Last night I had dinner with David Sedaris: Yes, THE David Sedaris! I suppose it was inevitable. I mean you can’t write diligently for eight whole months and not expect to hobnob with modern literary greats. As dinners go, it was fairly unremarkable; some type of baked chicken with green beans, but still, you can’t beat the company. Oh, Paul was there too. But he seemed less than impressed.
But I have gotten ahead of my story. Let me take a step back. The evening began with a reading at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, NH. It turns out that people in New Hampshire really seem to like David Sedaris. The place was packed. Never having heard him speak publicly, I really didn’t know what to expect. So when he quickly marched on stage, eyes down, without much fanfare, to say that it was less than climatic would be an understatement.
“Hello, and thank you for coming” He sounds like a Smurf that just huffed helium.
I let out a loud laugh. When Paul squeezed my leg and told me to shut-up, I realized that this was not part of the act and that I was, in fact, the only one laughing. It was a rough start.
He redeemed himself after reading a few new essays and some quotes from his diary and then told us a joke:
A man is in bed sleeping when he hears a knock at his door. Angrily, the man says to himself “Who would be knocking at my door at this time of night?” He opens the door and there is a small snail standing at his door step. “Hello” the little snail says cheerfully, “I’d like to talk to you about purchasing some magazines!” The man kicks the snail as hard as he can. The tiny snail goes flying across the yard.
Two years later, the man is lying in bed and hears a knock at his door again. He opens the door and there is that same small snail.
“What the fuck was that about?” The snail says.
This time I laughed my ass off with everyone else.
But the real point to my story is that I sat across the table from David Sedaris while we had dinner. Well, I suppose I couldn’t really say “we” as he was doing all of the eating and truth be told, he had devoured most of it before we even got there. But you see the line to talk to him at the book signing was about an hour long.
As we waited in line and moved much like the snail from his joke, Paul said with a disgusted look on his face “He talks with a mouth full of food. Now I know why he moved to Europe. Look at those teeth.”
We watched as a woman with her entire library of David Sedaris books told him her life story. He seemed like a cat that was getting tired of playing with a ball of string, only looking up occasionally as if to say “Ok, I’ll bat this thing one more time”, while stuffing another bite of green beans into his mouth. The poor woman did not take a breath while speaking.
“If you act like that when we finally get to speak to him, I’m going to slap you.” Paul said.
Finally we reached the table. I was calm and collected, determined not to make a fool of myself as I handed him my book.
“Hi.” Mr. Sedaris said.
“Hi, I’m Bill and this is Paul!” Now my voice sounded strangely Smurf-like.
“You guys are together? How long have you been together?”
“Four years, well we’ve been married for one and a half years!” I said
“Where did you get married?” He asked.
“Boston, well Ashby, it’s a little town west of Boston. But originally I’m from North Carolina, but I moved up here. Actually, I’m from Greensboro. Your brother Paul refinished my Brother John’s hardwood floors. Your brother has the same name as my husband!” Oh God, shut-up, shut-up, shut-up, Bill. I could see Paul looking at me out of the corner of his eyes willing me to shut-up too. I flinched while waiting for that slap that he had promised me.
I tried speaking again. “Does Hugh get upset when you write about him?”
“No” he simply replied.
“Are you and Hugh going to get married?” I tried another angle
“NO!” He said this as if someone had just pissed into his green beans.
“Do you guys like Glee?” He asked as his eyes lit up.
“Um, sure” I said.
“I thought a new episode was going to be on this week, but apparently not for two more weeks. Rachel and Finn and oh, what’s that kid’s name?” Mr. Sedaris said.
“Kurt, yes that’s it! They’re all going to have sex in the next episode!” He says with, well, glee, as he absent-mindedly writes something in my book.