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A man who sells storm windows can never be really sure about what class he belongs to, especially if he installs the windows, too.
For sheer comedy, I can’t find stories better than the ones by Kurt Vonnegut told by his fictional storm window salesman. In “The Hyannis Port Story”, the salesman finds himself measuring windows for the Goldwater Republican neighbor of President Kennedy. Yes, the story is a little dated having been published in 1963 – with all due respect, I’m assuming it was published prior to November 22 of that year. I’m not sure it would have been quite as funny after that. Although, I’m finding humor in it 55 years later.
But as far as politics goes, Vonnegut has always been an equal opportunity offender even if he is known (rightly or wrongly) for being more liberal.
The comedy in this story comes from the combination of a “lowly” storm window salesman somehow plopped down in the middle of the rich and famous – he’s sort of a “fish out of water” – which might be the way Vonnegut himself felt in the midst of politics:
The butler, whose name was John, came out with a big bowl. I thought it was peanuts or popcorn, but it turned out to be Goldwater buttons.
The story does beg the question, though, is politics all that different now than it was in the early 1960’s? Or, for that matter, how would Vonnegut handle American politics, now? Would he be completely blown away or would he continue to laugh? Or both?
I read this story when I selected the King of Diamonds for Week 47 of my Deal Me In short story project. It’s included in Vonnegut’s short story collection Welcome to the Monkey House. My Deal Me In list can be found here. Deal Me In is hosted by Jay at Bibliophilopolis.