Two weeks ago I said yes to David Sedaris, finally. He has been one of my favorite authors and comedians since I was a kid and his books on tape were what saved many family road trips, and I have always wanted to see him speak in person. When my boyfriend Kevin I moved to Davis last September, we noticed that he was scheduled to speak at the Mondavi Center the next April. Before we even had all of our boxes unpacked, we called the Mondavi Center to snap up two tickets, but they were already sold out. Kevin called once a month for the next six months to no avail, but finally, a few days before David Sedaris was scheduled to speak, we got an e-mail alerting us that a few seats had opened up. Kevin jumped on his bike and pedaled furiously over to the Mondavi Center, and snatched up the last two tickets! And so on Thursday, April 28th, 2011, I found myself in same building as David Sedaris.
We arrived early and were milling around the lobby, keeping an eye out in case he decided to do a pre-show stroll through his adoring fans, but when we didn’t see him we headed up the three flights of stairs to our seats. Kevin happened to glance down at the lobby as we climbed the stairs, and there he was! David Sedaris had been sitting at a table signing books in the middle of the lobby, and somehow we had missed him. So I took this picture, which is terrible quality, but is the only one I got of him all night because the security around him was very tight and didn’t allow picture-taking (I found this out after a guy around my age with pretentious glasses made me erase a picture that I had taken of David Sedaris).
If you’ve never seen David Sedaris in person or on a talk show, he can be a surprising figure to see for the first time. Much smaller and less obtrusive than his paper personality, he looks like the uncle you might have who gets his hair messed up by his older brothers because he is much shorter than they are but still has all his hair. When he walks out onto a huge stage like the Mondavi, he cuts an unimpressive figure; he almost looks like he is there by mistake. But then he starts talking, and you forget all of that. He warmed us up with some banter and a hitch with his microphone, and then dove into reading some of his published and unpublished stories. My favorite was of course the one about his experiences on a country club swim team, as swimming has been my main sport all of my life, and I could relate to many of his embarrassing episodes in the pool and on the deck. He is a hilarious and engaging reader, and I knew he would be.
As the show was winding down, I decided that I was going to run down to the lobby as soon as he left the stage to get a book signed and talk to him. It was my one chance to meet David! I did just that, although about 30 people had the same idea and were faster than me. David Sedaris took the time to talk to each person individually as he signed their book, chatting and laughing, and he even gave one woman a red felt octopus that he happened to have in his pocket. When Kevin and I got to the front of the line, I handed him my copy of “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk,” his newest book, to sign, and before I could tell him how much I admired his writing, or him as a person, and before Kevin could ask him what he eats for a midnight snack, David Sedaris asked me if I was a Gemini. When I said no, he said, “Taurus?” And I said, “No, but he is,” pointing at Kevin. David looked at Kevin, nodded, and then said, “I’m a Capricorn.” I said, “Me too!” and then our turn was over, and we were herded away by the kid in pretentious glasses.