Some of you might have gotten this assignment in high school history class: if you could have a dinner party with any historical figures you wanted, who would you choose? Now, this assignment was generally meant as a fun way to reflect on what you learned, and to prove to your poor, beleaguered teacher that you actually learned something during the course of the year. Now, as neat as it would be to have dinner with a resurrected Otto von Bismarck (a personal favorite), it seems to me that historical illustriousness ought to be passed over in favor of people who would actually make good dinner guests. To that end, I’ve decided to come up with my own list for Fantasy Dinner Party, and we start with David Sedaris.
I first heard about David Sedaris from a housemate during my semester abroad, who related the general idea of his story “Six to Eight Black Men” in a class discussion on identity politics. I then borrowed her copy of “Naked”, and laughed until I cried. Since then, I’ve listened to his work on BBC Radio 4 and NPR, and even saw him live when he came to Winston-Salem this past fall. Yes: I spent $50 to sit in a room and hear David Sedaris read from books he had already published. Some of it was from his idea notebook, but still. Nevertheless, I consider it one of the better ways in which I’ve spent my money.
Of course, after the reading, my friend Stephany and I waited in line for 45 minutes so she could get her book signed. I had no book, but I wasn’t going anywhere, so we stood together, complaining about the length of the line. Finally, we met David, who was really quite gracious considering he was trying to eat dinner while signing books. He asked us each to tell him a joke (mine was “Why do you need moral fiber? So you can do your doody!”), and then gave us one in return (I will not repeat it here. It was filthy. Ask me in person, and I will tell you. Unless you are my mom: then I will never, ever repeat this joke to you). We talked about Wake Forest, and I took one of the free postcards on a table. It was a picture of an old book, entitled “Let’s Discuss Diabetes with Owls”.
So I would invite David Sedaris to dinner. He would tell me funny stories about living in Paris; I would remind him that when we met, he said he would totally hire me. We could be travelling companions, and I could help him buy English-German and English-Arabic medical dictionaries, so that he could expand his collection and learn to say things like Bitte geben Sie den Katheter (please insert the catheter) or Die Bindehautentzüdung ist sehr ansteckend (pinkeye is quite contagious). I would tell him about this blog, and ask for his thoughts on my post about that time I got a surprise Pap smear. It would, in short, be a perfectly charming evening.