The Books of My Numberless Dreams

You should probably take your clothes off now

Posted on: January 2, 2007

This incident occurred during Sedaris’ early writing days, when he still worked for a cleaning service.

In recounting the rest of the story, it would be the next part that I could never quite get right, in part because it was so implausible but mainly because, between the blood taking and the five blankets, it was just too much. I assumed that Martin had learned about me from the New York Times, and he had. He’d read the article, written my name on a piece of paper, and looked me up in the phone book. He had also, it seemed, taken down the number of an erotic housecleaning service he’d found in the back of a porno magazine. The names and numbers had gotten confused, and he had phoned thinking that I was the sexpot. Such things happen, I guess, but you’d think that on seeing me, he might have realized his mistake. I’ve never dealt with an erotic housecleaning service, but something tells me the employees are hired for their looks rather than their vacuuming skills. Something tells me they only surface clean.

I’d wonder for weeks why Martin had put up with me. In his growing impatience, it seemed he would have simply told me what he wanted, but that would have required a different temperament, a straightforwardness that neither of us was capable of. In the phrase book of the indirect, “FIRE ISLAND” means “Let us masturbate together,” while “Who does your mother love more?” translates to “I prefer to clean the kitchen in private, please.” “I don’t have a VCR” equals “Your behaviour troubles me,” and “You can always…you know” means “I think you should probably take your clothes off now.” “What do you say we test your blood sugar”–that was just craziness talking.


From “Blood Work”, printed in David Sedaris’ essay collection Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.


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