For the purchase of that book over there, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, I received two tickets to see David Sedaris read last night at my local book store, Third Place Books, and it was well worth the price– “free.” I mean, this guy is a two-time Grammy nominee (2005) and in 2001 was named by Time magazine as Humorist of the Year, regular contributor on NPR and has performed at Carnegie Hall for goodness sake, and even more prestigious for those of my ilk, is a regular on Letterman! So what if we had to sit across the aisle from the dish-station at the packed food court-converted-to-lecture hall where people were balancing food trays on their laps and hurriedly eating before Mr. Sedaris took the stage, then busing their dirty dishes over to the little kiosk with a spine-jolting clatter? So what if a lot of the pieces have been previously published in the New Yorker, or read on NPR, or he’s been criticized for the ‘truth’ of his non-fiction classified book? (That again! Get over it people!) The book is still a worthy addition to my collection, and besides, we were there to see the man.
I love it when writers can draw a crowd like a rock star. (Needs a more fitting name, though….Word Star?) And when the word star turns out to be this 5’6″ gay man with a soft, sarcastic voice, and talks to you like a gossiping friend, it’s even more fun. When it came time to line up for book signing he decided that any adult man 5’6″ and under could cut to the head of the line. Then, to make it fair, he added any woman who had braces on her teeth, or any other type of supporting brace on her body, could hobble up to the front with the Shoreline Shorties, as he dubbed the men.
Well, as it happened, my companion for the event was my son, Nathan, fairly recent Sedaris fan, whom I was surprised to find out (everyone seems tall when you’re only 5 feet…) is only 5’7″ but charming enough to scam his way through the signing line as one of the Shorties. Like, what, are they going to measure him? Make him take his license out? Stand back to back with David? They did let him into the line ahead of many, many others, but didn’t let him (or the other wee ones) cut to the front. He still had to wait almost an hour, because apparently he, David, (well, Nathan, too, come to think of it) likes to talk; answering and asking questions, generally having a good time, which is the way it should be. After asking about shoe horns, his sister Amy’s fat suit and how he managed to quit smoking, Nathan came back with a huge grin and two signed books (we couldn’t find all our others–most likely buried in the landfill located in our house, also called Nathan’s room). He signed one “To Nathaniel–I’m so glad you can walk” and one to me, “With the pleasure of meeting your enchanting son.” Well worth an hour wait, wouldn’t you say?