I first met David Sedaris at a midtown Sacramento book store, around 1998. He had just finished reading from his essay collection Naked and I stood in line to get the book signed. He didn’t make eye contact. He just stared at my black and green plaid skirt with its oversized safety pin, and asked, “Is that a kilt?”
“Uh, no,” I said. “It’s a skirt. I bought it at Express.”
He signed my book and I walked away. What a weirdo. Are all authors freaks? I will never attend another book signing again! Yet, fifteen years later, on May 9, 2013, I’m standing in line to get my books signed right after “An Evening with David Sedaris,” here in Colorado. He was hilarious, as usual. And humble. And gracious. He rocked the Q and A.
Column by Katherine Valdez, finalist in the Grey Sparrow Journal
2012 flash fiction contest. Her story “Little Red Riding Hood Seeks
Vengeance” was published in Open Doors: Fractured Fairy Tales.
Contact her at www.KatValdezWriter.wordpress.com.
He seemed different.
David had read journal entries about fan encounters. He’s outgoing now so he can mine material for his books. As soon as his talk ended, my friend Mary said, “Go,” and we rushed out to the lobby to get in line. She bailed after 15 minutes. “Tell him I’m 61 and my hip is hurting,” she said, handing me her copy of Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.
I started reading his new book, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls: Essays, etc., then realized, Oh, crap. I’ll have to talk with him. Mary was expecting me to get his autograph, and I wanted to give my sister–a big fan–a signed book as a surprise gift. I was stuck.
About an hour later, I reached the front of the line. He was eating dinner, asking his fans questions, and using colored Sharpies to write the dedications, sometimes drawing pictures. The people ahead of me thanked him and walked away, but I stayed where I was. He looked at me, smiled, and said, “Hi.”
“Hi.” I smiled back.
“Here, unload your burden,” he said, patting the table in front of him. I walked up and placed the books there.
He glanced at my face and said, “We’ve met before, haven’t we?”
Whoa! No way. I felt my eyes widen. “Yes. At a tiny independent book store in Sacramento. Around the late '90s. You commented on my kilt.”
He smiled. “Kilt?” So I described it in detail.
“Do you still have it?” he asked.
“Yes.” I pictured exactly where it was hanging in my closet.
“When was the last time you wore it?”
I paused. “About two months ago.”
“So it still fits? What do you do?”
“Walking, hiking, running…”
David explained how he stays fit. He described a basic exercise founded in Japan by Izumi Tabata. He repeated the name, Tabata, to make sure I remembered it. He can do the exercises in 20 minutes in his hotel room. He signed the books as we talked, and I gave a quick explanation. “Hazel is my sister. She loves you. Mary and I are writers. We’re working on our first novels.”
“What are you writing?”
As I recited the logline by memory, I began to worry. This is too much information. He’s going to make fun of me. (A rebellious teenager inherits her grandmother’s psychic visions and must develop this gift to save her mother’s life and confront a terrible family secret.)
David smiled. “What are you calling it?”
“No, it can’t be one word. It needs to be better ... What’s your character’s name?”
He thought for one second and said, “You’ll have to change the name and call it Déja Sue!”
His face broke into a wide grin. My smile froze, and I inched away, embarrassed. “Thanks!” I said, and walked to the back of the line to tell my friend Deenya, who had waved at me earlier.
“You were meant to meet him again!” she said about this cosmic occurrence. We talked for awhile before I realized I hadn’t read his dedications. I opened the covers one by one.
“To Mary. I look forward to reading your book.”
“To Hazel. Your sister enchanted me.”
“To Katherine. We meet again. Enchantress.”
He had placed a skinny bookmark in one of the books. My book. It promoted his November appearance at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
I toyed with an idea. Would it be weird to fly to New York just to attend his event?
After a minute, I decided, Yes, that would be weird. Don't be weird.
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