A Story About The Time I Met David Sedaris That Is So Long As To Render It Unentertaining

(Admin note: we’re ending with this post of Flanny’s because I’ve blathered on long enough this week, but: check back on Sunday for an Oscars comment party, and editor’s choice comment is all the comments in the book recommendation post, because they’re great and now I need to make a list.)

Because Wallflower asked and then six people upvoted her asking, and because we are evidently in a submission drought, I am submitting the story of the time I met David Sedaris. Well, one of the times I met David Sedaris. (That’s a David Sedaris reference.)

Picture it. Detroit suburbs, summer 2005. I was a year out of college and employed at Starbucks. The ink on my BA in creative writing is still fresh and sharp and not blurred and smudged from frustrated tears. And I was in the height of my love for the Sedarises. All of them, but mostly Amy. These were the days when I watched Strangers With Candy non-stop. I would buy magazines because she was featured in them. Let’s be real about this. I would right now kiss Amy Sedaris directly on the mouth. With tongue. When I met her, right around this time as well at a reading, I introduced my best friend Jessica to Amy as “my best friend.” And Amy said, “Best friend??!!? Gay gay gay gay gay gay gay.” Amy, yes, I love you! Let’s get married and raise rabbits and sheep together please! (My fave pic of David and Amy, via jerriblank.com, is below.)

This is supposed to be about David. I think that must have been the summer Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim was released in paperback, and I found out that he was doing a reading and a signing at the Borders on Woodward (RIP Borders on Woodward). Unless I’m mistaken, I’d seen him read early in the tour in my college town, but I was with a whole bunch of people who just wanted to get to the bar and the line was really long and I needed to go buy cigarettes because I smoked socially then (who was I?!?), so I didn’t meet him. But when I heard he was going to be even closer to home I decided to go see him.

Except his reading was on the same day that I was supposed to go to Cedar Point with the aforementioned best friend Jessica and her younger brothers! I was not about to not go to Cedar Point. Was I supposed to miss out on the Mine Ride for a book reading? No. So I decided that if we got back from Cedar Point in time, I’d head down to Borders.

(That is a photo of the actual Borders, which is also where I studied for my GRE that summer, which was money well-spent! JK! What a waste of time and energy and my just above minimum-wage earnings!)

If I remember correctly, it was a typical disgusting hot, muggy as shit Midwestern summer day. I don’t know how we got down to Cedar Point, enjoyed ourselves, and got back home in one day, but we did. I think I got back to my house at 6-ish, and David’s reading was starting at 7. Something like that. So I decided I was going to go, but Jessica was tired and didn’t want to. So I would go on my own! But first I needed to unsweatify and take a shower. This story is thrilling and I am not long-winded. I have an actual degree in creative writing, guys! I really do! I am very good at storytelling!

Anyway, when I got to the Borders (in my very very cool champagne-colored 2000 Buick Century with a tape deck), the reading was already going on and the place was packed. I ended up, I think, standing on the stairs but behind a column so I couldn’t even see David. But I didn’t care because I’d seen him before and I was there for the encounter.

I was also very tired, but I had all the time in the world. It was summer and I was young, so this time the line didn’t phase me. I had my copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day ready to sign, and I knew exactly what I was going to say to him. Me Talk Pretty is my favorite of his books and “Go Carolina”–his piece about speech class and how it was mostly effeminate boys, “The Future Homosexuals of America”–is my favorite of his pieces, because I too suffered through speech class. “Thecond grade thpeech clath” as my old brother’s friend Keith called it because hahaha I had a lisp and mocking children is great. Every Wednesday, I would get pulled out of class (I was actually in fifth grade and I didn’t say my Ss like THs, I just said them extra spitty, thanks), and the other unintelligible freaks and I would leave our private school building and cross over a busy street to the public school where there was a speech therapist on duty. Now that I think of it, that seems insane! What school sends four ten-year-olds across a busy street unattended? And nerds that we were, we never skipped. We walked right there and right back, never even considering stopping at the Hot ‘N Now for some fries! God, baby Flanny, you are so disappointing!

(That is not my actual Hot ‘N Now. My Hot ‘N Now was torn down and replaced by a Family Video long before Yelp, where this picture is from, was even imagined. And now probably that Family Video is on its last legs, if not gone as well. Say la vee. Paved paradise, etc.)

