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Neil Clark Warren on Finding eHarmony

Neil Clark Warren is the founder of the online dating service eHarmony. The company performs extensive personality profiling and then introduces couples with matching values and interests. Warren is an Evangelical Christian with strong ties to the conservative Christian community.


Other segments from the episode on August 17, 2005

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, August 17, 2005: Interview with Neil Clark Warren; Interview with Yaacov and Sue Deyo; Review of summer books; Interview with Scott Yoho.


TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A

Interview: Neil Clark Warren discusses his founding of the online
dating site,

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

It's not exactly "Some Enchanted Evening," falling in love with a stranger
across a crowded room. Finding a date has become a little like a job
interview or consumer profiling. We were surprised to learn that the creators
of two of the more popular ways to find dates had approached their concepts
from a religious angle. A little later, we'll hear from Rabbi Yaaco Deyo and
his wife Sue, who co-founded speed dating.

My first guest created one of the most successful Internet match sites,
eHarmony. Dr. Neil Clark Warren is an evangelical Christian who received his
master's of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. He's a
psychologist who's counseled many couples and has written several books. His
Web site bio describes him as, quote, "one of America's best-known experts on
mate selection and healthy relationships." EHarmony is so popular, it's been
satirized on "Saturday Night Live."

(Soundbite of "Saturday Night Live"; applause)

Unidentified Man #1: I tried online dating, but I never found anyone who
liked me for me.

Unidentified Woman #1: My friends tell me I'm too picky.

Unidentified Woman #2: I need to find someone who realizes how great I am.

Unidentified Man #2: I'm a catch; women like me. But when I tried other
dating services, they could never find anybody good enough for me.

"Dr. TERRY McQUAREN": Hi. I'm Dr. Terry McQuaren, founder of
When you sign up at Me-Harmony, we only ask you questions about your favorite
subject: You.

Unidentified Man #3: I can't believe how lucky I am. Sandra and I finish
each other's thoughts. (As Sandra) And we finish each other's sentences.
It's amazing.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Man #4: (As a woman) He treats me exactly the way I want and
deserve to be treated.

Unidentified Woman #3: I don't know where I end and he starts. (As a man) I
have never been so attracted to someone on every level.

Unidentified Man #5: I didn't think it was possible to find someone who loves
me as much as I love me, but I found her. You should see people stare at us
when we walk down the street. (As woman) They're jealous! (Laughs)

"Dr. TERRY McQUAREN": Don't you deserve the perfect match? At Me-Harmony, we
guarantee you someone who is exactly like you, but with different sexual

(Soundbite of laughter)

Unidentified Men #5 and #6: (In unison) Thank you, Me-Harmony.

(Soundbite of laughter)

"Dr. TERRY McQUAREN": And for alternative lifestyles, visit

Unidentified Man #7 and Unidentified Woman #4: (In unison) Thank you,

GROSS: That's a spoof of eHarmony on "Saturday Night Live." Here's the story
behind the real thing from founder Dr. Neil Clark Warren.

How did you first get the idea to start an Internet dating system?

Dr. NEIL CLARK WARREN (Founder, eHarmony): Well, I got to tell you, Terry,
that we stumbled on to most of these ideas. But you know, it all started for
me with the recognition that Marilyn and I--we got married 46 years ago--that
we were just so flat-out lucky to have found a good marriage partner, each of
us. Four of our six closest friends from college have each been married three
times. And we said we just can't allow our kids, our three daughters, to rely
on the luck that we experienced. So it would be like sending them to skate on
this very thin ice.

So I started studying that a number of years ago and started studying all the
research. How do you gain confidence that the person you choose for a
lifetime mate is somebody you can live with for a lifetime and be happy with?
And that's how we got started in the subject.

And then we got a million-dollar grant from an old student of mine who's down
in Texas, and he said, `See if you can use this million dollars to spend the
time necessary to develop materials for single people in the United States so
that they can do a better job of selection.' And we started out--we sent out
videotapes all over the country and we sent out audiotapes and we wrote books
and all the rest, and finally, we came to the conclusion that what single
people want is not more information. They like a little information, but they
don't want more information; they want somebody.

And so we thought, `How can we do that?' We didn't know anything about the
Internet. And so we got started, though, with the Internet, never expecting
it to get more than maybe 100,000 people. And it just kept growing like
wildfire, and we have 8,300,000 people on our site.

GROSS: So when you got this million-dollar grant--And by the way, how can I
meet this student of yours?

(Soundbite of laughter)

GROSS: When you got this million-dollar grant, was it for specifically a
Christian singles dating system?

Dr. WARREN: No. No. You see--I'll tell you some--kind of an interesting
thing about me. I studied for the ministry at Princeton Seminary for three
years, and I am a passionate Christian. I pray, I read the Bible, I hold
pretty orthodox Christian values. But then I went and took a doctorate at the
University of Chicago, and I've always felt such a need to try to speak to
both sides. I want to try to reach all people with this Web site. We have
hundreds of thousands of Buddhists and Hindus and atheists and agnostics and
Jews and Christians and Wiccans. We have lots of different religions
represented. That's been really important to me. And I think that's...

