Last month, I met one of my favorite people, David Sedaris!! Keeping in line with my usual routine when I'm nervous, I turned into a babbling idiot. I wrote the following essay for submission to a magazine with the theme "Saying Too Much." Keep your fingers crossed!
Let’s face it. I’m no good at meeting famous people—especially ones who are my heroes. But when David Sedaris came into town to do a book reading and signing, I had to go. I had missed my chance at seeing him twice before and I wasn’t going to let that happen again. So there I was, snorting from laughing so hard, when he launched into excerpts from his journal. A majority of his entries were about people he had met during his book signings. He documented funny jokes people told him and made fun of the weirdos. At this point, I began to get nervous. I do NOT know any jokes...and I’m probably a weirdo.
I waited in line for over an hour at the signing. The girl behind me was writing herself a script of what to say while the girl in front of me presented David with a manuscript she had written. To calm my nerves, I concentrated on memorizing the script along with the girl behind me. That way, I could recite it to David first, leaving her with nothing. And we all knew that arriving at the signing table with nothing guaranteed that you’d be the biggest embarrassment there.
By the time the big moment came, David was munching on a particularly large salad. As I approached the table, he asked me if I was Greek. No, I told him. My dad is Lebanese. Thus began the whirlwind that was my conversation with David Sedaris. Thankfully he did not ask me to tell him any jokes, but he did ask me if my dad had “one eyebrow” and “back-hair.”
“I have back hair. It sucks,” he added.
“You should probably get that taken care of.” Did I really just say that?
He asked me if I was in college and who I came with. I had to confess to him that I came alone. I didn’t want to tell him that I had plenty of friends who were interested in coming but that none of them wanted to cough up the money to pay for the pricey ticket, so I chose to let him think that I was a social outcast.
Somewhere in-between providing a disjointed commentary on the benefits of psychological research and debating whether or not it was safe to travel to Lebanon (neither of which, I’m afraid, are topics of immediate interest to David Sedaris), I realized that I was in trouble. I had not paused to take a breathe in at least 2 minutes. Meanwhile, he was enjoying conveniently-timed bites of salad, chewing for what seemed like an eternity and staring me up and down, while I sweated profusely and rambled on. I had this illusion in my head that I was a stage-monkey. I was standing before him, expected to perform, and it was game on. Otherwise I was going to end up as some mythical figure, mocked through David Sedaris journal excerpts in book readings to come. Humorist-lovers around the globe would text their friends after a book reading: “David Sedaris told us all about this crazy fan at a book-signing in some little town in Virginia. She didn’t stop speaking for 40 minutes straight! After a while she forgot to breathe and the last 15 minutes of chatter spewed from a blue face.”
Unfortunately, I had already crossed that threshold.
At one point he asked me where I was from and when I told him, he asked me where it was located.
“About 2 hours southwest of here.”
“Close to North Carolina, actually! Wait a second, you did a reading there a few years ago and I was bummed that I missed it.”
“Oh I know, I’ve been there twice!” He was just messing with me now.
He began to tell me about how his boyfriend, Hugh, had lived in Beirut, when I interrupted him, interjecting my thoughts about who knows what. A red light was flashing in my head. You just interrupted David Sedaris, who was about to tell you a story. Stop. Talking. Just. Stop. But I continued to babble. I was obviously not built with an emergency break lever. I needed the equivalent of a runaway truck ramp for 18-wheeler trucks whose brakes have failed them. And I’m talking a serious one. One of those steep gravel hills with what appear to be a 90-degree incline that veer right off the road. Perhaps a brain-released chemical that paralyzed my tongue? Or a chip in my brain that turned on during emergency situations, enabling me to only give robotic responses: “Yes. Please. Thank you. It. Is. Nice. Outside. Today.”
In the end, I had brought my two favorite books with me and couldn’t decide which one I wanted him to sign. Typical. Ultimately, he signed both, and in one he simply drew a dog. I was in love. Sometimes words just aren’t necessary.