Stewy welcomes writer David Sedaris to Aspen
Ryan Summerlin November 23, 2012
ASPEN – David Sedaris turned down my request for an interview, which I totally get. Sedaris, the guy behind (or does he go in front?) humorous essay collections including “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” “Naked” and the upcoming “Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls” is, I’m sure, swamped with movie deals, party invitations, magazine shoots and objects that, due to his well-documented case of obsessive-compulsive disorder, need to be fondled, rearranged, cleaned, licked or hugged.
Which means I’m going to have to go commando style (am I using that phrase properly?) and submit my questions here. So, David, sometime around your appearance Saturday at the Wheeler Opera House, be a dear and run your answers over to me at The Aspen Times.
1. In addition to turning down my request for an interview, you also turned down my offers to be your tour guide, valet, chaperone, Q-and-A mic-holder and/or the fawning admirer who stands off at a semi-uncomfortable distance letting out the occasional dreamy sigh. What other service could I possibly have offered up that would have got me some personal time with you?
2. Anyone ever mention you don’t look like a David? The name David, is (to borrow your description of your sister Lisa, in “Dina, the Christmas Whore”) “patently, joyfully normal.” You, friend-o, are anything but patently, joyfully normal. How about I call you Dmitri?
3. Having related the episode of your boyfriend lancing a boil on your ass; having revealed your disabling case of OCD and shoplifting habits in childhood and your inability as an adult to learn French or how to drive; having laid bare your failures as an actor, department-store elf and apple picker; and having told of the grotesque thing someone in your family used the bath towels for, is there any autobiographical detail too embarrassing to put in a book?
3a. And that you would be willing to tell me about, for private consumption, of course? Just tell me when and where.
4. Is Hugh, your boyfriend, here in Aspen with you? How about I interview him? Man, do we have some things to talk about.
5. I read part of “Jesus Shaves” to my daughter, and now any time I want to lighten her mood, I mention the Christmas tale of the magic dustpan led by eight flying cinder blocks. But then I got worried: How awful a parent would I seem if it got out that my 12-year-old was reading David Sedaris, what with the adult themes and vulgar language?
So I’m enormously relieved that you finally wrote a children’s book, “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary.” I haven’t read it – wouldn’t want to be seen with a kid’s book. (Although I suppose I could avoid embarrassment by hiding “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk” inside the dust jacket of your other book, “Naked.”) My question: Now that my daughter is 13, and has graduated beyond animal fairy tales, is she too old for “Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk?”
5a. So are you the Squirrel or the Chipmunk? Although I could see you as the Modest Bestiary.
6. Cam or Mitchell? (If you don’t get the reference, oh, are you in for a treat.)
7. What’s the maddest anyone’s ever gotten at you over something you’ve written? (My guess: Your dad, over “The Women’s Open,” the essay describing how inconvenienced he was by your sister’s first period, when your dad was just trying to relax and watch a golf tournament.)
8. You ever read Barry Smith, who writes the humor column Irrelativity in The Aspen Times (and also gave me help with question No. 5 above)? You should. On occasion, his work is compared to Dave Barry’s, even though Smith is funny, smart and not tiredly predictable. I think of Smith more like a David Sedaris type (of all things!), and only partly because he launched his other career – performing original one-person, multi-media shows – by doing “The SantaLand Diaries.”
8a. Have you ever been compared to Dave Barry? How much did that suck?
9. In “True Detective” – so … that was you with the towels and the … you know …? Ewwghhh.
10. Amazing how you can remember those stories, down to the exact color of a scarf worn by a minor character, 20 years later, when you were stoned and tripping and OCD-ing at the time. Ever consider becoming one of those mnemonics performers?
10a. Is there a better word in the English language than ‘mnemonics’?
11. As much of a fan as I am, I have never seen you perform or even speak, not even on Youtube. I’m saving it up for seeing you in person tonight. I hear you are quite the speaker. Anything I should be bracing myself for?
12. How much would it bother you if the big, fancy, remodeled hotel next door to your office put up huge signs in all their windows announcing their reopening – and said sign had a really horrific grammatical mistake that went uncorrected for months, even after they put in new signs?
Yeah, me too.