And I was not a very good speech student, because I didn’t do any of the exercises. I was too cool. So I believe that I still have that lisp, although now I have to point it out to people, usually while telling this story, and they’re like, “Oh yeaaaah, you do.” And when people don’t notice it, I get mad. Like, I went to speech class and ignored my teacher for nothing? My one bit of rebellion and the lisp went away on its own? Bullshit! Oh, it’s there. It’s there and I’m not going to try to get rid of it. Get used to it, suckers!

Besides a lisp and a strong moral center, what I also had during my time in speech class was a boyfriend. Steve. (Steve also has a really great but super uncommon last name, so while I would usually use his full name while telling the story in person, I’m going to just call him Steve.) Steve was also in speech class and what was extra adorable is that he couldn’t pronounce his Rs. I had a lisp and he couldn’t pronounce his Rs! His name was Steve and mine is (spoiler) Carol! We could not pronounce each others’ names and we met in speech class and were literally the sweetest damn things. Ssssteve and Cawol! Cute! (A year or so later, I would have Tinesha break up with him for me. I am a non-confrontational kind of girl.)

So back to David. As I stood in that very long line for what must have been hours, I was planning was I was going to say to him, and I said it. I said, “I love your work, but I have to tell you, while it might be true in your case, speech class isn’t necessarily The Future Homosexuals of America. Because I was in it and I’m not gay.”

And David was adorable and slightly flummoxed as he got his pen ready to write. He said, “Oh yes, I’m sure. I was just making a generalization.”

And I continued, “And, come to think of it, my boyfriend was in speech class too!”

David said, “Oh yes, sure! I mean, if he’s with you now, I’m sure he’s not gay.”

And I laughed and said, “Oh no, my boyfriend at the time. He was in speech class with me. We’re not together anymore.”

David seemed less confident at that point. He might have even said something like, “Well, who knows, then?” And suddenly I was struck with a memory. Of Steve and me walking over to speech class and it beginning to rain. And me complaining about it and Steve acting like a gentleman and offering me . . . his umbrella hat.

So I said to David, “Actually now that I think about it, he did have an umbrella hat.”

And David frowned and said, “Oh, that’s a really bad sign.”

Which is funny enough! But then we continued talking about other things (mostly Frappuccinos, if I’m honest), while he signed my book. Guys, he was very sweet and nice. He’d clearly been signing for ages and I was one of the last five people in line, but he still had this great conversation with me. When he handed me the book, he might have said something to the effect of, “I’m sorry, I’m not a very good speller,” but I didn’t really register it in the moment. And then when I returned to my car, heart still pounding from the proximity to greatness, I opened up the book and found this inscription.

Oh Steve. Sometimes I wonder if he was, indeed, a future homosexual of America. And if he wasn’t, I wonder if he thinks about his speech class girlfriend who couldn’t say his name. I wonder if I was too quick to have Tinesha break up with him for me. Maybe he was the one who got away. Maybe we’re soulmates. Maybe someday I’ll find out, when I invite him to my wedding to Amy Sedaris. Amy Sssedarisss.

About flanny

Flanny was born and raised in a Detroit suburb, but tells people she's from Detroit without clarification because it makes her sound tough. She is not tough. Her favorite member of One Direction is Louis Tomlinson, and her favorite Agatha Christie detectives are Tommy and Tuppence.
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21 Responses to A Story About The Time I Met David Sedaris That Is So Long As To Render It Unentertaining

  1. THIS IS SO GREAT. Also, hahaha, the GREs. I took the regular AND the Literature GRE, which was incredibly hard and I didn’t study for it because by that point I’d decided I wasn’t going on for my PhD, but I’d already paid to take it so I figured, “eh, whatever,” and I ended up getting the best score in my program of people who were going on for their PhDs and I felt really bad, but also smart.

    • Erika says:

      I thought about taking the GRE for history to keep my options open, but ultimately flaked out. And I’m so glad I did because I read the GRE history study book on a lark a few years ago, and I was like “I learned none of this.” I guess the test would have addressed basic History 101 which was never part of my curriculum in college.

    • taoreader says:

      Omg the Lit GRE. That thing was ridiculous. I studied like crazy, did okay, but then never used it and now it’s expired. Whyyyyy?

