6th annual David Sedaris Humor Writing Contest

We are happy to announce our winners for The 6th annual David Sedaris Humor Writing Contest. Congratulations, and thank you to all that entered. We truly enjoyed reading your submissions!

Lexi Cary

“You Didn’t Miss Much” by Lexi Cary

The night my uncle met my aunt, his future wife, he was at the end of
the line. A twenty-seven year old airline pilot, he was forty pounds

overweight and severely alone. He knew where to find a Cinnabon in
every airport from Dallas Fort Worth to Washington Dullas and back to
SFO. That night he was mercifully between commuter flights from LAX to
JFK. His next flight to New York was two days away, and for now he
roughed the loneliness in the airport adjacent Holiday Inn, forty-five
minutes away from his college roommate’s wedding in Malibu if he
sped (which he always did—ground travel couldn’t keep him awake
unless he was going at least ninety).
Jeff and Tanya’s perfect beach wedding had progressed as planned.

Her spray tan was as smooth as the expensive card stock the
invitations had been printed on. Once at the reception hall, the
couple circulated through the crowd and through their many T&J
monograms, thanking the A List guests separately with terse smiles.
Every time the crowd clinked their glasses however Tanya and Jeff had
exchanged tight-lipped WASPy kisses like they’d been rehearsing in
front of a priest.
After dourly ingesting anextra-large serving of buttery steak, my

uncle Tommy knocked back a row of tequila shots at the bar. Standing
at six-four he wavered in his posture enough to send bridesmaids
scattering out of his path in fear. He was in the wedding party and
sat at a long table on a stage. Needing to pee, thinking of the grind
of the Holiday Inn ice machine that awaited him, he wasn’t in the mood
for a speech.
He was twenty-seven and was handsome enough (before the weight) to
have had thirty girlfriends, although his condescension and quick wit

had left him with the burden of an unlost virginity and stifling
existential concern for his future, for his past as well. Perhaps he
shouldn’t have spent college shoulder-to-shoulder with other pale
young men memorizing flight procedures in a sub-zero basement in North
Dakota. Maybe he should have been out meeting girls, been in airport
bars flashing his pilot’s pin, not scarfing McDonalds fries to keep
his insecurity at bay. And here was Jeff, that bastard that everything
came easily to, who got those sexy flights to South America right out

the gate, smiling with his pretty thin young wife who weighed as much
as the amount of food my uncle planned to eat in the ensuing weekend.

“Come on, Tommy, give us a speech!” the groom insisted.
“Yes,” he said, grabbing the mic and staggering in response to
some feedback. “A speech for Jeff. Jeff was always smart,
everybody—always really smart. He knew his airport codes like
that,” he snapped sloppily after putting down his drink. “We were
roommates—I don’t know if Tanya knows this—this was before her
time—but I always felt like we were soul mates. Which is why to this
day I can’t nail down a girlfriend,” he was now laughing hollowly,
not understanding why a fellow pilot in the front row was mouthing NO
repeatedly. “So here’s to Jeff everybody—the reason I can
finally confront the fact that I’m gay. You all knew it—now it’s

confirmed. On you go.”
Tommy strolled offstage after dropping the mic, drowning the feeling
that he’d made a mistake by grabbing a flute of champagne out of
Jeff’s aghast grandmother’s quaking hand and downing it in a
single gulp. He strode out to the parking lot, hoping to bum a

cigarette off one of the valets, when a young woman with long black
hair ran towards the door, pulling a lilac shawl over her bony,
freckled shoulders. A gust off the ocean blew her bangs out of her
eyes and they made electric eye contact.

“Oh, shoot, am I late?” my future aunt asked hurriedly. “You
never know when a reception is actually going to start.”
“You’re a little late,” he admitted, “but you didn’t miss

Lyndsey Silveira

“The DairyHeir” by Lyndsey Silveira

Farmer Brown died in a stampede of his own cows, thus bequeathing a

petty fortune to his son, James “Jimmy” Brown. Only a small

fraction of this petty fortune was actually produced by the dairy,

because small dairies cannot make much money. Farmer Brown had

invested his own inheritance wisely, farming was but a labor of love

for him.

       Jimmy was left with five whole acres and six murderous cows on his

incapable and unknowledgeable hands. He also had to plan for his

father’s funeral.

       The day after his father’s untimely death, Jimmy made the rounds,

milking each cow by hand. He could not look at or smell or hear those

cows without feeling a deep loathing for them and all they

represented. They had killed his father, and yet they bound him to

them, because his father had loved them. Farmer Brown would often say,

when drunk, “never sell the farm, never give up the cows.” If he

was very, very drunk, he would repeat it, like a mantra.

