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October 25, 2013


My Evening With David Sedaris

On a hot summer day between eighth and ninth grade, my mom handed me a book and said “Amy, I think you’d really like this.” My mom is notoriously good at finding books I’ll enjoy, so I gladly accepted it and began reading. This book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, by David Sedaris, marked the official beginning of my love for his writing. After finishing it, I moved on to Naked, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, Me Talk Pretty One Day, Holidays on Ice, and Barrel Fever, listening to him on the radio, and reading his essays in The New Yorker. I was excited when Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk came out, and even more excited for his latest book, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.

My collection–I am missing a few though.

In tenth grade (I think) I wrote him a tongue-in-cheek letter attempting to persuade him to come to Senegal by describing how my parents were attacked our second or third week at post, the garbage everywhere, and other equally delightful aspects of the country. Time passed, and once I gave up hope of ever hearing back, I received a postcard from him, saying if he “ever wanted to get stabbed in the hand,” he’d take me up on my invitation. Senior year came along, and a friend and I decided to write letters to our favorite famous people under the guise of finding a cool graduation speaker, when really we just wanted a response—basically, we expected rejection and made no attempt to hide it in the sarcastic nature of our letters. Of course, I wrote to David Sedaris. He is, as of today, the only one out of the six people we sent letters to that wrote back.

The postcard

Before coming to Clark, I found out that David Sedaris was coming to Worcester as part of his book tour. Ecstatic, I asked my mom to book me a ticket. This past Tuesday, I took a huge leap of independence and took a cab to the Hanover Theater (which is lovely), on my own, to see him.

Upon my arrival at the theater, I went to use the bathroom. While in there, I heard a familiar voice. I identified it immediately. David Sedaris. I could hear him doing his sound check and testing the lighting in the theater from the bathroom I was using. After washing up, I stood in the bathroom reveling in the sound of my favorite author’s voice.

I exited the bathroom, sat down on a carpeted staircase, and pulled out my sociology book to study for an upcoming exam. I had 20 minutes before the doors to the theater opened, so I figured I’d make the most of it. I happened to glance up exactly as David Sedaris himself exited the theater and approached the concession stand. He bought something, I don’t know what, but I didn’t watch because I thought it would be creepy. Some people, when you see them in real life, don’t match up to your perception of them based on what you’ve seen in the media. David Sedaris is not one of those people–he was exactly ‘right’.

A cut-paper portrait I made of David Sedaris last year.

Eventually, I entered the theater, found my seat, and mentally prepared myself for an extremely important evening. An organist was playing on stage as people flooded into the vast hall. The lights dimmed, and a voice said “Ladies and Gentlemen, David Sedaris!” He walked out on stage, stepped up to the podium, and said the words I had only ever heard of videos: “Thank you all for coming.”

After the reading came the book-signing. Eager fans stretched behind me, eager fans stretched ahead. Nearly 3 hours after leaving the theater, my turn came, and my heart was pounding.

Our conversation was not especially exciting. There are a lot of things I wish I had said that would have been funnier or more interesting. However, I did thank him for responding to both my letters. He asked me what I wrote and appeared to instantly remember when I told him, saying “it is always so interesting to meet the people who write to me in person.”

After 5 years of dreaming, I met David Sedaris; I talked to him, and he drew a picture of a bloody knife in my book.

My evening was wonderful. He remains my favorite author, the neatest famous person I have ever met. I will always remember the night I conversed with David Sedaris, but unfortunately, he has probably already forgotten me.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ethel
    Oct 26 2013

    Wow! You must still be thrilled beyond even these words you have shared. The odds of him coming to this place at this particular time must be enormous.
    Of course, now I will need to hit Amazon and see if I can order one of his books.

  2. John B. Yeager
    Oct 26 2013

    It was a good piece. At least it made me want to find out Who in the world is David Sedaris. I might see if I can find one of his books to read.
    popa john

  3. Cathy Greaves
    Oct 26 2013

    What a red letter day for you, Amy. Life’s going to seem a bit tame after this. :)

  4. R. Hoedebeck
    Oct 26 2013

    How exciting, Amy! You are so thoughtful to share a little bit of your life each week with people who love you.


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