Overheard at bedtime:
“Help! Mommy! Help! There’s an Islamofascist under my bed!”
“Michelle! What is it? What’s wrong?”
“There’s a monster under my bed, Mommy! Get him away!”
“There’s nothing under your bed, Michelle.”
“Yes, there is! I saw him! He has a beard and he looks foreign. I think we should report him.”
“I’m looking right now, Michelle, and there’s nothing under here.”
“Look in the corner, in the back by the wall. He’s in the shape of a dustball.”
“He’s in the shape of what?”
“A dustball! We have to turn him in. He’s a terrorist!”
“That dustball is a terrorist?”
“Don’t be so stupid, Mommy. He’s disguised!”
“As a dustball.”
“They can look like anything. They can change their shape and stuff. They’re demons, you know. I saw them on Buffy.”
Kurt Vonnegut was one of a very few contemporary writers that I wanted to meet one day. That day will never come now, and I feel as sorry for myself at his passing as I do for his family.
Somebody gave me Player Piano around 1967. I liked it well enough to go looking for his other stuff. I was living in Hartford at the time, and in what I have always considered to be a moment of whimsical serendipity straight out of Vonnegut’s work, I bought Cat’s Cradle at the Mark Twain Bookstore opposite Twain’s Hartford home.
Reading it made my head explode, not in the cognitive-dissonance sense we use that phrase today but in the 60’s, Flower-Power sense of blowing apart the chains on your mind and forcibly releasing it from the constriction of conventional thought.