I am sitting now in my class writing this. I can see your face on a filing cabinet opposite of me. You have a kind face, a soft, understand set of eyes. Next to you is Frida Kahlo. She does not have such a soft face. I look back to your photo. I imagine you sitting in a café across the table from me. You are telling me about this asshole that stepped on your foot on a subway with his size 15 turquoise loafers. “What a moron,” I’d say. I’d tell you about this crazy dream I had where I was trapped in a bottle, drinking from a tulip filled with liquid gold. You’d say that reminded you of something you saw while you were eating crystal meth by the spoonful in college. Then I’d say, “I know. I’ve read all your books.” Life would be a lot like this. I’d encounter something bizarre and call you up. We’d carry on pointless conversations concerning the molecular structure of the common snow pea. But none of this can ever happen, because we are not friends. You are a 51-year-old man in New York, on book covers and the radio. I am a 16-year-old living in the Midwest, with nothing to do but read your books. And you will never know this, but one day I saw you.
I spotted you in the liquor aisle, making your way to my Checkout lane with a bottle of Red Wine and a bag of cat litter, and my heart was aflutter. I knew it was you, it had to be you. Your jaunty gait, witty smile, and perfectly tweezed eyebrows. I knew you saw me as a shining beacon of hope in a sea of Twilight readers. You laid your items down on the belt, and I thought of something coy to say making it aware that I knew you. You asked if you could buy cigarettes from my line, and my insides jumped. This was assurance. (This of course was before your last book, before you quit smoking.) On my way back from the cigarette counter I thought about our lifelong friendship to come. The hours we'd spend overanalyzing soap opera characters. The days Hugh and I could spend baking you pies. We would live as a little family, in a destitute world of Twilight readers. I handed you the receipt. You pulled on one side and I firmly held the other, waiting for the little box to appear saying "Thank you for shopping, Mr. Sedaris." I waited and waited, you pulled and pulled. Then that little box said, "Thank you for shopping, Leonard Ashcroft." I felt my heart hit my knees, ricochet and smack me in the face. I felt certain hatred towards this Leonard Ashcroft. I was so sure it was you. Still I had hope. Perhaps you used a pseudonym, maybe you don't like being recognized. I was content to go with this notion when "you" turned around and said, "Oops I forgot something." I knew you would never say "oops." You then walked to the edge of my lane and picked up "jerky in a can looks like chew, tastes like delicious." "Can't live without my jerky, y'know?" you said, looking up as if I was supposed to agree with this statement. Sure now that this character was not you, I no longer felt compelled to treat him with the decency he clearly did not deserve.
I have this friend who moved to the West Coast. He thinks living in a larger city makes him more articulate. He works at an insurance agency. He claims he likes you more than I do, and peppers conversations with your quotes. He does this very noticeably. He'll say something, then stop and look at me. I'll say, "Yeah, I caught that." Several years ago he went to a book reading when you came to Iowa City and announced you. I was not able to go. Now he starts all conversations with "One time when I introduced David Sedaris ... " Talking to him was a constant literary competition with him, from that day on. Entire conversations were spent referencing books he supposedly loved. Then one day he broke down and confided in me a secret. All of your literature he claimed to have read, all the words you bothered to write down, he never read one word. "I just get the audio books, they are much more convenient." I'm sure if convenience is what you had in mind, then you would be children's author, or a librarian. He then divulged that he couldn't even be bothered to download all of your audio books, only Naked. And he skipped over several stories, because he lost focus. The competition ended that day. Every time he referenced you, I would remind him that he did not know what he was talking about. We have since moved on to referencing songs, and artists.
Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy your stories, but it's not as if I'm someone who has several Wikipedia accounts dedicated solely to you and your immediate family, or someone who pretends were friends. It's not like I'm carrying on an ongoing conversation with you in my head. I would never hang a poster of you up in my room, and I most definitely would never think to strategically place it, so when I sit in front of my mirror your face is what I see. And if this makes conversing with you more realistic, then it's news to me. It's not anything like that. And For now I am content to let life take its course. I am sure that one day we'll run into each other, and our friendship will be so effortless even you could not script it. But until then I will stay an avid fan, and you will most likely stay a critically acclaimed author.
Until our two worlds collide,