Today has been rather eventful. I write to you after trudging back from our local Big-O Tires, where my poor Charlie is getting a flat repaired (I will go more in to the merits of naming your car at a later date). If you are ever in a jam, those guys at Big-O Alameda are fantastic, just to let you know. Luckily I avoided the rain and managed to grab a latte to keep me company on the walk home.
As many of you already know, I adore the work of David Sedaris. When I was around 18 or so, I happened to absent-mindedly pick up one of his books at a bookstore, and have since accumulated as much of his writing as I could possibly get my hands on. I wasn’t much of a memoir or short story reader before coming across Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, but something about that book changed my mind. It had never occurred to me that you could become a best-selling author by simply writing your own anecdotal essays, or that people would read and appreciate them. Mr. Sedaris himself is quite the character, yet not in the overt way you might think. If one looks at his career path, he ultimately is an artist turned Macy’s Elf, turned house-cleaner, turned award-winning writer. He owes a large chunk of his success to Ira Glass, who first had his Santaland Diaries read on NPR’s Morning Edition. He is a self-described “junk man,” taking ordinary, admittedly self-deprecating, stories and transforming them into works that almost anyone can appreciate. I’ve been able to identify with his work more times than I can count. When my childhood pet of 21 years passed, I remember dejectedly sitting in my car reading one of his books, and coming across a story recounting his having to put a beloved cat down. There’s a great sense of comfort in realizing a grown man can relate to your blubbering sorrow over the loss of your elderly cat. To this day, I am an unwavering fan.
Which brings me to the story of the day I got to meet him. I was in my junior year in college, and had come across a notice in the school “Arts and Lectures” brochure advertising a reading with David Sedaris at the Arlington Theater in downtown Santa Barbara. I went along with a fellow dancer, who also happened to be an English major and appreciated David Sedaris’ wit as much as I did. Reading to a completely sold out theater, his reading prompted more laughs than most stand-up comedy shows. The nut/fan that I am, I was pleased to see some of the stories he read that night published in his most recent book Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. I waited in line for over an hour to have him sign my book, and was ridiculously starstruck when I found myself face-to-face with him. Should I play the adoring fan? No, too obvious. Should I regale him with stories of my own, or perhaps tell him of something as random as Engrish.com, in a nod to his Japanese adventures in When You Are Engulfed in Flames? I wish I had been that quick-witted. I let my friends chit-chat with him, interjecting occasionally, nothing special. He signed my book with the cryptic message pictured above. The book itself has since become a treasured possession, but as to the writing inside: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?! Everyone I shared it with had their own answers, and I think that was his entire point. Is it because diabetes stereotypically is linked with an over-indulgence in sugar? Are lovers sweet? Is it advice? Or is it a line from a poem? Who knows? It could be anything.
When Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls came out, I leapt at the connection.
“Diabetes! It says diabetes! Like he wrote in my book! There has to be something to that!”
He goes on to explain the logic in one of his essays. He plays with words, and what his thought process was for writing that in my book, I guess I’ll never truly know. But it’s good to think about. Because I can.