David Sedaris · 323 pages
Rating: (162.9K votes)
“Sometimes the sins you haven't committed are all you have left to hold onto.”
“It's just a penis, right? Probably no worse for you than smoking.”
“This left me alone to solve the coffee problem - a sort of catch-22, as in order to think straight I need caffeine, and in order to make that happen I need to think straight.”
“Most people would have found it grotesque, but when you're in love nothing is so abstract or horrible that it can't be thought of as cute.”
“High school taught me a valuable lesson about glasses: Don't wear them. Contacts have always seemed like too much work, so instead I just squint, figuring that if something is more than ten feet away, I'll just deal with it when I get there.”
“It's astonishing the amount of time that certain straight people devote to gay sex - trying to determine what goes where and how often. They can't imagine any system outside their own, and seem obsessed with the idea of roles, both in bed and out of it. Who calls whom a bitch? Who cries harder when the cat dies? Which one spends the most time in the bathroom? I guess they think that it's that cut-and-dried, though of course it's not. Hugh might do the cooking, and actually wear an apron while he's at it, but he also chops the firewood, repairs the hot-water heater, and could tear off my arm with no more effort than it takes to uproot a dandelion.”
“It's safe to assume that by 2085 guns will be sold in vending machines but you won't be able to smoke anywhere in America.”
“Like any normal fifth grader, I preferred my villains to be evil and stay that way, to act like Dracula rather than Frankenstein's monster, who ruined everything by handing that peasant girl a flower. He sort of made up for it by drowning her a few minutes later, but, still, you couldn't look at him the same way again.”
“Kools and Newports were for black people and lower-class whites. Camels were for procrastinators, those who wrote bad poetry, and those who put off writing bad poetry. Merits were for sex addicts, Salems were for alcoholics, and Mores were for people who considered themselves to be outrageous but really weren't.”
“It is funny the things that run through your mind when you're sitting in your underpants in front of a pair of strangers.”
“Oh, for Christ's sake,' I hear. 'Can we please just try to have a good time?' This is like ordering someone to find you attractive, and it doesn't work. I've tried it.”
“A zoo is a good place to make a spectacle of yourself, as the people around you have creepier, more photogenic things to look at.”
“In Paris the cashiers sit rather than stand. They run your goods over a scanner, tally up the price, and then ask you for exact change. The story they give is that there aren't enough euros to go around. "The entire EU is short on coins."
And I say, "Really?" because there are plenty of them in Germany. I'm never asked for exact change in Spain or Holland or Italy, so I think the real problem lies with the Parisian cashiers, who are, in a word, lazy. Here in Tokyo they're not just hard working but almost violently cheerful. Down at the Peacock, the change flows like tap water. The women behind the registers bow to you, and I don't mean that they lower their heads a little, the way you might if passing someone on the street. These cashiers press their hands together and bend from the waist. Then they say what sounds to me like "We, the people of this store, worship you as we might a god.”
“May I bring you a drink to go with those warm nuts, Mr. Sedaris?" this woman looking after me asked - this as the people in coach were still boarding. The looks they gave me as they passed were the looks I give when the door of a limousine opens. You always expect to see a movie star, or, at the very least, some better dressed than you, but time and time again it's just a sloppy nobody. Thus the look, which translates to, Fuck you, Sloppy Nobody, for making me turn my head.”
“And when Hugh would grow progressively Gandhi on me, I'd remind him that these were pests---disease carriers who feasted upon the dead and then came indoors to dance upon our silverware.”
“This was the consequence of seeing too much and understanding the horrible truth: No one is safe. The world is not manageable.”
“It was the look you get when facing a sudden and insurmountable danger: the errant truck, the shaky ladder, the crazy person who pins you to the linoleum and insists, with increasing urgency, that everything you know and love can be undone by a grape.”
“I needed to temper (my dad's) enthusiasm a bit (about attending Princeton), and so I announced that I would be majoring in patricide...My mom was actually jealous.”
“Given enough time, I guess anything can look good. All it has to do is survive.”
“I'd always thought that I understood this, but lately I realize that what I call "understanding" is basically just fantasizing.”
