The David Sedaris in You

Sometimes you feel like David Sedaris’ peoples are you when you were young and that he had you in mind or someone like you when he created the silly characters. You identify with the guy who hitchhikes in the middle of a highway and can’t make up his mind about whether or not he’d give the kindly burly truck driver a hand job, because he’s high and clueless about the ramifications of an innocuous hand job. You feel an affinity with the troubled boy from Naked with what can only be described as the early manifestations of a lifelong possession of really strange behavior, the one who has uncontrollable urges to lick things – the boy who eventually finds a strange kind of solace in cigarettes.

You feel like the boy narrating below is you when you were 23:

Growing up, my parents were so very into themselves that I got little love and attention. As a result, I would squeeze the life out of everyone I came into contact with. I would scare away my dates on the first night by telling them that this was it, the love experience I’d been waiting for. I would plan our futures. Everything we did together held meaning for me and would remain bright in my memory. By the second date, I would arrive at the boyfriend’s apartment carrying a suitcase and a few small pieces of furniture so that when I moved in completely I wouldn’t have to hire a crew of movers. When these boyfriends became frightened and backed away, I would hire detectives to follow them. I needed to know that they weren’t cheating on me. I would love my dates so much that I would become obsessed. I would dress like them, think like them, listen to the records they enjoyed. I would forget about me!

It’s so hilarious to see your experiences and feelings available in paperback, sold worldwide, translated in 20+ languages, for the all the world to read. You’re being scandalized but you’re cramping from the hilariousness. He allows you to laugh at yourself because it’s funny when David Sedaris characters are yourself.

In highly self-aware states, you feel like you’re this kind of Sedaris:

I was the guest who went from loving too much to being loved too much. Everybody loves me. I’m the most important person in the lives of almost everyone I know and a good number of people I’ve never even met. I don’t say this casually; I’m just pointing out my qualification.

You can tell that whoever says these things about himself must be feeling the exact opposite of what was just described. You’re delirious with mirth when you see yourself as one of these delusional, self-deprecating types in the Sedaris world.

Sometimes you see yourself as the David Sedaris of Me Talk Pretty One Day: the bright, shining crutch to the worldly, wonderful boyfriend who only has your best interests at heart, or so you believe. As a David Sedaris in MTPOD, what you basically are is a person in France, really trying to live the French culture, surrounded by French peoples and things, and trying your damndest to learn French that often frustrates you. Sadly, when it comes to conjugating French verbs, you’re an absolute failure. The point is that there’s a David Sedaris in you. Find it, nurture it, laugh at it.

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4 thoughts on “The David Sedaris in You

  1. Sedaris: That’s the illusion of courage. I just give the illusion of exposing myself, but really, I’m not exposed at all. There’s a real me that lives inside my diary, and then there’s a character of me. Whenever you write about yourself, real people live in the world, and characters live on the page, and you become a character. So, I don’t think that I expose that much about myself. That said, I’ve never written about sex. Partly, it’s because I don’t want anyone I’ve ever had sex with writing about me in bed. The other part is that when you’re out in front of an audience, you’re the model. If you write about yourself scratching your babysitter’s back, they’re going to picture you scratching your babysitter’s back. If you read about yourself in your underpants at the hospital, then they’re imagining you in your underpants. But I’m not going to take those underpants off. I wrote something, just a glorified diary entry, and it’s in one of the books. Really, it’s just a diary entry with a little ending tacked on: I went to this guy’s house for Easter dinner. And when I went to use the bathroom, there was this huge turd in the toilet and it wouldn’t go away. It was huge. Sometimes during book signings people will come up and say they love that story, and they’ll say, “One time, I took this shit, and it was like . . .” And I’m thinking, “No, no, no. See there’s a difference. I’m talking about something I found. You’re talking about something you made.” But they couldn’t see the difference. Which is formidable.

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  2. Sedaris continues with more hyperbolic fiction in the essays “Based on a True Story” and “Christmas Means Giving,” both of which are just as over-the-top as “Season’s Greetings.” All three essays are written with a specific intent, however. Each is a commentary on how the holiday season, which is meant to be a time of year that we are more giving and kind than usual, can often bring out the worst in us. And yet there are the moments that live up to the bar that the holidays set, such as in “Dinah, the Christmas Whore.” I’ll allow you to read that one and discover the magic of Christmas for yourself.

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