David Sedaris Returns to the Motherland
From Triple Cities Carousel, April 2016.
David Sedaris is not giving interviews. I had to be told a few times before coming to terms with it, and am still not sure that one could say I “respect” this fact.
When I first learned that “most beloved living American humorist” David Sedaris was coming to town, I had been lying in bed, when I received a text message from my editor-in-chief: “David Sedaris is speaking at the Anderson Center in April [on the 13th at the Osterhout Theatre]. This is your chance to get a killer interview.” No pressure. But this was January! I had plenty of time. So I jumped out of bed and, flinging open my rickety laptop, emailed Mr. Sedaris’ people immediately.
Maybe I should have slept on it. Maybe I shouldn’t keep my cell phone next to my bed, because it’s a really unhealthy habit. But the deed was done, the email sent. And after being told (in a very prompt reply) that “David isn’t giving any interviews at this time,” I had to make really, really sure that he wasn’t, so I emailed just a few more times. Just to be sure.
After a few resounding “not giving interviews at this time,” I finally accepted the truth: David Sedaris is too good to give us an interview. That’s not to say that he has a superiority complex: he never puts himself on a pedestal. In his work, he scrutinizes others without elevating himself. He takes no umbrage admitting to his shortcomings, while still somehow justifying his questionable actions. And he writes it all down to share with the world. This is his livelihood, and it’s also probably a big part of why he wouldn’t talk to me: why should he give away the milk for free?
With the interview out of the question and Mr. Sedaris as my inspiration, I decided to stoop to a new low: I would shamelessly request comps. I would be sure to barely introduce myself before asking for something at no cost, and, after being ignored, use words like “pester” in my follow-up email. I, too, can make questionable decisions and hold my head high. I can even write about it.
After a couple of no-replies, I reconsidered my approach. I reached out yet again to his people, only this time, I took the time to explain who I was, and let them know that I wrote for a paper based out of Our Dear Humorist’s City of Birth.
Well, that changed things. The people were very interested in seeing how I could help to promote the upcoming event, the one taking place on April 13th at 7pm in the Osterhout Theatre at the Anderson Center, located on Binghamton University’s campus. They were so interested in my skills as a writer that they wanted to know if I would be willing to hand out fliers and hang posters around town to promote the reading. But! - I told them - my article would be the equivalent of free advertising! They asked where they should mail the promotional materials. I gave them my address.
I am not above street-teaming for David Sedaris. In fact, when the people of Binghamton see me taping a poster inside a café window, they are probably thinking, “Who is that smirking, handsome devil whose visage appears before me on such a finely printed poster? Why, it’s humorist David Sedaris, author of bestselling books such as Me Talk Pretty One Day and Naked! What fine collections of essays those are. Miniature memoirs, even. That guy is hilarious!” They will then go on to deduce that I, the mysterious and lovely woman with a dispenserful of invisible tape, must have some sort of in with Mr. Sedaris, or perhaps even the entire Sedaris family, to have been entrusted with these posters.
The truth is, that the biggest in I have with Mr. Sedaris is that I have read a lot of his stories. I inexplicably owned two copies of Me Talk Pretty One Day for several years. I even made the ill-advised choice to read his breakout story, “SantaLand Diaries,” to my seventh-grade English class a while back, an event to which my students would forever thereafter recall as the time I read the “vagina story” (note: the story is not about vaginas; it merely refers to menstruation, among many other things). Needless to say, I am no longer a teacher.
Now, living the glamorous writer’s life, I sometimes find myself with a drink in hand during school hours. I would feel guilty, drinking while working, but I remind myself that David Sedaris always used to drink when he wrote. He would incentivize his writing by drinking – but that was years ago, when he still drank. He doesn’t drink anymore. Despite this, he will be visiting the Triple Cities.
Since moving to Binghamton, I have fantasized about interviewing David Sedaris. When I finally understood that that simply was not happening, I attempted to write this piece in the style of Mr. Sedaris, but let’s face it: if I were able to do that, I would be Sedaris, and you would be laughing hysterically right now. This is why he will be speaking at the Anderson Center, in the Osterhout Theatre on April 13th, and I will be sitting in my hard-earned free seat. Because, while I may be funny, David Sedaris is better than this.