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Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim

- David Sedaris


About the book:

David Sedaris returns to his deliriously twisted domain: hilarious childhood dramas infused with melancholy; the gulf of misunderstanding that exists between people of different nations or members ...(more)

Excerpt 2:    (Excerpt 1)

My parents were not the type of people who went to bed at a regular hour. Sleep overtook them, but neither the time nor the idea of a mattress seemed very important. My father favored a chair in the basement, but my mother was apt to lie down anywhere, waking with carpet burns on her face or the pattern of the sofa embossed into the soft flesh of her upper arms. It was sort of embarrassing. She might sleep for eight hours a day, but they were never consecutive hours and they involved no separate outfit. For Christmas we would give her nightgowns, hoping she might take the hint. "They're for bedtime," we'd say, and she'd look at us strangely, as if, like the moment of one's death, the occasion of sleep was too incalculable to involve any real preparation.

The upside to being raised by what were essentially a pair of house cats was that we never had any enforced bedtime. At two A.M. on a school night, my mother would not say, "Go to sleep," but rather, "Shouldn't you be tired?" It wasn't a command but a sincere question, the answer provoking little more than a shrug. "Suit yourself," she'd say, pouring what was likely to be her thirtieth or forty-second cup of coffee. "I'm not sleepy, either. Don't know why, but I'm not."

We were the family that never shut down, the family whose TV was so hot we needed an oven mitt in order to change the channel. Every night was basically a slumber party, so when the real thing came along, my sisters and I failed to show much of an interest.

"But we get to stay up as late as we want," the hosts would say.


The first one I attended was held by a neighbor named Walt Winters. Like me, Walt was in the sixth grade. Unlike me, he was gregarious and athletic, which meant, basically, that we had absolutely nothing in common. "But why would he include me?" I asked my mother. "I hardly know the guy."

She did not say that Walt's mother had made him invite me, but I knew that this was the only likely explanation. "Oh, go," she said. "It'll be fun."

I tried my best to back out, but then my father got wind of it, and that option was closed. He often passed Walt playing football in the street and saw in the boy a younger version of himself. "He's maybe not the best player in the world, but he and his friends, they're a good group."

"Fine," I said. "Then you go sleep with them."

I could not tell my father that boys made me anxious, and so I invented individual reasons to dislike them. The hope was that I might seem discerning rather that frightened, but instead I came off sounding like a prude.

"You're expecting me to spend the night with someone who curses? Someone who actually throws rocks at cats?"

"You're damned right I am," my father said. "Now get the hell over there."

More from Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim:    Excerpt 1

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