I was really starting to lose my zeal for getting David Sedaris’s autograph after I’d been waiting three hours, and he still hadn’t gotten through the first 150 fans in line. I sat in the now-vacant second row of seating—mere feet from His Big Dealness—furiously thinking of ways to beat the system. For a moment, I even entertained the idea of flirting with one of the bookstore employees, but a couple coeds beat me to it, and they had no success.
So then I went to Plan B: Stare at David adoringly, while at the same time looking pathetic and almost weepy. Channel your inner sick child look, I thought to myself. As soon as he glances up, he’ll notice you sitting there, he’ll see that you’re about to expire from exhaustion—an exhaustion onset by your valiant labor and delivery, sixteen months ago—and he’ll usher you to the front of the line.
But again, someone beat me to it. This time, it was an elderly woman with a cane, wristband number 76, who simply couldn’t stand any longer and had taken a seat in the front row to wait her turn.
“Are you all right?” David asked her, as a young college student approached his table. “Come on up here!” he insisted.
“Yeah,” the college girl enthused, although I could tell she really didn’t mean it. “You can go ahead in front of me if you want,” she added—unconvincingly, if you ask me.
The older woman, I had learned (by eavesdropping, to decipher her angle), was a retired teacher. She really worked it hard, readjusting the cane and everything. "Come on up!" said David, yet again. But then—and I couldn’t believe my ears—she said, “Oh, no. I’ll just wait my turn. I’m really enjoying this,” gesturing to the scene before her: Hundreds of people excited about good books, waiting to meet the object of their literary admiration.
My first instinct was to faint right then and there. I mean, who gets the opportunity to skip a seven-hour-long line and passes it up? On reflection, it might have been a good idea to try and faint—that would have won me some real points with David. But at the time, my better angel convinced me that perhaps I should drink the Kool-Aid and actually try to enjoy myself, to gain something from having the privilege to sit mere feet from a contemporary literary giant. So, after briefly entertaining the idea of procuring a cane and coming back, I instead whipped out my Moleskine and started taking notes:
I watch a woman in a white linen shirt bring him a bowl of cherries. He spits his cherry pits into an empty paper coffee cup. I like that he talks with fruit in his mouth.Eventually my writerly notes morphed into progressively negative text messages aimed at Noah: “I wish you were here.” “Do I want to see David or you more right now?” “I’m bored. It is cold.” “I’m tired.” “There’s no hope.” And finally, “I’m coming home.”
A man walks up to the table holding a yearbook. He and David flip through it, and reminisce.
David gives gifts to his young admirers. He gives one young boy a t-shirt; he gives the boy’s brother a bumper sticker. Their parents laugh heartily. But when another boy approaches—he’s in that unfortunately ogre-ish stage of adolescence—David asks his age, then delightedly hands the teenager a condom. Normally this would be shocking, but David had shared a story of going to Costco for gifts and finding nothing individually wrapped and good for mass distribution except a box of condoms the size of a cinder block. It’s all part of the act, you see.
I’d been in that bookstore for more than five hours—longer than I’d bargained for, an unexpected state of disappointment that Self-Defeating Erin thrives on. But the next day I went online and looked up David’s book tour schedule. I discovered that he’d be in Greensboro for a reading and signing in October.
Fantastic! I rejoiced. I could redeem myself. You’ll go in October, and you’ll be there way early, and you’ll definitely get his autograph.
So that's my plan. October, in Greensboro. Early arrival. Early bird gets the worm.
You’ll be there so early, I hear myself whisper, you could probably stop and get dinner…