Cat’s CradleKurt VonnegutContents

8. Newt’s Thing with Zinka

Newt did not tell me who his girl friend was. But about two weeks after he wrote to me everybody in the country knew that her name was Zinka—plain Zinka. Apparently she didn’t have a last name.

Zinka was a Ukrainian midget, a dancer with the Borzoi Dance Company. As it happened, Newt saw a performance by that company in Indianapolis, before he went to Cornell. And then the company danced at Cornell. When the Cornell performance was over, little Newt was outside the stage door with a dozen long-stemmed American Beauty roses.

The newspapers picked up the story when little Zinka asked for political asylum in the United States, and then she and little Newt disappeared.

One week after that, little Zinka presented herself at the Russian Embassy. She said Americans were too materialistic. She said she wanted to go back home.

Newt took shelter in his sister’s house in Indianapolis. He gave one brief statement to the press. “It was a private matter,” he said. “It was an affair of the heart. I have no regrets. What happened is nobody’s business but Zinka’s and my own.”

One enterprising American reporter in Moscow, making inquiries about Zinka among dance people there, made the unkind discovery that Zinka was not, as she claimed, only twenty-three years old.

She was forty-two—old enough to be Newt’s mother.

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