever leave me for a horse.

He's told me that what he feels for the horse is totally different from what he feels for me. The horse fills a kind of spiritual void that I cannot. While I am saddened by the fact that I cannot fulfill all of his needs, in fact, I don't fulfill all his needs, I've come to realize with the help of our zoophile friends that there is no way for anyone to be all things to him, or to anyone. I obviously don't have the right equipment to be a stallion for him. Grin," it says.

"His coming out actually made our marriage better, since all the pain we've struggled through brought us closer. Even hearing what he had done with the animals made me feel closer to him, since it revealed a part of him I didn't know existed. He has told me that if I forced him to choose, he would pick me in an instant. I hope I never get that petty, petty enough to force him into a choice like that."

Act Four. Grandma and Easy.

Ira Glass

Act Four.

Carmen Delzell

When I was a little girl, I thought my grandmother, [? Tuesie, ?] was an angel. I really did. My mother, Bonnie, was what she called a career girl. And after she and my father separated, I was left with my grandparents for the first five years of my childhood.

Ira Glass

Carmen Delzell stumbled into this next story after a funeral. And to get the story, I think you really have to understand the funeral. Carmen is from Texas. And the person who she was closest with as a child was her grandmother, who she adored, and who adored her. And the grandma's house was always orderly and clean, versus the chaos of Carmen's parents' houses.

A few years ago, Carmen put together a little documentary about her grandma, [? Tuesie ?], who was then in a nursing home and not too happy about it. And in that documentary, she talked with her grandmother about heaven, about the past. And she remembered what it was like growing up with a Bible Belt, Christian grandma.

Carmen Delzell

Sundays were always a problem for me. When I was little and living with her, I grew to dread the long, boring services, and the way all the ladies greeted me and asked me if I'd been baptized and washed in the blood of the Lamb. As I grew older, I pretended to be sick, so I could stay home and read the funny papers, even though the grandmother said the devil was laughing at me when I ignored the church bells that rang from six blocks away. And of course, the civil rights issues of the '60s suddenly made me aware that there were no black people in our church, even though we had to drive through a poor, black neighborhood to get there. [? Tuesie ?] brushed away my questions by telling me colored folks had their own way of worship, and that they wouldn't enjoy the quiet Park Place Baptist services.

[MUSIC PLAYING - "SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT]

Carmen Delzell

Can you hear that?

Tuesie

Yes.

Carmen Delzell

Can you hear what they're singing?

Tuesie

Oh, yes.

Carmen Delzell

What are they singing?

Tuesie

Swing low, sweet chariot, coming to carry me home.

Carmen Delzell

Do you like it, or do you not like it that much?

Tuesie

No, I never have liked that song.

Carmen Delzell

Why?

Tuesie

Well, I always thought it was just a bunch of black people having a picnic or something.

Carmen Delzell

Damn, hell, and god, were words that could never be used in my grandparents' house, never. "Nigger," though, that was a word nobody seemed to mind. The damn niggers were getting too big for their britches. They were getting sassy. And worst of all, they wanted to sit next to you on the bus and at the Woolworth's lunch counter.

I heard this kind of talk my whole life from my grandmother, but it didn't begin to sink in until we couldn't go to Ocean View Amusement Park any more, because they said niggers went there. Meanwhile, my father, who thought [? Tuesie ?] was crazy as a bedbug and I was just like her, was running for school board on a platform of integration of the Beaumont, Texas, school system. He and my mother joined the Unitarian church, which, according to my grandmother, were a bunch of heathens. And the tension between my two families became more apparent and terribly confusing for me.

Ira Glass

OK, well that is the story that you need to know before we could bring you this latest installment from Carmen's life. Carmen's now back in Texas. And she put this story together with radio producer Jay Allison.

[MUSIC PLAYING - "PINK PANTHER THEME" BY EZ MALONE]

Ez Malone

I play anything. If I wanted to sit here and play "Batman."

[MUSIC PLAYING - "BATMAN THEME" BY EZ MALONE]

Ez Malone

If I wanted to sit here and play "Green Acres."

[MUSIC PLAYING - "GREEN ACRES THEME" BY EZ MALONE]

Ez Malone

You name it. If I wanted to sit here and play "The Beverly Hillbillies."

[MUSIC PLAYING - "THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES THEME" BY EZ MALONE]

Ez Malone

Anything. If I wanted to play "Gilligan's Island."

[MUSIC PLAYING - "GILLIGAN'S ISLAND THEME" BY EZ MALONE]

Ez Malone

You just name it. I just play a variety of music.

Carmen Delzell

That's EZ Malone from Currituck, North Carolina. My daughter and I were lucky enough to meet him in a junk store on our way home from my grandmother's funeral. EZ was looking for an electric frying pan. We weren't looking for anything in particular, until he looked at us and said "Hah." And that's when I realized we'd been looking for him.

He said he'd been homeless a few years ago in New York City, until he met his girlfriend, Phyllis. She got him to move back to North Carolina, and they brought along her brain-damaged sister, who laughs all the time. And they all live together in a rented trailer. It's not so clear how they make a living. Sometimes, EZ gets a gig at a place called Fishbone's, down the road in a town called Duck.

He told us he could play the guitar his teeth and his feet. But it was the way he talked that convinced us to invite him to my son's place for supper. We never could have done if my grandmother was in the car. She was afraid of black men. But since she was dead, I figured it was OK.