GROSS: So you're OK with Wiccans?

Dr. WARREN: You know, I'm OK with anybody who basically says, `I deeply want
to build a stronger link to the person I'm involved with. I want to have it
survive over time and I want to marry somebody else who's a lot like I am.'
So when a Wiccan comes in, we will match them with a Wiccan. I don't know--I
don't dig in and try to find out what Wiccans are all about, but I do think
that we've got some fundamental principles that help people get matched in a
way will be less problematic for them over time.

GROSS: Before we get to the process--'cause I really want to get to the
process that you use to match people--I do want to mention that from what I've
read, there's one group who you decline to match, and that's gays and

Dr. WARREN: Let me tell you why we don't. I look back at my 38-year career
and I've seen thousands of people in therapy. I've never had a same-sex
couple in therapy. I don't know how--I don't know exactly what the dynamics
are there. We've done a deep amount of research on about 5,000 married
people, but never on people who are same-sex. So we don't know how to do that
and we think the principles probably are different, and so we've never chosen
to do it. And that's the position we take.

GROSS: I bet you haven't done a lot of counseling of Wiccan couples, either.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Dr. WARREN: No, that's true. That's true. But--and, you know--and if it
weren't for the fact that we do--that we look for so much similarity in terms
of the religious aspects, we probably wouldn't match those people because we
haven't had many of those people, like you say. I don't think I've had any.

GROSS: Can we just--you know, just...

Dr. WARREN: Sure.

GROSS: Let me just ask you: Are you sure it's not because you're
uncomfortable with homosexuality, that you're not doing it as opposed to the
fact that you haven't counseled a lot of gay couples? Because, you know, a
lot of people say love is love and an attraction is an attraction, and it
might not be that different to match the tastes of a gay couple and a straight

Dr. WARREN: Well--you know, it might not. I don't know that. I have a deep
desire for gays and lesbians to be matched well if they're going to be
together. The fact is that same-sex marriage in this country is largely
illegal at this time. And we do try to match people for marriage, so that's
one issue for us.

The other issue--I'm not--I don't try to sneak away from it. It's the biggest
political, the most contentious kind of question in America right now. And,
you know, I have come up through the Christian side, I have a great amount of
experience in all of that. And given the fact that we don't know much about
it, and given the fact that it's so inflammatory on both sides, we've tried to
steer clear of it.

But at the same time, I've done this: I had some people come to me who were
actually gays, and they wanted to know how I would advise--that they try to
build a site to do a good job. And I spent a lot of time with them talking
about the need for research, the need to look at what really does work for
gays and lesbians in terms of the couples and how you develop research
instruments that will help them to do that job well. And I've tried to be
helpful in those ways, but we've taken the position that right now we don't
choose to do that.

GROSS: My guest is Dr. Neil Clark Warren, founder of the Internet match site
eHarmony. We'll talk more after a break.

This is FRESH AIR.

(Soundbite of music)

GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Dr. Neil Clark Warren. He's a
clinical psychologist who founded, which is one of the most
successful dating sites on the Internet.

Well, let's move on. I'm interested in hearing a kind of overview of the
process you use at eHarmony. I know you have a very elaborate questionnaire,
over 400 questions. We'll get to some of the specific questions in a minute,
but just give us a sense of the process.

Dr. WARREN: So what we did, Terry, was we took 5,000 married people and we
ended up with 2,000 married couples because about a thousand of the people
didn't get their spouse to fill out all of our questionnaires. And we ended
up with four groups of 500 married people each--married couples each. And the
top group was--they were just wonderfully happy with one another. The next
group was pretty happy, but they had some issues. And then we had a group
that wasn't so happy but it wasn't horrible. And then the bottom group was
what we called the very disappointed people. And we began to look at what
variables differentiate really happily married people from really disappointed
people. And we ended up with these 29 what we call dimensions. And these 29
dimensions vary all the way from intellect to curiosity to emotional health
and so forth. So when we planned our questionnaire for the eHarmony site, we
ended up with 436 questions, all of which relate to one or more of the 29

GROSS: I didn't fill out the questionnaire, but I looked at some of the
questions, and I realized, I have trouble with questionnaires and there were
so many questions on it.

Dr. WARREN: Yeah.

GROSS: I have no idea how to rate myself. Like, am I warm? Am I clever,
dominant, sensual, charming, patient, introverted, aloof, gregarious?

Dr. WARREN: Yeah.

GROSS: And, you know, what you think of yourself isn't necessarily what
somebody else thinks of you.

Dr. WARREN: Uh-huh.

