Wednesday, June 24, 2009

an evening with David ( w/ a spoiler alert for Pam)

I've just gotten back from Quail Ridge Books after meeting David Sedaris, getting two copies of his book signed, and laughing for an hour while he read unpublished work revolving around an email exchange between two women, the presidential election, and what has become a theme on this present tour, breast milk.

I had stopped by the store last week to buy a copy of Sedaris' latest book for my cousin Pam and secure a spot in the signing line. My ticket read "G". Good spot. Real good spot.

The reading was to start at 6:00. Anticipating that it was going to be crowded (this is Raleigh's most celebrated homosexual, after all -- I mean that as a compliment), I figured arriving by 5 would secure me a seat, figuring the signing was going to follow the reading.


The parking alone was worse than the Smith Haven Mall at Christmas. Worse than church at Easter Vigil. Worse than a State vs. Carolina game. I found a spot where no one thought to look, then hoofed to the store, already PACKED, the signing line already up to "N".


Not to worry, though; they let me on the end of the line, and as it slowly moved, I wondered if I was going to have the nerve to give him my book. I'd signed it (not inscribed, though) and had it tucked away in my "Think Globally Act Rhetorically" tote bag from the 2007 Conference of College Composition and Communication, but there were so many people and the line was moving so slowly that I honestly didn't think I was going to make it to the signing table by 6, let alone chat about my little novel.

While on line, a QRB employee announced the signing rules: ticket, books, CDs, yada yada, no memorabilia or photos allowed... no memorabilia?

Did that mean no presenting signed self-published books?

It was almost 5 minutes to 6 when I finally made it to the signing table. I knew the woman behind me was thinking, please don't let this girl talk on and on (because that's what I was thinking about the three women before me), so I decided to play it by ear.

The first thing he did was look in the vicinity of my chest. I was wearing my Wonder Woman t-shirt. People often look in the vicinity of my chest when I'm wearing my Wonder Woman t-shirt. Even women. Even me.

Then he made small talk. We had a little debate about my name after he read it on the post-it to ensure proper spelling.
"Hi, Eliza."
"El-EE-sa," I corrected politely and jovially.
"That says Eliza," he said.
"It really doesn't," I replied.
"Oh, I guess not. There's no Z."

He drew a kitty cat on the title page.

"Ooh goody, a cat!" I exclaimed.
"Do you have a cat?"
"I don't."
"You will," he predicted, squinting his eyes. "I'm a see-er. On Septemberrr... 4th. You're going to get a cat."

I handed him the next book to sign.
"Who's Pam?"
"My cousin. She just got married on the Outer Banks."
"Oh, nice. You probably don't know her husband at all."
"We've met several times. He's a cool guy."

I decided to say something.

"So, I'm a published author as well."
"Yes, I wrote a novel."
"Really! What's it called?"
"Faking It."
"Faking It?"
"Faking It."
"Faking It..." He smiled curiously. "When did you release it?"
I told him. Then told him about the protagonist (although I think I used the words 'main character', or just plain 'character') mentioning him and one of his essays in the book.
He smiled.

I knew that what he's really thinking was, I have never heard of you or your silly little book. Are you for real, you and your Wonder Woman t-shirt?

I might have mumbled the words "self-published" in there somewhere, and also mentioned it being in my tote bag, but time was running out, and the woman standing behind me was thinking, please don't take out the g--damned book, and there were just so many people there, and the moment just didn't feel right. Where was he going to put it? What if they yelled at me and said, "no memorabilia!"? What if he laughed out loud and said, "you're kidding, right?"? All these things went through my mind.

Thus, I chickened out. In my tote bag it stayed.

By the time I got my book signed, it was minutes before the reading. The store was filled to capacity. Seriously. The entire store. I managed to secure a place behind a bookcase where I had a perfect, unobstructed view and could rest my elbows on the shelf to boot. And so I did. Between waiting on line for the signing and the reading, I was standing still for two hours.

But it was worth it.

Better still, I was able to get the heck out of there with my signed books afterwards and be home by 8:00. It felt good to hoof it back to my car and get the blood flowing from my knees to my feet. They were predicting that he'd be there signing books until 1am.

There's a voice inside me yelling at me right now for being so chicken, especially when, at the end of the reading, he held up two books by two other authors that he was plugging, unbeknownst to them. it turned out that of the two books was put into his hands -- you guessed it -- during a signing. What can I say. Maybe, when he's sitting in RDU waiting to take off to the next city, he'll think, What was that about Faking It???

With my luck, he'll get the Jennifer Crusie novel of the same title. And love it. And start plugging her.

When I opened Pam's copy to see what he wrote, I couldn't help but smile:
To Pam,
with the pleasure of meeting your enchanting cousin

It was the Wonder Woman t-shirt, I'll bet.


Rob said...

So jealous that you got to meet David Sedaris. My girlfriend introduced me to his work when she came back from France. We were listening to his audio book Me Talk Pretty One Day and I just couldn't stop laughing. I was in tears.

Elisa said...

Me Talk Pretty One Day is my fave Sedaris work, Rob. It was a great night!