I have to admit, I didn't know much about David Sedaris. All I knew was that he's a bestselling writer and he's gay. The former I knew because, well... for one thing, his books were always on display in Powerbooks and National Bookstore -- especially when his latest collection of essays, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, hit the New York Times bestseller list two years ago, I think. For another, my sister was lent a copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day by a former officemate. She didn't read it (though she claims she read a bit of it), nor did she return it. I later found that book buried under her college thesis and old magazines -- stuff that turned out to be once contained in her old bureau.
The latter fact was mentioned on my copy of Out magazine's "Out 100" for 2004, which I bought on sale six months after it first hit the shelves. That's what probably interested me the most -- you know, the in-the-sprit-of-brotherhood thing. Hehe. Anyway, these pieces of information made me decide that I should definitely check his works out soon.
"Soon" came two years late, when it was announced about last month that David Sedaris will be coming here for a series of readings and book signings. Being an autograph-whore (thanks to many boyband meet-and-greets), I would love to have a book signed even if I know nothing about it. ^_^ Unfortunately I didn't know anyone willing enough to accompany me, so I was having second thoughts. I first asked an officemate of mine whom I thought was some sort of a literati... or at least well-read. Her reaction: "David who?"
Pao brought the topic up on one of our IM sessions about two weeks ago, whilst discussing out plan of action on stalking the Fab Five, who incidentally are also arriving. He didn't know much about the author either, though we both think he is that funny, given the reviews we've read. We decided to go to the first book-signing event, which actually took place today at the Shangri-La mall.
A series of unfortunate events sort of ruined our plans. Pao backed out the last minute cos he has work piled up to his nose. I already bought a book -- and therefore already have a signing pass -- so I will be forced to go regardless. Plus, the book I bought was the exact copy of the one my sister "borrowed", so now I have three books, two of which are the same. Yesterday, I've decided that I will just adopt the "borrowed" book as my own, then have the newer one signed for Pao instead (he'll pay for it plus surcharge, of course). This way, there will be no books wasted (my sister don't know where the officemate is now anyway), plus, with my new old book yellowed and looked as if read many times, I'll look more of a fan than those who bought new ones for the event's sake. Hee!
Of course, I did do my homework before attending today's events, as I wouldn't want to look stupid in case someone asked me what's my favorite book or essay or something. That exactly happened to one of the attendees (good thing David was not there yet). Poor man: the host asked him if he's a fan and he said that yes, indeed he is. Asked what his favorite book was, he flustered before haltingly admitting that he just bought the books and was just about to read them. Tsk! I felt slightly relieved and superior at the same time. Hehe! Granted, I only read half of Dress Your Family..., but at least I'd be witty enough to say that my favorite book is the one I'm reading (without actually admitting that it is the only one I've read so far). Or maybe I'd just admit that I'm a recent fan and that so far I love what I'm reading. ^_^ This kinda reminds me of my Lit classes back in college when we're supposed to read lots of books. See, the thing with Lit classes is that they usually ask one's opinion about a certain topic. What I'd do is that I'd read halfway (unless the material is really good), then on discussion I'd go "I really like the [last chapter read]..." HAHAHAHA! Hey, I passed those damn courses. I got mostly C's, but still.
* * *
David arrived I think a couple of minutes earlier than his scheduled fifteen-minute reading. I'm only guessing this cos he has OCD, and I'm betting that all his life he starts on time -- not earlier or later. If he has time to spare he'd kill it, in this case by signing the books of the people on the first row. He was not supposed to do that until after the reading, or so the schedule says. *shrugs* Ten less people to worry about, I guess.
(Oh, and by the way, he looks much better in person. The pictures don't do him any justice.)
I was pleasantly surprised at the way he interacted with his fans ("Sedaristas", the host thought of calling the crowd). He took time getting to know even each person, asking seemingly quirky, senseless questions and see how we'll answer it. Later, when I actually got the chance to talk to him, I ended up being too starstruck to come up with a good comeback (yeah, this coming from someone who just claimed to be witty enough earlier). But more about that in a while.
