Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut

Here's a Kurt Vonnegut story I've always liked. A friend of mine was his lawyer, so I was at a dinner with him once, and he told the story on himself.

Vonnegut was an amateur magician, and he used to like to do little magic tricks when he gave readings. So he was giving a reading in London, and he wanted to end the evening by magically producing a bouquet of roses to hold out to the audience. He went to a local magic store to get the harness to put up his sleeve, to release the bouquet of roses at the appropriate time.

\As Vonnegut put it, there are always a lot of young guys hanging around a magic shop, the way young guys who like cars will hang around a mechanic's garage, and so it was with this store...a bunch of young layabouts, magic aficionados, not paying any particular attention as Vonnegut walked in and asked the clerk for the roses-up-the-sleeve harness.

A bored clerk, who clearly didn't recognize Vonnegut, said, "Sorry, sir, we don't have anything like that."

Vonnegut was amazed and irritiated. "What do you mean? Every magic store has them. I could go into any magic shop in Manhattan, and get one."

"Well, that's remarkable," the clerk said. "They must be so advanced in America. Any of you chaps ever hear of this?"

There was a general muttering of "no...no..." from the not-very-interested layabouts.

Vonnegut, getting really irritated by now, describes the harness one more time, carefully and slowly.

"No, sir, I'm sorry, nothing at all like that."

Vonnegut turned to walk out of the store. As he got to the door, he heard the clerk's voice behind him.

"Oh, Mr. Vonnegut..."

He turns around to find the clerk, and every other layabout in the whole store, holding out a bouquet of roses to him, plucked out of their sleeves.



Thank you for everything, Mr. Vonnegut, and may the Sirens of Titan sing thee to thy rest. All of us were in your karass.

4 comments:

WORD said...

Very cool story, Tad!

Beats my story: One time, I saw Vonnegut in a college dorm. He opened the door and there was Rodney Dangerfield.

Sigh. I get no respect. No respect, I tell ya.

Tad Richards said...

One of the great movie scenes.

WORD said...

John Ivving on KV
http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20035688,00.html?cnn=yes

WORD said...

oops... I meant, of course, John Irving. Not Ivving.

I think John Ivving is a tractor salesman in Ohio.