Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

It isn't often that, being a barista, I get to splurge on an evening out with one of my favorite authors. But, as the Coffee Gods would have it, fellow IB embracey managed to score tickets for David Sedaris' recent Seattle performance and, a free pound of coffee later, invited me to attend the event with him.

So, after tossing my copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day into my backpack and stopping by the store to pick up a pack of Kools (Sedaris' brand of choice), I was on my way to meet up with embracey for an evening of unique literary humor.

I was first introduced to Sedaris several years ago when I heard him on This American Life, relating in "Santaland Diaries" the horrendous experiences he suffered while employed as a department store elf at Christmastime. His ability to find slices of humor in the craziest places and to make fun of the people around him (and, indeed, himself) instantly captivated me. Tonight would be my first chance to actually see a face with the voice, and I was eager to find out if my fantasy – err, expectation – would match with reality.

The humor of the evening began before we even entered the Paramount, where I noticed a banner below the marquee sporting that infamous I-Told-You-I'd-Quit-Tombstone anti-smoking ad. I wondered if Sedaris, by all accounts a proud chain-smoker, had noted this and would be writing about it in a future book. I can only hope as much.

Being the wide-eyed, mesmerized fan that I was, I can't recall exactly in which order Sedaris read his various writings. There was a hysterical one about his brother's wedding, with Sedaris relating his attempt to convey some magical older-brother-gives-younger-brother-some-pre-marital-profound wisdom, the effort ending abruptly when his brother called his dog over to eat another dog's pile of shit. So much for that moment. Then there was the one about David and his partner Hugh living in London, where David's newly-honed art of purchasing not-for-sale items (a chair from outside a clothing store's dressing room, for example) has been put to use numerous times. Obviously, I am no David Sedaris, and any attempt to really bring out the humor in these anecdotes will miserably fail. You'll have to read (or hear) them for yourself, but suffice it to say, I am confident that Sedaris' best work is yet to come.

My favorite part of the evening, however, was the Q & A section following the readings. I don't know about you, but my experience with Q & A sessions in the past has often left me disappointed. Either I spend the evening getting the "Dumb Chills" (a phenomenon whereby you feel chills of embarrassment for people who are too dumb to get them for themselves based on the sheer stupidity of their questions) or get disappointed when the author/celebrity/director/whatever is extremely vague in answering, leaving the question looming in your mind larger than before. I'm happy to say that neither occurred this evening. It was obvious with his answers that Sedaris is a truly, naturally funny person who sees reality infused with humor all of the time.

Again, to try and quote him here would do his work great injustice. But I will mention that my favorite Q & A moment occurred when Sedaris somehow got on the topic of cigarette prices in the U.S. He complained about the $8.50 a pack that he pays in New York, prompting applause from some (obviously nonsmoking) audience members. To which Sedaris went on a diatribe about living in Europe and being able to smoke wherever he wants, expressing his bitter disdain that this isn't true in America.

baristaboy tip: Sedaris mentioned that he will not be making a movie of Me Talk Pretty One Day. Although he did option the rights to it originally, he decided against the contract when it came up for renewal. His reasoning was that he doesn't care about the screenwriting (or filmmaking) process, and didn't feel that he should be turning his family over to someone else to create for the screen. A smart move, this IB thinks.

{Editor's note: This IB concurs. The idea of Wayne Wang directing Matthew Broderick in a Sedaris-based flick has its charms, but some things are just better left outta the cinematheque. -embracey}

{Author's reply: Um, yeah, what he said. -baristaboy}

After the event, Sedaris was available in the Paramount lobby for book signings. Although I had anticipated such an opportunity, a barista's day starts early and I wasn't prepared to stand in that long a line. Besides, I wanted him to get back to writing as soon as possible, my re-readings of his previous works continually creating a hunger for more.

If you haven't experienced David Sedaris' writing, do it now. You'll feel better about living in a world filled with quirky, stupid, borderline-psychotic people like you and me.