Chaos Attraction

An Evening With David Sedaris

2012-11-16, 12:17 p.m.

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(My apologies for getting this up so damn late. The entry got deleted after I spent a long-ass time writing it. And I have NaNoWriMo going and three book reviews to do and GRRRRRRRR.)

On Friday, I left work early to meet up with Jackie, who takes the entire day off whenever David Sedaris comes into northern Callifornia. We had our traditional lunch at Raja's, and then wandered around downtown a bit. I found a tea shop in town and she immediately wanted to go in and have high tea, which they did a darned good job with. I even liked their macaroon, and I don't like macaroons. It was pretty empty when we went in around 2, but the place really filled up at 3 and every table was full. We felt kind of obligated to leave at that point. Then we went to the movies and saw Wreck-It Ralph, which I have reviewed over here. It was awesome and I want to see it again...without having downed a ton of tea beforehand, though.

After that, we met up with L for dinner, as she'd bought a ticket to the show as well. Oddly enough, despite it being pouring ass rain, the downtown area was totally full and there was no parking and the restaurants were full. All for David Sedaris? I don't know, but the Twihards were at the other end of town, so it wasn't them.... We managed to find a restaurant that had a few tables left and quick service, so that was good. We didn't manage to get books autographed before the show--we were a few people back before the cut off--but they said he'd be back after the show and would take as long as it took to get through everyone. Very nice.

The show was great! He's got a new book coming out, "Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls" (it's another one of those phrases he came up with in a language class, a la "Me Talk Pretty One Day") in the spring and he read four pieces from it. He said that he'd found out that teenagers are now using edited essays of his to memorize for forensics competitions (this is a thing?), and he thought he'd help out by writing 8 monologues proper. Those were along the lines of Season's Greetings To Our Friends And Family!", my favorite fiction of his ever. One featured a 50-year-old-man (remember, these are intended for teenagers, he said...) who leaves his wives and children very easily, but always remembers what kind of musical gadgets he had on him. There's also a bit about how he tried to pass off a Canadian coin on a half-blind newspaper seller, and then said "aboot" when he was caught at it. The other was a monologue from a teen Jesus freak called "When I Rule The World," about how she basically plans to bludgeon everyone over the head with the Jesus when the time comes.

He read two essays from the new book, both about a family trip he'd taken to North Carolina. The first one is the title work, "Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls" and I loved it. It started out with David visiting his sister Lisa and while they're in the car, she starts telling him how she wants to kill herself sometimes. He claimed that he thought the same thing, though in reality he thinks, "I'd like to kill (name)." Because while he still thinks it's other people that are causing the problem, his sister knows she's the one causing her own problems. He starts trying to one-up her in the depression talk in hopes that it will make her feel better and be less likely to do it. Then Lisa asks him if he'd like to go to the gun range. Considering that his next week is going to feature a kid's dance recital, talking with Dad about his will, and a colonoscopy (see below), hey, why not add guns to the list? Because really, can you make that week any worse?

The gun range has a class first, offered by a former cop named Lonnie who co-owns the place. David's inevitable desire to be teacher's pet (as seen in previous essays) comes up again, but his sister ends up being more of one than he has. She also seems to have near-perfect aim right off the bat. Also, Lonnie keeps remembering Lisa's name, while David eventually becomes "Mike" and he's too whatever to correct him. This turns into musing on how Lisa always had to be perfect. Many years ago they took a class in Greek (see the title) and while Lisa's homework was perfect, when the family took a trip to Greece, she wouldn't even attempt to say anything in Greek. While David, who's more comfortable with being not so perfect, gave it a shot. Lisa doesn't like being in the uncomfortable middle. I really liked the thoughts in this one, plus I related to it more after my trip to Arizona.

It also uses the term "gunderpants." Yup. VERY GOOD. I can't wait to get this book.

