Transcript: Growing Up Sedaris | Jun 18, 2018

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and spotted blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Growing up Sedaris. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says THERE ARE FEW AUTHORS
THAT CAN TAKE UP VIRTUALLY ANY
SUBJECT AND MAKE IT MEANINGFUL,
UNIVERSALLY RELEVANT, FUNNY, AND
DEEPLY DISTURBING ALL AT THE
SAME TIME.
DAVID SEDARIS IS JUST SUCH A
WRITER.
HIS REFLECTIONS ON MOVING TO
FRANCE IN "ME TALK PRETTY ONE
DAY," ON LIFE AS AN ELF AT
MACY'S IN THE "SANTALAND
DIARIES" AND NOW, IN
HIS LATEST BOOK, "CALYPSO," ON
WHAT MIDDLE AGE IS REALLY LIKE,
HAVE EARNED HIM A PLACE AS ONE
OF AMERICA'S MOST BELOVED
HUMOURISTS.
AND DAVID SEDARIS JOINS US NOW.

David is in his late fifties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He's wearing rounded glasses, a gray pinstripe suit and a white shirt.
A picture of his book appears briefly on screen. The cover is textured like yellow wood, with knots that create an expressionless face.

Steve continues SO GOOD TO MEET YOU.

David says THANK YOU SO
MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

Steve says I'VE GOT TO TELL
YOU.
WHEN I READ THIS BOOK, I FELT
ALL OF THOSE THINGS AND MORE.
IF SOMEONE WERE TO DESCRIBE THIS
BOOK TO YOU, THOUGH, AS AWESOME,
HOW WOULD YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT?

The caption changes to "That's not awesome."

David says OH, OH.
THAT IS MY LEAST FAVOURITE WORD.

Steve says I KNOW IT IS.

The caption changes to "David Sedaris. Author, 'Calypso.'"

David says I SAID TO SOMEONE THE OTHER
DAY, THEY SAID AWESOME.
AND I SAID, DO YOU KNOW WHAT
AWESOME MEANS?
THAT'S WHAT AWESOME MEANS NOW.
I WENT TO THE GREAT WALL OF
CHINA ONCE, AND I HAVE TO SAY,
THAT WAS AWESOME.

Steve says YOU WERE FULL OF AWE.

David says THAT'S THE ONLY THING I CAN
THINK OF A LATTE IS NOT AWESOME.

Steve says YOU'VE NEVER HAD AN
AWESOME LATTE?

David says I WAS IN BOULDER, COLORADO,
AND SOMEONE SAID A LATTE WAS
AWESOME.
IT'S MY LEAST FAVOURITE WORD
JUST NOW.

Steve says THAT'S WHY I ASKED
YOU ABOUT THAT.
HERE'S HOW SOME PEOPLE HAVE
DESCRIBED IT, HOWEVER.
LET'S BRING THESE GRAPHICS UP,
IF WE CAN.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITES...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Catharsis and storytelling." The quote reads "The best stories here are the work of a man seeking catharsis by coming to terms with tragedy the only way he knows how -storytelling."
Quoted from Rob Merrell, Associated Press. May 29, 2018.

Another quote appears, under the title "No longer holding back?" The quote reads "After 25 years and nine essay collections, after publishing 500 pages of his own diary, the most shocking thing David Sedaris can do is reveal that he's been holding this back."
Quoted from Rachel Manteuffel, The Washington Post. May 29, 2018.

Steve says HAVE YOU REALLY BEEN
HOLDING THINGS BACK ALL THESE YEARS?

The caption changes to "The Storyteller."

David says THERE ARE THINGS I HAVEN'T
WRITTEN ABOUT, BUT I THINK
SOMETIMES, FOR ME ANYWAY, I HAVE
TO GET A CERTAIN DISTANCE AWAY
FROM THEM IN ORDER TO WRITE
ABOUT THEM.
LIKE I DON'T... SOME THINGS... I
CAN HAVE A ROOT CANAL ON
WEDNESDAY AND I CAN WRITE ABOUT
IT ON THURSDAY.
BUT THERE ARE CERTAIN THINGS
LIKE MY MOTHER'S DRINKING THAT I
TRIED TO WRITE ABOUT EARLIER,
AND I THOUGHT, YOU KNOW, I DON'T
THINK I HAVE THE DISTANCE FROM
IT THAT I NEED, AND I JUST
NEEDED TO GET EXACTLY THIS FAR
AWAY FROM IT IN ORDER TO WRITE
ABOUT IT WITH ANY KIND OF LEVEL
OF UNDERSTANDING.

Steve says I WANT TO TALK ABOUT
YOUR MOM.

David says OKAY.

Steve says LET'S TALK ABOUT
YOUR MOM.
SHELDON, SHALL WE BRING THIS UP
HERE? HERE'S A LITTLE EXCERPT...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Real-ish life stories." The quote reads "Her speciality was the real-life story, perfected and condensed. These take work, and she'd go through half a dozen verbal drafts before getting one to where she wanted it. Over the course of the day the line she wished she'd delivered in response to some question or comment –the zinger- would become the line she had delivered. 'So I said to him, Buddy, that's why they invented the airplane.'
We'd be on the sidelines, aghast: 'That's not how it happened at all!' But what did it matter with such great results?"
Quoted from David Sedaris, "Calypso." 2018.

Steve says THAT'S A VERY FUNNY
OBSERVATION.
DID YOU LEARN STORYTELLING FROM
YOUR MOM?

