January 18, 2008


Sabir, a young man in Afghanistan, thought he'd found true love but he couldn't afford a wedding. So two foreign aid workers, friends of his, decide to come to his rescue. They soon find out making a lasting love match isn't as simple as writing a check.
Sabir with his would-be matchmakers, Miriam (left) and Nikaj (right).
This and other stories of people matching others up—with wives, with toys, with body parts.


Ira Glass talks to This American Life Producer Jane Feltes about a recent date she was set up on by a friend. The date was awful—the guy seemed stoned the whole time. But worse than a wasted evening was the thought: what must her friend think of her if he's setting her up with this guy? (5 minutes)
Act One

A Good Year For Grand Gestures

Miriam and her husband were development workers in Afghanistan. They'd had a whirlwind romance themselves, so when they heard that their driver was in love, but didn't have enough money to propose to the girl, they made a grand romantic gesture: They gave him $10,000 to pay for the dowry and the wedding. It was a move they probably should have known wouldn't work out so well. Gregory Warner reports. (16 minutes)

Act Two

Part Of Me, Why Not Take Part Of Me?

Chaya Lipschutz, an Orthodox Jewish woman from Brooklyn, donated her kidney to a stranger. After that, she decided to spend all her time trying to match up potential donors with kidney patients. It's incredibly hard to make a match, and for a year, she had no success. Then, she gets her first break: Her brother's going to donate. For Chaya, a single, middle-aged woman who was supposed to get married decades ago like everyone else in her community, being a kidney matchmaker has become an obsession. She needs this surgery to succeed. Reporter Mary Robertson and This American Life Producer Sarah Koenig recorded Chaya and her brother as the transplant date approached. (19 minutes)

Act Three

Babies Buying Babies

Elna Baker reads her story about the time she worked at the giant toy store, FAO Schwartz. Her job was to sell these lifelike "newborns" which were displayed in a "nursery" inside the store. When the toys become the hot new present, they begin to fly off the shelves. When the white babies sell out, white parents are faced with a choice: Will they go for an Asian, Latino, or African-American baby instead? What happens is so disturbing that Elna has a hard time even telling it. (16 minutes)