  2. flanny says:

    Pretty glad that I have tense issues in the first sentence where I mention my degree. Proud moment!

  3. Sota says:

    I can’t even pinpoint which part of this is my favorite because it is all pretty spectacular. But if you held a drill to my head, I would have to choose this line: “God, baby Flanny, you are so disappointing!”

  4. Wallflower says:

    Yessssssssssss!!!! Love it. Also, I went to speech class because I couldn’t say my r’s! But, I did my exercises because I didn’t want to sound like a baby my entire life and other kids were really mean about it.

  5. collin0truckasaurus says:

    My review of this story: Hot ‘n Now!

  6. hotspur says:

    I want to kiss this story on the mouth and raise rabbits and sheep with it.

  7. FRQ says:

    I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: you are truly the master storyteller of our time, flanny.

    Also, I briefly dated a girl in high school whose name was like the female version of mine, and people said we made a cute couple because of it. Let me share some highlights from our first date:

    – She wore a cute outfit. I wore my one pair of oversized jeans and worn out polo shirt
    – I took her to see Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas
    – We had dinner at Johnny Rockets
    – As we left the mall, the police were in the middle of arresting someone. As the cops were about to enter the front seats, the suspect started flipping out and kicked the passanger window until it shattered. There was quite a commotion on the street.


    • flanny says:

      Aww, shucks, thanks FRQ.
      It’s also one of my greatest fears that I’ll fall in love with a man named Carl. Thank you for providing me with proof that matchy named couples can only end in disaster.

  8. Casey says:

    The only ride that might be cooler than your champagne-colored 2000 Buick Century is my champagne-colored 2000 Saturn SL (which I continue to drive to this day! So cool!).

  9. artdorkgirl says:

    Flanny, you paint a picture with your words. It’s like I’m at the Borders (RIP). Also, #humblebrag guys, but I know the author of this post! She’s even been to my house!

  10. taoreader says:

    I love this story. I can’t imagine a better author signature than one which includes crossed out words.

    RIP Borders, esp the one at School and Washington in Boston, which is now a Walgreens, but a good one I guess
    RIP tape decks
    RIP Hot ‘n Now

    Oh and guys, I had the most severe deja vu reading these comments! I had a dream or something months ago where I was reading Videogum (RIP) comments and I was writing a comment about literature or something, and the lit GRE thing totally triggered it! I was lie, “I have totally done this before!” Weird.

    Oh and famous person story (apparently I’m not done commenting yet): A couple years ago Mr. Taoreader and I went to William Shatner’s one man show in St. Louis and we stood in line afterwards to have him sign our posters. The people “in charge” kept saying things like don’t talk too much to Mr. Shatner, don’t try to have a conversation with him, don’t ask him to write anything, he’s only going to sign it, etc.

    So I’m rather shy to begin with, and a big fan of The Shat, so I’m nervous about doing something wrong, which is SO STUPID because I am a grown-ass woman. So I go step up onto the platform he’s sitting on (’cause he’s the king I guess) and I barely whisper “Hi” and he signs and says “Thank you for coming” and I whisper “Thank you sir” which I will forever feel stupid about. And then someone snapped our picture and I walked off the royal platform.

    So then Mr. Taoreader gets up there, all smiles and happiness, ’cause he’s a big extrovert and is perfectly comfortable, and they go to take their picture, and Mr. Taoreader PUTS HIS HAND ON SHATNER’S SHOULDER. Then they take the pic and he steps of the king’s stage.

    He walks over to me all happy and I’m like “YOU CAN”T TOUCH THE SHAT ARE YOU CRAZY” and I’m waiting for The Shat Police to come and arrest him and of course I’ll go to jail too because I’m the one who wanted to come to this show in the first place. Mr. Taoreader thinks this is the funniest thing ever and still tells people about it and laughs and laughs.

    tl;dr RIP stuff, lit deja vu, King Shatner Police

  11. Commentatrix says:

    Ah! I loved this so much! I too love the story “Go Carolina” (favorite LOL line: “On the final day of the year we take down the pine tree in our living room and eat marine life.”), and I too met David Sedaris (4ever united thru David Sedaris signings!). It was the When You Are Engulfed in Flames Tour, and David was drawing pictures of animals in people’s books in lieu of a message. I asked for a monkey and he drew me a gay monkey. A+++

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