David says YEAH.
WELL, I MEAN, I THINK WE ALL...
THERE WERE SIX KIDS IN MY
FAMILY, AND SO IT'S ALWAYS
INTERESTING TO ME WHEN I MEET AN
ONLY CHILD OR I MEET A PARENT
WITH JUST ONE CHILD, AND THE
CHILD WILL SAY, AND THEN IN
SCHOOL THAT TEACHER SAID...
ASKED DARCY IF SHE HAD A CAT AND
DARCY SAID WHAT?
AND THE TEACHER SAID DO YOU HAVE
A CAT?
AND DARCY SAID WHAT MY MOTHER
WOULD SAY, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
LIKE, SHUT UP!
NO ONE IS GOING TO LISTEN TO
THIS.
YOU'VE GOT DIALOGUE IN THERE
THAT DOESN'T GO ANYWHERE, THAT
DOESN'T MATTER.
WHEN YOU MEET PEOPLE... A LOT OF
THEM CONSIDER THEMSELVES TO BE
FINE STORYTELLERS AND THEY'LL
DESCRIBE EVERYTHING IN DETAIL
AND THEN THEY'LL DESCRIBE RIGHT
TO WHAT SOMEONE WAS WEARING AND
HOW BIG THEIR WRISTS WERE AND
THAT IS THE PERSON WHO YOU
BUZZED THROUGH THE DOOR AND
DOESN'T SHOW UP LATER, YOU'RE
GIVING YOUR AUDIENCE THAT AMOUNT
OF DETAIL TO SOMEONE WHO DOESN'T
ULTIMATELY MATTER IN YOUR STORY.
IF THERE ARE SIX KIDS TOO IF
SOMEBODY FUMBLED OR SOMEBODY WAS
BORING, YOU CUT IN.
I HAD SOMEONE DO THAT TO ME
ONCE.
YOU LEARNED TO DO THAT.
THAT SAID, IT WASN'T COMPETITIVE
STORYTELLING WITH MY SISTERS
AND I, WE ALL HAD A SPECIALTY.
MY SISTER AMY LIVES IN THE
MOMENT AND I DON'T LIVE THERE.
I WISH I DID, BUT I DON'T.
AND SHE COULD SHOULD BE SITTING
AT THIS TABLE AND OBSERVE THINGS
AROUND HER AND YOU WOULD SEE
THEM IN A WAY YOU'VE NEVER SEEN
THEM BEFORE.
MY BROTHER PAUL COULD... CAN
IMITATE ANYBODY.
HE'D MEET YOU AND SPOT YOUR
WEAKNESS, LIKE THAT.

Steve says AND THEN GO THERE.

David says YUP, AND GO THERE.
MY SISTER LISA CAN TELL A STORY
IN WHICH SHE SEEMS TO BE A
VICTIM BUT SHE'S NEVER... IT'S
NEVER TOLD FROM A VICTIM'S POINT
OF VIEW.
IT'S TOLD... IT'S TOLD WITH
WONDERMENT, RIGHT?
SO WE ALL HAVE OUR LITTLE THINGS
THAT WE DEVELOP.
BUT I THINK IT ALL CAME FROM
TRYING TO GET MY MOTHER TO
LAUGH.
THAT WAS THE BEST SOUND IN THE
WORLD TO US.

Steve says WHY WAS IT SO
IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO HEAR YOUR
MOTHER LAUGH?

David says WE JUST WANTED TO MAKE HER
HAPPY.
IT WASN'T LIKE SHE WAS MEAN AND
THEN WE THOUGHT, WELL, IF WE CAN
MAKE HER HAPPY, SHE'LL BE NICE
TO US.
SHE WAS ALWAYS NICE TO US.
JUST GETTING HER APPROVAL THAT
WAY.
AND THAT WAS THE APPROVAL THAT
MATTERED.
IT WASN'T... BECAUSE SHE WASN'T
STINGY WITH HER LAUGHTER.
WE ALL FIGURED OUT FROM AN EARLY
AGE, SHE HAD A GOOD SENSE OF
HUMOUR.
SHE DIDN'T LAUGH AT STUFF THAT
WASN'T FUNNY.
SHE WAS... SHE WAS A GOOD JUDGE
OF WHAT WAS FUNNY AND WHAT WAS
WAS... I DON'T KNOW IF I EVER
HEARD MY MOTHER FAKE LAUGH.
I'VE NEVER LISTENED TO MYSELF
BUT I HEARD AN INTERVIEW THAT I
DID AND I HEARD MYSELF
FAKE-LAUGHING AND I WAS
HORRIFIED.

Steve says BECAUSE SHE WOULD
NEVER HAVE DONE THAT.

David says IT'S WHAT YOU DO WHEN YOU'RE
TRYING TO BE POLITE.
IT WASN'T LIKE SOMEBODY WOULD
TELL A JOKE AND SHE WOULD SIT
THERE LIKE...
MAYBE SHE WOULD BE LAUGHING AT
HOW FUNNY THEY THOUGHT IT WAS.
I DON'T KNOW.

Steve says YOU DO TALK IN THIS
BOOK ABOUT YOUR SISTER'S
SUICIDE, AND IT'S... YOU HAVE AN
ABILITY TO GO FROM FUNNY FUNNY
HA HA, WE'RE LAUGHING, WE'RE
LAUGHING, AND THEN, BOOM, YOU
HIT US WITH TRAGEDY, REALLY OUT
OF THE BLUE.
WHY DO YOU DO THAT?

