Saturday, May 8, 2010

Meeting a Legend: David Sedaris

(A picture of David Sedaris NOT taken by my mom)

As we drove home, I reflected on what I now held in my hands: two tickets, several books in a bag, and a condom. How in the hell did this happen?

It was late at night as my mother drove us home. The lights outside were bright, but these lights weren’t the streetlamps that lit the city during times of darkness. The ramp to the 405 going north was closed apparently and the construction crew’s giant lamps lit the streets in strong beams of white light.

“Great!” My mom scowled at the construction workers getting their tools from the orange boxes in the back of their trucks.

“Did you enjoy the show?” I tried to ease her down and take her anger off the construction workers. She turned her eyes toward me and forced a smile. I looked at the condom in my hand and laughed. “Come on, mom, it was funny.”

“Funny?” She repeated the word as if it was foreign to her.

“I mean, don’t you think it was lucky of us to get to UCLA on time? And also aren’t we lucky to have gotten my books signed by David Sedaris right before they cut off the line behind me?”

“Yeah, I guess luck was on our side today.” She pushed her dirty-blond hair out of her eyes and behind her ear, so that she could see the road clearly. “But I still don’t like what he did when you finally got your books signed.”

“Well, I just told him that I was an eighteen-year old writer, who just graduated, and then he all of the sudden started searching for something in his blue bag. How was I supposed to know what he put into my hands? I was just as surprised as you were. He said that it was a ‘graduation present’ from him to me.” I smiled.

“And that ‘graduation present’ ended up being a condom,” my mom added.

“He’s a comedian, really,” I reassured her.

“Yeah, lucky you warned me. I would’ve punched his lights out if he wasn’t.”

I laughed loudly as I thought of my warm, kind-hearted mom punching out David for his actions. “Still,” I wiped a tear from my eye, “you didn’t answer my question: what did you think of him?”

“He’s a nice guy, I guess,” she forced herself to say, “but he better cool it with the sex jokes. How are those pictures I took of him though? Did any of them turn out good?”

I almost forgot of my mom’s secret pictures; David wouldn’t let us take any of him, because he didn’t like how he looked. So I asked my mom, who was bad with technology, to sneak in and take pictures of him while he signed books. I flipped on the digital camera and noticed that all the pictures were terrible. A picture of a coat. A hand. My mom’s thumb. A blurry person. Darkness.

“How are they? Awesome, right?”

“Mom, they suck.” I turned off the camera and stared at the road with her.

“Well, I tried,” she sighed.

“We seriously have to train you on how to handle a camera.”

“What can I do? He didn’t want any photos.”

“Well,” I said thinking about how nervous mom was on taking pictures of him, “whatever.”

She led us through the dim lit streets as the darkness covered the sky. Though I had no good pictures of David Sedaris, I still had some pictures, at least. Not only that, but I had the signatures in my books, the memory, and of course, the condom.


Paul L. Martin said...

Great piece, Vatche. You illustrate the point that so often we read writers who make us laugh, cry, angry, enralled, and if we are ever lucky enough to meet them, their physical person and character often do not meet expectations. I have seen great writers who are incredibly inarticulate in person. Some, whose books I could not put down, are simply boring.

In this age of media and access, we must remember that it is the word and the book, that draw us to an author. I do not care if the writer is not what I expected in person; his writing and thinking are what pulls me in, not his stand-up routine. Writers tend to be private people who access the world through their writing. Writers who live mostly in their minds are probably least prepared to become famous faces.

When I first heard Sedaris on NPR, I thought he sounded like a freak. However, his writing is really funny and insightful. He is a unique hybrid of writer and performer. So I like him because he is so different from other writers.

As for the condom, maybe you should have asked him to autograph it.

Anyhow, good post. I like the way you begin and end with the condom. The lead really draws me in: "How in the hell did this happen?" Great rhetorical question; I wanted to read to find out just how it did happen!

Keep up the good work.

Vatche said...

Thank you very much, Mr. Martin, for the very thoughtful comment. I agree that the writers that we read on the page can often turn out not to be what we expected.

I agree also that Sedaris is a very funny and insightful man and definitely "unique". He is not everyone's cup of tea, I believe, like how my mom reacted to most of his writings wasn't the same way I reacted.

As for the signing of the condom, I think I was lucky enough just to get him to sign my books and get a "graduation present" from him really, especially with my mom standing right next to me.

I'm glad you enjoyed the post, overall. Thanks for reading. Always.

-K- said...

Very funny story. (I found your blog through Paul Martin.)

Vatche said...

Thank you, K, for the comment. I'm glad that you enjoyed the story. :)

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