GROSS: And that made me just wonder a lot, like, if I had to, on a scale of
one to seven, write how clever or warm or sensual I was, I would have no idea
what to say. And a lot of people who think they're really clever aren't so

Dr. WARREN: Yeah.

GROSS: So how do you deal with the amount of subjectivity that it takes to
actually answer some of this stuff?

Dr. WARREN: Well, you know, that's a very good point actually. I believe
that most people have a better idea of what their attributes and their defects
are than anybody else does. That doesn't mean that their own idea is always
perfect or whatever. We do look at whether people tend to take advantage of a
questionnaire like that. We look to see whether or not there's lying. We
have a 19-item lie scale built into the questionnaire, and basically what this
is about is whether or not they seem to be looking at things way too
rosily--if that's a word. And, you know, we've asked over a million people
who got started on our service not to continue because they have this problem
or that. We have, like, four or five things that we look for. And we're
really trying to determine that people have a pretty good sense of themselves.
They answer the same questions the same way over an hour's long
questionnaire-taking session. And we also look to see whether or not they
regularly answer questions quite differently from everybody else who's like

GROSS: Your eHarmony dating Web site really took off after you were a guest a
few years ago on "Focus on the Family," a Christian radio show which is hosted
by James Dobson, who's considered one of the most powerful people in the
religious right. And so that really spread the word around. The site really
took off and from what I've read it sounded like early on you were marketing
primarily to Christians and the marketing included the phrase `based on the
Christian principles of "Focus on the Family" author Dr. Neil Clark Warren.'
A few of your books were published by "Focus on the Family," but then you kind
of separated from "Focus on the Family." You bought the rights to your book
back. What changed?

Dr. WARREN: I'm sort of heartbroken about some of that change because it
didn't come out of anything other than just misunderstanding. I have a long
history, you know, in the evangelical community and I was the dean of a
graduate school at Fuller Theological Seminary, a graduate school in
psychology. And I was on "Focus on the Family" 17 times in 1997. I mean,
James Dobson is a person I greatly admire and appreciate, and no question that
he did more to help us get started than any other single person. He has a
radio program that reaches, I don't know, several million people. And he let
us bring 10 of our couples on who had gotten matched and had become married on
eHarmony. And when we did that, we got 100,000 new people registering for our

We got into a little bit of a problem when "Focus on the Family" became so
politically known and it was such a specific set of principles, many of which
I'm very supportive of. But just to have "Focus on the Family" across the top
of my book, a lot of people just thought that meant that we were only trying
to reach that audience or that we would come with a kind of what I would call
an evangelistic approach to anybody who wasn't in that audience, and that
wasn't true.

GROSS: As a Christian, how do you feel knowing that people who you match
through your Web site are--a lot of them are likely to have premarital sex?
Does that bother you that you're kind of enabling people to do that?

Dr. WARREN: No. The reason I'm--I have a concern about premarital sex is
because when people get so physiologically attached to one another, they have
a way of not seeing a lot of the factors in their marriages. I should tell
you that, in my opinion, I've done 512 divorce autopsies. And that's an
effort to understand why did this marriage die? And in about 75 percent of
those cases, the wrong person married the wrong person. And sometimes--and
actually fairly often, people got so turned on to each other on the front end
that they just overlooked all the differences and the difficulties and the
problems in the marriage and so they went ahead and got married.

GROSS: In your divorce autopsies, did you see the opposite of what you're
describing happen where--and by that I mean that, you know, couples abstained
from having sex until they were married but they got married so they didn't
have to abstain anymore and after getting married and engaging in physical
relations they finally realized oops, not compatible there?

Dr. WARREN: Yeah, you know, I have a great amount of empathy for that
position. You see, you know that two or three studies now by Barna &
Associates have shown that Evangelical Christians have a divorce rate that's
as high as atheists and agnostics. That's really sad to me. I mean,
it's--and oftentimes it's because people get married too soon through the
Bible belt and other places where Evangelical Christians tend to be a little
more plentiful. And the reason they get married too soon is because they want
to be sexually involved and they think that premarital sex is wrong. And so
they go ahead and get married in order to have sex and then marriage doesn't
work out. I mean, that's a tragic consequence to a good intention.

But I say to people, boy, I would tell you that this business of marrying
somebody, take your time on it. It's often necessary for people to spend a
couple of years courting one another. And before they really know--I say the
first year is all about romance. It's all about the thrill of the thing. And
the second year tends to be quite a bit more about the facts and about what is
really true. If you wait into the second year to make a determination about
marriage, we know from some of our own studies that you just have a much
better chance of making an accurate prediction of the right person for you.

GROSS: How did you meet your wife?

Dr. WARREN: You know, I met Marilyn at Pepperdine University. Actually I
didn't go with her there. I'm sort of embarrassed to tell this story, but
it's true. I went back to Princeton Seminary, and I took as a passenger a guy
who had been going with Marilyn when he was at Pepperdine, and she had just
broken up with him. He told me all the way back to Princeton what a fabulous
person she was. I could hardly wait to get back to Princeton and give her a
call. And so we got married in my third year at Princeton and most of the...

