“You were a mess.”
Those were my husband’s encouraging words to me after waiting in line for two hours after a Sedaris reading at Boston Symphony Hall on Wednesday. When I responded that I hated him and wanted him to jump off a bridge he responded, “No. It was really cute seeing you completely lose your cool and be so ridiculous.” Jesus, thanks.
Here’s the thing, I don’t stalk celebrities. I don’t generally talk to them or bother them or try to tell them all about what good friends we would be. Mostly it’s because I realize that I don’t want to be friends with them. I want to be friends with whomever they play on TV. (There were two celebrity instances that broke this mold, both not optimal. One involved Tom Brady and the other The Boss. But those are for another time.)
I’ve been going to Sedaris readings for almost 10 years here in Boston. I have even been to some alone, which, if you know me, you know is a Huge Deal. I don’t typically do anything like that alone. I can’t even eat alone unless I have a stack of papers and a Very Important, Very Busy look on my face. But I have, indeed, bought a ticket for one and sat my ass in a seat at Symphony Hall on more than one occasion to hear Mr. Sedaris tell me all his stories. Tell ME.
I really, really believe that he would benefit greatly from the remarkable friendship we would have if he would just give me a chance. No, seriously. I actually believe this.
But every year when it comes time for audience questions or book signings, I slink down in my seat and get all nervous and sweaty palmed. Again, if you know anything about me, you know I don’t ever get nervous or sweaty palmed. I could stand up in front of 20,000 people and talk about any random topic without so much as a butterfly, but ask David Sedaris to be my friend? OMG NO.
This year was different. This year I decided that I was going to wait in line with my book and I was going to have him sign it. I was going to use that time to seduce him with my wit and charm and by the end of it he would be begging me for my home address. I even went one step further on the crazy ladder and wrote him a note. Unfortunately the only paper I had in my purse was a print out of the contagious disease page from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, but I did not let that deter me. I told him we needed to be pen pals and then outlined in great detail why this was going to be so wonderful. I explained that I had tried to just BE his pen pal by locating his address on the internet, but that I didn’t want to exhaust too many resources because I knew it would look creepy. (I also left out the part about how, if I was taking notes during the last ten years, I could probably use random context clues to triangulate his location in England.) I told him about how normal I am and how I would even send the occasional care package. The note was wrapped about a business card so that he could Google me and see just how normal and pen pal worthy I am.
The line after the show was long. Two hours long, in fact. And that was after I bought some other random author’s book so that I could cut to the shorter line. (I had to have him sign it, which was awkward because I hadn’t the foggiest idea what the book was about or who he was. And he was Indian and you know how my humor doesn’t translate with the ESL crowd.) For the most part, the hubs and I spent the two hours chatting about random stuff to keep my mind off the fact that I was just hours away from the biggest moment in my life. I was going to have 5 minutes to charm the pants off of my idol. The only writer I’ve ever actually admired. The only writer I KNOW needs to be my friend. Occasionally the hubs would ask what I was going to say and I would just look at him with that “stop talking or I’ll puke on your shoes” look and he would laugh and tell me he really did support me. He thought it was great that I was going for it. (I now realize he was mocking me.)
Adding to my stresses was my outfit. About six weeks ago I bought this dress thinking it would be something a little different. By something a little different, I apparently meant “dress like a fat hooker.” I don’t know what my deal is. I know that I am chunky and I know I need to lose the weight, but I go into these strange empowerment phases where I suddenly get all “power to my body” and buy things that, upon reflection, I have no business wearing. Between that dress, the no makeup, and the 68 and raining hair, I looked every bit the crazy stalker I was going to convince him I wasn’t. Oh, and I was breaking in some new over the knee boots, so I looked like a swashbuckling hooker. Because I had a limp. Like a peg leg. From the boots.
Unbeknownst to the hubs, I had decided that the best way to get David to warm up to me was by telling him that my husband had a fatty tumor. My best friend David had told us all about his fatty tumor during the show and I knew that this knowledge would make him feel some kinship for me. He would definitely say, “that’s all I need to know. Let’s go get ice cream and then head to your place to watch Hart of Dixie on Netflix.”
After two hours of waiting, and a very awkward signing of The Other Book by The Other Author, it was time. There he was. Sitting at the little table with his pen and personality just waiting. I took a deep breath and turned to the husband. And he was gone. He had gone about thirty feet away to stand in the corner. He was pretending not to know me. I blame this entire unraveling on him.
Have you ever heard the term “word vomit”? It’s exactly what it sounds like. After that night, word vomit has a new meaning for me. I actually visualize type writer style words flowing from my mouth, covered in some kind of viscose nasty, hitting the table and splashing my best friend in the face. I should have aborted my pen pal mission, but I couldn’t. I started with the book and who to sign it for. I tried to pull up a picture of my son so he could see who he was signing it for. Total disaster. It pretty much looked like I was making up the kid. I immediately switched to the Fatty Tumor Plan, but with the husband hiding in the corner I was going to have to yell at him to come as proof. And if you know my husband, you will not be surprised to learn that he all but looked up and said, “what fatty tumor?” My best friend David was UNBUTTONING HIS VEST to show us his tumor while my husband just stood there. Panicked, I vomited some more.
“Well, at least it’s a fatty tumor and not skin tags. His grandmother had hundreds of them. Like fringe.”
“Skin tags?” David asked.
“You know. Those horrid floppy skin pieces that grow on people. Totally gross.”
He reached into his pocket and pulled out his notebook and jotted down the words “skin tags.” (Now, for as poorly as this whole thing turned out, at least I can say I inspired him to write in his notebook.)
If you weren’t already visualizing my profuse word vomiting accurately, be sure you take into account the sweeping hand gestures I am employing, and the acting out of the husband’s grandmother (God rest her soul) covered in skin tags.
I realize that my time is waning. The book is long signed and I still haven’t connected. He clearly does not find me charming and my options for wooing him are pretty much nil. I pull out my note, which now feels entirely creepy and not even a little bit charming. I start explaining veryquickly how I’ve written him this note, which isn’t creepy at all, about why he should be my pen pal. I’ve never seen such an obvious “you’ve got to be fucking kidding me” face in all my life. Ever. He opened his mouth to speak and I silenced him.
“Just take the note. Maybe you’ll feel bad about what a hot mess I am and change your mind.”
He took the note graciously, holding it like one might hold a baggie full of human shit.
I knew I’d failed. I didn’t even want to take my signed book off the table because it represented the door of friendship being slammed in my face. In that moment I think I managed to accidentally look like the saddest, most defeated person to ever walk the earth. I looked at the line of people behind me, many of whom I’d been mocking just minutes before, and realized that they were all going to be BFFs with David Sedaris and I wasn’t. I was going to end up on some kind of list. I’d inexplicably be unable to get tickets to next years show.
Walking home, I tried to get excited about the fun note he wrote for Author and how exciting it was to meet him, but it was an act. I’d flubbed epically.
“On the bright side, you may have inspired him to write something.” said the husband.
“About skin tags?” I asked, remembering that I’d inspired him to jot down the note.
He didn’t reply. He looked at me with pity for the first time in our relationship. He didn’t have to say it. I knew. The words were hanging there like yellowed sheets on a clothesline.
“No. Not about skin tags…”