Bluff The Listener

Nov 22, 2013
Originally published on January 2, 2014 12:46 pm
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit

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 Charlie Pierce, Faith Salie, and Brian Babylon. And here again is your host at the Lerner Theater in Elkhart, Indiana, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Carl. Thank you everybody. Right now it's time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

JOHN DE MOTT: Hi, this is John De Mott from Cleveland, Ohio.

SAGAL: Hey, how are things in Cleveland?

MOTT: You know, they're kind of cloudy, but, you know, it's probably going to be a bright day tomorrow.

SAGAL: There you go, that's the Cleveland attitude.


SAGAL: It's going to be brighter tomorrow. What do you do there in Cleveland?

MOTT: I'm a psychiatrist.

SAGAL: You are?

CHARLIE PIERCE: Target-rich environment.



SAGAL: It's nice to have you with us John. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is John's topic?

KASELL: Occupied.

SAGAL: Flying home this holiday season? Good news, you no longer have to avoid drinking water before your long haul flight. Our panelists are going to give you three excellent reasons to visit the airplane bathroom taken from this week's news. Guess the real story, and you will win Carl's voice on your home-answering machine or voicemail, whatever you've got. Ready to play?

MOTT: I am.

SAGAL: Well, let's begin, then. First let's hear from Charlie Pierce.

PIERCE: Wendy Hezmonik(ph) was flying from Los Angeles to New York on a very important sales trip. While waiting in line for the economy class loo, she struck up a conversation with a handsome stranger who was behind her in line. In hopes of continuing their new friendship, Wendy wrote her seat number on the mirror in the plane's bathroom, along with the name of the hotel where she would be staying. She then walked back up the aisle.

Behind her, without her knowing, another passenger suddenly was taken ill, and the other passengers in line allowed him to go the bathroom ahead of the person Wendy had been talking to. He saw Wendy's note and took the information down. Three days later he called her at her Los Angeles hotel, and the two agreed to meet for a drink when they went back to New York.

When she arrived at the bar of the Peninsula Hotel in Manhattan, she was surprised to see Jim(ph) at a table surrounded by what appeared to be very large Swiss Guards. Jim was Jaime Maridona(ph), the nephew of Pope Francis I.


PIERCE: That was four months ago. Wendy and Jim will be married in January in the Sistine Chapel by the pope.


PIERCE: I don't think it's the most romantic way two people ever met, Wendy said, but it's certainly a story for the grandkids one day. And what about the poor slob who wasn't related to the pope, for whom the note was actually meant? I hope he's as happy as I am, said Wendy. He was really cute, and I think he probably is a little bit less intimidated by his in-laws.


SAGAL: A woman writes her information on a bathroom mirror, ends up marrying into the pope's family. Your next story of a new kind of mile-high club comes from Faith Salie.

FAITH SALIE: Everyone agrees that the worst part about the airplane bathroom experience, besides the fact that the mirrors make you look like the portrait of Dorian Grey, is the smell. But fasten your seatbelt low and tight across your lap because, are you ready for this, that very airplane bathroom odor actually prevents motion sickness and produces a sense of well-being, according to a recent study.

Turns out our senses can't handle being bombarded in multiple ways. So when the cloying smell of industrial cleaner and perfumed hand soap in the lavatory surrenders its fight to mask the scent of human contributions, the noxiousness trumps any motion-induced nausea squeamish passengers might feel.

University of Calgary biochemist Cecilia Cunningham, who led the study, explains inhaling ethyl alcohol ammonia at high altitudes produces a mild euphoria similar to getting high from marijuana.


SALIE: She adds: We suggest frequent fliers become frequent peers. Glade has cashed in on this study and is now working on a new line of air fresheners that smell like airplane toilets.


SALIE: Instead of pine trees, think dangling airplanes. The line is call airomatherapy.



SAGAL: The smell of an airplane bathroom found to bring on euphoria and decrease air sickness. Your last story of a reason to visit the high-flying loo comes from Brian Babylon.

BRIAN BABYLON: There are many mysteries of the airplane bathroom. How does one over six feet sit down and use it? Could one tamper with the smoke detector and not get caught? Would one die if they drink the water from the sink? But now there's a new mystery: gold. That's right, gold stashed away in airplane bathrooms.

Indian officials say they've recovered over $3 million worth of gold. On two separate occasions, cleaning crews have found over 300 bars of gold in airplane bathrooms. In one case, a cleaning crew found 280 bars literally flushed down the toilet. It was like a leprechaun had stomach flu from some bad curry in there.


BABYLON: So the next time you go to the bathroom on a plane, you might find a bar of gold instead of that old, worthless Sky Mall magazine.


SAGAL: All right. One of these is a story about something remarkable that's happened in an airplane bathroom. Is it, from Charlie Pierce, a woman who tried to give her number to somebody, gave it to somebody else, ended up marrying the pope's nephew? From Faith Salie, a discovery that the smell of airplane bathrooms actually makes you feel better about everything? Or from Brian Babylon, the discovery of mysteriously hidden caches of gold in airplane bathrooms in India? Which of these is the real story about a happy surprise in the lavatory?

MOTT: Good lord.


SAGAL: He's not going to help you.


MOTT: I think it's probably the first one.

SAGAL: The first one, Charlie's story of a woman who tried to give her number to one guy, ended up with the pope's nephew?

MOTT: It seems unlikely that you'd find $3 million worth of gold on only two flights. So yes, I'll go with Charlie.

SAGAL: All right, you're going to go with Charlie. Well actually, to bring you the real story, don't trust us, why don't you trust CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: A stash of 24 gold bars worth over $1 million made its way onto the flight and into an unlikely hiding place.

SAGAL: Namely the bathroom. So apparently they managed to stuff that gold in there for those two flights.


SAGAL: As you've heard, Brian told the truth this time. You didn't win, but you did earn a point for Charlie for his charming story of meet cute in the air. Thank you so much for playing.

MOTT: Well, thank you for having me.

SAGAL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.