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This week we find Sir Hudibras where we left him, behind a shelf of overpriced bookends, deep in the labyrinth of the castle Indigo, in the realm of Eaton, far far away from the remnants of his dignity. On his way to this spot he had been buffeted by ardent fans of one David Sedaris and wracked by his bourgeoning fear of that self-same author. Would he turn out to be as fearsome as he had grown in Sir Hudibras’ mind? Was it true, what Sir Hudibras had read, that Sedaris had a death-grip on the minds of North America’s anglo-saxon literati? Only time would tell. And so Sir Hudibras waited, nay, cowered behind the bookshelf, dreading the monster’s emergence.
And then, there he was! What a beast! What a scourge! He towered over the audience at the monstrous hight of…. approximately five foot five. He loomed! He glowered, terrifying and resplendent in his…. button down shirt and khakis. He opened his mouth wide, oh so wide and… and he…. he… chuckled.
Sir Hudibras was not impressed.
After all this travel, all this suspense, after all the indignity of his crushing fear, Sedaris was nothing more than a benign gentleman with a handbag. Sir Hudibras sank into his disappointment and his embarrassment and his chair with deep shame.
And then Sedaris began to speak. He told the audience how well dressed it was, overall. They laughed. He talked about his patchy success in learning Japanese. They laughed harder. He reminisced about his attempts to quit smoking. He dwelled on the absurd English signage he had seen in Tokyo. His devotees dissolved into hysterics. Sir Hudibras let out a giggle.
As the reading continued, Sir Hudibras’s giggles only multiplied. Giggles sprouted chuckles which bloomed into full on guffaws. By the time Sedaris was encouraging the junior members of the audience to capitalize on their youth and go into sex work, Sir Hudibras was rolling in the aisles… and this was not the kind of joke Sir H usually went for AT ALL.
By the time Sedaris was finished, Sir Hudibras was completely won over. He swooned behind the shelf. His face burned with blush after blush at the thought that the crown prince of prose might sign a copy of his book for Sir Hudibras… if only he had copy. He scurried around, desperately trying to find one, gripped by the twin lusts of covetousness and consumption.
That is, until he saw the book itself. When you are Engulfed in Flames shrieked the title, in letters whiter than the scull grinning out from the cover. Sir Hudibras gasped and leapt back, stumbling into a long line of Sedaris devotees who failed even to register the disturbance, so profound was their concentration on the author.
The shock had shaken Sir Hudibras from his stupor, however, and soon it all became clear. The jokes about his mispronunciation of the japanese word for ‘dragon,’ his unmistakably burnt umber handbag, the thin threads of smoke which constantly curled from the nostrils of this alleged non-smoker. All of his fears had come true; Sedaris was a basilisk as cunning as he was powerful, and Sir Hudibras had nearly succumbed to his wiles. As sedate reader after sedate reader filed towards him to have their $40 hardcovers signed, Sir Hudibras fled.
And so, dear reader, the mystery is resolved: Sedaris is monstrously compelling, and Hudibras is mousy and meek. Yet, as he scurried out of the castle Indigo, Sir Hudibras reflected that, though their dignity is scant, mice who squeak and run away live to save about $25 dollars when they buy the paperback edition another day.