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At a very concise 10 pages, for Week 10 of my Deal Me In 2014 project, I read Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Find Me A Dream” from his collection Bagombo Snuff Box. The conciseness worked wonderfully well and provided a few subtly memorable characters.
Arvin Borders is one of the most prominent citizens of Creon, Pennsylvania, the sewer pipe manufacturing capital of the world. At age 46, he is also one of the more eligible bachelors of Creon. He brings his date to the Creon Country Club for an evening of drinking, dancing, mingling and schmoozing.
Hildy Mathews, a relatively well-known actress and widow, accompanies Arvin to the Country Club; but at the time of the story, she’s outside on the patio crying into her highballs. She’s still “mourning” the death of her husband.
While not literally in the story, Hildy’s dead husband plays a significant role in the conversations of the evening. As Borders puts it, her husband was:
A dope fiend, an alcoholic, a wife-beater, and a woman-chaser who was shot dead last year by a jealous husband.
When he reveals his name to the band, they realize that Hildy’s dead husband was “probably the greatest jazz musician who had ever lived.” As the story continues, Vonnegut never mentions the Jazz musician’s name. I found it incredibly funny that I could probably insert the name of any great Jazz musician and they would more or less fit the above description.
And then there is Andy Middleton, the leader of the band, the Creon Pipe-Dreamers. I love his name, Middleton. It reminds me of “middle of the road”, “fair-to-middlin'”, and even perhaps “Midwest”. Andy discovers Hildy on the patio and begins talking to her with his band’s so-so music in the background. Much talk is made of the band’s “average-ness”, but Hildy makes a proposal to Andy that promises to make him above average; however, from Andy’s perspective, something could be said for remaining average.