In the Bathroom with David Sedaris

It happens this way …

I think self-esteem is overrated. I think a certain degree of self-loathing is good. David Sedaris, “Q&A David Sedaris” by Hugh Delehanty, AARP Bulletin, July/August 2018

Admit it: some of our best reading times occur in the bathroom – in the tub or on the potty. This sanctuary is conducive to getting through magazines that have piled up for weeks. I’ve learned to store the latest in our three bathrooms and enjoy multitasking: nurturing my mind awhile attending to my body.

Hence, my encounter with David Sedaris on a Sunday morning in our powder bathroom. In this interview, Sedaris discusses Calypso, his new book about aging; his sister’s suicide; and his obsession with walking. He also explains how his adversarial relationship with his father motivated him to create a successful career.

He explains:

Everything he ever said to me, I did the opposite. Everything. And I made a nice career out of reacting against him. If he had been my biggest cheerleader, I would be a nobody today. He’d say, “You’re a big fat zero.” But that’s exactly what I needed to hear because I’d think, Oh yeah? I’ll show you!

 That got me thinking about all people who motivated me by putting me down. There’s Sister Grace John, my first grade teacher, who gave me an “Unsatisfactory” in conduct for speaking too much in class. The English teacher who red-penciled the only poem I wrote in high school as “extremely maudlin.” The president of a business consulting firm I worked for who called me “a G-d-damn academic who’d never amount to anything!” Oh yeah?

Of course, I’ve had exquisite cheerleaders in my life when I needed them. But today, here’s to Sedaris’s insight. Let’s say, I’ll show you! to anyone who attempts to diminish the glorious beings we are!


Last line: “Conduct” and that blue U!