Monday, June 30, 2014

Shpedaris: David Sedaris Weekend!

I have to do a post obsessing about meeting David Sedaris.  I just have to.  It's mostly for memory's sake, because the whole experience was so sweet that forgetting it would be a crime.  I remember looking up his tour schedule when I was 15 and trying to go but my mom wouldn't let me drive into the city (San Francisco)  by myself and no one else knew who David Sedaris was and I was so upset about it.  Then he came to Salt Lake a few years ago, but tickets were in the $250 range and I just couldn't get away from the store or spare that kind of money, so I missed it again. Him coming to Butte, and on a weekend when David and Meg could be home with Joony, and it all being free?  It felt serendipitous.  I'd waited 10 years for this!
Did we make t-shirts? Yes we did.

Hailey and I drove up to Butte, Montana on Saturday with sushi, cookies, fancy sodas, and good conversation for the 3.5 hour road trip.  Butte was...scary.  85% of the town is dilapidated and vacant and we speculated that it would be the perfect place for a coven of witches or gypsies to dwell...or maybe just a meth lab, actually.  Sketchy, spooky, scary (Spooky, scary! Boys becoming men, men becoming wolves!).  We spent Saturday night eating pizza and watching Netflix in bed, on sheets and a comforter that we brought ourselves since the motel we stayed at was maybe a little bit scary and very cold, too. That's what you get for $70/night, right?  I think we went to bed before 10:00. Party animals.

The book store where the signing was held also felt run down and so, so random for a literary superstar like David Sedaris to be visiting.  I'd never been to a Hastings before and it was basically a Barnes & Noble meets Spencer's. The signing was scheduled for 2:00, and we got there at 11:30 after a Starbucks run.  The area for the reading was empty, so we snagged two seats in the front row directly in front of the podium. One other couple showed up right after us, and a few more people around 12:30, and it was a ton of fun to chat about our favorite author and laugh about how excited we all were.  For the most part, the crowds didn't start coming until right at 2 or even after (WHO shows up late for David Sedaris? Come on!).  When they started crowing the front of the area we were kind of like, ", we've been here for 2.5 hours, no way are you pushing in front of us."  David's plane into Helena was late, so he didn't get there until 2:30 or so, and by that time the whole store was packed...with us in the very front row!

He read us a new story he's working on, which joked about how Americans overuse the word "awesome," and then one of the Forensics monologues from the new book.  He also read a couple very short diary entries with some great jokes and little snippets from his life in England and on book and lecture tours.  He opened the floor for a couple questions, and it was so neat to hear his answers.  One person asked about hurting people's feelings by writing about them.  Another asked about how funny he is, which he attributes to coming from a large family and competing for his mother's laughter, which was so poignant and sweet.

When it was time for the signing, I was the first one at the table!  I had my copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day, my hardback of Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls as well as a paperback copy, since that's what he was on tour promoting.  I also brought this week's issue of the New Yorker, which I got in the mail the day before I left for Butte and had his essay Stepping Out in it!  He was so gracious and signed all of them and we got to chat for a few minutes.  My hands and voice were shaking, I was so nervous!  A Hastings employee had passed out post-its to write our names on so he could spell them correctly when signing, and he commented that I had nice handwriting and that he liked the name Brandilyn (!). I had bought the paperback copy of Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls, and in that one, he wrote:
...So I mean, we're best friends now, right?

While we were hanging out waiting for the reading to begin, a man walked up and started chatting with Hailey about David Sedaris (I was off picking out a book about trains for Joon).  He said, "Yeah, I'm really interested in David Sedaris.  He's got that weird voice.  I'm not gay, but I'm so interested in people with disabilities like that getting all educated and stuff!" All jaws in the room dropped at that.  Just ridiculous.  When Hailey had her books signed, she told David that story, and he laughed and then pulled out his little notebook and made a note about it! He signed her book, "From your handicapped friend, David Sedaris," and then "I'm a sofa king we taught it," on another. Perfect.

When we got into the car after it all happened, Hailey and I just kind of stared at each other for a second, and then I burst into tears.  It was all just too much!  It had been so much better than I ever even imagined it would be, and yes, I'd spent time imagining what it would be like to meet David Sedaris.  He was so funny and so gracious, even though his tour schedule must be exhausting.

So I'm back home now, with a couple signed copies of my favorite books and a signed New Yorker to frame, and I think I'm done freaking out about the whole least online.


  1. Oh my word I am so jealous, I simply love David Sedaris! Glad you guys had such a great time!

  2. This is amazing. AMAZING. I am so happy for you and your shpitty

  3. LOVE!!! This is so great, Bran. I am so pleased that it was everything you imagined and better - what a great memory!!

  4. I'm from Montana (from long ago) and your description of Hastings is SO spot on - I laughed out loud and texted it to my sisters. They say: "OMG so cruel so true" and "

    I saw DS years ago at Symphony Hall in Boston. I love that he can perform somewhere all fawncy (and have the entire audience practically licking him, they loved him so much) and then turn around and do a reading in a Hastings in Butte Montana.

    So glad you met him - and love your blog.

    1. Haha! We walked in and were like, "Really? Well, okay..."

      And that's exactly what I kept saying, too! I'd be all, "He sold out Carnegie Hall! With Lena Dunham! HE IS FAMOUS," ...yet we met him at a free reading and signing in Butte. Just so cool. He really seems invested in his fans.

  5. I just found your blog last week (via Pinterest), and I'm having so much fun reading it. You seem like such a cool gal. Anywho, I looooove David Sedaris and have always missed his readings/signings. I got so excited reading this post. How cool! I can't wait to hear him use the handicapped story in one of his books. You and your friend will feel like you're part of it!


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