GROSS: How'd you introduce yourself? I met this guy who was dating you and
said you were great?

Dr. WARREN: No, actually I met her back at Pepperdine when I was there. I
was two years ahead of her in school. I was actually engaged to a girl who
was in the same sorority that Marilyn was in. So I knew Marilyn a little bit,
but--and I'd always admired her. She got into Pepperdine as a probationary
student and she graduated with an award of the top graduating student. And
she knew my record. I had been student body president at Pepperdine and so we
knew quite a bit about each other, probably not enough to have made as serious
a decision as we made, but it's worked out well.

But I will say this, that I think that a lot of people need more information
about the other person than they can pick up in a short amount of time. And
I kind of got that with Marilyn. I had a lot of information about her, even
though I wasn't going with her, that helped me make a good decision.

GROSS: Do you think that your dating Web site, eHarmony, would have matched
you and your wife together?

Dr. WARREN: Yes, it would have, and--but, you know, I--Marilyn and I have two
totally different political persuasions. I get a kick out of that. I've--the
only way I can deal with that myself is to say I am so happy to have a wife
that thinks for herself. That's real important to me. But across a broad
base of these 29 dimensions, it's really joyful for us that we have
compatibility. But I tell you, Terry, I take no--you know, the only thing I
knew is I was supposed to be taller than she was.

GROSS: Dr. Warren, thank you very much for talking with us.

Dr. WARREN: Well, you know, I can't--it's been a long time since I've
enjoyed an hour this much during which I also had a lot of anxiety.

GROSS: Dr. Neil Clark Warren is the founder of the Internet match site
eHarmony. I'm Terry Gross and this is FRESH AIR.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Interview: Yaacov and Sue Deyo discuss speed dating

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

Lots of couples who met through speed dating probably don't realize that it
was co-founded by a rabbi with several of his single students as a way for the
students to meet Jewish mates. My guests are co-founder Rabbi Yaacov Deyo and
his wife, Sue; she now runs the speed dating program. Here's an example of
how it works. Let's say there are 10 men and 10 women. Each of the women is
seated at a private table. The men rotate, spending about seven minutes at
each table, during which the man and woman talk, size each other up and decide
whether they want to see each other again. Secular versions of speed dating
have caught on around the world. There's been speed dating scenes in several
movies, including "Hitch" and the new film "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," and TV
shows like "Sex and the City."

(Soundbite of "Sex and the City")

Unidentified Woman: For Miranda, the only thing worse than being Charlotte's
34-year-old bridesmaid was being a 34-year-old bridesmaid without a date.
With the wedding less than a week away, Miranda fell prey to the siren song of
a New York singles event...

(Soundbite of bell)

Unidentified Woman: ...multidating. $20 bought you seven mini dates, each
eight minutes long, which, incidentally, is about as long as most blind dates
should be.

Ms. CYNTHIA NIXON: (As Miranda Hobbes) Hi, I'm Miranda Hobbes.

Mr. JOE LA PIANA: (As Dwight Owens) Dwight Owens, private wealth group at
Morgan Stanley, investment management for high-net-worth individuals and a
couple of pension plans. Like my job, been there five years. Divorced, no
kids, and not religious. I live in New Jersey, speak French and Portuguese,
Wharton Business School. Any of this appealing to you?

Ms. NIXON: (As Miranda) Sure. Portuguese, that's impressive.

Mr. LA PIANA: (As Dwight) (Portuguese spoken) What about you, Mandy?

Ms. NIXON: (As Miranda) Miranda. I'm a lawyer at a midsized firm. Actually,
I was recently made partner.

(Soundbite of bell)

Ms. NIXON: (As Miranda) I'm a lawyer.

(Soundbite of bell)

Ms. NIXON: (As Miranda) I'm a lawyer. I went to Harvard Law School.

(Soundbite of bell)

Ms. NIXON: (As Miranda) I'm a stewardess.

Unidentified Man #1: Really?

(Soundbite of bell)

GROSS: You'll notice that the expression `speed dating' wasn't used in that
scene and, in fact, the scene violated two of the rules of official speed
dating; you're not supposed to talk about your job or where you live. I asked
Rabbi Deyo why not; those are pretty essential to who we are.

Rabbi YAACOV DEYO (Co-founder of Speed Dating Group): Well, I have to say I
think that that's fair. I have no doubt that at some point, if the date is
successful, the speed dating date, that those issues will come up later on,
you know, within the next date, the next formal date they have, or third or
fourth date. All those things will be taken care of. Unfortunately, to kind
of put all those issues at the front end often can color a person's
presentation of themselves and make it very sterile, 'cause everyone kind of
just goes into a spiel, `Well, I work here and I do this. This is what I do,'
etc. We're always talking about what we do. I find that if you don't do that
or, more interestingly, if you can't do that, it makes people's conversations
very fresh. `Oh, my gosh, like, what do I talk about? I can't talk about
what I do for a living or where I live, and, wow, all of a sudden I have to
describe me.' I found that, with a time frame, seven minutes, was just a very
fun, colorful experience for people.

