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Goodbye Kurt

Kurt (Source A.P.) I know death is inevitable, but I am crushed. Discovering Kurt Vonnegut was like discovering taoism or breasts for me- it was revelatory and life-changing and I never looked at the world the same ever again.

I met Kurt once-I should say I drooled on him once as it’s more accurate- back in 1988 when he spoke at the Boston public library and met with the crowd afterwards. He decided to read a commencement speech that he originally gave to MIT students I think it was- which wasn’t well received at the school since he was trying to tell these engineers to make sure they put their genius to work for the betterment of humankind- and the realized that most of them were already signed up with G.E. and Dow and Marietta-Martin. So he thought maybe we might appreciate the speech more.

Afterwards, I stood in line clutching my copy of “Bluebeard” and thought of all the things i wanted to say to him- how much I loved his works and his fucking HUMANITY- How reading his fiction and essays taught me that nothing has to be as it is or how it’s supposed to be- that nothing is black and white and that there is humour even in the darkest and worst aspects of everything.

Instead- when it was my turn- I approached the desk where he was sitting and looked up smiling– deep soulful eyes behind glasses and hair everywhere and I said “Mr Vonnegut- i just wanted to say…” and a huge gob of saliva fell from my mouth which i promptly tried to catch with my right hand, splashing everywhere and finishing with “… thank you. I love you- thank you. can you sign my book?” and I extended my hand and he stopped- and looked at my hand and extended his own and gave me a full firm handshake and said “You’re welcome- what’s your name?” and signed my book with an asterisk next to his name (re: Breakfast of Champions) and I walked away and my fiancee turned to me and said “You just drooled on Kurt Vonnegut”.

My college friend Tommy Hanlon once lamented for the Rastafari “What do you do when your god dies?” in reference to Bob Marley succumbing to cancer.

The answer is you learn to live with a heart-wrenching profound sadness that sits beside the omnipresent glow of joy that god brought into your life.

My heart aches, my world just grew a little darker; but the universe just grew a little richer.

So it goes…

1 Comment »

  1. Pause. « piran café said,

    April 23, 2007 at 9:53 pm

    […] I always answer Vonnegut. Discovering Vonnegut was, as my friend Rex astutely points out, “like discovering breasts.” In college, I would mimic his style when dabbling in fiction writing –my ‘Shaggy […]

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