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The Ira Glass Man-Infatuation Post: It Seemed Like a Good Idea At The Time

Bambi is still out, so we get a man’s perspective on Ira and This American Life. Read More

By / April 27, 2011
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This week on the Ira Glass Man-fatuation Post we hone on stories of people whose seemingly good ideas turned out to be something else, in most cases something bad.  This week’s episode to put it bluntly, was rather weak.  Mind you, it’s rare that that TAL produces anything that could be called weak, but from time to time, they put out an episode that, at the very least, you wouldn’t listen to again, and you wouldn’t bring up in conversation.  If I were to post why “It Seemed Like a Good Idea” wasn’t up to snuff, it would probably be because of the generality of the subject.  Often what’s so brilliant about TAL is how perfectly these incredibly personal stories fit the mold of the show’s theme.  Lets take a look.

The show’s intro was the story of a cop who decides to go to sleep in the back on his squad car, or as I would usually identify it, “my seat.”  He takes a nice nap only to find upon waking that he’s locked in.  He ends up with no choice but to call 911, but since he’s a cop, the proverbial cavalry is sent to his rescue.  It’s hard to hear about this kind of folly from a police officer without feeling some kind of satisfaction.

Act I was the story of the cast of Riverdance deciding to all pool their money to buy a ton of lottery tickets.  They end up so convinced that they are going to win that they begin planning their post-lottery lives, all of them looking forward to being able to quit Riverdance.  Of course they don’t win, and a result they put on a pretty poor performance that evening.

Here’s the thing: a bunch of people pooling their money for a lotto ticket, isn’t a bad idea — per say.  It is however, a bad idea to convince yourself that you are going to win the lottery under any circumstances.

Act II is about a freelancer who hires an accountant to handle his finances, because he’s an “artsy” accountant, an accountant whose other clients are artists.  The accountant starts showing some warning signs of instability but this guy refuses to fire him.  The accountant goes so far as to drunk dial a bunch of his clients but still keeps the gig.  In the end, the accountant screws the pooch on this guy’s taxes and leaves him holding the bag, is there another cliche I can throw into this sentence?

Hiring a drunken accountant is a bad idea in the first place.  Right?

The third act is a story read by the guy who created Found Magazine; he founded Found.  He tells a funny story about his book tour and one particular stop on which he found a nasty sex note written by the anchor of the show that he was about to appear on, and read it on the air.  It was pretty hysterical.   The guy ended up being a good reader, and this was probably the shows best story, but again it was an issue of theme.  It seems that what he thought was a good idea, actually was a good idea.

Finally, we had a story about a little girl who takes her father’s class in attempt to know him better.  In order to impress him she raises her hand and “ooh ooh’s” throughout his lecture, thinking that they’re bonding.   Although, she later finds out that her father was put off and embarrassed by her behavior.

This story brought me back to when I was eleven.  I went to a private school that contained grades k-12, meaning kids of all ages tended to mix.  There was this girl on my bus that was a sophomore in high school who one day admitted to me that she thought my friend Jared (also eleven) was kind of cute and that “if he was older I’d totally go out with him.”

If you’d like to picture Jared, imagine Steve Urkel from Family Matters when he turned into Stefan Urkelle.  The kid was suave, in an almost cartoonish way.  When I told Jared what she said, he took it seriously, and told me to tell the girl that he was interested.  Apparently, this girl played along, and for some time, and they began talking on the phone.  Eventually, Jared truly thought that they were dating.  However, a few days later, Jared had told a bunch of people he was dating a Sophomore and rumor got out that this crazy sophomore was dating a 6th grader.  That day on the bus, this girl grabbed me by the collar like a bookie does a degenerate gambler, screaming at me that I’d ruined her life.  Everyone thought she was a molester!

“You stupid little idiot with you’re big fucking mouth, you ruined my life!”

There I was with my baggy corduroys, long blonde, wavy hair parted in the middle, and freckled chubby face, and I was mortified.  I thought I was doing them both a favor.  I’ve never forgotten that feeling I had on the bus, and ever since I’ve tried my best to always stay out of people’s business.  But, hell, it seemed like a good idea at the time.  Right?