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The Story Thus Far...

The Story Thus Far...


David Sedaris opens up about embarrassing hairs, gay marriage, and whether or not he's gay enough

Is there anything left to know about David Sedaris? After all, the man has opened up in many a personal essay. What else is there to learn about the unabashed National Public Radio contributor and best-selling author of Naked and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim? Plenty. In fact, when we caught up with Sedaris -- currently on a cross-country book tour for his latest work When You Are Engulfed in Flames -- we got an earful.

So how is your book tour going?Well, you know, the usual. But I did manage to go swimming the other day in Omaha, Neb. I got up early, worked for a while, and then I found out that there was a YMCA up the street. I had the entire pool for myself for a while and then this guy showed up, and it was just the two of us. I felt bad for the lifeguard. It must have been boring. Luckily, they have cell phones and they can talk to their boyfriend and say 'This is boring to watch old guys with hair on their backs!' I mean, if a person has hair on their backs--

Are you saying you have hair on your back?Oh, yes, it's completely disgusting. And I had it waxed off one time.

Ouch.Well, my friend waxed it off, and it just grew back with a vengeance. I started noticing gray hair on my chest too, so I bought a shirt and the top button was a little bit low. So I had a snap added because I don't want to...well, I can live with gray hair on my chest, but I am not going to show it to people. I am not going to have my shirt unbuttoned and have gray hair stick out. I am going to have that covered.

I see what you mean. It's so Tony Curtis circa 1976.Well, it's even worse when that hair heads to your back, and you have a T-shirt on, and that gray hair sticking out of the back of your T-shirt... [Laughs]

You met your partner, Hugh, more than 17 years ago. What is one of the best things about your relationship?One of the best things is that I don't have to do anything. He does everything.

Can you clone him?He drives, he cooks. He fixes things. All of those things. Like, I don't open what I call "icky" mail --any kind of bill or statement; anything that isn't personally addressed or is a free sample -- I don't have anything to do with it. I'll put it into a pile, and he'll come right home and open it right up as if it's a birthday card. He does all the cooking. I mean, I am happy to go shopping -- more than happy to buy toilet paper or lightbulbs. I'll go to two stores every day with pleasure. But Hugh is clean. We've never gone out with a dirty dish -- ever! A coffee cup in the sink? Never. We don't have to argue about that. And it's good too, because when you get older...I am 51, so if something happened to Hugh, I mean, I think it would be different if you were a heterosexual man -- like, heterosexual men can easily find a woman at age 50, but if you're gay and 50, it's a lot harder to find somebody, unless you want to buy somebody to be there -- like the 25-year-old boyfriend. I can't see myself doing that. So if Hugh and I broke up, I would just be alone for the rest of my life. I am so incredibly grateful. And I think my gratitude shows. And I think that brings a lot to a relationship.

Have you been following gay marriage in California?Yeah. I just got an e-mail from the mayor of Beverly Hills, who offered to marry Hugh and I.

Are you going to do it?No. We are not the type to get married. You know what I mean? I know people who were married even before it was legal to be married, and there's this need for them to have the vows and the ceremony on the cliff, and it's just not us. We're not going to break up. But I might do the civil union in London. I mean, I'd sign a piece of paper that would save me money. Right now, if I die, Hugh would have to pay a 60% inheritance tax on our apartment. And with the civil union it would come down to 30%. That said, I remember when the California supreme court handed down the decision. I was listening to the news, and I remember this woman saying 'I texted my girlfriend and asked her to marry me.' I cannot imagine not being touched by her enthusiasm. It's like a scene from a Woody Allen movie. But for people who want gay marriage, I am incredible happy for them. It's just not me.

You live in Paris, but do you keep up with the gay rights movement in here in the States?Yeah. I mean, I don't get any newsletters or anything. But I never understood people's objection to gay marriage or why they felt like it threatened their own marriage; if two lesbians exchange vows on a mountaintop, that's not saying anything about you and your marriage to your husband. And why would you think it does? I have media escorts. I get a big kick out of them. She was Republican, and she was saying, 'The next thing they are going to want is to marry dogs and cats!' I thought, Thank you so much for linking me to an animal that licks his own asshole!

Amazing. Well, you are revered in the LGBT community and--I don't think I am.

You don't?No, I am not gay enough. Like, last night I signed books for eight hours. I bet there were eight gay men. I get more lesbians than gay men. I am not gay enough.

Well, what do you mean, you're not gay enough?I am not hip enough. I don't know. I don't get any more gay people in my audience than there are in the population. You know what I mean -- a percentage? I guess there's something about that that is, in a way, kind of progressive. I mean, I think it's kind of neat that a 14-year-old straight high school student will show up to hear a 50-year-old talk about his boyfriend lancing a boil on his ass. [Laughs] But I think the way I write about my relationship is all about trying to make a life with someone. I don't think I write about in a way that's...I mean, the focus isn't necessarily two men. We happen to be two men, but our problems are the same as everybody else's.

You're more than your sexuality. I get it. So...what is the most interesting thing you've learned about yourself lately?Well, you know what? It's that I don't hate pretzels. I thought I hated pretzels. And I don't hate them. It used to be that when I was on planes and they would give out pretzels, I got mad and I said 'No, I don't want them!' And then I was so hungry the other day, and I ate them and I thought, You know, this ain't so bad.

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