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Salingercatcher in the rye

his debut in 1951 as The Catcher in the Rye, Caulfield has been synonymous with “cynical.” Holden narrates the story of a couple of days his sixteen-year-old life, just after he’s been expel edprep school, in a slang that sounds edgy even todaykeeps this novel on banned book lists. It begins,

“If you real y want to hear about it, the first thing you’l want to know is where I was born and what my childhood was like, and how my parents were and al before they had me, and al that Davidkind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, ifwant to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores, and in the second place, my parents would have about hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personalthem.” constant wry observations about what he, from teachers to phonies (the two of course are mutual y exclusive) capture the essence of the eternalexperience of alienation.David Salinger


David SalingerCatcher in the Rye

you real y want to hear about it, the first thing you’l want to know is where I was born, an what my childhood was like, and how my parents were and al before they had me, and al that Davidkind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, ifwant to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores, and in the second place, my parents would have about hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal them. They’re quite touchy about anything like that,y my father. They’re nice and al — I’m not saying — but they’re also touchy as hel . Besides, I’m not to tel you my whole goddam autobiography or. I’l just tel you about this madman stuff that to me around last Christmas just before I gotrun-down and had to come out here and take it easy.mean that’s al I told D.B. about, and he’s my brother and. He’s in Hol ywood. That isn’t too far from this crumby, and he comes over and visits me practical y every end. He’s going to drive me home when I go homemonth maybe. He just got a Jaguar. One of those littlejobs that can do around two hundred miles an hour.cost him damn near four thousand bucks. He’s got a lot of, now. He didn’t use to. He used to be just a regular, when he was home. He wrote this terrific book ofstories, The Secret Goldfish, in case you never heardhim. The best one in it was “The Secret Goldfish.” It was this little kid that wouldn’t let anybody look at hisbecause he’d bought it with his own money. It kil ed. Now he’s out in Hol ywood, D.B., being a prostitute. If’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies. Don’t even mentionto me. I want to start tel ing is the day I left Pencey. Pencey Prep is this school that’s in Agerstown,. You probably heard of it. You’ve probablythe ads, anyway. They advertise in about a thousand, always showing some hotshot guy on a horseover a fence. Like as if al you ever did at Penceyplay polo al the time. I never even once saw a horse near the place. And underneath the guy on the’s picture, it always says: “Since 1888 we have been boys into splendid, clear-thinking young men.”for the birds. They don’t do any damn more molding Pencey than they do at any other school. And I didn’t anybody there that was splendid and clear-thinking al . Maybe two guys. If that many. And they probablyto Pencey that way., it was the Saturday of the footbal game withHal . The game with Saxon Hal was supposed to bevery big deal around Pencey. It was the last game of the, and you were supposed to commit suicide or if old Pencey didn’t win. I remember aroundo’clock that afternoon I was standing way the hel uptop of Thomsen Hil , right next to this crazy cannon that in the Revolutionary War and al . You could see the field from there, and you could see the two teamseach other al over the place. You couldn’t see the too hot, but you could hear them al yel ing, and terrific on the Pencey side, because practical y whole school except me was there, and scrawny and on the Saxon Hal side, because the visiting teamever brought many people with them. were never many girls at al at the footbal. Only seniors were al owed to bring girls with them.was a terrible school, no matter how you looked at it. I like be somewhere at least where you can see a few girlsonce in a while, even if they’re only scratching their or blowing their noses or even just giggling or. Old Selma Thurmer — she was the’s daughter — showed up at the games quite, but she wasn’t exactly the type that drove you maddesire. She was a pretty nice girl, though. I sat next toonce in the bus from Agerstown and we sort of strucka conversation. I liked her. She had a big nose and herwere al bitten down and bleedy-looking and she hadthose damn falsies that point al over the place, but yousort of sorry for her. What I liked about her, she didn’tyou a lot of horse manure about what a great guy herwas. She probably knew what a phony slob he was. reason I was standing way up on Thomsen Hil ,of down at the game, was because I’d just got back New York with the fencing team. I was the goddamof the fencing team. Very big deal. We’d gone in New York that morning for this fencing meet with School. Only, we didn’t have the meet. I left alfoils and equipment and stuff on the goddam subway. It’t al my fault. I had to keep getting up to look at this, so we’d know where to get off. So we got back toaround two-thirty instead of around dinnertime. Theteam ostracized me the whole way back on the train.was pretty funny, in a way. other reason I wasn’t down at the game wasI was on my way to say good-by to old Spencer, history teacher. He had the grippe, and I figured I wouldn’t see him again til Christmas vacation. He wrote me this note saying he wanted to see me I went home. He knew I wasn’t coming back to. forgot to tel you about that. They kicked me out. I’t supposed to come back after Christmas vacation on of I was flunking four subjects and not applying and al . They gave me frequent warning to start myself — especial y around midterms, when mycame up for a conference with old Thurmer — but I’t do it. So I got the ax. They give guys the ax quite at Pencey. It has a very good academic rating,. It real y does., it was December and al , and it was cold as a’s teat, especial y on top of that stupid hil . I only had onreversible and no gloves or anything. The week before, somebody’d stolen my camel’s-hair coat right out ofroom, with my fur-lined gloves right in the pocket and al . was ful of crooks. Quite a few guys came fromvery wealthy families, but it was ful of crooks anyway.more expensive a school is, the more crooks it has —’m not kidding. Anyway, I kept standing next to that crazy, looking down at the game and freezing my ass off., I wasn’t watching the game too much. What I wasy hanging around for, I was trying to feel some kind of aby. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t evenI was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sadby or a bad goodby, but when I leave a place I like toI’m leaving it. If you don’t, you feel even worse.was lucky. Al of a sudden I thought of something thatmake me know I was getting the hel out. I suddenlythis time, in around October, that I and Robert and Paul Campbel were chucking a footbal, in front of the academic building. They were nice, especial y Tichener. It was just before dinner and it getting pretty dark out, but we kept chucking the bal anyway. It kept getting darker and darker, and we hardly see the bal any more, but we didn’t want to doing what we were doing. Final y we had to. Thisthat taught biology, Mr. Zambesi, stuck his head outthis window in the academic building and told us to goto the dorm and get ready for dinner. If I get a chanceremember that kind of stuff, I can get a good-by when Ione — at least, most of the time I can. As soon as I it, I turned around and started running down the otherof the hil , toward old Spencer’s house. He didn’t livethe campus. He lived on Anthony Wayne Avenue.ran al the way to the main gate, and then I waited a til I got my breath. I have no wind, if you want to the truth. I’m quite a heavy smoker, for one thing —is, I used to be. They made me cut it out. Another thing, grew six and a half inches last year. That’s also how Iy got t.b. and came out here for al these goddamand stuff. I’m pretty healthy, though., as soon as I got my breath back I ran across 204. It was icy as hel and I damn near fel down. I’t even know what I was running for — I guess I just felt it. After I got across the road, I felt like I was sort of. It was that kind of a crazy afternoon,y cold, and no sun out or anything, and you felt likewere disappearing every time you crossed a road., I rang that doorbel fast when I got to old’s house. I was real y frozen. My ears were hurtingI could hardly move my fingers at al . “C’mon, c’mon,” I right out loud, almost, “somebody open the door.”y old Mrs. Spencer opened it. They didn’t have a maidanything, and they always opened the door themselves.didn’t have too much dough.

