This American Life is one of my favorite radio podcasts. I wait every week for a new episode to be posted and I listen to it in the morning before I head out to work on the day that it's posted. The series is never not interesting, never makes a miss, so to speak. Ira Glass has even persuaded me to give him money to support the internet bandwidth in these difficult financial times. That's just how much I like the show.
All of this blatant advertisement aside for This American Life, what I wanted to say was how funny I found the last podcast, Numbers. The episode presents vignettes of people's stories about quantifying what shouldn't be or isn't usually quantified in life, like relationships and art. I guess it's not too surprising that I find this intriguing.
In the opening vignette, a single woman about my age is featured for having turned all of her dates, serious relationships, kisses with random men, anything that involved something other than a fantasy into a number per year. She then elaborately tracks this number on an Excel spreadsheet titled My Love Life: A Ten Year Span.
When looking at her past relationships in this way, she says she can think of those numbers and the trend as successes rather than failures, no matter how badly the experience with the person actually was. For a longstanding serial dater, I can sort of see how this might be a nice coping strategy.
The best part of the vignette is her analysis of the trends. She plots her rise over time in her teenage and college years. Then she explains away the big fat zero in the late 1990s to the six months she lived with her mother and the recovery time from that. A few years after that where her number for a brief time soars, she chalks it up to her slutty years abroad. One of the closing sentences of the story from her: "What can I say, me and David Hasslelhoff do better in Europe." Classic, so succinctly stated and clearly true. That line has made me laugh for three days straight.
Give it a listen. It's free until Ira Glass guilts you into paying for it.