Me Figure It Out One Day

I’m stressed out about graduation and winter break, situated just four months from it, hasn’t helped. I’ve fielded numerous questions from friends and family about what I want to do (“I’m not sure yet!”), where I want to be (“I’m keeping my options open!”), and what my life will look like once I leave Wesleyan University and enter real life (I don’t know ok?!?). Then, the questioners will always offer a peppy condolence about how it’s alright not to know at this age, but these condolences are never enough from stopping me from spiraling into a panic.

One thing that’s been a bit of help during these (dark) times has been Me Talk Pretty One Day (2000)  by David Sedaris, a book that has two parts. The first consists of his time before moving to Normandy with his partner, and the second, “Deux,” talks about his time in Normandy. The aptly named collection focuses on language: Sedaris’s lisp, his brother’s profanity, pretentious names for pretentious culinary creations in New York, and his struggles in learning French. These topics are all deeply concerned with talking, writing, and communicating. Yet, like in most of Sedaris’ work, the stories are all unified by Sedaris’ unique ability to position himself into a diverse set of odd situations and, despite challenges, come out largely unscathed.

In one essay, he works for an eccentric upper-east-sider who “wants to be artsy and has settled on being cheap.” Despite his bosses’ increasingly crazy requests (like finding a missing African Grey Parrot and claiming the pigeons resting outside are probably the missing bird) and her increasing refusal to pay his salary, Sedaris is able to leverage this situation into a job at a moving company. His angry French teacher harasses all of her students, and she eventually says to Sedaris, “You exhaust me with your foolishness and reward my efforts with nothing but pain.” Ironically, Sedaris is elated by the fact that he finally understands every word of the insult. He dabbles in performance art, teaching, and being a student. He moves along life’s oddest offerings and, while not necessarily enjoying them, learns and grows and lives.

When older adults with 30 years at one law firm/doctor’s office, etc. tell me I’m in an exciting time of my life where it’s okay not to know what to do, I roll my eyes. While reading Me Talk Pretty One Day, I start to understand what they mean. – Maile McCann

Maile McCann '18 is a Government and Psychology double major at Wesleyan University. She is from Colorado Springs, Colorado. She has previously interned for Telluride Newspapers and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and hopes to go into writing and journalism after graduation. She has written on topics ranging from civic engagement to fashion to local arts and culture.

Me Talk Pretty One Day
By David Sedaris
Published by Little, Brown and Company
288 pp