David says GOSH.
YOU KNOW, WHAT IT USUALLY... IN
THAT SITUATION, IT'S USUALLY
TRAGEDY.
BUT THEN WHAT I DO IS WHEN I GO
ON TOUR, I USUALLY START A TOUR
WITH THREE OR FOUR NEW STORIES
AND I GO ON THESE LECTURE TOURS
EVERY FALL AND EVERY SPRING, SO
I'LL GO TO TWO CITIES IN EVERY
FOUR DAYS, EVERY FALL IN OCTOBER
AND EVERY SPRING.
AND I'D GO BACK TO MY ROOM AND
REWRITE THEM.
USUALLY IF IT'S FUNNY FUNNY AND
THEN TRAGIC, IT WAS JUST TRAGIC
AND THEN I THOUGHT, YOU KNOW, I
THINK I NEED TO LIGHTEN THIS UP
A LITTLE.
OR IT WAS JUST ALL FUNNY AND
MAYBE I THOUGHT, MAYBE I NEED TO
DIG A LITTLE DEEPER HERE, JUST
TO HAVE THAT.
TO ADD TO AN ESSAY ABOUT, I
DON'T KNOW, A ROOT CANAL, SAY.
BECAUSE THERE'S NOTHING TRAGIC
ABOUT IT.
IT DOESN'T EVEN HURT ANYMORE,
RIGHT?
BUT YOU DON'T WANT TO BE
FORMULAIC IN THAT WAY.
THERE WERE CERTAIN ESSAYS IN THE
BOOK, YOU KNOW, THEY'RE PRETTY
HEAVY SUBJECTS, BUT I REMEMBER
WHEN MY FIRST BOOK CAME OUT, A
NEIGHBOUR OF OURS CAME TO THE
BOOK-SIGNING IN NORTH CAROLINA.
I SAID THE BOOK'S FINE BUT WHEN
ARE YOU GOING TO WRITE ABOUT
SOMETHING SERIOUS?
I SAID NEVER.
THERE ARE PLENTY OF PEOPLE WHO
DO THAT AND THEY DO IT WELL.

Steve says FAIR ENOUGH.
BUT YOU HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT
SERIOUS THINGS IN THIS BOOK, IN
"CALYPSO."

David says BUT I STILL WANT LAUGHS.
I DON'T WANT TO... IF YOU'RE
READING IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE
AND IT'S JUST ALL SERIOUS, WHAT
YOU HEAR IS PEOPLE COUGHING.
AND WHEN THEY'RE COUGHING, IT'S
LIKE THEY'RE THROWING SKULLS AT YOU.
SO I TRY TO MIX IT UP A BIT.

Steve says I PRESUME... WELL, I
SHOULDN'T PRESUME.
LET ME ASK.
THE PART OF THE BOOK WHERE YOU
DID START TO DEAL WITH TIFFANY'S
SUICIDE, PARTLY FOR CATHARSIS.
IS THAT WHY YOU WENT THERE?

David says I THINK I'VE FOUND WRITE TO
BE CATHARTIC... NEVER.
IT'S HOW I MAKE SENSE OF THE
WORLD.
I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE CATHARTIC
BUT IT'S NOT.
THERE WAS ONE ESSAY IN WHICH I
TALKED ABOUT THE LAST TIME I SAW
MY SISTER AND I DIDN'T MEAN TO
WRITE THAT.
IN THE EARLIER VERSION, I NEVER
MENTIONED THAT.
AND THEN THE STORY JUST HIT A
WALL.
AND SO I THOUGHT, OKAY, GO BACK
AND TAKE A DIFFERENT PATH RIGHT
HERE, AND THEN I FOUND MYSELF
WRITING ABOUT IT AND I COULDN'T
UNWRITE IT ONCE I HAD WRITTEN IT.
I MEAN, IT WAS A REALLY HARD
THING TO WRITE ABOUT.
MY SISTER WAS MENTALLY ILL AND I
WAS DOING A SHOW AT SYMPHONY
HALL IN BOSTON AND THE SHOW SOLD
OUT AND THEN THERE WAS A BIG
CROWD OF PEOPLE WAITING TO GET
BOOKS SIGNED AND I'M BACK STAGE
WAITING TO GO IN THE LOBBY AND
MY SISTER SHOWS UP, AND LOOKING
LIKE THE MENTALLY ILL PERSON
THAT SHE WAS.
AND I ASKED THE STAGE MANAGER TO
CLOSE THE DOOR, AND HE SHUT THE
DOOR IN HER FACE AND I NEVER SAW
HER OR SPOKE TO HER AGAIN.
AND WHEN I WROTE THAT, I
THOUGHT, WELL, THAT CAN'T BE ME.
THAT CAN'T BE ME.
I'M A GOOD PERSON.
BUT IT WAS ME AND THEN EVERY
NIGHT WHEN I READ IT OUT LOUD, I
THINK THE SAME THING.
I THINK, IT CAN'T HAVE HAPPENED
LIKE THAT.
NO, THAT'S EXACTLY THE WAY THAT
IT HAPPENED.

Steve says BUT YOU WROTE THE
LINE AND YOU SAY YOU CAN'T
UNWRITE IT ONCE IT'S THERE.
BUT YOU MUST HAVE KNOWN THAT
LEAVING THAT LINE IN THE BOOK...
I MEAN, YOU'RE TAKING A HELL OF
A RISK THERE BECAUSE YOU'RE
RISKING THE READER COMING TO THE
CONCLUSION THAT YOU ARE... LIKE,
THAT'S A BAD THING TO DO.

David says RIGHT.

Steve says YOU'RE NOT WORRIED
ABOUT THAT?

David says NO, I'M NOT WORRIED ABOUT IT
SO MUCH BECAUSE I... I'VE MET SO
MANY PEOPLE WHO HAVE HAD MENTAL
ILLNESS IN THEIR FAMILY AND THEY
UNDERSTAND... BECAUSE I DON'T
THINK YOU CAN... IT'S REALLY NOT
FAIR TO SAY, I DON'T KNOW, BAD
OR QUESTIONABLE THINGS ABOUT
OTHER PEOPLE AND THEN JUST TRY
TO MAKE YOURSELF LOOK GOOD.
I DON'T KNOW.
I NEVER QUITE FALL FOR THAT IN
SOMEBODY ELSE'S BOOK.
AND I THINK IT'S THOSE AWFUL
THINGS THAT MOST PEOPLE CAN
RELATE TO.
YOU KNOW, IF YOU ADMIT TO
SOMETHING THAT YOU DID THAT'S...
THAT SEEMS TO YOU UNSPEAKABLE,
THAT'S THE THING THAT MOST
READERS AND PEOPLE IN THE
AUDIENCE, THEY'RE GOING TO
SAY, "WOW, HE'S ME."

