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The Moth would like to thank our donors and sponsors for their generous support, with your help, we're able to continue our work virtually producing storytelling workshops and resources for students, educators and community organizations. Your support also allows us to continue to share stories through our radio, our podcast and our virtual shows, furthering our mission of building empathy in the world. One story at a time from the entire mothe community.


We thank you. From PUREX, this is the Moth Radio Hour. I'm Sarah Austin. Janez this hour has four stories that explore the real you.


An introvert meets an extrovert at a bar. Long held religious beliefs are challenged.


A dream job is in jeopardy after a diagnosis. And what happens when there's another you a digital robot version of you? Well, our first storyteller, Jon Ronson, will tell us all about that. Here's Jon live with The Moth. This story starts like a lot of great stories do with me accidentally typing my name into Google.


And inadvertently pressing search and I discovered that there was another Jon Ronson on Twitter and his Twitter name was Jon Underscore Ronson, and his picture is a picture of my face. And as I looked and surprised at his timeline, he tweeted, Going home, got to get the recipe for a huge plate of muscle. And Guana in a battle with mayonnaise. Hashtag Yamey.


Who are you? I tweeted a. Watching Seinfeld would love a delicious plate of lemon grass to hashtag foody, he wrote, I didn't know what to do.


The next morning I checked the other John Rumson's Twitter feed before I checked my own in the night, he tweeted, I'm dreaming something about time and cock.


He had 20 followers. Some of them were people that I knew from real life.


Who were presumably wondering why I suddenly become so passionate about fusion cooking. And also candid about dreaming about cock. So I did some digging and I discovered that it was a spambot created by an academic from the University of Warwick called Look Robert Mason, and I thought, Oh, this is fine, I'll email him and I'll tell him that I don't like the spam button. He will take it down. So I emailed him and I said, I'm sorry.


Can you take down your spambot, please? And he emailed back, we prefer the term info Morfe to spambot. So I wrote, but it's taken my identity and he replied the info.


Morfe isn't taking your identity. It is repurposing social media data into an informal fake aesthetic.


I felt a tightness in my chest.


I was at war with a robot version of myself, a month passed, and the other Johnson was tweeting about 30 times a day about his Suarez, the other journalist and I should say, was having a much better life than I was having in the entire period.


I was only invited to one thing that would be called a suara. And as I turned up, the host said to me, Would you like some potato chips? And I said, No, thank you. I'm going to have cereal when I get home. So I saw the corner of my eye. My my wife was glaring at me and mouthing something. And I said, what? And she mouthed, Be more general.


Your small talk may it more, general. It was just basic small talk as far as I understand the concept.


Anyway, I emailed Robert Mason and I said, well, if you won't take down your spambot, maybe we can meet and I can film the encounter and put it onto YouTube and you can explain your reasons for creating the spambot. And I can explain why I don't like the spambot. And he wrote about to say, we would very much like to beat you to explain our reasons behind the info. Morfe And I said, that's great. I'm very much looking forward to hearing your reasons behind the spambot.


So I rented a room in central London and three of them turned up and they were all academics, and I asked them all to sit in a in a row on a sofa so I could film them all in a single shot. And one of them said, OK, we'll play along, but we know what you're doing. It's a form of psychological control. And I said it and he said, I do it to my students. I sit them in a row and I sit in a chair separately.


And I said, why would you want to psychologically control your students? And he looked briefly worried that I'd caught him saying something eerie. And he said it's about controlling the learning environment. And I said, but I'm not trying to psychologically control you.


But actually now I think back and I think I kind of was anyway. So he said, do you want to go through the London phone book and tell everybody in the phone book called Jon Ronson that they're not allowed to be called Jon Ronson? And I said no, because those people aren't called journalists and because of me, whereas you're calling the Spambot journalist and because of me.


And he said, well, you're proposing yourself as the real Jon Ronson and we feel annoyed with you because.


We feel that what you're really doing is brand management, and I said, let's just be tweeting.


And I said, my problem is that, you know, if it was like porn or fraud, it would be OK.


But this is it's plausible and it's an idiot. And it's and it's like a misrepresentation of me. And he said, would you like it to be more like you? And I said, no, I'd like it to not exist. And he said, well, I find that disturbing because you want to kill these algorithms, you must feel threatened in some way.


