Friday, January 30, 2009

Favorite passage from a lunchtime read

This is out of David Sedaris' When You are Engulfed in Flames, and I think that if you stop at just the right point in this section it's a beautifully poignant look at human nature. Fortunately for us, Sedaris goes beyond that point and gives us something to snort with laughter at in our offices.

"I remember once riding in the car with my dad. I was twelve, and it was just the two of us, coming home from the bank. We'd been silent for blocks, when out of nowhere he turned to me, saying, 'I want you to know that I've never once cheated on your mother.'

'Um. OK,' I said. And then he turned on the radio and listened to a football game.

Years later, I mentioned this incident to a friend, who speculated that my father had said this specifically because he had been unfaithful. 'That was a guilty conscience talking,' she said, but I knew that she was wrong. More likely my father was having some problem at work and needed to remind himself that he was not completely worthless. It sounds like something you'd read on a movie poster: sometimes the sins you haven't committed are all you have to hold on to. If you're really desperate, you might need to grope, saying, for example, 'I've never killed anyone with a hammer' or 'I've never stolen from anyone who didn't deserve it.' But whatever his faults, my dad did not have to stoop quite that low."

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