gratuitous image
1 February 1996

Gross Picture

I usually make my best finds when I'm not looking for anything. Or maybe I'm just repeating that popular romantic cliché because of this afternoon's experience.

I was poking around on the Internet and found a site published by one of my favorite radio stations. And there, I discovered how the people to whom I've listened for years really spell their names. The Italian names were the biggest surprise: Sylvia Piogioli is really Sylvia Poggioli, and the Mariatsi brothers are really the Magliozzi brothers. Twé Vu is Thuy Vu, and even good old Linda Worthheimer is Linda Wertheimer. At least Norm Howard is Norm Howard.

[I would have discovered this years ago had I sent the radio station some money in response to one of their plaintive appeals for donations. Since the head of the "nonprofit" broadcasting organization was getting paid a couple hundred thousand dollars a year, though, I kept my money in the neighborhood by patronizing Bus Stop Liquor.]

The best parts of this afternoon's explorations, though, were the pictures: at last I could see the voices' faces. Plucky Norm Howard (who uses his sonorous tenor--or baritone, if he's in the mood--to put a subversive spin on the news whenever he can get away with it) looks like your typewriter repairman. Maia Krache disproved my theorem that all Maias look like goddesses. And from the subject of goddess it's only a tiny lateral move to Terry Gross.

Terry Gross is the thinking fella's seductress. (Or at least that's what thinking fellas think when they do think.) What is it is about her voice? She never sounds overtly sensual, and certainly never sexual. It follows that my fantasies of an evening with her aren't that different than those of my friends: sitting on a couch drinking a really good bottle of red wine (or perhaps two), munching on perfectly cooked asparagus and discussing what a prescient writer H.G. Wells was. My fantasy never go further than that; I know very little about Wells.

I suppose the real basis of her appeal is her broadcast interviews: she always treats everything every guest says as if it were just about the most exciting, brilliant and profound thing she had ever heard. She makes everyone with whom she talks look like a genius, except when she vivisects someone who deserves it (like Nancy Reagan) just to remind everyone who's really in control.

My picture of Terry Gross was generated entirely by her voice; I never saw a picture of her until today. (Victor is the only person I know who's ever seen a photograph of her before. When I asked him what she looked like he replied "Brunette, curly hair. Kind of like Ina." Since Victor's wife Ina is both smart and attractive, I knew I was on to something.)

Finally seeing her photograph after so many years had to be a disappointment, and it is. It looks like it's a PR photo made in a studio with too many lights. It is a PR photo made in a studio with too many lights. Generic Caucasian.

Or maybe that's what she wants me to think. Since hundreds of thousands of men (and not a few women) are harmlessly infatuated with her, she can't exacerbate the situation by being seen with a shaved and tattooed head, black patches of makeup under each eye like a linebacker, and a white silk tuxedo with thick leather fingerless gloves studded with rhinestones. That would be too much.

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©1996 David Glenn Rinehart