Tuesday, June 30

An Evening With Greatness, Part 2

And now, without further ado, the much-anticipated conclusion to An Evening With Greatness, Part 1:

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.

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.
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.”

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…


jasmine said...

I love Sedaris... october is worth it.

Slamdunk said...

I am glad that you did not entertain thoughts of pulling the fire alarm or shouting "gas leak, everyone evacuate" to provide your opportunity for a quick conversation with the author.

You didn't did you?

Maggie May said...

Oh man! I hope you go in October

Anne Dayton said...

Whenever I'm standing in a really long line--usuallu for communion-- I like to imagine what would happen if I just freaked out and punched the person ahead of me in line. It always amuses me, and generally makes standging in line better.

Though I've never actually gone and done it. I suspect that wouldn't be nearly as funny.

Dan said...

You're more dedicated than me, I really couldn't be bothered to wait that long for anybody i don't think.

Erin said...

Jasmine—I agree. Because even though I didn't wait it out, I really really wanted to. The guy is a class act.

slamdunk—I'd prefer to take the fifth.

Anne—The thought of you punching someone in the communion line seriously just made my day. Also, I think you and I are on the same wavelength in ways I never imagined.

Dan—So does that mean you won't be making a pilgrimage to Neverland to pay your respects? ;)

Anonymous said...

SO glad you'll get a second chance.

Anonymous said...

I think it's really funny that there's a link to a blog post about breastfeeding on your blog page. You are destined to have a good five-minute conversation with His Big Dealness. I'll meet you for dinner in October, AFTER we secure our single-digit wrist bracelets.


Dusty @AllThingsG+D said...

That last line made me laugh out loud. I can't believe you waited for so long with no reward--ugh! I'm so glad you'll get another chance to see him. Good luck!

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