"I'm the most important person in the lives of almost everyone I know and a good number of the people I've never even met."
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.
Every day we’re told that we live in the greatest country on earth. And it’s always stated as an undeniable fact: Leos are born between July 23 and August 22, fitted queen-size sheets measure sixty by eighty inches, and America is the greatest country on earth. Having grown up with this in our ears, it’s startling to realize that other countries have nationalistic slogans of their own, none of which are ‘We’re number two!’
Every gathering has its moment. As an adult, I distract myself by trying to identify it, dreading the inevitable downswing that is sure to follow. The guests will repeat themselves one too many times, or you’ll run out of dope or liquor and realize that it was all you ever had in common.
Speed eliminates all doubt. Am I smart enough? Will people like me? Do I really look all right in this plastic jumpsuit?
On my fifth trip to France I limited myself to the words and phrases that people actually use. From the dog owners I learned “Lie down,” “Shut up,” and “Who shit on this carpet?” The couple across the road taught me to ask questions correctly, and the grocer taught me to count. Things began to come together, and I went from speaking like an evil baby to speaking like a hillbilly. “Is thems the thoughts of cows?” I’d ask the butcher, pointing to the calves’ brains displayed in the front window. “I want me some lamb chop with handles on ‘em.”
If I could believe in myself, why not give other improbabilities the benefit of the doubt? I accepted the idea that an omniscient God had cast me in his own image and that he watched over me and guided me from one place to the next. The virgin birth, the resurrection, and the countless miracles -my heart expanded to encompass all the wonders and possibilities of the universe.
A bell, though, that’s fucked up
I’d hoped the language might come on its own, the way it comes to babies, but people don’t talk to foreigners the way they talk to babies. They don’t hypnotize you with bright objects and repeat the same words over and over, handing out little treats when you finally say “potty” or “wawa.” It got to the point where I’d see a baby in the bakery or grocery store and instinctively ball up my fists, jealous over how easy he had it. I wanted to lie in a French crib and start from scratch, learning the language from the ground floor up. I wanted to be a baby, but instead, I was an adult who talked like one, a spooky man-child demanding more than his fair share of attention.
Rather than admit defeat, I decided to change my goals. I told myself that I’d never really cared about learning the language. My main priority was to get the house in shape. The verbs would come in due time, but until then I needed a comfortable place to hide.
May I bring you a drink to go with those warm nuts, Mr. Sedaris?” this woman looking after me asked - this as the people in coach were still boarding. The looks they gave me as they passed were the looks I give when the door of a limousine opens. You always expect to see a movie star, or, at the very least, some better dressed than you, but time and time again it’s just a sloppy nobody. Thus the look, which translates to, Fuck you, Sloppy Nobody, for making me turn my head.
This left me alone to solve the coffee problem - a sort of catch-22, as in order to think straight I need caffeine, and in order to make that happen I need to think straight.
And when Hugh would grow progressively Gandhi on me, I’d remind him that these were pests—-disease carriers who feasted upon the dead and then came indoors to dance upon our silverware.
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