“Holden!” Mrs. Spencer said. “How lovely to see you! in, dear! Are you frozen to death?” I think she wasto see me. She liked me. At least, I think she did., did I get in that house fast. “How are you, Mrs.?” I said. “How’s Mr. Spencer?”

“Let me take your coat, dear,” she said. She didn’t me ask her how Mr. Spencer was. She was sort of. hung up my coat in the hal closet, and I sort ofmy hair back with my hand. I wear a crew cut quite and I never have to comb it much. “How’ve you, Mrs. Spencer?” I said again, only louder, so she’dme.

“I’ve been just fine, Holden.” She closed the closet. “How have you been?” The way she asked me, I knewaway old Spencer’d told her I’d been kicked out.

“Fine,” I said. “How’s Mr. Spencer? He over his grippe?”

“Over it! Holden, he’s behaving like a perfect — I don’twhat… He’s in his room, dear. Go right in.”

each had their own room and al . They were bothseventy years old, or even more than that. They got bang out of things, though — in a half-assed way, of. I know that sounds mean to say, but I don’t mean it. I just mean that I used to think about old Spencer a lot, and if you thought about him too much, you what the heck he was stil living for. I mean heal stooped over, and he had very terrible posture, and class, whenever he dropped a piece of chalk at the, some guy in the first row always had to get up pick it up and hand it to him. That’s awful, in my. But if you thought about him just enough and not much, you could figure it out that he wasn’t doing toofor himself. For instance, one Sunday when some otherand I were over there for hot chocolate, he showed usold beat-up Navajo blanket that he and Mrs. Spencer’doff some Indian in Yel owstone Park. You could telSpencer’d got a big bang out of buying it. That’s what I. You take somebody old as hel , like old Spencer,they can get a big bang out of buying a blanket.door was open, but I sort of knocked on it anyway,to be polite and al . I could see where he was sitting. He sitting in a big leather chair, al wrapped up in thatI just told you about. He looked over at me when I. “Who’s that?” he yel ed. “Caulfield? Come in,.” He was always yel ing, outside class. It got on yoursometimes.minute I went in, I was sort of sorry I’d come. Hereading the Atlantic Monthly, and there were pil s and al over the place, and everything smel ed like Nose Drops. It was pretty depressing. I’m not tooabout sick people, anyway. What made it even more, old Spencer had on this very sad, ratty oldthat he was probably born in or something. I don’tlike to see old guys in their pajamas and bathrobes. Their bumpy old chests are always showing. And legs. Old guys’ legs, at beaches and places, always so white and unhairy. “Hel o, sir,” I said. “I got your. Thanks a lot.” He’d written me this note asking me to by and say good-by before vacation started, onof I wasn’t coming back. “You didn’t have to do al. I’d have come over to say good-by anyway.”

“Have a seat there, boy,” old Spencer said. He meantbed.sat down on it. “How’s your grippe, sir?”

“M’boy, if I felt any better I’d have to send for the,” old Spencer said. That knocked him out. He chuckling like a madman. Then he final yhimself out and said, “Why aren’t you down atgame? I thought this was the day of the big game.”

“It is. I was. Only, I just got back from New York with theteam,” I said. Boy, his bed was like a rock.started getting serious as hel . I knew he would. “So’re leaving us, eh?” he said.

“Yes, sir. I guess I am.” started going into this nodding routine. You neveranybody nod as much in your life as old Spencer did. never knew if he was nodding a lot because he wasand al , or just because he was a nice old guy that’t know his ass from his elbow.

“What did Dr. Thurmer say to you, boy? I understandhad quite a little chat.”

“Yes, we did. We real y did. I was in his office fortwo hours, I guess.”

“What’d he say to you?”

“Oh… wel , about Life being a game and al . And howshould play it according to the rules. He was pretty niceit. I mean he didn’t hit the ceiling or anything. He justtalking about Life being a game and al . You know.”

“Life is a game, boy. Life is a game that one playsto the rules.”

“Yes, sir. I know it is. I know it.”, my ass. Some game. If you get on the sideal the hot-shots are, then it’s a game, al right — I’l that. But if you get on the other side, where there’t any hot-shots, then what’s a game about it? Nothing. game. “Has Dr. Thurmer written to your parents yet?”Spencer asked me.

“He said he was going to write them Monday.”

“Have you yourself communicated with them?”

“No, sir, I haven’t communicated with them, because I’lsee them Wednesday night when I get home.”

“And how do you think they’l take the news?”

“Wel … they’l be pretty irritated about it,” I said. “Theyy wil . This is about the fourth school I’ve gone to.” Imy head. I shake my head quite a lot. “Boy!” I said. I say “Boy!” quite a lot. Partly because I have a lousyand partly because I act quite young for my age. I was sixteen then, and I’m seventeen now, and I act like I’m about thirteen. It’s real y ironical,I’m six foot two and a half and I have gray hair. Iy do. The one side of my head — the right side — is ful mil ions of gray hairs. I’ve had them ever since I was a. And yet I stil act sometimes like I was only about. Everybody says that, especial y my father. It’s partly, too, but it isn’t al true. People always think’s al true. I don’t give a damn, except that I get sometimes when people tel me to act my age.I act a lot older than I am — I real y do — butnever notice it. People never notice anything. Spencer started nodding again. He also startedhis nose. He made out like he was only pinching it,he was real y getting the old thumb right in there. I guessthought it was al right to do because it was only me that in the room. I didn’t care, except that it’s prettyto watch somebody pick their nose. he said, “I had the privilege of meeting your and dad when they had their little chat with Dr.some weeks ago. They’re grand people.”

“Yes, they are. They’re very nice.”. There’s a word I real y hate. It’s a phony. I couldevery time I hear it. al of a sudden old Spencer looked like he hadvery good, something sharp as a tack, to say to. He sat up more in his chair and sort of moved around.was a false alarm, though. Al he did was lift the Atlanticoff his lap and try to chuck it on the bed, next to me. missed. It was only about two inches away, but heanyway. I got up and picked it up and put it down onbed. Al of a sudden then, I wanted to get the hel out of room. I could feel a terrific lecture coming on. I didn’tthe idea so much, but I didn’t feel like being lecturedand smel Vicks Nose Drops and look at old Spencer in pajamas and bathrobe al at the same time. I real y’t. started, al right. “What’s the matter with you, boy?”Spencer said. He said it pretty tough, too, for him. “Howsubjects did you carry this term?”

“Five, sir.”

“Five. And how many are you failing in?”

“Four.” I moved my ass a little bit on the bed. It was thebed I ever sat on. “I passed English al right,” I said,

“because I had al that Beowulf and Lord Randal My Sonwhen I was at the Whooton School. I mean I didn’t have do any work in English at al hardly, except writeonce in a while.”wasn’t even listening. He hardly ever listened to youyou said something.

“I flunked you in history because you knew absolutely.”

“I know that, sir. Boy, I know it. You couldn’t help it.”

