I’m sure you’ve all heard all the Chuck Norris jokes, such as “What you don’t see in all those videos of the Berlin Wall coming down is that Chuck Norris was on the other side, roundhouse-kicking the wall down,” or “Jesus has a bumper sticker that says ‘What would Chuck Norris do?'” Well, every blogger I’ve ever read, that isn’t just deadly serious with every single word they write, is a “humorist” at times, which is how I’d describe David Sedaris. Or maybe “gay humorist” or “successful humorist” or “humorist whose ‘day job’ is being a humorist.” When we see something in life that is quirky or odd or universal, we could ask ourselves “What would David Sedaris do” with this? As I understand it, he writes his humorous slices-of-life, speechifies them to people, then collects them in best-selling books, which make him gobs of money. Which he then does gay stuff with.
That’s simply my private joke with myself. There’s a nice young woman at work who happens to be gay and who has a great sense of humor; someday when we get one of our token quarterly bonuses, I long to ask her: “So, I suppose you’re going to do gay stuff with your bonus?” I think she would laugh. If not, I’d do the “David Niven denial.” David Niven was a debonair British actor who once, upon seeing a hideously unattractive woman descending a grand staircase at a fancy ball, said to the man next to him, “That is the ugliest woman I’ve ever seen.” The man replied, “That’s my wife.” Niven then said “I meant the other one.” The man replied, “That’s my daughter,” which prompted Niven to declare: “I didn’t say it!”
I didn’t just decide to invoke the name of a famous person, by the way, in order to get more than 14 “hits” on my blog. As much as I hate the phrase “wait for it”, there is a tie-in to Sedaris’ writing that I will mention at the end of this post, that gave me the idea for this blogpost. Because, you know, I’m above just dropping a name to increase my number of page views.
I confess that, though I’m reasonably enlightened when it comes to just treating “people of other persuasions” as people, some things make me squeamish. I don’t care to see 2 guys kissing, for instance, though, to be fair, when I’m in a “nobody loves me” funk, I don’t want to watch any romance, real-life, or on TV or in movies. Like the redneck bastard Hank Williams Jr. said in “Man of Steel”: “I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, can’t watch no love scenes on TV.” I call Hank Jr. a redneck bastard because he is, but I’ve liked some of his songs for their universal appeal, such as “(I Like to Have) Women I’ve Never Had” or “(I Get) Whisky Bent and Hellbound”, or the aforementioned “Man of Steel,” where his friends “all call me Superman, never let no woman get the upper hand,” but a woman leaving him left the Man of Steel “all melted down.”
I’m kinda getting off-track here, but who cares? Comedians and humorists do kind of free-float around, and judging by readers’ reactions and comments I get, my attempts at humor are the more popular things I write. When I ever do write, that is. For a long time now I’ve been not only “idealess”, but also in a frame of mind where my publishing anything whatsoever would feel like a sort of bragging: “Here, I wrote this great thing–like me, damn you!”
So, getting back to the “not-caring-if-someone-is-gay-or-roots-for-the-wrong-NFL-team-or-is-wrongheaded-enough-to-prefer-Coke-over-Pepsi” thing, when I read the story about David Sedaris not wanting to give up his plane seat so that a more traditional couple, man and woman, could sit together, I think “gay guy with a chip on his shoulder.” But I like the story anyway. Elton John is as gay as they come, but I’d include one or all of his songs “Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)”, “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues”, or “Last Song” (the theme from the AIDS docudrama “And the Band Played On”), in any top 100 pop songs list.
Some gay folks in some roles I just can’t buy, though. Like Neil Patrick Harris as a womanizing scoundrel in “How I Met Your Mother”. I don’t buy him in that role any more than I would buy Charlie Sheen being gay in “2.5 Men”, because Sheen is so obviously a heterosexual horn-dog, and Doogie Howser is so obviously gay. I hope that doesn’t mean I have “gaydar”, by the way. You know how some folks claim that it’s been so long, you know, without, that they are virgins again? Well, I worry about that at times, that it’s been so long since I’ve had sex that involved having someone else in the room with me, that maybe I’m unknowingly ready to “bat for the wrong side.” But then I see a woman and I know better. I don’t go all gaga for big breasts like most men do; I consider that a sign of low-breeding and a small IQ, much like the overuse of salt is a dead giveaway that a person is a tad slow. But, though I claim to not be a breast man, like I tell people, “sometimes it just sticks out at me that I don’t totally hate breasts.” To judge a woman on her breast size is so patently unfair and demeaning though. Everyone knows that the best measure of any woman’s worth is the size, shape, and proportionality of her ass, after all.
