Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Day with Jason Reynolds and David Sedaris, but not together. It's a long day.

What an exciting day we have today. First Olivia S. and I are off to the Italian Community Center to sell books for the Delta Memorial Fund luncheon featuring Jason Reynolds. Their focal book is The Boy in the Black Suit, but we'll also have copies of All American Boys and When I Was the Greatest.*

Then Teasha and Jen and I are off to the Riverside Theater to sell books for David Sedaris, who is appearing as part of his national tour. I know he's traveling from Tampa, as I saw a sign for his event on April 22 at Inkwood Books. Hope that was a great evening.

I have always identified with Mr. Sedaris in quirky ways. I have also been known as the odd person who picks up litter. Years ago I met the owner of Bella's Fat Cat because he spotted me gathering wrappers and drink cups and (most difficult of all) cigarette and candy-flavored cigar butts off the nearby bus stop and sometimes the sidewalk in front of his store. It is not unusal for me to carry in some waste on my way into work, and I try to be good about gathering the smoker butts that gather on Downer. I even had a time when I picked one day a week when I would find a plastic grocery bag and try to fill it with as much garbage as I could before I threw it away. Anti-litter campaigns have given way to recycling campaigns but short of throwing the butts in a bowl and trying to roll a new cigarette, I think garbage is the best I can do. Even Mr. Sedaris has given up smoking!

I've tried to figure out how close our times at Macy's coincide, but in the late 70s, which is likely close to when Mr. Sedaris played a holiday elf and wrote his experiences into a legendary comic essay, I also got a job at the Macys Herald Square as Christmas help. Alas, I did not have what it took for people work, and thus was scheduled in the sub-basement, where we wrapped packages for shipping. It was a very structured environment, the kind of place where you clock in and out for bathroom breaks. I am suspecting that the hourly office help upstairs did not follow that protocol.

They also separated us by gender, to avoid social interaction of an intimate nature. The women wrapped soft goods and the men wrapped hard goods. A radio blasted WKTU and that's how I know it was 1979 - about every hour they played The Sugar Hill Gang's Rapper's Delight and close to half the gentlemen I was working with knew the lyrics. And that's why to this day, whenever I hear "Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn," my Pavlovian reflex is to worry about breaking a lamp.

Tickets still available to the show. Say hi to Boswell and don't forget to pick up David Sedaris's author rec, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America, by Jill Leovy.

*The publisher has given us permission to sell As Brave As You, Reynolds's new middle-grade novel, before pub date. We'll have that too.

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