Suffer for Our Amusement
David Sedaris on Getting Stoned, Crop Dusting, and Stalking Matt
As he walks out of the elevator at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, David Sedaris looks up, over his shoulder, down at his shoes, and then sort of spins around. He's looking for me, but I'd rather watch him futz around than introduce myself. Anyone who'd recognize him as David Sedaris would want something awkward to happen to him so he could watch his response. A bellhop whizzes by and some Talbots-wearing folk wander behind him, looking exhausted and incontinent... but that's it. Nothing else really happens.
He walks downstairs to the hotel's cafe and asks the tattooed barista behind the counter for cake, but there is none. "What about a pastry?" he asks. "We have a chocolate tort," the woman says. Then Sedaris announces he doesn't like chocolate.
None of which is interesting, at all. But his career makes us want to believe that boring moments like this might someday hold literary value. In Sedaris's new book, he uses pictures of 9/11 hijackers to dissuade birds from pecking at his windows. On an airplane, he coughs up a throat lozenge onto a stranger's lap and then attempts to retrieve it. He gets into a conversation with a bigoted cabdriver who uses the expression "fucky-fuck." He makes you feel like all of these funny things are actually happening in your life, if only you were paying close enough attention.
You'd think Sedaris wouldn't want to be interviewed by a junior reporter, but it turns out he had nothing better to do on a beautiful day in Seattle. We talked for an hour and a half.
Do you have any stalkers?
No. But there was this woman who came to one of my book signings and then I guess she left right after the reading and got into her car and drove to the next one, because she was at my hotel in Denver and I had no idea how she got the address for it. But she called herself a stalker, and if someone calls themselves a stalker then they're not a stalker.
Who do you stalk?
I don't think anyone but me understands how handsome Matt Damon is. Right? I went on Matt Damon's website, to When I Met Matt, and it was people saying, "Oh my god, I met Matt Damon and he shook my hand" and "Oh my god, I met Matt Damon and he is so cute" and I look at that and I think, "You don't know what cute is." You don't know. If that's the only word you can come up with for Matt Damon, that's pathetic.
Do you write when you're stoned?
I'd love to get high and just stare at the cover of my book and feel it against my fingers. I think that'd be really great since I really like the cover drawing, and I'd probably just sit there stroking it saying, "Oh my god, oh my god." Or it would be fun to get high and walk by a bookstore and see it sitting on a shelf and think, "That's my book!" But no, I don't write when I'm stoned.
Did anything interesting happen on the plane ride here?
I met a flight attendant and she taught me a new phrase: She said, "Us flight attendants, we get so gassy on the airplane we end up farting as we're going up and down the aisles of the plane. We call that 'crop dusting.'" She also said a flight-attendant way of saying go fuck yourself is "I'll be right back." And then this male flight attendant told me that when he was angry with the way people on the plane were treating him, he'd go up and down the aisles saying, "You're trash, you're trash, you're trash." You can learn a lot from flight attendants.
Does it ever take time for the humor of a situation to reveal itself?
There's a story in the book in which I wound up in a waiting room, in France, in my underpants. And everybody else had their clothes on. It took me six years to write about it.
Do you want children?
I want grandchildren. I'm going to die in 10 years.