I don’t always travel out of the country to make dreams come true. Sometimes I drive with my husband to the University of Maine in Orono in the middle of a work week.
I do live a fairly rockstar life.
Back in April I attended a reading by David Sedaris, a writer I
want to be admire. When I die and am finally granted knowledge of how all the cogs in the wheel of my life fit together, I hope an explanation of David Sedaris’ impact on me is first on the highlight reel.
I love him, by which I mean I love his work, and the too-limited version of himself I get in his published pieces. On the surface, he’s nothing like me. He’s irreverent. Fearlessly honest. Quirky. Unblinking in the face of difficult topics to address over dinner. Also, gay. He craves attention. He chooses to wear culottes. He doesn’t own a dog. He smokes (or used to). He claims to enjoy flying.
I guess that’s what I like in a writer? Sure, we’ll go with that.
Unquestionably, for you, readers (are you still there?), there’s a writer to whom you feel rooted kinship, right? You feel like if you met him in a coffee shop, you’d soon find yourself chatting not only about the time the eleven-year-old you rode for two hours in the back of your parents’ station wagon, dodging hot ashes from a Marlboro being flicked out the window, but also about how, when your beloved Mrs. Magrogan died you wanted to kick yourself for not actually reading the copy of Sophie’s World she lent you, because she knew you’d “get it” ( You didn’t.) He’d ask if you still have the book. (You do.)
David Sedaris would understand those heartbreaking things. And he would find humor in them, so you could live with the memories and still keep breathing.
I’ll share with you here a favorite excerpt from a piece he wrote in 2008, but that could easily have been written last November. The man just gets me.
I look at these people and can’t quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?
To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”
To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.
I love the way he entertains, line after line, page after page, but then boom!, slaps me upside the head with some truth I had conveniently ignored. And it’s usually hidden in the tears rolling down my cheeks from laughter. The more he digs, the more he reveals, the closer to the truth he comes. He makes me laugh, but there’s a lot more to him, of course, and even more to be discerned with every piece he publishes, all of which I own.
Yes, I will lend them out, for a price.
The price is my name on the top line of your will and don’t try to negotiate, hostage.
It’s not important that David Sedaris is nothing like me. Truth be told, I think there’s a chance he maybe is a tiny piece of me – out there living in other parts of the world, saying all the things I wish I dared, and embracing every quirky, awkward, brilliant and achingly scarred part of himself, all while standing in front of a crowd.The man is a nova – a star that continuously sheds its outer layers without destroying itself, becoming brighter as it goes. This is his life’s work.
He’s far from done, and I’m totally along for the ride. But though I envy his indomitability, I’ll leave the culottes to the man up in front of the crowd.