So I said, you're a troll. And I staggered out into the London afternoon and I dreaded uploading the footage because I'd been so screechy and I didn't want YouTube comments mocking my screeching this.


So but I posted it and I left at ten minutes and then with some apprehension, I had a look and the first comment said, these people should respect John's personal liberty. And I thought, wow.


And then the second comment said, vile, disturbing idiots playing with a man's hurt and anger and then laughing at his pain.


And I nodded soberly. And then the third comment said, break them, fuck them, destroy them.


And I was I was giddy with joy.


I was I was like Braveheart wandering through a field at first alone. And then I realized that hundreds marching behind me. And then the next comment said, if I could see these people face to face, I would say that they are pricks. The cunt in the middle is a fucking psychopath. And I thought, I hope nobody is going to actually hurt them, and then the next message said Gaston. And I won, the academics were shamed into acquiescence, and it was like their public shaming had set factory bestor button and everything went back to normal.


And it was a wonderful feeling, the feeling of victory. I felt like I felt I felt overwhelmed with this good feeling, like a sedative.


And they shut down the spambot and they made a big deal out of it. They tweeted it and said, you know, I'm afraid that we're going to have to close you down. How do you know what that means? And then I said, you only have a few hours left. I hope you I hope you choose how to spend them wisely. I hope you had a happy life. And I just turned it off. Jesus.


And it felt great to be victorious, but as I stood over the corpse of the spambot, I suddenly thought to myself.


Were we doing to them what they were doing to me? Were we turning them into something that wasn't quite human?


And then I thought, were we the people in the lithographs being Ribeau to whippings?


And then I thought maybe what's going on here is that there's an escalation in the war on human flaws.


And we're soldiers in that war because we just don't like it when somebody is not normal.


And then I was thinking, well, maybe what we're saying here is that we are normal and this is the average, maybe what we're doing is defining the boundaries of normality by becoming furious and tearing apart the people outside of it. Thank you. That was John Ransom. John is a journalist, screenwriter and author whose works include The Men Who Stare at Goats. And so you've been publicly shamed where a longer version of this story appears.


Thankfully, this info Morfe spambot is not annoying John any longer. John says it's dead. Well, it's frozen in time. It's old tweets are still there, but it's no longer active. And you can find the real Jon Ronson online if you typed his name into Google, just like he did.


For extras related to many of the stories you hear on the Moth Radio Hour, go to the Montag. When we come back, a hard working woman has a seizure while at her dream job and an introvert is sent a glass of wine at a bar from a bold Would-Be suitor.


The Moth Radio Hour is produced by Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and presented by the Public Radio Exchange Project's Doug.


This is the Moth Radio Hour from Prick's, I'm Sarah Austin Janez. We're sharing stories of challenged identities. Sometimes a medical diagnosis can change the way we see ourselves. When our next storyteller, Stour Warfalla, realized she was epileptic at the age of 17, she didn't let it stop her from achieving her dream of working in actuarial science. But the aftermath of one specific seizure that she talks about in this story changed her view of herself and the world. Here's the tower for work live at the mall.


I love numbers. I love how straightforward and direct they are. I love how one plus one equals to two and how two plus two, without a doubt equals to four.


And so when it was time for us to decide what we wanted to do in university, I knew for sure that I wanted to work with numbers.


So you can imagine my joy when I heard about something called actuarial science.


For those of you who do not know what that is, is this really amazing cause that has you spending your days doing things like calculus and probability and statistics? It's what insurance companies used to know, the mortality rates to tell you how much premium you need to pay. It's what governments use to know what areas to invest.


I mean, who wouldn't want to spend the rest of their lives doing that?


But just before I went to university, I was diagnosed with epilepsy and the doctor told me that I had to make sure I did three things it's well, slept well and never missed my medication.


So under the doctor's advice, I enrolled to do actuarial science at the University of Nairobi.


A few years into it, I was lucky enough to get an internship at an insurance company. I remember my first day there, I had a mismatched suit, but it was a suit nevertheless.


And the director's assistant was assigned to show me around.


And since we were almost the same age, we quickly clicked and made it a routine to come very early in the morning just to share our dreams and ambitions a few weeks into the job.


