Skip to main content

David Sedaris Likes Me, Doesn't He?

David Sedaris Likes Me, Doesn't He?
Erik Deckers
Laughing Stalk Syndicate
Copyright 2008

This past Tuesday was Humor Hero Day for me. I got to meet one of my favorite writers, David Sedaris, at his book signing and reading at Big Hat Books in Indianapolis. I've enjoyed listening to David – we shared a moment that day, so I get to call him David; we're close like that – on public radio's This American Life for years, so this was exciting.

David is known for his wry and snarky humor, telling stories from his childhood in North Carolina, his young life in New York, and his home in France with his partner, Hugh, and making fun of people he meets in restaurants and at book signings.

I bought my advance copy of his latest book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, six weeks earlier, which was my ticket into the reading. I arrived at the bookstore early to avoid the long lines, but there was already a short one when I arrived.

I stood behind two women, one of whom said she was "an old friend of David's." They had worked at a little coffee shop in North Carolina; she was a waitress, he was a dishwasher. The line moved slowly, because David shared a short conversation with everyone who bought his book.

When David's "old friend" reached his table, she reminded him of their shared history.

"Sure I remember you. I wrote about that coffee house in my book," said David.

"You remember Cathy, don't you?" asked the woman.

"Yeah, I think so."

"She was friends with Terry."

"Oh, sure, sure."

"And you have to remember Nancy. Everyone remembers Nancy."

"Yeah, Nancy. I remember her too."

She yammered on about Nancy and Terry and Cathy and the fun times they all had, and he mm-hmmed in agreement. After she left, David said to me and the woman's companion, "Could you tell that was a total fake job?"

"No, I think you were convincing," said the other woman.

"I totally believed you," I said, faking the faker. (Ha! See, I can be snarky too.) "Of course, now I have to tell her the truth," I joked.

The other woman whirled around. "No, I have to work with her!"

I promised I wouldn't, so she turned back to David, and he signed her book. He didn't seem to care if I told the truth or not. Being snarky liberates you from feelings of empathy. Then it was my turn.

"What do you do?" he asked me.

"I'm in marketing," I said, then stopped myself. This was my one chance to plug my column, and I wasn't about to blow it by discussing the intricacies of direct mail. "I also write humor columns."

"Oh really, where are you published?"

"I'm in eight newspapers around Indiana."

"Wow, how long have you done that?"

"Thirteen years."

"That's amazing. I don't know how you find something new every week for so long." He gestured with his book. "This is hard enough."

This was so cool! One of my favorite writers just admitted to being envious of my ability to come up with something new week after week. Sure, it's not six New York Times best sellers, but I do what I can.

"The hardest thing about writing for newspapers," he continued, "is that you can't use filthy language. I mean, they don't even let you say 'pussy.'" I laughed.

"See, 'pussy' always gets a laugh." *

This was the best day ever. David Sedaris just said a dirty word to me. Twice. And not in anger. You just haven't lived until you've had a conversation with a famous writer about dirty words you can't use in a newspaper.

That's when it hit me: Wasn't this the guy who just faked a five minute conversation with some woman who actually knew him 30 years ago? She went away believing he remembered her. Then I thought, he doesn't care about me at all!

But then I read what he wrote in my book. "To Erik. I look forward to reading YOUR book."

I was so proud, I made it all the way to my seat before doubt crept in and I began to worry about what he might have possibly said to the woman behind me.

"Do you think he could tell that was a total fake job? I don't really care if he writes for newspapers. And I don't want to read his stupid book either."

I need to find less snarky heroes.

* In the original newspaper column, the lines read:

"The hardest thing about writing for newspapers," he continued, "is that you can't use filthy language. I mean, they don't even let you say—" and then he said a word I can only repeat on my blog at I laughed.

"See, (that word) always gets a laugh."

Ah, the joys of blogging in the free world.


  1. I had a chance to email back and forth with one of MY heroes, Joel Stein. I've kept his emails. Somehow, I doubt he's kept mine.

  2. Oh wow. To have a long line at one of my book have a short one even!! They usually pour in by the twos, sometimes in singles...often in "one-every-30-minutes-or-so". I'll have to check this guy's work out.
    Loved the post. I'm waiting for your book too. Honest :)


Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I am accepting comments from people with Google accounts to cut down on spam.
Otherwise, spam comments will be deleted with malicious glee.

Popular posts from this blog

AYFKMWTS?! FBI Creates 88 Page Twitter Slang Guide


Did you get that? It's an acronym. Web slang. It's how all the teens and young people are texting with their tweeters and Facer-books on their cellular doodads.

It stands for "The FBI has created an eighty-eight page Twitter slang dictionary."

See, you would have known that if you had the FBI's 88 page Twitter slang dictionary.

Eighty-eight pages! Of slang! AYFKMWTS?! (Are you f***ing kidding me with this s***?! That's actually how they spell it in the guide, asterisks and everything. You know, in case the gun-toting agents who catch mobsters and international terrorists get offended by salty language.)

I didn't even know there were 88 Twitter acronyms, let alone enough acronyms to fill 88 pieces of paper.

The FBI needs to be good at Twitter because they're reading everyone's tweets to see if anyone is planning any illegal activities. Because that's what terrorists do — plan their terroristic activities publicly, as if they were…

Understanding 7 Different Types of Humor

One of my pet peeves is when people say they have a "dry" sense of humor, without actually understanding what it actually means.

"Dry" humor is not just any old type of humor. It's not violent, not off-color, not macabre or dark.

Basically, dry humor is that deadpan style of humor. It's the not-very-funny joke your uncle the cost analysis accountant tells. It's Bob Newhart, Steven Wright, or Jason Bateman in Arrested Development.

It is not, for the love of GOD, people, the Black Knight scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I swear, if anyone says Monty Python is "dry humor" is going to get a smack.

Here are some other types of comedy you may have heard and are just tossing around, willy-nilly.

Farce: Exaggerated comedy. Characters in a farce get themselves in an unlikely or improbable situation that takes a lot of footwork and fast talking to get out of. The play "The Foreigner" is an example of a farce, as are many of the Jeeves &…

What Are They Thinking? The Beloit College Mindset List

Every year at this time, the staff at Beloit College send out their new student Mindset List as a way to make everyone clutch their chest and feel the cold hand of death.

This list was originally created and shared with their faculty each year, so the faculty would understand what some of their own cultural touchstones might mean, or not mean, to the incoming freshmen. They also wanted the freshmen to know it was not cool to refer to '80s music as "Oldies."

This year's incoming Beloit freshmen are typically 18 years old, born in 1999. John F. Kennedy Jr. died that year, as did Stanley Kubrick and Gene Siskel. And so did my hope for a society that sought artistic and intellectual pursuits for the betterment of all humanity. Although it may have actually died when I heard about this year's Emoji Movie.

Before I throw my hands up in despair, here are a few items from the Mindset list for the class of 2021.

They're the last class to be born in the 1900s, and are t…