Ez Malone

Now I'll tell you, it all started in church, when I used to go to church with my father years ago. He was a minister, by the way. So when I was just a lad, my father told me, he said, "I'm going to buy you a guitar." And being so young, I took it for a joke. Time passed, and he actually bought me a guitar. So there I was, late at night, all times of night, just bamming on the guitar. I wasn't making no sense with the thing, just--

[MUSIC PLAYING - EZ MALONE]

Ez Malone

--beating and bamming on it. Wasn't getting nothing out of it. And I said to him, I said, I wants to get so I can help you out. And I'm going to learn this thing through the help of the Lord. So there I was, upstairs in the room, just bamming on the guitar, trying to learn, day and night.

And he encouraged me when he told me. He said, "When you learn how to play just three chords," sort of thing, "I'm going to take you to church and let you play," because I love going to church even now.

So there I was in my bedroom, alone, sitting on my bed. And I was just a child. And I told Jesus. I said, "Lord," I said, "I want to play this thing to help my daddy out, because he's preaching your word. And he needs somebody to go with him." And all of a sudden out of nowhere, the Lord spoke to me in a solid voice from the inside. And he showed me this chord here, the E chord.

[MUSIC PLAYING - EZ MALONE]

Ez Malone

The Lord showed me. Never been to school for it. And I went downstairs, and I ran down there and showed it to my daddy. I said, "Dad, I believe I'm ready to play in church." And he'd say, "Well, let me hear what you sound like." And I didn't have but that one chord.

[MUSIC PLAYING - EZ MALONE]

Ez Malone

And he said, "Well, get two more chords, and I will take you to church. Learn two more notes, And I will take you to church." Oh, that excited me. So I ran back upstairs in my bedroom. And I told God, I said, "Lord, I need two more chords, just two more chords." And the Lord showed me the A.

[MUSIC PLAYING - EZ MALONE]

Ez Malone

Then he showed me the B.

[MUSIC PLAYING - EZ MALONE]

Ez Malone

Then I had three chords. And I rushed downstairs. I could not get down there fast enough and show him the three chords I'd learned. I ran up to him. I said, "Dad, listen to his."

[MUSIC PLAYING - EZ MALONE]

Ez Malone

He said, "That's good. Show me another one." I said--

[MUSIC PLAYING - EZ MALONE]

Ez Malone

He said, "That's good." He said, "Do you got one more?" I said--

[MUSIC PLAYING - EZ MALONE]

Ez Malone

So I went on like that there. And he took me to church and got me in front of a crowd of people. And it was so crowded in there, and I was so nervous, I couldn't hardly hold my legs still from shaking. And he said to the church, he said, "My son is going to make the guitar say 'Jesus.'"

Now I looked at my mother. And I said, "Excuse me, mama. I need to talk to you." And she said, "What is it?" I said, "Well, now, which son is he talking about?" She said, "Son, you know he's talking about you."

I said, "Well, I can't make no guitar call 'Jesus,' you know?" She said, "Well, you know your dad don't play. So when you actually do it, you better learn something."

Get out there and hit the guitar, he hollared off. And like I said, being a minister, he would sing a song before he'd preach. And he said, "My son is going to make the guitar say Jesus." He said, "When I say 'Jesus," my son is going to make the guitar say 'Jesus.'" So he hauled off and looked at me. And he said, "Jesus." And I said--

[MUSIC PLAYING - EZ MALONE]

Ez Malone

And he stooped down before me and said, "Excuse me. You want me to take that guitar from you?" I said, "No, sir." He said, "I'm going to say it again. If you don't make it say Jesus, I'm going to take it from you." So he hollered off, man. He's scary, I'm telling you. And he said, "Jesus." And I said--

[MUSIC PLAYING - EZ MALONE]

Ez Malone

He said, "Excuse me, church," and leaned down to me like this. "You want me to whip your tail?" I said, "No, sir. I don't want you to whip me tail. Please don't whip me. Please." Because when my father says he will whip you, he will whip you.

So I said, "Say it one more time. And I'm going to try to get it out this time." And he said it the third time. And when he said "Jesus," it came out of nowhere.

[MUSIC PLAYING - EZ MALONE]

Ez Malone

Like that there. And then he said, "I believe he can do a little bit better than that." I said, "No, I can't. I don't even know how I've done that," right? So he hollered off again. He said, "Jesus." And the next thing I remember,

[MUSIC PLAYING - EZ MALONE]

Ez Malone

And that's how I learned to play. I learned through the miracle of Jesus Christ, and I learned through the fear for my father.

[MUSIC PLAYING - EZ MALONE]

Carmen Delzell

EZ played the guitar with my son for the rest of the night while the women talked and laughed in the kitchen. I couldn't help wondering if my grandmother had heard EZ's story. It's funny how Jesus was so important to both of them. But she always told me when I was little that there were two heavens, one for black people and one for white. I don't think so.

[MUSIC PLAYING - EZ MALONE]

Ira Glass

Carmen Delzell's story was produced by Jay Allison. It comes from Jay's ongoing series, Life Stories, which is produced with consulting producer Christina Egloff with funds from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Credits.

Ira Glass

Our program was produced today by Alix Speigel and myself with Peter Clowney and Nancy Updike, contributing editors Paul Tough, Jack Hitt, and Margy Rochlin.

[ACKNOWLEDGMENTS]

If you want a copy of this program, it costs $10. Call us at WBEZ in Chicago, 312-832-3380.

[FUNDING CREDITS]

WBEZ management oversight by Torey Malatia. I'm Ira Glass. Back next week with more stories of This American Life.