Steve says SHALL WE BRING THESE
PICTURES UP HERE?
C'MON, SHELDON, LET'S BRING
THESE UP.
HAVE A LOOK, DAVID, AT THE
MONITOR HERE.
WHO'S THAT GUY?

A collage of three black and white pictures shows a distraught young David looking at envelopes hanging from a string in a room, and holding his arms behind his head.

David says OH.
THAT WAS... THAT'S ME ON DRUGS.

Steve says YOU'RE 23 YEARS OLD THERE.

David says ON DRUGS, YEP.
THOSE WERE SOME ENVELOPES THAT I
HAD PAINTED AND STRUNG UP IN THE
CEILING OF MY APARTMENT, AND,
GOSH, THIS FELLOW I'M STILL IN
TOUCH WITH, I'M STILL FRIENDS
WITH, CAME BY ONE DAY AND HE
ALWAYS HAD A CAMERA IN HIS HAND
AND HE TOOK THOSE PICTURES.

Steve says A FEW YEARS AFTER
THAT YOU WROTE IN YOUR DIARY ON
WHAT WE IN CANADA WOULD CALL
BOXING DAY, 1983, DAY AFTER
CHRISTMAS...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "27 and there's so much more." The quote reads "This is my twenty-seventh birthday. I've been anticipating this age for a long time, thinking that when I reach it, I'll make a big change. I seem old to me now."
Quoted from David Sedaris, "Theft by finding: Diaries (1977-2002). 2017.

Steve says HOW DO YOU FEEL OLD AT 27?

The caption changes to "Old at 27?"

David says I FELT OLD AT 27 BECAUSE I
WAS LIVING IN RALEIGH, NORTH
CAROLINA.
WE LIVED IN NEW YORK STATE.
MOVED TO RALEIGH, NORTH
CAROLINA, WHEN I WAS IN SECOND
GRADE.
FROM THE SECOND GRADE ON, ALL I
THOUGHT ABOUT WAS LEAVING,
RIGHT?
SO I LEFT THE STATE TO GO TO
COLLEGE.
I WENT TO KENT STATE.
BUT THEN I DROPPED OUT.
AND THEN I MOVED TO CALIFORNIA
FOR A WHILE AND OREGON.
AND THEN I WOUND UP BACK HOME.
I WOUND UP IN MY PARENTS'
BASEMENT, WHICH WAS MY BIGGEST
FEAR.
AND THERE I WAS, I DON'T KNOW,
20, 21 YEARS OLD IN MY PARENTS'
BASEMENT.
AND THEN I MET A GROUP OF
FRIENDS IN RALEIGH AND THEY WERE
ARTISTS AND I WAS DOING VISUAL
ART AT THE TIME.
AND WE THOUGHT WE WERE SO
CLEVER, YOU KNOW?
WE THOUGHT THAT WE WERE PARIS IN
THE '20S.
AND THEY ALL LEFT.
YOU KNOW, ONE BY ONE, THEY LEFT.
AND I WAS THE LAST ONE THERE.
AND I STAYED TOO LONG AT THE
FAIR, IS WHAT I DID.
I FELT OLD BECAUSE OF THAT,
BECAUSE EVERYBODY ELSE HAD
STARTED A REAL ADULT LIFE AND I
HADN'T.
I WAS THE AGE OF AN ADULT, BUT I
HADN'T STARTED AN ADULT LIFE.
I HADN'T TAKEN THE NECESSARY
RISK, I SUPPOSE.
I HAD ALWAYS BEEN TOLD THAT 27
WAS THE YEAR THAT YOU'RE
SUPPOSED TO REALLY SHAKE THINGS UP.

Steve says OR DIE, IF YOU'RE
JIM MORRISON OR JIMI HENDRIX OR
KURT COBAIN OR WHATEVER.

David says AFTER HAVING MADE A MARK.

Steve says RIGHT.

David says AT LEAST THEY MADE A MARK AND
THEN DIED.

Steve says YOU WERE STILL WAITING.

David says IS SO THAT'S WHEN I MOVED TO
CHICAGO.
I WANTED TO MOVE TO NEW YORK,
BUT I THOUGHT, WELL, I'LL JUST
GET EATEN ALIVE.
SO I SAW CHICAGO AS A STEPPING
STONE, AND IT WAS A GOOD ONE.

Steve says ADMITTEDLY A CLICHÉD
QUESTION.
BUT YOU ARE NOW 61.
AND IF THE 61-YEAR-OLD DAVID
SEDARIS COULD GIVE ADVICE TO
THAT 27-YEAR-OLD DAVID SEDARIS
OF WHOM YOU JUST SPOKE, WHAT
MIGHT THAT ADVICE SOUND LIKE?

David says WELL, YOU KNOW, I MADE A
CLEAR OUT OF TAKING EVERY BIT OF
ADVICE MY FATHER EVER GAVE ME
AND DOING THE OPPOSITE.

Steve laughs.

