Me Write Pretty One Day

Last night I had the unique opportunity of meeting best-selling author and award-winning humorist David Sedaris. He was doing a reading and as a birthday present, my wife Ashley purchased tickets. This is the third time I've attended a performance by Mr. Sedaris, but the first to actually meet and speak with him face-to-face. Even more thrilling was being able to hand him a copy of my own book Sugar Milk.

Understand, Mr. Sedaris's style has had a huge influence on my own writing; so to be in such a situation was both a monumental and a bit nerve-wracking. Despite the drink I downed earlier, I kept second guessing myself. What if he thinks I'm just trying to impress him? Is he going to see this as ploy to get noticed? I was fairly sure even if I did go through with it, he would shrug his shoulders and several hours later one of the ushers would find my book left under the table and deposit it at the lost and found.

This is why I have a wife who encourages me to carry out my grand schemes despite knowing the sure embarrassment I will feel. Her little pushes either demonstrates Ashley's love for me or the joy she takes in watching me squirm. Of course, had it not been for my wife, I may have never read one word of David Sedaris. Several years ago, she handed me a copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day, and since then I've burned through most everything he's written. This is why I insisted to Ashley that she should have her name, not mine, inscribed insider the copy of her favorite book.

When it was our turn (we were third in line by the way), we stepped up and Ashley handed Mr. Sedaris her book. "And what animal would you like for me to draw?" he asked in the same way a party clown with balloons would at a birthday party.

"A unicorn," my wife shot back before then adding, "with sparkles!"

Let me say here that for everyone of my long distance friends and bloggers who have met my wife in person, they fall immediately in love with her wit and charm, while at the same time, quickly realizing how uninteresting I actually am. She has an instant vivacity that she engages people with, drawing them in. Meanwhile I will remain nearby in awkward silence, making myself an open target for confused glances.

Standing before Mr. Sedaris was no different, and while the two of them deliberated over a unicorn's anatomy, I shifted back and forth on the balls of my feet and fidgeted with the tickets. After settling on the exact placement of the mythical beast's horn, both Ashley and Mr. Sedaris glanced up at me as if to demand that I explain my presence.

This is when the adrenalin took over and I blurted out something to the effect of: "Hi, I'm sure in every town you stop at there's some precocious, neurotic writer-type who claims that you have been a great influence on them, that they are your biggest fans and that they have read all your stuff. Then they proceed to hand you a signed copy of their own book and say it's a token of their gratitude and admiration of you. Well, allow me to be the first to do so here in Houston." Then I handed him a hardback version of Sugar Milk.

"Oh thank you," Mr. Sedaris said eyeing it over before stuffing it into a bag most likely meant for collecting items to donate to indigent children. "So, have you been on tour?" he asked to which I replied by rattling off a list of the one I had already done as well as those coming up. Honestly, after that, my memory is blank. I don't remember a single thing that happened next until finishing half a glass of Merlot in the upper mezzanine a few minutes before the start of the show. The whole moment seemed as if it never happened.

Later, however, while Mr. Sedaris drew huge laughs from the audience, a sick feeling grew in my gut. Did I really just hand my writing hero my insignificant little book? With sports stars like Lebron James or Brett Farve, they sign a ball or photo and hand it to you, you don't normally reciprocate the act. I felt like a dunderhead, especially as he started reading excerpts from Tim Johnston's collection of short stories, Irish Girl. A mere paragraph from that book was powerful enough to blow me away. There is no way my writing comes close to this sort of talent, a thought that caused me to sink lower in my chair.

This morning, however, a few thoughts occurred to me. Maybe comparing my skills to those of such accomplished writers wasn't a fair of me. Maybe by rating myself against them, I changed them from being representative of the standard I hope to achieve and instead turned them into the very mechanism that discourages me from striving towards that aim. Heroes inspire us to work toward something higher, not intimidate us into never trying.

Do I think Mr. Sedaris will read Sugar Milk? Probably not. I'm not sure how he would even relate to the subject matter. Yet, on the other hand, he does write quite often about his family and a healthy portion of it involves his father. Sadly, the image he portrays of his him is less than flattering during Mr. Sedaris's years growing up. His stories certainly do not depict someone even closely resembling today's involved dads, and so possibility the fatherhood themes of Sugar Milk may pique Mr. Sedaris's curiosity.

But it really doesn't matter whether he reads it or not. It was a gesture of gratitude with no expectations beyond that. Last night was about a rare opportunity that is now a storied memory. In the meantime, I will continue to clack away at a keyboard in hopes of always improving. Who knows, maybe me write pretty one day.


For those of you who have never heard David Sedaris, here's a short video I think you will enjoy.

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