Tonight I abandoned my Gleeks to go watch David Sedaris speak at McCarter theater. He told stories, some old, some new and fresh out of his newest book (which was just published today), Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, and some deep from the depths of his personal diary. The stories he read made me throw my head back with laughter, made me cringe with chagrin and sometimes disgust, and made me titillate with joy. Even during the worst of the instances, the most gory of the details, his voice seemed to warm the theater. But it wasn’t until he exclaimed, during the question and answer portion, “I love Glee!” that a warm feeling of awe and inspiration shrouded me. I clapped uncontrollably, and when he was finally off the stage, I pushed pass my father and did a sort of run-skip that you have to do in polite setting or else you’ll just look ridiculous, but you look ridiculous anyway because nothing screams “Teenager rushing to meet idol” like a girl in a skirt and purple patent leather flats run-skipping through McCarter.
As I stood in line, I fanned myself-the excitement of meeting him was clenching up in my stomach and making me nervous. I also envisioned what I would say to him. Would I tell him I was a writer? Would I tell him about how influential his work has been to me? Would I tell him about the portrait I drew of him for my final art project in sophomore year?
My time finally arrived. I handed him my just-purchased copy of Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk and the slip of paper with the proper spelling of my name on it, and blurted out,
“Oh, wow, hi! Gosh, I feel like a little girl at gymnastics camp meeting an Olympic gymnast for the first time all over again!”
Good analogy, self.
He smiled at me and said, “Well, hello Pauline! We’ve met before, haven’t we? I feel like we’ve met.” Only in my dreams. After my response, he said to me, “Well, Pauline, I have a little something for you. I was in the Netherlands last week and picked up this. Have you ever been to the Netherlands?” and he pulled a plastic toy squirrel out of a white crumpled up paper bag. “See, isn’t that cute? It’s just like the cover!” and he held the toy next to the cover for comparison, and then handed it to me. We then got into a discussion about bikes and how everyone bikes in the Netherlands because the whole country is entirely flat, and then we began to talk about where I’d been in Europe (never the Netherlands, but plenty of other places!) and speaking German and might I add, he has a pretty damn good German accent. And then he asked, “Where are you going next?” and my mother and I both said, “College!”
This offered the perfect segway into discussing my writing, which was not my ultimate goal, but nice to stumble upon. I told him that I had a blog and wrote for the Tower and the Packet and sometimes wrote books but they usually didn’t go anywhere and he smiled at me and said in disbelief, “Books? I wasn’t even dreaming of writing books when I was your age!” and that made me even more tingly inside. Then he told me, “You know what? I find that the kids who wrote for the high school paper are winners.” What a confidence boost. That may be one of the best compliments, or well-wishes, that I’ve ever gotten (aside from the Hermione compliment). I’m about to type that up, frame it, and put it on display in the Tower room. I really am.
But that wasn’t even the highlight, oh no. The best part was when I told him that I saw Joyce Carol Oates in the audience, and he said, “Oh no, Joyce Carol Oats? No one told me! You’re the first people to tell me that!” and put his head in his hands. He then looked at me and said, “I’m so happy no one told me that before the performance, because I don’t think I would have gone on. Joyce Carol Oates? Wow.”
And then he pulled out his little aqua blue notebook and jotted down this momentous event, because it’s Joyce Carol Oates. IT’S JOYCE CAROL OATES! (Reason #423 why I love Princeton-spotting JCO at McCarter). But that wasn’t the most exciting part. What’s exciting is that I MADE HIS LITTLE BLUE NOTEBOOK!!! The one that he derives ideas from for his stories, the one that he read to us from, the one that he takes very important notes in. And believe me, learning that Joyce Carol Oates went to listen to you read your work is one of the biggest compliments a writer could ever receive. But one of the biggest compliments a fan of David Sedaris could ever get is making it into that blue notebook-and not because of your unicorn-shaped uterus. When I say best night ever, I’m not exaggerating. That means that this happened:
Life goal complete.