The company got a really big business deal, which meant all of us had to chip in. And we spent one Friday afternoon learning how to use these new fancy photocopying machine on Saturday morning when reported for duty. I got the honorable duty of working with a new photocopying machine.


I remember walking into the copier room, armed with a room of papers and a stack of files that I needed to photocopy. I opened the machine just to make sure it had enough papers as we had been structured the day before.


Then I woke up in the hospital. And the doctor told me that I have something called photosensitive epilepsy.


This is a type that is triggered by flashing lights and in my case with the beam from the photocopying machine.


And since I had a long history of epilepsy, the doctor said that there was no need for me to be admitted and that I should go home and get some rest. So I went home, got some rest, and was looking forward to Monday morning to redeem myself at the work place. On Monday morning, I went back to the office and the director's assistant told me that I had been given two weeks to get my rest.


I was really excited about this because here I was doing my dream job and I was working for a company that cared about my health. And so I went home and I did some research on these photosensitive epilepsy so that I could make sure it never happens in the workplace again.


And after the two weeks, I went back to work and the director's assistant told me that they'd given me two more weeks this time around, I wasn't as excited as I was before.


For some reason, deep within me, these two plus two was not adding up to four, and so in the evening after work hours, I called the director's assistant and they asked her if she had had anything about my case. And after a few minutes of silence in what was almost like a whisper.


She said to me. Setara. The director said that we cannot work with someone like you. This meant that they couldn't work with someone with a health condition like mine. And after a few more moments of silence, she said that he was thinking of telling the person who introduced me to this insurance company to break the news to me. I can't really recall how that phone conversation ended, I don't know, she hung up faster if I hanged up first, but I remember bursting out into tears.


And I cried because of the pain I felt that the director of this insurance company did not have the courage or the integrity to tell me to my face that I didn't have a job anymore. But he kept giving me two and two more weeks of.


But most of all, I cried because. I didn't ask for this. I just started falling down. And so after a few days of crying, I turned my tears into words and moved those words to a blog, and before I knew it, people living with epilepsy were coming to my blog for inspiration and information and support. And as the numbers grew, I started a hotline and they were able to get prompt support from me. I still love numbers.


I love the truth in them. I love the fact that numbers tell us things about people, and from the numbers I have interacted with, I see a future where people like me living with epilepsy increase in the workplace.


I also see a future where people working with us know that they can work with us and they can touch us. And don't look at this thing that we have and this thing that we have only puts us down for a little while. And after that we are able to rise up to contribute to the well-being of this amazing world that we live in.


That was Satava Warfalla, Sartore says she still loves the mathematical part of actuarial science for some time after this. She wanted to return to it, but now she calls it the one that got away. Satava lives in Kenya and her blog is called My Mind My Funk.


She describes herself as a nomadic mental health crusader. We met Totowa in a moth community storytelling workshop that we taught in Nairobi. And she says she uses the storytelling techniques learned at The Moth to spark conversations about mental health. Next up is a story from Maureen Freeman, she told it at a Milwaukee story slam where we partner with Wisconsin Public Radio and Radio Milwaukee. The theme was rules, and the story is about stepping out of your comfort zone. In fact, what you're about to hear is a recording of the first time Maureen had challenged herself to tell a story on stage.


Here's Maureen Freeman. OK, we're ready. OK, well, present moments being evidence to the contrary, I normally don't do this kind of thing, putting myself out there like this as a general rule, for me, it's just a reflection of reality.


Other roles of mine are guidelines that keep me in a good zone and still others mark where I should stretch beyond the limits of the norm. And all of them are why I'm here. So several months ago in Washington, D.C., where I'm from, after a long workday, I still had hanging over me this writing task that I needed to do. I've been avoiding it for weeks and my self-imposed deadline loomed. And I needed to think of some way to get myself to do this already.


And I came up with an idea I thought might work. I decided I would go to this really lovely bar downtown that I knew it was a lounge inside a beautiful hotel, and I would treat myself to a really nice glass of chardonnay. That was the carrot. The stick would be that I would be by myself at this bar. And the last thing I want is to be seen as putting myself out there alone in a bar.


Just the thought makes me queasy. But I could avoid this dreadful possibility if I kept myself busy with the writing task. So it was a good plan and it worked.


