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The Ira Glass Infatuation Post/ This American Life Review: Slow to React

People (and circumstances) that are Slow to React are considered on TAL this week, as rationalizations of reality alter expectations while romances go unpursued, moles keep growing abnormally, and unacknowledged pregnancies continue to result in babies.

Ira and the TALian ladies peruse this last scenario in speaking with a girl from the hit Discovery show I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant who did not know she was preggers until three days before she gave birth. More astounding are the numbers finding that this is not so uncommon, especially among teen pregnancies.  Best advice Ira’s ever given us concludes the prologue: each time you see a woman who looks pregnant, confront her about it because she might not know she is.

Act 1: I felt like a werewolf had bitten me, and it was only a matter of time before the full moon rose.

This is the messy account of journalist David Holthouse whose memories of his childhood rape warrant earmuffs for all adolescent listeners. Although the attack went down when he was seven years old, he never got around to telling his parents despite the memory never fading, prioritizing their warm memories of his childhood before his own pursuit of remedies. Rationalizing here in survival mode, the scary reality he can’t escape is as twisted as the gang signs your Aunt Sarah’s toes have been throwing out below mumus for years.

Interestingly, he never buried the memory, feeding it facts (like the Colorado statistic that measures the mean victims for child rapists to be 184) until it fattened up into a homicidal craving for rapist blood decades later. Even then, on the verge of murder, his strange rationale is expressed as a need to protect his retired parents from the knowledge of his rape more than to protect potential victims. His wanting to control information is tarnished by his parents’ own version of Wikileaks a la spring cleaning and childhood diaries. At this point, it seems that closure had begun its course.

Act 2: They danced to Led Zeppelin

Another Denver man stalls his fate, this time sacrificing a heart. Fam spinster, Uncle Mark suffers a fate that is “Slow to React” because he is a mama’s boy. It’s beautiful when we can find similarities between cultures, finding universalities as with the matriarchal yenta spanning cultural continents in one Gaia of guilt. Although narrator Sean Lewis does not dwell on that quality of Mark, rather focused on how weird it seemed that out of the blue, he was marrying a Korean broad he met 17 years before in warfare. In reality, his mother’s refused blessing brought him back sans special lady friend, but he was not dormant. Because he tracked Ms. Ha down and wooed her in letter-writing, that he could be called slow to react is unfair. He was just smart in keeping nosy nay-sayers out of the loop. Best metaphor of the episode describes Mark relative to the rest of the fam: “He was the tortoise in a family full of hares…to us it appeared he was barely moving.”

Act 3: When I go on those cancer message boards I feel like some old-timer in Appalachia

Slow to react in this case is a Chicago steak, good yet rare. Jonathan Menjivar delivers tiptop reportage of Katherine Russell Rich, who dwells in the 2% who lives beyond her life expectancy with stage 4 cancers. No longer expecting treatments to equal cures, she describes the array of actions she’s taken to continue winning.

The biggest fail that Kathy recognizes is that doctors are not studying her, an anomaly in the medical world. She speaks of a sense of helpless blackness as an individual without a system–doctors, police, family–to take care of her. She conveys that eventually, the thing that is limiting you most is not the first thing on your mind and you have to focus on continuing to live.

“What’s the worst that can happen?” questioning reveals the liberating answer that allows her to live vibrantly: nothing.

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