David Sedaris: He had me at "Haven’t we met before?"

By Carey Reed Zamarriego

 

How Sedaris signed a copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day for a friend.

(una versión en español está abajo)
“Haven’t we met before?”

“No, this is my first time,” I giggled. 

And that is how my meeting with David Sedaris began at his book signing post-reading at Proctors in Schenectady, NY (he is currently touring the US and then will be in the UK from May on). I had braved the 2 + hour drive up from Pawling, NY, a drive that was pretty spectacular (rolling NY hills, a random white Buddha head sculpture on one of them in near a place called Austerlitz) and boring. 


Sedaris started the hour and a half reading with one of my favorite stories: Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, about the complicated love story between the two medium-sized rodents, which is only complicated when the subject of jazz is brought up. From that point; he read some new material and journal entries, fielded questions and gave away a Dutch copy of one of his books. I was in row AA, smack up against the stage, almost a little too close for comfort. But, I was mesmerized. The place was nearly sold out, filled with all types: young, old and even the odd republican. The fact that a man can bring that many people together for a story reading is just astounding. 

Following the reading, the pint-sized Sedaris (who did fumble at times with his readings, making him only that much more endearing) “would be in a small chamber signing books,” using the author’s own words.

Seated at a large desk in the bookshop adjacent to the theatre, between pauses to cut what looked like a grilled pineapple and to put dressing on a beautifully looking green salad, Sedaris spent 5-10 minutes with each person/group. While I was in the second half of the line, it took me an hour and 15 minutes to read him. I stood in line not fidgeting because of the wait (I was happy to hear he was spending so much time with each visitor), but because of nerves. I recited what I would say in my head, as I was inadvertently dampened the books I held with palm sweat.

The nerves nearly melted away when I was greeted with, “Haven’t we met before?” 

We swapped our tales of expatriation (he lives in the UK, I just returned to the US from Barcelona, Spain), shared a mutual ‘give the guy a break’ feeling on everyone’s anger with Obama and I gushed about his stories, which he received graciously. I also spoke a bit of Spanish, of which he said I spoke wonderfully and sounded just “marvelous.” Looking into his kind hazel eyes when he said that, I was instantly smittened. 

When I recounted the story and showed my parents that he wrote I “bedazzled” him in one of the books I bought as a present for a friend, my father asked, “Did he ask you for your phone number?”

“He’s gaaaay,” I replied. 

“Yeah, but did he ask you for your phone number to go out for coffee or lunch or something?”

“No.”

————–
(la versión en español)
“Nos conocemos de antes, no?”

“No, es mi primera vez,” dije riendome.

Eso fue el comienzo del encuentro que tenia con David Sedaris despues de su lectura en el teatro Proctors en Schenectady, NY (el esta haciendo un tour por EEUU ahora mismo y se va a Inglaterra a partir del Mayo) Conduci mas que dos horas a traves de las colinas preciosas de NY (una tenia unas esculturas gigantes de Buddha) para llegar ahi.


Sedaris empezo su lectura con el cuento: Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk (Ardilla Busca Ardilla Listada), que cuenta el complicado cuento de amor entre esos dos tipos de roedores, que complica mas aun cuando uno empieza a hablar del jazz. Despues, el leo unos cuentos nuevos, leo de su diario, dio una copia de su libro en holandes y contesto preguntas. Yo estaba en la fila AA, justo enfrente del escenario, quizas fue demasiado cerca. Pero su lectura me deje asombrada. En este teatro habia gente de todo tipo: jovenes, viejos, inclusive unos republicanos y estaba impresionada que todos estaban ahi para escuchar a las historias de el.

Despues de la lectura, el recibio gente en una pequenya tienda para firmar libros y charlar. El estaba sentado a un gran escritorio y paso (mientras corto su cena y comio una ensalada) 5 a 10 minutos con cada persona/grupo. Yo estaba en el medio de la cola, nerviosa. Estaba repitiendo lo que iba a decir a el en mi mente y sin querer estaba sudando encima de los libros que tenia en mis manos. 

Los nervios casi desaparecio cuando el me saludo, “Nos conocemos de antes, no?”

Intercambiamos nuestras historias de vivir en otros paises (el vive en Inglaterra, yo acabe de regresar a EEUU despues de unos anyos viviendo en Barcelona), tambien hablabamos de Obama y yo elogiaba sus libros, el recibio los elogios con mucha gracia. Hable un poco de espanyol a lo cual el me dijo que hablo de maravilla. Yo mire a sus ojos medio-verdes, medio-marrones, ojos con mucha simpatia y de repente estaba muy entusiasmada con el. 

Cuando conto la historia a mis padres y ensenye uno de los libros donde el escribio que yo “deslumbro” a el, mi padre me pregunto, “El te ha pedido tu numero de movil?”

“El es gaaay,” le conteste. 

“Si, pero no te ha pedido tu numero para salir y tomar un cafe o ir a comer?”

“Pues, no.”

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