Excerpt from Me Talk Pretty One Day

by David Sedaris

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My fear and discomfort crept beyond the borders of the classroom and
accompanied me out onto the wide boulevards. Stopping for a coffee, asking directions,
depositing money in my bank account: these things were out of the question, as they
involved having to speak. Before beginning school, there’d been no shutting me up, but
now I was convinced that everything I said was wrong. When the phone rang, I ignored
it. If someone asked me a question, I pretended to be deaf. I knew my fear was getting
the best of me when I started wondering why they don’t sell cuts of meat in vending
My only comfort was the knowledge that I was not alone. Huddled in the
hallways and making the most of our pathetic French, my fellow students and I engaged
in the sort of conversation commonly overhead in refugee camps.
“Sometimes me cry alone at night.”
“That be common for I, also, but be more strong, you. Much work and someday
you talk pretty. People start love you soon. Maybe tomorrow, okay.”