David says ACTUALLY I DON'T HAVE ANY
REGRETS THAT WAY.
BUT I DO FEEL LIKE I WASTED
ABOUT FOUR YEARS OF MY LIFE IN
RALEIGH, AND THERE'S NOTHING I
CAN DO ABOUT IT AT THIS POINT.
I THINK IT WOULD BE HARD TO BE A
YOUNG WRITER TODAY BECAUSE YOU
FEEL THIS PRESSURE TO GET YOUR
STUFF OUT THERE, RIGHT?
SO YOU PUT OUT A BLOG OR, I
DON'T KNOW, YOU TWEET YOUR
DIARY.
I DON'T KNOW WHAT PEOPLE... I
DON'T HAVE ANY SOCIAL MEDIA.
BUT WHEN I WAS YOUNG, THERE
WEREN'T THOSE OUTLETS, AND I
THINK I WAS WISE TO... I WROTE
FOR SEVEN YEARS BEFORE ANYBODY
SAW A WORD THAT I HAD WRITTEN.
IN RETROSPECT, THAT WAS REALLY
WISE ON MY PART BECAUSE I WAS NO
GOOD.

Steve says AND NOBODY KNEW IT.

David says AND NOBODY KNEW IT, EXACTLY.

The caption changes to "In my day... it was easier."

Steve says YOU COULD GET BETTER
IN A RISKIER... WHAT AM I TRYING
TO SAY?...
IN A RISK-FREE ENVIRONMENT.

David says WHICH I THINK NOW, THOUGH, IF
YOU WERE 22, YOU'D LOOK AROUND
AND YOU'D SAY, ALL MY FRIENDS
HAVE BLOGS AND I SHOULD DO IT
TOO.
THEN YOU PUT IT OUT THERE AND
YOU THINK, WELL, I DIDN'T GET
ANY... NOBODY IS PAYING ANY
ATTENTION TO IT.
I MUST BE AWFUL.
I GUESS I'LL GIVE UP.

Steve says ARE YOU WEARING YOUR
FIT BIT NOW?

David says MM-HMM.

Steve says YOU ARE.

David says I HAVE A FIT BIT AND AN APPLE
WATCH.

Steve says AND AN APPLE WATCH.
YET YOU'RE NOT ON SOCIAL MEDIA.

David says NO, I'M NOT.

Steve says YOU'RE NOT
COMPLETELY HOSTILE TO
TECHNOLOGY, JUST SOME
TECHNOLOGY?

The caption changes to "Getting fit bit by bit."

David says I THINK... LIKE SOMEONE HAS A
FACEBOOK PAGE FOR ME BUT I
HAVEN'T SEEN IT.
I'M AFRAID TO LOOK AT IT.
IT MIGHT BE PEOPLE SAYING YOU
SUCK AND IT WOULD HURT MY
FEELINGS.

Steve says I GUARANTEE IT WOULD
BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT PEOPLE DO ON
SOCIAL MEDIA.

David says AND TWITTER, NO...

Steve says ON TWITTER THEY'D
SAY YOU SUCK BIG TIME.
A LITTLE DIFFERENT.

David says AND INSTAGRAM WOULD BE A
PICTURE OF ME SUCKING.

Steve says YOU ARE NOT A FITBIT
KIND OF GUY, I WOULDN'T HAVE THOUGHT.

David says ONE OF MY DEAREST FRIENDS...
I MET HER IN MY SECOND YEAR OF
COLLEGE, AND SHE WAS MY
GIRLFRIEND IN SECOND YEAR OF
COLLEGE, AND I SURE CHOSE WELL.
I MEAN, UNFORTUNATELY SHE WASN'T
A GUY, BUT SHE AND I HAVE ALWAYS
STAYED IN TOUCH AND SHE IS JUST
A DEAR PERSON TO ME.
AND SHE HAD A FIT BIT.
AND SO I GOT ONE.
AND THEN, LIKE, SHE CAME LAST
YEAR TO... AND WE WENT OUT TO
BREAK OUR RECORDS AND WE WALKED
91,000 STEPS IN A DAY.
SO WE WALKED 43 MILES.

Steve says MY GOODNESS.

David says WE STARTED AT MIDNIGHT.
WE TALK ABOUT THAT DAY AND NOW
WE TALK ABOUT BREAKING OUR
RECORD.

Steve says BECAUSE YOU'RE
SUPPOSED TO DO 10,000 STEPS A
DAY, WHICH YOU PRETTY MUCH DO.

David says YEAH.
THESE DEVICES FEED PERFECTLY
INTO MY MENTAL ILLNESS, AND IT'S
OVERTAKEN MY LIFE, AND WHEN I'M
AT HOME, I WALK BETWEEN 18 AND
22 MILES A DAY, WHILE I'M
PICKING UP GARBAGE.

Steve says I KNOW.
WHAT IS IT WITH YOU AND PICKING
UP LITTER?

The caption changes to "Trash collector."

David says I CAN'T WALK BY IT.
I CAN'T.
I CANNOT WALK BY A PIECE OF
LITTER.
I MEAN, I CAN ON VACATION, YOU
KNOW?
ACTUALLY, I DO IT IN NORTH
CAROLINA TOO, IN A PLACE WHERE I
HAVE A HOUSE, I CAN'T WALK BY
LITTER.

Steve says WHAT IS THE MOST
INTERESTING THING YOU HAVE
FOUND?

The caption changes to "Connect with us: TVO.org. Twitter: @theagenda; Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, Instagram."

David says I FIND A LOT OF SEX TRASH IN
ENGLAND.
LIKE I FOUND A PILE OF SPANKING
MAGAZINES.
I'VE FOUND A BALL GAG.
I FOUND A STRAP-ON PENIS.

Steve says WHAT DO YOU DO WITH
THE STUFF?

David says WELL, THE THING IS, LIKE THE
BALL GAG, I WAS WITH MY FRIEND
DAWN AND SHE SAID IT WAS A DOG
COLLAR WITH A TENNIS BALL
ATTACHED.
AND IT WAS LIKE YOU DON'T KNOW
ANYTHING.
I BOUGHT IT HOME TO HUGH.
HE SAID, LOOK, IT'S A DOG
COLLAR... HE DIDN'T KNOW
ANYTHING EITHER.
THEN I BROUGHT IT TO A READING
AND I GAVE IT AWAY TO SOMEBODY.
WHO WANTS THIS?
AND OF COURSE SOMEBODY WANTED IT.

