from Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

When we joined the mainstream of mankind in the company street, a woman behind us wished Dr. Breed a merry Christmas. Dr. Breed turned to peer benignly into the sea of pale pies, and identified the greeter as one Miss Francine Pelko. Miss Pelko was twenty, vacantly pretty, and healthy–a dull normal.

In honor of the dulcitude of Christmastime, Dr. Breed invited Miss Pelko to join us. He introduced her as the secretary of Nilsak Horvath. He then told me who Horvath was. “The famous surface chemist,” he said, “the one who’s doing such wonderful things with film.”

“What’s new in surface chemistry?” I asked Miss Pelko.

“God,” she said, “don’t ask me. I just type what he tells me to type.”And then she apologized for having said “God.”

“Oh, I think you understand more than you let on,” said Dr. Breed.

“Not me.” Miss Pelko wasn’t used to chatting with someone as important as Dr. Breed and she was embarrassed. Her gait was affected, becoming stiff and chickenlike. Her smile was glassy, and she was ransacking her mind for something to say, finding nothing in it but used Kleenex and costume jewelry.

“Well. . .” mumbled Dr. Breed expansively, “how do you like us, now that you’ve been with us–how long? Almost a year?”

“You scientists think too much,” blurted Miss Pelko. She laughed idiotically. Dr. Breed’s friendliness had blown every fuse in her nervous system. She was no longer responsible. “You all think too much.”

A winded, defeated-looking fat woman in filthy coveralls trudged beside us, hearing what Miss Pelko said. She turned to examine Dr. Breed , looking at him with helpless reproach. She hated people who thought too much. At that moment, she struck me as an appropriate representative for almost all mankind.

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