Thursday, November 29, 2012

Adventures in Adolescent Corruption with David Sedaris

People hate Facebook ads. It's the idea of somebody watching us, I think. How dare you follow my activities on your free site and use this information to make a profit? Nothing worse than a plutocrat with a bit of tracking technology. Next these capitalist spooks will be positioning books I specifically like at bookstores to make it harder for me to treat them as nicer libraries. It's 1984 all over again, but without the leg warmers. Tell me if I've got that bit confused.

Personally, I love Facebook ads. Driven by a dilettante's interest in sociology, I can't wait to discover what categories of product Facebook believes that I will buy, what group that I will join. The algorithm of my unique personality is displayed in icons neatly on the right. Featured upon my page are currently these suggestions: Sleeping. "22,978,738 people like this," it is explained. Eating, it additionally suggests, is only liked by 11,719,551—probably due to the high incidence of rat parts in food. Facebook thinks, quite reasonably, that I might want to "like" both a superior sounding atheist society and a web ministry for Christ. I am finding myself tempted to join neither, but ModCloth beckons to me with their discounted "perfect party dress." What better gift to get a solitary house troll who despises parties and spends most of her life lightly dusted with cat hair and straw? I will have to drop a hint to my husband. A ball gown for the chicken yard, I say. Facebook ads. They show us what we didn't know we needed to want.

Sometimes they're right.

I am thinking about David Sedaris. Facebook cleverly inserted him on my sidebar, after watching my status updates and evaluating them for evidence of appreciation for dry wit. Also, because I had helpfully stated that he was one of my favorite authors when creating my profile several eons ago. "David Sedaris at the Lensic. November 28," said the ad. OK, I'll bite. I have read several of David's books and they remain some of my favorites. If you haven't read him, here is an excerpt of his writing for you to enjoy.

In addition to simply liking David Sedaris, I have shared him with my son. For years, I watched him, waiting for exactly the time when I thought that he was old enough to read about a hitchhiking episode wherein a truck driver with a natural cleft in his forehead offers casually to deliver oral sex. This is an important decision for every parent, I suppose—when to start offering literary fellatio references to their child of the opposite sex. I was patient. You simply cannot rush these things. Some time when he was around fourteen, he came to me with a number of Lonely Island videos that he wanted me to watch. Ah! My little boy is growing up, I thought. I had limited his media, sent him to public school, and he had made friends, just as he was supposed to do. The result, quite naturally, was that he had now developed a working vocabulary for the discussion of various sexual acts, drug paraphernalia and other useful slang, all without my active corruption of his mind. What would we do without public education? It takes a village. I smiled and handed him Me Talk Pretty One Day. He read this avidly.

"Do you have anything else?" he said.

I gave him When You are Engulfed in Flames and Holidays on Ice. My eldest isn't much of a joiner, so while of spend most our meager savings on his younger brothers' desires to dance, kick a ball and play "Hot Cross Buns" on every instrument they can, he rarely warrants an expenditure. His cynical nature makes him cheap. I decided to splurge on this David Sedaris evening for the two of us. Months and months ago, I bought the tickets. I waited and he read Let's Pretend This Never Happened. I tried unsuccessfully to interest him in the works of Kurt Vonnegut, on the purported basis that they included a drawing of his own asshole, but really because of Kilgore Trout and his pointy chin. Months rolled by.

Last night it was the night. We arrived at the Lensic a full forty minutes early to find David signing books. Naturally, we had left all of ours at home. A discussion ensued as to whether she should buy more books. There were two we hadn't read. Finally, we selected one and allowed that it was part of a Christmas gift.

"Go and get it signed," I told my son.

"Why?" he demurred. "Then it will no longer be in mint condition."

"Go," I told him.

Arriving at the front of the line, David surveyed Rowan with apparent delight.

"How old are you?" he asked.


"Oh, good," said David. "I have something for you." He turned and rifled in a plastic shopping bag for a period of time and turned back to my son.

