David Sedaris · 272 pages
Rating: (213.7K votes)
“Real love amounts to withholding the truth, even when you're offered the perfect opportunity to hurt someone's feelings”
“He took a sip of my father’s weak coffee and spit it back into the mug. "This shit’s like making love in a canoe."
"It’s fucking near water.”
“Hugh and I have been together for so long that in order to arouse extraordinary passion, we need to engage in physical combat. Once, he hit me on the back of the head with a broken wineglass, and I fell to the floor pretending to be unconscious. That was romantic, or would have been had he rushed to my side rather than stepping over my body to fetch the dustpan.”
“Boys who spent their weekends making banana nut muffins did not, as a rule, excel in the art of hand-to-hand combat.”
“The Korean man nodded, the way you do when you’re a foreigner and understand that someone has finished a sentence.”
“I won't put in a load of laundry, because the machine is too loud and would drown out other, more significant noises - namely, the shuffling footsteps of the living dead.”
“she took pictures of germs, viruses, and people reacting to germs and viruses. On weekends, for extra money, she photographed weddings, which really wasn't that much of a stretch”
“Listen, you might want to pack a few of your things together before going to bed. The former bishop of Turkey will be coming tonight along with six to eight black men. They might put some candy in your shoes, they might stuff you into a sack and take you to Spain, or they might just pretend to kick you. We don't know for sure, but we want you to be prepared."
This was the reward for living in the Netherlands. As a child you get to hear this story, and as an adult you get to turn around and repeat it.”
“She's afraid to tell me anything important, knowing I'll only turn around and write about it. In my mind, I'm like a friendly junkman, building things from the little pieces of scrap I find here and there, but my family's started to see things differently. Their personal lives are the so-called pieces of scrap I so casually pick up, and they're sick of it. More and more often their stories begin with the line "You have to swear you'll never repeat this." I always promise, but it's generally understood that my word means nothing.”
“Watch, hell,' Walt said. 'This is strip poker. What kind of homo wants to sit around and watch four guys get naked?”
“You know you're young when someone asks you for money and you take it as a compliment.”
“I am a person who feels guilty for crimes I have not committed, or have not committed in years. The police search the train station for a serial rapist and I cover my face with a newspaper, wondering if maybe I did it in my sleep. The last thing I stole was an eight-track tape, but to this day I'm unable to enter a store without feeling like a shoplifter. It's all the anxiety with none of the free stuff.”
“Such movies are always a danger...falling in love is something most adults have actually experienced...The theme is universal and encourages...unhealthy comparisons...why can't our lives be like that? It's a box left unopened, and its avoidance explains the continued popularity of vampire epics and martial-arts extravaganzas.”
“My sister's the type who religiously watches the fear segments of her local Eyewitness News broadcasts, retaining nothing but the headline...Everything is dangerous all of the time, and if it's not yet been pulled off the shelves, then it's certainly under investigation -- so there.”
“The six to eight black men were characterized as personal slaves until the mid-1950s, when the political climate changed and it was decided that instead of being slaves they were just good friends.”
“I attributed their behavior to the fact that they didn't have a TV, but television didn't teach you everything. Asking for candy on Halloween was called trick-or-treating, but asking for candy on November first was called begging, and it made people uncomfortable. This was one of the things you were supposed to learn simply by being alive, and it angered me that the Tomkeys did not understand it.”
“A few years later, in the midst of a brief academic setback, she trained him to act as her emotional cheerleader. I'd call and hear him in the background, screaming, "We love you, Lisa!" and "You can do it!”
“The fake slap invariably makes contact, adding the elements of shock and betrayal to what had previously been plain old-fashioned fear.”
“I would clear the table and Hugh would do the dishes, neither of us speaking and both of us wondering if this just might be the one to do it. 'I hear you guys broke up over a plastic hand,' people would say, and my rage would renew itself.”
“Me: Did you get your tree yet?
Ken: I'm a Jew, I don't decorate Christmas trees.
Me: So you're going to go with a wreath instead?
Ken: I just told you, I'm a Jew.
Me: Oh, I get it. You're looking for a cheap wreath.
Ken: I'm not looking for a wreath at all. Leave me alone, will you.
Me: You're probably just tense because you haven't finished your Christmas shopping.
Ken: I don't Christmas shop.
Me: What are you telling me? That you make all of your presents.
Ken: I don't give Christmas presents period. Goddamit, I told you, I'm a Jew.
Me: Well, don't you at least need to buy something for your parents?
Ken: They're Jews, too, idiot. That's what makes me one. It's hereditary. Do you understand?
