But that's not really why I love the show. No, I love it because it is witty, quirky and funny as hell. They come up with a theme and then tell stories around that theme, and it is so entertaining. I download the show onto my IPod so that I can listen to it whenever I want.
Yesterday I went to the gym, and to mitigate the torture that is the treadmill, I took my IPod to listen to an old broadcast of This American Life. The show I chose to listen to had the theme of "First Day." I'm probably breaking some serious copyright issues by sharing this, but if Ira Glass has to come to my door to personally punish me, well, that's a risk I am willing to take.
So Ira is interviewing this policeman, who is telling the story of one of his first days on the job, thirteen years prior, when he was a 23 year old rookie. They get a call regarding some sort of "animal invasion", so he and his partner go to check it out. They pull up to this big, beautiful house and ring the bell. The owner answers the door; he is around 30 years old and has an air of "money" about him, right down to the monogrammed silk pajamas he is wearing. He apologizes for calling, says "I usually handle these kinds of things myself, but my wife insisted I call. We were having a quiet evening, you know, when we heard this racket upstairs. Can you check on it?" So the policemen step inside. They look around; it's a beautiful house, gorgeous, and obviously brand-new. The fireplace is burning, soft music is playing and there are candles burning. It is obvious they'd been in the middle of a romantic evening.
The wife appears, and she is stunning. Long blond hair, bright blue eyes, brilliant smile and just and warm and friendly as can be. She offers to make coffee while the men assess the situation. The older cops says "Well, you know, this isn't really the sort of thing that we, as policemen, usually do...you should probably call Animal Control or something..." but the rookie is so smitten by the beautiful wife, that he steps forward and says "We can handle this."
So the man shows them toward a trap door leading to the attic. Rookie cop pulls out his flashlight and begins up the ladder, thinking he'll have to go into the bowels of the attic to find whatever critter is up there. He gets to the top and, with his flashlight illuminating the way, comes face to face with a squirrel. A nervy squirrel who, though no more than six inches away from this guy, stands up on it's hind legs and looks the guy in the eye, almost as if challenging him. The cop is so unnerved by this that he fumbles and drops his flashlight. The flashlight falls and hits the homeowner, who is standing at the bottom of the ladder looking up at the cop, and smashes directly onto his nose. The homeowner howls, blood is gushing everywhere, and the rookie cop freaks out and loses his footing. He falls, pancaking the guy below him. As they lay there, the cop on top of the homeowner, the squirrel bounces down the ladder, hops right on the cop's stomach and runs under the couch.
The cop gets up, chasing after the squirrel, and pulls out his nightstick. He intends to scare the squirrel out from under the couch, and he asks the woman for a box. She says "Sure, we just moved in. We have tons of boxes." So the cop gets down on his hands and knees and begins swiping under the couch with his nightstick. No squirrel. He tries again. No squirrel. Finally, he connects with the squirrel, who comes running out from under the couch and runs STRAIGHT INTO THE FIREPLACE. He immediately goes up in flame, but he runs back out of the fireplace, and BACK UNDER THE COUCH.
With smoke now pouring out from under the couch, rookie cop once more comes to the rescue. He tips the couch over on it's side and they see the squirrel there, who, in it's death-throes, has latched on to the bottom of the couch. He is, the cop says, "just a smoking piece of gristle." The cops grab the only thing available: two silk pillows. They start windmilling the squirrel and the couch, just "smearing" the burned squirrel all over the place.
Finally, they get the fire out. They look around and the place is just a disaster. The house is full of smoke and the fire alarms are blaring. The couch is upside down, smoking. There is a dead, charred squirrel attached to it. The silk pillows are toast. The ceiling and walls are covered in soot. The man is standing there holding a towel to his face with blood soaking his pajamas. And the beautiful, friendly wife? She is just looking around in total shock, crying. She asks, sobbing, "What have you done? How could you do this to my house?" It's like, he says, she's just ticking things off: "Dead squirrel. Pillows ruined. Need a new couch. Fire alarms going off. Husband is disfigured."
The husband is just standing there, shaking his head, saying "You know...you guys....it's not like you did anything wrong exactly. But...but you know, I just can't thank you for this."
As the story-teller says "You know, they call for a squirrel and end up with three, four thousand dollars worth of damage and a broken nose. And this was all within about 5 minutes."
So there I was, huffing and puffing on the treadmill, you know, a foot away from the guys on either side of me, trying so hard not to laugh that my eyes were watering and I'm pretty sure I was making funny noises from somewhere deep in my throat. I had to get off the treadmill and leave.
Now Ira, come and get me.