In a 2005 discussion with NPR's David Brancaccio about an essay in A Man Without a Country, the last book Kurt Vonnegut published before he died, Vonnegut recounts a story that begins with him telling his wife he's going out to buy an envelope:
"'Oh,' she says, 'Well, you're not a poor man. You know, why don't you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet?'And so I pretend not to hear her.And go out to get an envelope because I'm going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope.I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up.And, I ask a woman, 'What kind of dog that is.'And, and I don't know.The moral of the story is, is we're here on Earth to fart around.And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don't realize, or they don't care, is we're dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we're not supposed to dance at all anymore."
A decade earlier, in an interview in the November 1995 issue of Inc. Technology, Vonnegut told the same story when asked about how he feels about living in an increasingly computerized world.
"I work at home, and if I wanted to, I could have a computer right by my bed, and I'd never have to leave it.But I use a typewriter, and afterward I mark up the pages with a pencil.Then I call up this woman named Carol out in Woodstock and say, 'Are you still doing typing?' Sure she is, and her husband is trying to track bluebirds out there and not having much luck, and so we chitchat back and forth, and I say, 'Okay, I'll send you the pages.'Then I go down the steps and my wife calls, 'Where are you going?''Well,' I say, 'I'm going to buy an envelope.'And she says, 'You're not a poor man. Why don't you buy a thousand envelopes? They'll deliver them, and you can put them in the closet.'And I say, 'Hush.'So I go to this newsstand across the street where they sell magazines and lottery tickets and stationery.I have to get in line because there are people buying candy and all that sort of thing, and I talk to them. The woman behind the counter has a jewel between her eyes, and when it's my turn, I ask her if there have been any big winners lately.I get my envelope and seal it up and go to the postal convenience center down the block at the corner of Forty-seventh Street and Second Avenue, where I'm secretly in love with the woman behind the counter.I keep absolutely poker-faced; I never let her know how I feel about her.One time I had my pocket picked in there and got to meet a cop and tell him about it.Anyway, I address the envelope to Carol in Woodstock. I stamp the envelope and mail it in a mailbox in front of the post office, and I go home.And I've had a hell of a good time.I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different."