David Sedaris was such an asshole last night, like with that story about telling his dad he had cancer when he really didn’t just to get a rise out of his sister, and fishing for backlash reaction from the most liberal audience that could have gathered anywhere in the entire state, and then not letting us take water into the auditorium.
Hello, David. You were in Arizona.
So I paid $75 to sit and watch David Sedaris drink his own water not just out of a glass, but a glass he kept refilling with an entire pitcher of water. David could have water, but nobody else could. At the request of David, audience members would remain parched, and they better not make any noise or interrfuckinrupt him when they crawl down the aisle with their heads in people’s laps so they don’t stick up to block David’s vision of whatever the hell he wants to see back there. Is the lighting okay, David? Are we dark enough for you?
David allows us to ask questions after the show—an invitation greeted with a wave of warmth from the audience to him. We love him. We love him even though he has abused us. David Sedaris points to the middle of the audience and sings out, “You there!” No one responds; we are too polite to step forth when we might not be the You.
Sedaris coaxes us through the microphone; he now stands in the shadows behind the podium on stage, and we all sit in the theater with the lights up. “Oh,” he admits, “I was just pointing somewhere thinking that somebody would ask a question. Somebody usually does. I didn’t really see anybody. Uhhh…you over there.”
This time, David connects with a real person. The You knows who he is.
I am standing outside Gammage Auditorium after the performance or whatever I paid $75 to get abused by, but which I have to admit had merit, for I was also greatly amused. My friend said as we moved towards the exit, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and this time, much was gained for what was ventured!” I’m sure my facial expression looked something like you’d see on Christopher Walken as my brain tried to do the math regarding how much I had personally ventured this time around, and how much I would personally gain back.
I’m driving home when the thought occurs to me that I feel like an idiot having gone to Sedaris’s show. I feel like a schmuck. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’s the same used feeling I got in the final days of my enjoying any performance or reading by Sherman Alexie. I asked him one night at Changing Hands Bookstore—this would have been in downtown Tempe, Arizona, around 1996—“So many white people come to see you and buy your books, but you treat them so poorly in your writing and when you talk. Why do you think they keep coming back?”
Without hesitation, Sherman responded, “Because they know I’m right!” Then he laughed his hearty laugh—and it is a hearty laugh, and a laugh I love every time I hear it despite the fact that he would dump me as a fan on the side of the road if it would help produce what he deemed to be a better end.
Alexie wasn’t tired of us yet then, but Sedaris is tired of us now.
I say if you’re tired—and you want to keep water away from a theater full of people in Arizona who have paid a lot of money to suffer through your false niceness and boring paragraphs that you edit when we cough because they're boring, so they're better for the next audience—then you should stay home, and come out to play when you feel a little better about humanity.
That’s what happened last night, yet I awake this morning at six a.m. ready to hug the world. Again! I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but there’s this little whip of excitement that kind of courses and throbs through my body, and I’ve felt it since the new year…the new year that I deemed “the nothing new year” because I’m so broke, but somehow I don’t care.
My household is together, my spirit is in the right place, and I’m going to Prague this summer.
And Super Sexy is comin’ back.
That is way too much for David Sedaris to compete with.
So I am up bright and early and happy at six, making coffee and taking care of things. I put a bra on because I expect the landscape guy to appear at seven to fix yet another leak I found a couple nights ago. This is after I already paid him $80 to fix the two other leaks, and for his Brutus to pull out half of the vine-plant I’d been cultivating for nearly a decade, a mini-series of disasters.
This is a new leak in the general area of the other two leaks, which is why I’m out here in my bra pickin’ weeds in the first place. It’s nice to be outside and I’m enjoying myself, but chop chop, let’s get the day goin’.
I text the landscape guy at 7:03: “Still coming today?”
He texts back: “Yeah but it has to be between 12 – 3 pm”
I respond: “You said 7 and I am waiting for u now.”
He texts back: “I’m very busy this morning so this afternoon is best I can do.”
I put my phone down to once again pick my seething self up from the collar, drag her to the back yard, and get her silenced and comfortable on the ground. She’s a handful. I skip smartly back to my phone and text the most positive message I can come up with: “I will be home at 1 and look forward to seeing u then.”
Two guys come by around 1:30; I see them poking around in my front yard like tourists at a botany center. What are they doing? I walk outside and say to the one who yanked my plant out, “Hi! What are you doing?”
The other one responds: “We’re looking for the leak!”
I have already sent their boss a picture with the exact location of the leak. I have been sitting inside the house, a treasure trove of information if only accessed. Do people not knock on the door anymore?
I show them the large concave pit that wets itself when one turns on the irrigation system. They go to work and I go inside to take a phone call from their boss-man. He wants me to know that his guys are there.
“Are you going to want more money for this?” I ask.
“Well yeah,” he says. “It’s another call.”
“But the leak is in the same area as the others and I already paid you a lot.”
“No, this is a new job. You have to pay for it.”
I say fine. Boy do I know who I’ll never hire again.
I go outside to watch two men scoop away six inches of muddy ground, find an exposed black tube with an obvious crack, then search their truck for a coupling for fifteen minutes (These are landscape guys? Negative Nancy sneers into my brain from where she’s tied up comfortably under the female olive tree. I shake my head and scold her: Get down, you barbarian who I love.)
I engage the one fluent in both English and Spanish, a young hot man, in a long conversation that starts with my explaining how his boss blew me off earlier in the day and moves to his explaining how his boss does that all the time to customers he thinks are trying to intimidate him. He starts explaining how his boss makes such a load of money but pays the best workers not very much and gives people raises who don’t deserve them.
“He profiles,” the young lad says with his beautiful white teeth to my bra.
My heart sings because the young man knows the word “profile”, he knows what it means—and he sees that his boss does that to people who he doesn’t like. His boss does that to people who threaten his superiority. We speak briefly of reverse discrimination, reverse profiling…Negative Nancy digs a hole and crawls in.
In the middle of a very pleasant April day in Arizona, all admiration for authority figures, bosses and leaders falls away from me. Politics burn; the right things leave out the back gate and start down the alley because they do not want to be done. Fearlessness swoops out of the sky and makes love to my ear, foreplay for my brain.
“Tell ya what I’m gonna do,” I say to the handsome and solid young guy, while the other guy who yanked out my bush dashes around the yard raising dust as he tries maybe to earn a tip, I don’t know what for. “Your boss and I never determined how much I was going to pay or how, except of course he doesn’t accept credit cards. So I’m going to pay you what I think is fair. Hold on.”
I jog into the house like the seventeen-year-old whose body I have, get two twenties left over from the Sedaris thing last night, put my sunglasses on and come back out. I give the twenties to the guy I’ve been talking to and say, “One’s for you and one’s for the other guy. Tell your boss the old witch refused to pay, and tell him everything else I said, too.”
“Thanks!” very cute young happy man says with a beautiful smile. “I will!”
Fifteen minutes later I’m inside my house, kind of feeling that I broke the law, but fearlessness fills the cracks that in the past might have cracked all the way through. I’m good with breaking whatever kind of law that allows a businessman like that to feed on people like me.
I hold myself hostage in my house for a half hour while the boss guy—the owner—makes his two-man crew wait outside in their coupling-challenged truck while he tries to get me to pay via text.
“Thanks for wasting our time,” he finally writes. Only then do the truck and the trailer pull away. I’m not afraid of being sued. I just hope he doesn’t egg my house.
If I’m not here for some kind of higher purpose—and I doubt that I am—I often consider if I’m here for the lower ones.