Steve says YOU GAVE... WHAT'S
IT CALLED?

David says A BALL GAG.

Steve says THAT YOU FOUND ON
THE STREETS.

David says YOU PUT IT THROUGH THE
DISHWASHER, YOU'RE FINE.

Steve says THAT'S GROSS.
THAT IS GROSS.
OKAY.
TIME FOR MORE PICTURES.
SHE WAS YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER,
INCIDENTALLY.
YOU JUST MENTIONED HIS NAME AND
WANTED PEOPLE TO KNOW HIS NAME
IF THEY DON'T KNOW ALREADY.
SOME OLD FAMILY PHOTOS, PLEASE.

A black and white family picture pops up with a young David surrounded by four girls and a baby.

Steve continues HERE IS FRONT ROW, LEFT TO
RIGHT: AMY, DAVID, GRETCHEN,
PAUL, LISA, AND TIFFANY.

David says CORRECT.

Steve says AND EVERYBODY...
ALMOST EVERYBODY... HAS GOT A
NICE SMILE ON THEIR FACE.
AND YOU LOOK KIND OF DIFFERENT.
WHAT'S GOING ON THERE?

David says I DON'T KNOW.
I DON'T KNOW WHY I'M NOT...
TIFFANY DOESN'T EITHER.

Steve says SHE DOES NOT EITHER.

David says TIFFANY LOOKS LIKE... IF YOU
HAD TO PICK THE PERSON OUT OF
THAT PHOTOGRAPH WHO WOULD BE
TROUBLED, I THINK YOU WOULD
POINT TO MY SISTER TIFFANY,
ALTHOUGH BACK THEN, SHE SEEMED
LIKE, YOU KNOW, JUST ANY OTHER
LITTLE GIRL.

Steve says ALTHOUGH THE BABY
LOOKS LIKE...

David says YEAH.

Steve says I MEAN, IN A
HYPNOTIC STATE AT THE MOMENT OR
SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

David says YES, HE DOES.

Steve says OKAY.
NEXT PICTURE, PLEASE.

In another black and white picture, a goofy David around 8 poses with two sisters.

Steve continues HERE'S LEFT TO RIGHT DAVID,
LOOKING VERY SHOW BIZ HERE, AND
THEN LISA AND GRETCHEN.
I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE
AUDITIONING FOR THERE, BUT IT
CERTAINLY PRESAGED A LIFE IN
SHOW BUSINESS.

David says IT SURE DID.

Steve says YEAH.
AND HERE, NEXT ONE...

In another black and white picture, seen from behind a woman follows a boy and girl holding hands in a forest trail.

Steve continues THAT'S KIND
OF A TOUCHING SHOT THERE, DAVID,
LISA, AND YOUR MOM.

David says MM-HMM.

Steve says THAT'S SWEET.
CAN I IMPOSE UPON YOU TO READ A
LITTLE SOMETHING FROM "CALYPSO"?

David says SURE.

Steve says LET'S DO THESE PAGES
FOR STARTERS.
WHAT DO I SAY?
THE FLOOR IS YOURS.

The caption changes to "The Sedaris family."

David grabs a copy of his book and reads
FOR A WHILE WHEN I WAS 11 OR
SO, I USED TO DROP THE EMPTY
CARDBOARD TOILET ROLLS INTO THE
JOHN.
THEY WOULD TAKE A WHILE TO
DISAPPEAR, FIVE OR SIX FLUSHES
USUALLY, BUT I WAS IN NO HURRY.
THE FIRST THREE TIMES THE TOILET
CLOGGED, MY FATHER WENT AT IT
WITH THE PLUNGER, AND THAT DID
THE TRICK.
THEN FOR SOME REASON THE PLUNGER
WASN'T ENOUGH.
HE ORDERED ME TO GET HIS TOOL
BOX AND TO STAND IN THE OPEN
DOORWAY, READY TO HAND HIM
WHATEVER HE CALLED FOR.
AFTER DRAINING THE TANK AND
TURNING OFF THE WATER SUPPLY, HE
USED HIS WRENCH ON THE LUGNUTS
AND UNMOORED THE TOILET FROM THE
FLOOR, EXPOSING A FOUL,
CORRODED, FIST-SIZE HOLE THAT
STUNK UP THE ENTIRE HOUSE.
I HELD MY BREATH AND WATCHED AS
HE REACHED DOWN INTO IT AND GOT
THE ROLL I HAD FLUSHED A FEW
HOURS EARLIER.
WHAT THE HELL...
THERE WAS A BIG LECTURE AT THE
DINNER TABLE.
"WHEN I GET MY HANDS ON WHOEVER
IS DOING THIS ..."
HE DIDN'T EVEN USE A GLOVE, I
THOUGHT, WATCHING AS HE TOOK A
PIECE OF BREAD FROM THE WICKER
BASKET WE HAD.
A FEW NIGHTS LATER, I FLUSHED
ANOTHER EMPTY ROLL DOWN THE
JOHN, WHICH CLOGGED AGAIN.
OUT CAME THE PULPER, THE TOOLS.
ORDERED TO STAND IN THE DOORWAY.
THE TOILET WAS LIFTED OFF THE
FLOOR.
AND AS MY FATHER CURSED AND
ROLLED UP HIS SLEEVES, I MUST
HAVE LAUGHED OR AT LEAST SMILED
IN SOME TELLTALE WAY.
YOU, HE GROWLED, LOOKING UP AT
ME FROM HIS KNEELING POSITION ON
THE FLOOR.
YOU'RE THE ONE WHO'S BEEN DOING
THIS.
ME?
DON'T EVEN TALK YOUR WAY OUT OF
IT.
I OFFERED A LAME DENIAL.
I HARDLY EVER EVEN GO TO THE
BATHROOM.
YOU SHOULD ASK AMY OR TIFFANY.
YOU ARE GOING TO REACH DOWN INTO
THIS PIPE AND PICK OUT THAT
CARDBOARD ROLL, MY FATHER SAID.
THEN YOU ARE NEVER GOING TO
FLUSH ANYTHING BUT TOILET PAPER
DOWN THIS TOILET AGAIN.
AS I BACKED AWAY, HE POUNCED.
THEN HE WRESTLED ME TO THE
FLOOR, GRABBED MY HAND, AND
FORCED IT DEEP INTO WHAT
AMOUNTED TO MY FAMILY'S ASSHOLE.