GROSS: How'd you come up with seven minutes as the time frame?

Rabbi DEYO: Well, we started with 10 because it was just a lot easier on the
clock guy, and then we had a grogger as, like, the bell. But we found that it
just wasn't--it was just too much time. You can get a sense within a few
moments of conversation and the sparkle in the eye and the level of interest,
some of the body language and some of the personality of a person; `Do you
know what? This is not the right fit.' Pretty much, you can kind of sense,
`You know what? I'm not sure this is a good fit for me.' And so five or
seven minutes is more than enough to say if it's worth a try, you know, it's
worth looking at further. And that's all we ask of people. We don't ask them
to get married after seven minutes. We just ask that--`Is this worth pursuing
in a more formal date,' that's all. Yes or no?

GROSS: OK, so you got seven minutes with everybody who is participating in
this, with every--and then what? You--how do you--yeah.

Rabbi DEYO: Well, everyone has, like, a little Victorian dance card type
thing with all these boxes on it. And you, you know, cover that up as you
date, and then at the end, the question is in the box, `Well, would you like
to date this person again, yes or no?' Each person answers yes or no to that
question. If it's a mutual match, then we, the organizers, set them up and
say, `Congratulations, you matched with Sherry No. 2.' And that...

Mrs. SUE DEYO (Dating Coach): And I think this is a part of speed dating that
people enjoy, which is that there is a degree of anonymity. So the two people
dating, they don't tell each other whether or not they want to see one another
again. They each write on their card whether they want to have another date,
and if there's a mutual match, then a third party lets them know.

Rabbi DEYO: Right. So neither will know if the other one said no. You don't
have that.

GROSS: And that means you're not in a position of insulting somebody to their
face or rejecting them...

Rabbi DEYO: A hundred percent. So...

GROSS: ...or being rejected in the presence of the person, yeah.

Rabbi DEYO: Exactly, which is far levels of sensitivity above bars and clubs
and things like that.

GROSS: So when you run these events, is it still--are the events that you run
exclusively for Jewish people?

Rabbi DEYO: We do, yes. We've had lots of contact, interaction with groups
and people who wanted to do it outside of the Jewish people, and that's OK. I
mean, that's--I'm not going to block off this concept.

Mrs. DEYO: Right. We made a decision early on that we wanted to focus on the
Jewish population, and if there were other groups that wanted to offer
round-robin dating, you know, either as a for-profit or for different minority
groups, we were thrilled that this concept was helping them.

Rabbi DEYO: Right.

GROSS: But in your groups, what about if you're lesbian or gay?

Rabbi DEYO: Well, I don't know--we don't have questions about whether
someone--you know, who they are beyond, you know, if they've self-identified
as someone who's Jewish. We haven't had people come to us, ask us to run
events like that. And I think that generally amongst the Jewish singles we've
been dealing--we just haven't had that interaction. You know, it doesn't mean
that there aren't people out there who might prefer those kinds of events, but
we haven't had the call to run them or the interest on our part.

Mrs. DEYO: And, I mean, our goal is to help Jews meet other Jews for the
purpose of marriage and, you know, that--we've stayed pretty much to that.

GROSS: How did you both meet? How long have you been married?

Rabbi DEYO: Well, we met about 11 years ago--maybe--What?--12 years ago now.
And I was an intern in Los Angeles for ...(unintelligible) doing some
teaching, and I was to meet my wife at the synagogue to answer some of her
questions. And I took a left on a yellow in an old Volvo, and I got hit in
the side, the back right, and the police came and everything. And it was a
very surreal experience right from that, 'cause I had just come from Jerusalem
after a number of years studying, and I was in the US. It's like the biggest

And at that point, the officer came over--and I think his name was, like, Mr.
Broadstreet. Sue ran over, 'cause she was on the street corner, and she
said--started talking. The officer said, `You know, I think that you should
listen to your wife,' 'cause Sue had been describing how I shouldn't
acknowledge that I--it was necessarily my fault; I had ...(unintelligible) to
say anything. And I said, `No, I took a left on a yellow. That's what I
did.' And the officer said, `Oh, he's already admitted it,' back and forth,
and the officer sort of took me aside, he said, `I think you should listen to
your wife.' And I'm like, `Gosh, he's talking about Sue; I had just met her.
This is my wife?' I mean--yeah.

GROSS: So, Sue, why did you intervene after that auto accident?

Mrs. DEYO: Oh, well, OK, we had actually been set up by a very good friend of
ours, Dick Horowitz, and I was waiting for him and I witnessed the accident.

