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riding in cars with david

I have a friend who is a very good writer. Google his name and the results will yield pieces he’s written for The Washington Post, NPR, Chicago Tribune, his own book. So when the subject came up at dinner a few months back of the piece that I had coming up in the book, he was curious but supportive. “So, they found your blog? I didn’t even know you had a blog. Wow. That’s pretty cool. I’d love to read the piece.”

I didn’t want him to. Not only did I see this man as a Real Writer, but I wasn’t crazy about the essay CNF had chosen. I felt like a bit of a fraud, to be honest. I hemmed stammered out something that probably came across as false modesty, when in reality it was a fear that I would be exposed as a total hack. I was relieved when the conversation turned to another friend’s hatred of jazz and brass instruments in general. I instantly knew her confession would bring about enough scorn amongst the people at the table to distract Real Writer and therefore cover me.

A few days after the dinner, he asked again if he could read the piece, and I confessed that I thought that it wasn’t really my best work. I said that they shouldn't have picked me at all, and that I had other favorites that they likely should have chosen if they were desperate. I was not really interested in having him read it. It was then that he made me a deal. “Why don’t you let me read the one that’s going to be in the book, and the one that’s your favorite, and that way you’re covered?” Logical and well published this one. I agreed and printed out both pieces, still certain that he would shortly send an e-mail to the entire staff:

To: Cleveland Agency
From: Real Writer
Subject: Cold Coffee

Fellow workers…It has come to my attention that one of our newest employees thinks that she’s a writer. As you all know, I am a Writer, and I am here to tell you that she is nothing more than a no-talent ass-clown. She uses too many commas, is overly wordy, and is mostly stupid. Please meet in the lunch room at noon to talk about her complete and utter lack of potential whilst we point and laugh. There will be popcorn. Thank you.

I cursed myself the minute I left his office for even mentioning the book in the first place and wondered not for the first time why I can’t seem to keep my goddamn mouth shut at dinner parties.

When I checked my e-mail after returning from a meeting later that afternoon, I saw his name in the From: line. I panicked. This is it. The office-wide memo declaring me a fool.

Instead, the subject line stated: “You are a really good writer.” I opened it to read:

I don't say that lightly. You have a really clear voice, which is so rare. I got the same feeling I get when I read David Sedaris, that I'm being let in on a secret that he is both making fun of and celebrating at the same
time. Maybe I could say that better. He is both detached and intimately involved with his material. Your writing has that quality.

Holy shit. I fooled him, too. He compared me favorably to David Sedaris.

On the way home that night, I told The Boy about the e-mail. He said that was pretty impressive, especially considering the Sedaris reference. “Oh yeah,” I mumbled. “I meant to ask you about that. Who is David Sedaris?” He gave me a quick sideways glance to ascertain if I was joking, and when he saw that I was not, he focused on traffic again with a bewildered, slightly bemused look on his face. “Um, he’s a writer. He’s got a few books out now. I’m sure that you’ve heard him on NPR and just don’t remember.”

I began wondering if I could somehow make my choice to listen to Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” over NPR sound the slightest bit intellectual. I could not, however, get over the notion that in doing so I might come across as even dumber, so I skipped it. I instead turned over the idea that there was someone out there who thought that my writing reminded him of someone who people who listened to NPR and therefore must know things.

It wasn’t until over a month later, however, that I got to know Mr. Sedaris. Thanks to CDs I hijacked unwittingly from a friend, I have been cruising in my rental car to the nasally sounds of “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” And although he would hate both the confession and the revelation, I am nothing short of awed. I make a left at the light and merge into traffic while he tells me about his time in Paris, and I start imagining that I am there watching the movie in the darkened theater with him, ignoring the wonders of Paris together. He makes it seem so goddamned easy. You listen to or read one of his essays and you instantly think, “Well, hell. I could do this. Look how easily it flows from his pen/mouth.” I imagine that I am EXACTLY like him because he makes it seem so easy to do.

Up until the moment that I sit down in front of the keyboard. Once I do that, I'll no longer be able to say "We'll always have Paris, David," because that’s when it all starts to fall apart and you end up with this crap.

Did I mention that I have a friend who hates jazz? How could that be even possible? Who doesn't love jazz?

Reader Comments (20)

That's awesome!

Reminds me of the time that Paris Hilton complimented me on my night-vision sex video technique.

Aug 27, 2007 at 1:50PM | Unregistered Commenteravitable

OK now I have to read David Sedaris too. And for a writer like you, all this insecurity is just quirky.

Aug 27, 2007 at 9:30PM | Unregistered CommenterJenn

I used to read just about anything I came across. Now as I grow older, and my time is mostly contained to hard work, family and easy accessible porn, I limit myself to only a few favored writers. You and Jimmy Bob Tomlinson. I enjoy your little blog and Jimmy Bob writes some of the dad-gummed funniest stuff you ever did read on a men's room wall. So, since I know our present day morals prevent you from enjoying Jimmy Bob's prose, I'll share one of my favorites with you. Over in Coleman's Restaurant there's a sign in the men's room that says "Please don't throw cigarette butts in the urinal." And Jimmy Bob is the guy that used a Sharpie and wrote, "It makes them soggy and hard to light."

