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Book: Me Talk Pretty One Day and Holidays on Ice

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I just finished reading Me Talk Pretty One Day and Holidays on Ice while downing caffeine at Cafe Borrone. I had read through Me Talk and decided that I hadn't read enough Sedaris for one day, so I walked over to Kepler's and bought Holidays and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, the latter which I am hoping to hold off on when I am in need of a humor fix.

Needless to say, I enjoyed Me Talk Pretty One Day. Meta had read me one of the passages involving Sedaris' sister Amy and it cracked me up. Reading it again it was even more funny, as the build-up to it was hilarious as well. The essays varied between mildly humorous and laugh-out-loud funny, though it seemed that the presence of Amy was concentrated in the latter category.

Holidays on Ice wasn't as good, but it did give me a couple of laughs over my bowl of soup. It was more satirical rather than pseudo-autobiographical, and personally I find his anecdotal stories more humorous and better paced.

I transcribed a couple of passages I liked, but the essays are short enough that you're probably better off picking up a copy and reading them one-by-one as you please.

From "Twelve Moments in the Life of the Artist"

Five: My sister Gretchen was leaving for the Rhode Island School of Design just as I was settling back into Raleigh. After a few moments in my parent's basement, I took an apartment near the state university, were I discovered both crystal methamphetamine and conceptual art. Either one of these things is dangerous, but in combination they have the potential to destroy entire civilizations. The moment I took my first burning snootful, I understood that this was he drug for me. Speed eliminates all doubt. Am I smart enough? Will people like me? Do I really look all right in this plastic jumpsuit? These are questions for insecure potheads. A speed enthusiast knows that everything he says or does is brilliant. The upswing is that, having eliminated the need for both eating and sleeping, you have a full twenty-four hours a day to spread your charm and talent.

From The Learning Curve

"Let me get this straight," one student said. "You're telling me that if I say something out loud, it's me saying it, but if I write the exact same thing on paper, it's somebody else, right?"

"Yes," I said. "And we're calling that fiction."

The student pulled out his notebook, wrote something down, and handed me a sheet of paper that read, "That's the stupidest fucking thing I ever heard in my life."

They were a smart group.

From A Shiner Like a Diamond (my favorite essay in the book)

There's a lot I don't tell my father when he calls asking after Amy. He wouldn't understand that she has no interest in getting married and was, in fact, quite happy to break up with her live-in boyfriend, whom she replaced with an imaginary boyfriend named Ricky.

The last time she was asked out by a successful bachelor, Amy hesitated before saying, "Thanks for asking, but I'm really not into white guys right now."

That alone would have stopped my father's heartbeat. "The clock is ticking," he says. "If she waits much longer, she'll be alone for the rest of her life."

This appears to suit Amy just fine.

When my father phoned asking about the photo shoot, I pretended to know nothing. I didn't tell him that, at the scheduled time, my sister arrived at the studio with unwashed hair and took a seat beside the dozen other New York women selected by the magazine. She complimented them on their flattering, carefully chosen outfits and waited as they had their hair fashioned, their eyebrows trained, and their slight imperfections masked by powder.

When it was her turn at the styling table, Amy said, "I want to look like someone has beaten the shit out of me."

The makeup artist did a fine job. The black eyes and purple jaw were accentuated by an arrangement of scratch marks on her forehead. Pus-yellow pools girdled her scabbed nose, and her swollen lips were fenced with mean rows of brackish stitches.

Amy adored both the new look and the new person it allowed her to be. Following the photo shoot, she wore her bruises to the dry cleaner and the grocery store. Most people nervously looked away, but on the rare occasions someone would ask what happened, my sister would smile as brightly as possible, saying, "I'm in love. Can you believe it? I'm finally, totally in love, and I feel great."

From Nutcracker.com

When I'm told I'm like the guy still pining for his eight-track tapes, I say, "You have eight-tracks? Where?" In reality I know nothing about them, yet I feel it's important to express some solidarity with others who have had the rug pulled out from beneath them. I don't care if it can count words or rearrange paragraphs at the push of a button, I don't want a computer. Unlike the faint scurry raised by fingers against a plastic computer keyboard, the smack and clatter of a typewriter suggests that you're actually building something. At the end of a miserable day, instead of grieving my virtual nothing, I can always look at my loaded wastepaper basket and tell myself that if I failed, at least I took a few trees down with me.

