I stumbled upon this interview with David Sedaris about his family’s dinner table this morning. He says that his dad used to spend his post-work hours in his underwear. My grandfather, who was my primary babysitter growing up, lived in his boxer shorts, too, so that memory made me happy.
After that, I put aside the terribly annoying tasks of the morning and read Sedaris’ essay on his obsession with the Fitbit, while I sat in the dilapidated hammock chair on the back patio. A cup of luke warm coffee on the ground.
A Fitbit is a pedometer that tingles and sends you encouraging e-mail notes when you meet your walking goals for the day. Sedaris quickly becomes obsessed with it, walking further and further, while picking up trash along the side of the highway in rural England. One day, he walked for 25 miles.
At the end of my first sixty-thousand-step day, I staggered home with my flashlight knowing that I’d advance to sixty-five thousand, and that there will be no end to it until my feet snap off at the ankles. Then it’ll just be my jagged bones stabbing into the soft ground. Why is it some people can manage a thing like a Fitbit, while others go off the rails and allow it to rule, and perhaps even ruin, their lives? While marching along the roadside, I often think of a TV show that I watched a few years back—“Obsessed,” it was called. One of the episodes was devoted to a woman who owned two treadmills, and walked like a hamster on a wheel from the moment she got up until she went to bed. Her family would eat dinner, and she’d observe them from her vantage point beside the table, panting as she asked her children about their day. I knew that I was supposed to scoff at this woman, to be, at the very least, entertainingly disgusted, the way I am with the people on “Hoarders,” but instead I saw something of myself in her. Of course, she did her walking on a treadmill, where it served no greater purpose. So it’s not like we’re really that much alike. Is it?
I enjoyed the essay, like most of Sedaris’ work, because he is the patron saint of weird obsessions. I’m too undisciplined to be truly obsessed with anything, but I admire his tenacity. Not that blogging is an obsession. No, no, no. Totally normal in every way.
I also felt that it was important to read this essay this morning, because in August, I’m going to North Carolina to visit my in-laws. They live down the block from Sedaris’ summer home. I need to be prepared to chat about his work, if I should bump into him at the beach.
I might make Jonah pose in front of his beach house for a photograph. I took a picture of him in front of Stephen King’s house in Bangor, Maine last summer. Author stalking might make a really fun yearly adventure.