David Sedaris, my favorite writer, gave a reading last night in Austin, Texas. This was the second year that I attended with my daughter. We’ve already made plans to attend next year. This performance we remembered to bring our books to get signed. Prior to the show we waited in line with about 50 other people. We were right behind a woman who passed the time trying to hack up a lung.
As it grew closer to the 8:00 curtain, we were nervous that we wouldn’t get to the front of the line in time to get our books signed. The woman in front of Tubercular Mary pulled an armload of books out of a tote bag. Shouldn’t there be two books per person limit? Then the usher started counting and making notations on our “how do you want your book signed” piece of paper. I was number three behind TM and my daughter. Tote bag lady made the cut.
The guy behind us in line, number 4 in the you might not make the pre-show signing lottery, received his ticket as a Christmas present and had never heard or read Sedaris. He had purchased his book in the lobby.
“But my friend told me I would enjoy it” he told us.
He was my age, an average white guy. I still carry my stereotypes of Texans leftover from the sixties. I wondered if he would be surprised at the content of the reading. I'm thinking that Sedaris, a fiftyish gay man with a definite liberal point of view (although from my perspective it’s not liberal it’s just correct), would not be well received in Bush country. White guy looks like he voted for Bush.
We inched closer to the door. I wanted to take a photo for my blog but there were NO PHOTOS signs. I expressed my disappointment to white guy.
“Can’t hurt to ask” he said.
He’s right, I thought. What’s the worst that can happen? I’m almost 60; if not now, when? I vowed not to let another opportunity pass me by. At 60 I live life without regrets. And then I was in front of David Sedaris stammering “I know it says not to take pictures but I wanted a photo for my blog.”
And he says “no.”
I feel like an ass and immediately regret asking. So much for no regrets!
“When I turned 50 I realized I really didn’t like having my picture taken.” David Sedaris told me. “So I don’t take photos.”
“Ugh, oh that’s reasonable” I sputter. God, what a dork I am!
“What do you write about in your blog?” he asks
My brain refuses to function. I want to be witty and self-possessed and articulate and cool. I am none of those things.
“Her grandchildren” my daughter chimes in.
“Well that and other things…” I am a smart person, why can’t I talk?
He gives me another opportunity. “What’s the name of your blog?”
This time I can stutter out “Benchmark 60…I turn 60 this year and it seems like it should be a benchmark…”
He had been drawing pictures of animals on each book he signed. His next book will be published in October and is a collection of animal “fables. ” He drew a hedgehog on my daughter’s book that looked a lot like an anteater. “ I’ll draw a picture of myself” he says.
So, I didn’t get a photo, but I got a picture of him…a self-portrait. I probably got tuberculosis too. All in all a great evening. I can’t wait for next year. Maybe I can find one of those spy cameras and take a picture…what’s the worst that can happen?