David Spedaris Responds!
While perusing my web page, as I do several times an hour, I happened across a most peculiar comment in response to my posting, “Help Me Defeat David Sedaris.”
The comment was from somebody called “Liz,” but if you read carefully, as I did, you will soon come to the conclusion, as I did, that it was written by none other than David Spedaris himself! The comment reads:
Sorry but you aren't witty enough to carry Sedaris' shoes. Quit before you embarrass yourself. Hope this is mutual joke. A curmudgeon.
How do I know that “Liz” is a nom de guerre for Spedaris? Meticulous deconstruction, that’s how. The same method I used to determine that Joe Klein was the author of the “anonymous” 1996 novel Primary Colors.
Read on and see if I don’t make my case.
Starting with the first sentence, Liz says I am not “witty enough to carry Sedaris’ shoes.” Question: why would somebody need to be witty to carry somebody else’s shoes. Answer: he wouldn’t. Therefore the question itself is absurd. Who uses absurdity as his coin of the realm? Who, in fact, has based his entire career on the idea of using the essay as a means of pointing out the absurdity of everyday life? David Sedaris, that’s who. Liz is therefore employing one of Sedaris’s favored tactics, absurdity, to make her (his) wilting accusation.
Proof that Liz is Sedaris? Perhaps not. But read on.
David Sedaris is a small man. By claiming that I would be unable to carry his shoes, isn’t Liz attempting to physically diminish my literal and metaphoric standing? As it happens, I am seven feet tall. The idea that I would be unable to carry the shoes of a man who stands, at best, three feet tall is, again, absurd. But this is not the first time Sedaris has used height or lack thereof to make a literary point.
In the essay, “Giant Dreams, Midget Abilities,” from the book Me Talk Pretty One Day, Sedaris describes how, as twelve year old (“small for my age” ), he was given guitar lessons by a “Mister Mancini,” an “honest-to-God midget.” Sedaris cleverly makes himself loom larger by contrasting his diminutive stature with a man who “barely reached my chest.” In this manner, he is employing the same tactic as my erstwhile reader Liz, attempting to make ME smaller by saying I am incapable of carrying Sedaris’s shoes.
I also think it’s interesting that Liz chooses to write “Sedaris’” with an apostrophe following a single “S” as opposed to “Sedaris’s,” which is the more common, layman’s spelling. This detail suggests to me that Liz is somebody familiar with the Strunk & White’s book, Elements of Style, the go-to book for writerly questions of English grammar and usage. What kind of person is familiar with this book? A writerly kind of person, that’s who! Particularly the kind of writerly person who specializes in humorous essays which recount the trials and travails of growing up in North Carolina and now lives in Paris with his boyfriend Hugh.
Next, Liz admonishes me to “quit before you embarrass yourself.” First of all, embarrassing myself has largely been the point of my career, dating back to my days with my sketch troupe The State, when I routinely dressed in women’s clothing and once paraded down New York’s Fifth Avenue wearing only a spangled thong. Perhaps Liz/David doesn’t know this about me, but I think not. After all, I am a celebrity (very famous). No, instead I think this was meant less as an admonition and more as an outright threat. What kind of threat? That’s the question, and the clue to Liz’s true identity.
Obviously a threat in the traditional “I’m going to rip out your eyes and feed them to a goat” kind of threat isn’t applicable in cyberspace, even if the person doing the threatening actually has access to a goat. Instead, I think this threat is more malicious than that. After all, what kind of person could threaten a celebrity like myself (again, very famous)? Another celebrity, that’s who! Particularly if that celebrity were a juggernaut in the publishing industry whose every utterance is immediately slapped on the New York Times best-seller list. That kind of person’s threats would have to be taken seriously. And I would take this threat seriously – if I was a pussy. But I’m not, “Liz,” I’m not. I don’t back down from a fight, even a fake fight like this!
Spedaris continues: “Hope this is a mutual joke.” This is where David really tips his hand. Obviously if this literary feud WERE a “mutual joke,” the one person who would know would be David Sedaris. Therefore, the writer in question is using a kind of reverse/reverse psychology to throw me off the scent. Why would I suspect Liz was David since obviously “Liz” doesn’t know whether or not this burgeoning literary war is a “mutual joke?” So it seems to me that Liz is deliberately attempting to deceive me into thinking she is NOT David by employing this rhetorical gambit. Guess what, Spedaris? I SAW RIGHT THROUGH IT!!!
The comment is then signed “A curmudgeon.” I find this last bit the most fascinating at all because it speaks to the poster’s obvious identity crisis. Why sign off using a different name than the name you identified yourself with in the first place? You wouldn’t, unless on some level, you were unsure of WHO YOU WERE! What kind of person would be unsure? A liar, that’s what kind. Particularly a writerly liar adept at using words like curmudgeon. What is a curmudgeon? It’s a grouch. And who is more grouchy than David Sedaris? Maybe Norman Mailer and believe me, when I first read this comment I immediately wondered if perhaps Liz wasn’t Norman Mailer, but then I remembered that Mailer is dead.
No, the evidence is incontrovertible. Liz = David. It was a valiant effort, kid, but I’m afraid you came up a little short. A smaller man would use your words against you and tell you to quit before embarrassing yourself, but I am not a smaller man. You are. By about four feet.