When the bartender slid toward me a full glass of chardonnay, I was ready with the writing pad on my lap and pen in my hands, and I put my head down and went right to it. And the words, the sentences, paragraphs just steadily filled the page. I scribbled extra notes outside the margins and the rules of grammar and usage didn't matter. Now I could apply them later. Sometimes I paused and took a few sips and then quickly resumed writing.


And as long as I was writing, it was as if I was kind of invisible to all the people around me, which was great.


So things were going well.


Several pages later, I was nearly finished. I looked at my glass and just a few swallows left. So the timing was perfect. I took one swallow and put the glass down and started on the final two paragraphs to go. And then something in the corner of my eye made me look up as the bartender slid toward me a full glass of chardonnay. And he said, This is from the gentleman at the end of the bar. And I was in a really good zone at that point that my first thought was that friends of mine must be here.


So I wonder who. So I was looking around to see and and I didn't recognize anyone.


And then it hit me to my horror that a stranger had sent me a drink while I'm sitting alone in a bar. I was mortified and kind of peeved because he had breached my invisibility and derailed my plan. And I think the bartender maybe noticed the stricken look on my face and maybe quickly or correctly guessed that I wasn't too good at this.


But he came back and kind of leaned over and said in a very helpful way, this is a nice thing, and which burst my little bubble of bitterness.


But still, I felt stranded outside my zone and I was clueless about the rules of this new situation I was in.


And I realized that, you know, for most people, this is not a big deal. But for me, it's practically an existential crisis.


You know, what's the protocol? Do I drink this? And if so, how much? And do I talk to him and if so, for how long?


You know, I want to guidelines and I had none.


So I just I let go and I took a blind leap. So after a more careful scan around the bar, I spotted him and he he looked over and is very friendly. Wave said, you know, yep, that was from me. So I smiled and waved back. He came over to introduce himself. I invited him to sit.


And then we we talked and we kept talking. And he told me later that he had recently given himself a new rule to be more social when an opportunity presented itself.


So he had just followed his rule and I had let go of mine. And here we were just to friendly people sitting and talking and talking and talking. And eventually we finished up and and left. We walked to the metro station together, same line, opposite directions.


And on the platform we exchanged goodnight. And business cards, and soon after we exchanged emails and text messages and phone calls at random hours of the day and night, but, you know, this story does not end as a tacky formula.


Romance would instead, I'd say we we quickly became like longtime friends. Besides, I live in Washington, D.C. and he's in New York City and pursuing a serious relationship. Long distance doesn't work as a general rule.


Thank you. That was Maureen Freeman, Maureen and the gentlemen in the story enjoyed a friendship for a few months, but eventually fell out of regular touch. Maureen is a director of communications and she says she still does some of her best work when alone and focused. But when she's not working, like many introverts, she's always open to adventures, both large and small.


When she read my email saying the story would be on the Moth Radio Hour, she was sitting on a train going through customs at the Mongolia Russia border, and she responded, I've been to 15 countries since telling this story. And I met some wonderful people, but absolutely none of them in a bar. Testing your own personal limits can lead to adventure, and our story after the break takes this idea even further by exploring a life where the storyteller says only yes.


The Moth Radio Hour is produced by Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and presented by the Public Radio Exchange PUREX Doug.


You're listening to The Moth Radio Hour from PUREX, I'm Sarah Austin. Janez this hour explores stories of how our personalities evolve. And in this last story, Ella Baker's faith and belief system are put to the test. Ella told the story back in 2006 at a night called Cat Out of Bag Stories of Confessions. Here's Ella Baker live at The Magic. So I'm twenty seven years old and I've never had sex, I also don't drink, I don't smoke, I don't do drugs and I don't drink coffee.


I'm Mormon. Yeah.


And, you know, it's hard being Mormon in New York City and not drinking and smoking and whatever, but it's especially hard to try to live in New York and not have sex because, you know, it's like Sex in the City and, you know, I'm young and I want to have relationships and be able to experience those things. And instead, after six years of living in the city and not having sex, the longest relationship I was able to sustain was four weeks.


And that's only because he was out of town for two of them.


And, you know, in addition to that, like there's this huge part of me that would love to be considered sexy. But, you know, if you're not selling sex, you really shouldn't advertise. So instead, you know, I, like, present myself as cute or as someone in the audience pointed out, like, I'm on Star Trek.