He read "Jesus Shaves", one of his essays from Me Talk.... I haven't read it yet, which is good enough for me because it as felt as if he was reading an unpublished material -- which supposedly he usually does anyway -- so there's something extra special to it. Besides, even if I've had read the material, the way he delivered it (with his nelly voice and all) was so funny... funnier than when one reads it himself, I'm guessing.
After the reading, he shared some of his experiences so far whilst visiting here. Apparently, the first thing he did after arriving here is eat at Jollibee. He went to Makati Cinema Square. And earlier today he went to a taping of Wowowee and thought that it was an experience. He also joked that he hasn't met anyone named Dingdong, though he's dying to. All of these he jotted down on his small notebook tucked on his breast pocket (yup, exactly like the one he described in his writings).
During the book signing, the people lined up according to the number they registered. I was number 15, which is good enough than, say 65, given the fact that, like I said, David makes small talk. Photo ops with him aren't allowed, though. You "can" take pictures and during the talk, or while he's signing someone else's books. Hehe. In any case, I didn't bring a camera, and my camera phone sucks, so my only pic of him looks like this:
When my turn came, our conversation was essentially something like this (and I paraphrase):
"So what do you do?"
"Oh, I'm a technical writer for an antivirus company. So I basically edit stuff about computer viruses..."
"Oh, computer viruses." (Beat) "You know, I don't have an email so I don't get these viruses."
"Oh. Hehe. Good for you."
"Yeah, because that's where you usually get them right? So, do you catch people who make these stuff?"
(Pause) "Er..." (Longer pause) "Well yeah, we do catch them sometimes..." (Trailing off)
He then asked me if I have anything against pirated DVDs. Hehe. I said no, and he said that it was interesting cos a lot of people he asked that also had the same answer. I think he said he's against piracy (Hee!). Or at least implied it. Something like that. Anyway, I think did I point out some good reasons people (myself included) buy pirated DVDs -- you know, the usual because-originals-are-expensive thing.
He asked if I go to Makati Cinema Square to buy DVDs and that's when my grammar failed me:
"Yeah, I did went--"
"I did go there...," and again I continued -- perhaps pathetically -- to explain my pro-piracy reasons: because some of the TV shows are not shown here... etc. I even mentioned Gilmore Girls, which I'm not sure he knows, him living in three countries and all.
I'm not sure if he actually cared about my ramblings or not. He just sat there, maintaining eye contact and smiling. ^_^ *aww* He really is nice, or at least appeared to be. Hehe! ^_^ At the very least, he seems interested about what everyone has to say... for future reference perhaps? HAHAHAHA! Hey, judging from his works where he writes stuff about people he meet (heck, he wrote stuff about his family to begin with), plus that fact that he has that little notebook... I could just imagine what he'll write about me -- assuming of course, that I made enough impact to him to even remember me: "there's this guy who claims to be a technical writer but doesn't know shit about basic grammar. Oh and he watches Gilmore Girls on pirated DVD."
Suffice it to say that I'm practically kicking myself in the head right now. My only consolation is that at least I had my books signed, and that I'm not the first person who's into piracy.
Oh, and that he's indeed a writer first, a celebrity second. *sigh* He may write stuff to make fun of someone -- himself included. But at least he knows his sources of inspiration: the people.
By the way, it was also said that he pokes fun at you even on his autographs. So true:
On the way home, I replayed the events in my head, thinking of ways that would have made our little 2-3-minute talk more interesting. I could have told him that I just turned 23 four days ago, for starters (especially when he said that Pao better give me present for having a book signed for him). Or that a rooster's crow is "tik-tilaok" here in the Philippines. He mentioned that he was told that there's a village in China where people feed their dogs with rice, then cut open the dog's stomach to eat the rice. I could have easily countered that with the fact that there a province where people feed their dogs with rice, then eat the dogs themselves. *sigh* Oh well, nobody's perfect.
I do, however, think about going to his reading on Saturday. Perhaps have more books signed. HAHAHAHA! Pao's insisting that I buy another book for him and have it signed again. Hm. If ever, it will be another 2-minute conversation with him. Hopefully I'm more prepared.
Just in case.