“Absolutely nothing,” he said over again. That’s that drives me crazy. When people say twice that way, after you admit it the first time.he said it three times. “But absolutely nothing. I doubtmuch if you opened your textbook even once the whole. Did you? Tel the truth, boy.”

“Wel , I sort of glanced through it a couple of times,” I him. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. He was madhistory.

“You glanced through it, eh?” he said — very sarcastic.

“Your, ah, exam paper is over there on top of my chiffonier.top of the pile. Bring it here, please.”was a very dirty trick, but I went over and brought itto him — I didn’t have any alternative or anything. Thensat down on his cement bed again. Boy, you can’t imaginesorry I was getting that I’d stopped by to say good-byhim.started handling my exam paper like it was a turd something. “We studied the Egyptians from November

th to December 2nd,” he said. “You chose to write about for the optional essay question. Would you care towhat you had to say?”

“No, sir, not very much,” I said. read it anyway, though. You can’t stop a teacherthey want to do something. They just do it. Egyptians were an ancient race of residing in one of the northernof Africa. The latter as we al know is thecontinent in the Eastern Hemisphere.had to sit there and listen to that crap. It certainly wasdirty trick.Egyptians are extremely interesting to usfor various reasons. Modern science would like to know what the secret ingredients were the Egyptians used when they wrapped uppeople so that their faces would not rot for centuries. This interesting riddle is quite a chal enge to modern science in thecentury. stopped reading and put my paper down. I was to sort of hate him. “Your essay, shal we say, there,” he said in this very sarcastic voice. You’t think such an old guy would be so sarcastic and. “However, you dropped me a little note, at the bottom ofpage,” he said.

“I know I did,” I said. I said it very fast because I wantedstop him before he started reading that out loud. But you’t stop him. He was hot as a firecracker. Mr. SPENCER [he read out loud]. is al I know about the Egyptians. I can’tto get very interested in them although yourare very interesting. It is al right with meyou flunk me though as I am flunking everythingexcept English anyway.,.put my goddam paper down then and looked at me he’d just beaten hel out of me in ping-pong or. I don’t think I’l ever forgive him for reading mecrap out loud. I wouldn’t’ve read it out loud to him if he’dit — I real y wouldn’t. In the first place, I’d only written damn note so that he wouldn’t feel too bad aboutme.

“Do you blame me for flunking you, boy?” he said.

“No, sir! I certainly don’t,” I said. I wished to hel he’dcal ing me “boy” al the time.tried chucking my exam paper on the bed when hethrough with it. Only, he missed again, natural y. I had get up again and pick it up and put it on top of theMonthly. It’s boring to do that every two minutes.

“What would you have done in my place?” he said.

“Tel the truth, boy.”, you could see he real y felt pretty lousy aboutme. So I shot the bul for a while. I told him I was amoron, and al that stuff. I told him how I would’ve done the same thing if I’d been in his place, and how people didn’t appreciate how tough it is being a. That kind of stuff. The old bul . funny thing is, though, I was sort of thinking ofelse while I shot the bul . I live in New York, and Ithinking about the lagoon in Central Park, down near Park South. I was wondering if it would be frozenwhen I got home, and if it was, where did the ducks go.was wondering where the ducks went when the lagoon got icy and frozen over. I wondered if some guy came in aand took them away to a zoo or something. Or if theyflew away.’m lucky, though. I mean I could shoot the old bul to oldand think about those ducks at the same time. It’s. You don’t have to think too hard when you talk to a. Al of a sudden, though, he interrupted me while Ishooting the bul . He was always interrupting you.

“How do you feel about al this, boy? I’d be veryto know. Very interested.”

“You mean about my flunking out of Pencey and al ?” I. I sort of wished he’d cover up his bumpy chest. It’t such a beautiful view.

“If I’m not mistaken, I believe you also had some at the Whooton School and at Elkton Hil s.” He’t say it just sarcastic, but sort of nasty, too.

“I didn’t have too much difficulty at Elkton Hil s,” I told. “I didn’t exactly flunk out or anything. I just quit, sort of.”

“Why, may I ask?”

“Why? Oh, wel it’s a long story, sir. I mean it’s pretty.” I didn’t feel like going into the whole thinghim. He wouldn’t have understood it anyway. It wasn’this al ey at al . One of the biggest reasons I left Elktons was because I was surrounded by phonies. That’s al . were coming in the goddam window. For instance,had this headmaster, Mr. Haas, that was the phoniest I ever met in my life. Ten times worse than old. On Sundays, for instance, old Haas went around hands with everybody’s parents when they drove to school. He’d be charming as hel and al . Except ifboy had little old funny-looking parents. You should’vethe way he did with my roommate’s parents. I mean if boy’s mother was sort of fat or corny-looking or, and if somebody’s father was one of those guys wear those suits with very big shoulders and cornyand-white shoes, then old Hans would just shakewith them and give them a phony smile and then he’d talk, for maybe a half an hour, with somebody else’s. I can’t stand that stuff. It drives me crazy. It makes so depressed I go crazy. I hated that goddam Elktons. Spencer asked me something then, but I didn’thim. I was thinking about old Haas. “What, sir?” I said.

“Do you have any particular qualms about leaving?”

“Oh, I have a few qualms, al right. Sure… but not too. Not yet, anyway. I guess it hasn’t real y hit me yet. It things a while to hit me. Al I’m doing right now isabout going home Wednesday. I’m a moron.”

“Do you feel absolutely no concern for your future,?”

“Oh, I feel some concern for my future, al right. Sure., I do.” I thought about it for a minute. “But not too much,guess. Not too much, I guess.”

“You wil ,” old Spencer said. “You wil , boy. You wilit’s too late.” didn’t like hearing him say that. It made me soundor something. It was very depressing. “I guess I wil ,” I.

“I’d like to put some sense in that head of yours, boy.’m trying to help you. I’m trying to help you, if I can.”real y was, too. You could see that. But it was justwe were too much on opposite sides of the pole, that’s. “I know you are, sir,” I said. “Thanks a lot. No kidding. Iit. I real y do.” I got up from the bed then. Boy, I’t’ve sat there another ten minutes to save my life.

“The thing is, though, I have to get going now. I have quite aof equipment at the gym I have to get to take home with. I real y do.” He looked up at me and started nodding, with this very serious look on his face. I felt sorry as for him, al of a sudden. But I just couldn’t hang aroundany longer, the way we were on opposite sides of the, and the way he kept missing the bed whenever hesomething at it, and his sad old bathrobe with hisshowing, and that grippy smel of Vicks Nose Drops over the place. “Look, sir. Don’t worry about me,” I said.

“I mean it. I’l be al right. I’m just going through a phase right. Everybody goes through phases and al , don’t they?”

“I don’t know, boy. I don’t know.” hate it when somebody answers that way. “Sure., they do,” I said. “I mean it, sir. Please don’t worryme.” I sort of put my hand on his shoulder. “Okay?” I.

“Wouldn’t you like a cup of hot chocolate before you? Mrs. Spencer would be—”

“I would, I real y would, but the thing is, I have to get. I have to go right to the gym. Thanks, though. Thankslot, sir.” we shook hands. And al that crap. It made mesad as hel , though.

“I’l drop you a line, sir. Take care of your grippe, now.”

