I do have a short story to tell about Kurt Vonnegut, the most famous writer I ever almost met.
When I first went to college, pretty much right before I dropped out the first time, things were fairly crazy.
It was 1970, and there were many more interesting, and probably — I'd still say now — more important things to do than go to classes.
I was attending a small women's college in a city, and that fall I had begun to explore the city and to find a lot of interesting people to hang out with: feminists who were trying to set up a collective, hippies hanging out and doing music, political types organizing against the war.
Mostly I was off exploring that stuff, and just coming back to campus to sleep.
(And the next term I dropped out for a few years until I was ready to pay attention to academics.)
One day I noticed a sign-up sheet, Vonnegut was speaking on campus, and would be available to have lunch with about a dozen students. Maybe five people had signed up, and I signed up too.
But when the day came, I had been staying off campus overnight and never made it back.
(I'd discovered that if you didn't sign out of the dorm to begin with no one noticed if you never signed in….)
I had fully intended to get back to campus and go, but I ran into someone with a substance on a blotter, and spent the next about ten hours otherwise occupied.
Which was a wonderful and life-changing experience that I truly would not want to undo.
But I've always felt bad — I loved his books and would have enjoyed hearing him talk.
or even just watching him eat, for that matter, and also because it felt really impolite to sign up and then not go — though I'm sure they made up the numbers easily.
All of which has little to do with Vonnegut himself, beyond that it's always given me a little extra interest in him.
My thoughts are with his children and wife, the people who really did met him, and watch him eat lunch, and with all the other people who think his presence made the world a kinder, and funnier place.