The Books of My Numberless Dreams

The Ship Shape

Posted on: December 30, 2006

David Sedaris’ father promised the family that he would buy a little cottage by the ocean.

The house was, as our parents had promised, perfect. This was an older cottage with pine-paneled walls that gave each room the thoughtful quality of a den. Light fell in strips from the louvered shutters, and the furniture, which was included in the sale, reflected the taste of a distinguished sea captain. Once we’d claimed bedrooms and lain awake all night, mentally re-arranging the furniture, it would be our father who’d say, “Now hold on a minute, it’s not ours yet.” By the next afternoon he had decided that the golf course wasn’t so great after all. Then it rained for two straight days, and he announced that it might be wiser to buy some land, wait a few years, and think about building a place of our own. “I mean, let’s be practical.” Our mother put on her raincoat. She tied a plastic bag over her head and stood at the water’s edge, and for the first time in our lives we knew exactly what she was thinking.

By our final day of vacation our father had decided that instead of building a place on Emerald Isle, we should improve the home we already had. “Maybe add a pool,” he said. “What do you kids think about that?” Nobody answered.

By the time he’d finished wheedling it down, the house at the beach had become a bar in the basement. It looked just like a real bar, with tall stools and nooks for wine. There was a sink for washing glasses and an assortment of cartoon napkins illustrating the lighter side of alcoholism. For a week or two my sisters and I tottered at the counter, pretending to be drunks, but the the novelty wore off. and we forgot all about it.

From Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.

Litlove and every other person on the planet was right after all.


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