Thank you so kind. So, you know, I've gotten good at thinking of myself as being cute. And I remember one time I was walking through the East Village and I passed this vintage boutique and I walked in and there was all this vintage lingerie and I happened upon this slip and it was literally the sexiest thing I'd ever seen. It was like it was hanging on like an invisible Lauren Bacall. It was like dark navy blue with this blue lace at the top and these thin straps.


And I couldn't help myself, I tried it on and I remember I looked in the mirror at myself and for the first time in my life, I was like. I'm sexy. Who knew that I could be sexy and so I bought it and, you know, it's not like any guy's allowed to see me in it, because even when you're Mormon, once you get married, you have to wear the garment.


So it sits in a drawer in the back of my closet.


But occasionally late at night, I'll take it out and try it on and look in the mirror and be like, I'm still sexy and put it back in the drawer. I mean, I think there's a lot of misperceptions that people have about Mormons. And more than anything, the one that bothers me is this idea that Mormons say no, you know, no sex, no drugs, no alcohol, which I think would make me seem like a very boring person.


But whereas I say no to certain things, I try to say yes to everything else, which makes me very pleasant. And I learned the power of saying yes when I was going to college at NYU. They used to have these career fairs that they would set up for the business students. And I was the drama major. So like they didn't even set up booths for us.


They sort of saw what was coming unemployment. But if you were a stern business student, there would be all these companies trying to recruit you. So one day I was passing through this recruitment hall and a man stopped me and he was like, are you a stern business student? And so I said, yes. He said, Are you interested in a job at Morgan Stanley? Yes, and I just kept answering yes to all of his questions, and before I knew it, I had a free triangle highlighter with the three different colors and I was like, this is amazing.


And so I just started doing that all the time. I would say yes. And I ended up stumbling into a paper convention. And next thing I knew, I was I went to a bridal convention and I kept getting all these free trinkets just by saying yes. And it all led up to the mother of all conventions. I had some friends in town and we went to the Marriott in Times Square. We're having breakfast. And my friend happened to glance under the table and there was a batch and it said Bob Barnett, Seven-Eleven convention.


And I was like, yes. So we go down stairs in this huge banquet celebrating 75 years of Seven-Eleven. So I start mingling with people and I end up meeting the woman who organized the whole convention. And so she starts asking me for my feedback. And I'm like, I go to conventions all the time.


And this is the best convention I've ever been to. And she's like, well, you know, are you going on today's activities? And I was like, Oh, yes. So she gave me four tickets to Madame Tussauds for tickets to Radio City Music Hall. And then she said, Will I be seeing you on tonight's cruise?


Yes, and then she didn't give me a ticket, so, oh, but, you know, I sent all the stuff and I never got anything and she was like, what? She ran off and then came back with four tickets were the one hundred and fifty dollars each on a dinner cruise around Manhattan.


So that night, me and my friends got dressed up and we go into this cruise and literally there's like 500 7-Eleven employees and us Cizre making friends. And like, I didn't lie. Like when people asked me what I did for 7-Eleven, I was like, come on, man, leave work at work.


You know, we're here to have fun. And then they service this four course dinner. And at the end of it, you know, we're we're eating our dessert. And my friend leans in and he's like, Ellner, I dare you to make a toast.


And like you, I don't drink. So I've never made a toast. But I've seen movies. So I was like, yes, I take my glass and ding, ding, ding, and everybody shut up.


I would like to make a toast to 7-Eleven for redefining convenience, and they're like, yeah, and what I love about saying yes is like it's like where you start at the beginning of the day and where you end up can be two totally different places just based on all the things that you say yes to. And yet then there's this whole other side of my life where I do say no and sex being the biggest obstacle of them. And, you know, I think it's one thing to say no to sex when you've been in a two week relationship, but it's an entirely different experience when you feel like you're in love.


And I met my yes counterpart four years ago. I was working at a TV show. He was in the audience and we started talking. And it was immediately I was like, it's you. And he was like, it's you. And we were like, yes. And our first date was amazing. We were walking down the streets of New York and we happened upon a movie set and he was like, we should sneak in and pretend like we're extras.


And I was like, Yes. And so we're in the back of all these scenes and we ended up in the makeup trailer and the woman was like, did the director send you here? And we're like, yes. And she said, what did he send you here for? And at the same time, we both said black eyes.


