Cat’s CradleKurt VonnegutContents

104. Sulfathiazole

My heavenly Mona did not approach me and did not encourage me with languishing glances to come to her side. She made a hostess of herself, introducing Angela and little Newt to San Lorenzans.

As I ponder now the meaning of that girl—recall her indifference to “Papa’s” collapse, to her betrothal to me— I vacillate between lofty and cheap appraisals.

Did she represent the highest form of female spirituality?

Or was she anesthetized, frigid—a cold fish, in fact, a dazed addict of the xylophone, the cult of beauty, and boko-maru?

I shall never know.

Bokonon tells us:

A lover’s a liar,
To himself he lies.
The truthful are loveless,
Like oysters their eyes!

So my instructions are clear, I suppose. I am to remember my Mona as having been sublime.

“Tell me,” I appealed to young Philip Castle on the Day of the Hundred Martyrs to Democracy, “have you spoken to your friend and admirer, H. Lowe Crosby, today?”

“He didn’t recognize me with a suit and shoes and necktie on,” young Castle replied. “We’ve already had a nice talk about bicycles. We may have another.”

I found that I was no longer amused by Crosby’s wanting to build bicycles in San Lorenzo. As chief executive of the island I wanted a bicycle factory very much. I developed sudden respect for what H. Lowe Crosby was and could do.

“How do you think the people of San Lorenzo would take to industrialization?” I asked the Castles, father and son.

“The people of San Lorenzo,” the father told me, “are interested in only three things: fishing, fornication, and Bokononism.”

“Don’t you think they could be interested in progress?”

“They’ve seen some of it. There’s only one aspect of progress that really excites them.”

“What’s that?”

“The electric guitar.”

I excused myself and I rejoined the Crosbys.

Frank Hoenikker was with them, explaining who Bokonon was and what he was against. “He’s against science.”

“How can anybody in his right mind be against science?” asked Crosby.

“I’d be dead now if it wasn’t for penicillin,” said Hazel. “And so would my mother.”

“How old is your mother?” I inquired.

“A hundred and six. Isn’t that wonderful?”

“It certainly is,” I agreed.

“And I’d be a widow, too, if it wasn’t for the medicine they gave my husband that time,” said Hazel. She had to ask her husband the name of the medicine. “Honey, what was the name of that stuff that saved your life that time?”


And I made the mistake of taking an albatross canape from a passing tray.

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