Christopher Hitchens passed this last Thursday. I haven’t written about it till now not simply because I preform in the mornings, rehearse in the afternoon, and perform again at night, but because I simply didn’t know what to say. To say that Hitchens “influenced me” is laughable. It’s far more than just mere influence; he showed me what the spoken and written word could really be.
I don’t claim many hero’s, but Hitchens undoubtably is among them. If Russell taught me how to think, and Izzard taught me how to crack a joke, Hitchens taught me how to argue, debate, talk and write. (If I’m inept at any of those things it’s not a slight on him.) When Rachel informed me Friday morning that Hitch had died the night before, I sat down and cried. It sounds strange to deeply mourn the passing of a man I never met, but I feel the loss all the same. He is a major part of my education in literature, politics, and living life to its fullest. I didn’t need to meet him to glean all I did, but I do regret that I’ll never get the chance to argue with him about something, anything, in person.
Yesterday, I had lunch with my friend Ursa, (who could be best described as a punk rock Martha Stewart) and we talked the whole thing over. Afterward, we went trolling for JW Black (what Hitchens called Mr. Walker’s Amber Restorative) and planned to meet up after my evening show to continue the conversation. We were met by the witty and rakish playwright Steve Hughes, one of the few other people I know who “gets it” when it comes to Hitchens. It was just the three of us, some beer, wine and the ever necessary bottle of Black Label. I brought out The Quotable Hitchens and we preceded to read at random. Every quote led us into another flood of conversation. It’s fitting that in our remembrance of Hitchens we didn’t actually end up doing a ton of “remembering” because we spent the whole time grappling with his words, just like nothing had changed. At one point I had the great pleasure of showing them both the video of Hitchens tour-de-force on free speech.
We finally ended the night at 4am, having left the table a mess of empty bottles, and having had some of the best conversation a person could ask for. I think it’s how Hitch would have wanted it. It’s how he lived.