The second story, "The Happy Place," was about the colonoscopy. David caved in on getting one after his dad hounded the shit out of him to get one. Like, all he wanted for Christmas was for David to get a colonoscopy--and an iPhone. Of course. After signing up for one in some other town than Raleigh--so his dad couldn't come and watch-- he had two long weeks to hear stories from people about how it goes to freak him out. He thought he'd be fine once the drugs kicked in, but what especially gave him the wiggins was the idea of "the farting room," where they won't let you out until you've farted enough. But eventually they give him the drugs and ask him to go to his happy place. At first he thinks about going on stage, then he thinks about growing up with his siblings, then passes out. "The happy place" ends up with him being ragingly high on "the good drugs," and him waving to some nurse in the room...well, he demonstrated, I'll try to describe it. He held up his hand to his face a la Dr. Evil and wiggled his pinky-- "like a leprechaun waving to a pixie." Lisa loved getting a colonoscopy and David is all, "Let's get them together next time!" Eventually he has to tell his dad the results. David is totally fine, but in the grand tradition of people in this family being a bunch of sickos (see the story about Amy wearing the fat suit), he tells his dad he has cancer. And as his dad starts lecturing him to buck up and fight this, he feels the family love some more.

As per tradition, he recommended a book: "The Bill From My Father" by Bernard Cooper. Everyone else in their family died except for the author and his dad, a lawyer who spent his retirement suing people. It's about how loving someone unconditionally has no payoff because those people just assume everyone is supposed to adore them. David read it three times. L bought a copy and I asked to borrow it when she's done. I may relate.

He also read from his diary.

(a) This was dated on my birthday this year. He was in Texas and a woman that was checking his bags in thought he was a comedian. He says writer. She tells him a "joke" about how Willie Nelson's tour bus reeks of pot. It seemed to be missing an actual punch line in there somewhere, but he laughed anyway to be polite. Then he told her a joke about Willie Nelson-- what's the worst thing about blowing him? If the guy says, "I'm not Willie Nelson." The woman didn't get the joke, even when he tried to explain it to her. Then he said he'd broken his mother's cardinal rules about not explaining a joke or bringing up blow jobs in front of a woman. Is it possible to die of shame?
(b) In England, he almost bought a house called Faggotsticks, near "balls-something" and "titsomething." If not for it being on a busy street, that would have been his address.
(c) Some drunk woman in a red state was saying he'd converted her out of hating gay people. He said something like, "okay, then go down on a woman for me," and addressed the book to "my new lesbian friend."
(d) Some kid had asked him to write a filthy address to his mom in a book--which he did--then the mom came to ah, ask about it.
(e) While in some other red state, one of the ones beginning with M, I think, he kept seeing anti-abortion billboards that said stuff like how old the fetus had to be before its heart was beating, stuff like that. So he started making up his own weird fetus facts and telling them to people, like, "After two weeks in the womb, a baby can write a check." (With what?!) The sad thing was that the woman he told this to was all, "Who writes checks any more?" David was all, "EXACTLY."

He did a brief Q&A after the show, but sadly there weren't too many questions. He did remark during the Q&A that people don't really ask him anything about what he read during the show, which made him wonder if anyone had listened to it.

After that, we ran to get into the signing line and made it pretty close to the top. The line went around the corner as far as I could see.

Now, I can't find what entries I have mentioned seeing David Sedaris in before, so I can't link to them. But the previous two times I've seen him with Jackie, she has had a sparkling fangirl conversation with him during the signing, and I have pretty much stood around looking dumb. I am not a person who suffers from l'esprit d'escalier, but somehow when I'm talking to him, I have been quite lame. Like last time he asked us where to eat in town and he wanted to go to a steakhouse, and we don't have any IN town. Awkward. But this time, thank gawd, I had something to say because I wanted to compliment him on the firing range story. I told him about going to Arizona, and he told me that since he'd gone to the gun range, he had been subscribed to all these...interesting...gun/Republican mailing lists.

This is what he autographed in my book: "let's celebrate guns together." AWESOME. It was a great night.
Added for future reference later: quotes from the book.


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