Author David Sedaris can say, “I had a root canal today,” and his fans will immediately laugh, because they know whatever he says next will be funny.
This was the case Nov. 9 during the sold-out event “An Evening with David Sedaris” at The Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, Colo.
The root canal story was, indeed, funny. Ever since the procedure earlier that day in Denver, which Sedaris said was “painless” because it was done with lasers, he had been sneezing and leaking a clear liquid from his nose that “doesn’t taste like snot.”
In Sedaris fashion, he mentioned that if the liquid dripped onto his hands, he wouldn’t feel awkward about immediately shaking someone’s hand. He hoped aloud that someone in the audience could offer an explanation during the question-and-answer period.
He read a few essays about his family, politics, and x-rated objects he finds when picking up litter near his home in West Sussex, England, such as a Vienna sausage-sized strap-on penis.
Then Sedaris – wiping his nose frequently – shared passages from his journals, which he has been keeping since the 1970s. The selections spanned 16 years, from 1999 to last month in South Bend, Indiana, and featured anecdotes from appearances in such places as Dubai, Copenhagen, and Athens. He’s amassed 50,000 words of his most interesting journal entries that he’s now editing for a new book.
One anecdote featured a joke he heard from a fan, about a gynecologist commenting on the size of a patient’s vagina during an examination. She says “You don’t have to say it twice,” and the gynecologist replies, “I didn’t.”
The lady sitting next to me laughed so hard she snorted. I turned to my right and tried to bury my face in my companion’s shoulder. “That’s an old joke,” he said, smiling, but unimpressed, to which I whispered, “I know. I’m laughing because the lady next to me snorted.”
At the end of the evening, several audience members offered their opinions on why Sedaris was experiencing nasal drip and frequent sneezing, ranging from “brain tumor” to the theory that the root canal affected something in his sinus cavities.
The most comforting comments came from a young man who said he’d had the same procedure: “I can give you information about it, but I think you’ll be fine.”
Sedaris ended his talk with an Oprah-like promotion of another author’s work, Family Life: A Novel by Akhil Sharma, which was on sale in the lobby along with Sedaris’ books. Called “gorgeously tender at its core…beautiful, heart-stopping” by Sonali Deraniyagala in the New York Times Book Review, the novel is based on the author’s real-life experiences as an immigrant from India trying to fit into American culture. The protagonist talks about the moment he realizes he can collect life experiences, no matter how painful, to write about later.
“I feel sorry for people who don’t write,” Sedaris concluded, blowing his nose once again and pondering the amount of story material people experience every day. “What do they do with all that?”
Katherine Valdez has had two close encounters with David Sedaris, the second of which ended with his inscription, “To Katherine. We meet again. Enchantress.” Any conversation with another famous author would pale by comparison, don’t you think? Find out by following her @KatValdezWriter on Instagram and Twitter, and on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorKatherineValdez.