Poo-tee-weet?

Poo-tee-weet?

When I was growing up, I knew what I wanted to be. I wanted to be a writer. And I knew that I had to journey no more than thirty miles from my home and I could attend the country’s best writing program, the Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa… just like Kurt Vonnegut. That last part was pretty important. I thought at the time that Vonnegut had been a student there; in reality, he was faculty. This revelation deterred me not.

My friend Dave claimed to have once encountered Vonnegut at a bus stop in Iowa City. I never found out if he was lying or not, but it did electrify me that such a thing was even possible. In high school my friends and I would quote Cat’s Cradle around the lunch table incessantly. He was the originator of yearbook quotes and catch phrases. He was the wampeter of our karass.

Vonnegut was a gateway drug, leading into Pynchon, Rushdie, Donald Barthelme, the whole gleeful postmodernist canon. I was hooked. I would write like these guys or die trying. I never managed it, and somehow never died, either.

I never really knew why I stopped writing… it may have been partially Vonnegut’s fault, along with all the others. The feeling that every book I wanted to write had already been written. Maybe that’s why I settled for comic strips. Every comic strip I want to write has been written, too, by Charles Schulz, but I’m not good enough to regret that yet.

It’s hard to hate him for that, though. He was too much of a hoot. I would look around for him whenever I was at a bus stop in Iowa City. With that friendly, wise twinkle in his eye, I imagined he could have been the cool grandfather I’d always wanted. Nevermind that he was only about a decade older than my father. Stranger things have happened when you’re unstuck in time.

Good night, Mr. Rosewater. Good night, Kilgore Trout. You will be missed. You’re missed already.

So it goes.

One Trackback

  1. By University Update on Friday, April 13, 2007 at 9:12 am

    Poo-tee-weet?

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