GROSS: Oh. Oh.

Mrs. DEYO: And I was...

Rabbi DEYO: Well, not set up on a date. We were set up just to meet.

Mrs. DEYO: Yeah. I was positive that the light was red and that it wasn't
Yaacov's fault. So when I heard him say, `Well, you know, maybe I did take a
left on a yellow,' I was like, this is Los Angeles, you don't, like, `Maybe
I'm guilty.' You just keep your mouth shut. So I was trying to, you know,
educate him, like it was unclear whether it was yellow or red, so if it was
for sure yellow, then that's what he should have said, and--well, that was a
very interesting time.

Rabbi DEYO: But she pulled out her card, 'cause the officer said, `You should
call your insurance company.' And I said, `Well, it's a friend's car. I
think it's 20th something.' So my wife said, `Well, that's 20th Century. I
have a card right here.' So she wrote down--took out a business card of hers
and she wrote down the insurance company's number, and then I watched her--and
then she took her pen and she scratched out her own number, and I wondered,
well, why would she do that? That sounds very strange. But I guess she'd
seen this man in an accident and not necessarily functioning too well in
society, and so any chance he might call her she wanted to remove.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mrs. DEYO: I wasn't so interested in Yaacov the first time we met.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Rabbi DEYO: I...

Mrs. DEYO: I didn't want him to think I was, like, giving him my number, you

(Soundbite of laughter)

Rabbi DEYO: You know...

Mrs. DEYO: It wasn't until a year later that we actually went out on a date.

Rabbi DEYO: Yeah, in Jerusalem, it was a home game ...(unintelligible).

GROSS: So--wait, wait, wait, no, that means you might have rejected him on
speed dating.

Rabbi DEYO: Oh, look at that. She's got you, Sue.

Mrs. DEYO: Oh, I'll tell you, the truth is--the truth is if I'd met him on
speed dating, I never would have rejected him, because when we actually sat
down--see, the way observant people meet has some correlation to speed

Rabbi DEYO: Right.

Mrs. DEYO: ...which is that two people meet and talk...

Rabbi DEYO: That's it.

Mrs. DEYO: ...and that's all they do. They go to a restaurant or a hotel
lobby and they have a conversation. And when I actually sat down with my
husband for the first time and had a conversation, I was like, `Wow!'

GROSS: What do you find some of the most interesting, amusing or irritating
versions of speed dating that you've seen crop up around the country or other

Rabbi DEYO: Well, the most surreal I found was when I caught a talk show on
TV just walking by an airport lounge, and this woman was on who was describing
this new form of dating that she had invented...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Rabbi DEYO: ...and that she was reading--she was quoting very well, and I
recognized the words; they were words that I had written on a pamphlet. And
to hear...

Mrs. DEYO: And that are on our Web site.

Rabbi DEYO: They're on our Web--to hear her say that was just--that was very,
very curious. And then to see in The Wall Street Journal that the government
of Singapore had taken on the concept as a way to help Singaporeans and their
declining birthrates meet Singaporeans. This is front-page.

GROSS: I want to thank you both very much for talking with us.

Rabbi DEYO: Terry, thank you very, very much. I very much appreciate, you
know, the consideration and the questions you've asked.

GROSS: Rabbi Yaacov Deyo co-created speed dating. Sue Deyo now runs the

(Soundbite of "That Old Black Magic")

Mr. MICKEY KATZ: (Singing) Oh, that old black smidgick has me in its spell,
that old black smidgick that you (Yiddish sung) so well. Those (Yiddish sung)
going down my spine, the same old (Yiddish sung) when your eyes meet mine.
The same old (Yiddish sung) that I feel inside, and then they're elevated
(Yiddish sung). And down and down it (Yiddish sung)--oy vay! To tell you the
truth (Yiddish sung). I could (Yiddish sung). I hear you (Yiddish sung).
It's (Yiddish sung) hellish fire, and only your (Yiddish sung) can satisfy my
(Yiddish sung). Oh, you're the lover (Yiddish sung). I'm very bubeleh but
tell me, who is the (Yiddish sung)? And every time your lips meet mine,
darling, down and down (Yiddish sung).

GROSS: That's Mickey Katz doing his Yiddish parody of "That Old Black Magic."
Coming up, recommendations for summer reading. This is FRESH AIR.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Review: Options for summer reading

The phrase `summer reading' conjures up a beach chair, a tall, cold drink and
a relaxed reader with a good thick book in her hands. But book critic Maureen
Corrigan has been reading frantically into the night to catch up on all the
books she meant to get to this summer.


I remember an old John Updike essay in The New Yorker in which he declared
that the magic of summer was basically over by July 4th. The days begin
getting shorter, the ads for back-to-school gear start appearing and by
August, all that's left of summer's bright green promise wilts.