       Every time Jimmy looked into their vacant, brown eyes, as they

blissfully chewed cud—seemingly unaware that they were slaves—he

was reminded of this obligation. They reeked of stupid, bestial

malice. He resolved never to consume dairy again (running a dairy or

being intimately familiar with dairies tends to make dairy products

unpalatable, anyway).

       A week later, Farmer Brown’s funeral was attended by ten family

members and friends, all of whom came to collect intel about the will,

or to make their offer to buy the small plot of land. At this point,

Jimmy was still determined to keep his promise to his father, to

continue the family legacy. He turned down every offer, and assured

them all that he was prepared to handle the farm.

       After two more days of milking, the lordship over five whole acres

and six cows proved too great for Jimmy, and so he sold the farm, with

the murderers of his father, and headed for the suburbs. The cattle

were eventually butchered, and the land of James’s ancestors was

given over to corn.

       Jimmy bought a nice little house in a nice neighborhood with nice

neighbors. The house featured a white picket fence. He adopted a dog,

but longed for the companionship of a more intelligent being, and one

that would not lick its own balls in front of guests. He started going

to bars, the sort frequented by lonely single people of his age set.

One night, he went to a bar with many large television screens,

conveniently placed so that anyone, anywhere could look away from

their date and pretend to watch sports if conversation stalled.

       It was at this bar that Jimmy would meet his future wife, Holly, née

Byron. During their entire first conversation, he did not look at the

TV screens, even once. He had never been very interested in sports,

but her large, dark eyes held him captive that entire evening. He

could hardly remember what they’d talked about, or if they’d

talked at all, but he could say with pride and certainty that she was

smarter than his dog.

       After a whirlwind courtship of five months, the pair became engaged.

As fate would have it, they were both heirs, and so they lived very

comfortably in the suburbs, with their white picket fence and their

dog. As expected, they produced fine, robust offspring, two of them: a

boy-child and a girl-child, in that order.

       Jimmy slowly came to terms with the death of his father, and the

abrupt severance of his agricultural roots. He almost forgot about

dairies, until the day he stumbled upon his wife breastfeeding their

second child. He had always avoided interrupting such moments, but now

he was confronted with the act, in all its horror. Somehow, he had

forgotten that human females produce milk, too. Waves of revulsion

overtook him, he felt that he would vomit. He rushed to the toilet,

but nothing came up.

       The next day, he noticed her large, brown eyes again. To be more

precise, he noticed how cow-like they were. At the dinner table, she

chewed her food complacently, blank-faced, very cow-like. He realized

that he had married a bovine. And he began to consider that he, too,

was becoming very bovine. His life was set in a routine, and he had

never even thought to throw it off.

       That night, he had a dream that he was a cow, being led into a

slaughter pen. When he woke up, sweating, heart pounding, he tried to

think, what is the slaughter pen? Where is it? Is it too late for me

to avoid it? More importantly, who are the slaughterers?

       He turned over and reached for the sleeping pills on his bedside


       The next day, he decided that he would drink milk for the first time

in years. He had hardly taken the first gulp when he spat it out. He

realized that the only real way to conquer his fear of being the

bovine was to eat the flesh of the beast itself.

       After work, Jimmy went to the grocery store and bought three big

fatty steaks. By a complete and somewhat perverse coincidence, the

steaks came from a cow that had once been a direct descendant of one

of his father’s cows. Now, it was dinner.

       Holly came home, with their calves in tow, very surprised but

secretly pleased to see Jimmy in the kitchen. He seasoned the steaks

as a Food Channel chef recommended, and prepared to use the barbecue

for the first time in a year. He very narrowly avoided burning the

steaks, but they looked appetizing as he took them out. Holly chopped

up some vegetables and placed them in a becoming arrangement on the

plates. The children split a steak and whined about having to eat


       Meanwhile, Jimmy ate the steak and tried not to think of cannibalism.


Jordan Wingate

“Bluebird” by Jordan Wingate


I was fourteen when I first saw the ocean. I didn’t want it to, but

it gave me pause all the same. Foam. Red swimsuits. Waves like cupped

hands. You looked beyond these things, and then there was nothing,

only a heavy line where sky met sea and the world fell out of sight.

By way of preparation, my father – a veteran of the beach day-trip

– had explained to me in the car all the ways which a boy, and yes,

even a boy who had seen Shark Week, could suddenly perish at a

seemingly quiet seaside. “And why do we wear boots on the sand,

Champ?” he asked me.

