Other People’s Parents is an audio series I’m just getting off the ground, consisting of recorded telephone conversations I’ve had with — well, other people’s parents. In this inaugural installment, I spend a little time talking with my friend Sarah’s mom, Internet sensation Sue Gardiner.
(Originally aired on This American Life, 2005)
In August 2004, back when I was still living in Houston, Texas, I applied for an internship with This American Life. The application required that I pitch a story, so I threw together an idea about my severely retarded older sister, her decades-long obsession with the worst mix-tape of all time, and the impact that obsession had on my mom, who, as she was nearing the end of her life, was determined to leave my sister one final gift to remember her by.
I didn’t get the internship. But six months after I submitted the application, the story I pitched made it onto the show. Since then it’s been designated one of TAL’s greatest hits and become a fixture of public-radio pledge drives around the country. It even made its way into the lede of an essay Garrison Keillor wrote for the Nation. So far this is the only thing my name has ever been attached to that complete strangers will come up and talk to me about. Well, this and Juggalos. My mom would be so proud.
(Originally aired on This American Life, 2007)
For years, one of my favorite stories to tell in bars was about how, when I was 18, a college dropout with no credit and no rental history, employed for minimum wage at a chain bookstore, I wound up living in one of the most notorious hot-spots for cheap gay sex in all of Houston: an apartment complex referred to by those in-the-know as Crisco Corner. I’ve always thought of this as one of the more bizarre and funny periods in my life, which is why I was taken aback the first time I heard myself tell the story on the radio sounding so . . . sad. Whatever your reaction to “The Crisco Kid,” I can promise you one thing: you have never heard the phrase “violently sodomize” repeated so many times on public radio.