I can’t imagine that the offices at WBEZ aren’t currently inundated with letters and emails (probably letters because this is far more emo, maybe even just ripped out diary pages) from men imagining the Denton TX-based female singer songwriter from this week’s intro is indeed their very own Manic Pixie Dream Girl (see The Search for Magical Jews for more on this.) First of all, Denton if you’ve never been is like utopian hub in Texas near Dallas filled with gorgeous, tall, artistic individuals and wacky super creative dark Indie bands like The Paper Chase and every year they throw this outdoor music festival called The Fry Street Fair where everyone gets drunk and has sex in Porta Potties as though they’re on some kind of sexual Rumspringa. Okay maybe this was just my experience, but from what I was able to gather, Denton Texas is everything great about the South, minus the less desirable traits we’ve come to equate with places below the Mason Dixon, Denton is Austin, but less “blown up.” Back to the show, the quixotic romantic from this week’s intro behaves strangely in hope of winning back a lost love. She learns through experience that there’s a double standard when it comes to serenading (not for the emo listeners) and that keeping your ex boyfriend’s favorite foods in the fridge is rather unhealthy behavior and finally, that just because this particular ex enjoys a good prank, doesn’t mean he’ll respond kindly to his number being plastered across club bathroom walls throughout the country Jenny-style. In the end, our dream Manic Pixie Dream Girl from the intro starts a band called The Town Criers, covering sad old country songs by Hank Williams and the like. For months, I’ll be dreaming about this girl throwing rocks at my apartment window, waiting for me to open up so she can serenade me with “A Tear In My Beer.”
In Act I, a couple in a stable, long term relationship realize that the reason they’ve yet to discuss marriage is that they’ve both got an aching voice in the back of their minds fixating on what it would be like to bone other people. They decide on a relationship Rumpsringa (for a great understanding of this concept see The Devils Playground) in order to get “get the poison out” so to speak. Kurt, our protagonist in Act I comes to some major realizations during his Rumpsringa, such as, the coolest part about sleeping around in NYC is getting to see other people’s apartments. Perhaps Kurt could save from money and potential disease by attending the occasional open house. Approaching each casual interaction with utter honestly and regarding his Rumspringa, Kurt found his openness to be a major boon in his sexual conquests. Eventually he emerged with the following truth: “You can get laid any night of the week in New York City as long as you stay at the bar until 4 in the morning and dramatically lower your standards.” Meanwhile, Kurt’s girlfriend keeps busy sleeping with men from across the globe, as if she were frequenting the bars of Epcot Center. In the end, Kurt finds himself unable to separate his feelings from his physicality and the two break up. In retrospect, Kurt realizes that they were probably looking for an out when they decided on Rumpsringa in the first place. People get to a point in their 30’s where either they marry, or they Rumpspringa. Mind you, had they gotten back together at the end, this story would have been Norah Ephron-style romantic comedy gold. Alas they didn’t, and Kurt now believes that every married couple should have to re-marry after 7 years to in order be sure of their love. Ira, however, being the romantic he is, points out that the “no escape clause” of marriage, is comforting, and perhaps the beautiful thing about it all. Suddenly,the couple from this act seem merely like two debauched weirdo’s next to the sanctity that is the Glass’s.
Act II, a kid in high school, a good kid from all accounts, falls head over Nikes for a new student, and asks her to prom. She declines, for it’s not prom that she desires but the sticky icky purple bud of which Snoop Dogg speaks. Desperate to please and impress, the young man labors over her requests, searching for months for some pot, which he eventually gives her. Only she insists on paying him and eventually does. Well, “say jump” young man, because you’ve been punked by officer Judy Hoffs, 21 Jump Street style. I didn’t think that TAL could broadcast a better Police Entrapment story than they did with the Bait Car episode (now the second TAL segment to be made into a reality show) but this case defines the term! That this young man couldn’t enter the Air Force because of the felony pot charge on his record stemming from this incident is an atrocity. I know this was supposed to be a lighthearted piece, but in the end I wanted to take up this kid’s cause. Perhaps a fair rule would be that undercover Narcs in high schools cannot be Johnny Depp or Holly Robinson level sexy, otherwise, the young people don’t stand a chance.
Act III was another this American Life fable about a duck that falls in love with a rock or something which I think is supposed to be an analogy to a vibrator but I was too busy being angry about Act II, which I will hold on to, because frankly, I cannot handle anymore romantic mush on a day like this. Lucky for us, Ira Glass, in his infinite wisdom, and his undying belief in the power of love, can act as a surrogate valentine for all the lovely listeners in NPR and Jewcy land. Kisses.