“Needles,” I said. He cocked his head and looked at my mother in a

kind of puzzled disappointment. “Heroin needles,” I corrected.

       “And what does heroin cause, Champ?”

       “‘Swift and silent death,’” I quoted from his flashcards.

       Dad nodded and looked again at my mom, who rolled her eyes and

adjusted her lumbar pillow. “What?” he said. “It kills. Heroin

kills. Go ahead Champ,” he turned to me. “Try and name one person

you know who’s still alive and addicted to heroin.” I admitted I

didn’t know any. To save face I mentioned that Tristan Houser smoked

pot behind the cafeteria during lunch.

       “Oh man,” my dad snorted, shaking his head and smiling in a

knowing way. “Not even close, Champ. Not even ballpark. This kid

thinks he is tough? He’s got no idea what’s tough.”

       Tristan Houser was pretty tough. If you were slow getting dressed for

gym, he’d circle the locker room, chanting, “Scrambled eggs,

scrambled eggs” until, by the time you realized who he was circling,

he’d already be behind you, twisting your nipples into modern art. I

had personally seen him moon Mr. Brown, one of the history teachers

who also coached girls’ soccer, on at least two occasions; once

during our American History midterm, and once during the girls’

championship game against Horton Middle. He had stayed after school

just to moon Mr. Brown. That’s how tough he was.

       Dad pulled in to a sandy parking lot. A group of teenagers stood by

two roofless Jeeps, their surfboards piled in back with an ad-like

negligence, laughing into the wind, brown hands running through

translucent hair. Maybe, I thought for a moment, throwing my hair to

one side of my face and adjusting it in the rearview mirror, maybe –


“Do you know how big a giant squid is, Champ?” my dad asked as he

began to sunscreen his armpits. Thirty feet, it turned out.

After consulting a tidal map, we set up close to a foreign couple and

their young son – “that sickly bunch over there” my father said

– who had, it seemed, already found the ideal spot. When the man and

woman left to swim, my mother struck up a conversation with their son

after she noticed they were flipping through the same TV Guide.

“Don’t your eyes hurt reading without sunglasses?” she asked.

       “I only read by the light of the sun,” said the foreign boy with

slight condescension.

       “Hear that? That’s interesting, Bluebird,” my mother said,

turning to me. “I didn’t know it was safe to leave a retarded

child alone at the beach.”

       I dug in the sand with my boot. My father was adjusting the umbrella

with the vigilance of a reactor technician, or a soldier raising the

flag on the beaches of Iwo Jima, swearing loudly at the motions of the

wind. “I’m ever so glad,” he said, “I’m just tickled that

the fine people at BeachBuys had the ingenuity to make this wonderful

piece of fucking shit a sturdy ten ounces, else I fear it might have

blown away in the wind.”

       “Dear,” my mom said to her TV Guide, “careful in front of


       “I only mean I’d like to talk to the designer,” my father said

as a second wind bent the umbrella. “Or stab him. I would. You

couldn’t blame me, it’s just man’s temperament.” He settled

back down next to me and took a swig from his canteen. “Only

kidding, Champ,” he said. “But some people you just want to hurry

up and die.”

       “Let’s get a postcard for Grandma,” Mom said.

       For the next few hours we read and pivoted beneath the umbrella like

the shadow of a sundial, reapplying every fifteen minutes or so until

we acquired the healthy glow of a family of polar bears. Eventually

Mom and Dad fell back into their ongoing debate of the pros and cons

of baking soda, and I just sat there, looking out at the fishing boats

creeping across the horizon. Their mechanical arms kept hauling in

these dripping, swollen nets of fish and then dumping them on the

deck. I watched this happen maybe twenty times. I thought of how it

would feel to be a fish, to be fast and silver, and then to be caught

in a net. Not even caught by someone. Not even caught on purpose. I

started to get very angry, and I then realized my boots were untied,

my shirt was off, and I was running across the hot sand toward the


       “Your shoes, Champ! The shells! The hooks! The Big Somethings in

the Dark Water!”

       “The tidal chart, Bluebird!”

       As I heard the familiar sound of the family flare gun, a big wave

rose up before me. I pointed my arms and dove beneath it, the cold

water washing the grit from my face. It was nice under there. Soon, I

knew, I would have to go up for air, to find out where I was, to show

my parents I was alive, but I allowed myself to think for the moment

before I resurfaced that I was fast, and I was silver, and I was home,

and I was free.