Steve laughs.

David says AND THERE IT HAS BEEN EVER
SINCE.
SORTING THROUGH A LOT OF VARIOUS
SHIT.
IT'S LIKE I FROZE IN THAT MOMENT
WITH THE SAME INTEREST AS THAT
11-YEAR-OLD BOY, THE SAME
MATURITY LEVEL, THE SAME
HAIRCUT, THE SAME GLASSES EVEN.

He looks up.

Steve says YOUR DAD IS A REAL
MAN, THAT'S FOR SURE.

David says YEAH.

Steve says THAT'S NOTHING YOU'D
EVER DO, RIGHT?

David says NO.

Steve says TAKE THE TOILET OFF
AND... ANYWAY, THAT'S SUCH A
GREAT STORY.
WHY DID YOU FLUSH THE TOILET
ROLLS DOWN THE TOILET ANYWAY?

David says YOU KNOW, WHEN I WAS WRITING
THAT ESSAY, IT WAS ABOUT HOW MY
DAD AND I HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE
TO SPEAK TO EACH OTHER.
NEVER BEEN ABLE TO SPEECH TO
EACH OTHER.
AND I LOOKED... I ALWAYS FELT
LIKE AS A BOY HE DIDN'T LOVE
ME... THAT HE DIDN'T LIKE ME.
YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?
THEN I STARTED WRITING ABOUT
SOME OF THE THINGS THAT I DID,
AND I THOUGHT, WHY WOULD HE LIKE
ME?
I MEAN, I KNOW A CHILD NOW, AND
I KNOW YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE
THIS WAY ABOUT CHILDREN, BUT
HE'S NOT MY CHILD, HE'S SOMEBODY
ELSE'S CHILD, AND I DON'T LIKE
HIM ONE BIT.

Steve says YOU'RE OKAY WITH THAT?
IT'S SACRILEGE TO SAY, BUT
YOU'RE OKAY WITH IT.

David says THAT'S RIGHT.
IT'S NOT MY CHILD.
BUT IF HE WAS MY OWN CHILD, I
WOULDN'T LIKE HIM EITHER.
I DID THINGS LIKE THAT ALL THE
TIME.
WE GOT NEW KITCHEN COUNTERTOPS.
THEY'RE ORANGE.
EVERYBODY LOVED THEM.
I TOOK AN INDUSTRIAL STAPLER TO
THE KITCHEN COUNTER TOPS.
WE HAD OUR FAMILY PORTRAIT DONE
IN PASTEL AT THE MALL AND IT WAS
ON THE BUFFET RIGHT IN FRONT OF
A ROAST BEEF THAT WAS PUDDLED IN
ITS OWN JUICES, AND I JUST TOOK
MY FIST AND I SLAPPED THAT ROAST
AND THE BLOOD SPLATTERED AND
DRIPPED DOWN OUR FACES.
AND THEN I DID IT AGAIN.

Steve says CLASSIC
ATTENTION-SEEKING STUFF, RIGHT?

David says YEAH.
JUST AWFUL.

Steve says BUT MAKES FOR GREAT
MATERIAL IN A BOOK.

David says YEAH.
I MEAN, THAT'S THE THING.
BUT I WASN'T THINKING THAT AT
THE TIME.
"I CAN USE IT LATER."
IT WOULD BE DIFFERENT NOW WHERE
A PARENT WOULD SAY, "I'LL HAVE
TO HAVE A TALK WITH HIM."
OR "MAYBE WE'LL DENY HIM 8
MINUTES OF COMPUTER TIME."
BACK THEN YOU JUST BEAT YOUR
CHILDREN.
YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN?
YOU WERE JUST ALLOWED TO BEAT
THEM.
AND I'VE GOT TO SAY, THOSE ARE
INCIDENTS THAT WERE DESERVED.

Steve says MIGHT HAVE MERITED...

David says CALLED OUT FOR CORPORAL
PUNISHMENT.

Steve says YOU WROTE ABOUT...
SORRY, GUYS, I'M GOING TO GO A
LITTLE BIT LONG BECAUSE WE'VE
GOT TO.
YOU WROTE ABOUT YOUR SISTER
LISA'S GIFT FOR TALKING TO
STRANGERS, WHICH AGAIN IS A VERY
FUNNY MOMENT IN THE BOOK WHERE,
OKAY, HERE'S HOW IT GOES: "I
LEFT HER AT A STARBUCKS FOR 90
SECONDS LAST YEAR AND WHEN I
RETURNED THE WOMAN BEHIND THE
COUNTER WAS SAYING TO HER, MY
GYNAECOLOGIST TOLD ME THE EXACT
SAME THING."
THAT WAS AN AMAZING LEVEL OF
INTIMACY THAT YOUR SISTER HAS AN
ABILITY TO GET TO...

David says I'VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE IT.

Steve says IT'S INCREDIBLE, EH?

