I remember, as if it was but yesterday, the first time I confessed my love for potstickers. It was my first year as a reluctant state supervisor and a department potluck led one of my employees to bring in the pseudo-but-true-Asian delight. "Man these boys are tasty," I said to her after scarfing down a few more than my alloted share.
Those days are far removed if only because I doubt I would utter such a purposely profound confession in public anymore. We're at war dammit and not to sound as narcissistic as I often do in these pages but things just aren't so funny these days. Having said that I will admit that one of my current favorite friends, Lisa Anne Marie, earns that moniker because she's just about the only one now who laughs at my admittedly self-inflicted tepid jokes.
Not that it's always been that way. One of the kindest things anyone has ever said to me was the time when I was going through more than a minor difficult period and my mother, before she went to the nearby Rochester salad bar, told me one of the things she appreciated most in me was when our family was going through a hard time how I had the ability to make everyone smile by something I said. Yup I don't or never have said much but that was one heckava compliment from my Mom.
So who better than L.A.M. to go along with to a book reading with from one of my these days favorite writers David Sedaris? After all he is one of the few people who can make me laugh being part standup comedian, part keen social observer, and total wise ass. I told Lisa beforehand that I would only go if she didn't laugh like a hyena. I was kidding of course because I could listen to her laugh all the time, every day.
It was the third time I attended a reading from Sedaris of some of his wonderfully wicked well-written personal essays. And he didn't disappoint.
He opened with a piece about his younger brother's recent wedding conducted near Atlantic Beach by a psychic. Like much of his work it was laugh aloud stuff even from those of us who don't laugh out loud that much. I couldn't help but think of Lisa the entire time as she had just told me over dinner her helping out with the planning of her older brother's soon to be held wedding.
Sedaris plugged the book An Obedient Father he recently read by a writer from India, Akhil Sharma. In describing the writer Sedaris gave the ultimate compliment- that Sharma makes writing seem so easy. He also said the book made him never want to visit India at the same time as it made him want to visit India. He explained this incongruity through a typical Sedaris anecdote- that the book begins with a woman getting bit in her stomach by a monkey and thus having to get a medically curing shot from a needle about a foot long. Sedaris said that he didn't want to go to India only to be bit by a monkey but he wanted to go there because he'd love to see someone else be bitten by a monkey.
Named Time Magazine's humorist of the year in 2001, Sedaris continues to be the type of writer I wish I could be. His work is as funny as it is neurotic and it is also as insightful as it is personal. Wouldn't it be a quite the life accomplishment to make a room full of strangers not only giggle for a brief time but also inspire all those in attendance to look hard at the scary world (covered on all the cable channels!) at the same time as appreciating their own private worlds?
Another essay Sedaris read was about disagreeing in front of dinner party company with his boyfriend about a volunteer work assignment (as if the writer could get nothing else) leading the blind around the subway station. His boyfriend refused to believe that the boss/chef was the owner of a rubber hand thinking the man's hand had to be made of plastic. Sedaris dug in and said he could smell better.
The sharing of a lover's quarrel was intimate but made me appreciate the humor of one who is as funny as all get out. Lisa laughed audibly a couple of times and I cherished sharing that sound more than ever.