I am one of those people. You know the ones. They enjoy poetry readings and book tours like some people enjoy rock concerts. In fact, Tony laughed when he realized that I would rather attend an author’s reading of their latest work than attend one of his gigs. And I love him because he’s right…and because this doesn’t hurt his feelings.
I am fascinated by authors and this eternal question that continually prods me like a fire poker: do these people even have a personality outside of their characters? In many cases, they do not, and it surprises me every time because their writing is filled with GENIUS. If you look hard enough, you can see their wit and humor inbetween the sentences, and maybe there is a glimpse of genuine interest in life after they sigh in relief when the reading is over. But beyond that, they’re a closed book (so to speak). It can be painful to watch, and I can’t help but think that if I ever have the opportunity to share my work in public, I will be one of the tortured ones….the author who looks as if she is on stilts, blindfolded and drunk, about to take her next step onto a crosswalk in New York City and the cab driver coming her way is adjusting the lid on his steaming cup of Starbucks. I would love, however, to be an author like him. He is an exception to the reason why more authors don’t engange in public speaking. Afterall, public speaking involves SPEAKING PUBLICALLY…but what makes him so great at it is that there isn’t anything he won’t say.
(An excerpt from my journal on the night of the reading: )
I’ve been waiting to hear David Sedaris speak for over two years now, and I’m finally here. Alone. This is becoming a trend and yet I’m not really complaining; it gives me uninterrupted one-on-one time with the voice in my head. I’m at the Palace Theater in the third row. If I stand up and reach, I could probably touch the stage, but then I would spend the rest of the evening being paranoid about whose shoes walked across that very spot after stepping in dog shit. And I just can’t spend the next two hours wrapping my mind aroung the fact that my hand sanitizer is in the back of my truck amidst countless empty water bottles (there is irony living in that statement somewhere, I just don’t care to dig for it right now). Sedaris is smaller than I imagined. And nicer. I guess asshole-fame is reserved for actors, like maybe Robin Williams. He’s in the theater next door.
A man and his wife just sat next to me, and I didn’t even notice until I realized the man was asking me a question. I am always startled when people notice me…that I am present…existing. I think it has something to do with 1982, when I’m four, and spending obscene amounts of time with my imaginary friend while the real-life people buzz around me unnoticed. I’ve never given this up…this habit of ignoring them, and I’m only relieved that when the man asked me, “are you a reporter?” as he watched me scribbling furiously in my notebook, I wasn’t scratching my crotch or some equally normal thing people do when they’re alone, but is enormously taboo in public. But this living alone in my own world thing? This is also why David Sedaris might be my soul mate even though he is very very gay. Or? Maybe he just really sees people.
He did a book signing before and after his talk, and when I approached the table with my armful of books that I had meticulously opened to the title pages and scripted individual names on little post-its because I wanted to complete my Christmas shopping early, he didn’t even throw them at my head in fury. Instead, he inscribed original messages in each book.
And in my book he wrote, “To Nikol. A loner by choice.”
If he only knew that this has been my way the whole time.
I wish I could remember every hilarious thing he said. But I can’t. My suggestion to you would be to read whatever you can get your hands on that he has written. Also, because he is a fantastic storyteller, his books on CD would not be a waste of your time or money. If you are appalled by my blatant advertisement, I assure you that he is not paying me for this. This is just my good deed for the day.