Thursday, April 12, 2007

and so it goes--r.i.p. kurt vonnegut...

Photo of Kurt Vonnegut, taken from the New York Times, via DevBeep on Flickr
Kurt Vonnegut died last night at the age of 84, in his home in Manhattan. In his honor, I'm quoting him at length here in a humorous reflection on what women really want. A few years ago I sent this around to my friends as high-style spam, so some of you may have read this already:

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OK, now let's have some fun. Let's talk about sex. Let's talk about women. Freud said he didn't know what women wanted. I know what women want. They want a whole lot of people to talk to. What do they want to talk about? They want to talk about everything.

What do men want? They want a lot of pals, and they wish people wouldn't get so mad at them.

Why are so many people getting divorced today? It's because most of us don't have extended families anymore. I used to be that when a man and a woman got married, the bride got a lot more people to talk to about everything. The groom got a lot more people to tell dumb jokes to.

A few Americans, but very few, still have extended families. The Navahos. The Kennedys.

But most of us, if we get married nowadays, are just one more person for the other person. The groom gets one more pal, but it's a woman. The woman gets one more person to talk to about everything, but it's a man.

When a couple has an argument, they may think it's about money or power or sex, or how to raise the kids, or whatever. What they're really saying to each other, though, without realizing it, is this:

"You are not enough people!"

I met a man from Nigeria one time, an Ibo who had six hundred relatives he knew quite well. His wife had just had a baby, the best possible news in any extended family.

They were going to take it to meet all its relatives, Ibos of all ages, sizes and shapes. It would even meet other babies, cousins not much older than it was. Everybody who was big enough and steady enough was going to get to hold it, cuddle it, gurgle it, and say how pretty it was, or handsome.

Wouldn't you have loved to be that baby?
Kurt Vonnegut
God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian
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By the way, here's another KV tribute, on Indexed (click here).


Nostalgia said...

I remember so well when you were reading this book and how you quoted thas passage to me. Since then, it's been not once that one of us would feel like: "Not enough people!" Kurt Vonnegut could've made up for many, though.

Julia said...

This is the quote I was looking for a few months ago (based on a foggy memory of your spam from yesteryear) and couldn't find. Now I'll know where to find it.

I read a K.V. book (Breakfast of Champions, I think?) last year and struggled between being repulsed at its vulgarity (including vulgar illustrations) and yet impressed by how insightful it was into some of the saddest and most grotesque aspects of our culture. I just wasn't sure whether I wanted to warm up to this author. But this quote is a winner, for sure.