David says SHE AND I WERE IN NORTH
CAROLINA NOT LONG AGO AND SHE
WENT TO THE DRUGSTORE AND SHE
SAID TO THE GUY, I NOTICE YOUR
NAME TAG HAS YOUR FIRST AND LAST
NAME ON IT.
DO PEOPLE CALL YOU AT HOME?
AND HE SAID "ALL THE TIME."
YOU SHOULD TALK TO YOUR MANAGER
AND GET THAT CHANGED.
I TRIED.
THAT'S WHAT I TRIED TO TELL HIM.
AND SHE'S... SHE CAN TALK TO...
MY MOTHER HAD THE SAME ABILITY.
AND I LOVE LISTENING TO MY
SISTER LISA TALK TO PEOPLE.
AND IT'S ALWAYS... IT'S NEVER...
IT'S NEVER CONDESCENDING, NEVER.
THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT THIS
PERSON THAT SHE'S GENUINELY
CURIOUS ABOUT AND IT LEADS TO...
SHE'S THE KIND OF PERSON THAT
PEOPLE FEEL FREE TO TALK TO.
I WANT HER TO COME TO ENGLAND,
THOUGH.
BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE SO MUCH MORE
TIGHT-LIPPED THERE.

Steve says WHERE YOU LIVE.

David says I WAS IN ENGLAND AND THERE
WAS A (INAUDIBLE) I HAVE BEEN
GOING TO FOR YEARS.
NO ONE TALKS TO ME.
THERE'S THIS MAN I'VE SEEN FOUR
TIMES A WEEK, AND I SAID, "ARE
YOU A DOCTOR?"
AND HE SAID, "WHATEVER GAVE YOU
THAT IMPRESSION?"
I SAID, "I DON'T KNOW.
I ALWAYS THOUGHT YOU WERE A
DOCTOR."
HE SAID I'M RETIRED.
AND HE SAID, "IS THE INTERVIEW
OVER NOW?"

Steve says THERE YOU GO.
I HATE TO FINISH UP BECAUSE I'M
HAVING SUCH A GOOD TIME HERE,
BUT, YOU KNOW, EVERY PROGRAM
ONLY HAS AN HOUR IN IT AND...
BUT I DO WANT TO ASK YOU ONE
MORE QUESTION BECAUSE YOU ARE 61
RIGHT NOW, WHICH YOU TELL... I'M
NOT TELLING TALES OUT OF SCHOOL
HERE, BUT IT WOULD BE HARD TO DO
BECAUSE YOU TELL SO MANY
YOURSELF.
YOUR MOM DIED AT 62, RIGHT?

David says MM-HMM.

Steve says IS THIS IN THE BACK
OF YOUR HEAD FROM TIME TO TIME
THAT YOU ARE APPROACHING THE AGE
AT WHICH YOUR MOTHER DIED?

David says I ALWAYS THOUGHT I WAS GOING
TO GUY WHEN I WAS 62.

Steve says BECAUSE OF YOUR MOM?

The caption changes to "When I am 62."

David says YEAH.
SHE DIED WHEN SHE WAS 62 AND I
THOUGHT THAT'S WHEN I'M GOING TO
DIE AS WELL.
WHEN MY MOTHER WAS 62, SHE
SEEMED OLD TO ME.
NOW, OF COURSE... I MEAN, SHE
WAS OLD IN A WAY THAT I'M NOT.
LIKE, SHE SMOKED HEAVILY, WHICH
I DID FOR, YOU KNOW... WHAT?...
30 YEARS.
BUT I WAS ALWAYS ACTIVE WHEN I
SMOKED.
AND SHE WASN'T, RIGHT?
SHE WAS LIKE THIS FAR FROM AN
OXYGEN TANK, RIGHT?
HAVING TO DRAG A TANK AROUND
BEHIND HER.
SO SHE SEEMED OLD IN THAT WAY
THAT SHE WASN'T PHYSICALLY
ACTIVE THE WAY THAT I AM.
BUT, YEAH, I ALWAYS HAD IT IN MY
HEAD THAT THAT'S WHEN I'LL DIE,
WHEN I'M 62.

Steve says YOU WON'T THOUGH,
RIGHT?
YOU KNOW THAT, RIGHT?

David says I PICK UP TRASH BY THE SIDE
OF THE ROAD FOR FOUR TO EIGHT
HOURS A DAY AND THIS IS WHAT I
SEE.
I SEE PEOPLE DRIVING AND
TEXTING.
AND SO THAT'S HOW I WILL DIE.
I'LL GET HIT BY A CAR WHILE I'M
PICKING UP TRASH ON THE SIDE OF
THE ROAD.

Steve says CAN I MAKE A
SUGGESTION? DON'T.

David says BUT I CAN'T.
THERE WILL BE TRASH ON THE SIDE
OF THE ROAD.

Steve says OKAY.
PICK UP THE TRASH BUT DON'T GET
HIT BY A CAR.
I'M JUST OFFERING THAT AS
ADVICE.

David says I MEAN, THAT'S MY HOPE.
[LAUGHTER]
I TRY TO KEEP MY EYES OPEN WHILE
I DO IT.

The caption changes to "Producer: Eric Bombicino, @ebombicino."

Steve says GOOD. PLEASE DO.
I CAN'T THANK YOU ENOUGH FOR
SPENDING SO MUCH TIME WITH US
HERE ON TVO TONIGHT.
THE NAME OF THE BOOK IS
"CALYPSO."
YES, YOU WILL DO ALL OF THOSE
THINGS THEY SAY IN THE CLICHED
BOOK REVIEWS.
YOU WILL LAUGH, YOU WILL CRY,
YOU WILL SMILE, YOU WILL
FROWN... YOU WILL DO ALL OF
THOSE THINGS BECAUSE THAT'S ALL
IN THERE.
DAVID SEDARIS, THANKS SO MUCH.

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda."

David says THANK YOU SO MUCH.
WHAT A PLEASURE.

They shake hands.

Steve says PLEASURE WAS OURS.

Watch: Growing Up Sedaris