Hitch 22 – A Memoir by Christopher Hitchens
This worst-post is supposed to be an explanation of my experience with Hitch 22. But something happened as I started to write. First. I’m a big Christopher Hitchens fan. I really admire him and his work. Although I’ve only read five of his books so far, I plan to read many more. Second. Hitch 22 is my fourth Hitch book. And I do not like it. In fact, I’ve had a hard time reading it. I think I started reading it in December 2012 and it took me until March 2013 to finish it. But finish it I did. And it’s also taken me until May 2013 to write something about it. (Yes, this post is back-dated.) Nomatter. The thing about Hitch 22 is this. According to the title this is supposed to be a memoir. But I’m not sure that’s true. And if it is true than it can only be partly a memoir. Instead this book proves, especially in the case of Christopher Hitchens, that the man and his life is nowhere near as exciting as the man and his work.
With that in mind. I met someone in NCY once and her name was Thalia Hitch. So let’s not let this worst-post go to waste.
Back in the day I would travel regularly to places like NYC and London for business. Usually if I worked till Friday then I would hook the weekend and stay. I had a pretty cool boss and she would allow the extension as long as it was at my own expense, didn’t make the company sponsored flight more expensive, and didn’t get in the way of work. The company I worked for had a reputation for off-hour frolicking and mischief, especially when traveling to world class cities. And my boss was trying to nip all that in the bud. Of course, my boss knew I was different because I was the one to go to my hotel room early or seek other venues of entertainment after seminars and conventions. And when I was in NYC there was only one thing I wanted to do. Go to the theatre. My boss even teased me about it. Before one trip she demanded that I show her playbills from the shows I attended. After that visit I gave her three playbills from Saturday and two from Sunday. I’ll never forget that Sunday because I barely made my flight back from JFK to FRA.
It was late afternoon, our seminar ended on-time. I dodged across Midtown never looking up to admire the sunshine. I was on a tight schedule for my weekend. I headed to a quaint little grocery store between 6th and 7th avenue to get some essentials for the evening that I would take back to my hotel and then get on with theatre hopping. So I was in kind of a hurry because, the evening before, scoping the town for what show to see, I scalped two tickets from a guy that wouldn’t sell just one. It was a Shepard play and would be worth it, no matter what. Anywho. As I approached the grocery store cashier I noticed the girl behind the counter and she was easy on the eye and her name tag read “Thalia”. Beside her name, not unlike stewardesses on airplanes, were flags indicating the languages she spoke. There were four flags. One was a French flag, another Italian, then the stars & stripes, and, oddly, the fourth flag was the Union Jack. The moment I was about to pay for my goods one of her colleagues approached and relieved her at the register. Tough luck, I thought. But then again she is getting off, I presumed.
I paid for my essentials with the new cashier using my Lufthansa credit card. When he gave me the receipt he turned to me with out a smile and said “Danke sehr. Haben Sie ein schönen Tag.” A bag boy put my bottle of Shiraz, some crackers, cherry tomatoes and some spicy cheddar from up-state NY into a paper bag and I tipped him a dollar. As I grabbed the bag to leave, turning around abruptly, I bumped into something that jostled my groceries and through the bottom of the bag fell the bottle of Shiraz, crashing and bursting on the floor. Wine went all over my shoes and socks and my lower pants leg. When I finally looked up, Thalia was standing there with her shoes and pants legs drenched too. She apologised and the bag boy immediately started cleaning up the mess. Another store clerk came around the corner and asked which bottle of wine had broke and he said as though it wasn’t the first time. The cashier was teasing Thalia about her clumsiness. Thalia told the other clerk what wine I had purchased and he turned to grab me a replacement. The bag boy brought paper towels to wipe up the mess and gave both Thalia and me a few towels to dry ourselves. Thalia offered to pay for my dry cleaning and out of frustration I accepted but added that I had to get going and that she could do it next time. The other clerk repacked all my essentials, after doubling-up two paper bags and as I carefully turned around, looking before hand, I began to exit the store. Then I realised that Thalia had a British accent. I turned around again and approached her as she was still being teased and whipping wine of her socks.
“Excuse me,” I said. “I have to ask you. Why do you have a British flag on your name tag?”
“Because I am British,” she said.
“Yes, I can hear that. And I don’t want to be splitting hairs here, but isn’t it redundant to have two flags that represent the same language?”
“It’s the store owner,” she said. “He’s from Connecticut. He thinks there’s a difference in British and American English so he ordered my name tag this way. It’s a bit superficial since I’m only working here for a few months. But like I said. He’s from Connecticut.”
“Listen. I was thinking. Maybe there is a way you can help me with my pants.”
Everybody in the store was staring now.
“I mean. Since you can’t pay for my dry cleaning,” I continued. “Would you like to go to the theatre with me this evening?”
I pulled out two tickets and waved them at the audience of skepticism staring down my true intentions. The cashier was ogling Thalia on and the bag boy was staring at me as though he would like to stick a knife in my neck. Even though I left the store with only my essentials, Thalia did tell me that she would try to come and I even trusted her with one of the tickets. I waved goodbye with a hand and a confident smile to my audience of skeptics.
Just before curtain rise Thalia sat next to me in the small theatre. During a short pause I asked her name. “Thalia Hitch,” she said. After the show we drank a bottle of wine somewhere near Soho and she asked to see my hotel room. The next morning I asked her if she would like to join me theatre hopping and she did. After our third show on Saturday, we drank another bottle of wine somewhere near Stuyvsent Square. That night I realised a made a mistake. Between show 2 and three on Saturday I had purchased two more tickets for shows on Sunday. The problem was, after Saturday night with Thalia, I spent all of Sunday, until it was time to fly back to FRA, in bed with her. Luckily I had also been able to acquire the playbills for the Sunday shows to show my boss once I got back to work on Monday morning. Yeah, luckily.
- Book Review – Hitch-22 – By Christopher Hitchens – NYTimes.com
- Hitch-22 by Christopher Hitchens | Book review | Books | The Guardian
- Christopher Hitchens’s “Hitch-22,” reviewed by Diana McLellan