David Sedaris and Prosthetic Limbs

“David Sedaris (June 2008)” by WBUR – . Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve never read an essay by David Sedaris, I want you to immediately stop reading this post and dive into one (then promise you’ll come right back here). I’ll even give you a few to pick from. Here is one about how his Fitbit device nearly took over his life and contributed to his village being clutter free. Here is another about an argument he had with his boyfriend, discussing whether prosthetic hands are made of rubber or plastic.

I actually heard Mr. Sedaris’s work before I read his work. Almost a decade ago, I was taking a long car trip and checked out an audio book that had been suggested by a friend. I ended up not wanting to exit the vehicle. Not for potty breaks. Not even once I got to my destination. The essays and stories had me laughing and sometimes shedding a tear. At the end of each one I couldn’t wait for the next one.

Once home from my trip I checked out every David Sedaris book I could find. They were entertaining, but beyond that, they made me a better writer. I was fascinated by how he could take his everyday life experiences and make them entertaining. It made me see my own trivial daily interactions in a new way.

Through the years, his essay called Six to Eight Black Men, about the tradition of Santa Claus in other cultures, became a yearly tradition in our house. His descriptions of how others celebrate the holidays makes me laugh harder with each passing year. It’s to the point that my young adult children ask for it when November rolls around.

Last year I had the privilege of seeing David Sedaris in person. I headed down to Denver and listened attentively as he read many of his essays and had a very humorous Q/A session. When one audience member decided to spend her ‘ask a question’ time as a time to tell her own convoluted story, Mr. Sedaris skillfully turned it around and made it entertaining for the rest of us. He’s the master of off the cuff humor.

I have a new respect for Mr. Sedaris now that I have his signature on my artificial leg. After his appearance last year I was in the line of people who got to meet him. After nearly every one of his shows he sticks around, to say hello or sign an autograph for any fan who is willing to brave the line. As a person who appreciates the oddities in life, he laughed as he signed a unique message on my prosthetic socket (which is now proudly displayed in my home). He has a “No Photos” policy at his book signings so suddenly having a picture of myself, David Sedaris, and my signed leg is on my bucket list.

I love how freely he mentions prosthetics in his essays, from the rubber hand argument with his boyfriend Hugh, to the casual way he threw in my mode of transportation in his newer essay about the Fitbit. As he talked about increasing his Fitbit goals he says, “I look back at that time and laugh–fifteen thousand steps–Ha! That’s only about seven miles! Not bad if you’re on a business trip or you’re just getting used to a new prosthetic leg.” He’s absolutely right–it does take time to work in a new prosthetic leg. I like to think that example came to him as he recalled holding my prosthetic leg in his hand last spring, and signing his name.

I’m one of the lucky ones who lives near one of his appearances (Denver!) this spring. On April 6 he begins a tour around the United States, then heads overseas. Check out his tour schedule here. If you live anywhere near these locations, seriously consider snatching up some tickets. In the meantime, snatch up as many David Sedaris books as you can find–audio version, ebook version, or good old fashioned paper version. Then keep an eye open for those references to prosthetic limbs, rubber and otherwise.