I thought about that essay last week as I faced the pile of books and back
issues of The New Yorker I'd meant to get to this summer. The pile was only
growing bigger and summer catch-up time was only getting shorter. And so I
dove in and chose these three books.

The first choice was, for me, a no-brainer, David McCullough's recently
published narrative history, "1776." Whenever I have the time to read for
pleasure, I like to read American history, especially books about the American
Revolution. Of course, some academic historians have complained that
McCullough's books, like this one and earlier blockbusters like "Truman" and
"John Adams," are themselves no-brainers, feel-good tales of great men
triumphing over adversity, heavy on myth-making and light on complexity.

Unlike so many academic historians, McCullough really knows how to tell a
story. The problem is, he tells it so seamlessly that enthralled readers come
away believing that his is the only possible version of events. In terms of
the elegance and sheer thrill factor of its narrative, "1776" is another
winner for McCullough. I'll confess, it's the one book I've read so far this
summer that I couldn't put down. McCullough follows George Washington and the
Continental Army through the months of 1776 when, as he says, `the fate of the
American cause hung on the chance that its ragged citizen soldiers could
prevail against the far superior professional forces of the British.'

To his credit, McCullough presents Washington not as a man of steel but as a
sometimes indecisive and privately despairing leader. His great strengths,
according to McCullough, were his realistic appraisal of circumstances and his
tenacity. In command of soldiers who frequently turned tail and ran in the
heat of battle, Washington philosophically wrote, `We must make the best of
mankind as they are since we cannot have them as we wish.'

So carried away was I by "1776" that after reading it I led my family on a
forced march to Washington's house, Mt. Vernon, to pay homage. But while I
was in the bookstore there, I bought Marcus Cunliffe's classic 1958
biographical essay on Washington to read along with some still-unread books on
the Revolution I own by some of its finest scholars, books like Gordon S.
Woods' "Short Modern Library History of the American Revolution(ph)" and David
Hackett Fischer's "Washington's Crossing." I think that's the best way to
treat McCullough, let his inspired storytelling carry you away into other
books on the same period.

Elinor Fuchs describes an extreme test of character and fortitude of another
sort in her memoir "Making an Exit." The book is subtitled "A Mother-Daughter
Drama With Alzheimer's, Machine Tools and Laughter," which should give you a
sense of the offbeat perspective through with Fuchs views her nine-year trial
of caring for her elderly mother, Lillian.

When Lillian was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, Fuchs, who had never been close
to her mother, became her intimate caregiver, and she describes forthrightly
the maternal tenderness she develops for Lillian, as well as the revulsion she
feels toward her diapered and demanding body. Here's Fuchs riffing on the
concept of assisted living at the facility her mother stays in for a while.

(Reading) `The facility has full food service, a nurse on duty 24 hours,
laundry and housekeeping services, but that's nothing. Mother can't find her
way from the seventh floor to the first without assistance, can't dress
without assistance, can't go to bed without assistance, can't make pee-pee
without assistance. So in addition to the 24-hour everything, mother has two
nurses splitting the weekday job. Plus, she has me and she has her brother,
Ed, who stops in at least twice a week. Everyone is exhausted. Now there's
assisted living for you.'

Fuchs may have been worn out from the years of caring for her mother, but her
appreciation for the tragically absurd remains undimmed.

Finally, a Sue Miller novel is for me the quintessence of summer reading. Her
stories about families on the verge of imploding are always keenly observed
and smart. Plus, there's Miller's delicious descriptions of the surfaces of
everyday life and what they mask. "Lost in the Forest," her latest book, is
set in Northern California, so there's lots here about old restored houses and
the smell of herbs and good wine.

The novel opens with a jolt, the sudden death of a youngish husband and
parent. But as always with Miller, it's the long-term fallout of a tragedy
that absorbs her attention. Washington crossing the Delaware in snow and
freezing rain it's not, but in its own fictional way, "Lost in the Forest"
tells a charged story of small heroics, betrayals and strategic emotional

GROSS: Maureen Corrigan teaches literature at Georgetown University. She
talked about "1776" by David McCullough, "Making an Exit" by Elinor Fuchs and
"Lost in the Woods" by Sue Miller.

Coming up, Terry Gross. This is FRESH AIR.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Interview: Singer Scott Yoho discusses the song he wrote "Terry
Gross" as a ploy to get on the show

You know, here on FRESH AIR, we strive to bring you in-depth interviews with
leading figures in the arts, culture and current affairs. What you may not
know is that to get on our show, many guests use bribes, favors and flattery.
And not only do we accept this, we encourage it. Some of our most famous and
fascinating guests would have never been on FRESH AIR if they hadn't gone to
extraordinary lengths to curry our favor. John Updike lets us hang out in his
pool. Bootsy Collins knit every member of our staff a monogrammed sweater.
Martin Scorsese promised me a part in "Taxi Driver 2" and Gene Simmons gave
the whole staff makeovers. Going above and beyond the spirit of these honored
figures, our guest, Scott Yoho, actually incorporated us--well, mostly
me--into his work itself. Here's his band, The Auto Body Experience,
performing what is sure to be their hit song "Terry Gross."