Unfortunately, Jimmy Bob don't even post as much as you! So I guess that makes YOU my most favorite author out of the two of you. But watch it lady.... Jimmy Bob has his Sharpie ready and he has his eye on your throne.... literally.

Aug 27, 2007 at 9:45PM | Unregistered CommenterY2K

Aaaaaaaa! (screaming with glee)

I'm glad the "writer" agrees with EVERY-FUCKING-BODY-ELSE - you're a great writer missy! Now accept the applause.

Aug 28, 2007 at 9:56AM | Unregistered Commenterjali

I don't want it!! I want you to talk about my friend who hates jazz.

Aug 28, 2007 at 10:26AM | Registered Commenterhcg

OK, let's talk about your friend that doesn't like jazz. What kind of nit-wit, I-don't-like-different-things, risk-averse, dickless (assuming a male...not sure twatless works as a female equivalent), shallow, helmet-wearing, short bus-riding, weenie fucktard doesn't like jazz?

Not that I'm judgmental....

Aug 28, 2007 at 11:57AM | Unregistered CommenterRob

Dearest Rob,
I was beaten with brass instruments when I was a kid. And kept in a basement where they (my "Keepers") only played acid jazz over a loudspeaker. And then once at a Phish show in Vermont, during college, I tripped way too hard on the brown acid during one of their long brass-infused jams and thought I had turned into one of those flying monkeys from Wizard of Oz.Thanks, though, for opening back up those old wounds--and passing blame to me for the hardships I have endured. Try to be a little more sensitive to the jazz-adverse next time. Dickhead.

Aug 28, 2007 at 12:42PM | Unregistered CommenterTwatless Weenie Fucktard

Sorry (sort of), Kati. But at least we have one thing in common (unlike some bloggers we know): Neither of us fuck dead people.

Aug 28, 2007 at 1:01PM | Unregistered CommenterRob

Well, see, we knew you were good.

Aug 28, 2007 at 3:42PM | Unregistered Commenternessa

I still think you suck.

Aug 28, 2007 at 4:10PM | Unregistered Commenteranon-missy

Avi-I think it's almost the same.

Jenn-Yes, you do have to read him. And quirky is good, no?

Jali-No way.

Rob-I'd put my money on TWF in a fight. Just sayin'.

TWF-I am so sorry that this brought up such harsh memories.

Nessa-You should talk.

Missy-You're right. A bit cowardly for not signing your name...but right nonetheless.

Aug 28, 2007 at 5:19PM | Registered Commenterhcg

I don't care if she DOES beat me in a fight. I just want to say I wrassled with someone named Twatless Weenie Fucktard. Hell, I'd even put that on my resume.

Aug 28, 2007 at 9:43PM | Unregistered CommenterRob

Oh yeah...David Sedaris. I can't believe you don't know. Geez.

Wait, I don't either. I guess I'll sit here and drool into my cup for a while longer, eh.

Aug 28, 2007 at 11:44PM | Unregistered CommenterKentucky Girl

KG-We could listen to Gwen together while you drool.

Aug 29, 2007 at 1:36AM | Registered Commenterhcg

Tell your friend not to fret. I only started to appreciate jazz when I married a jazz drummer. I used to DJ a Euro dance hour for chrissake - that makes me a total Philistine. (Though Mooney rocks, mkay? No trashtalk de Mooney.) I do like the Latin jazz though. It's a nice gateway to all that deep Miles Davis and Coltrane (I confess, Shakira still gives me more thrills...sacrebleu!!!!!!)

And on your words: You already talk pretty, not someday but right NOW. Keep writing please. Kthanxbai.

Aug 29, 2007 at 9:13PM | Unregistered CommenterMarge

Sweet! I'll bring my fan club poster!

Aug 30, 2007 at 4:43AM | Unregistered CommenterKentucky Girl

You are a great writer! Did you read Big Boy yet?

Aug 30, 2007 at 1:33PM | Unregistered Commentermichelle


We would like to do an interview with you about your blog for
www.BlogInterviewer.com . We'd like to give you the opportunity to
give us some insight on the "person behind the blog."

It would just take a few minutes of your time. The interview form can
be submitted online at http://bloginterviewer.com/submit-an-interview

Best regards,

Mike Thomas

Aug 30, 2007 at 2:12PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Thomas

You are a writer. you have something to say and you lay it out in words and convey it well. So there. Shut up.

And my hotband hates jazz. He's kinda stupid in a cute blonde way.


Aug 30, 2007 at 4:23PM | Unregistered CommenterCP

HCG, that Blog Interviewer site is a just a linkbaiting site designed to increase PR so he can do Pay Per Post. Just an FYI.

Aug 31, 2007 at 8:17AM | Unregistered CommenterAvitable
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