Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. And he's sitting there in the theater and there on the screen somebody picks up and reads a letter. But I also, in other words, was not absolutely sure it was real. And I felt that in a sense that because you're being tricked almost into kind of like you're having your flattery stroked with something like a love letter, I found it particularly insidious. I mean, I would be interested to hear his side of the story. If you had been a bit less forthcoming, anything could have happened.Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print. And then it became clear that what I was sent was a promotional device by the studio, Dream Works, as a cutesy way of sort of screwing around with my head and the heads of other critics in order to promote their movie. And in a way, see what the feeling was about was, oh my God, I've got to meet this person. What's interesting about all this is that the movie itself was called The Love Letter. But we were at a point where I felt comfortable talking and so did Chris. This for me was one of the worst cases of wrong time, wrong place, doing the wrong thing, all the wrong circumstances, and you got hung for it. But by just totally, literally bending over, I saved myself.
The stencil was a plastic toy he found in his sister's yard and just laid on the sidewalk and spray painted around. But then I guess once or twice we were walking around the city and one of these frogs was on the sidewalk. But then I tried to accuse him of it and he just denied it. These poor guys, these FBI guys have been called up from Albuquerque, which is an hour away. He finds a seat in the corner of the room behind everybody. And he sort of perked up and he looked at me and he said, what do you celebrate then? Maybe he could get her to drop the prowling charge. And so I'm cruising around the neighborhood with these records in hand. And I'm like, hey, man, does die Jew mean something?Note: This American Life is produced for the ear and designed to be heard, not read. And it was not something I brooded over, but I didn't throw the letter away. I said, no, really, what this is saying is that I believe in democracy. They kind of shook their heads and wrote down the exact language of the bumper sticker and there was a little www dot something com. They wrote all this information down and he said that they would be checking it out.We strongly encourage you to listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that's not on the page. In a way, I kind of felt a little flattered and curious about who might have written it. So then, a few weeks later, Jonathan goes to a screening of a new film, a foreign director's first American movie, with Kate Capshaw and Ellen De Generes. And then they sort of said, well, I guess that's everything. We got to a certain point where we had developed a relationship, Chris and I, I think.In the second, an act we're calling Cat Got Your Tongue, David Sedaris discusses gossip. This is a story of a huge, rolling growing misunderstanding, the kind where one wrong assumption piles up against another and another and another. And I said, I'm sorry officer, I have no idea what you're talking about. In fact, if you want to know what I'm doing, I've been painting on the sidewalk. It was an office relocation from Tajikistan to Shambe to Kabul. And also, I've only been dating him for two weeks and I don't really know that much about him. And Chris abruptly interrupts our conversation and turns to speak with Brian. And Chris leans back over to me and in his hand he has this flyer. And he folds opens this flyer and the flyer is-- the feeling in Santa Fe around Iraq was that we should not have gone to war with Iraq and that America's war with Iraq was something that was being aggressively pushed by a small group of people within the administration. I actually was just riding my bike downtown and somebody handed me this flyer. Well, it was a picture of Donald Rumsfeld's head, a real picture of his head. And it was something like, crimes against humanity. When this thing opened up and I looked at it, I swallowed hard and I was like, yes, this is kind of-- this doesn't look good. I had the feeling from them of like, you're really at a loss. All the agents that I looked at were pretty much home boys. And this dog jumps up on Donald Rumsfeld's lap late in the night when they're sitting smoking a cigar and watching the game. And I take a step back and I'm looking up on the roof and I see these antennas that are sprouting out from a pile of snow right by the chimney. Today's program, Not What I Meant, stories of misunderstandings, and how they happen, and where they can lead that you might not expect. This is one of a series of fables that he's been writing lately. Just clawed at those strings, almost like she's mad at them. The baboon nodded and smiled, the way one must in the service industry. And unless she found a patch of common ground, she was sure to lose her tip. And the moment she said it, she realized her mistake. So anyway, the guys from the team invite Ben to come to their next practice.In our third act, Romance Languages, is about unavoidable misunderstandings in two of the things that people care about most: sports and love. And when it begins, Shaheen is an ordinary American citizen. And if you want to know where my stuff is, if you see right there on the corner there in front of the car there's a big blue mailbox and you'll find that there is several spray cans and a stencil. If you go around this block you'll find that those are there as well. I hired a bunch of these like Russian truck driver in Tajikistan. And this is the first time these guys have been in Afghanistan, so it was this exuberant period for us. And then, do you know if he likes flight simulator games? And the funny thing is that Shaheen really loves planes and he had told me a little bit about that. And that one of the central figures in that group was Donald Rumsfeld. I had gotten on my bike and I briefly looked at it and I nowhere to put it, so I just threw it in my backpack. To the point where I walked into Chris's office and I may be wrong on this, but I could have swore that I saw a book about etiquette in the Muslim world. And he would say, I am going to tell you something that you really shouldn't know. And all of a sudden I kind of get a second feeling of ooziness, which is I'm probably being watched. He was recorded on stage at UCLA's Royce Hall in a recent talk there. And she massaged the cat's neck in order to relax her, the way she did with all her customers. She'd planned to tell a story about a drunken marsh rabbit, the brother of the groom at last week's wedding, but there was no point in it now. You know, she said cleaning a scab off the cat's neck, I hate dogs. And Ben, perhaps sensing the disaster that's about to take place, Ben has the presence of mind to ask his friend, Aaron, to come with him.And in this situation, it worked very well because it kind of allowed everyone to kind of exit the situation with pride and dignity intact. Well, I got to tell you, I have an Italian girlfriend.She speaks English quite well because she's been here many years now. They say they'll be in touch and turn him over to Santa Fe police, who take him straight to jail. They head to Shaheen's place, where they confiscate his computer, his CD and DVD collections, and various papers that are lying around.It begins with what Shaheen and his girlfriend, Molly, call, the incident. He ran a project setting up emergency housing, for instance, for refugees after the Taliban fell. I just pointed because I didn't know her address at this point. And this whole time I have these rubber gloves on my hands. And he says, special agent-- I believe he was a special agent-- Chris Warner from the FBI. Straps of bullets, shoulders, and guns, and they took this series of photos. I'm thinking in my head, yes, he's touched my computer. That changed as they got to know me better and they realized, you know what? You need to understand, Shaheen, that this case is really-- they want me to close the book on this, or to close the case I believe is what he said. And I knock on the door and I look at the name and it says Rumsfeld, Valerie. And he's like, now, do you understand why we were so suspicious about you? And there is the football team, the Florence Renegades they are called. So we'd kind of decided the first thing we need to do is to split up the team into offense and defense. And I know that in this situation it's appropriate for me to stand there with my arms folded and watch. So they line up, probably about-- and again, my Italian is really quite limited.Shaheen is an American, but he was born in Afghanistan. Gabrielle Galanek talked to Molly and Shaheen about what happened next, when Shaheen returned to the United States. And then it began to dawn on me that there was a whole new level to this investigation that's all of a sudden-- that I'm seeing this new level now. The painting thing began to fade and I began to realize that there's all this other stuff in my car. When you're in Tajikistan you have to have special certification to be there from the government and there are these little cards. And my passport, it's an old passport that I've just been using for quite a while. And they're kind of like, you don't know your boyfriend's last name? This guy's as dumb as he looks and as ignorant as he looks. What he meant was they really want me to find something that's incriminating in your case. Chris tells Shaheen that the higher ups in Washington will probably be convinced to drop the investigation if he takes a lie detector test. He's going to go take the offense and run them through a series of drills, and I'll take the defense. They line up and there's about maybe a dozen or 10 people on the defense.