“Good-by, boy.” I shut the door and started back to the living, he yel ed something at me, but I couldn’t exactly hear. I’m pretty sure he yel ed “Good luck!” at me,hope to hel not. I’d never yel “Good luck!” at anybody.sounds terrible, when you think about it.

’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It’s. If I’m on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even,somebody asks me where I’m going, I’m liable to say’m going to the opera. It’s terrible. So when I told oldI had to go to the gym and get my equipment and, that was a sheer lie. I don’t even keep my goddamin the gym. I lived at Pencey, I lived in the OssenburgerWing of the new dorms. It was only for juniors and. I was a junior. My roommate was a senior. It wasafter this guy Ossenburger that went to Pencey. Hea pot of dough in the undertaking business after he out of Pencey. What he did, he started these parlors al over the country that you could getof your family buried for about five bucks apiece.should see old Ossenburger. He probably just shoves in a sack and dumps them in the river. Anyway, he Pencey a pile of dough, and they named our winghim. The first footbal game of the year, he came up toin this big goddam Cadil ac, and we al had to standin the grandstand and give him a locomotive — that’s a. Then, the next morning, in chapel, be made a that lasted about ten hours. He started off withfifty corny jokes, just to show us what a regular guy he. Very big deal. Then he started tel ing us how he was ashamed, when he was in some kind of trouble or, to get right down his knees and pray to God. He us we should always pray to God — talk to Him and — wherever we were. He told us we ought to think ofas our buddy and al . He said he talked to Jesus altime. Even when he was driving his car. That kil ed me. I see the big phony bastard shifting into first gear andJesus to send him a few more stiffs. The only good of his speech was right in the middle of it. He wasing us al about what a swel guy he was, what a hot-shotal , then al of a sudden this guy sitting in the row in front me, Edgar Marsal a, laid this terrific fart. It was a very thing to do, in chapel and al , but it was also quite. Old Marsal a. He damn near blew the roof off. anybody laughed out loud, and old Ossenburger out like he didn’t even hear it, but old Thurmer, the, was sitting right next to him on the rostrum and, and you could tel he heard it. Boy, was he sore. He’t say anything then, but the next night he made us have study hal in the academic building and heup and made a speech. He said that the boy that had the disturbance in chapel wasn’t fit to go to. We tried to get old Marsal a to rip off another one, while old Thurmer was making his speech, but be’t in the right mood. Anyway, that’s where I lived at. Old Ossenburger Memorial Wing, in the new.was pretty nice to get back to my room, after I left old, because everybody was down at the game, and heat was on in our room, for a change. It felt sort of. I took off my coat and my tie and unbuttoned my shirtar; and then I put on this hat that I’d bought in New Yorkmorning. It was this red hunting hat, with one of those, very long peaks. I saw it in the window of this sportswhen we got out of the subway, just after I noticed I’dal the goddam foils. It only cost me a buck. The way I it, I swung the old peak way around to the back —corny, I’l admit, but I liked it that way. I looked good in itway. Then I got this book I was reading and sat down in chair. There were two chairs in every room. I had one my roommate, Ward Stradlater, had one. The armsin sad shape, because everybody was always sittingthem, but they were pretty comfortable chairs.book I was reading was this book I took out of the by mistake. They gave me the wrong book, and I’t notice it til I got back to my room. They gave me OutAfrica, by Isak Dinesen. I thought it was going to stink,it didn’t. It was a very good book. I’m quite il iterate, but I a lot. My favorite author is my brother D.B., and myfavorite is Ring Lardner. My brother gave me a book Ring Lardner for my birthday, just before I went to. It had these very funny, crazy plays in it, and then itthis one story about a traffic cop that fal s in love with very cute girl that’s always speeding. Only, he’s, the cop, so be can’t marry her or anything. Then girl gets kil ed, because she’s always speeding. Thatjust about kil ed me. What I like best is a book that’s atfunny once in a while. I read a lot of classical books,The Return of the Native and al , and I like them, and Ia lot of war books and mysteries and al , but they don’t me out too much. What real y knocks me out is a that, when you’re al done reading it, you wish the that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and youcal him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That’t happen much, though. I wouldn’t mind cal ing this Dinesen up. And Ring Lardner, except that D.B. toldhe’s dead. You take that book Of Human Bondage, by Maugham, though. I read it last summer. It’s a good book and al , but I wouldn’t want to calMaugham up. I don’t know, He just isn’t the kindguy I’d want to cal up, that’s al . I’d rather cal old Thomasup. I like that Eustacia Vye., I put on my new hat and sat down and started that book Out of Africa. I’d read it already, but Ito read certain parts over again. I’d only read about pages, though, when I heard somebody coming the shower curtains. Even without looking up, Iright away who it was. It was Robert Ackley, this guy roomed right next to me. There was a shower rightevery two rooms in our wing, and about eighty-fivea day old Ackley barged in on me. He was probably only guy in the whole dorm, besides me, that wasn’tat the game. He hardly ever went anywhere. He was very peculiar guy. He was a senior, and he’d been atthe whole four years and al , but nobody ever cal edanything except “Ackley.” Not even Herb Gale, his own, ever cal ed him “Bob” or even “Ack.” If he evermarried, his own wife’l probably cal him “Ackley.” Heone of these very, very tal , round-shouldered guys —was about six four — with lousy teeth. The whole time he next to me, I never even once saw him brush his. They always looked mossy and awful, and he damnmade you sick if you saw him in the dining room withmouth ful of mashed potatoes and peas or something. that, he had a lot of pimples. Not just on hisor his chin, like most guys, but al over his whole. And not only that, he had a terrible personality. Healso sort of a nasty guy. I wasn’t too crazy about him, to you the truth. could feel him standing on the shower ledge, right my chair, taking a look to see if Stradlater was. He hated Stradlater’s guts and he never came in room if Stradlater was around. He hated everybody’s, damn near.came down off the shower ledge and came in the. “Hi,” he said. He always said it like he was terrifical yor terrifical y tired. He didn’t want you to think he wasyou or anything. He wanted you to think he’d comeby mistake, for God’s sake.

“Hi,” I said, but I didn’t look up from my book. With alike Ackley, if you looked up from your book you were a. You were a goner anyway, but not as quick if you’t look up right away.started walking around the room, very slow and al , way he always did, picking up your personal stuff off desk and chiffonier. He always picked up your stuff and looked at it. Boy, could he get on yoursometimes. “How was the fencing?” he said. He just me to quit reading and enjoying myself. He didn’ta damn about the fencing. “We win, or what?” he said.

“Nobody won,” I said. Without looking up, though.

“What?” he said. He always made you say everything.

“Nobody won,” I said. I sneaked a look to see what hefiddling around with on my chiffonier. He was looking atpicture of this girl I used to go around with in New York,y Hayes. He must’ve picked up that goddam picturelooked at it at least five thousand times since I got it.always put it back in the wrong place, too, when he was. He did it on purpose. You could tel .

“Nobody won,” he said. “How come?”

“I left the goddam foils and stuff on the subway.” I stil’t look up at him.

“On the subway, for Chrissake! Ya lost them, ya?”

“We got on the wrong subway. I had to keep getting uplook at a goddam map on the wal .”came over and stood right in my light. “Hey,” I said.