And she gave us this huge black eye. And then we just spend the rest of the day running around New York City with giant black eyes. And it was incredible. And literally every day, one after the other was like even more exciting. And really, there was only one problem. He didn't know that I was Mormon, probably because I didn't tell him.


And, you know, I totally rationalized it. I was like, you know, in addition to being Mormon, I and many other things. But really, like, I wanted to be able to date him and I wanted it to be more than two or four weeks. And so I didn't tell him. And, you know, then like two months went by and then you start to feel guilty because you start to feel like the person doesn't really know you because they only know half of you.


And so I told him, you know, as casually as you can say that, I was like, oh, you know, by the way, I'm Mormon.


And he's like, What, Elna, I'm an atheist. Can you be with an atheist? Yes. And can you be with a Mormon and he looked at me and he was like. And so we kept dating and we kept going on our adventures, and it was great, except that there were these grander things that we were that would not leave us alone, no matter how hard we tried. And I remember one of them in particular was when I found out that he didn't believe people had souls.


I was like, what? Like, I really didn't. I thought your regardless of religion, everyone believed that. But he was like, no, I don't believe in souls. And I was like, well, then what's inside of you? He's like, well, my, you know, DNA. And I was like, and I remember I stopped him on the sidewalk and I put my hands on his shoulders and I just looked in his eyes and he's like, What are you doing?


And I'm like, I'm looking at your soul. And I can see it and I can hear it. And I know that it's there.


And so he said, you know, well, what does my soul have to say? And so I listened and I was like, it says. Fuck you, fuck you.


I've been living inside you for 29 years and you've been ignoring me the entire time, I was like, it's not like Mormons are supposed to swear, but then like when making a religious point, that was the only word that came into my head.


And so we kept dating, even though, like at this point I realized my soulmate doesn't actually believe in souls, but like, I was going to be OK with that.


But then, you know, the whole sex thing comes up and he's like, you know, are we going to have sex?


And I was like, no, no. And so then he started to pull away and he started to retreat. And it's so interesting because, like every girl knows, when a guy is starting to phase her out, it's like even if coincidentally, he didn't answer his phone that day, it's like, you know, because you feel it. And so I knew that he was facing me out and I started thinking, well, why? Well, it's probably because I'm Mormon and it's probably because I won't have sex.


So then I really started to think about those things, you know, not as like not as the way things are or as a necessity, but as like truth. Like, you know what if this person is the love of my life and I end up marrying some Mormon guy because I'm supposed to do that, I like OK. And I regret the decision for the rest of my life. Or, you know what, if he's right and God doesn't exist, and then I end up making the sacrifice for an entirely imaginary reason.


And then also, you know, like sex, when you feel like you could love someone, it just feels like the natural progression of things. Not that it's this awful thing. And so then I was like, well, you know. Maybe I could have sex. Oh, no, no.


And then we went out again and we we met up and right when I saw him, I could tell it was going to be one of the last times that we saw each other. And we went to this outdoor exhibit, but it started to rain. So we ended up back at my apartment. We put on a DVD, we made grilled cheese sandwiches. It was like the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday. And we were watching the movie, but I was still wet from the rain.


So I stood up and went into my room to change. And I took off my T-shirt and I was just going to put another shirt on when I opened my drawer and I saw that blue slip. And I was like. What if you put that on? I was like, no, you can't put that on, it's like the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday, that would be so weird. But then also it's like but you own that and you've never worn it, you know?


And also like, what is this thing, this sex thing. And like, you can say yes to that. And what I like about saying yes is that when you say yes, everything can change and sometimes you want things to change. And so I took that slip out and I put it on and I walked out into the living room and he was like, What are you doing?


And I was like and I walked up to him and we started kissing. And then we laid down on the couch and we were kissing. And the moment started to build more than it had before. And as this was happening, I leaned into his ear and I heard myself say. You need to pray and find out if God exists, and he was like, what? And I was like, what? And I said, nothing, nothing.


I didn't say anything. And so then we, you know, started to kiss again and the moment started to build again. And then it happened again. I leaned into his ear and I said, How can you know that God doesn't exist unless you've at least asked? And he was like, What are you saying? And I was like, like, I don't know. I just want to have sex right now. And he sat up and I sat up and he was like, Oh, no, what are you trying to ask me?


