The other day I listened to an engrossing interview about a restaurant in Chicago called the Golden Apple. I heard the story of a man who eats breakfast there every morning alone, the testimony of a waitress who’s worked the night shift for 26 years, and tidbits from a bar owner that usually comes in around 3:30 am. All while I got gas.
As if my title isn’t clear enough, the wonder of National Public Radio made these precious moments possible.
At my green age, I am and have been NPR deprived. My parents were not listeners so I missed the opportunity to absorb the treasure there. But I recently spent a weekend visiting old friends and found myself affronted by the vast political knowledge they’ve ingested listening to NPR.
My husband reads the news nearly every day, so while the three of them hotly debated social policy, I focused on changing my facial expression dramatically enough to convince everyone I had my own opinions.
I haven’t stopped listening to NPR since.
There is something idyllic about it. I can tell they are trying to bottle the American experience. At least someone’s American experience, and that’s what I mean when I describe it as “idyllic.” Like their coverage of the Golden Apple, they romance coming into a 24 hour cafe after running a bar into the wee hours of night. Somehow waltzing in with blonde hair and dark circles under the eyes becomes a desirous circumstance. Working the night shift for 26 years following a divorce after a much-too-young marriage becomes appealing because this women happens to be “the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen in real life” (says the interviewer).
What was getting divorced at 21 and raising a child as a single mother working the night shift actually like? Well, it wasn’t romantic. But as featured on NPR, it is remarkably alluring.
I appreciate the romance. I want to believe life looks like an Instagram photograph, cross-processed and soft around the edges.
So I thank you, NPR, for exposing me to the sweet-nothings of American life. For helping me better understand the Presidential debates, and for occasionally playing obscure musical selections. You’ve encouraged me to care about politics, piqued my interest in dramatic readings, and exposed my narrow horizons to global conditions.
You have a lot of offer me, and quite frankly, all your pleas for money are very convincing. I actually look forward to becoming a sustainer. Seriously, your writers are really good.