“I’ve read this same sentence about twenty times since youin.” else except Ackley would’ve taken thehint. Not him, though. “Think they’l make ya pay for?” he said.

“I don’t know, and I don’t give a damn. How ’bout sittingor something, Ackley kid? You’re right in my goddam.” He didn’t like it when you cal ed him “Ackley kid.” Healways tel ing me I was a goddam kid, because I was and he was eighteen. It drove him mad when Ied him “Ackley kid.” kept standing there. He was exactly the kind of athat wouldn’t get out of your light when you asked him. He’d do it, final y, but it took him a lot longer if you askedto. “What the hel ya reading?” he said.

“Goddam book.” shoved my book back with his hand so that hesee the name of it. “Any good?” he said.

“This sentence I’m reading is terrific.” I can be quitewhen I’m in the mood. He didn’t get it, though. He walking around the room again, picking up al mystuff, and Stradlater’s. Final y, I put my book down the floor. You couldn’t read anything with a guy likearound. It was impossible. slid way the hel down in my chair and watched oldmaking himself at home. I was feeling sort of tired the trip to New York and al , and I started yawning.I started horsing around a little bit. Sometimes I horsequite a lot, just to keep from getting bored. What Iwas, I pul ed the old peak of my hunting hat around tofront, then pul ed it way down over my eyes. That way, I’t see a goddam thing. “I think I’m going blind,” I said this very hoarse voice. “Mother darling, everything’sso dark in here.”

“You’re nuts. I swear to God,” Ackley said.

“Mother darling, give me your hand, Why won’t youme your hand?”

“For Chrissake, grow up.”started groping around in front of me, like a blind guy, without getting up or anything. I kept saying, “Mother, why won’t you give me your hand?” I was only around, natural y. That stuff gives me a bang. Besides, I know it annoyed hel out of old. He always brought out the old sadist in me. I wassadistic with him quite often. Final y, I quit, though. Ied the peak around to the back again, and relaxed.

“Who belongs this?” Ackley said. He was holding my’s knee supporter up to show me. That guy’d pick up anything. He’d even pick up your jock or something. I told him it was Stradlater’s. So he it on Stradlater’s bed. He got it off Stradlater’s, so he chucked it on the bed.came over and sat down on the arm of Stradlater’s. He never sat down in a chair. Just always on the arm.

“Where the hel ya get that hat?” he said.

“New York.”

“How much?”

“A buck.”

“You got robbed.” He started cleaning his goddamwith the end of a match. He was always cleaningfingernails. It was funny, in a way. His teeth were alwayslooking, and his ears were always dirty as hel , butwas always cleaning his fingernails. I guess he thoughtit made him a very neat guy. He took another look athat while he was cleaning them. “Up home we wear a like that to shoot deer in, for Chrissake,” he said.

“That’s a deer shooting hat.”

“Like hel it is.” I took it off and looked at it. I sort ofone eye, like I was taking aim at it. “This is a peoplehat,” I said. “I shoot people in this hat.”

“Your folks know you got kicked out yet?”


“Where the hel ’s Stradlater at, anyway?”

“Down at the game. He’s got a date.” I yawned. I wasal over the place. For one thing, the room was toohot. It made you sleepy. At Pencey, you either frozedeath or died of the heat.

“The great Stradlater,” Ackley said. “Hey. Lend mescissors a second, wil ya? Ya got ’em handy?”

“No. I packed them already. They’re way in the top ofcloset.”

“Get ’em a second, wil ya?” Ackley said, “I got thisI want to cut off.” didn’t care if you’d packed something or not andit way in the top of the closet. I got them for him though. nearly got kil ed doing it, too. The second I opened the door, Stradlater’s tennis racket — in its woodenand al — fel right on my head. It made a big clunk,it hurt like hel . It damn near kil ed old Ackley, though.started laughing in this very high falsetto voice. He keptthe whole time I was taking down my suitcase and the scissors out for him. Something like that — a getting hit on the head with a rock or something —the pants off Ackley. “You have a damn good sensehumor, Ackley kid,” I told him. “You know that?” I handedthe scissors. “Lemme be your manager. I’l get you on goddam radio.” I sat down in my chair again, and hecutting his big horny-looking nails. “How ’bout using table or something?” I said. “Cut ’em over the table,ya? I don’t feel like walking on your crumby nails in my feet tonight.” He kept right on cutting them over the, though. What lousy manners. I mean it.

“Who’s Stradlater’s date?” he said. He was alwaystabs on who Stradlater was dating, even though heStradlater’s guts.

“I don’t know. Why?”

“No reason. Boy, I can’t stand that sonuvabitch. He’ssonuvabitch I real y can’t stand.”

“He’s crazy about you. He told me he thinks you’re aprince,” I said. I cal people a “prince” quite oftenI’m horsing around. It keeps me from getting bored or.

“He’s got this superior attitude al the time,” Ackley. “I just can’t stand the sonuvabitch. You’d think he—”

“Do you mind cutting your nails over the table, hey?” I. “I’ve asked you about fifty—”

“He’s got this goddam superior attitude al the time,”said. “I don’t even think the sonuvabitch is intel igent.thinks he is. He thinks he’s about the most—”

“Ackley! For Chrissake. Wil ya please cut your crumbyover the table? I’ve asked you fifty times.”started cutting his nails over the table, for a change.only way he ever did anything was if you yel ed at him. watched him for a while. Then I said, “The reason’re sore at Stradlater is because he said that stuff aboutyour teeth once in a while. He didn’t mean to insult, for cryin’ out loud. He didn’t say it right or anything, but didn’t mean anything insulting. Al he meant was you’dbetter and feel better if you sort of brushed your teethin a while.”

“I brush my teeth. Don’t gimme that.”

“No, you don’t. I’ve seen you, and you don’t,” I said. I’t say it nasty, though. I felt sort of sorry for him, in a. I mean it isn’t too nice, natural y, if somebody tel s you don’t brush your teeth. “Stradlater’s al right. He’s notbad,” I said. “You don’t know him, that’s the trouble.”

“I stil say he’s a sonuvabitch. He’s a conceited.”

“He’s conceited, but he’s very generous in some. He real y is,” I said. “Look. Suppose, for instance, was wearing a tie or something that you liked.he had a tie on that you liked a hel uva lot — I’m justyou an example, now. You know what he’d do? He’dtake it off and give it ta you. He real y would. Or — know what he’d do? He’d leave it on your bed or. But he’d give you the goddam tie. Most guysprobably just—”

“Hel ,” Ackley said. “If I had his dough, I would, too.”

“No, you wouldn’t.” I shook my head. “No, you wouldn’t, kid. If you had his dough, you’d be one of the—”

“Stop cal ing me ‘Ackley kid,’ God damn it. I’m oldto be your lousy father.”

“No, you’re not.” Boy, he could real y be aggravating. He never missed a chance to let you know you sixteen and he was eighteen. “In the first place, I’t let you in my goddam family,” I said.

“Wel , just cut out cal ing me—” of a sudden the door opened, and old Stradlater in, in a big hurry. He was always in a big hurry.was a very big deal. He came over to me andme these two playful as hel slaps on both cheeks —is something that can be very annoying. “Listen,” he. “You going out anywheres special tonight?”

