Sedaris: ‘Around the Time my Lunch Tray was Taken Away, I Remembered I Needed to Learn Mandarin’

Travel Blog  •  Michael Yessis  •  07.06.11 | 9:15 AM ET

Travel-related hilarity from David Sedaris in the latest issue of the New Yorker, as he mines his efforts to learn languages.

Thanks to Japanese I and II, I’m able to buy train tickets, count to nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, and say, whenever someone is giving me change, “Now you are giving me change.” I can manage in a restaurant, take a cab, and even make small talk with the driver. “Do you have children?” I ask. “Will you take a vacation this year?” “Where to?” When he turns it around, as Japanese cabdrivers are inclined to do, I tell him that I have three children, a big boy and two little girls. If Pimsleur included “I am a middle-aged homosexual and thus make do with a niece I never see and a very small godson,” I’d say that. In the meantime, I work with what I have.

Alas, only an abstract is online.