Have y’all heard of Masterclass? Become a student? Have y’all heard of David Sedaris?
For those who aren’t in the know, Masterclass is the newest in adults-with-free-time education. It’s the online version of going to a literary festival and hearing your favorite author (economist, do-gooder) speak.
Masterclass popped up on my Facebook page with the ultimate bait (algorithms do indeed work): David Sedaris.
To know David Sedaris is to love him. Adore him.
Although, I do know of at least one man who couldn’t handle the effeminate, short, gay man in a kilt, reading an essay about feeding his fatty tumor to a snapping turtle in North Carolina.
But we’ll get to that in a minute.
Last time I pursued something that “popped up” on my Facebook Page, I ended up in an email battle with China, canceling an order, and then receiving the CHEAPEST, gnarliest, plastic-iest pair of “fashion” boots that I (the fashionmonger) had ever seen.
They went to the thrift store with the paper stuffing still in.
But David Sedaris? I took the bait, I clicked, and up popped this whole program set up for people with the luxury of time to take classes in short little 15 bits, by the ‘masters’ in their field. And right up there with Bob Woodward and Jane Goodall, is the writer who I dream of growing up to be.
I want Scott Simon to call me “the female David Sedaris” on Weekend Edition.
So, with all of that said, I sign up for the class.
In each class video, David sits in a leather chair in a “writerly” den/library and you can see the set lights behind him reminding you that you are being allowed a glimpse into his actual home.
And as I watch him speaking to the camera, I feel as if he is looking directly at me and thinking, “I know you. You were that annoyingly inane woman at Fort Lewis.”
What happened at Fort Lewis? Ah yes. A story I have rarely told due to my continued feelings of deep shame and humiliation. But here it is:
About every other year, David Sedaris comes to The Fort to do a reading and book signing. The shows sell out immediately. Like I said, he is adored.
His book signings are infamous with his fans. He enjoys interacting with people and is notorious for his slightly bizarre conversations that often end up in later essays. He asks questions like, “When was the last time you touched a monkey?”
I am so excited about this that I think I might pull a Spinal Tap and spontaneously combust.
He is my IDOL: the penultimate humorist and essayist. He’s so funny that people pee when they read his stuff.
I spend weeks thinking about what to wear. I have to catch his attention, but not in a flirty kind of way since I am SO not his type (because, to start with, I’m a woman.) And I don’t want to be overdressed. And I want to be comfortable sitting in a theater. And it’s snowing outside so factor in hat, mittens, and BOGs.
I pick out the perfect outfit and my boyfriend and I head over to the Fort and I am so excited to be sharing my all time favorite writer with my guy in addition to my excitement about Mr. Sedaris.
And…turns out that my date couldn’t handle the guy in the kilt.
For weeks, months, even years, I’ve been thinking of what I would actually say to DS if I ever met him. I would need to be totally on my witty-game if I was going to make him want to be my best friend. I could have been heading to the Oscars for a date with Brad Pitt and I wouldn’t have been so concerned.
One thing that I experience with my smidge of fame that I have here in Montezuma County is people I barely know acting supper buddy-buddy, on-the-in with me, because they’ve read something I’ve written.
Like we share a secret. Like You are the person that I chose to tell this secret.
Things like, “Soooo, I hear you snuck away to Utah…” Yeah, everyone knows that –it is not a secret, intimate tidbit you have about me; I wrote about it.
Anyway, we are getting to the point of this whole story.
We are at FLC. I’m standing in line. My (ex) boyfriend is hiding as far away from the kilt as he can possibly get. I’ve got some killer vintage dress on in order say “look how not average and boring I am; I am unique and quirky; you should be my friend.” And my hands are sweating all over my battered, beaten, well-read, super-loved copy of my favorite of his books.
I get to the table, to him, I’m so nervous-excited that there is sweat dripping between my boobs, and I lean in to say something clever and memorable and what comes out instead is “I hear that you…”
This is exactly what I swore I wouldn’t do (because of the certainty of his finding me annoying) and then to make it worse, I proceed to talk his ear off, repeating what someone I know who knows someone who saw him on stage, in another state, shared.
I watch his eyes glaze over, but I’m in too far to stop so I don’t.
AS I am speaking he is dismissing me as yet another boring, run of the mill housewife. I am clearly NOT going to end up in one of his essays.
Although, he has ended up in one of mine, about which, I am sure he’s thrilled.
Suddenly my dress seems ridiculous and my self-confidence in being a witty, interesting human being plummets.
But the worst is yet to come. Besides autographing books, DS is also known for drawing quick, little doodles along next to his name in people’s books, or on a cocktail napkin, or on someone’s bare arm.
So I am about to get a signed copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day AND some original DS artwork.
I walk away from the table, elated by being so close, convincing myself that I wasn’t all that irritating. Then, I open the book to the title page and there, just under his signature, is a pair of scissors dripping blood.
I think he wanted to stab me.
I guess I was actually annoying.
Believe it or not, I was devastated, humiliated, crushed. After a couple of days of beating myself up, I THREW OUT THE BOOK.
Honestly, I did. Right in the trash.
It was too much of a symbol of my failure as a writer, and as a human being.
Of course now I realize that it was classic DS and I should have hung onto that for life. But in the moment, it was just a reminder of my fall from grace.
So here I am, signed up for Masterclass, specifically to take his class, nervous that he can see through the camera from his comfy, leather, writerly chair and see the irritating, inane woman, who he wanted to stab with scissors, and thinking, “Who let her sign up?”
Suzanne Strazza is an award-winning writer living in Mancos, Colo.