From See You Again Yesterday

The French have decided to ignore our self-proclaimed superiority, and this is translated as arrogance. To my knowledge, they've never said that they're better than us; they've just never said that we're the best. Big deal. There are plenty of places on earth where visiting Americans are greeted with great enthusiasm. Unfortunately, these places tend to lack anything you'd really want to buy. And that, to me, is the only reason to leave home in the first place -- to buy things. Hugh bought me gifts the summer I stayed home and he went off to France. He's not really that much of a shopper, so I figured that if he had managed to find these things, they must have been right out in the open where anyone could have spotted them. As far as i was concerned, the French could be cold or even openly hostile. They could burn my flag or pelt me with stones, but if there were taxidermied kittens to be had, then I would go and bring them back to this, the greatest country on earth.

From Make that a Double

It's a pretty grim world when I can't even feel superior to a toddler. Tired of embarrassing myself in front of two-year-olds, I've started referring to everything in the plural, which can get expensive but has solved a lot of my problems. In saying a melon, you need to use the masculine article. In saying the melons, you use the plural article, which does not reflect gender and is the same for both the masculine and the feminine. Ask for two or ten or three hundred melons, and the number lets you off the hook by replacing the article altogether. A masculine kilo of feminine tomatoes presents a sexual problem easily solved by asking for two kilos of tomatoes. I've started using the plural while shopping, and Hugh has started using it in our cramped kitchen, where he stands huddled in a corner, shouting, "What do we need with four pounds of tomatoes?"

I answer that I'm sure we can use them for something. The only hard part is finding someplace to put them. They won't fit in the refrigerator, as I filled the last remaining shelf with the two chickens I bought from the butcher the night before, forgetting that we were still working our way through a pair of pork roasts the size of Duraflame logs. "We could put them next to the radios," I say, "or grind them for sauce in one of the blenders. Don't get so mad. Having four pounds of tomatoes is better than having no tomatoes at all, isn't it?"

Hugh tells me that the market is off-limits until my French improves. He's pretty steamed, but I think he'll get over it when he sees the CD players I got him for his birthday.

Holidays on Ice

p. 10

Interpreters for the deaf came and taught us to sign, "MERRY CHRISTMAS! I AM SANTA'S HELPER." They told us to speak as we sign and to use bold, clear voices and bright facial expressions. They taught us to say, "YOU ARE A VERY PRETTY BOY/GIRL! I LOVE YOU! DO YOU WANT A SURPRISE?"

My sister Amy lives above a deaf girl and has learned quite a bit of sign language. She taught some to me and so now I am able to say, "SANTA HAS A TUMOR IN HIS HEAD THE SIZE OF AN OLIVE. MAYBE IT WILL GO AWAY TOMORROW BUT I DON'T THINK SO."

p. 33

All of us take pride and pleasure in the fact that we are unique, but I'm afraid that when all is said and done the police are right: it all comes down to fingerprints.

p. 33-34

There was a big "Sesame Street Live" extravaganza over at madison Square Garden, so thousands of people decided to make a day of it and go straight from Sesame Street to Santa. We were packed today, absolutely packed, and everyone was cranky. Once the line gets long we break it up into four different lines because anyone in their right mind would leave if they knew it would take over two hours to see Santa. Two hours -- you could see a movie in two hours Standing in a two-hour line makes people worry that they're not living in a democratic nation. People stand in line for two hours and they go over the edge. I was sent into the hallway to direct the second phase of the line. The hallway was packed with people, and all of them seemed to stopo me with a question: which way to the down escalator, which way to the elevator, the Patio Restaurant, gift wrap, the women's rest room, Trim-A-Tree. There was a line for Santa and a line for the women's bathroom, and one woman, after asking me a dozen questions already, asked, "Which is the line for the women's bathroom?" I shouted that I thought it was the line with all the women in it.

She said, "I'm going to have you fired."

I had two people say that to me today, "I'm going to have you fired." Go ahead, be my guest. I'm wearing a green velvet costume; it doesn't get any worse than this. Who do these people think they are?

"I'm going to have you fired!" and I wanted to lean over and say, "I'm going to have you killed."

p. 87

"Which do you like better," my sister Amy asked, "spending the night with strange guys or working in a cafeteria? What were the prison guards really like? Do you ever carry a weapon? How much do you charge if somebody just wants a spanking?"

"One at a time, one at a time," my mother said. "Give her a second to answer."

p. 118

... Because, let me tell you something, not giving is no different than taking (Good point. Let it sink in.)

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This page contains a single entry from kwc blog posted on November 10, 2004 10:19 PM.

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