Sunday, November 10, 2013

That Time David Sedaris Called Me Controlling

I probably don't need to start out by telling you that I met David Sedaris. It's pretty evident by the title. But I did. I met him. I met David Sedaris. 

He came to Melbourne's Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts two weeks ago, which is only about an hour drive from Orlando. He was exactly how I imagined he'd be. Short, gayer than a three dollar bill sporting European sneakers and a $200 tie. He also had on pants. And a shirt. And a blazer. They weren't as notable. 

Well, the blazer was pretty nice I guess.

I went to the event alone, arriving twenty minutes early, my copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day tucked under one arm. I have never in my life felt whiter than I did standing in the lobby of that auditorium waiting to take my seat. A sea of white, upper middle class, NPR listening, gay liberals surrounded me. It was fabulous. It was safe. It was very, very well dressed.

He read a few essays to promote his latest book, Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls,  but mostly the hour and half that he spoke consisted of an assortment of stories and quips I hadn't already heard; from diary entries and observations, to an essay about his sister's suicide published in this month's New Yorker, titled Now We Are Five. 

The last ten minutes were spent answering questions from the audience, and once he was finished we all filed back into the lobby, those of us who wanted books signed pushing our way through the crowd to get in line. I've never been to a book signing before, and until it was announced at the completion of the Q&A, I wasn't even sure he would be doing one, which explains why I was so unprepared, and evidently controlling.

I'm a pretty good pusher, which landed me near the front of the line, and by the time things settled down, I could see that I was only seven or eight people back. I was handed a piece of paper by a security personnel and instructed to write my name on it. I took out a pen from my purse and wrote Adie Putrow. Satisfied with this, I looked up to find my fellow pushers still writing. They must have really long names, I thought to myself. But as I looked ahead at the gentleman standing in front of me, wondering if his parents were asshole enough to give him a name like Sebastian Fernando Alabaster III , I saw written instead, For Bill, with love. Keep writing my friend!

For Bill, with love? Keep writing, my friend?! Why hadn't I thought to write a personalized message? Not to mention the fact that I had included my last name, which in hindsight seemed really awkward. Not wanting to be left out of the personalized messages party I began to panic. With love was just creepy. There was no way I was writing that. And even if I wanted to, keep writing, my friend wouldn't work because I was behind the guy in line and it would be obvious that I had copied him. Besides, having never read any of my writing, how would David Sedaris know if I should keep it up? Especially now that I was exposed as a copy cat, perhaps I'd be better suited for a career in copyediting, or as a transcriber. 

In the end I scrapped the whole personalized message thing altogether and settled on Adie. Just Adie. 

As for For Bill, with love, I noticed as he left the signing table just moments after I had scribbled out my last name, that instead of a personalized message, inside his copy of When You Are Engulfed in Flames was a drawing of a knife with blood dripping off the tip. I found this highly amusing, not to mention ironic, and was immediately jealous. Insanely jealous. I wanted a hand drawn David Sedaris weapon. No. I needed a hand drawn David Sedaris weapon. 

"Have we met before?" he asked, as I stepped up to the table, eying his to-go salad and chunky tomato dressing. 

Wendy's. I'm totally getting Wendy's on my drive home tonight, I thought. 

"No. No I don't think we have." I replied. 

"How are you?" he asked.

"I'm good thanks. Hey, so I noticed that you drew a knife for that guy, is there any way that you could draw me a grenade? Or maybe, I don't know... a handgun?" I asked.

"Are you always this controlling?" he replied.


"Yes, yes I guess I am... Now. About that grenade..."

In the end, I got a pair of bloody scissors. It's not a grenade or a handgun, but I really couldn't be happier.