Sean Collins on the germs within us, the germs that can kill us, and the germs that do kill us. He tells the story of the battle with germs that his friend Christopher lost, and contemplates what the germ won when it defeated his friend.
When Larry leaves his old life behind and joins a monastery, Ethan struggles to understand his best friend's decision.
David Himmel is a college sophomore and a former camper who became a counselor. He says all the best experiences of his life have been at camp or with camp people.
This American Life producer Julie Snyder reports on a three-day competition called "Color Days." It's most kids' favorite time at camp — despite the fact that the girls, at least, spend most of the three days crying and screaming. It's thrilling to be part of a team at this level of intensity.
Host Ira Glass talk with Claire, who obsessed over a Chilean friend — and then started to tell people she was Chilean herself.
Mary Kay Prucha tells her story about the lies she told herself to deal with cystic fibrosis.
Ira with "The Hens," a group of nine middle-aged women who've known each other since girlhood. They play recordings of their recent three-day road trip from Chicago to a casino in a cotton field in Mississippi.
A 17 year old tricks an entire resort town into believing he is someone he is not. By Jack Hitt and Christopher Cerf.
Dishwasher Pete on Letterman.
Alix Spiegel tells the story of her friend Jayna, who made a Faustian bargain at 11 years old.
Host Ira Glass talks about the drama of trying to be "just friends" with an ex-girlfriend. The meaning of the title will be clear if you hear the piece.
Ira continues his story.
This American Life associate producer Peter Clowney visits a modern-day touring company of Hair. They don't just believe they're doing a job as professional actors. They're living as a modern-day tribe of hippies — with all the tensions of any communal living.
David Sedaris reads one of his funniest and most affecting stories from his book Naked before a live audience. As an adolescent boy, David feared he might be a homosexual.
Chicago writer/musician Rennie Sparks, a member of the independent band The Handsome Family, reads "Skanks," a story of a girl struggling in a situation where some rules are strict, but other rules are up for grabs.
Scott Carrier documents a group in Manti, Utah, that left the Mormon church and formed its own polygamous church. The members started fighting, broke up, and no longer speak.
Chicago writer Beau O'Reilly writes about a group of close friends who formed an activist group in the seventies. They split apart because of one woman.
Ira speaks with Professor Glenn Loury. Loury failed to stand up for a light-skinned friend at a black unity rally in the sixties.
Writer Quincy Troupe talks about how, as a boy, he idolized Miles Davis, and how, as a man, he actually became one of Davis's closest friends. And how his picture of the man changed.
Bob and Dave were close childhood friends — until their relationship began to lead their peers to believe that it might be more than a friendship. The accusations led to Dave turning on Bob.
The story of Dave and Bob continues. For reasons that Bob never fully understood, Dave successfully turned everyone in their school against his former friend, even forming clubs devoted to hating Bob.
Ira reaches current-day Dave, who is a born-again Christian living with his parents. According to Dave, Bob was at fault for the breakdown in their relationship, because Bob had decided to become friends with someone else.
Sarah Thyre reads author David Sedaris' "The Last Time You'll Ever Hear from Me," a story of the ultimate Machiavellian scheming.
A story by Cheryl Trykv, read by the author in front of a live audience at The Hothouse, illustrates what it means when the sinner makes no attempt to seek forgiveness.