"I imagine you like to wash your hair," he supposed.

"Yes," Rowan admitted.

"Do you condition it, too?"


"Well, I'm staying at this place. The Inn of...."

"The Inn of the Anasazi?" I inquired.

"Yes," he said. "They have this shampoo. "It is piñon-eucalyptus. I want to give it to you."

He handed the small bottle of opalescent liquid to Rowan and surveyed him pleasantly for a bit.

"I have something else for you as well," he announced happily and reached again into his bag. Withdrawing an attractive business card holder, he explained.

"These are nice because they're good quality paper. You can give them to people." He withdrew a card.

"It's great because it doesn't say 'Shut-up,' but you can hand them to people when you just need them to stop saying things.

Listen", he added, "I'm going to say a word. I will read out of my diary and there's a bit where I'm going to say 'What do we want? A cure for Tourette's! When do we want it?' When I say that, you should cover you ears. I don't want to be responsible for teaching you this word. It's a really dirty word."

Rowan agreed that he would. He didn't, though, and when the expletive was flung into the auditorium to uproarious guffaws, he leaned over.

"I already knew that word."

I know, I thought. And that's exactly why I brought you here. That and the brilliance of Facebook ads.


  1. Oooh! I'm so jealous! I am so glad you & Rowan got to go see David Sedaris and that you had such a nice interaction with him. What a thing. I need a whole set of those cards and I always go and browse the ModCloth sales because I am oddly fascinated and think perhaps one day I may do something that requires one of those dresses.

    1. The evening was so much fun. I am so glad I bought the book. Someday, I'm buying some damn thing from ModCloth. Facebook is right about me. It's just that my life has me wrong.

  2. I have very mixed feeling about Facebook ads popping up in my newsfeed.. the ones on the side don't bother me at all ... except that they're all in French. I no parle Français!

    ModCloth is absolute eye candy for me.. I just almost never find something that suits me .. or that I'd ok with paying $109 for... *shrugs* I still have hopes.

    1. Facebook ads that pop up in your stream are like interrupting sales calls, and they always want to sell me stupid things. I hide them with great resentment. If they put Kurt Vonnegut in my stream, I'd be all over that. You can never buy too much Kurt Vonnegut.

  3. Okay, David Sedaris is The. Best. I have read every book he's put out there and I have three of his books on cd for when I travel anywhere beyond a half hour drive. I have listened to them so many times but I still want them around. Like a best friend for traveling. He comes to the "big city" near my small town -- Santa Rosa (not the BIG BIG city of San Francisco - but I have yet to go see him. Now I think I want to do that.
    On another topic..... This ModCloth? I am so out of it. Had no idea what it was so I Binged it. That was fun but they aren't likely to catch much of my $$$$ because, yeah, like I would ever even look good in one of those dresses???????
    Last but not least - I have never even NOTICED the ads on FB - see how talented I am at not seeing what I don't' want to see? :)

    1. You should definitely go see him. It was very entertaining and the book signing was worth it all by itself.

      Truthfully, I ignore most of the ads on Facebook, too. I tend to notice the ones I like. Nice how that works out.

  4. I absolutely love David Sedaris. Sounds like a fun night!

  5. I try to avoid looking at the right side of the screen when I'm on my Facebook page. My nose gets out of joint because, since I have to be honest and give my correct age (72 - yeah!), I mostly get plugs for dentures, hearing aids, orthopedic shoes, and diabetes testers. However, I just looked and right now I have a cell-phone provider, Trip Advisor (I never travel), Perfect Brows in Seconds ("Are your brows sparse or over-tweezed?" [I've never tweezed my eyebrows]), and some Facebook game (I never play games on Facebook). You think they've got me pegged right?

    1. Those types of ads would tend to make the situation less fun, I suppose. It's too bad you don't get random internet ministry ads, like me. Right now all my ads are all directed toward having my kids compete by getting me to buy online curriculum. I might prefer dentures, but only because of the novelty.

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Faith in Ambiguity by Tara Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License