My Kurt Vonnegut story: back in the early 90s, when I was still an undergrad, Vonnegut was giving a lecture at Washington University here in St. Louis, and I attended. About 10-15 mins before the lecture was supposed to start, I decided to run outside and grab a quick smoke. I was the only person out there, relatively quiet spot around the back that had been set aside for chuffers, but as I was smoking a nearby security door opened up and a head popped out. The guy looked at me, glanced around, then popped back in and out comes Vonnegut himself. I’m standing there a bit dumbfounded as Vonnegut lights up one of his classic Pall Malls, nods once to me, and begins smoking, while the security guy (the guy from earlier) stood in the doorway keeping the security door from closing and eyeballing me in case I turned out to be a nut.
I said something inane like “I like your books, Mr. Vonnegut,” and he laughed, said thanks. He finished his cigarette, said “Enjoy the lecture.” and went back inside through the security door. That was my brush with greatness. Vonnegut is probably the greatest celebrity that I’ve ever spoken (albeit briefly and stupidly) with. I have seen two others: I once spent several seconds in an elevator in Las Vegas with Michael Flatley, the lord of the dance (he’s small, like pocket-sized) and once I was at the cab stand in front of the Four Seasons in Austin Texas with Jorja Fox, who played Sara Sidle on the original CSI (she’s tall, like close to 6 feet, and much prettier than they show her on CSI – she was a model before she was an actress and it shows).
My favorite Vonnegut book: probably Deadeye Dick
Vonnegut novel I loved but will never read again: Mother Night