Thursday, April 12, 2007

[He's] Gone c) Hall & Oates

Well, dear readers. I've been lazily avoiding my blog because I've had much better things to do. I mean, 10-week grade reporting is tomorrow, and in true English teacher style, I have a stack of papers to rip through. However, this morning, while slathering that good virgin coconut oil on my legs, I heard the unimaginable, the unthinkable, the annoyingly inevitable ... Kurt Vonnegut is dead.

Yeah, there may be a thin veneer of humor here, of wryness. The trademark atrackbrown witticisms are present, but let me tell you people, I cried. As soon as Ellee Pai Hong or Dick Johnson (I can't remember which) announced the news, I automatically started a snotty, indecently unattractive crying fit that would rival any five year old's.

For years, Monica and I have been rhapsodizing about "it," the eventual death of Kurt Vonnegut. I mean, he was getting old, and had been bucking the odds with his continued cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption for decades. "How does one make it well into their seventies without any sort of psorosising of the liver or cancering of the lung?" we wondered. Plus, he was born in the twenties, and had been at the bombing of Dresden for god sakes. Yeah, he was truly an enigma for still being with us. So we joked, and shook our heads wonderingly at his immortality while knowing all along that Kurt Vonnegut would never die because, well ... because he was Kurt Vonnegut, dammit! The author of such ridiculously side-splitting wonders as Cat's Cradle (perhaps my favorite), Breakfast of Champions (a close second), Welcome to the Monkey House (a delightful collection of brilliant, quirky little tales), and the creator of Kilgore Trout, perhaps the most cantankerous, preposterous figure of all literary time, could not die. No, just like that annoying Bob Hope or George whatever (the dude with the cigar and glasses), Kurt would outlive us all (though, of course, the first two did in fact die, but didn't it seem like they never would?). So yeah, we allayed our fears by knowing that Kurt would continue writing his special brand of crazy and making disturbingly funny speeches at colleges across the US forever.

Yet, somehow, this was not to be. Somehow, someone failed to report that he had suffered a head injury at home and had been hospitalized for some time now. (Though that someone still had time to report on the father of Anna Nicole's baby. Give me a fucking break.) Somehow, Kurt proved to be human.

I guess I shouldn't be a sniffling pansy and should just suck it up. I mean, I've never even met the guy (and I totally had a chance to, but just like the time I passed on a Nina Simone concert, my stupidity saw fit to dissuade me from doing so), and he lived for 84 freaking years. That's a pretty long time. But it doesn't matter, I'm still sad and kind of scared. Kurt stands for so many things. I'm not talking about all his political causes, though I was usually in total agreement with him. No, I'm talking about those personal things that he stands for. I'm reminded of the days when Monica and I were best friends, and she introduced me to the Vonnegut. (Hell, sometimes, I even refer to her as Kurt Monnicut.) I'm reminded of the good ole days with Jason in A.P English when we'd laugh and act like asses and eat peanut M&Ms, for Jason too loved the Vonnegut. I'm reminded of those rare moments freshmen year of undergrad when I didn't quite hate being at the most boring and black peopleless school on earth, and my roommate Anisa borrowed my special edition of Cat's Cradle. And most recently, I'm reminded of my first week as a real adult as I taught "Harrison Bergeron" to a bunch of high school freshmen and smiled inside (yes, assholes, I'm allowed to smile on the inside) as a bunch of snot-nosed know-nothings actually displayed some good taste and ate it up. Yep, Kurt's been here for a long time. It's hard to imagine that he'll be here no more.

Rest in peace there Kurt


Monica said...

Oh my god I am fucking weeping as I type. I haven't shed tears about this ultimate sadness which we have dreaded for over ten years until right now. I kid you not, right before I checked to see if you posted anything I was reminiscing about how in high school when we would have stretches of not talking due to geographic unfortunateness and other reasons, I could always call you after I read one of his books that maybe you hadn't and it would guarantee a three hour coversation or me ditching school to come hang out with you in the city the next day. I am a mess. This was truly the last of the binding ties. Am I wrong? I hope I'm wrong.

Monica said...

I just thought of something else. Remember how we used to look forward to any excuse to quote him? "What's wrong, you never saw a man in a black garter belt?" and even better, "See the nigger fly the airplane!" Who knew that "so it goes" would be such a tough one? You know what I say to haters? "Why don't you take a flying fuck at a rolling donut. Why don't you take a flying fuck at the moooooon!"
-- *

Natalie said...

I read a lot of posts about Kurt. This was easily the best.

mewlink64 said...

It makes me sad when people don't even know who he is.

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