Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

Bluff The Listener

Our panelists tell us three stories of unlikely clubs, only one of which is true.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing his week with Simon Amstell, Kyrie O'Connor, and Mo Rocca. And, here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Carl.


SAGAL: Right now, it is time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME.

RICHARD SLABAUGH: Hi, Peter. This is Richard from Sacramento, California.


SAGAL: Oh, we have some Sacramento people here.

SLABAUGH: Woo-hoo.

SAGAL: Woo-hoo. How are things in Sacto, as I'm told it's called?


SAGAL: Yeah.

SLABAUGH: Occasionally, but it's been really nice the last few days.

SAGAL: Oh, I'm glad to hear it. Well, welcome to the show, Richard.

SLABAUGH: Thank you.

SAGAL: You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Richard's topic?

KASELL: Let's go clubbin', baby.


SAGAL: Later Carl, right now we have to finish the show. Sometimes it seems as if we've lost all face to face contact in favor of our phones and computers. Actually getting out and meeting people seems daunting. But this week, we heard a story about a social group that makes it possible for even the most socially awkward to become butterflies. Guess the real story and you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering machine or voicemail. Ready to play?


SAGAL: All right, first let's hear from Mo Rocca.

MO ROCCA: It's the book club for people who don't like to talk. St. Louis' Diane McCauley and her four best friends were tired of their book club turning into a fight club. Quote, "One week it was a shouting match over Nicolas Sparks, then a bitchfest over Nora Roberts."


ROCCA: "We feel passionately about books, but it's not worth losing friends over." And so, the ladies decided to learn a new, non-combative way of communicating: Sanskrit, the ancient liturgical language of Hinduism, beautiful on paper. Even better, it's a non-spoken language.


ROCCA: Quote, "We took classes for a year," said McCauley, "then began reading books translated into Sanskrit." When the club reconvened to read Danielle Steel's "Friends Forever" in Sanskrit, the conversation was no less impassioned. Quote, "We passed notes back and forth in Sanskrit. It can get pretty heated, but no one goes home with a sore throat."

SAGAL: A book club that only uses books in a written, not spoken language, Sanskrit. Your next story about a new place to make friends comes from Kyrie O'Connor.

KYRIE O'CONNOR: It's Wednesday morning in Pembroke, Massachusetts and a group of retired men gather at the local coffee shop, as they do every week. One guy is toting a menu from his restaurant menu collection. Another is concerned about improper trash in the recycling bin. A third is there to discuss how best to stir coffee. Yes, it's the Dull Men's Club.


O'CONNOR: Which in the past ten years has grown from 2 to 30 members. The goal is to talk about the most ordinary topics on earth: park benches, leaf raking, hummingbirds. "We spent two and a half meetings on which way to put toilet paper on the roll: over or under," says Ken Girten, 76.


O'CONNOR: "It was pretty much tied."


SAGAL: The Dull Men's Club, a meeting for dull men. And your last story about people being friends with real life people in person is from Simon Amstell.

SIMON AMSTELL: Once a month, the 19 members of the Clark County Claustrophobia Club in Wisconsin get together in a field.


AMSTELL: Thomas Borden, the founder of the Claustrophobia Club, a waiter at spacious local restaurant: Fishy, Fishy, Fish, Fish...


AMSTELL: ...says the group's main mission is to provide claustrophobes with the experience of being with other people, but not too close. He says, quote, "Normally, when I'm at a party or a crowded bar, I'm torn between wanting to chat up an attractive woman and not being able to breathe."


AMSTELL: And yet, while the Claustrophobia Club is a consistently excellent gathering, Borden also states, quote, "It's no replacement for a life partner. And it certainly lacks the sense of magic and joy that you get from making love with a stranger."



AMSTELL: Oh dear.

SAGAL: All right, these are your choices. You can join one of these clubs. From Mo Rocca, a book club that only reads in Sanskrit, so they don't have to speak. From Kyrie O'Connor: the Dull Men's Club. Or from Simon Amstell: a meeting of claustrophobes in a field, so they can feel not hemmed in. Which of these is the real story of an unusual club for people who wouldn't normally belong to a club?

SLABAUGH: Well, Mo, I hate to tell you but I don't think anybody wants to read Sanskrit to begin with.


SLABAUGH: As far as the people in the field go, I mean that sounds really interesting, but I think I'm going to go with Kyrie with the Dull Men's Club. That sounds really more up my alley.

SAGAL: All right.


SAGAL: It sounds compellingly attractive to you.

SLABAUGH: Yes, pretty much.

SAGAL: All right. Well, we were lucky enough to actually speak to a senior officer in the club in question.

LELAND CARLSON: The Dull Men's Club is a place where men can get together to share their experiences on what we call celebrating the ordinary.

SAGAL: That was Leland Carlson.


SAGAL: He is assistant vice president of the Dull Men's Club. Assistant vice president, for the record, is the highest office in the Dull Men's Club. Congratulations, Richard, you got it right. As you figured out, Kyrie had the real story of, in fact, the Dull Men's Club. You have both won a point for Kyrie and won our game. Carl will record a greeting, however dull you may want it, for your home answering machine.

SLABAUGH: Thank you very much. I appreciate it, and I loved playing the game.

SAGAL: It was fun to have you. Bye-bye.

SLABAUGH: Bye-bye.



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Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!