Ken: Say the words "I understand."
Me: I understand. So where are you going to hang your stocking?”
“The slumber party took place in what the Methodists called a family room, the Catholics used as an extra bedroom, and the neighborhood's only Jews had turned into a combination darkroom and fallout shelter.”
“I explained that he was Chinese, and she asked if the movie would be in Chinese.
"No," I said, "he lives in America. In California. He's been there since he was a baby."
"Then what does it matter if he's Chinese?"
"Well," I said, "he's got... you know, a sensibility.”
“I look into the future and see my brother's face, impossibly middle-aged. His daughter has rejected all of his values, and stands now on the dais of a major university, the valedictorian preparing to deliver her commencement speech. What will she think when her dad stands in the aisle, releasing a hog call and raising his T-shirt to reveal the jiggling message painted upon his bare stomach? Will she turn away, as my father predicts, or might she remember all the nights she awoke to discover him: this slob, this lump, this silly drooling toy asleep at her feet.”
“My conscience is crosswired with my sweat glands, but there's a short in the system and I break out over things I didn't do, which only makes me look more suspect.”
“I looked from face to face, exaggerating flaws and reminding myself that these boys did not like me. The hope was that I might crush any surviving atom attraction, but as has been the case for my entire life, the more someone dislikes me the more attractive he becomes.”
“Low ceiling, stone walls, a dirt floor stamped with paw prints. I never go in without announcing myself. 'Hyaa!' I yell. 'Hyaa. Hyaa!' It's the sound my father makes when entering his toolshed, the cry of cowboys as they round up dogies, and it suggests a certain degree of authority. Snakes, bats, weasels --it's time to head up and move on out.”
“I can't seem to fathom that the things important to me are not important to other people as well, and so I come off sounding like a missionary, someone whose job is to convert rather than listen. ... It's not that I don't like her - far from it - I just worry that, without a regular job and the proper linoleum, she'll fall through a crack and disappear to a place where we can't find her.”
“People who have nothing to prove offer practical baby gifts: sturdy cotton rompers made to withstand the cycle of vomit and regular washing. People who are competing for the titles of best-loved aunts and uncles - people like my sisters and me - send satin pants and delicate hand-crafted sweaters accompanied by notes reading "P.S. The fur collar is detachable.”
“I had not laid a finger on the boy's head. I have never poked or prodded either a baby or a child, so why did I feel so dirty? Part of it was just my makeup, the deep-seated belief that I deserve a basement room, but a larger, uglier part had to do with the voices I hear on the talk radio, and my tendency, in spite of myself, to pay them heed. The man in the elevator had not thought twice about asking Michael personal questions or about laying a hand on the back of his head. Because he was neither a priest nor a homosexual, he hadn't felt the need to watch himself, worrying that every word or gesture might be misinterpreted. He could unthinkingly wander the halls with a strange boy, while for me it amounted to a political act - an insistence that I was as good as the next guy.”
“You’ve got her mad now and there’s no turning back. All she has to do is go to the authorities, saying you molested her. Is that what you want? One little phone call and your life is ruined.’
‘But I didn’t do anything. I’m gay, remember?’
‘That’s not going to save you,’ she said. ‘Push comes to shove and who do you think they’re going to believe, a nine-year-old girl or the full-grown man who gets his jollies carving little creatures out of balsa wood?’
‘They’re NOT little creatures!’ I yelled. ‘They’re tool people!”
“Sensible men have important jobs; they haven’t got a lot of spare time to spend with their wives. Only idle men have time to spend at home with their families.”
“You have to drive! You think I trust that big blue knucklehead to get us there?”
“on August 16, 1996, when an eight-year-old female gorilla named Binti Jua helped a three-year-old boy who had fallen eighteen feet into the primate exhibit at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo. Reacting immediately, Binti scooped up the boy and carried him to safety. She sat down on a log in a stream, cradling the boy in her lap, giving him a few gentle back pats before taking him to the waiting zoo staff. This simple act of sympathy, captured on video and shown around the world, touched many hearts, and Binti was hailed as a heroine. It was the first time in U.S. history that an ape figured in the speeches of leading politicians, who held her up as a model of compassion.”
“By focusing on possibilities, you can see more than a potential light at the end of the tunnel. The light doesn't have to be at the end of the tunnel; it can illuminate an opportunity wherever you are.”
“Even as Solomon tried to understand how he got that, his dad looked at him in the dim flicker of light. “They cut his tongue out,” he barely whispered to him. “We need to go.” Jimmy”
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