“I don’t know. I might. What the hel ’s it doing out —?” He had snow al over his coat.

“Yeah. Listen. If you’re not going out anyplace special,’bout lending me your hound’s-tooth jacket?”

“Who won the game?” I said.

“It’s only the half. We’re leaving,” Stradlater said. “No, you gonna use your hound’s-tooth tonight or not? Ied some crap al over my gray flannel.”

“No, but I don’t want you stretching it with your goddam and al ,” I said. We were practical y the same, but he weighed about twice as much as I did. Hethese very broad shoulders.

“I won’t stretch it.” He went over to the closet in a big. “How’sa boy, Ackley?” he said to Ackley. He was ata pretty friendly guy, Stradlater. It was partly a phonyof friendly, but at least he always said hel o to Ackleyal .just sort of grunted when he said “How’sa boy?”wouldn’t answer him, but he didn’t have guts enough notat least grunt. Then he said to me, “I think I’l get going.ya later.”

“Okay,” I said. He never exactly broke your heart whenwent back to his own room. Stradlater started taking off his coat and tie and. “I think maybe I’l take a fast shave,” he said. He had aheavy beard. He real y did.

“Where’s your date?” I asked him.

“She’s waiting in the Annex.” He went out of the room his toilet kit and towel under his arm. No shirt on or. He always walked around in his bare torsohe thought he had a damn good build. He did, too.have to admit it.

didn’t have anything special to do, so I went down tocan and chewed the rag with him while he was shaving.were the only ones in the can, because everybody was down at the game. It was hot as hel and the windowsal steamy. There were about ten washbowls, al rightthe wal . Stradlater had the middle one. I sat down the one right next to him and started turning the coldon and off — this nervous habit I have. Stradlater kept “Song of India” while he shaved. He had one of very piercing whistles that are practical y never in, and he always picked out some song that’s hard toeven if you’re a good whistler, like “Song of India” or

“Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.” He could real y mess a song.remember I said before that Ackley was a slob in personal habits? Wel , so was Stradlater, but in a way. Stradlater was more of a secret slob. He looked al right, Stradlater, but for instance, you’ve seen the razor he shaved himself with. It wasrusty as hel and ful of lather and hairs and crap. Hecleaned it or anything. He always looked good whenwas finished fixing himself up, but he was a secret slob, if you knew him the way I did. The reason he fixedup to look good was because he was madly in lovehimself. He thought he was the handsomest guy in theHemisphere. He was pretty handsome, too — I’lit. But he was mostly the kind of a handsome guy that your parents saw his picture in your Year Book, they’daway say, “Who’s this boy?” I mean he was mostly a Book kind of handsome guy. I knew a lot of guys atI thought were a lot handsomer than Stradlater, butwouldn’t look handsome if you saw their pictures in the Book. They’d look like they had big noses or theirstuck out. I’ve had that experience frequently., I was sitting on the washbowl next to wherewas shaving, sort of turning the water on and off. I had my red hunting hat on, with the peak around to theand al . I real y got a bang out of that hat.

“Hey,” Stradlater said. “Wanna do me a big favor?”

“What?” I said. Not too enthusiastic. He was always you to do him a big favor. You take a veryguy, or a guy that thinks he’s a real hot-shot, and’re always asking you to do them a big favor. Just they’re crazy about themself, they think you’reabout them, too, and that you’re just dying to do themfavor. It’s sort of funny, in a way.

“You goin’ out tonight?” he said.

“I might. I might not. I don’t know. Why?”

“I got about a hundred pages to read for history for,” he said. “How ’bout writing a composition for me, English? I’l be up the creek if I don’t get the goddamin by Monday, the reason I ask. How ’bout it?”was very ironical. It real y was.

“I’m the one that’s flunking out of the goddam place,you’re asking me to write you a goddam composition,”said.

“Yeah, I know. The thing is, though, I’l be up the creek ifdon’t get it in. Be a buddy. Be a buddyroo. Okay?” didn’t answer him right away. Suspense is good forbastards like Stradlater.

“What on?” I said.

“Anything. Anything descriptive. A room. Or a house.something you once lived in or something — you know.as long as it’s descriptive as hel .” He gave out a bigwhile he said that. Which is something that gives me royal pain in the ass. I mean if somebody yawns rightthey’re asking you to do them a goddam favor. “Just’t do it too good, is al ,” he said. “That sonuvabitch thinks you’re a hot-shot in English, and he knows’re my roommate. So I mean don’t stick al the commasstuff in the right place.”’s something else that gives me a royal pain. Iif you’re good at writing compositions and somebodytalking about commas. Stradlater was always doing. He wanted you to think that the only reason he wasat writing compositions was because he stuck al thein the wrong place. He was a little bit like Ackley,way. I once sat next to Ackley at this basketbal game.had a terrific guy on the team, Howie Coyle, that couldthem from the middle of the floor, without even touching backboard or anything. Ackley kept saying, the whole game, that Coyle had a perfect build for. God, how I hate that stuff.got bored sitting on that washbowl after a while, so Iup a few feet and started doing this tap dance, justthe hel of it. I was just amusing myself. I can’t real y tap-or anything, but it was a stone floor in the can, and itgood for tap-dancing. I started imitating one of those in the movies. In one of those musicals. I hate the like poison, but I get a bang imitating them. Oldwatched me in the mirror while he was shaving. I need’s an audience. I’m an exhibitionist. “I’m theGovernor’s son,” I said. I was knocking myself out.dancing al over the place. “He doesn’t want me to betap dancer. He wants me to go to Oxford. But it’s in my blood, tap-dancing.” Old Stradlater laughed. He’t have too bad a sense of humor. “It’s the opening of the Ziegfeld Fol ies.” I was getting out of breath. Ihardly any wind at al . “The leading man can’t go on.’s drunk as a bastard. So who do they get to take his? Me, that’s who. The little ole goddam Governor’s.”

“Where’dja get that hat?” Stradlater said. He meant myhat. He’d never seen it before.was out of breath anyway, so I quit horsing around. Ioff my hat and looked at it for about the ninetieth time.

“I got it in New York this morning. For a buck. Ya like it?” nodded. “Sharp,” he said. He was onlyme, though, because right away he said, “Listen. ya gonna write that composition for me? I have to.”

“If I get the time, I wil . If I don’t, I won’t,” I said. I went and sat down at the washbowl next to him again.

“Who’s your date?” I asked him. “Fitzgerald?”

“Hel , no! I told ya. I’m through with that pig.”

“Yeah? Give her to me, boy. No kidding. She’s my.”

“Take her… She’s too old for you.” of a sudden — for no good reason, real y, exceptI was sort of in the mood for horsing around — I felt likeoff the washbowl and getting old Stradlater in a half. That’s a wrestling hold, in case you don’t know,you get the other guy around the neck and choke himdeath, if you feel like it. So I did it. I landed on him like apanther.

“Cut it out, Holden, for Chrissake!” Stradlater said. He’t feel like horsing around. He was shaving and al .

“Wuddaya wanna make me do — cut my goddam head?”didn’t let go, though. I had a pretty good half nelson on. “Liberate yourself from my viselike grip.” I said.

