Mar 22, 2014

David Sedaris & the Lady in the Parking Lot

On March 10 Mark and I went to “An Evening with David Sedaris”  at the Hawai`i theater.   We left Kailua with enough time to park the car in the lot that borders Bethel / Beretania and Nuuanu (for those of you who live here).  It was packed solid and the parking agent told us we had to go elsewhere.  It’s a little bit difficult to negotiate, and so while we were turning around I sent a message to my grandmother — who is in charge of parking.   A woman turned up who was leaving at that very moment.

She pointed out her car and we followed her towards it.  Then, she did a really Hawai`i kine thing.  She got the parking ticket off her dash, brought it to us and told us to use up the time on it.   It was good until 12:19 a.m. the next morning.   This kind of surprising small gesture is typical of what you find here in Hawai`i and it gave us a great start to our evening.  We tipped the parking agent and off we went to Hawai`i Theater.

Beth-Ann Kozlovich from Hawai`i Public Radio introduced Sedaris, telling the story about the last time he was in Hawai`i.  Evidently a very not Hawai`i thing happened to him:  he was robbed at the house he was staying at, losing lots of important personal stuff including his laptop which he had not backed up.  For a real writer that has to be a miserable, horrible thing.

This year, so far so good.  He and his partner Hugh had been on Maui and he came to the stage (un-robbed) to read some recent stories, a New Yorker story about his sister committing suicide and several diary entries he had written.

I love his books, and the stories were great fun.  He even brought humor (if a bit dark) to the story about his sister’s death.  Then came the diary entries.  I assume these had not been published and that we were hearing the unedited David Sedaris.

And here’s what I found out.  He is outrageous to be sure.  But he is also mean.  David Sedaris and Hawai`i = cognitive dissonance.  Because Hawai`i itself is such a small town, where you are likely to run into anyone at any time, you don’t get close and personal with many people like David Sedaris.  Don’t get me wrong:  I had a great “Evening with David Sedaris.  ” His dark, sardonic, sarcastic wit even tickled my East Coast fancy.

But I had to compare him to the lady in the parking lot.  With her simple gesture, she lifted our spirits and started our evening off just right.   Some of his diary entries made me wonder if a harder me hadn’t been like that in earlier times.   And grateful that Hawai`i has softened me up.

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Gloria. Circa 1955.

Gloria. Circa 2012.

Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.

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