I hurt my back this past Saturday. I didn’t fall, I didn’t pick anything up that was too heavy, I was simply walking to my car when a searing hot pain engulfed my lower back. I ignored it as best as I could because I had plans to see my favorite author, David Sedaris, in Boulder with my friend, Nora. No way, no how was I going to miss that. I took as many OTC drugs as I could find in hopes it was just a passing nuisance and drove myself to Boulder.
Watching this amazing man on stage reading his work reminded me that this is what I want to do with my life. I want to write stories and read them aloud. I want to meet people from all over the world. I want to make them laugh. Make them think. Bring them joy. One of the reasons I love David Sedaris so much is that he reminds me a bit of myself. Wandering from job to job, never finding anything that sticks but taking amazing stories away from each experience. If he wanted to, he could make his readers fall in love with a rock. My skills might not make you fall in love with a rock, but I think I could get you to like it a whole real lot. Anyway, I love his style of writing. I love his ability to make people laugh. And I love his self-deprecating sense of humor.
I laughed so hard during his show that the threat of wetting myself occurred more than once. Sure, my back hurt, but the laughter made it bearable. And after the show, Nora and I waited in a long line of admirers, book in hand, anxious for an autograph. Along with some staff from KUNC public radio, there were also people encouraging attendees to sign up to “Be The Match,” which is a National registry for bone marrow donors. Now, this cause is near and dear to my heart due to Ben’s journey but I am not allowed to join because I am a cancer survivor myself. My stem cells are no good. However, my friend Nora completed the form, which took us to the front of the line so David Sedaris himself could swab the inside of her mouth before signing our books. We weren’t allowed to take pictures (DARN!) but I watched in awe as this literary genius swabbed the mouth of my friend, slightly envious that I wouldn’t get the same intimate attention. Stupid cancer, yet another thing you’ve taken from me! I had taken two books because I couldn’t decide if I wanted him to sign his latest work or if I wanted him to sign my beat up copy of “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” This is my go-to book… the one I read whenever my depression dictates that I can’t take another step. I’ve read it countless times and it still makes me laugh to the point of tears. If I’m ever faced with a fire gutting my home, after ensuring that my kids and dogs are safe, I will reach for a couple of photo albums, mom’s jewelry, and my beat up copy of “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” which now bears the signature of the man who can make me laugh so hard that I cry.
I was star-struck. I couldn’t say anything to him. He asked how we knew each other and Nora explained our connection, which truly is an interesting story, and that between us we have six children with red hair. He then asked if they bore names like Fergus. I persisted in my awe-struck state while Nora continued to chat. I lowered to my knees so I could hear him better and nearly burst into tears because my back hurt so bad. Don’t cry in front of David. Don’t cry in front of David. Don’t cry in front of David, I kept repeating over and over to myself, so I missed anything else he said until he noticed that I was carrying a second book. “Do you want me to sign that one, too?” I could hear the angels singing and the sky opening as I slid my second book across the table and exclaimed, “Oh my stars! I would LOVE that.”
Really? Oh my stars? My eyes closed before rolling back to look at my brain. Oh my stars. Seriously? This is what I said to David Sedaris? I half expected him to punch me in the throat for being such a dork. He drew a picture of an owl and signed his name, probably under the impression that drawing a picture was better than leaving an inscription because it was likely that I didn’t know how to read. He was clearly ready to meet the signing needs of the next 300 people in line behind me. And that was it.
Nora and I parted ways and I drove back to Aurora, pretending to be on a talk show – Ellen was tonight’s host – and discussing the time I embarrassed myself in front of my literary hero, David Sedaris. The embarrassment I felt definitely masked any physical pain I was having.
I woke up the next morning recounting the “Oh my stars” incident and attempted to roll out of bed. The searing hot pain was back. I tried some stretching which resulted in many tears. I drove myself to the emergency room and allowed them to ply me with dilaudid and muscle relaxers. I told them I didn’t have a ride and they said that I could hang out for as long as I wanted. I fell asleep. Then the doctor woke me up and said that I needed to leave because they needed the room. I exclaimed something about having rights and some other groggy nonsense, but to no avail. I got a ride from Matt and spent the rest of the day in Fuzzy Brain Land.
I’m still kinda living in Fuzzy Brain Land, interspersed with brief reminders that I said “Oh my stars” in front of David Sedaris. I’m sure I didn’t leave a lasting impression on him, but if I did, I sure hope he writes a story about it.