JUNE/JULY 2006

Sedaratives

A monthly advice column

This month: guest columnist Sarah Vowell

Dear Sedaratives,

Over the last few months, I’ve developed a crush on a librarian. He’s not exactly a hottie, but there’s something about him that I find irresistible. Maybe it’s the argyle sweater or the pear-shaped body. It just drives me wild. But I don’t have the guts to ask him out. Do you have any suggestions?

Kelly Lawson
Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear Kelly,

Why not enlist his help on a research project explaining the etymology and implications of the phrase “Adlai Stevenson moment”? This might allow you (a) the hair-sniffingly close physical proximity involved with the presentation of research materials—and here I suggest, assuming his library has yet to transfer its analog collections to digital, that you “accidentally” drop a roll of microfilm, unspooling it across the room so the two of you, on all fours, can rewind it together—and (b) a casual way to assess his position on verbal bravery. Like, if he seems turned on by Stevenson’s rhetorical gumption toward Soviet Ambassador Zorin in 1962, he might be similarly impressed if you ask him out in 2006. If he hesitates to answer, just bark, as Stevenson did so famously and so adorably, “Don’t wait for the translation—yes or no?” He will be very charmed by this, especially if you follow up with black-and-white aerial photographs of possible first-date locations. If you have limited helicopter access, you may simply type in the library’s ZIP code and order one of the U.S. Geological Survey’s photos taken from 20,000 feet. (www.usgs.gov)

Sarah

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Dear Sedaratives,

I have an abundance of dryer lint in all different shades of grays and whites. I usually fashion baby wigs with the stuff. Can you suggest other creative uses for my fuzzy matter?

Gary Brewer
Mesa, Ariz.

Dear Gary,

I cannot. However, I would caution you to remember it’s not the destination but the journey where dryer lint, like so many things in life, is concerned. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are more than 15,000 dryer fires every year in the United States, causing tens of million of dollars in damages. So your seemingly stupid hobby turns out to be quite civic-minded and safety-firsty. Way to go, you!

Sarah

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please purchase a copy of the magazine from The McSweeney’s Store.

Sarah Vowell’s books include Assassination Vacation and The Partly Cloudy Patriot. She is a contributing editor for public radio’s This American Life.

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