Cat’s CradleKurt VonnegutContents

91. Mona

Frank brought Mona to her father’s cave and left us alone. We had difficulty in speaking at first. I was shy. Her gown was diaphanous. Her gown was azure. It was a simple gown, caught lightly at the waist by a gossamer thread. All else was shaped by Mona herself. Her breasts were like pomegranates or what you will, but like nothing so much as a young woman’s breasts.

Her feet were all but bare. Her toenails were exquisitely manicured. Her scanty sandals were gold.

“How—how do you do?” I asked. My heart was pounding. Blood boiled in my ears.

“It is not possible to make a mistake,” she assured me. I did not know that this was a customary greeting given by all Bokononists when meeting a shy person. So, I responded with a feverish discussion of whether it was possible to make a mistake or not.

“My God, you have no idea how many mistakes I’ve already made. You’re looking at the world’s champion mistake-maker,” I blurted—and so on. “Do you have any idea what Frank just said to me?”

“About me?

“About everything, but especially about you.”

“He told you that you could have me, if you wanted.”


“That’s true.”

“I—I—I . . .”


“I don’t know what to say next.”

Boko-maru would help,” she suggested.


“Take off your shoes,” she commanded. And she removed her sandals with the utmost grace.

I am a man of the world, having had, by a reckoning I once made, more than fifty-three women. I can say that I have seen women undress themselves in every way that it can be done. I have watched the curtains part in every variation of the final act.

And yet, the one woman who made me groan involuntarily did no more than remove her sandals.

I tried to untie my shoes. No bridegroom ever did worse. I got one shoe off, but knotted the other one tight. I tore a thumbnail on the knot; finally ripped off the shoe without untying it.

Then off came my socks.

Mona was already sitting on the floor, her legs extended, her round arms thrust behind her for support, her head tilted back, her eyes closed.

It was up to me now to complete my first—my first—my first, Great God . . .


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