Coping with a crush on radio’s most disarming intellectual
2351 Performance Drive,
Richardson. June 12 at 7:30 p.m. $25â€“$45.
I don’t mind saying it: Like all NPR junkie pseudo-intellectuals, I have a crush on Ira Glass.
If you already know who he is, you understand completely. If you don’t know, you’re missing out.
Glass, who hosts and created This American Life (which airs on 90.1 KERA weekends) is an enigmatic figure along the fringe of pop culture. I have no idea whether he’s gay; frankly, I don’t want to know. The fantasy sustains me. All I know is, he has a puckish sense of whimsy masking (or sometime revealing) his intense intelligence; his small-L liberalism seems off-handedly natural. (He seems unflappable that someone may be gay or a collector of antique kitten sculptures or into duck hunting or is a gay duck hunter who collects kitten sculptures. It’s all good.)
Glass cultivated that mysterious appeal, intentionally or not, with his early resistance when This American Life debuted to having his photo taken and by revealing precious little about himself. What does this man look like? Is he available? If he is available, does he play on my team? Ira Glass was my secret lover, a man I didn’t know personally, had never seen, but wanted to be with. He seduced me with his words alone. (When his series went to cable, he was forced to give a face to the voice.)
That said, it would be difficult to describe his voice and make it sound appealing; in many ways, it isn’t. There’s nothing dulcet about those vowels or charming about his twang. He speaks in staccato syllables with that pinched, nasally Mid-Atlantic whine that just screams, "I was in Skull and Bones." Or more precisely, "I wasn’t myself in Skull and Bones, but my dad was. Who does that anymore?" Less Buckley-New England, more Hamptons-on-holidays. He’s not pretentious, but you know he could be if he wanted to. That’s part of the charm.
I assume Ira — I can call you Ira, can’t I? — is unaware of my particular fascination with him, but he must be aware of the many, many gay men, straight women and, I am guessing, straight men who have carried on emotional affairs with him over the wireless all these years. On behalf of all of us, I say, "Welcome to Dallas. Can I buy you a drink?"
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 11, 2010.