I want to beat this horse of talking about the word “gay” further to death before I move on. Many of us have long used the word “gay” to mean “weenie-ass”, as in,”it’s so gay that they put in a traffic light there instead of us superior people coming from this direction always having the right of way.” In order to not be quite so unfeeling, I like to change it up a bit, by saying “that’s gayer than 2 gay guys being gay together.” Which is pretty damn gay, really. Not necessarily good or bad, but really gay. Like saying “two crafty women being crafty together” is really crafty, or “two soccer fans being soccer fans together” is really “soccer-fanny”, or “two rich Republicans taking food from the mouths of everyone who isn’t rich like them” would be really really “rich-Republican-ny.” And when it comes right down to it, has anyone ever been gayer than Oscar Wilde? I mean, before his arrest and penniless death, he was the king of bon mots and gay conversation (in the old British sense of the word gay), as well as being really, really gay in the sense that we use the term today. He was doubly gay.
Back to the term “humorist”. My “Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary” defines “humorist” as “one who indulges in humor in speaking or writing; one who is skilled in the literary expression of humor.” My mom gave me that dictionary about 25-30 years ago, when I asked for it for Christmas one year. I developed a dislike for it for a long time; I suppose it didn’t have some word in it that I thought it should have (and I don’t just mean the f-word), or maybe it just seemed too plain or something. My mom asked a while after that if I used it much, and instead of being a good, smart son, and saying “I love it”, I told her (truthfully) that I used it a lot: I pulled a kitchen chair up sideways to a garbage can, set the dictionary up on the chair to get my foot to the right height for the trash can, and clipped my toenails. It comes in very handy for this. At 8 and a quarter inches by 11 and an eighth by 4 and a half inches deep and 8 pounds, it has many uses. First there is the toe-trimming aid:
The dictionary is also good for holding the balky power switch of my coffee maker in the on position. I use the local phone book, in all of its five-eighths inch of glorious thickness, to raise the unabridged dictionary up to the right height so that the corner of it “leans into” the fluttering switch, keeping it on and the life-giving caffeine warm. A lighter-weight book wouldn’t do; it would simply bounce off the springy on button of the coffee maker:
It’s also, of course, a drawing or writing platform for my daughter to use on the floor:
I imagine it would make a good blunt instrument for a murder also. Sorry, I have no pictures to go with that use.
This blogpost needs wrapping up. When visiting the western South Dakota town where my sister died and her now-grown kids still live, I stopped at the BAM (Books-A-Million) bookstore (formerly Borders). Out front, in the “we don’t care if these get rained on” section, I spied a David Sedaris book for $3.97. “Why not”, I thought, so I snapped it up. Much to my later chagrin, I found that the stories were all-too-familiar, that I’d checked it out of the library some time back and read it already. I read Sedaris and Dave Barry because they are humorists who make me laugh, not because of the titles of their books and stories. So I forgot this was one I read already. Plus, Alzheimer’s runs in the family. I figured I could re-read it in later years when I needed a laugh. But, then, something about it caught my eye, something that made the purchase totally worthwhile:
Look a little closer:
No, your eyes don’t deceive you–that’s David Sedaris’ “When You Are Engulfed in Flames” listed as “Christian Fiction.” That’s worth $3.97 as a conversation-starter right there. I’m sure some future (probably fictional) girlfriend will see it and say “WTF, David Sedaris books are neither Christian nor Fiction; you have a cool thing there,” and the panties will be flying off in her hurry to “be with” the owner of such an oddity. I can see it now. I had to double-check that he wasn’t big on Christianity or fiction-writing. Yes, he does some fictional stuff here and there, I believe, but he’s not the biggest Christian in the world, I don’t think, and this book is definitely the work of a humorist writing humorous essays. The Wikipedia entry about him claims that some people question the veracity of some of his stories, and therefore he shouldn’t be classified as “Nonfiction”. They don’t mention this in the entry for Dave Barry, another famous humorist, so I have to think they are picking on Sedaris because he’s gay. Or something. Who knows? Of course he stretches the truth; that’s what comedians and humor writers do–they take a basic truth or a basic event or feeling and stretch it humorously to make people laugh.
So, what would David Sedaris do when he saw that his book was in the bargain bin labelled as “Christian Fiction?” Well, besides hating that his book was in the bargain section, (imagine an old-timey agent from a 1930s movie talking here) “I tell you what David Sedaris would do with that. He’d work it up into a dynamite story. Dynamite! And he’d put it with a bunch of other dynamite stories and make people laugh and make millions off it!!”
Then he’d do gay stuff with the money.