My Connection with Kurt Vonnegut

Been reading Vonnegut’s “Timequake” today. Apparently nobody’s really heard of it. It was (is) his last novel. Have to say, LOVE IT. His pithy commentary is breathtaking as always. What’s better? It skirts the line between reality and fiction to a disturbing level. How, you ask?

Timequake is a fictional story of his real life between 1991 and 2001 and then again between 1991 and 2001. Of course, the novel was published in 1997. He speaks in first person and references himself as Vonnegut, talks at length about his time in the War and his family, but spends the majority of the book talking about the hiccup in time when, in 2001, the world was doomed to repeat everything for ten years as something went awry and existence reversed to 1991 and everyone had 10 years of deja vu they could not undo until 2001.

He constantly talks about his first Timequake novel that he never published and quotes a fictional friend author Kilgore Trout. It’s so awesome the way Vonnegut not only thumbs his nose at society and all those who ascribe to it. It’s doubly awesome that in this particular novel, he says FUCK ALL and writes a novel that is nearly entirely autobiographical…or an autobiography that’s nearly entirely fictional. It doesn’t really matter. Fact is, he’s the literary equivalent to Matt Stone and Tray Parker.

Only mildly related to Timequake relates to a dirty joke Kilgore Trout tells Vonnegut. Here’s the joke:

A fugitive on the lam sought refuge from the police in the home of a widow he knew well.

“Her living room had a cathedral ceiling…with rustic rafters spanning overhead…She was a widow, and he stripped himself naked while she went to fetch some of her husband’s clothes. But before he could put them on, the police were hammering on the front door with their billy clubs. So the fugitive hid on top of a rafter. When the woman let in the police, though, his oversize testicles hung down in full view.

“The police asked the woman where they guy was. The woman said she didn’t know what guy they were talking about…One of the cops saw the testicles hanging down from a rafter and asked what they were. She said they were Chinese temple bells. He believed her. He said he’d always wanted to hear Chinese temple bells.

“He gave them a whack with his billy club, but there was no sound. So he hit them again, a lot harder, a whole lot harder.”

To which the man hiding on the rafter shrieked: “TING-A-LING, YOU SON OF A BITCH!”

Funny, to be certain. But the big thing is that my first job was when I was 13 working the grounds on an estate. My boss was an 84 year old man, Earl Geissler. He was a crazy old man who’d worked the grounds since he was 18. Worked till the day he died. We worked occasionally, but most of the time I got paid to sit around and listen to Earl tell the most fascinating stories. Most of which I thought were just crazy old man stories. Once the Internet emerged, I did research. Many of those stories were true!!!

One of his favorite things was to tell me dirty jokes. Old ones. GOOD ONES! Most of which I can’t remember. But the above joke WAS ONE OF HIS JOKES!!!!

This makes me curious if Earl and Vonnegut ever met. Fat chance, you might say. But get this! The estate I worked on was a defunct summer home for famous actors and actresses of the 20s through the 50s and 60s from New York.

What are the chances that these two men knew the exact same dirty joke nearly verbatim? I’ve never heard this joke from anyone else other than Vonnegut and Earl. Perhaps someone old enough will prove me wrong. Part of me wants that. Part of me really doesn’t.

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