“I’ll Eat What He’s Wearing” Summary
At a restaurant in Paris, Sedaris is having dinner with his father, sisters, and friends. Sedaris’s father is telling the group a story: “So I found this brown something-or-other in my suitcase, and I started chewing on it, thinking that maybe it was part of a cookie,” he begins. Sedaris’s friend Maja asks whether or not he had packed any cookies, and Sedaris’s father replies, “Not that I know of, but that’s not the point.” Confused, Maja says, “So you found this thing in your suitcase, and your first instinct was to put it in your mouth?” “Well, yes,” Sedaris’s father replies.
While Sedaris’s friends are baffled by his father having nonchalantly described finding an unidentified “brown thing” in his seldom-used suitcase and then putting said brown thing in his mouth, Sedaris and his sisters are unsurprised. For as long as Sedaris can remember, his father has saved everything—particularly food, which he leaves to rot in “strange places” and then eats, sometimes years later.
Growing up, Sedaris assumes that hoarding food is “standard Greek behavior” until he realizes that theirs is the only car in the church parking lot that is always surrounded by bees, as his father keeps peaches in the trunk. While some people attribute the hoarding to Sedaris’s father having lived through the Great Depression, Sedaris’s mother always denies this, saying that she was much worse off than Sedaris’s father during the Depression but doesn’t share his penchant for hiding food. This prompts the young Sedaris and his siblings to question why their father would go out of his way to hide food that no one else in the family wants. After all, he doesn’t hide candy or chips; he hides moldy fruits, claiming all the while that there is nothing wrong with them.
Sedaris’s father considers his wife a “spendthrift” due to her preference for fresh food, so throughout Sedaris’s childhood, Sedaris’s father handles all the grocery shopping himself. He treats the produce section like a buffet, believing that things left unpackaged are free. The store’s managers, of course, tend to disagree. Inevitably, the head of the produce department arrives, and Sedaris’s father demands to be taken to the back room, where he is given the store’s unwanted, half-rotted produce. He buys gray meat and stores it in the freezer, hides fruit in the medicine cabinet, and puts everything else in the crisper, which he believes will revive vegetables that have long ago lost their ability to “crisp.” This results in Sedaris’s father happily eating colorless, “flaccid” carrots while the rest of the family winces.
Sedaris and his siblings once hoped their father would learn to be less frugal once he no longer has six children to support, but so far, the hoarding has only gotten worse. Their father seems to believe that at any moment a market crash, crop failure, or military invasion could leave him scavenging for scraps.
On returning home for Christmas every year, Sedaris’s brothers and...
(The entire section is 789 words.)