I have long suspected that Liane Hansen, host of NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday, and Will Shortz, puzzle editor of the New York Times and Weekend Edition puzzle master, have been carrying on a steamy affair. It may be that “affair” isn’t the right word — I don’t know if either of them are married — but the perky enthusiasm with which Liane greets Will every week on the show poorly conceals her fascination — nay, obsession— with his formidable intellect, among other things. Will, it’s clear, is the kind of guy who has difficulty expressing his emotions, so it’s a little harder to pick up the signals on his end, but if you’ve listened to the show long enough, you can’t deny that he brims with an ineffable desire that even the master of wordplay cannot express in language. I mean, come on, just look at them — the way his arm wraps around her, the way her head inclines in his direction, both blissfully savoring one of those rare moments when they’re together.
Of course, their love can never be. Setting aside the fact that one or both of them may have a family, there’s that great gulf between them: one is in New York, the other in D.C., and both are too committed to their careers to give them up just to be together. They are left with those excruciating, blissful moments when their souls touch across the airwaves, and those all-too-rare opportunities to meet face to face when one happens to be in the other’s neck of the woods.
Judging from their exchange on the show this morning, the tensions of their illicit love are coming to the fore. Is this the beginning of the end? Here’s a transcript of this morning’s segment, with comments:
LIANE: … and joining us is Puzzle Master Will Shortz! Hi Will!
WILL: Hi Liane. Missed you on your trip to New York.
LIANE: Oh, I know! I didn’t get to hook up with you this time — yeah, I took a very quick trip to New York, mainly to go to Carnegie Hall … [she provides an overlong explanation of why she was in NYC for just a little bit, masking the tension with unnecessary detail; all Will utters during her monologue is a simple ‘yeah’ that clearly communicates his disappointment] … it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it, but I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to take you out for sushi again [euphemism?], but we’ll have to do that the next time I come up, I promise…
WILL: [skeptically] Next time.
LIANE: Excellent, excellent …
It seems that perhaps Liane has decided to disengage, and that Will isn’t going to take it all that well. This is surprising, in that through the years Liane has seemed (on the air, anyway) to be the more interested party. Maybe it’s for the best, although I must confess that if they call off their affair a good bit of the drama of Weekend Edition will be lost. Needless to say, I’ll continue to monitor the situation closely and report any further developments.
UPDATE: Whatever you do, don’t miss the further developments.