(Soundbite of "Terry Gross")

Mr. SCOTT YOHO: (Singing) I may never grace the cover of the Rolling Stone,
but that may be all right with me, to go some place that Axl Rose has been
before may not be wise hygienically. I may never get on "Leno" or on
"Letterman," might not sing on "SNL." That's a lot of pressure just to play
a song or two, perhaps it's just as well. But there's one perk of stardom I
desire, to meet the interviewer I admire. Terry Gross, you are the one I'll
tell my secrets just to you. Terry, please pick up the phone, call me for
that interview.

Your guests phone in with parts from hometown...

GROSS: Well, Scott Yoho, was writing this song a cynical ploy to get on our

Mr. YOHO: Absolutely.

GROSS: And it worked. What does that say about us? What does it say?

Mr. YOHO: That's what makes this country so great.

GROSS: So what's the story behind the song?

Mr. YOHO: I think that the original inspiration for this song was a Randy
Newman song "It's the Money That Matters." And in that song, there's a great
Randy Newman character who believes that money is really all that matters.
And he sort of pities people that, you know, started out with better education
and better brains than him and just didn't end up with as much money. And he
says they end up lurking in bookstores and working for public radio. And I
love this character in this song and I thought, `The people that like our
music are those people. They're not the protagonist of Randy's song.' And so
I set out, how can I reach the people that listen to public radio? And I
thought, `Let's write a song. Let's follow the Doctor Hook & the Medicine
Show model and write a song about Terry Gross for Terry Gross.' And it seemed
like such a cornball idea at first, but it became a fun challenge to try to
make it ostensibly about Terry Gross but maybe upon a second listen, about my
anxieties about the world of pop music or something.

GROSS: And your anxieties about ever becoming known?

Mr. YOHO: Well, you know, boy, it would be really stressful to play on
"Saturday Night Live," you know. But, you know, in contrast to be on FRESH
AIR is fabulous. You know, if I stammer, your team of experts will edit that
out. I don't have to worry about how my hair looks, you know, so a lot of the
praise about FRESH AIR is real. I mean, I think what a cool thing. It's
almost like it's set up for introverts to excel at.

GROSS: You know, you should know that our researcher particularly likes the
line in your song that goes, `I think your research staff's the best'; whereas
our producers I think particularly like, `You edit out the stammers and
foolish mistakes.' You've managed to include a lot of people in the song.

Mr. YOHO: And not only that, I also befriended the--Joe Forrester, who
wrote the FRESH AIR theme, just to make sure it was OK that we quoted a little
bit of his piece in the song. So he's rooting in my corner, too. So we tried
to leave no stone unturned.

GROSS: Tell me a little bit about your band. What else do you do besides,
you know, praise our show?

Mr. YOHO: The Auto Body Experience is a seven-piece band. I'm very fortunate
to have six guys play with me that are just fabulous musicians and people.
It's a horn-driven rock band with saxophone, trumpet, guitar, bass, keyboards,
drums and percussion. And we play the funny songs that I write. And I
hesitate on funny 'cause everything has kind of a sense of humor coming
through it, but they're not all silly, wacky tunes. We try to explore pathos
as well as humor. And the thing that kind of binds them all together is
they're a little left of center, just not quite normal.

GROSS: The song ends with your confession that you've also written songs for
Ira Glass, Michael Feldman and for Prairie Home Companion. Did they have you
on their shows?

Mr. YOHO: No, they didn't. Terry, I have to confess that that was just kind
of a ploy to make it sound like you had to be the first one. I haven't
actually gotten around to finishing any of those other songs.

GROSS: Oh, really. OK. All right. All right.

Mr. YOHO: Because yours was the most important to me and the dearest--nearest
to my heart.

GROSS: We'll accept that as the correct answer. So what else do you plan to
do to make your song "Terry Gross" a hit?

Mr. YOHO: Well, I'm hoping you'll consent to shooting a video with us.

GROSS: (Laughs) Scott, pleasure to talk with you. I wish you really good
luck, particularly with the song "Terry Gross."

Mr. YOHO: Oh, it's been my pleasure. Thank you so much, Terry.

GROSS: Scott Yoho is the lead singer and songwriter of the band The Auto Body

(Soundbite of "Terry Gross")

Mr. YOHO: (Singing) You edit out our stammers and foolish mistakes,
improving life, condensing the years, making it interesting, fitting it all
between breaks. There's just one perk of stardom I desire, to meet the
interviewer I admire. Terry Gross, you are the one I'll tell my secrets just
to you. Terry, I hope you don't mind, I've got a Prairie Home song, one for
Michael Feldman, got an Ira Glass song, too.


GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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