And I was like, Well, look, the only thing the only reason I believe the things that I do is because I prayed and asked and how can you know for sure that something isn't true unless you at least ask? And so he said, do you want me to pray? And so he said, OK, I can do that, and I was like, really? And he, you know, left. And the minute he left my apartment, I remember I knelt down and I prayed like I've never prayed in my life.


When you say. God, you can never you never have to answer another one of my prayers, but answer this one and if he prays. Tell him you're there. And then, of course, I made the mistake of telling my sister about this, and then she told my parents and then my parents told my uncle and aunt and my grandma. And next thing you know, there's like a Mormon family tree across America praying that if he prays, he'll get an answer.


And then I didn't hear from him for for two weeks. And then when I did, we agreed to meet up in Union Square and we met up and we sat on a bench together. And at first it was just small talk. And so finally, I just asked the question I most wanted to ask. I said. Did you pray? And he said, yes, and I was like, you did what happened? And he said that he sat in his room in silence and that he prayed and he asked God if God existed and that he listened for a long time.


And then he realized that if you did get an answer, it would just be himself telling himself that he got an answer because he wanted to be with me and that it wouldn't be real. And that was it, and the relationship ended. And you know, it's funny because, you know, as hard as he tried to find God for me and as hard as I tried to have sex for him, we ultimately were these things that we were a Mormon and an atheist.


And yet, you know, before that, I always thought that I didn't have sex because I was Mormon, but I realized I don't have sex because I don't want to have it yet. And that for me, sometimes saying no is actually saying yes. That was Elmer Baker, Ella is a comedian and the author of a book with the inordinately long title, The New York Regional Mormon singles Halloween Dance. She told the story at the Mock over 10 years ago.


And in that time, she has continued to say yes, including the time she said yes to her boyfriend, Mark, when he asked her to marry him. To see Ali's wedding photo and for extras related to many of the stories you hear on the Moth Radio Hour, go to the morgue.


Now, while you've been listening to these stories, you may have remembered some of your personal stories and we want to hear them. Mothe stories are true. You were the main character and they involve some sort of a challenge. You can pick up your story by recording it right on our site or call 877 799 MAFF. That's 877 799 six six eight for the best. Pitches are developed for math shows all around the world.


Here's a pitch we liked and it's actually also on the theme of this, our identity. A few years ago, I went through a period of really severe depression, during which time I was admitted to the psych ward of a hospital in Boston where I lived. One of the most memorable moments of that really painful experience happened when I woke up my first morning in the hospital. I was laying there trying to wrap my head around where I was and how I had ended up there when a nurse opened the curtain and said, Good morning, Susan.


Are you feeling suicidal today? OK, first of all, my name is Sarah. Second of all, who said that? I just thought that if you're going to talk to somebody who the day before was making really concrete plans about how to kill themselves that day, you would try to get their name right and B, maybe try to be more delicate about their situation. Honestly, it was so absurd that I thought it was really funny and that that instant when I got this tiny glimpse of my sense of humor buried under all of that pain and despair gave me a tiny flicker of hope that I would survive this and that somehow maybe I was going to be OK.


Remember, you can purchase your story at the morgue or call 877 799 Mothe, that's 877 799 668 for. That's it for this episode of The Moth Radio Hour, we hope you'll join us next time. And that's the story from The Moth. Your host this hour was Sarah Austin. Sarah also directed the stories in the show, along with Catherine Burns and Jennifer and the rest of the MOS directorial staff includes Sarah Habermann and Meg Bowles production support from Timothy Luly.


The pitch in this hour came from Sarah DeBolt. The Moth would like to thank the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their support of the Moth Community Program, as well as Andrew Quinn and Rachel Stretcher from the Aspen Institute. More stories are true, as remembered and affirmed by the storytellers. Our theme music is by the drift. Other music in this hour from Todd sycophant Jamie Siebert and three legged torso. You can find links to all the music we use at our website.


The Moth Radio Hour is produced by me, Jay Allison with Viki Merrick at Atlantic Public Media in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. This hour is produced with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. The Moth Radio Hour is presented by the Public Radio Exchange Stagg for more about our podcast. For information on pitching us your own story and everything else, go to our website. Them off dot org.