Letters to Holly

Monday, April 16

Sedaris and A Funeral

David Sedaris, author and This American Life stalwart, came to Mayberry today in what must be the smallest stop on his 36-city tour. It's incredible that he held a two-hour reading just two miles from my house. Of course I attended. Of course Your Sis didn't. She doesn't find him funny; I think the voice annoys her.

Sedaris is a small man who looks like a cross between Anderson Cooper and Ben from "Lost." He read a short story about his Chapel Hill days called "The Heart Is A Lonely Menagerie," and then told us that he had never read it to an audience before. It showed. He was editing as he read, and he became stuck over word flow at points. But it was funny, and it was poignant, and it was good. It just was. Then he read a story published in the New Yorker called "All the Beauty You Will Ever Need" about how a water shortage in his Normandy house made him flashback to buying pot in a trailer outside of Raleigh.

He read a little bit from his diary concerning a recent trip to Japan. Many jokes were made about Engrish. He read some dog poems (The neighbor's pitbull named Cass/Bit the mailman in the ass/His lower teeth damaged his sphincter/ And now his walk's more distincter.)

But then he recommended a book for everyone to read, and it was the Zombie Survival Guide. Not only did he read the Q&As from the book (do zombies digest? how fast can they run?), but he went on to praise World War Z. Turns out, our gay nerdy New Yorker writer is a zombie-phile. Can't get enough of them. But you have to imagine the scene. This is a 500-seat house filled with couples over the age of 50, and he's going on for half an hour about zombies. He finds the book funny, but he's not sure if it's supposed to be. But he genuinely enjoys what each book does. And the audience is laughing in a mix of horror and habit. By this point, he could have read a soup can, and he'd get laughs. His rhythm was established, and he was working the room.

He mentioned that Night of the Living Dead was so good that it changed his life, but he was frustrated with those holed up in the house. He said he still gets annoyed that they didn't think to go upstairs and then destroy the stairs. The zombies couldn't climb. They'd be safe until the zombies got bored. He also complained about a woman from an earlier reading declaring that she'd be a vegetarian zombie. He was incredulous that anyone could think a zombie would have a choice. What would be the problem if we had zombie vegetarians? We could cut of their legs, chain them to the fence, and use them to cut the lawn. We'd sell them in garden centers. I tell you, the man has given this much thought. Somewhere in him lurks a definitive zombie story.

He went on to gripe about a recent letter to the editor in our fishwrapper. His publicity photo ran a few weeks back, and in it, he has a cigarette behind his ear. A reader complained. He's setting a bad example, she said. He'll be the funniest man with cancer, she said. And he went off. How dare anyone prohibit cigarettes in pictures, he asked. And he noted he's been smoke-free since January only because hotels are going smoke-free.

The two hours flew by, and I'm glad I saw it, but I can't believe that this guy was this close to my house.

Just as I left, Dad called to say my uncle Ray had died. He was my mom's oldest brother, I believe. He was diagnosed with cancer while back and beat the life-span estimate. He was a good and decent man. Retired Air Force too. His funeral was Sunday, and this was the first chance to catch up with some family for years and years. He received a full military funeral with taps and the flag given to his widow. I can't say I was close to him -- the family fell apart when my grandfather died 20 years ago, but the military honors and ritual hit me hard. I visited with my parents for a bit and drove back up the mountain during a small hurricane. The storm you're getting now hammered u for two days with big wind. It howled all night and driving through it was like hitting air turbulence. I don' recall being in a sustained storm like that before. There were reports of snow here and there.

We tried to buy the car on Saturday, but they didn't have a model with side airbags. A regional search turned up nothing, and I think we're going to break down and buy a model they have on the lot. By this time tomorrow, we may have a new car.

Picture of the Day
A most bridge-aceous bridge.

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