Friday, December 16, 2011


Christopher Hitchens passed away. He was a great mind, and will be missed. Rather than extolling his excellent writing and speaking skills (because it's already been done), I'm going to share a personal anecdote. However, this obituary from the Onion is hilariously fitting. And if you've never heard him speak, this is my favorite debate of his.

Anyway, I attended the Texas Freethought Convention in Houston this past October, and Hitchens was there to receive an award (a video of it is here). They announced that he would be there to sign books and the line started 3 hours before it was due to start. The line wound literally around the entire hotel (and this was no small hotel, mind you). I was supposed to give a speech an hour before the signing was set to begin, and we cancelled it because the simple anticipation of seeing Hitchens was a far greater draw than seeing this hack talk about something (I don't blame them). 

He signed books, and one person told me the people in front of him were a couple and the woman was visibly pregnant. Apparently the couple told Hitch that they were going to name their son "Hitch" after him. Hitch stood up and hugged them.

Between the book signing and his speech, he stepped outside to have a cigarette with his wife. I was sitting in the bar, talking with a few people, and someone walked in and told us Hitch was right outside. I didn't want to bother him, but I knew I would never have this opportunity again. I walk outside to join a small crowd (probably 6-10 people) already surrounding him. I said, "I'm sorry for disturbing you, and I don't want to make you speak if it will hurt your voice, but I just wanted to say you've been a great inspiration to me and it's an honor to meet you." He clasped my hand in both of his and said (something to the effect of), "No, no, you're not a bother at all, it's things like this that keep me going, so thank you." He then added, "And just remember, if you can't be good, be careful." He then had to go inside, and I stood there, simply awestruck, knowing that I just had an incredible opportunity. I relish that moment, and am so grateful that I had the opportunity to meet him.

He spoke for quite a while, and allowed questions. I had been working with Camp Quest Texas kids all day, and one of the girls stood up to ask a question. She told him she was 8 years old and wanted to know what books he would recommend to her. He asked if her mother was around, and her mom stood up. He said "Good, because I didn't want to ask you to come see me if your parents weren't around." The crowd laughed. He then said, "Come see me after the speech and I'll make you a list of books." After the speech, he spent 15-20 minutes talking to her. 

What a touching, genuine guy. I'll never forget him.

I'm raising  a glass of Johnny Walker Black for him tonight.

(Oh, and people like Rick Warren can kiss my fucking ass.)

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