“Je-sus Christ.” He put down his razor, and al of a jerked his arms up and sort of broke my hold on. He was a very strong guy. I’m a very weak guy. “Now, out the crap,” he said. He started shaving himself al again. He always shaved himself twice, to look. With his crumby old razor.

“Who is your date if it isn’t Fitzgerald?” I asked him. Idown on the washbowl next to him again. “That Phyl isbabe?”

“No. It was supposed to be, but the arrangements got screwed up. I got Bud Thaw’s girl’s roommate now…. I almost forgot. She knows you.”

“Who does?” I said.

“My date.”

“Yeah?” I said. “What’s her name?” I was pretty.

“I’m thinking… Uh. Jean Gal agher.”, I nearly dropped dead when he said that.

“Jane Gal agher,” I said. I even got up from the when he said that. I damn near dropped dead.

“You’re damn right I know her. She practical y lived rightdoor to me, the summer before last. She had this big Doberman pinscher. That’s how I met her. Her dogto keep coming over in our—”

“You’re right in my light, Holden, for Chrissake,”said. “Ya have to stand right there?”, was I excited, though. I real y was.

“Where is she?” I asked him. “I oughta go down andhel o to her or something. Where is she? In the Annex?”


“How’d she happen to mention me? Does she go to.M. now? She said she might go there. She said she go to Shipley, too. I thought she went to Shipley.’d she happen to mention me?” I was pretty excited. Iy was.

“I don’t know, for Chrissake. Lift up, wil ya? You’re ontowel,” Stradlater said. I was sitting on his stupid towel.

“Jane Gal agher,” I said. I couldn’t get over it. “Jesus H..” Stradlater was putting Vitalis on his hair. My.

“She’s a dancer,” I said. “Bal et and al . She used to about two hours every day, right in the middle of hottest weather and al . She was worried that it might her legs lousy — al thick and al . I used to playwith her al the time.”

“You used to play what with her al the time?”


“Checkers, for Chrissake!”

“Yeah. She wouldn’t move any of her kings. What she’d, when she’d get a king, she wouldn’t move it. She’d justit in the back row. She’d get them al lined up in the row. Then she’d never use them. She just liked thethey looked when they were al in the back row.”didn’t say anything. That kind of stuff doesn’tmost people.

“Her mother belonged to the same club we did,” I said.

“I used to caddy once in a while, just to make some dough. I’d for her mother a couple of times. She went aroundabout a hundred and seventy, for nine holes.”wasn’t hardly listening. He was combing hislocks.

“I oughta go down and at least say hel o to her,” I said.

“Why don’tcha?”

“I wil , in a minute.” started parting his hair al over again. It took himan hour to comb his hair.

“Her mother and father were divorced. Her mother was again to some booze hound,” I said. “Skinny guyhairy legs. I remember him. He wore shorts al the time. said he was supposed to be a playwright or something, but al I ever saw him do was booze al theand listen to every single goddam mystery program onradio. And run around the goddam house, naked. Witharound, and al .”

“Yeah?” Stradlater said. That real y interested him. the booze hound running around the house naked,Jane around. Stradlater was a very sexy bastard.

“She had a lousy childhood. I’m not kidding.” didn’t interest Stradlater, though. Only very sexyinterested him.

“Jane Gal agher. Jesus…” I couldn’t get her off my. I real y couldn’t. “I oughta go down and say hel o to, at least.”

“Why the hel don’tcha, instead of keep saying it?”said.walked over to the window, but you couldn’t see out of, it was so steamy from al the heat in the can.. “I’m not inmood right now,” I said. I wasn’t, either. You have to bethe mood for those things. “I thought she went to Shipley. I’ve sworn she went to Shipley.” I walked around thefor a little while. I didn’t have anything else to do. “Didenjoy the game?” I said.

“Yeah, I guess so. I don’t know.”

“Did she tel you we used to play checkers al the time,anything?”

“I don’t know. For Chrissake, I only just met her,” said. He was finished combing his goddam hair. He was putting away al his crumby toilet.

“Listen. Give her my regards, wil ya?”

“Okay,” Stradlater said, but I knew he probably’t. You take a guy like Stradlater, they never giveregards to people.went back to the room, but I stuck around in the cana while, thinking about old Jane. Then I went back to the, too.was putting on his tie, in front of the mirror, I got there. He spent around half his goddam life in of the mirror. I sat down in my chair and sort ofhim for a while.

“Hey,” I said. “Don’t tel her I got kicked out, wil ya?”

“Okay.” was one good thing about Stradlater. You didn’tto explain every goddam little thing with him, the way had to do with Ackley. Mostly, I guess, because he’t too interested. That’s real y why. Ackley, it was. Ackley was a very nosy bastard.put on my hound’s-tooth jacket.

“Jesus, now, try not to stretch it al over the place,” I. I’d only worn it about twice.

“I won’t. Where the hel ’s my cigarettes?”

“On the desk.” He never knew where he left anything.

“Under your muffler.” He put them in his coat pocket — mypocket.pul ed the peak of my hunting hat around to the front of a sudden, for a change. I was getting sort of nervous, of a sudden. I’m quite a nervous guy. “Listen, where yaon your date with her?” I asked him. “Ya know yet?”

“I don’t know. New York, if we have time. She onlyout for nine-thirty, for Chrissake.”didn’t like the way he said it, so I said, “The reason did that, she probably just didn’t know what a, charming bastard you are. If she’d known, shewould’ve signed out for nine-thirty in the morning.”

“Goddam right,” Stradlater said. You couldn’t rile himeasily. He was too conceited. “No kidding, now. Do thatfor me,” he said. He had his coat on, and heal ready to go. “Don’t knock yourself out or anything,just make it descriptive as hel . Okay?” didn’t answer him. I didn’t feel like it. Al I said was,

“Ask her if she stil keeps al her kings in the back row.”

“Okay,” Stradlater said, but I knew he wouldn’t. “Take it, now.” He banged the hel out of the room.sat there for about a half hour after he left. I mean I just in my chair, not doing anything. I kept thinking about, and about Stradlater having a date with her and al . Itme so nervous I nearly went crazy. I already told youa sexy bastard Stradlater was. of a sudden, Ackley barged back in again, throughdamn shower curtains, as usual. For once in my stupid, I was real y glad to see him. He took my mind off thestuff.stuck around til around dinnertime, talking about alguys at Pencey that he hated their guts, and squeezing big pimple on his chin. He didn’t even use his. I don’t even think the bastard had a, if you want to know the truth. I never saw himone, anyway.

