“The Late Show” Summary
Ever since giving up drinking and drugs, Sedaris has had trouble sleeping—especially now that he has replaced alcohol with tea. Lying awake and overly caffeinated at 5:48 in the morning, he entertains himself (and distracts himself from thoughts of drinking) by replaying some of his current ongoing fantasies, which are “like movies” he can watch, edit, and update whenever he likes. He then proceeds to describe three of these fantasies.
In the first fantasy, Sedaris invents a serum that causes trees to grow at an advanced rate. With his serum, trees are able to mature and bear fruit after only two to five years, at which point the acceleration process stops and the trees’ growth returns to normal. The serum is wildly successful, until a group of “lesser scientists” suggest that the leaves of Sedaris’s trees cause cancer. Naturally, Sedaris discovers a cure for cancer shortly thereafter.
Sedaris goes on to receive the Nobel Prize and cure a whole host of maladies, including AIDS, emphysema, and paralysis. Finally free from anxiety, Americans stop taking antidepressants and are instead able to take pills of Sedaris’s own invention, including one that erases the effects of too much alcohol or tea.
Sedaris’s “most controversial” discovery is a soap that reverses aging for three days at a time, making anyone who uses it look twenty-five years old again. Mysteriously, however, the soap doesn’t work on those who have had plastic surgery, are television executives, or spend their professional lives promoting “youthful beauty” at the expense of anyone past the age of thirty.
Finally, Sedaris uses the money from his various inventions to build a spaceship and locate an Earth-like planet only twenty minutes away, a discovery that piques the interest of corporations and real estate developers. Sedaris meets with these eager potential investors only to lead them on for a while before refusing their proposals to build on his new world, which he has named “Planet Fuck You Up the Ass with a Sharp Stick.”
In his next fantasy, Sedaris is a handsome, “soulful”-looking boxer with only one last fight to win before he can be named heavyweight champion of the world. He is also a medical student at Yale, where he signed up for a boxing class on a whim. His talent was immediately apparent, and after only a few matches, he went professional. For Sedaris, however, boxing is simply something to do while he finishes his medical degree. While the boxing world is offended by his lack of passion, the press loves him, and because he is White, people who normally abhor violence become enthusiastic fans.
Five days before the championship match, the public finds out that Sedaris is gay and has a boyfriend (one who doesn’t necessarily look like, but does cook like, Hugh). People who loved Sedaris for his Whiteness are now confused about whether or not to support him, and some send him hate mail.
Sedaris is interviewed by Barbara Walters before the big fight. Her question about whether or not it was hard for him to come out annoys him thoroughly, as do questions from the gay press. Sedaris doesn’t believe it should be his responsibility to represent anyone other than himself and thus alienates most of his fans.
In the end, Sedaris wins the fight—but isn’t particularly interested in it.
I’ve Got a...
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