A couple of weeks ago, hubs and I went to see Ira Glass. If you aren’t an NPR/This American Life nerd, go listen to an episode and then retun. I’ll be waiting!

I discovered the smart, witty stories of TAL while going to grad school in the middle of nowhere, and it became the big thing I looked forward to each weekend (see: grad school = no life AND no cable). Because I lived in podunk, I rarely met anyone who had even heard of it (see: NPR is apparently for crazy liberals, not good southern folks). After graduation I moved to the big city to be with my (crazy psycho) ex and find a job. After the relationship fell apart, I found myself in a huge city where I knew no one. I spent one pathetic Valentine’s Day working, then I signed up for match.com. Just to see what kind of people were on there, of course. Suddenly I was inundated with attention, and it was hard to sort the good from the great (the awful, on the other hand, were fairly easy to spot – other than my really horrible first match date, but that’s another story). This is how, as the hubs likes to put it, I broke up with him before we even met. We had been emailing and had talked on the phone a few times, but thanks to some bad timing I ended up dating another guy.

Obviously things weren’t over quite yet. He had impressed me by asking me if I listened to TAL, so even though I accidentally preemptively ditched him to date someone else, I couldn’t help emailing him about the show. And that email led to more emails. And those emails led me to realize this guy with awesome taste was way cooler than the guy I dropped him for. If it weren’t for our connection over This American Life, we might have lost touch and never talked again.

When we were at the Ira Glass show, we discovered we weren’t the only ones who judge people based on the TAL-factor. Ira shared an interview with a local guy who talked about meeting a girl who he thought was too pretty and popular for his taste (which sounds crazy, but which I totally understand), until they realized their mutual love for This American Life and then fell for each other. And even though I’m usually completely cold-hearted toward big showy public proposals, I melted when he proposed to her in the middle of the show. As I read other responses to this on facebook, I was amazed how many people said they use the show as a litmus test when they meet new friends or love interests. My brother has even admitted to using the test on a preacher.

Do you have a tv show or song (or radio show!) that you use to scope out new people? I used to have more of a negative test (“If you listen to that music there’s no way we’ll get along…” ), but if I’d followed that one, I would be short a lovely best friend with awful taste in movies (she’s the reason I’ve seen the cinematic classic Sorority Boys) and several great friends who listen to music that I may never learn to appreciate.

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