always had the same meal on Saturday nights at. It was supposed to be a big deal, because they you steak. I’l bet a thousand bucks the reason they that was because a lot of guys’ parents came up to on Sunday, and old Thurmer probably figured’s mother would ask their darling boy what he for dinner last night, and he’d say, “Steak.” What a. You should’ve seen the steaks. They were these hard, dry jobs that you could hardly even cut. You got these very lumpy mashed potatoes on steak, and for dessert you got Brown Betty, which nobody, except maybe the little kids in the lower school that’t know any better — and guys like Ackley that ate. was nice, though, when we got out of the dining. There were about three inches of snow on the, and it was stil coming down like a madman. Itpretty as hel , and we al started throwing snowbal shorsing around al over the place. It was very childish,everybody was real y enjoying themselves.didn’t have a date or anything, so I and this friend of, Mal Brossard, that was on the wrestling team, we’d take a bus into Agerstown and have aand maybe see a lousy movie. Neither of us felt sitting around on our ass al night. I asked Mal if heif Ackley came along with us. The reason I askedbecause Ackley never did anything on Saturday night, stay in his room and squeeze his pimples or. Mal said he didn’t mind but that he wasn’t tooabout the idea. He didn’t like Ackley much. Anyway,both went to our rooms to get ready and al , and while I putting on my galoshes and crap, I yel ed over and old Ackley if he wanted to go to the movies. Hehear me al right through the shower curtains, but he’t answer me right away. He was the kind of a guy that to answer you right away. Final y he came over, the goddam curtains, and stood on the shower and asked who was going besides me. He always to know who was going. I swear, if that guy was somewhere, and you rescued him in aboat, he’d want to know who the guy was that was it before he’d even get in. I told him Mal Brossard going. He said, “That bastard… Al right. Wait a.” You’d think he was doing you a big favor.took him about five hours to get ready. While he was it, I went over to my window and opened it anda snowbal with my bare hands. The snow was very for packing. I didn’t throw it at anything, though. I to throw it. At a car that was parked across the. But I changed my mind. The car looked so nice and. Then I started to throw it at a hydrant, but that lookednice and white, too. Final y I didn’t throw it at anything. I did was close the window and walk around the roomthe snowbal , packing it harder. A little while later, I stilit with me when I and Brossnad and Ackley got on the. The bus driver opened the doors and made me throwout. I told him I wasn’t going to chuck it at anybody, but he’t believe me. People never believe you. and Ackley both had seen the picture that playing, so al we did, we just had a couple of and played the pinbal machine for a little, then took the bus back to Pencey. I didn’t care about seeing the movie, anyway. It was supposed to be a, with Cary Grant in it, and al that crap. Besides, I’dto the movies with Brossard and Ackley before. They laughed like hyenas at stuff that wasn’t even funny. I’t even enjoy sitting next to them in the movies.was only about a quarter to nine when we got back todorm. Old Brossard was a bridge fiend, and he started around the dorm for a game. Old Ackley parked in my room, just for a change. Only, instead ofon the arm of Stradlater’s chair, he laid down on my, with his face right on my pil ow and al . He startedin this very monotonous voice, and picking at al his. I dropped about a thousand hints, but I couldn’t get of him. Al he did was keep talking in this veryvoice about some babe he was supposed tohad sexual intercourse with the summer before. He’dtold me about it about a hundred times. Every time told it, it was different. One minute he’d be giving it toin his cousin’s Buick, the next minute he’d be giving it tounder some boardwalk. It was al a lot of crap, natural y. was a virgin if ever I saw one. I doubt if he ever evenanybody a feel. Anyway, final y I had to come right outtel him that I had to write a composition for Stradlater,that he had to clear the hel out, so I could concentrate.final y did, but he took his time about it, as usual. After left, I put on my pajamas and bathrobe and my oldhat, and started writing the composition.thing was, I couldn’t think of a room or a house or to describe the way Stradlater said he had to. I’m not too crazy about describing rooms and houses. So what I did, I wrote about my brother Al ie’s mitt. It was a very descriptive subject. It real y was.brother Al ie had this left-handed fielder’s mitt. He washanded. The thing that was descriptive about it, though,that he had poems written al over the fingers and the and everywhere. In green ink. He wrote them on it that he’d have something to read when he was in the and nobody was up at bat. He’s dead now. He gotand died when we were up in Maine, on July 18,

. You’d have liked him. He was two years younger than was, but he was about fifty times as intel igent. He wasy intel igent. His teachers were always writing to my mother, tel ing her what a pleasure it wasa boy like Al ie in their class. And they weren’t justthe crap. They real y meant it. But it wasn’t just that was the most intel igent member in the family. He was the nicest, in lots of ways. He never got mad at. People with red hair are supposed to get madeasily, but Al ie never did, and he had very red hair. I’l you what kind of red hair he had. I started playing golf I was only ten years old. I remember once, theI was around twelve, teeing off and al , and havinghunch that if I turned around al of a sudden, I’d see Al ie. I did, and sure enough, he was sitting on his bike the fence — there was this fence that went al the course — and he was sitting there, about a and fifty yards behind me, watching me tee off.’s the kind of red hair he had. God, he was a nice kid,. He used to laugh so hard at something he thought at the dinner table that he just about fel off his chair. I only thirteen, and they were going to have meand al , because I broke al the windows ingarage. I don’t blame them. I real y don’t. I slept in the the night he died, and I broke al the goddam with my fist, just for the hel of it. I even tried to al the windows on the station wagon we had that, but my hand was already broken and everythingthat time, and I couldn’t do it. It was a very stupid thing to, I’l admit, but I hardly didn’t even know I was doing it,you didn’t know Al ie. My hand stil hurts me once in awhen it rains and al , and I can’t make a real fist any— not a tight one, I mean — but outside of that I don’tmuch. I mean I’m not going to be a goddam surgeona violinist or anything anyway., that’s what I wrote Stradlater’s composition. Old Al ie’s basebal mitt. I happened to have it with, in my suitcase, so I got it out and copied down thethat were written on it. Al I had to do was changeie’s name so that nobody would know it was my brothernot Stradlater’s. I wasn’t too crazy about doing it, but I’t think of anything else descriptive. Besides, I sort of writing about it. It took me about an hour, because I to use Stradlater’s lousy typewriter, and it kept on me. The reason I didn’t use my own wasI’d lent it to a guy down the hal . was around ten-thirty, I guess, when I finished it. I’t tired, though, so I looked out the window for a while. wasn’t snowing out any more, but every once in a while could hear a car somewhere not being able to get. You could also hear old Ackley snoring. Right the goddam shower curtains you could hear him.had sinus trouble and he couldn’t breathe too hot when was asleep. That guy had just about everything. Sinus, pimples, lousy teeth, halitosis, crumby fingernails.had to feel a little sorry for the crazy sonuvabitch.

things are hard to remember. I’m thinking now ofStradlater got back from his date with Jane. I mean I’t remember exactly what I was doing when I heard his stupid footsteps coming down the corridor. Iwas stil looking out the window, but I swear I can’t. I was so damn worried, that’s why. When I real yabout something, I don’t just fool around. I even havego to the bathroom when I worry about something. Only, I’t go. I’m too worried to go. I don’t want to interrupt my to go. If you knew Stradlater, you’d have been, too. I’d double-dated with that bastard a couple of, and I know what I’m talking about. He was. He real y was., the corridor was al linoleum and al , and youhear his goddam footsteps coming right towards the. I don’t even remember where I was sitting when he in — at the window, or in my chair or his. I swear I’t remember.came in griping about how cold it was out. Then he, “Where the hel is everybody? It’s like a goddamaround here.” I didn’t even bother to answer him. If was so goddam stupid not to realize it was Saturday and everybody was out or asleep or home for theend, I wasn’t going to break my neck tel ing him. Hegetting undressed. He didn’t say one goddam wordJane. Not one. N

Date: 2015-02-28; view: 792

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