Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Day 67: Michelangelo Hitchhikes
OK, I know, I've already done a hitchhiking picture, but this is different. This is a picture of Michelangelo actually hitchhiking on a road like a normal (or possibly mentally disturbed) human being. The inspiration for this picture comes from the book I'm currently reading, Naked by David Sedaris.
David Sedaris, for the uninitiated, is famous for his witty, often bittersweet and largely hilarious autobiographical stories. We own several other Sedaris books and they're always entertaining. Naked is one of his older books, but we just bought it earlier this year when we went to see him do a reading in Austin. I've seen him do talk show appearances, but this was the first time I saw him in person. The actual reading was hardly an intimate setting. It was held in the Long Center, a massive auditorium built just a few years ago in downtown Austin. It's a beautiful modern venue usually reserved for things like operas or touring Broadway performances.
During the reading Mr. Sedaris read a collection of older, unpublished essays as well as some that he was currently editing for publication. One of my favorite stories he read was a diary entry that he was fleshing out to possibly print someday. He has the ability to take what might be considered a fairly mundane occurrence in his life, like getting a cup of coffee, and turn it into an anecdote you would gladly pay to hear about. This is amazing to me because I often have difficulties turning an interesting story into something people will tolerate listening to for free.
We got to the reading early enough to get in line for the book signing he was doing in the green room of the theater. As the show's start time approached we were given a number and told to come back after the reading and we would be let in to see David before the people without a number. This seemed pretty straightforward to me so we went happily to our seats.
Once the reading ended we made our way quickly back down to the green room where there was already a long line of people forming. One of the ushers told us to get at the end of a much shorter line to the side which was designated for people with numbers from earlier. The line moved quickly despite the loud grumblings of the people who didn't have numbers and didn't understand why they were being made to wait. Our time in line was also made more entertaining by people (usually older people) arguing with the usher that they have number 6, why are they behind people with the number 20? Unable to understand the difficulties of re-sorting a line of patrons in a hallway roughly 3 feet wide every time some entitled asshole decides to show up twenty minutes after everyone else and also apparently unaware of the term "first-come, first-served" these people usually left in a huff lest anyone be confused about their feelings regarding the unsatisfactory line situation.
After a brief wait we were ushered into a room where Mr. Sedaris was sitting behind a table eating what appeared to be a very delicious salad next to a stack of his newest book and another book full of animal photographs. I had to admit I felt bad bothering him while he was eating, but I thought it very nice that he would agree to spend so much time signing books before and after his reading even though most of those people would have paid to see him without the promise of an autograph. The reason for the animal book, we found out, is that he's taken to drawing pictures of animals in his books when he autographs them. I didn't ever see him ask what animal a person would prefer. Instead he just seemed to draw one at random, rarely referencing his source material. In the line ushers had written down the names we wanted our autographs addressed to on post-it notes and stuck them in our books. He laughed when he saw that ours said "Wes & Em" asking if it was a joke, because it sounds like S&M. We assured him we were serious and that our names were Wesley and Emily. He then drew an elephant beneath his signature while he chatted to us for a minute or two and then we left him to face the rest of the long line of impatient fans.
David Sedaris was born in the late 50's and in the book Naked he writes several stories revolving around hitchhiking. Hitchhiking has become extremely dangerous in recent decades and has gone out of style because of it. Being born in the 80's I can't really imagine using that as a viable means of transportation and reading his stories about it doesn't make me feel any better. I was inspired to draw this picture by these stories about a part of American culture that I've never personally experienced and isn't really seen much anymore.