“This is hurting me a lot more than it’s hurting you," he said. It was his standard line, but I knew that this time he was right. Worse than the boil was the stuff that came out of it. What got to me, and got to him even worse, was the stench, which was unbearable, and unlike anything I had come across before. It was, I thought, what evil must smell like—not an evil person but the wicked ideas that have made him that way. How could a person continue to live with something so rotten inside? And so much of it!”
“Like anyone nostalgic for a time he didn't live through, I chose to weed out the little inconveniences: polio, say, or the thought of eating stewed squirrel. The world was simply grander back then, somehow more civilized, and nicer to look at.”
“As I searched the atlas for somewhere to run to, Hugh made a case for his old stomping grounds. His first suggestion was Beirut, where he went to nursery school. His family left there in the midsixties and moved to the Congo. After that, it was Ethiopia, and then Somalia, all fine places in his opinion.
'Let's save Africa and the Middle East for when I decide to quit living,' I said.”
“When I was this kid's age, you'd be burned alive for such talk. Being a homosexual was unthinkable, and so you denied it, and found a girlfriend who was willing to settle for the sensitive type. On dates, you'd remind her that sex before marriage was just that, sex: what dogs did in the front yard. This as opposed to making love, which was more what you were about. A true union of souls could take anywhere from eight to ten years to properly establish, but you were willing to wait, and for this the mothers loved you. You sometimes discussed it with them over an iced tea, preferably on the back porch when you girlfriend's brother was mowing the lawn with his shirt off.”
“Cover your glass in France or Germany --even worse, in England - and in the voice of someone who has personally affronted, your host will ask why you're not drinking.
'Oh, I just don't feel like it this morning.'
'I guess I'm not in the mood?'
'Well, this'll put you in the mood. Here. Drink up.'
'No, really, I'm OK.'
'Just taste it.'
'Actually, I'm sort of...well, I sort of have a problem with it.'
'Then how about half a glass?”
“What were you asleep? Helen would say as I opened the door. "I've been up since five." In her hand would be aluminum tray covered with foil, either that or a saucepan with a lid on it.
"Well," I'd tell her, "I didn't go to bed until three."
"I didn't go to bed until three thirty."
This was how it was with her: If you got fifteen minutes of sleep, she got only ten. If you had a cold, she had the flu. If you'd dodged a bullet, she'd dodged five. Blindfolded. After my mother's funeral, I remember her greeting me with "So what? My mother died when I was half your age."
"Gosh," I said. "Thing of everything she missed."
“My feet are completely flat, but for most of my life they were still shaped like feet. Now, thanks to bunions, they're shaped more like states, wide boring ones that nobody wants to drive through.”
“The things I've bought from strangers in the dark would curl your hair.”
“Most often, our water is shut off because of some reconstruction project, either in our village or in the next one over. A hole is dug, a pipe is replaced, and within a few hours things are back to normal. The mystery is that it's so perfectly timed to my schedule. That is to say that the tap dries up at the exact moment I roll out of bed, which is usually between 10:00 and 10:30. For me this is early, but for Hugh and most of our neighbors it's something closer to midday. What they do at 6:00 a.m. is anyone's guess. I only know that they're incredibly self-righteous about it and talk about the dawn as if it's a personal reward, bestowed on account of their great virtue.”
“It’s one of the greatest gifts you can give someone, knowing their stories.”
“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.”
“I'm frustrated with him, but I'm also frustrated with myself. That I can't find the words to explain it to him. I'm totally sure he's not doing it on purpose, but Seth is a guy, and he can't ever know what it feels like to walk down a hallway and know that you're getting judged for the size of your ass or how big your boobs are. He'll never understand what it's like to second guess everything you wear and how you sit and walk and stand in case it doesn't attract the right kind of attention, or worse, attracts the wrong kind. He'll never get how scary and crazy-making it is to feel like you belong to some big Boy Monster that decides it can grab you and touch you and rank you whenever and however it wants.”
“If your master demands loyalty, give him integrity. But if he demands integrity, then give him loyalty. I”
“Suffering is inevitable, they said, but how we respond to that suffering is our choice. Not even oppression or occupation can take away this freedom to choose our response. Right”
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