now that i think about it, i remember why it took this long. i heard the same amount of hype for strangers with candy, starring david's sister amy. after watching a couple of episodes, i was nonplussed. here's my amy-sedaris-as-jerri-blank impression: "now i'm going to do something inappropriate and oogy which will completely creep you out! ha ha ha, made you cringe!" i'm pretty sure that niche is already being filled by five-year-old boys. i think i read part of an interview with david somewhere, years ago, and thought: oh yeah, i can definitely see the family resemblance. and i'm going to give you the same courteous welcome i gave amy, which is to say, not.
while wandering the grocery aisles, i was approached by a bubbly 25-year-old girl who worked there, asking if she could help me find anything. she seemed so happy to be doing her job, i couldn't help but smile back at her. "no thanks, i'm doing fine," i said. the thought of the encounter was enough to propel me through the next few aisles, still smiling. how nice it is to find somebody doing a job like that, which is typically considered not the greatest, who seems to be enjoying it. it's hard not to feel like you're standing on the heads of the oppressed most of the time, and i love seeing evidence that says they're not so oppressed after all.
that fueled another, related round of self-congratulation, as i noticed how i'm likely to latch onto positive things these days, instead of negative. three years ago i would have found something ugly or unpleasant in the store and spent as long thinking about that. chances are good just such a thing was in evidence, but that i completely ignored it, as i am wont to do these days. "each one sees what he carries in his heart" -- goethe.
then i thought: hey, you've been wandering around for five minutes looking for mustard, the most charming grocery store worker you've ever met in your life asks you if she could help you find anything, and you said "no thanks, i'm doing fine?" perhaps you could stop patting yourself on the back long enough to admit that you've still got a ways to go in the engaging-with-the-public department. it was easy to recall at least five or six other occasions in the recent past where i've done the same thing. "no thanks, helpful store worker, i'd rather stumble around blindly and pretend i'm 'browsing.' have a nice day!" i resolved to quit that, effective immediately.
i got home and finished the sedaris book in a matter of hours. i laughed, i cried, i removed the names of his relatives from his stories and inserted those of my own! sedaris writes more like i do than any other author i've ever read, if i may be so bold. he tells "just the facts, ma'am" stories with no editorializing that sound a lot like something you'd hear in a particularly memorable after-dinner conversation. he glides effortlessly through time, first he's 11 and swimming in the ocean with his brother, then he's an older adult living with his boyfriend in france, then he's 22 and getting kicked out of his house by his dad for being gay. the same way i tell stories on this here intarblog.
sedaris is a lot funnier than i am, of course. but he also makes more of an effort at it. perhaps too much of an effort, sometimes forcing a round-peg joke into a square-hole story, if you ask me. and here you see my sour-grapes way of dismissing the fact that i'm not as funny as david sedaris. take THAT, mister big-shot writer.
i googled up a sedaris interview where he refers to himself as "spineless." i must unfortunately agree. alas, i don't think it's quite as cute as he does. his family is apparently getting tired of reading embarrassing stories about themselves in his essays, so they've developed the habit of saying "you can't write about this." david says he always gives his word, but everyone knows he doesn't really mean it. ha ha! so cute! ha ha ha! a man in his forties, telling big fat whopping lies to his family, and then using his "wacky" behavior as a punchline! ha ha ha ha! GROW THE HELL UP, DUDE. that was the only thing in the whole book that really rubbed me the wrong way, so i guess that makes for a pretty good average.
after having devoured the first one, there was no way i could just sit there, aware of the existence of other sedaris books i have yet to read. i made my way to the mall bookstore. i wandered around pointlessly for a minute, trying to decide what section of the store the sedaris books would be in, when i got side-tracked by the latest onion compilation. a bookstore employee asked "can i help you find anything?" it was mere hours ago that i'd made my resolution on the subject, so i was duty-bound to ask: "where can i find the david sedaris books?"
you should have seen that guy's eyes light up. i had to practically run to keep up with him. when we got to the proper section, he wouldn't let me touch any particular sedaris book without first giving me his own lengthy opinion of it. he didn't want to leave, afraid i might choose the wrong ones, but forced himself to, reluctantly. i started thumbing through them, trying to decide, and twenty seconds later the guy was back, holding a copy of running with scissors. "anybody who likes david sedaris will like this guy too," he said, and thrust the book into my hands. i was regaled with another lengthy spiel about this new author.
that got me to pay a little more attention to the guy. yes, now i could see it all. the tiny little gears in his head had been grinding away, and the information they offered up was "david sedaris readers = GAY GAY GAY." he was a definite type i've seen before. i think the gay community calls them "bears." NOT THAT I WOULD KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THAT.
i actually kind of enjoy getting hit on by gay guys. it's a little bit of positive attention for me, and there's absolutely nothing at stake, unlike when women flirt with me, which tends to make me nervous. i feel sort of bad for the guy, because in his mind there is something at stake, but what am i going to do? saying "HAY DUDE, I THINK YOU NEED TO GET YOUR GAYDAR CHECKED, HYUCK HYUCK HYUCK" is only going to make him feel awful. so the best i can do is not lead him on and extricate myself as quickly as possible.
but how about this. the guy told me that david sedaris himself was going to be reading at another bookstore in two hours! the day i read my very first sedaris book is the day he picks to visit nashville. talk about your freaky-deaky coincidences. strangely enough, i decided not to go. i'm not sure why, i just wasn't feeling it. maybe after i've read several of his books, and feel comfortable with his world, and could ask something intelligent.
i've since finished my second sedaris book, holidays on ice. i wasn't so enthralled with that one. given his childhood, it's not surprising that sedaris has a mean streak. every now and then he puts it to use writing vicious parodies that i'm sure he thinks are witty and biting, which i think are just sad. being the person i am lately, i don't want to hear negative crap like that. most of the essays were up to his usual high standards, but it definitely killed my buzz, having to hold my nose and skim through the ugly ones.
so, that's my book report. you guys should post more. my friends page isn't getting enough fresh material lately. i've been forced to be unfaithful and read other blogs.