Cat’s CradleKurt VonnegutContents

71. The Happiness of Being an American

H. Lowe Crosby came over to have another go at Castle, the pissant.

“What do you call yourself,” sneered Crosby, “a beatnik or what?”

“I call myself a Bokononist.”

“That’s against the law in this country, isn’t it?”

“I happen to have the happiness of being an American. I’ve been able to say I’m a Bokononist any time I damn please, and, so far, nobody’s bothered me at all.”

“I believe in obeying the laws of whatever country I happen to be in.”

“You are not telling me the news.”

Crosby was livid. “Screw you, Jack!”

“Screw you, Jasper,” said Castle mildly, “and screw Mother’s Day and Christmas, too.”

Crosby marched across the lobby to the desk clerk and he said, “I want to report that man over there, that pissant, that so-called artist. You’ve got a nice little country here that’s trying to attract the tourist trade and new investment in industry. The way that man talked to me, I don’t ever want to see San Lorenzo again—and any friend who asks me about San Lorenzo, I’ll tell him to keep the hell away. You may be getting a nice picture on the wall over there, but, by God, the pissant who’s making it is the most insulting, discouraging son of a bitch I ever met in my life.”

The clerk looked sick. “Sir . . .”

“I’m listening,” said Crosby, full of fire.

“Sir—he owns the hotel.”

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