David Sedaris

David Sedaris

A weeklong electronic journal.
Nov. 28 1996 3:30 AM

David Sedaris

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       J. called late last night to tell me she's got a new boyfriend. "OK, he's not a boyfriend, he's a crush," she said.
       She met the guy at a party, and two days later he moved into her spare bedroom. The problem is that the bedroom is right next to the bathroom, and J. doesn't want to be heard making any potty noises. As a result, she has taken to shitting in a paint can in the basement. There are other tenants in the building, and she worries one of them might come down to do a load of laundry and find her crouching there beside the furnace. She's already filled one bucket and is now wondering how to dispose of it.
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       I went early this afternoon to the NPR studio and recorded a Thanksgiving story for Morning Edition. It's always interesting to discover what can and cannot be said on the radio. A few years ago I spent time in Raleigh, N.C., where, on two separate occasions, I heard people say, "This show's boring. Hand me the nigger." The nigger is what they call the remote control, "because it's black and it does the work for you." I find this to be a curious bit of cultural information, but, no matter how hard I try, they won't put it on the radio. Next month I'm supposed to begin a series of recordings for the BBC. Whenever they call, I pick up the phone to hear an urgent voice whispering, "London calling, please hold the line." The producer uses words such as "Jolly" and "Cheerio!" and explains that I'll have to rework a few of the stories to fit what he calls "the British sensibility." I'm hoping that maybe they'll take all the stories I can't get on NPR. Maybe the English will listen, thinking, "Well that's America for you."
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       My friend Paul sent me an issue of Renaissance, a magazine for people who wish they'd lived during the late Middle Ages. There are articles on medieval Christmas traditions, the brewing of mead, and filling in the gaps of your personal armor collection: "The process of making a chain-mail hauberk is really quite simple." The authors of the various articles are identified as "Contributing Scribes," and letters to the editor are signed "Lady Kimberly," and "Ayin." Available back issues offer cover stories on full-combat jousting and life as a town crier. These are people who frequently eat mutton with their bare hands and travel to fairs in Florida and Texas, where they stand in the hot sun wearing 80 pounds of clothing. What, I wonder, do their houses look like? Do they sleep on those dinky little sit-up beds, or curl up on a nest of straw? Do they own silverware? I love specialty magazines, my current favorite being Bulk Male, which is devoted to overweight men with lots of body hair. Big Butt was another good one. I can't look at these magazines without wondering what certain parents are forced to say when asked what their son or daughter does for a living. "Well right now he's a fact checker for Bust and Booty, but hopefully Brian will soon be moving over to an editorial position at Juggs."

David Sedaris is a commentator for National Public Radio and the author of Barrel Fever, a book of short stories, and a forthcoming memoir, Naked. He has also co-written several plays with his sister, Amy Sedaris, including Stitches and One Woman Shoe.